Camille Paglia takes Democrats to task over their treatment of Sarah Palin and offers a cogent diagnosis of their hysteria — a desperate grasp on their pro-abortion dogma. Palin challenges their ossified view of women and power, and sees her not as a threat to legal abortion, but as someone who can reveal just how intellectually and morally bankrupt their own ideology has become. Paglia points out the flaws and wonders just when Democrats became the party of lockstep thinking:
What I am getting at here is that not until the Democratic Party stringently reexamines its own implicit assumptions and rhetorical formulas will it be able to deal effectively with the enduring and now escalating challenge from the pro-life right wing. Because pro-choice Democrats have been arguing from cold expedience, they have thus far been unable to make an effective ethical case for the right to abortion.
The gigantic, instantaneous coast-to-coast rage directed at Sarah Palin when she was identified as pro-life was, I submit, a psychological response by loyal liberals who on some level do not want to open themselves to deep questioning about abortion and its human consequences. I have written about the eerie silence that fell over campus audiences in the early 1990s when I raised this issue on my book tours. At such moments, everyone in the hall seemed to feel the uneasy conscience of feminism. Naomi Wolf later bravely tried to address this same subject but seems to have given up in the face of the resistance she encountered.
If Sarah Palin tries to intrude her conservative Christian values into secular government, then she must be opposed and stopped. But she has every right to express her views and to argue for society’s acceptance of the high principle of the sanctity of human life. If McCain wins the White House and then drops dead, a President Palin would have the power to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, but she could not control their rulings.
It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism — one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.
I’m not sure that Paglia makes an ethical case for abortion, either, which gives an indication that perhaps there is none to be made. She admits that abortion is murder, but that since Nature murders on a massive scale in order to improve species, then abortion is some sort of stand against Nature’s “fascism”. Women didn’t ask for the ability to get pregnant before they were born and have the right to rebel against the burden, apparently even to the point of killing “concrete individuals”, as Paglia admits embryos and fetuses are.
Given that argument, it doesn’t take long for any number of rationalizations for violence to achieve acceptance. If women can kill babies as a legitimate protest against the “fascism” of biology, then why can’t William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn plant bombs at military bases to kill soldiers at a dance, if they find the “fascism” of the United States offensive? Radical Islamists can easily rationalize murdering thousands of Americans for their “cultural imperialism”, rather than just devise a superior culture that would compete without slaying everyone else. Ethnic supremacists of every stripe can justify murders of any kind, and even Hitler gets off the hook if he really believed in Jewish cabals and conspiracies.
Once we start believing that one human life holds less intrinsic value than another, this is the path we tread.
Beyond that, though, Paglia makes important points about the hysteria of the Democrats in confronting Palin. Democrats have attacked Palin in a fashion that resembles the witch trials of the seventeenth century, and why? Because she is viewed as a heretic. Democrats believe that women should have a pre-approved set of beliefs, which Paglia describes as a secular religious code. They have stopped listening — and thinking — and instead slapped eight coats of sealant on slogans from the 1970s.
Unfortunately, this reaction has revealed the religious fervor of the party in protecting this dogma. The ugliness of the attacks from people like Gloria Steinem, who claimed that Palin was only genetically a woman, has given middle America a very good look at the hatred festering beneath their veneer of multiculturalism and diversity. Democrats talk about tolerance, but have zero tolerance for anyone who deviates from the settled doctrine. Not only do they oppose such people, but they actively demonize them and pillory them publicly with all manner of invective, true or otherwise.
We’ve seen this happening with Democrats for decades, especially in their treatment of conservatives from minority communities. Paglia’s a little late to the game, frankly, but it’s interesting that she finally recognized it with Sarah Palin. I wonder how many other people have had a Road to Damascus moment with Democrats at the same time.