I should have known the Rev. Richard Neuhaus was seriously ill when he announced last November in his journal First Things that he had given up reading the New York Times. He had, over the years, tweaked the Gray Lady, calling her “our parish newspaper.” But for decades, the late Richard John Neuhaus had read and commented thoughtfully on the Times. He was most critical of “the newspaper of record’s” tireless pro-abortion advocacy. Neuhaus, once a charter member of the New York liberal establishment, was said to have “moved to the right” as he got older. Had he? Or did he still believe that abortion, like slavery, like segregation, like anti-Semitism, denies the fundamental human dignity of a significant portion of the human family?
After all, despite the Times’ ability to forget it, the laws against abortion were part of the homicide codes of all fifty states. Not the family law codes. Not the social welfare codes. The homicide codes. The lawmakers who placed abortion there were no creatures of what The Times calls “the religious right.” No state had a Catholic majority when those laws were enacted. No state legislature that passed those laws had a Catholic majority. Or a “religious right” majority either.
Most of those fifty state laws were patterned on New York State’s law. Probably the nineteenth century legislators who passed New York’s law were readers of the New York Times.
Today, of course, the Times accords itself the role of arbiter of reason and civility. You’ve probably seen the soothing green bumper stickers that enjoin us to “Choose Civility.” The Times would certainly echo that sentiment, if it had not authored it.
So, let’s see an example of what the Times calls civility. A leading Thoughtful Writer for the Times is Peter Steinfels. Steinfels writes on religious topics. Here’s a sample of his work in the form of a recent book review:
A Provocative Work About the Christian Right
By PETER STEINFELS The New York Times April 25, 2009
If you wanted a book title to speed the pulse of liberal academics, journalists and politicians, you couldn’t do much better than “The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right.” For many people that’s a title akin to “The Winning Ways of Serial Killers.”
The two leading arguments of the book, written by Jon A. Shields and published last month by Princeton University Press, are no less provocative.
“Many Christian-right organizations,” Mr. Shields writes, “have helped create a more participatory democracy by successfully mobilizing conservative evangelicals, one of the most politically alienated constituencies in 20th-century America.”
Steinfels’ review is, in the main, sympathetic. And the author of this book seems himself almost surprised by his findings. I call attention, however, to that vile line: “…a title akin to ‘The Winning Ways of Serial Killers.’” If ever Rush Limbaugh’s term “Drive-by Media” applied, it applies here, in this libelous — even blood libelous — terminology.
Religious conservatives have a right to ask: Whom have we killed? Liberals claim, against the evidence of science, history, law, and religion, that unborn children are not persons, not even humans. Yet it is considered uncivil to point out that the slaughter of forty-eight millions is a national tragedy.
There have been murders of abortionists — this weekend’s killing in Wichita being the most recent. There have been bombers of gay bars. Whenever such crimes have occurred, every leader of a religious conservative organization — without exception — has denounced the crimes. Paul Hill went to Florida’s electric chair for murdering an abortionist. There was no voice of sympathy raised for him. Nor should there have been. Eric Robert Rudolph sits in federal prison for bombing an abortion facility and a gay bar. There are no appeals for clemency for him. Nor should there be.
The same cannot be said of the liberal elites. Bombers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are lionized by liberals — and they host future presidents in their home. They remain unrepentant for their crimes.
The New York Times is the first to deplore what it terms the culture war. And yet, it views as naked aggression every attempt by religious conservatives to shield their families from a culture increasingly trending toward death. In viewing its adversaries on “the religious right,” the Gray Lady doubtless agrees with La Rochefoucauld: “This animal is very wicked; when you attack it, it defends itself.”
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