FAITH MATTERS: Easter, Santorum and the spread of fatal, self-centered thinking in the West

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Uwe Siemon-Netto

As Christianity is set to celebrate its highest feast in the church year, a Christian from overseas may be forgiven for asking his American coreligionists two troubling questions concerning the faltering campaign of Sen. Rick Santorum and the trivialization of life-and-death concerns in the current electoral season of the western world’s most religious nation.

The plight of women in Afghanistan is commonly overlooked in the West. /Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

Here we go:

  1. How come after 56 million legal abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973, even conservative pundits reproach Santorum for giving priority to “social issues”? For starters, this term is a diabolical misnomer for mass killing. A social issue might be whether you wear a tuxedo or tails at a glamorous ball; whether you, a commoner, should court a princess or, on a different level, whether workers should be given three or four weeks vacations per year. There’s nothing “social” about depriving an unborn baby of his or her chance to ever be social in the sense of interacting with other human beings. The genocides perpetrated against millions of kulaks in the Soviet Union, Jews in Germany, Cambodians in Cambodia and Tutsis in Africa were not “social issues”; so by what right should the annual annihilation of more than one million fetuses be euphemistically reduced to a bagatelle in such a hypocritical manner?
  2. For a second time in my career as a journalist I am observing Americans tire of an unpopular war. This confirms the harsh analysis by the former North Vietnamese defense minister, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, that “the enemy,” meaning Western democracies, lack “the psychological and political means” to fight protracted armed conflicts. So once again deadlines for a NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan are set, secret negotiations are being conducted with the enemy; it seems a “given” that eventually the Taliban will return to power in Kabul. Here is my question to ordinary Americans: How come your feminists are so mute about the consequences of this probable outcome for their Afghan sisters? How come you don’t call them to task for this?

You might argue that these two topics are unrelated. I beg to differ: Both are the brood of a self-centered a way of thinking, which is threatening the survival of free societies not just in America, but anywhere in the Western world. Check out, for example, the website of the National Organization of Women. Its topic issues are “Abortion and Reproductive Rights.” Then type “Afghanistan” into the web site’s search field, and you’ll read indeed the horrors women endured under Taliban rule: They were publicly hanged or stoned to death if accused of adultery or prostitution. They were beaten for showing a bit of ankle or wearing squeaking shoes. They were forced to live in poverty, deprived of proper medical care and even of the sun.

All this was penned by Karen Johnson, a former NOW vice president – more than a ten years ago. Her stirring article, “The Day the Music Died: Women and Girls in Afghanistan,” can still be downloaded, but it is an old piece that has not been updated for a decade. The frightening prospect of Islamists subjecting women once again to terror and oppression in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world is simply not on the radar screen of the American women’s movement or its political allies; “choice” is, and that’s another diabolical misnomer. Talk about narcissism!

As a pervasive cliché in the American political discourse will have it, Santorum and the other Republican hopefuls aren’t faring too well with women voters, especially the educated ones with good incomes, primarily because of the so-called “social issues.” There you have it: It requires sophistication to be on the right side of “social issues” and to ignore the fate of brown-skinned sisters on the other side of the globe. I doubt that this is a just appraisal of American womanhood.

Sophistication? What about common sense? What about one’s innate understanding that the killing of the innocents and the abandonment of fellow human beings conflict with natural law, the universal moral code?

It is not my place as an alien residing in the United States to tell Americans whom to vote for. Anyway, it appears that Sen. Santorum might not be the Republican Presidential candidate this time around. But as we Christians are about to rejoice in Christ’s resurrection, which is our greatest source of hope, I, a Lutheran Christian from Germany, salute Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic Christian in the USA, for relentlessly and stubbornly reminding the electorate of the sanctity of human life. This might not get him elected in November. Still, it was a stunning surprise indeed that he made it to second place in the Republican primaries, thus proving that his voice was heard at least among the less erudite, simple people comparable to the most faithful listeners of the Risen Christ whom to emulate all Christians are called.

Uwe Siemon-Netto, the former religious affairs editor of United Press International, has been an international journalist for 55 years, covering North America, Vietnam, the Middle East and Europe for German publications. Dr. Siemon-Netto currently directs the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life in Capistrano Beach, California.

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