Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Abortion and Slavery

This Ta-Nehisi Coates post about the parallels/differences between slavery and abortion sparked at least two responses.

FLG, however, has stopped listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates on this point since this passage. It displays such a lack of the clearheaded thinking he usually displays that FLG cannot help but think TNC is simply illogical on this point:
I think people who equate the fight miss that crucial distinction. I think that's why they're more likely to invoke John Brown than, say, Nat Turner--it clouds the analogy. That said even in accepting John Brown as a stand-in for to pro-life vigilantes, you must also say that pro-life vigilantes generally don't have armed embryos raiding with them. There is no embryo equivalent to Mackandal in Haiti, the Maroons in Jamaica, the multi-racial Seminoles of Florida, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, David Walker etc.

TNC provides this list and lists it as a distinction. The thing is the examples he provides are almost exclusively former slaves. Well, okay, that's fine. The anti-slavery movement included former slaves. Makes perfect sense. Some of them were militantly opposed to slavery. Again, makes sense.

He then says that there are no embryos in the pro-life movement. Okay. But not a great point. Because if you think of it, for oh, I dunno, TEN FUCKING SECONDS, you realize that everybody, and FLG means every single person in the pro-life movement, is a former embryo. So, the supposed superiority of the inclusion of former slaves in the anti-slavery movement then becomes a bit daft.

Now, to be clear, this isn't to say that FLG agrees with the analogy between slavery and abortion. At the abstract, high level, however, FLG understands the parallels. The question isn't whether those parallels exist so much as to whether they are relevant. TNC seems to want to argue not that they aren't relevant, but that they don't exist, which, at least in FLG's opinion, seems to require a sort of willful blindness. But even if FLG grants TNC the benefit of the doubt and says, what he really means is that the parallels aren't relevant, he's still not marshaling evidence that makes much sense to FLG.

PS. This might be one of those cases where FLG's extended time horizons theory comes into play. People on the right, who are concerned about the long-term and are somewhat concomitantly also more drawn to theory and rationality see parallels easily; whereas people on the left, who are more short-term and are somewhat concomitantly also more drawn empiricism and specific examples find a lot of differences. FLG would suggest that the real point of agreement/disagreement ought to be around the relevance.


Withywindle said...

Psst. Obama's SOTU is all about how the US must compete in a global economy.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I'm more interested in the fact Hollywood is more racist than the Tea Party. No one of color was nominated for Oscars 2011.I tried to read that Unbearable Whiteness of Pro-Lifers - mental note: do post ;the unbearable whiteness of Oscar - but didn't get too far. Justice Scalia was the one who popularized the slavery/abortion issue in a ruling - if you're not aware of it, you might like his clarity:

"There is a poignant aspect to today's opinion. Its length, and what might be called its epic tone, suggest that its authors believe they are bringing to an end a troublesome era in the history of our Nation, and of our Court. "It is the dimension" of authority, they say, to cal[l] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution. Ante, at 867.

"There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82nd year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer and staring straight out. There [505 U.S. 833, 1002] seems to be on his face, and in his deep-set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case - its already apparent consequences for the Court and its soon-to-be-played-out consequences for the Nation - burning on his mind. I expect that, two years earlier, he, too, had thought himself call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.

"It is no more realistic for us in this case than it was for him in that to think that an issue of the sort they both involved - an issue involving life and death, freedom and subjugation - can be "speedily and finally settled" by the Supreme Court, as President James Buchanan, in his inaugural address, said the issue of slavery in the territories would be. See Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, S.Doc. No. 101-10, p. 126 (1989). Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish.

"We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining."

more here:

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

Here's something on Obama, SOTU taxes and slavery....

Mrs. P

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