A brief deprogramming session
As I have noted in the past, my main interest when it comes to policy on abortion is “what works”.
Unfortunately, for the MAGA “prolife” cult that is not what matters most. What matters is the *feeling* of doing something about abortion even when what is done is stupid and counter-productive, because for the cult abortion has become a matter of tribal in-group codes, virtue signaling, and shibboleths.
Case in point, the Mexico City Policy, which cuts funding for reproductive stuff abroad. Since Reagan, this has been wielded as a Participation Trophy to make “prolife” supporters of the GOP feel like they got something in exchange for support for every selfish, cruel and stupid GOP policy they have supported as the GOP continued to do nothing about abortion. Unjust war, torture, kidnapping of refugee children, sawing reporters to death as they screamed, starving Yemeni children, mocking POWs and troops living and dead, mocking the disabled, mass negligent homicide by Pandemic, Muslim bans, lies, corruption, sadism and cruelty: all of it was rendered worth it because the GOP threw the “prolife” movement the MCP bone whenever it came to power.
Then a study was done showing that the MCP’s actual real-world effect was to increase abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa by a whopping 40%.
As a Catholic who thinks that political parties are tools for getting Catholic social doctrine implemented, I have zero interest in whose ox is gored by such news. The obvious thing to do in such a case is to get rid of the policy and lower the abortion rate abroad. But for MAGA Catholics, the Faith exists for the GOP, not politics for the Faith. So when I posted this information about the failure of the MCP, I wound up having a conversation with a MAGA brainwashing victim that became a brief attempt at deprogramming. I post it here as an quick example of what many Consistent Life Ethic Advocates will have to do millions of times in the hope of getting through the dense layers of MAGA programming to the hearts and minds of those trapped in the MAGA cult.
The Cultist began with a straightforward attempt to deny the fact in favor of spin:
“Rebuttal?” he wrote, linking to a crappy attempt at denial of the facts over at National Review.
My reply: I’ll take science over ideologically driven shit. But do keep listening to what your itching ears want to hear.
His attempt at flat denial rebuffed, my MAGA reader did not say, “Gosh. Maybe there’s a problem with the policy and we need to do something different to save the unborn lives it harms.” That’s because the MAGA cult never thinks of the common good. It always thinks about saving its own skin. So my reader next tried to deflect by saying:
not a trump policy, but a Reagan one. Did you disagree with it then?
My reply: The study was released in 2019. Ronald Reagan (for whom I voted twice) left office in 1988. Do you care that the MCP raises abortion rates by 40% or do you only care about defending the GOP no matter who dies as a result of your partisanship? What is your actual goal: saving the unborn or using them as human shields for your failed political ideology?
For those of you following along at home, my reply was ordered toward refusing to fall for his deflection and instead bringing his nose right back to “raises abortion rates by 40%” and rubbing it in that fact. That’s because the Big Lie of the MAGA cult is the claim “We make abortion our #1 priority and we don’t get distracted by lesser concerns”. On the contrary, they are constantly focused on lesser concerns. Lesser concerns dominate their every waking thought. Because it is the defense of every GOP policy–and above all of Donald Trump–that is the true #1 priority. The unborn are only of interest insofar as they can be wielded as human shields for that true #1 priority. So here, my reader’s goal was to try to pretend that the only reason I cared about the MCP was out of hostility to Trump and not because it, y’know, kills more children. In the MAGA cult where accusation is always confession, the charge that Seamless Garment supporters care more about liberal politics than human life is exactly backwards. It is the Cult that cares more about defending the GOP than about whether the unborn live or die.
Next came the prioritization of Self over the unborn, because the MAGA is deeply narcissistic and always thinks of self ahead of the Common Good. So my reader wrote:
I hear you, but question the morality. We can agree that abortion is evil. So, not supporting organizations that provide or promote abortions is a good thing. We agree? Therefore supporting MCP is good because it limits funding to those organizations that support abortions, right? You raise an interesting point about the consequences. But before going there, should we not start with the foundation that evil (supporting abortion) can never be done even if a supposed good (less 40% abortions) comes of it.What happened to “never do evil that good might come from it”?
My reply: So what matters is not the actual reduction of abortion, but performative piety that makes you feel good about yourself? No thanks.
To which my reader replied with yet another form of deflection, the Tone Police Ploy:
seriously? I’m just someone asking questions. You’ve changed Mark.
I was asking a question too. You need to answer it. You entered this conversation laboring to deny facts. When that failed you tried switching to pretending that this was about partisan politics and not saving the unborn. Then you switched to putting ritual purity over the lives of the unborn. Now you move to tone policing over the lives of the unborn. I am attempting to educate you about a deep bias under which you consistently operate in all your rhetorical strategies. Because like an awful lot of conservative Christians you are blind to it. Go back over what you have written and tell me I am wrong.
To which he replied with the “Absolute Ritual Purity Matters More Than Sanity” defense:
reduction of abortion IS good. End of story? The ends do justify the means?
You have to first establish that it is evil to get rid of a policy that raises abortion by 40%.One of the marks of MAGA is that its adherents are unfailingly narcissistic and always think first and only of themselves and not of the common good. In this case, all you are thinking of is your sense of absolute ritual purity, even if it kills people. Jesus calls it “straining at gnats and swallowing camels.”
That is a manifestly stupid position. All you are really arguing is that in your persnickety demand for ritual purity you have chosen to pick one example of remote material cooperation with evil out of a gigantic host of such examples when it comes to federal monies and exaggerate it out of all proportion and sense. State monies go for all sorts of things I object to as grave moral evils. Yet I bet you don’t spend any time protesting nuclear weapons, or kidnapping children at the border, or paying the salary of antisemitic lunatics like Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Government is and always was a blunt instrument and taxes have always been spent by it on both good things and bad. Yet Paul said to pay them anyway, even when those taxes went to Nero, who cut off Paul’s head.
The goal is to reduce abortion, not dance attendance on the narcissistic MAGA need to feel absolutely ritually pure. If getting rid of the MCP does that, then get rid of it. That’s not “doing evil that good may come of it.” That’s lessening evil and saving lives.
To this he replied: “you supported MCP with Reagan. You don’t support it with Trump. There lies your issue. You can spin it any way you want, but your anger and hatred have colored/distorted your views. How do you “interpret” CCC 1761? C’mon Mark, you’re better than this!”
Note the return to tone policing and the refusal to accept the fact that I am responding to the science. C.S. Lewis calls this the “restless fertility of bewilderment” that is one of the marks of the inability to deal with facts. The falsehoods start to recycle in an endless loop. It can’t be that I’m reacting to a study released in 2019. It has to be “hatred” for Trump.
As to CCC 1761, I agree with it. The Church says, “There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.”
I’ve been saying this for years, particularly to the “prolife” MAGA cult that has approved of massive evil for years with the excuse that supporting them will all be worth it so long as abortion is magicked away.
Here’s the thing: You have things exactly backwards. Your end is to avoid having to pay taxes toward something that makes you feel ritually impure, because you are all about yourself, not the common good. Paying taxes is remote material cooperation with evil, something you don’t mind at all in any other areas of life unless you are scrupulous to the point of mental illness. You don’t care that your taxes support nukes or unjust war or torture. Or that buying a book from Amazon supports a billionaire robber baron who underpays his workers (a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance). Or that your chocolate was harvested by slaves. Or that watching a movie on Prime means paying money to support other films that are blasphemous. None of that bothers you because you know perfectly well that remote material cooperation with evil is not sinful. But because you have a fetish about ritual impurity on this one particular use of your taxes, you pretend that this is a case of avoiding the ends justifying the means. In fact, though, you have it reversed. It is avoiding paying taxes for your one special fetish about remote material cooperation with evil that is your end. And to achieve that end you are willing to embrace a means that kills 40% more unborn children.
The ends do not justify the means. Repent.
As I say, there will be millions of such conversations in the long work of deprogramming of the MAGA Cult.
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin. – John F. Kennedy