April 9, 2005

"Culture of Life" or Culture of Ignorance?

Schiavo graveLed by conservative Christians, many Republicans have adopted a new metaphor for misleading the American people - "the culture of life." They use it to characterize their stance on abortion. It sounds better than acknowledging their desire to prevent women from engaging in a medical procedure which is morally comparable to having a cyst removed. Say what? An abortion is a medical procedure that when performed during the first trimester involves removing a collection of cells from a woman'’s uterus. At this stage in the pregnancy, the group of cells cannot even be called a fetus, much less a human being. To inspire their legions of troops to action, they spin this into a noble crusade to protect “their "culture of life."

The metaphor was repeatedly thrust on the public during the Terri Schiavo case. Republicans sought to violate the wishes of a terminal patient and her husband by keeping her alive in a vegetative state. Similar to the group of cells involved in the abortion debate, they sought to protect a life that really wasn't a life at all. It was clear from the beginning that Ms. Schiavo was irrelevant to them and that this was nothing more than a political opportunity to expand their metaphor and rally the Christian base.

Now the metaphor is being used as the GOP is eager to compare their policies with those of the late Pope John Paul II. Of course, they refuse to discuss the numerous ways in which their politics opposed those of the Pope. Remember, the Pope spoke out against the war in Iraq, against the death penalty, and for government-funded social assistance programs. It seems that the "culture of life" does not apply to actual humans outside the womb who have awareness of their surroundings. The Christian right supports the death penalty and opposes inexpensive health care that would reduce infant mortality. They oppose any restrictions on the most commonly used method of inflicting serious harm on humans - guns. They are pro-war and have no problem with preemptive attacks on other nations. Clearly, this isn't about the sanctity of life at all.

This "culture of life" is an updated version of "family values." It is an advertising slogan that will persuade legions of weak-minded Christians if it is not exposed for the political strategy that it is. As conservative Christians continue to work their "culture of life" metaphor into every political speech, op-ed column, and talk-show, remember that this is nothing more than a clever strategy that is motivated primarily by self-interest. Don't be fooled. Theirs is a culture of ignorance where religious dogma pushes science, critical thinking, and reason itself out of public discourse.