Yesterday morning, I read an Op-Ed by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: Republican’s Abortion Bill Risks Alienating Asian Americans , after The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis tweeted a link to it. My initial reaction to it was that it was “quite possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.” I followed that observation up with this tweet: “Dear Dana Milbank: for those who value life & oppose abortion, sex-selective or otherwise, the Asian vote really isn’t the point. Dimwit.”
Ironic that his piece clucked its tongue at Arizona Congressman Trent Franks for his “paternalism toward minority groups,” all the while concern trolling the GOP for the potential loss of the Asian-American vote. I’m sure the thought of it has kept him up at night.
Normally, I don’t react quite so viscerally to such blather. But his entire premise was so skewed I couldn’t help myself. First, let’s follow his “logic” through: He asserts that, “just about everybody agrees…that a woman shouldn’t abort a fetus simply because she wants to have a boy rather than a girl.” (But it’s okay if she aborts said fetus simply because it’s inconvenient — we’ll revisit that notion in a bit.)
He then asserts that “it’s not entirely clear there’s a problem,” because even though it’s a “huge tragedy in parts of Asia…to the extent it’s happening in this country, it’s mostly among Asian immigrants.” Oh, well, okay then, Mr. Milbank. If it’s mostly just those Asian female babies being aborted, you’re right – really not a big deal. (I don’t have to include a sarc tag there, do I?) Also, I’m wondering how it morphs from “huge tragedy” to a “not entirely clear…problem”? What’s so tragic about it there, but not here?
Further, he opines, if Republicans push a bill which bans the practice of sex-selective (and race-selective) abortions, this will alienate Asian-American voters who apparently would otherwise support a party which traditionally opposes the practice of abortion in general. (Perhaps I’m silly for thinking so, but I’d be willing to bet my eye teeth someone who opposes a ban on sex-selective abortions isn’t likely to be a GOP voter in the first place.)
Scratching your head yet? Let’s see if I can nutshell it: Most everyone agrees sex-selective abortion is bad, but it’s not a big deal because it’s only really taking place in the Asian community, which apparently supports both abortion and the GOP, but won’t support the latter anymore if they move to ban a practice which most everyone agrees is bad….Now, instead of scratching your head, shake it sympathetically as you worry about the poor GOP hemorrhaging voters. It makes the premise ever-so-much-more convincing.
Okay, now that we have the pretzel twists out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter: Milbank’s thesis completely dismisses any possibility that the motivation for such a ban is something like, oh, you know, placing actual value on human life. (And, in particular, abhorrence of the notion of snuffing out — oh, I’m sorry, selecting out — such non-desirable traits as having girl parts and/or possessing a bit more pigmentation.) Instead, in his world, it’s purely a political calculation and one that in Milbankian Mathematics lands Franks — and the GOP with him — in the loss column. Any lengthy study of politics necessarily breeds a certain level of cynicism. And yes, abortion has long been a “wedge issue” for both parties. But Milbank appears to be utterly oblivious to the legitimate moral objection to the practice, despite his lame attempt at lip-service to it in his second paragraph. No, no — to his way of thinking, the primary (if not sole) reason for introducing such a bill could only be vote-getting. Any inherent value in life itself be damned.
Further, in all his faux concern over the GOP being relegated “to irrelevance,” Milbank completely glosses over the actual elephant in the room: even though “just about everybody agrees” sex-selective abortions are wrong, no one on the left appears willing to stick their wobbly (read “spineless”) necks on the line to say so. (Heaven knows the current occupant of the White House doesn’t. Guess he hasn’t done all that much evolving when it comes to respecting life.) Because if we outlaw this practice because it is wrong — and it is so very wrong — then we might be forced to acknowledge the wrongness of abortion in general. And we simply cannot have that.
So, instead, it is better to stick our heads in the sand. Overlook the fact that a child developed enough that his or her gender can be identified cannot still be considered a mere “clump of cells.” Ignore the moral implications of taking an innocent life due solely to its gender or race because it happens to still rest in its mother’s womb, when at any point post-birth, this would be considered a hate-crime of the highest order. Dismiss what one deems a “huge tragedy” elsewhere as no real problem here. And take comfort in the thought that such a principled stand as Franks’ might cost the opposition votes. Because, in the end, that’s what really matters, right? “Dimwit” was clearly too kind.