The Alt-Right and the Christian Left Share This in Common
Two groups have emerged to attack the pro-life movement from unexpected directions: The Christian left, and the racialist Alt-Right. At first glance these sects seem starkly opposed, but as we learn from history, sometimes bitter enemies share much more in common than either will cop to. Like earlier ideologies that saw each other as bitter enemies, the Christian left and the Alt-Right each treasures a comprehensive utopian wish list that matters far more to its members than freedom, justice or innocent life.
There is one thing pro-lifers agree on. Let’s call it the Innocence Principle: In recognition of the dignity and freedom of the human person, the state must grant full protection of law to every innocent human being. This noble truth has served to unite a powerful movement, to carry it from the political wilderness in 1973 into the electoral mainstream, capture a once-indifferent Republican party, and convert increasing numbers of young people and women to the defense of the innocent.
Both the Christian left and the Alt-Right reject the Innocence Principle, since it blocks the achievement of their political fantasies. Here’s how.
The Alt-Right’s Seamless Klan Robe
The Alt-Right is based on a clear ideology, one with its own set of coherent values, and its own utopian goals. The core value it treasures is racial solidarity, the assumption that human beings should treat those of the same race like family members whose lives they value, and those of other races as rivals or even enemies. Its utopia is an independent, homogeneous white nation in North America.
That movement’s thought journal is Radix, which recently ran a piece remarkable for its candor: Aylmer Fisher’s “The Pro-Life Temptation.” In it she recognizes that those who treasure traditional culture and the family might be tempted to shun abortion as the fruit of a reckless Sexual Revolution and anti-child feminism. But that would be a mistake, she says, because outlawing abortion would be “dysgenic,” saving more non-white children than white ones, packing the welfare rolls and the “criminal” classes with even more threats to the white “community.”
Leaving abortion legal might sound like a libertarian measure, but the Alt-Right has no scruples about trampling the rights of the person. Radix’s founder Richard Spencer told The Nation that reading the Declaration of Independence makes him want to vomit. To build a white ethnic nation anywhere in America would require (beyond, you know, the initial civil war) mass deportations of native-born citizens, racial pass laws, and the whole range of petty tyrannies that marked apartheid South Africa — not to mention restrictions on interracial marriage, and eugenics laws aimed at the handicapped. The Alt-Right’s Seamless Garment of concern for tribal unity would suffocate human freedom.
But so would the Christian Left’s.
The Christian Left’s Seamless Garment is a Fig Leaf
The Christian left’s Seamless Garment is held up before the world as a shining standard, a “consistent life ethic” that addresses every threat to any life, anywhere. We have already shown here at The Stream how Christian leftists are hijacking sincere pro-life slogans (such as “Whole Life”), and how their Seamless Garment has proved a crucial tool for pro-choice politicians.
In fact, the left’s Seamless Garment is something even darker and more sinister: It’s an ideological fig leaf for a massive power grab by the state, to forcibly erase economic diversity (i.e., inequality), at the price of human freedom.
To reach this crackpot utopian goal, Christian leftists are willing to make common cause with secular leftists, trashing the Innocence Principle in the bargain, postponing indefinitely any legal protection for unborn babies. Those unborn children, like the starved Ukrainians, can be chalked up (in Auden’s phrase) as “necessary murder.”
The contours of the Christian left’s Seamless Garment can be seen clearly from a 2015 statement by Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich, who when confronted with the ghastly videos of Planned Parenthood employees bickering over the prices of unborn baby parts responded with this statement:
While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
Now peel your palm from your face, and take a moment to recover. When your brain gets over the gymnastics it takes to make sense of Cupich’s argument, let its ugly enormity sink all the way in. Archbishop Cupich — whom Pope Francis just tapped to help pick America’s future bishops — considers Planned Parenthood’s sale of human baby parts morally equivalent to (“we should be no less appalled by”) the following social facts, which result from the scarcity of resources or the fallen human will:
- That rich people can afford even better health care than poor people are given for free;
- That not everyone who wishes to relocate to the United States is permitted to by our democratically enacted laws;
- That some people discriminate against others because of race;
- That America’s poverty programs are imperfect;
- That some people violate the law and kill each other;
- That some of those murderers are executed, as the Old Testament demands and the Christian tradition affirms (Vatican City had the death penalty on its books until 1968).
Accepting any one of those facts is just as bad, Archbishop Cupich suggests, as selling baby lungs to buy a Lamborghini. So politicians who are “better” (by this standard) on health care or immigration are equally or more “pro-life” than statesmen who want to outlaw abortion and euthanasia.
A Seamless Garment Means Limitless Government
Just think what it would require to satisfy Archbishop Cupich’s wish list.
To stop rich people from getting better medicine than the state can afford to offer poor people for free, we would have to ration all health care. Like Cuba, we’d need to outlaw private hospitals, hold doctors who went to Harvard to the same salaries as those who studied in St. Kitt’s, and prevent citizens from flying to other countries for treatment.
To resolve every immigration “injustice” that troubles the Christian left, we would have to open our borders, and let all newcomers enroll in American welfare programs. The crushing taxes needed to fund such a wealth transfer would quickly equalize incomes, as happened in Venezuela. When people stopped working hard for paltry rewards, we could follow Venezuela’s lead by dragooning citizens to labor in the fields.
Both the Christian left and the Alt-Right reject ineradicable aspects of human nature: economic and ethnic diversity. Both flout the human person’s freedom to make decisions — wise or foolish, prudent or risky. Allowing free citizens to choose their own careers, be responsible for themselves, or protect themselves from aggression adds too much uncertainty. It mucks up the equations of social engineers, left or right. It is sand in the gears of the juggernaut we are meant to ride to Utopia — a word which we ought to remember is no more than the Greek for “Nowhere.”