Race and abortion are not issues I write about as fluently, but I was so riled by some things I’ve read that I couldn’t not write something.
Nothing seems to irk white conservatives quite like the way members of the black community tend to support Democrats, and in particular, President Obama. Clearly, there was a meeting held and/or a memo sent out, and it was decided that a wedge had to be introduced. With support for gay rights higher than ever as evidenced by the support of DADT repeal, the Prop 8 plan would not be effective. How, then, to turn African-American voters against a beloved biracial President?
The answer seems to be abortion.
Religious right discussion of abortion seems to be (re)accelerating, and the latest anti-choice pitch looks like this:
We white conservatives care so much about the black community that we don’t want any more black babies to be killed. You don’t want your race to die out, do you? Of course not. We’re your real allies.
Of course, as Pam Spaulding pointed out to Peter LaBarbera on Twitter today:
The conservative syllogism is this: Racists want less black people. Abortion results in less black people being born. Thus, opposing abortion means opposing racism.
Nothing should inspire suspicion of racism quite like white people trying to preemptively prove to an audience of color that they’re not racist, particularly when they’re trying to convince that same audience that someone else is. Margaret Sanger, the original founder of Planned Parenthood, is a favorite target, but even Barack Obama himself is not off limits.
(Lest you, my reader, should try at this point to point an ironic finger of blame, please allow me to set myself apart by acknowledging that I’ve got a ton of white privilege to work through and I’m not nearly as good an ally as I surely could be. I welcome all critiques of this and any other post that might help me be a better ally.)
Lila Rose, President of Live Action, is happy to help you assume that Planned Parenthood is inherently racist. It’s a pretty paltry exercise, though she doesn’t hold back to smear PP every chance she gets in every convoluted way she can. In this case, a “racist donor” calls up different Planned Parenthood locations and asks if he can give money and have it earmarked specifically for the abortion of a black baby. The PP representative says “Yes.” Thus, according to prominent pro-lifers like Alveda King (a profit-eager quisling who wouldn’t be anywhere without her uncle’s last name), PP is racist, because they accept money from racists.
To suggest that an organization is anti-black merely because they accept money intended to help provide the very service that they offer seems a pretty far cry. In fact, it could be argued the opposite. If a black woman is less likely to be able to afford an abortion due to her socioeconomic status, that essentially means she does not have equal opportunity—she doesn’t have the same right to choice. Therefore, having money set aside specifically for people of color to access is an effort against racism and white privilege, and it isn’t so different from scholarships that have the same intention.
So should Planned Parenthood be accepting huge donations from the KKK without flinching? Of course not. When Hell freezes over and I start believing in God, let me know, because that’s the day such an offer would ever be made. If PP is committed to social justice as they claim, they should perhaps better coach their personnel for identifying and responding to overt racists like in these baiting calls, but the uncomfortable reactions of a few ambushed administrative assistants do not come anywhere close to representing the principles or intentions of the organization as a whole. According to a New York Times article on this matter last year:
Planned Parenthood has apologized for the employees’ statements and says they do not reflect the organization’s values or policies.
As for Sanger, her support of eugenics is obviously deserving of scrutiny, but her rhetoric does not in any way live up to the blatant racism she is accused of. Regardless of any of her questionable principles, Sanger insisted that it is solely up to the mother to make the decision of whether a child should be brought into the world. It’s surprising that Alveda King is so eager to denounce Sanger and Planned Parenthood, given that her uncle, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., proudly accepted the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger Award in 1966. In his acceptance speech, he pointed out a “striking kinship” between the civil rights movement and Sanger’s early efforts, adding, “the years have justified her actions.”
While the Live Action recordings are not new, Peter Heck’s twisting of Obama’s support of the right to choose is beyond the pale. In his column (re)published yesterday on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Heck actually tried to paint President Obama as a proponent of slavery. Obama is “disgracing his racial ancestors” by embodying the “very dark spirit of oppression” that Frederick Douglass opposed. (Heck is on the same page as Douglass, obviously, in case you didn’t understand what he was trying to imply here). Anyone who supports abortion supports slavery by treating fetuses (“tiny humans”) as legal property. It’s a “slavish mindset” to have, and Barack Obama honors the legacy of “the plantation owners’ ideology.”
He continues to compare the “heinous butchery of abortion” to southern progenitors’ “abusive bull whips,” and Obama (“our first black president”) “has chosen to take up the whip against his fellow man,” warring “against the life work of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln.”
Only a man terrifyingly unmoved by the injustices perpetrated against his own ancestors could, just a century and a half later, facilitate even worse atrocities without a hint of remorse.
Even though Heck is trying to suggest Lincoln was a better black president than a black (biracial) president, I suppose we should at least give him credit for acknowledging that Obama’s ancestors are American. But the Lincoln juxtaposition isn’t the worst of it.
Heck is unabashedly trying to make the case that Obama’s support of the right to choose is so harmful to “black America” (Heck’s quotes, not mine) that it undermines anything else he’s done to support that community. This is a euphemism for: Hey black people, Even though Obama looks like you, you shouldn’t trust him. He’s actually working against you. He’s a racist.
Of course, Heck is not the first white man to try to suggest Obama is racist. And in this case, it’s not even that euphemistic:
…it can rightly be concluded that Barack Obama disgraces his office, his ancestors, and his place in the eternal struggle for the rights of man.
That’s quite a claim. I wonder how successful it is with black readers.
These tactics are deplorable. It’s a farce to think that conservatives actually have the black community’s interests in mind, and it’s downright offensive that these people are trying to paint themselves as allies. Their motives are malicious, attempting to win votes through fear-mongering and hoping that the voters they sway just ignore the rest of their platform.
If the lack of racial diversity in Tea Party is indication, the tactics aren’t working. Let’s keep it that way.