Carol Platt Liebau: More on Schiavo & the "Religious Right"

Monday, March 28, 2005

More on Schiavo & the "Religious Right"

Here, Ronald Brownstein of The Los Angeles Times writes on the Schiavo matter.

Like most of the mainstream media, he emphasizes the "split" in Republican ranks over "'Culture of Life' Issues." (To quote a line from the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, "Perhaps the wish is father to the thought").

Of course, this would be a perfect opportunity to explain that so many of the polls show opposition to the course taken by Congress and the President because of the misleading and inappropriate ways that the poll questions were asked (read more about it from Michelle Malkin here).

But that, although important, isn't the point here, either. The point is that many people didn't have time to get the facts -- and to the quick observer, it does look like a travesty for the federal government to be intervening in a tragic, personal, life and death case. Especially when people may not have had the time to find out that Terri wasn't on life support / her husband had a new common law wife and two children / 40% of the money he sued for was spent on his legal fees to bring about Terri's death, and assorted other matters. What the American people did was to think about how terrible they'd feel if the government intervened in a case dividing their family -- without having had the time, perhaps, to understand the many, many factors that make this case unique.

In fact, Republicans need to explain that they took the measures they did to make sure that the plug won't be pulled on YOU -- or you, or you -- unless those are really your wishes. Congress didn't decree that Terri be kept alive no matter what; they told a federal court to take one more look at a very tough case to make sure that a vulnerable, disabled woman wasn't going to be starved to death against her will. (Too bad the court ignored the mandate). Democrats supposedly used to be the defenders of the defenseless; looks like that mantle has passed to the Republicans -- now, the Dems are the defenders of the mighty and unaccountable judiciary.

There's one other thing. It's become tiresome to hear the wrong and routine villification of "The Religious Right" -- often used as a catch-all phrase to stigmatize anyone with conservative or religiously-informed social views. Why does the stigmatization work? Because people who are not themselves religious don't even understand the terms of the debate -- and ignorance leads to fear leads to dislike. People of faith need to do more to explain their views in straightforward, layman's terms that even those who disagree with them -- or those who are not well-schooled in religion -- can understand. And that's the topic of my weekly column.


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