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American Thinker
American Thinker
16 Dec 2023
David R. Carlin

NextImg:Barbarism, Ho!

Decades ago, when abortion first began winning public approval in the USA, I worried that if abortion were to be generally approved, it would lead to further grim consequences.  Abortion being what it is, namely the unjust killing of a guiltless human being, I feared that once society accepts the premise that it is morally permissible in certain circumstances to kill an innocent human being, other forms of unjust killing will gradually win public approval, e.g., euthanasia and political murder.  After all, if you accept a wicked premise, sooner or later you will have to accept the wicked conclusions that follow from that premise. 

Well, here we are, more than fifty years since I began worrying about such things, and ten states plus D.C. have legalized physician-assisted suicide, a kind of voluntary euthanasia.  As for political murder, that’s what Hamas did in Israel on October 7 of 2023, and a day or two later great numbers of young Americans were applauding these murders.  Who can doubt that euthanasia will grow in popularity?  And who will be surprised when American political figures are shot down by fellow Americans?

Though I personally find Donald Trump an obnoxious individual, I fear what may be the outcome of the charge repeated every day by many of his fiercest enemies -- I mean the charge that he will, if elected in 2024, attempt to abolish democracy and make himself a dictator.  I fear that some impressionable person, driven half mad by this charge, will decide to play Brutus or Cassius to Trump’s Caesar.  People who make this charge are inspired, not (as they self-righteously claim) by a patriotic love of democracy and republicanism; rather, by a wish to inspire widespread hatred of Trump.

It is worth noting that it is people who never tire of denouncing hate and recommending brotherly love -- it is precisely those people who are the greatest Trump-haters.  Of course they will tell us that what they feel for Trump is not hatred; no, it is righteous indignation.  Really?  Well, you could have fooled me.

In any case, what I did not appreciate till recently is that the growth of pro-abortion attitudes in the 1960s and ‘70s would eventually lead to scenes I have recently seen on TV news programs -- scenes of young men descending in gangs on stores where they make “smash and grab” acts of thievery.  If it’s a jewelry store, they steal lots of expensive jewelry.   If it’s a clothing store, they steal lots of expensive clothing.  If it’s a neighborhood convenience store, they steal lots of beer and pretzels.  Rarely do these thieves get arrested and punished.  Even more rarely do they get punished to the degree they ought to be punished.

But wait!  What does abortion have to do with wholesale thievery?  We may remember that we were told a few years ago that abortion lowered the crime rate by making sure that boys who are likely to be bad never get born, boys who, if allowed to be born, would grow up in a crime-ridden neighborhood.

Well, it may not have been abortion itself that led directly to “smash and grab” operations.  It was, rather, the common justification offered for abortion.  I mean the justification that asserts that moral beliefs are matters of opinion, quite unlike mathematical or scientific beliefs.  “You say abortion is wrong.  I say it’s right.  Everybody is entitled to his own opinion.”

That was an argument deployed at the earliest stages of the sexual revolution.  “You say it’s wrong to go to bed with one’s boyfriend.  I say it’s right.  It’s a matter of opinion.”  And so on.  It’s a useful argument whenever one is inclined to break with conventional morality.

It is an argument that can also be deployed in a hundred (or a thousand) other circumstances.  “You think shoplifting is wrong.  I think it is right.  It is a matter of opinion.  This is a free country, isn’t it?  Aren’t we all entitled to our own opinions?” 

Of course, that’s not the only argument the thieves have.  They also have that old standby: “The people who own the store are very rich.  They can easily afford the loss of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.”  And if the thieves have been ideologically instructed in the “correct” way, they may add a somewhat more fashionable justification: “Besides, the wealth of these rich owners was obtained unjustly over many generations.  My theft is nothing more than the repossession of a small portion of the property stolen from my ancestors.  Call it reparations if you like.”

My point is that the widespread triumph of abortion coincided with the widespread breakdown of the old idea we find in the Bible and in the writings of Cicero: (a) that there are certain objective and immutable rules of morality and (b) that we have a kind of natural or intuitive knowledge of these rules -- rules like “do not lie” and “do not steal” and “do not commit murder.”  Once we get rid of that “old idea” we, like Pandora with her box, are opening the door to a multitude of evils, “smash and grab” operations being the least of them. 

As a wise man once said, “Ideas govern the world” -- both good ideas and bad ideas.  Civilization depends on the prevalence of good ideas.  Barbarism depends on the prevalence of bad ideas.

The triumph of abortion half a century ago put the USA, I fear, on the slow but slippery slope that leads in the direction of barbarism.

Image: Public Domain