Last week your author made an arduous cross-country journey to attend the 2018 March for Life in Washington, DC. What follows here is an attempt at—or perhaps an experiment in—the peculiar type of spirit-conjuring we as a society have come to accept under the title “journalism”. Before leaping in, there is one thing that should be made plain worth mention: dispense with any delusion you may have, dear reader, that the event we are about to revisit is a right-wing event. Pro-Life is a decidedly left-wing movement. That’s not an indictment; just a statement of fact and it evidences the refusal, and perhaps the inability, of the leading voice, opposing infanticide in the United States to recognise the culture or adapt to the changing social conditions that have made legal abortion both possible and, for many, essential to Western Civilization.
Without further ado, then, an account of this abortion-opponent’s experience of the March for Life.
A week of bitter cold had settled in on Washington City starting on Monday—a High Holy Day in the secular religion that dictates the movements of that quintessentially American metropolis. The snow had drawn out some college kids, but herds of tour groups one usually finds grazing absent-mindedly along the National Mall had been forced to flee, creating an almost unnatural barrenness between I-395 and Constitution Avenue. One got the distinct impression of cleanliness, unusual for an American city, that belied the dirt that always gathers on one’s skin from too long a stay in the land of pizza party power lunches. It didn’t take long for the grace bestowed by the snowfall to melt and reveal that the dung heap was still there underneath, though. After a few days enjoying the cold weather that seemed to have the locals in such a bad way, I had mentally prepared myself for wading into the throngs who return every year out of a purported desire never to return again.
In spite of my religious handicap, I have managed to collect a variety of friends tied to the Roman Church over the years, and they had assured me that the real event was not the Rally and March for Life in the afternoon, but the Rally and Mass for Life in the morning. Unfortunately, this event (for which Pope Francis had dug into the Vatican Archives and pulled out plenary indulgences for all attendees) was rather exclusive, and there was no way I was going to get tickets unless I was part of a school group. Instead, I harangued some of my friends and associates to share videos, pictures, and first-hand accounts with me to weave the event together, and I went down to Gallery Place to talk to some attendees as they left.
After I ate lunch, I made my way to the Rally (so much for security—my friends who had gone last year said it had been worse than the airport, this time I just wandered onto the Mall). The Rally lasted for about an hour, then I proceeded to join the March itself and did some shouting and chanting like a good attendee, took a pamphlet from my old friends at TFP, and hung out in front of the Supreme Court to hear some of the speakers there. By the time I wanted to get back to my hotel, it was practically impossible to get around in the city, so I ended up walking off Capitol Hill and grabbing a cab (I refuse to Uber on principle, though I haven’t decided precisely what principle that is other than my discomfort at being driven around a city in a stranger’s car that doesn’t smell strongly of the cultural diversity indicated by Black Ice air fresheners and Axe body spray).
On the whole, the event was a positive experience; I have quite a few critiques to offer, but based on my exposure to the Pro-Life movement, I actually feel like they pulled together a very successful event. I was more disappointed in the behaviour I saw from the American Catholic church and the total lack of awareness on the general part of attendees about the broader implications of their political views vis-à-vis continued legal infanticide in this country (a quick informal survey disclosed an alarming rate of support for DACA amnesty, for example, among non-Hispanic attendees).
Prelude in -5˚C
My attendance of the March actually began on Wednesday when I got into town and discovered that the hotel bartender didn’t know how to make an Old Fashioned, which put a damper on an already fairly cold, damp day, especially because I was in a hotel on the border of Little Sodom—my own affectionate diminutive for Dupont Circle. The weather Thursday was still as cold as it had been Wednesday, but the ice and snow that had only lately covered the ground had all but vanished even as I was agonizing over whether I wanted to sit in traffic on I-95 or I-66 coming into town. I spent Thursday scouting the locations I was going to be sharing with around 100,000 other people the following day (I’ve never done well with crowds – I always get the feeling of being in a herd of cattle or a colony of penguins). There were already school groups wandering around, in bright-coloured skullcaps so their overseers could more easily herd them into whatever museum or monument they were meandering toward. Seeing a few students run out in front of traffic near Archives, I decided to duck into the National Gallery before I witnessed anything I didn’t want to. Besides, there was a Vermeer exhibit and I’ve always enjoyed genre painting (I found they also had an exhibit dedicated to Edvard Munch, whom I enjoy somewhat more).
When I came out the other side, I looked down towards the Washington Monument and saw where the March organisers had set up their rally stage. They had clearly anticipated a smaller crowd (or, at least smaller than the 650,000 people that showed up in 2013); the stage was all the way down by the American History Museum. That was smart—if it was a smaller crowd, even fifty or sixty thousand people would make that portion of the Mall look fairly choked from most angles, especially on the ground, and if it was a large crowd, it would look positively mobbed, with people all the way up the hill to the Washington Monument. The entry points, I thought, would determine how well-focused everything got; if they funnelled more people in to one or two points, it would take longer but it could be more aesthetic – if they let people move in from all angles, the crowd might get too spread out which wouldn’t show as well to the cameras. I hadn’t found out, of course, that Trump was planning to address the crowd—that changed everything.
I got a little exercise and ended up in the Metro at Smithsonian, and got out of the ground by McPherson Square just in time for an early dinner. (If you ever find yourself in town there, there’s a little Southern-style place there on 15th Street called Georgia Brown’s that has some of the best fried chicken and catfish I’ve had in the District – and they know how to mix a drink, though their specialty cocktail menu is atrocious). I figured I should get back to the hotel and get some sleep; the next day was going to be long and busy.
Mexican Paganism & SWPL Pasta
For a sizeable portion of the Roman Catholic contingent of Marchers, the day began outside of the Capital One Arena at around 6:00am. The event seemed to be mostly standard USCCB fare: the language of the secular left dominated, with some lines about the (undefined) concept of universal dignity, along with a surfeit of deference paid to various minority groups. There was an adopted mulatto speaker who even took a moment to aside about how race is merely “a human construct”; it was a needless non-sequitur in the middle of a rhetorically effective (if intellectually barren) argument for adoption. This is representative of a pointless and morally ineffectual rhetorical approach adopted by the Pro-Life movement from conservative commentators who think they’re clever because they can poke logical holes in the arguments made by the likes of Black Lives Matter—oblivious, as conservatives usually are, that the principal rhetorical tool employed by such groups is violence. I saw at the March itself signs that said “Babies’ Lives Matter”. Who do these people think they are appealing to? Leftist agitators are laughing the likes of Dinesh D’souza to scorn while these clever conservatives strut about like pigeons on a chessboard.
Let’s play ball, though, and take apart this rhetorical approach with plain logic. By making the focus of the moral argument against abortion a leftist intellectual construct like “racism” rather than the very real and clearly defined sins of pride and pusillanimity, to say nothing of the insidious campaign to usurp and destroy the tribe and family with the Liberal Order, that gives rise to infanticide, the moral strength of the Pro-Life movement flounders. Since the left dictates the meaning of “racism”, and the left is pro-abortion, it does not take much mental power to deduce who is going to control the debate. Laying that aside, though, there are other holes to shoot in this. If racism is the real evil, would it be better if only White babies were being aborted? If so, what business does one have protesting abortion at all—one should be protesting Whites (and there’s a sizeable contingent of blue checkmarks that certain agree with this). If not, why bring up race at all? Perhaps it is to court the “Black vote” to the Pro-Life cause? The essential problem here is that it’s demonstrable that Blacks in America are already likely to oppose abortion and homosexuality, but they overwhelmingly vote for pro-abortion and LGBT-friendly candidates because they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats as a political tribe: any attempt at political evangelization is wasted. If it’s not political evangelisation, but rather community outreach, can such meaningless virtue signaling on the part of a suburban White girl really hope to coax a Black woman into behaviour she perceives (correctly!) to merely be the way Whites want her to behave? Not to put too fine a point on it, by surrendering to the morality of the Puritan Liberal, for whom racism is the Original Sin, Pro-Lifers surrender any claim to legitimate opposition to Pope John Paul’s “culture of death”.
The event was MC’ed by a pretty blonde girl who I am sure was one of the many empowered “Pro-Life Feminists”. I saw them advertising themselves all around town, complete with the raised-fist/sign-of-Venus symbol popular in the ‘70s or a blasphemy of more recent vintage that defaces the Chi-rho by turning it into the symbol for Venus. The high point of the rally, from what I could tell, was a particularly egregious display featuring Aztec dancers parading into the worship space beating drums and performing some kind of pagan liturgical dance in front of a reproduction of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The event was complete when a man dressed as Juan Diago (I assume – he was dressed in a tunic that looked more like Christ than a 16th century Mexican peasant, but emblazoned with the image of Guadalupe) emerged at the top of the stairs next to the drummers (also dressed in outrageous costume mimicking their heathen ancestors), creating very much the impression, in me at least, of a pagan sacrifice. My acquaintances thought the celebration of “native customs and diversity” were “beautiful and inspiring”. I kept my comments to myself, but I do imagine that the Popes might have been less hard on the Jesuits in China if they could see what was going to happen to the church in America. It was an unfortunate display, since instead of making the Mass for Life more Catholic, the USCCB instead opted to try to beat the March for Life organizers at their own game of outreach and inclusive activism, sacrificing whatever sanctity the event could have had. It truly encapsulated everything wrong with Catholic activism in the United States, and indicates why Roman Catholicism will continue to fade in cultural and social relevance in the Western world as it is subsumed into what Fr. Seraphim Rose called “The Religion of the Future”. The Mass itself was fairly nondescript, other than an underwhelming homily that hit all the usual Youth-Ministry tropes.
I decided to get up to Gallery Place in time for the Mass and Rally to let out and maybe get to talk to a few of the attendees. The overwhelming spirit was one of mirth and high spirits—most of the feedback I got consisted of empty platitudes squeezed out of hollow smiles revealing empty space between the ears like great fishbowls in which tautologies could have room to swim around. The folly of Republic was on full display among the Roman Youth oozing from the arena. I did have an opportunity to speak to some clergy and was pleased that the seminaries seem to be doing at least a bare minimum of their required employment, but even then there were purported men of cloth and collar who had difficulty articulating what they meant when they spoke of “human dignity”.
When I had slaked my thirst for psychological analysis, I made my way over for lunch. I had put up a little money so I made my way up the street for to strike a balance between Washington Hipsterdom and tourist-friendly cuisine. I settled on Vapiano. I was not the only one with this idea, which put me back in contact with many of the Marchers, but this time more as a voyeur than journalist—a situation that usually produces more interesting results anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of high school students wearing MAGA hats—edgy teens, certainly, but in my youth that meant something far different, and I prefer the contemporary incarnation if for no other reason than because the aesthetic is superior to black nail polish. Conversations in this setting turned mostly to the mundane—a girl, laughing, denies that she is racist as she candidly admits she is “scared of black guys”; a boy in a MAGA hat, probably a student-athlete, whoops loudly when he and his peers find a seat, still trying to figure out how the restaurant works; a group led by a Jennifer Lawrence-inspired pixie-cut argue over where feminism went wrong and muse on why it’s okay to listen to Nikki Minaj. Two or three of the dedicated Pro-Lifers try to gain entry still holding their Starbucks purchases, advertising their chic adherence to the social standard of caffeine addiction and ignorance that they had both just personally funded the institution they were trying to eliminate. I finished my lunch and started making my way to the National Mall.
Preaching to the Choir
The Rally opened at noon, by which time I had heard from eavesdropping that Trump was due to speak via satellite link from the White House—a fantastic decision on Trump’s part and a real boon for the Marchers. The girl they had sing the national anthem was definitely worthy of a major league ball game, though the cheering in the last two lines was more subdued than what you used to get at new Cominskey Park (or whatever corporation owns it now).
At first, I have to admit, I was struck by the theme and the aesthetic they chose. It seems like every year the March drifts further left, but even then I didn’t expect to show up at a Labour Party convention—though that is the aesthetic the stylised rose seemed to evoke. Of course, the rose plays a major role in the internal mythology of the Pro-Life movement, and it’s worth mentioning because the association with leftist politics is something of a feature rather than a bug of the Pro-Life movement. The distribution of roses to members of Congress is a manifestation of the cross-over Pro-Life had with leftist Civil Rights protests of the 1960s and 1970s, and the continued earnest use of these tactics has a great deal to do with the success the Pro-Life movement has had attracting rally attendees and the massive failure it has produced in efforts to actually change American culture (cf. our aforementioned pro-lifers drinking Starbucks). It has widely chosen to embrace the prevailing culture while complaining about one element, namely the attitude towards human life, paying lip-service to being a “counterculture” while merely mimicking the counterculture of yesteryear that has become the culture of today. Feminism, youth empowerment, handing out flowers, and platitudes about “love” are not a counterculture: they are the culture. They have chosen to offer a new product in the marketplace of ideas, abiding the equivocation of evil to good, rather than the harder route of forging a new forum of discussion altogether. This is why, even if abortion becomes illegal, the causes underlying the acceptance of infanticide will never go away, so families will not become stronger, society will not become more disciplined, and mixed-berry flavour prophylactics will still get their chance to compete on the free market.
The apparent effort to show thanks and support for the religious bodies that have thrown their weight behind the Pro-Life movement was obligatory, of course, though I wonder how the Orthodox Church felt about being referred to as the “Roman Catholic Orthodox Bishops” that support the Pro-Life cause. I’m nit-picking, I know, but it does betray a degree of disingenuousness, perhaps, on the part of Pro-Life™. Met. Tikhon of the OCA—the Orthodox jurisdiction most thoroughly ensconced in the Social Gospel—got top billing for the “prayer”. Not that Tikhon’s “prayer” (can we please dispense with this illusion that these “blessings” and “prayers” are anything other than speeches written for the crowd painted with a thin veneer by including the second person singular pronoun at the right places?) was without its own problems—a whiff of pantheism permeated it, and the mention of execution and “racism” (there’s that slippery term again) as violence that “tear the seamless tunic” of creation runs contrary to the teaching of his own church. Frankly, describing “racism” as violence is in itself problematic, since (once again) it surrenders ground to the Frankfurt Schoolers who insist that words and even thoughts can be violent assaults on people. Met. Tikhon deserves the benefit of the doubt in that he could have been speaking on a deeper theological level, but he was not addressing a crowd of seminarians, and he and the organisers alike bear responsibility for the misleading content of his speech that inevitably masked and folded over the really valuable things he had to say: the common inheritance of sin, the fact that whatever we mean by “dignity”, it is not inherent to humanity but derived from the Creator. The use of St. Isaac the Syrian was interesting—no doubt it created a measure of confusion in many circles, especially the desert Father’s claim that “justice is not Christian”. So much, indeed, for the claim that Pro-Life is a “Social Justice” movement: a phrase that serves as yet another smokescreen that merely covers agreement with the broader culture of the Liberal world order.
The speaker following Met. Tikhon—the MC for the whole event, the head organizer of the March—made a speech full of interesting little turns of phrase that betray the aesthetic Pro-Life has chosen. The use of the phrase “six men on the Supreme Court” was without a doubt a direct reference to the protest of the pro-abortion rhetoric that men do not have a say in the abortion debate; the subsequent mention of women leaders and organisers of the March followed on this theme. The March for Life is smart to emphasize the number dead—I can’t count how many times I heard about the “60 million lives” or sometimes “65 million lives”. This is clearly a lesson taken from the mythical quality of “the 6 million” that has been deliberately cultivated by Zionist activists to strengthen Israel’s claims to legitimacy. It has been incredibly effective, and it makes for good rhetoric. Otherwise, a lot of this is standard protest fair: “march so we don’t have to march anymore!” “you are the strength of the movement!” “this doesn’t end when we go home!” “hashtag [insert hashtag here]” (“see! We’re tech-saavy with the young people”!) Perhaps the greatest fault of the movement is in the decision to adopt leftist rhetoric and therefore allow the left to set the tone of conversation—a typical error on the part of conservative politics from the days of Lord North onward. Conservatives will always fail because they are always playing catch-up with the left. While the Pro-Life crowd drones on about feminism and human rights abuses, the left is already making eugenics morally acceptable again and invalidating the left-wing vocabulary around which the Pro-Life movement has chosen to mould itself.
The emphasis placed on Planned Parenthood, though, is smart—it's a basic tactic deployed by all good propagandists, from Thomas Paine to Andrew Anglin: pick a single entity to represent the broader enemy of which it is a part and throw everything you have at that target. The overwhelming force has been crushing Planned Parenthood, and while it’s not closing down abortion clinics unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, it has had a wonderfully buoying effect on the Pro-Life movement as a whole, which helps maintain the momentum they need to keep this thing going. Add into the mix that Planned Parenthood is ghoulish enough on their own without any help from the Pro-Life movement and it really is the ideal approach to maintain a protest movement. Again, though, the question arises: is it effective? Will it change the deeper problems that have made the movement necessary rather than merely address superficial legal goals? I am inclined to doubt it.
This is a defining feature of the Pro-Life movement: they are good on on-the-ground tactics, but they dream small. If there is one thing that makes the 2018 March significant, it is its intelligent embrace of the Trump phenomenon. Don’t let any of the newspaper accounts fool you, either—there was no “mixed response” from people on the ground when Trump spoke. The crowd was with him absolutely and unquestioningly—the change in enthusiasm was palpable with Pence and Trump alike, and it faded very quickly. Paul Ryan’s attempted follow-up played like a Youth Minister addressing a congregation that had just heard a Papal Proclamation. His so-called “Pro-Life Congress” received an equally lukewarm welcome from the crowd: the plebeian disdain for the corrupt Senators of the Republic was on full display. Caesar and Marc Antony, on the other hand, wooed the people as effectively as ever. (Actually, if we compare Classical to Faustian civilization, Trump is probably our Sulla rather than our Caesar, but Sulla was never so populist nor so popular).
Trump offered what was certainly one of his best-delivered addresses since the Inauguration – more than one of the people I spoke to about it said it was the best speech he had ever given. He and his speechwriters had clearly studied the theme and layout of the March this year, creating the impression that he was part of the event itself rather than an outside visitor. Pence took a well-placed shot at the Supreme Court, accusing them of “turning their back” on the Declaration of Independence. He plugged Trump as “the most pro-life President in American history” and then listed his resume of pro-life policies enacted—playing the role he has occupied since the campaign as Trump’s political wing-man. Especially effective was his calling Trump a president for “life and conscience”—a subtle poke at the March, which has been largely silent on the progress of the homosexual agenda. The most revealing part of the speech, however, and the elemental fault of the whole conservative edifice of the Pro-Life movement, was his promise to “return the sanctity of life to the centre of American law”. Law without culture, without a living civilization, is meaningless. The continued manipulation and exploitation of the US Constitution by the Uniparty stands as the strongest evidence of this.
Trump’s great gift is the ability to appear that he takes the entire conservative establishment at its word and then acts on promises the outer party had no intention of keeping. His appearance here was no exception, and while his speech did include a brief dalliance on his economic achievements, for the most part he out-did the March organizers at their own rhetoric; mixed in with usual Pro-Life rhetoric about life being “the greatest miracle” and every child being “a precious gift from God”, he made pointed comparison of US abortion law to China and North Korea – a very effective rhetorical move. I was even more impressed when he accused several states of having laws that allow “a baby to be torn from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.” Tearing is good, violent imagery; the Pro-Life movement could use more such rhetorical imagery as it draws back the graphic and stomach-turning abortion voyeurism that defined the propaganda of the movement back in the ‘90s. Trump’s other major rhetorical success was turning the Pro-Life discussion to one of religious liberty; this makes a connexion in the mind of the audience between the conscience and religiosity, something that can never be lost if Pro-Life actually intends to manifest social rather than merely legal changes.
The efficacy of the speech could be felt on the ground—in fact, I noticed a few groups actually began leaving after Trump finished speaking; clearly he was a major draw. Ryan’s speech was precisely the opposite of Trump’s: rather than using themes of the Pro-Life movement to build a concrete outline of what is happening and what needs to happen, Ryan just regurgitated old Pro-Life slogans, often without any connexion to what he was just saying. The most egregious non-sequitur was when he interrupted himself hyping the “Pro-Life Congress” like it was some new Christian rock act with the exclamation “life begins at conception!” as though that were still a meaningful slogan in an age in which people—both left and right—are weighing the benefits of eugenics. Consider the celebration of the recent elimination of Down’s Syndrome in Iceland; while this was widely lamented in the Pro-Life press, other sources reacted to the news somewhat differently. In a society with rising Down’s and Autism rates, we should expect to see more people viewing abortion as a humane option—and Pro-Life has failed miserably to address this move, largely because they themselves are too steeped in yesterday’s left to comprehend the driving forces of today’s left. Driven and molded by leftist intellectual categories, they are unable to field rhetorical or philosophical opposition to left-wing language. Ryan is a perfect example of this; insufficiently left-wing for today’s left, he fancies himself a rightist.
Just to be clear: Trump and Ryan did essentially the same thing, taking the themes and slogans of Pro-Life and adapting them into a speech aimed to court the Pro-Life movement into supporting them. The difference is that Trump went for substance while Ryan went for style, and Trump delivered a better speech as a result. It was the perfect contrast between the Congressional Outer Party and the Trump movement. The other speeches were so unimpressive they can be passed over without mention, and I can just talk about the March itself.
Boots on the Ground
One of the favorite techniques of the Pro-Life movement—common to the majority of conservative comments—is to point out the difference between the faces one sees at right-wing events and left-wing events. It is rooted in the bourgeois aesthetic that Oscar Wilde takes aim at in The Picture of Dorian Grey: pretty people think pretty thoughts and live pretty (morally good) lives. I’d like to blame John Calvin, but I suppose the delusion is as old as humanity itself: the horrific and horrible must also be horrifying to look at as well to drive the point home. S. Paul must have known about it—he warns against such thinking in Two Corinthians (11:14). Nevertheless, the “face” of a gathering does say a great deal about the event—the fruit testifying for the tree, so to speak.
Disembarking from the Rally, I was soon afloat in a sea of school groups, religious orders, secular and religious organisations, and a variety of other species of participants, interrupted by buoys of gawkers, provocateurs, and counter-protestors. The seagulls did their share of squawking whenever they swooped into the crowd. Watah one dollah! Watah one dollah! Pro-life pins! Pro-life flags! This a historic event! Buy some pins to remembah! Some were carrying boards filled with pins and magnets that reminded me of the clan flags samurai would carry on their backs into battle. At least two had caddies filled with flags and patriotic ware—Gadsden flags, American flags, Trump flags, MAGA hats, and various other left-overs from the last major Republican-leaning protest. I don’t know that they profited much: most passed them without a second glance—a few spared the sort of casual disdain that true believers on crusade have for war profiteers.
The school groups were barely organised; some forced their way through larger crowds, and no one seemed to have any idea where or when the March itself was supposed to begin, but they knew it was on Constitution Avenue, so they began to flow and then to flood in that direction. A massive gap formed in front of the National Gallery’s West entrance—like a river forming rapids around a great rock in the way of a flood, people tripped over each other to avoid a large and aromatic puddle of youthful exuberance left by someone overcome by the claustrophobia of the crowd or the grotesque displays of dismembered infants. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the death metal album-of-the-year displays were scarce when the March was underway—a corner by the Canadian embassy got the bulk of the display with people shouting over each other to either look or look away. (“You need to look! This is what we’re fighting!” one of the gore-voyeurs was shouting). I always wondered if that whole aspect of Pro-Life wasn’t related to /b/’s mission in the early ‘00s to find the most offensive images online and catalogue them; I think that concerns about desensitization are probably underplayed. There is such a thing as getting used to even the most grotesque and disgusting displays (how else do you explain gay pride?)
On the way from the Mall outward, there were two separate sets of religious praying the rosary as they walked, some clenching their rosaries in their fists, some mulling through their beads like disinterested Buddhist monks—all they were missing was the bell to clear a path. There was a school group doing it too—though they made a point to stop to read out the mysteries, so everyone had to flow around them. I saw the occasional prayer book out, but for the most part people were just walking along. Even the chanting was intermittent—especially as we got to Capitol Hill itself; the steep incline knocked the wind out of most of the marchers. At the foot of the hill, though, as encouragement perhaps, Tradition, Family, and Property were there playing John Philips Sousa and handing out pamphlets titled “A Tale of Two Marches”. I like TFP, so I wish I could say it was compelling or even interesting, but alas their prose style is not nearly as engaging as their aesthetic.
I recall a cartoon in The New Yorker with a gathering of hippy anti-nuclear protesters in front of the White House and one old lady holding up a sign “Ban the Booze”. One of the young hippies looks at the old T-totaller and says “Lady, I don’t think you get the point”. The bohemian reflection on disunity on the left came to mind upon turning the corner near the Supreme Court and seeing a little cluster of pro-DACA protestors screaming “shut it down!” (I swear one of them was wearing a yarmulke, which made me chuckle if only to see a meme made real). A few Keep Abortion Legal signs floated through the crowd—drawing some jeers from some high school chads, but otherwise no real response that I could see. I did try to track down a cluster of counter-protesters, but for the most part, they were traveling through the crowd to provoke responses they might record on their phones. I do not believe they managed to capture anything of significance.
I felt some sympathy for the speakers at the Supreme Court—by and large the crowd was split between kids doing stupid things in front of the Capitol and a few earnest True Believers gathered to listen to the speakers. Standing out from the crowd was the atheist contingent – Atheists against Abortion, I think they are called – or maybe that was the slogan. There was another group called Secular Pro-Life that I noted as well. The people I interviewed were incredibly impressed with this group. It was a way, one of them remarked, for the Pro-Life Movement to have “a real dialogue” with American society. Another said, without a hint of irony in her voice, that she was glad people could see that “abortion isn’t just a religious issue, but a moral issue”.
For my part, I have my doubts about how well this new dog will hunt if I’m honest. Godless morality is by necessity relative and arbitrary because nothing absolute exists beyond the sentiments animating the people behind it. There is no Truth because they have amputated their conceptual ability to conceive of something lacking external criteria—so their morality can never really be anything more than a feeling, and that means it’s less compelling than Boston’s only hit song. Any opposition to what is arguably the worst ongoing act of ritual evil in the Western world has to be informed by something more resilient than that.