The Answer’s In the Back

I think I’m really starting to love this new iteration of the American Liberal.

The way you love the happily retarded.

Now, the anachronistic slur–not a slur really, as I hope we’ll see–is intended only to set a time frame. I worked in the early 1970’s at the now defunct Mansfield Training Center for the Mentally Retarded.  I was an aide, responsible for getting twenty or so residents up from their beds and into a morning routine. There were two categories, educable, my floor, and non-educable. The people deemed non-educable were roughly assisted and often force fed. If you’ve seen any of the documentaries from the period you know how horrific conditions could be. Mansfield was not quite that bad.

But after breakfast, basically we just hung out. There wasn’t a rehabilitative program, even for the educable population. The residents’ aides, mostly kids from local colleges, smoked pot in the parking lot on break, and spent the morning grooving with their favorite play mates. It’s been a very long time, and the memories are sketchy, but one woman who I do remember, I thought of again today in an unexpected context.

She was middle aged, a big gal and dressed in some fantastical way of her choosing–residents were allowed to pick their clothes for the day if family wasn’t visiting. Her name is gone from my memory. What remains vivid though, is a trick she taught herself to look “smart”, to cover up her natural limitations. It absolutely blew me away when I recognized what she was doing, though I was a parking lot break-taker, so factor that in.

She had fifty, maybe more, children’s crosswords puzzle books, paperback large print, beginner’s series. She couldn’t read, exactly, but she could reproduce the letters. She had figured out that the answers were in the back and painstakingly, with full concentration filled in the crossword that way, back and forth between puzzle and answer. Here’s the kicker. She would fill them in when she wasn’t being watched, or so she thought, but when people were around she pretended to be solving the puzzle right then and there. She’d hold her pencil over a puzzle already filled out, and pretend to solve it so you would think she was “smart”. Everyone played along.

She sprang  to mind today– incongruous but vivid–as I was having a dust up online with a Facebook “friend’, a new iteration Liberal who unfriended me, get this, mid post!

The Liberal was posting some anti-Ted Cruz (I’m not a fan either) article referencing Margaret Sanger. I didn’t read it through, but skimming was adequate to see where the ground lay. This was a 100 % Liberal take on the topic, and I’m beginning to loathe partisan rhetoric of any stripe. We have taken an sword down the middle of public opinion and policy; each side has laid claim to a position on every issue. Sometimes absurdly inconsistent, being pro life and pro death penalty, and sometimes subtly inconsistent, like being pro “reproductive rights” and pro “black lives matter” . Ted Cruz was decrying the tragedy of innocent black lives lost to abortion. Sanger is a patron saint of Planned Parenthood.

The Liberal wrote, Disgusting! as her only comment on the article. I decided to introduce some facts to the argument, facts that I happen to have at hand. Let me say that word again, fact, tested evidence, objective truth. Here is what I started to post on the Liberal’s timeline…

In the Bronx, in 2011, 45 % of pregnancies ended in abortion
African American and Latino abortions accounted for 79% of NYC total…

That was apparently too much for the new iteration Liberal who unfriended me before I could finish the comment! She was watching in real time, and this assault with facts made her blood boil. Notice, no value judgement, just the facts. I saw her posts disappear from my timeline as I was writing. It was kind of bizarre. And, you know, wormy.

Now, can we stop just a moment. Do you really have to politicize numbers that shocking? Because if those numbers aren’t shocking, aren’t beyond the pale for any rational human being regardless of party, then where do we draw the line? Do we continue to identify ourselves as a compassionate species? One pregnancy in two ending in abortion. Women of color coaxed and encouraged to destroy lives that matter at winnowing rates.

And the bizarre irony is, if those statistics reflected treatment of animals, liberals would be screaming mad. Imagine that in 2011, in the borough of the Bronx, one puppy in two is destroyed because they are deemed inconvenient. Or if one breed fell out of pet fashion and were quietly disposed of. Social media would explode with outrage.

A statistic of one baby in two destroyed does not reflect agonizing personal decisions weighing all the consequences of a pregnancy. It reflects an attitude of dispiriting indifference. Can’t make it to the drugstore before the booty call? No problem, the clinic’s just around the corner.

(Not germane, but I can’t help but notice. Most of these pregnancies are aborted early, without alerting the neighbors that this particular woman was with child, missing all the attendant tender, hopeful emotions that phrase invokes in a community. Our remove from tribal living has not blotted out that instinct.)

But of course, there are sometimes dire, frightful complications associated with a pregnancy too; complex human lives can become out of control and a pregnancy may have consequences that are dangerous and far reaching. We are not speaking of these situations here, because crisis trumps policy. It is unseemly and uncivil to question the decisions made under those conditions.

But surely the percentage of these cases is nowhere near fifty percent. If so, wouldn’t we see those numbers in every Planned Parenthood, consistent among similar economic conditions? But it is only the most liberally accessible, indeed abortion-proselytizing, states that these numbers show up.

Choice, indeed.

The destruction of human beings cannot be a policy driven divide. It has an ethical dimension beyond politics. Human life has intrinsic value. Any thinking person can see the truth of that statement. Any decent person will give serious thought to the question.

But that is the new iteration Liberal. Absent intellectual integrity. Cocooned in a smiley head space. Cunningly averse to exposure.

Somehow, eerily reminiscent of that gal with the puzzle book ruse.

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