The actual title of the article in this morning's Post by NARAL New York’s vice-president of communications Mary Alice Carr is "Why I turned down O’Reilly" but the real gist of her screed is different. "O’Reilly is being incredibly disingenuous when he claims that he bears no responsibility for others’ actions in the killing of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday," she writes. "[W]e hold O’Reilly responsible for helping to create a climate in which hate was allowed to fester."
I find Bill O’Reilly loathsome, but this is ridiculous. After all, if you indict him because "When you tell an audience of millions over and over again that someone is an executioner, you cannot feign surprise when someone executes that person" are you not acknowledging that millions of listeners did not respond to O’Reilly’s angry denunciations by getting out their gun and shooting Dr.Tiller. One person did so, and it is not yet clear what motivated him to do so. And the "climate in which hate was allowed to fester" is called the human condition, stained as it is by original sin.
Carr’s article is as much about her "courage" in going on O’Reilly’s show in years past because of its huge audience, but now declining because she thinks "if the murder of a man in a house of worship wasn’t enough to make Bill O’Reilly repent, what hope did I have?" Such courage indeed. Isn’t that what you get paid to do when you are vice-president of communications? I know in this culture it is "all about me" but what this article really shows is that the pro-choice community is going to exploit the murder of Dr. Tiller to rally the troops and to raise the funds that pay Ms. Carr’s salary.
The histrionics in the abortion debate are not limited to NARAL. Professor Robert George has chosen to reply to my posts, here and at NCR, about his discussion with Professor Doug Kmiec at the National Press Club last week. He was especially upset with this sentence I wrote: "George claims that science has determined the issue of abortion, not philosophy or theology, but he asserts this without making an argument." I stand corrected. Professor George writes that science only proves the embryo is human and that he only invoked science to make that point. But, that can’t be right. He went on and on about how science, not theology or philosophy, proved his point but, I wonder. Has anyone really argued that the embryo was an acorn and if left to grow the expectant mother would give birth to an oak tree? Certainly Professor Kmiec did not make that argument. Professor George’s use of science is ridiculous. He is trying to cloak himself with the authority of science. He was making a point that is not in dispute. Indeed the problem with his presentation at the Press Club was that he was arguing with what had already been stipulated. Such a performance may be good for EWTN or for Bill O’Reilly’s show for that matter. But, the Law School at the Catholic University of America, which sponsored the event, deserved better.
As I wrote two days ago, getting the abortion debate away from abstract principles will help get it away from the extremes on both sides and will permit, not ensure, but permit the nation to find a public policy that enfleshes the ambivalence most Americans feel about abortion. The shouters – from Bill O’Reilly to Mary Alice Carr to Robert George – warm to the current intransigent, polarized debate. But, they are fooling themselves if they think they are doing anything that promotes life or a woman’s well-being. They are promoting themselves and they deserve each other.