The Hypocrisy of Being Pro-Life

On March 17, a post/meme appeared on Facebook that read:

U.S. deaths since 1/22

COVID-19 – 27

Flu – 4,700

Abortions – 118,000

Facebook removed the post due to the fact that both the flu number and the abortion number were not actually known for that exact time period and that based on previous year’s data, both would significantly incorrect. But like most data driven arguments on social media, it’s not really about facts. It’s about generalities that are kind of true that make your point regardless of how factual they are. And to be fair, on March 17, those numbers would paint an abstract argument that would land in the ballpark of accurate.

For instance, in the most recent year we have data for (2017) there were 862,000 abortions performed. Should that number be broken down into the time frame referenced in the post/meme, evidence suggests that the number referenced was actually a little low. As for the flu number referenced, it also would be a little low based on data from previous years. COVID-19 numbers? Well, we know that the number referenced on March 17 is probably not a fair representation either.

But regardless, the message of the meme was clear: why are we going to all this trouble to save a few lives from a virus that isn’t that bad when we let almost a million lives get terminated each year through abortion. As someone who is adamantly opposed to abortion, I think it’s a good question. However…

Can we flip that around? The argument against abortion is that life is precious. Right? All life! That’s why the anti-abortion movement prefers the moniker, Pro-Life.

Let’s put this on hold and come back to it a little later.

Since the inception of the COVID-19 crisis, the political movement behind: minimizing the virus, suggesting the virus is a political tool to weaken the president, isn’t as bad as the flu, is pretty much the same as the flu, and pushing for an end to “tyrannical” rule and “martial law” has been the Republican party and “conservative” media. This movement has even gone so far as to say the following:

It is always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life, of American lives, we have to always choose the latter…. It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils. It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils and we intend to move forward that direction.” – Indiana Representative, Trey Hollingsworth (R)

Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life.” – Wisconsin Senator, Ron Johnson (R) after advocating for the reopening of the US Economy despite scientific data that suggests doing so would result in additional deaths which would not occur if the economy remained shuttered.

The Cure Cannot Be Worse Than The Disease.” – Donald Trump.

Some may argue that the last quote does not advocate sacrificing more lives for the sake of the economy, but I would say those would be pretty weak arguments since the cure clearly refers to lock downs and the disease would be infections and deaths associated with COVID-19.

I could provide dozens more examples from Fox News personalities and politicians along with memes posted by private citizens on social media that further my point. But I would just be repeating myself and frankly the message from President Trump and a large swath of conservatives is brutally clear:

An individual life, or even tens of thousands of lives, are NOT more important than the economy or jobs.

But the economy and jobs are not the only thing less important than life. Take for instance this same political movement’s stand on assault rifles.

I mean, I get it. I understand the second amendment. US citizens have the right to own guns. However, they are not allowed to own RPGs. Nor are they allowed to own surface-to-air missiles. Heck, the United States doesn’t allow most countries to own nuclear weapons. So it would appear that there are limits as to what kind of weaponry should be allowed into the hands of private citizens. After seeing the amount of death an assault rifle can deal to unarmed and unassuming citizens, it might be safe to ask what benefit do they provide by being in the hands of private citizens, especially if we are concerned about life.

Because crazy people are always going to be with us and things like mass shootings are probably just a new normal we have to accept. But the reality is, the number of lives lost if we banned assault weapons would likely drop dramatically in those horrific situations. Do we honestly believe 59 people would have died during the Las Vegas shooting if the shooter had not been able to spray the crowd with bullets from assault rifles? An honest answer would be no.

Nevertheless, conservatives and Republicans the across the nation (a vast majority of which do not own assault rifles) continue to rail against gun control specific to assault rifles. The message?

Life is NOT more important than gun ownership, even in the most extreme of circumstances.

Finally, hundreds of thousands of refugees are spilling out of Syria and other nations of the middle east where war has destroyed lives and Islamist extremism has displaced individuals and families from all socio-economic levels. Some refugee camps are well run and relatively clean. Others, not so much. Death as a result is common. And that’s if refugees can even make it to the camps. In 2019, over 1,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross on ill equipped rafts. Almost 2,500 deaths were recorded in the same year for migrants travelling on well-known refugee migration routes.

Meanwhile, the Americas have their own refugee concerns. Over three thousand people are murdered in Honduras a year. A vast majority of these murders are gang related. To give perspective, in 2012 Honduras had 7,172 murders among a population of 9 million. The EU that same year had 5,000 murders among a population of 500 million.

Honduras is not alone, and as a result, thousands of people flee this area of the world headed for the United States in the hopes of saving their lives, or at least the lives of their children.

And what is the response of the United States?

In 2019, Donald Trump signed the Asylum Cooperation Agreement with Honduras which will allow the US to send asylum seekers to Honduras, even if the people seeking asylum aren’t from that country. The US already has similar agreements in place with Guatemala and El Salvador-additional countries known for their high gang activity and murder rate. People sent to these nations will not have the ability to seek asylum in the United States.

The basic responses from Republicans and conservatives are: These people just need to go about it legally. They should stay in their own country and try to improve it. It’s sad, but we just don’t have room for everyone. They would take American jobs.

Under the current administration, practices such as separating children from their parents and not allowing asylum seekers to reside in the United States while their cases are being considered have been put in place. According to an article in The Guardian by Ed Vulliamy from February 18th, kidnappings of migrants have gone through the roof with a report finding that 80 percent of migrants waiting to enter the US have been kidnapped by mafia controlled gangs in Mexico. 45% of those kidnapped have experienced violence or violation. Prior to President Trump’s directive, those individuals would have been in the US awaiting their hearings, not in Mexico.

Meanwhile, the number of refugees allowed to resettle in our country has been slashed over the last four years. In 2016, the ceiling for refugees who would be allowed to resettle in our country was 85,000. That number in 2020 is 18,000. The message?

Life is NOT more important than immigration law and keeping people out of our country.

Bottom line, I’m tired of hearing about the Pro-Life movement. I was told how important it was to vote for Trump in 2016 because we needed supreme court judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade. Apparently, stopping abortions was so important that we needed to sell our souls to an immoral, dishonest narcissist who has time and again shown himself to be unworthy of our highest office. Why? Because life is that important, right?

However, to a majority of those making that argument, it is clear that life really isn’t THAT important. Only unborn life. The lives of those who have already passed through the birth canal are pretty much meaningless and disposable.

So please, can we stop calling it the Pro-Life movement? Calling it the Anti-abortion movement is fine. But to call Republicans and conservatives pro-life, especially those who unequivocally support Trump, is the ultimate in hypocrisy. And frankly I’m sick of it.

If We’re Gonna Open Up, Let’s Really Open Up

In recent days, there has been much clamoring for the re-opening of America and it’s economy. Living where I do, I have to admit that I totally understand this sentiment. As I have documented previously, our little county in Arizona identified two cases of COVID-19 back in mid-March. Both of those cases have fully recovered. Since that time, not a single test for COVID-19 in our area has come back positive. NOT ONE!

Does anyone have any idea how difficult it is to stay committed to stay-at-home orders or true social distancing when not a single case of the dreaded disease everyone is hoping to avoid hasn’t shown up in your backyard for over a month? Of course some of you do, because you are probably experiencing something similar. And I get it, everyone just wants to get back to normal, get back to work, and get back to…being America.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, this yearning for normal has lead to some less than ideal arguments being floated into the grand marketplace of ideas. For instance, Indiana Republican House Representative, Trey Hollingsworth, suggested that the “lesser of two evils” is to let more Americans die rather than let our American way of life (our economy) die. He later walked back this comment to a certain degree, but he is not alone in his view that in order to save the greater good for a greater number of people, we probably need to re-open the nation, let everyone get back to work, and let the virus do its worst. Most people advocating this view tend to be younger than retirement age and free of underlying health concerns and therefore feel a little more at ease with their chances.

The tough part is, frankly I get it. My wife and I have both been extremely blessed to remain employed through this historic worldwide event. There are many who haven’t been as fortunate. But we can relate in the slightest of ways. My son is preparing to leave on a religious mission for two years. These missions are largely paid for by the missionaries themselves and their families. For the last year he has held a job that was providing money to pay for his mission. On March 20, that job went away. I would very much welcome the opportunity for him to go back to work. It would be a true financial benefit for our family if he could go back to work. So please believe me when I say I understand the allure of the idea now permeating a large portion of our culture, “The cure can’t be worse than the disease.”

It’s tough, though, when facts get in the way. Since January, we’ve been hearing the refrain that COVID-19 is nothing more than the flu, or that the number of those dying is not even reaching that of those killed by the flu each year. The truth is, the CDC reports that in the 2018-2019 flu season 34,200 Americans lost their lives to the flu. Admittedly, in previous years that number has been as high as 57,000. Yesterday, the United States experienced its highest 24-hour period of fatalities related to COVID-19 to date with a number of 4,951. Our total deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States now stands at 35,371 and we’re not even close to done.

Never fear though, numbers like those can be explained away easily in this age of social media which overflows with an endless supply of unverifiable information. The new arguments sprouting up all over Facebook and Twitter, perpetuated by those hell-bent on re-opening the country, are that the numbers being reported are inflated. I suppose it’s possible. There is absolutely no verifiable proof that this is true, but I suppose it’s possible.

But the main issue is that we can’t lose our American way of life, our liberties, our freedoms. That’s the only thing that matters here, am I correct? What we are doing nationwide with social distancing and stay-at-home orders is an overreaction that cannot stand for the mere argument of safety. Freedom comes with a cost. That’s just the way it is, right?

On September 11, 2001, America lost 2,977 people to terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. As a result, all flights were grounded for a week, but then we got right back to normal. Except that when travelers returned to the airports, they were told to arrive two hours in advance in order to navigate new stringent security measures that had been put in place. The days of people walking their friends or family directly to an airport gate were over. Large trash cans were placed in airport security areas as thousands of bottles filled with personal hygiene products got thrown away due to new restrictions on the amount of liquid one could carry with them onto a plane. Weeks later, after another attempted terrorist plot failed, millions of Americans were forced to remove their shoes and belts every time they passed through airport security. What followed in the coming months were implementations of machines that would basically provide the TSA a very reliable view of what you looked like naked. It was a little off-putting, but…in the same of safety, right? All of these basic removals of privacy and loss of freedoms were accepted by the masses in the name of safety. Overreaction? I guess we’ll never know. We didn’t like it, but it was being done in the name of saving American lives.

What’s interesting is that if you fly out of an airport in Canada, you don’t go through all of that extensive security. Don’t get me wrong, you do go through security, but you don’t remove half your clothing and the process is much simpler and less invasive. Since 2001, Canada has not had a single significant terrorist attack related to airplanes originating in their country. So why do we keep up these ridiculous over-reactive practices at our airports?

We want to be safe! We want to feel safe and if that is the price we have to pay, personal liberty and privacy be damned.

Since 9-11, the number of individuals killed in airline related terrorism inside the United States is 0. The number of individuals killed in reported domestic terrorism incidents unrelated to air travel but associated with Islamic extremism in the last 18 years is 83. However, because of this threat to American lives, we currently have a travel ban in place for individuals from the following countries: Yemen, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

Please understand that I understand that these nations are home to a significant number of people who want to do harm to Americans. However, these same people also want to do significant harm to citizens of their own countries. Refugees pouring out of Syria since 2011 due to a never ending civil war are doing so under the threat of death. The entire number of Americans killed in the US due to terrorism since September 10, 2001 is 3,060. The number of Syrians killed by Islamic extremists since 2011, ten years less than the American time frame, is over 400,000. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that between the number of Syrians who have fled their country after being displaced (had their houses and livelihood utterly obliterated) is approximately 5.6 million. An additional 6.6 million are displaced but still reside in Syria with no ability to escape. That is a total of 12.2 million people who are without homes and without hope due to Islamic extremism. Most of those people are Muslims.

I don’t know, looking at those figures it could be argued that being a Syrian is much more dangerous in the face of Islamic extremism than being an American. And that doesn’t even touch on the numbers of those affected in the other nations listed above.

In 2016, United States policy allowed for 110,000 refugees to be vetted and resettled within its borders. In 2020, the total number allowed, the ceiling, the most we will accept, is 18,000. Each year, the US generally takes in about half of the number allowed which means that the US could expect to see 9,000 refugee resettlements in 2020.

Why? Why would a nation that claims to be steeped in the traditions of Christianity turn its back on millions in need? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we can’t take everyone and that the vetting process should be extensive, but 9,000 out of literally tens of millions?

States like Arizona and Utah have made clear to the federal government that they are more than willing and ready to accept refugees. Utah especially has had amazing success helping refugees displaced from middle eastern nations acclimate to a new home in the Rocky Mountains. They are begging for more. But due to US policy, there aren’t any more to send them.

Again, why? Because we’re afraid? Because we’re concerned that a terrorist might slip in among the innocent and kill us? Again, since 9-11, 83 people have been reported killed in the United States by Islamic extremism. By comparison, over 50 died when a wacko white guy broke out a window in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas and shot up a music festival.

Now follow me here. If not losing our American way of life is important enough to open back up our nation even though doing so could cost us thousands of actual American lives, wouldn’t it be just as important not lose our Christian identity and ideals by opening up our borders to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses that are fleeing certain death in their homelands? By the way, of those 83 people killed by domestic Islamic extremism, exactly zero were killed by refugees vetted and allowed into our country through the refugee resettlement programs. ZERO!

So, if we’re going to get all patriotic and self-righteous about our liberties and freedoms by demanding a reopening of our country despite scientific evidence that suggests it may not be the best idea to do so, then I think we should get equally serious about remembering who provided those liberties and freedoms to us in the first place. We need to really open this place up. It’s time to do what’s right for more of God’s children than we currently are, especially if we have decided that loss of American lives is no longer a barrier to protecting our American values and Way of Life.