Rather, the March for Life is a demonstration to affirm and promote a culture of life in American society, and, if it's a protest at all, it is a protest against the secularism and utilitarianism of a culture of death. The March has an upbeat and celebratory feel to it. The optimism and excitement in the air seem to come from marchers affirming to one another as much as to the rest of the country that, ultimately, a culture of life and moral virtue will prevail in our society.
A phrase that was probably heard in many homilies and speeches on Friday is that the first right we have as human beings is the right to life. As the late Father Neuhaus said in this speech of 2008 , the pro-life movement
represents the great human rights cause of our time and all times—the cause of life. We contend, and we contend relentlessly, for the dignity of the human person, of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, destined from eternity for eternity—every human person, no matter how weak or how strong, no matter how young or how old, no matter how productive or how burdensome, no matter how welcome or how inconvenient. Nobody is a nobody; nobody is unwanted. All are wanted by God, and therefore to be respected, protected, and cherished by us.In contrast, what does a culture of death look like? It is a culture where a self-appointed group assumes for itself the task of deciding who in society has value and who doesn't. It is a culture that believes that certain individuals--such as the elderly, the infirm, the unborn, the handicapped-- have 'lives unworthy of life.' Robert George explains it as
the temptation to regard some human lives, or the lives of human beings in certain conditions, as lebensunwerten Lebens, lives unworthy of life. Since the life of every human being has inherent worth and dignity, there is no valid category of lebensunwerten Lebens. Any society that supposes that there is such a category has deeply morally compromised itself. As Leon Kass recently reminded us in a powerful address at the Holocaust Museum, it was supposedly enlightened and progressive German academics and medical people who put their nation on the road to shame more than a decade before the Nazis rose to power by promoting a doctrine of eugenics based precisely on the proposition that the lives of some human beings — such as the severely retarded — are unworthy of life.On this past Friday, we were apparently more than 300,000 strong and said to be the largest group of marchers to date. Again this year, the number of young people, high school and college-age, was impressive. The number of priests, religious and lay people who attended the Thursday night Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine, which can hold more than 5,000, created this overflow crowd. Our own Archdiocese of New York packed a church in Bethesda, Maryland early on Friday morning, only slightly disappointed that Archbishop Dolan, who was to have celebrated the Mass, had been called away the night before to Haiti.
To navigate the D.C. subway system on the day of the March, to wait among hundreds of thousands of people for the March to begin, to march along major avenues in the heart of the nation's capital that have been shut down to regular traffic and then to look for coverage of the March in the Mainstream Media and find virtually nothing is to experience the weirdest sort of altered reality. Those in the liberal Media are a reprehensible and calculating, cowardly bunch.
They will, I suppose, continue to insist that Americans who oppose abortion are a fringe minority, but I would think the deception they engage in is going to become increasingly difficult to perpetuate as views on abortion change. Particularly among those ages 18-29 (the Millennials) and those ages 30-44 (Gen X-ers), abortion is considered to be morally wrong with a figure of 58% in the former category and 60% in the latter category. No surprise that only 51% of my generation, the Baby-Boomers, would agree.
To conclude with words from Father Neuhaus's speech,
Whether, in this great contest between the culture of life and the culture of death, we were recruited many years ago or whether we were recruited only yesterday, we have been recruited for the duration.