Ending the Culture Wars?
William Saletin talks about how Obama wants to end the culture wars and is working to bring some practical morality to the table. What Saletin believes is that the left just needs to admit that abortions are caused by unplanned pregnancies due not to unavailable contraception, but because people aren't taking contraception seriously enough. He says:
This isn’t a shortage of pills or condoms. It’s a shortage of cultural and personal responsibility. It’s a failure to teach, understand, admit or care that unprotected sex can lead to the creation — and the subsequent killing, through abortion — of a developing human being.
And then he says that the right will have to admit that contraception is the moral answer to the problem of unprotected sex.
Conservatives, in turn, need to face the corollary truth: A culture of life requires an ethic of contraception. Birth control isn’t a sin or an offense against life, as so many girls and Catholic couples have been taught. It’s a loving, conscientious way to prevent the conception of a child you can’t bear to raise and don’t want to abort. It’s an act of responsibility and respect for life.
Saletin really misreads the reason why the religious right as with most patriarchal religions refuses to grant that contraception is the answer to this human problem.
The philosophy driving anti-conception is directly related to the idea that sex conducted without allowing for conception is sinful especially for women. This is the reason pharmacists are refusing to distribute contraceptives.
"'We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion,' says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, an organization that has battled abortion for 27 years but that, like others, now has a larger mission. 'The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set,' she told me. 'So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception.'"
The Pope also condemns the use of contraception because the only time human beings are supposed to have sex is within marriage and artificial contraceptives lead to "negating the intimate truth of conjugal love...." What's clear is the Pope sees no reason to change his stance and although he finds that the church can tolerate holocaust deniers, it cannot stand Catholic politicians who do not support the Church's hard stance on human sexuality.
This condemnation of contraceptive and human sexuality comes from a growing extremism on the part of the religious right exhibited by the need to control women. Extreme patriarchal societies have long exhibited hatred for women, most likely because they fear weakness and see women as being soft and capable of undermining the strength of men. The rules of the Taliban for women reflect this hatred:
You will stay inside your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram, a male relative. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home.
You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.
Cosmetics are forbidden.
Jewelry is forbidden.
You will not wear charming clothes.
You will not speak unless spoken to.
You will not make eye contact with men.
You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.
You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.
Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girs will be closed immediately.
Women are forbidden from working.
If you found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.
Listen. Listen well. Obey. --- A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
Saletin believes that reasonable and practical morality will lead to a time when abortion is no longer needed and the culture wars can be ended. It seems to me that the roots to the culture war are much deeper than he admits.