Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Evil and Eternal Return

Rick Perlstein writes on the pernicious history of the NAM.

Even taking his post to be 100% true, in substance and tone, it's not obvious to me that sins from five decades past are of any particular meaning today, other than a reminder that powerful interests are willing to spend lots of time, effort, and money to dishonestly skew debates over public policy.

I have long been skeptical of efforts to divine the "historical roots" of this or that ideology or organization. In college I tended to hear more of these arguments from the left than the right, but folks on the right are perfectly capable of making them too, it turns out.

If it were established tomorrow, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the pro-life movement was hatched in 1920 at a secret meeting of five white male Protestant physicians in order to prevent the "outbreeding of the superior race," it's not clear to me that it would matter much.

The fact is, many people today genuinely believe that abortion is a moral evil.

Now, the cabal would be very worth knowing about, if it were true, and it would be worth reflecting on who gains and who gained by spreading this view, but it wouldn't change the fact that the view is deeply held.

Fishing for objectionable "historical roots" generally seems to me to be a substitute for engaging others' views on the merits.

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