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The twilight zone

| Monday, January 27, 2020

Truth is on our side.

Thursday evening, I had the distinct privilege of attending a pro-life Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This holy sacrifice celebrated by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City was attended by well over 10,000 pro-life pilgrims in anticipation of the March for Life the following day. Although I arrived two-and-a-half hours before the Mass began, I just barely succeeded in claiming one of the last few seats remaining in the pews amidst an ocean of travel-weary women and men committed to defending human life from conception to natural death.

In his homily that evening, Naumann emphasized the perverse logic of abortion reminded him of the twisted conclusion from an episode of the old science-fiction TV show “The Twilight Zone.” In this episode, titled “Eye of the Beholder,” a group of mask-wearing surgeons perform an extended surgery on a young woman’s face, after which she appears confused and distraught despite the fact she is “stunningly, drop-dead beautiful.” Soon after, however, the surgeons remove their own masks to reveal “their own grotesquely hideous appearance.” At this point, Naumann noted, “you begin to realize that in this fictional ‘Twilight Zone’ world, beautiful is ugly and the hideous is gorgeous.”

Likewise, the logic of abortion perpetuates a sick, backwards reality in which “the killing of one’s child is exalted as heroic and brave” and is promoted “as the cornerstone of women’s rights.” On the other hand, those who oppose the so-called “right” to abortion are condemned as heretics against the singularly destructive, totalitarian ideology by which the death of born and unborn children alike is equated with social progress. Indeed, abortion advocates increasingly tend to revere this intrinsic evil as a positive good rather than a necessary practice to be kept “safe, legal and rare,” as contemporary language encouraging women to “shout your abortion” suggests.

Neumann also recounted his recent ad limina visit to the Vatican, during which Pope Francis unequivocally agreed with his contention that abortion is the “pre-eminent” moral evil and social tragedy of our time. Pope Francis clearly stated to the archbishop in their private conversation that the Church must prioritize the elimination of abortion among all other moral and social issues in its quest to build a culture of life throughout the world, since abortion is the single most violent, inhumane and widespread form of attack against human life that remains legally permissible in the Western world in particular today.

I have sensed for the past few years that, out of all other contemporary progressive rituals that encompass what Adrian Vermeule describes as the “Liturgy of Liberalism,” none more perfectly epitomizes the perverse logic of abortion characterized by Naumann than the Women’s March does. Of course, the name “Women’s March” alone implies that this annual festival should take a big-tent approach toward women’s diverse perspectives, yet this could not be further from the truth. It is no secret that pro-life feminist organizations like New Wave Feminists have been consistently barred from partnering with the Women’s March since their supposedly “anti-choice” efforts to build a culture of life are simply incommensurable with the uniformly pro-abortion stance of the march organizers. This quasi-liturgical festival unwaveringly celebrates death as progress and condemns the pro-life movement as illiberal heresy. Beautiful is ugly and hideous is gorgeous.

Despite the unequivocal fact that the Women’s March is a uniformly pro-abortion event, this did not stop Student Government from sending a mass email on November 24, 2019 encouraging participation in this year’s Women’s March in D.C. I initially raised an eyebrow when I read the line that “all viewpoints upholding the dignity of humanity are welcome,” which was either blatantly dishonest or hopelessly naive. Still, I was even more profoundly taken aback when I read their contention that “topics addressed at the March include and are not limited to: ending violence against women, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, disability rights and environmental justice.” Anyone paying even the least bit of attention would recognize that an essential topic addressed at the Women’s March “includes” abortion access among that laundry list of standard progressive grievances.

It appears the authors of this email and their winking supporters in Student Government were not foolish enough to directly come out and say anything that directly contradicts the Church’s abiding stance on abortion as the preeminent moral evil and social tragedy of our time, although some of these folks may personally rebel against this definitive teaching on their own. Still, it takes only a small measure of common sense to read between the lines and recognize that far too many folks within Student Government are actively hostile to efforts toward building a culture of life at Notre Dame. Simply put, the pro-life ideals that animate the March for Life are irreconcilable with “The Twilight Zone” ideology that defines the unequivocally pro-abortion Women’s March. 

Of course, Student Government subsequently claimed in a follow-up email that the Women’s March was actually sponsored by the College Democrats, though it just so happened to sneak its way into the inboxes of every student on campus via Student Government’s channels. Nevertheless, the damage had already been done. I would prefer our student leaders be fully honest about their intentions instead of claiming such an absurdly unrealistic degree of naivete about both the pro-abortion mission of the Women’s March and the means by which emails get sent (in truth, an act of the will in which one presses the “send” button) as their defense.

Without a doubt, the crisis of abortion in our present age demands a unified response from Catholic institutions throughout the United States and the world, especially here at Notre Dame. Perhaps Student Government could both stifle the creeping influence of “The Twilight Zone” mentality on campus and better guarantee its positive commitment to Notre Dame’s pro-life mission by requiring that all candidates for student body president and vice president affirm their opposition to abortion and their dedication to protecting all human life from conception to natural death. The Church’s enemies cannot be allowed to infiltrate our University and subtly (or not-so-subtly) legitimize abortion access as an essential aspect of social justice, as though beautiful is ugly and hideous is gorgeous. The truth that all human life is a beautiful gift from God, worthy of our unconditional love from the moment of conception, must always be pre-eminently emphasized here at Notre Dame.

Brennan Buhr is a senior Juggerknott from Albany, New York, who studies theology, political science (but really, just theory) and history. He loves drinking cold glasses of skim milk and eating salad for dessert when he is not consuming “the living bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) at the Basilica. He can be reached at [email protected] or @BuhrBrennan on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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