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8/12/01


 

WORSHIPPING EMBRYOS

By David Podvin

In the words of conservative activist Michael Medved, “Finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease would be nice, but preserving the sanctity of embryos is more important.” George W. Bush has just formalized that moralistic dementia into federal law.

There are countries in this world where a mental hospital is considered to be the appropriate place for those who are so divorced from reality that they cannot tell the difference between a human being and the contents of a petri dish. In America, the place where we now send such people is called the “Oval Office”.

Yesterday’s convoluted and gutless decision was an effort by Bush to figuratively cut the baby in half. It allows a bare minimum of research so that he can masquerade as a moderate while restating the principle that fetal tissue is more important than living people. If Sir Alexander Fleming had adopted the Bush approach, then he would have cynically gone through the motions of attempting to invent penicillin, but not at the moral expense of allowing the sanctity of bread to be ethically devalued by letting it develop mold.

The stem cells in question have no more chance of becoming human beings than does pumpernickel. They would be harvested from the huge number of excess embryos that are discarded every year. They will either be used to cure debilitating diseases that cause untold agony for real people, or they will be thrown away as homage to the superstitious insanity of religious fruitcakes.

Religious Fruitcakes 1, Sick People 0.

This is evil. It is another in a seemingly endless series of examples where callous moral defectives inflict needless pain upon helpless people in the name of the Lord.

One third of Americans fervently believe that throwing embryos into a dumpster is ethically superior to finding a cure for life threatening diseases. One third of Americans also fervently believe that Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution is blasphemy. In each case, they are conservative religious people. Their irrational thought processes seem to indicate that, at least as it relates to them, the ones who should be offended by Darwin’s theory are the apes.

This depraved decision that exalts embryos as being humanity’s most valued treasure comes after the hilarious pre-decision period. The mainstream media desperately tried to convince the public that Bush was “deep in contemplative thought, agonizing over the moral implications” of this profound matter. Anyone who has ever seen videotape of a chimpanzee staring in rapt fascination at a shiny penny can visualize the deep furrow that must have crossed Mr. Bush’s brow.

The hilarity comes to a tragic, screeching halt when the cruel implications of this embryo worship become apparent.

Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox, and Janet Reno are three high profile victims of Parkinson’s disease. They are suffering from a fatal illness that causes them to progressively lose control of their bodies and the quality of their lives. They might reasonably expect that a potential cure for their affliction would be a high priority for the medical division of the federal government, if for no other reason than they are embryo alumni.

However, like all of the other post-womb people who have contracted serious illnesses, they must cope with their involuntary status as second-class citizens. Ali can barely speak, Fox has had to forfeit his career, and Reno has lost most of the control of her shaking hands. Medical experts insist that embryonic stem cell research has the very real potential to help these people and all of the obscure victims of the disease. The research also could accelerate progress in helping Christopher Reeve and other victims of spinal cord damage, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc.

None of this matters to Bush and his allies in the Religious Right. They have determined that it is God’s will for innocent people to suffer so that this society can worship fetal tissue.

Evil is the appropriate word to describe someone who requires sick people to needlessly endure torment in order to codify superstition into law. This is not a matter of good people having an honest disagreement. It is a matter of primitives again imposing their irrational beliefs on civilized people. Remember that slavery was justified by religious conservatives as fulfilling the “mark of Cain”, which meant God made some human skin black in order to identify who was wicked. More recently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated that white southern evangelical churches were the most implacable bastions of opposition to granting human rights to African Americans.

“Conservative moral principles” were religious fanaticism then, and nothing has changed.

There are many who are responsible for the stem cell fiasco, starting with George W. Bush. Assuming that he can tell right from wrong, this decision should have been an easy one. This time, he can’t be excused for making such a devastating moral error just because he’s permanently on mental vacation.

The Religious Right, as always, is never happy unless it is defecating on those who can’t defend themselves.

Antonin Scalia and his conservative accomplices had exactly this type of atrocity in mind when they assaulted the Constitution last year.

And don’t shortchange Ralph Nader. Take a bow, Mr. Self-Indulgent. The assault on sick people could never have happened without you. It is an inevitable result of your delusional strategy to allow things to get so bad in America that the nation will then turn in desperation to you as its savior. If you want to see the one politician in this country who is more contemptible than George W. Bush, then look in the mirror.

This decision is also the real world consequence of failing to pay attention. Liberal journalists like Robert Scheer and Joan Ryan wrote that the Bush theft of the presidency was no big deal because he was really a moderate who would betray his right wing base once he was in office.

Nostradamus they are not. Apparently, they can’t read, either, because the reactionary Bush Texas record was staring them in the face like a Godzilla sized tumor. Many liberal people just like them refused to soil themselves by supporting the imperfect Mr. Gore because they didn’t perceive any urgent need to defeat Bush. They are now being hoisted on their own petards, because embryonic stem cell research could have helped to regenerate brain cells, too.

Normal Americans, those who do not get their political philosophy directly from the Sacred Unseen Republican Hovering Above, are so passive and complacent that it will probably take the overturning of Roe v. Wade before the Religious Right finally gets slapped down hard. Until that time, life and death decisions are in the hands of people who believe that the only legitimate analysis of the Bible is the literal modern English interpretation, despite the fact that the Bible was not written in literal modern English. They choose to ignore those sections of the Scriptures where God was clearly misquoted. This includes the parts about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and most especially that horrible lie about the rich man and the camel and the eye of the needle. Additionally, they ignore all of those Biblical typographical errors that mistakenly conflict with the right wing agenda. It is this clarity of thought and principled moral conviction that leads to the insanity of passionately loving stem cells while heartlessly disregarding the agony of human beings.

Bush sought political cover by arranging to let the Pope publicly implore him to choose tissue over human life. This admonition comes from the leader of an organization that, until very recently, could not bring itself to forgive Galileo for saying that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe. Maybe in four hundred years the Catholic Church will reverse its current position that embryos are more important than human beings, but it is questionable whether Ali and Fox will be able to hang on until then.

America is now being governed by Neanderthals who find fairy tales to be more comforting than real life. This would be fine, except for the fact that they demand their fairy tales be the law of the land. The dogma of Peggy Noonan and her magic Christian lifeguard dolphins that saved Elian Gonzalez from drowning has now officially replaced science when it comes to decision-making in the federal government. Critical scientific decisions that affect millions of Americans are currently made by people who sincerely believe that the Teletubbies are trying to lure this nation’s toddlers into leather bars.

Ask not who howls at the moon, unless you’re prepared to learn that it’s the sectarian tyrants who control your access to health care. We are witnessing medical policy by Holy Ouija board. No one has ever been able to show that the Lord has taken a position on stem cell research. The right wing just automatically assumes that God is like them, which means He views science as something to be opposed and medicine as something to be attacked.

Of course, it is easier to inflict unpopular dogma on the public when your opponents are incomparably stupid. In the aftermath of Bush’s speech, several liberals said that they were “impressed” by his explanation of the issue. Only later did they learn that he had misrepresented the facts, including the number of viable stem cell lines that exist for research.

Liberals know that Bush lied about tax cuts. They know that he lied about the budget. They know that he lied about prescription drug care. They know that he lied about supporting the Texas Patient’s Bill Of Rights. They know that he lied about his drunk driving arrest. They know that he lied about global warming. They know that he lied about reducing carbon emissions. They know that he lied about White House vandalism. They know that he lied about the funding of reading programs. They know that he lied about the energy crisis. They know that he lied about apologizing to China during the spy plane incident. They know that he lied…

And yet, there were liberals on TV, saying that they were “impressed” with his statement about stem cell research.

Too bad their mothers weren’t on TV, too. They could have told us that, “Life is like a box of chocolates.”

On Friday,  “pro-life” activist Andrea Lafferty was saying that embryonic stem cell research has nothing to do with curing disease. She explained that it is really about, “Mad scientists who have an insatiable craving for baby eyes, baby skin, and baby brains.”

It was religious conservatives who conducted the Salem Witch Trials. America is not as far removed from that time as people would like to believe.

There is a sickening reverence in this country that is accorded to self-proclaimed “conservative people of faith”. They are awarded the presumptions of superior morality and purity of intent. This is based upon the American fallacy that sanctimonious people who claim to represent God’s point of view must be virtuous.

The vile conservative position opposing embryonic stem cell research proves that exactly the opposite is true. It again demonstrates that America’s religious conservatives have rejected the best that theology has to offer: the elements of compassion and empathy. Instead, they have chosen to embrace a combative religious doctrine that views God as an intolerant dictator and assigns to them the role of His ruthless enforcers. As a result, they repeatedly hurt innocent people while invoking the name of the Lord.

Far from being morally superior, the shock troops of the Religious Right have a lot of improving to do before they can become morally equal to the rest of America.

More David Podvin

Podvin, the Series

 


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