Friday, March 3, 2017

Unapologetically Unpolitical

I don't like politics. Never have, never will. 

Nowadays there's no honest or objective debate. It's all about advocating one narrow viewpoint. No one listens to the other. They just want to be right.

Even matters of grave importance have been distorted by subjective political bias.

What does it mean to be pro-choice?

Are you selective about which areas in life one may choose?

I understand that it means you advocate for a pregnant woman's right to choose an elective abortion, even if fetus is viable and poses no danger to mom.

I also understand that being "pro-choice" means you maintain that this woman's choice be honored by all private and public medical establishments, and if necessary, paid for by public funds.

But does that mean you're only pro-choice regarding reproductive rights?

Or are you also pro-choice for education, let's say?

Do you also advocate for a mother's right to choose which school to send her child once born?

Or do you insist that only her child's education can ONLY be publicly funded if he/she attend a state-run school that the state requires him/her to attend?

Are you pro-choice for parents who choose not to give all recommended immunization boosters? Or do you believe parents ought to be coerced by state to give the chicken pox vaccine, let's say?

If you are "pro-choice," do you believe that the mother has a right to choose whether she wants her child to drink fluoridated water? Or do you believe that government ought to fluoridate everyone's public drinking water, irrespective of the protests of a minority?

Do you advocate for a patient's right to choose euthanasia or assisted suicide? Conversely, do you advocate for a family's right to choose not to terminate a vegetative patient? Or do you think that the hospital can insist on terminating patient?

If you are truly pro-choice across the board, then at least you're consistent.

But if you are against school choice, let's say, but you are still pro-choice for abortion, it seems to me that you are somewhat selective in which choices you choose to support.

If you argue that school choice hurts the poor or vaccine choice endangers the people with weak immune systems or un-fluoridated water jeopardizes the kids with poor dental care, then your opposition to such choices aren't because the choice hurts the chooser, but rather that it hurts someone else. Isn't that what "pro-life" folks argue, that the pregnant mother's choice in not only about her own reproductive rights, but is also affecting someone else, i.e. an otherwise-viable healthy baby, a living and sentient being?

You're not truly pro all choice, but only this particular one. Just as you oppose other choices (i.e. school, immunization, etc.), you certainly ought to acknowledge that many people oppose the choice for which you choose to advocate. Could it be that there's some validity to their opposition (just as you surely feel there's validity to your own opposition to other choices)?

Likewise, I wonder about those who call themselves "pro-life."

Are you only pro-life in the sense that you insist that a pregnant mother carry her baby to full term and give birth, or do you also advocate for other lives too?  Do you advocate for poor babies and children after they're born? Do you seek to feed the hungry, sustain the poor, heal the sick, etc.? Are you there to help these mothers raise the precious lives they've given birth to? Do you feel an obligation to help educate poor children too, so that they have opportunities to live fulfilled and healthy lives? Or do you not care about all other forms or stages of life?

If not, you weaken your position, because by your own admission you're not truly pro-life, but just advocating for life in this one particular instance.

If the lives of some aren't worthy of your support, one might argue, then by the same token, the life of this not-yet-born baby might not be worthy of support in the opinion of others, at least not when compared to the well-being of the mother. Do you not see any possible merit to their opinion?[1]

Perhaps there are valid points to consider on each side, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

This question can be expanded to many other areas of advocacy. If you're pro-women's rights and protest what you think is unfair or unequal treatment of women in US, do you also protest gross abuses that women suffer worldwide? It strikes me as rather odd when I hear of feminist protests that include advocates for fundamentalist Islam or Shariah Law. Seems rather self-contradictory. Perhaps these same protesters ought to be protesting horrific treatment of women and girls in Islamic societies throughout the world, like hundreds of millions of women who are victims of female genital mutilation worldwide (more than all females in North America combined).

Why are the vocal critics of Israel silent on incomparably worse human rights violators like China, Venezuela, Russia, and scores of Islamic countries?

If you're opposed to illegal occupation, why are you silent on China's occupation and annexation of Tibet? Why don't you boycott Chinese products?

It's because it's all about selective advocacy. This is one particular issue that you happen to feel for. It's all about subjective opinions, not necessarily about an objective reality. That's why no other refugee problem in history has ever mattered so much.

If you wish to protest racism yet march with a group whose members have attacked innocents just because they were white, then you are not really opposed to racism per se, but just advocating for one particular group.

If you tolerate unfair treatment of Jews on your campus in the guise of opposition to what you believe are Israel's "racist" policies, you are really not opposed to racism at all, but are in fact guilty of it yourself. You're just advocating one particular group's cause.

If you've been incensed by "fake news" targeting Hillary Clinton, have you been mortified by mainstream media's egregious bias and skewed reporting  of Israel? Have you protested their misleading headlines and often false accusations? Because if you haven't, then perhaps it's not the fakeness of the "fake news" you're opposed to, it's that it is damaging to your "team" or to your agenda.

Perhaps vague catchphrases like "pro-choice" or "pro-life" or "anti-occupation" ought to be scrapped once and for all. Let's be more specific what you're actual cause is. You're pro-abortion or anti-abortion. And you're not "anti-occupation." You're just anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. If you march with Islamic extremists, then you're not truly pro-women or pro-freedom. You're just taking a political position, advocating against one particular party. In that effort, you'll accept help from whomever, even if they're guilty of far worse than the one you're protesting.

That's why an Israeli flag was burned at the DNC last year, and why Democrats have pandered to extremely anti-Israel elements. And that's also why Trump's campaign accepted donations and endorsements from so-called alt-right bigots, and why Bannon's publication gave this objectionable group a voice.

This is why I abhor politics. My enemy's enemy will never be my friend if he's also an enemy. And not everyone who disagrees with me is necessarily an enemy, nor is anyone who agrees with me in any one issue necessarily a friend to whom I owe political loyalty or reciprocity.

I am proudly American and unabashedly pro-Israel, but that doesn't mean that I support or endorse all of our US government's or Israeli government's policies. I am pro the people of the USA, and the people of Israel, and as such, I pray for the welfare of the governments and hope they make wise decisions on behalf of their citizens. Being pro-Israel isn't political. Being anti-Israel is political.

Acknowledging our president and honoring his office as commander-in-chief isn't a political statement, nor is it political to state your view or protest a policy you disagree with. It's political when we get consumed with our own revulsion for the president that we hope he fails, and hopes that the country suffers, so that I can say I was right and "told you so."

Case in point: as repulsed as I was by the previous president's reckless abandonment of Israel, I never once hoped that he'd fail miserably in any other area of his administration, or that his domestic policies would fail. I was never "politically" opposed to him, but was just squarely opposed to certain policies, attitudes, statements, actions. As such, I never once felt that anyone who opposed his presidency was necessarily my ally, or that anyone who supported his presidency was necessarily my opponent.

Yes, there were many who politically opposed Obama, just as there are many who politically oppose Trump at present. I cannot consider myself part of either group. I suppose I just stand at the sidelines and shrug. What does all this anger and hatred accomplish? I hear lots of rhetoric and hyperbole coming from both sides. It's hard to stay sane in today's political climate.

Meanwhile, instead of being politically "pro-life" or "pro-choice," l shall continue to pray for life, health and wise choices.


[1] With regards to abortion, I believe Judaism neither supports the pro-abortion camp or the anti-abortion camp. The Torah categorically prohibits abortion if fetus is viable and poses no risk to mother, but it's not murder and as such, is actually required by Torah if pregnancy or delivery poses serious risk to mother. There's lots of gray area, and risk to mother is subject to interpretation. In every case, a competent rav should be consulted.


Anonymous said...

Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment
but after I clicked submit my comment didn't appear.
Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just
wanted to say wonderful blog!

Rabbi Michoel Green said...

Thank you Anonymous. Unfortunately, I was getting lots of spam comments from individuals (or computers?) trying to post links to products for sale etc., so comments can only get published after I approve/moderate, and sometimes it takes me some time to get to it. I do appreciate your taking the time to comment, and I apologize that it somehow got lost!

Anonymous said...

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poѕts aqᥙi cedo no manhã , porque eu desfrutar para ganhar conhecimento de mais.