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Friday, September 19, 2008

Abortion vs Torture

I’ve been at a site called Vox Nova. One of the site’s common threads – not surprising among Catholics – is that most of the contributors espouse a pro-life position. So far, so good. On the other hand a number of contributors see themselves as ‘radical’ and the definition of ‘radical’ appears to be the usual one: sexy talk for ‘communist’. A result of this interesting confluence of views is an entertaining level of debate over this year’s presidential election.

In a post titled “A Deeply Disturbing Story” one contributor, Radical Catholic Mom (really, I didn’t make that up) felt compelled to share her reaction to an NPR story about a Syrian-born Canadian citizen. The story is that some years ago, agents of the U.S. government seized one Mr. Arar in a US airport (he was in transit) and shipped him to Syria against his will. It is alleged he was thereafter tortured in Syria. I remember this news story but hadn’t heard much about it lately. It seems Mr. Arar survived whatever unpleasantness he experienced and is now, as is traditional, suing the U.S. government, and eliciting urgently sympathetic airtime from whoever is working at NPR these days.

I don’t know the real deal about Arar. The story is at the same time shameful and fishy-sounding. A government snafu resulting from over-reaction to 9/11? Malice aforethought by parties in the U.S. government? Multi-threaded international intrigue that we will never completely unravel? Beats me. Mr. Arar and his interesting (or scandalously vicious, depending on facts not as yet made public) case isn’t really the point.

The point is Ms. Radical Catholic Mom was so “disturbed” she felt the need to announce that the unlucky fate of Mr. Arar (as portrayed by NPR) will affect her vote for president this year. Did she mean by that she would vote for the staunchly pro-life candidate that had defied his party, the mood of the country at the time, and stood up to his own president to oppose what he considered torture? Not exactly. No, she’s voting for Barrack Obama, the man that opposed laws requiring humane care for infants born alive as a result of attempted abortions, and whose views on torture, whatever he may have so far expressed, have never been put to any sort of test.

Others at the site? Well many seem sensible enough but a few appear to agree that Mr. McCain is somehow personally responsible for torture he publicly opposed, while at the same time he is not adequately, truly, really, deeply, sincerely, anti-abortion enough to trust. Obama conversely gets a pass on his objectively extreme pro-abortion position, and credit for opposing torture as if he has somehow done anything in his life to stop it in any place at any time.

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