THE TRIUMPH OF THE BANALITY OF EVIL
Catalyst July/August Issue 2004, From The President's Desk
William A. Donohue
If you haven’t read pages 8-9 yet, please do so before reading this article; it will facilitate what I’m about to say.
The late philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote brilliantly on the causes of totalitarianism, especially as it occurred in Nazi Germany. Perhaps her most memorable phrase—used to describe the way in which Germans became almost immune to human suffering—was the “banality of evil.”
That phrase applies equally well today to describe what is happening in America.
To intentionally kill an innocent child who is 80 percent born is not only evil; it is Satanic. The American Medical Association, which is steadfastly in favor of abortion rights, has admitted that partial-birth abortion is never needed to save the life of the mother. Yet thousands of these abortions take place every year in the United States.
The late senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was “pro-choice,” but he drew the line at partial-birth abortion: he properly called it infanticide. Ditto for Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City. So why is it that so many other abortion-rights public figures continue to defend a procedure that is so barbaric that it rivals anything done by the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin or Saddam Hussein?
While it is true that most Americans are opposed to partial-birth abortions, it is also true that most give it little attention. One reason for this is media bias: it has been well established that the media elite are almost unanimous in their support for abortion-on-demand. So much so that media insiders like Bernie Goldberg and others have admitted that it is extremely difficult for a pro-life person to get hired in any position of influence in journalism or the broadcast industry. Given this monopoly of thought, it is no wonder why “60 Minutes,” or any of the other TV magazine-type shows, will ever do a segment on partial-birth abortion. Wouldn’t it be great to learn what the hospitals and clinics do with the “remains”?
If that’s too gruesome, wouldn’t it be great if “Dateline” interviewed the very same doctors who are mentioned on pages 8-9? Or how about ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Would she bring that same pained look on her face—you know, the one she flashed when interviewing Mel Gibson—to work when asking the doctors what kind of scissors they like best? Wouldn’t it be instructive to learn how these monsters manage to sleep at night?
The banality of evil really shines through when these doctors are asked about the pain that the baby feels. Not only do they not have a clue—they don’t want to know. That’s because it’s not their job. Their job is to deliver a dead baby—and maybe put a cap on the kid’s head before slipping him into one of their little coffins.
Their answers are so icily cold as to be scary. These are well-educated men and women who were trained to help the sick. And what they do for a living is to kill the kids. Is it because the money is good? Maybe it is, but surely they could make lots of money treating people’s feet. No, what they elect to do tells us something about the way they see the world: they are servants, trained to deliver a service. Just like prostitutes, only the ladies of the night don’t have to learn how to use a suction tube.
This may come as a surprise to you: not one nation in the world has more liberal laws governing abortion than the United States. Every European nation—including the sexually liberated Scandinavian countries—has some restrictions on abortion. We have none. We know this because a few decades ago a member of the Catholic League’s board of advisors, Mary Ann Glendon, revealed this dirty little secret in a book she did on the subject. The Harvard law professor was herself surprised to learn that the U.S. has the most promiscuous laws on abortion of any nation on the face of the earth.
There are plenty of issues in this election season for voters to consider, and it makes no sense to focus on one to the exclusion of others. But it also makes no sense to treat issues like the environment, housing and the minimum wage as the moral equal of infanticide. Yet that is what many Catholics, including members of the clergy, are urging us to do. It is important that their quest for moral equivalency be resisted.
All of this is very troubling, and not simply because it is immoral to jam a scissors into a little baby’s head and then suck out the boy or girl’s brain. It is troubling because of what it does to the rest of us. It allows us to retreat—to escape into ourselves. It coarsens us. It promotes the fiction that we can each carve out our own universe, complete with our own morality. In short, such nihilism is deadly in more ways than one.