Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Ross Douthat finally finds himself able to weep for a embryo that made it past the birth canal. Douthat thinks he's discovered that being an in-vitro baby will cause trauma and suffering, since the entire process is out of one's control. And the kid doesn't have a good time of it either, he says.

Douthat says (in part),"one grown-up donor baby quoted in the study describes as the feeling of existing entirely for “other people’s purposes, and not my own.” That pretty much describes any child ever conceived before birth control, especially in those halcyon conservative days when children were conceived by accident and with lethal regularity, and put to work as soon as their little fingers could hold a hoe or loom spindle. The Golden Age of America, the land of Corporate Titans, saw the utter exploitation of children on a daily basis, something the Progressives attempted to stop, to the conservatives' horror. How dare they interfere with a parent's prerogative!

It's odd, therefore, that on this Day of Memory in which we salute our war dead, that Douthat doesn't choose to write about the other child victims of our times, the children who wake up every morning wondering if their Dad or Mom is going to come home from our endless wars. Or the thousands of children who will wake up without a parent for the rest of their lives. Who will protect those children? Who will support them and keep them from harm? Who will listen to them weep with pain, year after year, and soothe the tearing hole of loss? Who will go to their graduations, walk them down the aisle when they marry, hold their children and look for familiar features? What about those post-fetuses? Don't they count, or does Douthat only care about American boys and girls when he can score political points against them?


Anonymous said...

Great post, Susan. You've nailed it. Most of Douthat's commenters would agree with you but none put it that succinctly and so powerfully link it up with Memorial day. I think you've raised to the level of consciousness something that was bothering me about the whole essay and the new right wing focus (shared by some of Douthat's commenters) that children are "owed" *by their mothers* both a biological and a social father from conception until the end of time.

Oddly enough, historically speaking, wome and children have needed such social fathers (sometimes aligned with the biological and sometimes very much not) not because the *child* was thought to have any rights at all, inherent in him or her self, but because the fathers held all rights--to life, liberty, property, ancestry, and future happiness--within their control. Babies without social fathers were abandoned. Fathers and grandfathers could, under Roman law, reject a baby and order it exposed.

Early christians valorized those abandoned children, and the socially fatherless, the slave and the beggar to a certain extent. But as soon as they got into political and social power they became as neglectful and abusive of illegitimate or discarded children as any other society.

But that's kind of by the by. What I wanted to say is that no one on the right side of the political spectrum speaks of the right of children not to have one or more of their family members killed by war, or felled by the diseases of poverty, or killed in a mining accident. These things strip more children of one parent than any number of imaginary Murphy Browns using fertility enhancement. But because deaths do to capitalism's indifference, or corporate venality, can't be reduced to bashing of women (unless all women are SATC women in which case the right treats them as the same) Douthat ignores their needs.

This whole "pity the poor test tube baby" shtick just reeks of focus group tested fake ideology. It bears as much relationship to real social issues as cheetos do to a home made grilled cheese sandwich.


Kathy said...

I don't think these people *care* about any one or anything, except getting their piggy faces in a newspaper next to their moron blatherings knowns as "columns". Ditto the religious "Leaders" who howl and moan about abortion while grabbing with both hands the hard-earned donations of their acolytes, usually poor people with lots of kids.

Susan of Texas said...

Thanks, aimai.

It's just amazing how easily the right dismisses anything that contradicts what they want to believe. I know both sides do it, but at least we pay lip service to logic and the acceptance of irrefutable facts.