Monday, November 17, 2008

An Apology And An Explanation

I lost my cool. I read the words, and I saw nothing more but red. Lashing out in anger, I forswore cool, detached deliberation and observation.

I came home from work this morning, and as I sat and ate a delicious piece of homemade banana bread, was checking this post out, and I saw that I had made a mistake. I compounded this initial mistake - bringing up the issue of abortion, then getting caught up in a discussion of it with Marshall and Neil - by being baited. Neil waved the lure in front of me, and I latched on. He called me a "fake Christian", and rather than just snicker, I blew my stack.

I am not angry at the words I wrote. They have, at least, the virtue of honesty. What I regret is that I allowed myself to get in to a pissing contest with Neil over something as petty as who is the better Christian. I daresay we both probably end up on the "pretty bad" scale most of the time, like most of us. For that, I am sorry.

I also never should have mentioned the holy fetus. I brought up the issue to highlight what I see as the cynical manipulation of a certain group of Americans - pro-lifers - by politicians who have not nor ever intend to end the practice of abortion, as it is far too successful (or at least had been for years) a money-raising and electioneering issue. I noted not only the lack of any serious discussion of abortion; immigration was also off the table this fall, because the Republicans knew they had lost much of the Latino vote with their anti-immigration rhetoric of the previous year.

Yet, rather than stick to the central point I was trying to make - left with few cultural/social wedge issues with a whole lot of "oomph", the Republicans were left with anti-gay prejudice - I got sucked in to a discussion I should have avoided completely.

I should note for the record, however, that my experience as an escort at a Washington, DC woman's health clinic in the winter of '90-'91 disabused me of any naivete I should have about the "compassion" pro-life Christians would have for single women in crisis. The scenes I briefly described there - of people screaming out "whore", "murderer", the pelting with little plastic fetuses - do not include the fact that I stopped being an escort because I feared for my own safety. The whole pelting with fetuses ended up with me getting a cut beneath my left eye; a DC cop told me "tough titty" (his exact words), I think because he was as afraid of the barely-controlled hate and rage to wade in and make an arrest as I was afraid of the same thing to brave another trip through the gauntlet. What needs to be recalled is that this was happening in the midst of a wave of domestic terrorism against abortion providers - clinic bombings and the murder and harassment of ob-gyns who provided the service - and everyone was on edge. Yet, to see people who called themselves Christian, their faces twisted in rage and hate, shouting at young women that they were damned for all eternity just for stepping foot inside a Planned Parenthood clinic disabused me for all time that the pretense to any facade of "compassion" was anything more than a bunch of nonsensical rhetoric.

I had not thought of those couple weeks of volunteer work in a long time, yet in our discussion it all came rushing back to me. The differences between the faces of fear and confusion of the young women, and the twisted masks of rage of the crowds barely kept back by police barriers was quite vivid. To then be told by Neil that I was a fake Christian because I did not revere the fetus enough was quite enough. He may wish to dissociate himself from those such as they, but I cannot separate them, because of my own experiences. These same people would sit and pray for the "baby" about to "be killed", just after spitting on a woman in need of help and a young man (me) whose presence was necessary to protect them from their Christian compassion.

So, for falling in to a neatly-laid trap, I apologize. For losing my cool at a silly, meaningless school-yard taunt, I apologize. For what I said - at least most of it, anyway - I do not apologize.

Virtual Tin Cup

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