December 30, 2007

Augustine on Creation

I especially like the following excerpt from St. Augustine’s work On the Trinity. It shows him to be a man of profound vision. There is much to contemplate here about creation “unfolding” over time.

"For it is one thing to form and direct the creature from the most profound and ultimate pole of causation, and He Who does this is alone the Creator, God; but it is quite another thing to apply some operation from without in proportion to the power and faculties assigned by Him, so that at this time or that, and in this way or that, the thing created may emerge. All these things, indeed, have originally and primarily already been created in a kind of web of the elements; but they make their appearance when they get the opportunity. For just as mothers are pregnant with their young, so the world is pregnant with things that are to come into being, things which are not created in it, except from the highest essence, where nothing either springs up or dies, has a beginning or an end."

—St. Augustine: De Trinitate, 6, 10, II

December 27, 2007

Scalia and Abortion

Now the Senate is looking for moderate judges, mainstream judges. What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we'd like it to say?” (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia)

Justice Scalia is one of those rare individuals in federal government who takes seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Even so, I would not characterize Justice Scalia as a strict constructionist in all things constitutional. It appears that on a reversal of Roe v. Wade, Justice Scalia would argue for state’s rights and return the abortion issue to the states.

Some pro-lifers prefer this situation over the current one with Roe. On the other hand, in the present moral and cultural climate, few states would ban abortion. Nonetheless, the legal question will remain: Is abortion constitutional? I think not.

As I discussed in previous posts this month, protection of the unborn comes within the scope of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment (“nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”). Justice Blackmun showed his awareness of this fact in Roe when he stated the following:

"The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument..." (IX, A)
Roe v. Wade

Justice Blackmum, however, ignored the common meaning of “person” to avoid the obvious implications of the 14th Amendment.

Why then would Justice Scalia presumably return the abortion issue back to the states rather than explicitly grant constitutional personhood to the unborn? I surmise that Justice Scalia has unwittingly bought into the principle of depersonalization of the unborn.

Returning the abortion issue to the states is a non-solution. It is an unconstitutional maneuver, and states that fail to ban abortion would inevitably face legal challenges. The abortion problem will then end up full circle at the U.S. Supreme Court, where correct decisions about the personhood of the unborn and Due Process should have originally been made.

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Recommended link:
Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft

December 26, 2007

Feminism and Abortion

Modern pro-abortion feminists typically speak of Susan B. Anthony as one of their foremothers. However, this is deliberately misleading. The feminist movement, which began in America during the mid 19th century, was adamantly opposed to abortion. This fact is often omitted from feminist histories.

The following quotes from various leaders of the early feminist movement reveal their position on abortion.

“When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we wish.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, letter in Julia Ward Howe’s Journal, October 16, 1873, available at Houghton Library, Harvard University)
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“As law and custom give to the husband the absolute control of the wife’s person, she is forced to…outrage the holiest instincts of her being in order to maintain even a semblance of that freedom which by nature belongs to every human soul. When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society—so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.” (Mattie Brinkerhoff, The Revolution 3 (9):138-89, September 2, 1869)
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“(This) subject lies deeper down into woman’s wrongs than any other…The crime of abortion is not one in which the guilt lies solely or even chiefly with the woman…I hesitate not to assert that most of (the responsibility for) this crime of ‘child murder’, ‘abortion’, ‘infanticide’, lies at the door of the male sex.” (Matilda Gage, The Revolution 1(14): 215-16, April 9, 1868)
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“I deplore the horrible crime of child murder…we want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil…It is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed…All the articles on this subject that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy…No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed…but oh! Thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.” (Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution 4(1): 4, July 8, 1869)
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“The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus.” (Woodhull’s and Claflin’s Weekly 2(6): 4, December 24, 1870)
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“Men must no longer insult all womanhood by saying that freedom means the degradation of woman. Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.” (Victoria Woodhull, free love advocate, Wheeling West Virginia Evening Standard, November 17, 1875.)
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“Society has come to believe it an impertinence in children to be born at all…throughout the entire city there are few landlords who do not stipulate for childless couples…This partially explains why people in cities might not want children, but is totally inadequate as a reason for the murder of them…and it cannot be considered at all in relation to the fast increasing crime of foeticide throughout the country, where space is ample…Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal murder?...Perhaps there will come a time when…an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood; when unchastity in men will be placed on an equality with unchastity in women, and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.” (Sarah F. Norton, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870.)
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The above quotes were taken from “Sound Advice: Feminists for Life Debate Handbook”. The material is not copyrighted. So, plagiarize to your heart's content.

When contemporary pro-abortion feminists speak about women’s health issues they include the fictitious or so-called right to abortion. How different this attitude is about women’s health from that of Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, a pioneer in promoting women's health issues. In 1887 Dr. Stockham wrote,

"When the female germ and male sperm unite, then is the inception of a new life; all that goes to make up a human being -- body, mind, and spirit, must be contained in embryo within this minute organism. Life must be present from the very moment of conception. If there was not life there could not be conception. At what other period of a human being's existence, either pre-natal or post-natal, could the union of soul and body take place? Is it not plain that the violent or forcible removal of it from the citadel of life, is its premature death, and hence the act can be denominated by no more mild term than murder, and whoever performs that act, or is accessory to it, guilty of the crime of all crimes.

"The life of the babe in her arms is to the mother more precious than all else; her heart is thrilled with a pang of agony at thought of the least danger to its life. By what false reasoning does she convince herself that another life, still more dependent upon her for its existence, with equal rights and possibilities, has no claim upon her for protection? More than this, she deliberately strikes with the red hand of murder, and terminates its existence with no thought of wrong, nor consciousness of violated law.

"The woman who produces abortion, or allows it to be produced, risks her own health in the act, and commits the highest crime in the calendar, for she takes the life of her own child. She defrauds the child of the right to its existence." (
Tokology: A Book for Every Woman, 246 (pdf)).

One final quote: Alice Paul, the author of the Equal Rights Amendment (1923), opposed linking the ERA to abortion. A colleague recalls Alice Paul saying

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”


Only pro-life feminists can rightfully claim Susan B. Anthony and company as their foremothers.

Recommended links:
Feminists for Life
Susan B. Anthony List

True and False Feminism

If a true feminism exists, and I believe it does, then it must be genuinely humanistic. A true feminist is a sincere lover of mankind, since both men and women comprise equal parts of the same human family. A feminism that is anything less, such as pro-abortion feminism, is false and antihuman.

The pro-abort feminist, because she supports a woman’s so-called right to abortion, advocates a position that is self-contradictory. First, it denigrates the mother by allowing her to commit the most unnatural and inhuman of acts—prenatal child murder. Second, it fails to respect females and their inherent rights since it allows the supreme act of violence against prenatal females.

The radical, pro-abort feminist is well-known for her rants against men. “Look”, she says, “how badly men have treated women throughout history!” I can only agree with her statement. However, I must add, “Look, too, how badly men have treated men throughout history.”

To what purpose does the pro-abort feminist object to past or present exploitation of women by men while she promotes an ideology that exploits women and leads to killing the unborn?

Tragically, pro-abortion feminism denigrates and victimizes females. A true feminism must necessarily be pro-life.

December 24, 2007

Legalized Abortion

The most pernicious corruption of law in modern times is the legalization of abortion.

Regarding law, St. Thomas Aquinas says,

"We maintain that human law has the rationale of law insofar as it is in accordance with right reason and as such it obviously derives from eternal law. A law which is at variance with reason, is to that extent unjust and has no longer the rationale of law. It is rather an act of violence."

Any law that legalizes abortion is especially contrary to right reason since it permits unjustified, fatal acts of violence against the most innocent of human beings—pre-natal children.

The legalization of abortion in America usually brings to mind the Roe v. Wade case of 1973. However, prior to 1973 several states had already legalized abortion in varying degrees:

"In 1967 Colorado and California legalized abortion. By June, 1970, when the State of New York passed the first Abortion on Demand Law (24-week limit), it became the 16th state to allow abortion. Due to an extremely loose interpretation of "mental health," California also had de facto abortion-on-demand. Alaska and Hawaii had liberal laws. Laws in the other 12 states, which included Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Virginia, were very restrictive, typically allowing abortion only for pregnancies due to assault rape, incest and life of the mother as well as for severe fetal handicap." (
Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke)

Roe v. Wade (and its companion case,
Doe v. Bolton), further corrupted the nation’s legal system, leaving prenatal children bereft of legal protection in every state of the Union. No other court decision in the history of the U.S. has caused so much harm to society. Despite Roe v. Wade’s twisted reasoning, the Democratic Party considers the case sacrosanct. The Bush Administration has yet to show a determined interest in overturning Roe.

Pro-aborts typically claim that there is a constitutional right to abortion. However, if they were to read the U.S. Constitution they would not find any such "right" in that document. The total absence of a constitutional right to abortion presented perplexing problems for Justice Blackmun and his agenda. Blackmun stated,

"The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."
(
Roe v. Wade, IX, A)

The Roe Court contrived its position. When the 14th Amendment was adopted the word "person" was synonymous with "human". Either word could have been used in the Amendment. However, Blackmun chose to ignore the scientific facts about fetal development, and abandon the traditional meaning of "person".

The decision in Roe undermined the “rule of law”. The “rule of law” cannot exist when the law discriminates against an entire class of innocent human beings by denying their inalienable right to life. Roe v. Wade effectively codified a double standard.

When the proper meaning of "person" and the scientific facts about fetal development are acknowledged, it becomes clear that protection of prenatal children falls within the scope of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. It is worth noting here that corporations, as artificial "persons", can meet can meet all of the requirements for constitutional personhood. However, the Supreme Court has denied constitutional personhood to real persons, the unborn.

The need remains, not for a human life amendment, but for a legally correct application of the Due Process Clause of the
14th Amendment. Only then will all persons, born and unborn, receive equal protection under the law. (See Due Process: History and Scope).

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"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts--a child--as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters." (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

Recommended link:
Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft

December 23, 2007

Abortion and Due Process

In 1809, President Thomas Jefferson succinctly explained to Maryland Republicans the fundamental purpose of good government: "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

The object of good government had been enshrined in the Declaration of Independence (1776):

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

If government fails in the fundamental purpose for its existence, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (
Declaration)

To ensure that the new federal government did not infringe upon the rights of the people (the states' rights issue), the U.S. Constitution was originally amended with a Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments. In regard to the protections guaranteed by the 5th Amendment is the Due Process Clause, which says, “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” In addition, the 14th Amendment, adopted some time later, includes a Due Process Clause as well: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” The 5th Amendment restrains the federal government from infringement on said rights without due process of law, while the 14th Amendment restrains state governments.

Now, if anything is to be construed about abortion in the Constitution, it is that the right to life of the prenatal person is protected by the Due Process Clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments. ”Due process” refers to legal proceedings, and since the prenatal person cannot be guilty of any crime, he is excluded from the State’s legal right to deprive of life, liberty or property. In regard to the “due process of law” clauses in the 5th and 14th Amendments, historian Clarence B. Carson says,

“These are prohibitions against governments, national and state (which includes local ones as well), from taking life without due process of law. If governments are prohibited from taking life, it is a reasonable inference as well that they may not license, condone, or allow people within their jurisdictions to do so. It would be an exceedingly strange approach to restrict governments in the taking of human life without due process of law and leave the people in general—or, on the other hand, some class of them—free to take life at will. The only reasonable conclusion from the 5th and 14th Amendments is that governments were bound from doing or giving assent or approval in any way to the taking of life without due process of law.” (Basic American Government)

Regardless of how many times one reads the U.S. Constitution, he will not find anything in that document which forbids the states from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Justice Harry A. Blackmun faced this obstacle in Roe vs. Wade. Blackmun’s final solution, one made at the expense of sounding senile or possessed, was the alleged discovery of a right to privacy in the “penumbras formed by emanations” from the Bill of Rights.

For the first 180 years following the adoption of the first Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, no one in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government found anything in them that would even remotely support Blackmun’s discovery. Over 100 years passed since the adoption of the 14th Amendment with no discovery of anything about abortion in that Amendment. (Clarence Carson)

Inarguably, it is nearly impossible to understand how the Constitution of the United States can be read to arrive at the conclusions comprising the decision in Roe vs. Wade. Legalized abortion ignores Due Process and undermines the first and only legitimate object of good government. This corruption of government is accurately described in the words of Pope John Paul II:

"And the State, rather than intervene -- as is its mission -- to defend innocent life, in danger, preventing its suppression and assuring it, by adequate means, existence and growth, authorizes and even concurs in the execution of the death sentence." (January 25, 1986)

December 22, 2007

Leo Strauss and the Neocons

I have kept abreast somewhat of discussions over the last several years concerning the influence of Leo Strauss on the neoconservative political movement. Herein are a few of my initial reflections on this issue. Listed first are questions I kept in mind while reading many interesting web articles about Strauss and the neocons:

1. Which
neocons are Straussians?
2. Do Straussian neocons reliably interpret the works of Leo Strauss?
3. What is the influence of Leo Strauss on foreign policy?
4. Is the neocon foreign policy of the
Project for the New American Century consistent with the political ideas of Leo Strauss?

Leo Strauss, as many people know, can be difficult to interpret. Strauss believed we should read a great work as the author would have read it. This approach appears to influence Strauss’ writing style in such a way that the reader may easily confuse the views of Strauss with the views of the author he is expounding. Hence, some commentators have made exegetical errors and represented pejorative opinions as if they were Strauss’ own. It is not that Strauss is above legitimate criticism, as he surely is not, but one needs to be cautious, especially when a writer quotes Strauss but fails to provide attending references. Lack of references makes checking on the writer’s interpretation problematic.

Also, I do not heed neocons claims that what Strauss taught privately differs from what he put in writing. First, where is the evidence that Strauss only taught his true beliefs and ideas privately? Second, only what has been published by Strauss is significant because it is the published views that are influential on the public and subject to scholarly critique.

Much of what has been written about Leo Strauss and the Straussian neocons is misleading. For example, many people view
Shadia Drury as an authority on Strauss and the Straussian neocons. However, I do not consider Drury to be a dispassionate scholar in search of truth. A comparison of Drury’s earlier writings on Strauss with her later writings reveals her declining objectivity.

Also, articles that lump many of the neocons into the Straussian camp are simply wrong, yet one writer remains content just to quote another. Some commentators on Strauss sound as if they have not read much, if anything at all, by Strauss. Samuel Francis pointed out these problems in 2003. (See his Sept. 2003 article in Chronicles Magazine:
Principalities & Powers: The Real Cabal)

What is the influence of Leo Strauss on foreign policy? This is a difficult question to answer because Strauss had little to say about foreign policy issues.

Does the neocon foreign policy of the
Project for the New American Century reflect the ideas of Leo Strauss? I think not. For example, the neocon agenda of conquest (“benevolent hegemony” is their corresponding euphemism) and empire building reveals a neglect and underlying contempt for the ideas and ideals of the U.S. Constitution. In contrast, let us see what Leo Strauss has to say about constitutionalism:

“Karl Marx, the father of communism, and Friedrich Nietzsche, the step-grandfather of fascism, were liberally educated on a level to which we cannot even hope to aspire. But perhaps one can say that their grandiose failures make it easier for us who have experienced those failures to understand again the old saying that wisdom cannot be separated from moderation and hence to understand that wisdom requires unhesitating loyalty to a decent constitution and even to the cause of constitutionalism. Moderation will protect us against the twin dangers of visionary expectations from politics and unmanly contempt for politics. Thus it may again become true that all liberally educated men will be politically moderate men. It is in this way that the liberally educated may again receive a hearing even in the marketplace.” (Liberal Education and Mass Democracy)

Strauss speaks of wisdom, moderation in politics, and constitutionalism. These are not characteristics of the neoconservative movement. I do not know of a single neocon that is loyal to the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. Nor do I know of a single neocon that truly respects international law. Neoconservative political ideology must be recognized as a form of lawlessness.

In summary, neoconservative political ideology is rooted in an unethical and lawless desire for conquest and control. It is misguided and mischievous to make Leo Strauss the patron philosopher of such barbarism.

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