Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Democrats Abandon Catholics"? I Call B.S. On Timothy Dolan's WSJ Op-Ed

Cardinal Timothy Dolan's op-ed piece  ('The Democrats Abandon Catholics',  p. A15) in The Wall Street Journal last Friday was a clear shot over the bow, basically sending a chilling message to any Catholics who might consider voting Dem in November.  The implicit warning? You're either with the Church or against it, and if you vote Dem you're against it!

According to Dolan, the Democrats can no longer be counted on to defend the "civil rights of a baby in the womb".  This imbecile doesn't even grasp that there is no "baby' that exists in the womb, and to conflate a fetus with a baby is to dismiss all biological science as well as common sense. Dolan obviously doesn't understand that rights are accorded to a human person, not to an agglomeration of cells.

Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that no sane person in his or her right mind can possibly regard a zygote as a "baby", or a fetus as an "unborn child". There is simply no standard by which those identities pass even elemental laws or tests of logic, or conform to known science.   A zygote isn't even morphologically formed as anything remotely resembling a human yet so isn't a "baby". A baby has functioning eyes, and is capable of grasping a nipple or its mother's thumb. A zygote can't.   Meanwhile, a child cannot be "unborn" because by definition it is already born!  Thus, we send the 'child' to school, get him to do his homework, to take his medicine, cross streets safely, respect his elders and so on. If unborn, it's a fetus, not a "child"  (and not a "baby" either)  so all those conflations are preposterous.

Dolan is merely using conflationary language to try to make the specious case that by not allowing abortions, Democrats are complicit in "killing babies" and taking away the rights of human "persons". (Evoking memories of the various efforts to pass a "personhood amendment" here in Colorado, which would hold mothers accountable to anything untoward that befell a fetus. Say if she went mountain biking and fell, then she'd face up to 5 years for involuntary manslaughter of a "person".)

Dolan is also guilty of employing a logical fallacy. The logical error made is called the "genetic fallacy" -  first described by Antony Flew ('Thinking About Thinking'). That is, arguing that because a thing is going to become something, it IS something. It would be like me picking up an acorn and claiming it's an oak tree. Nope. No way. Only an insane person would assert that!

Dolan may not be insane but he is definitely a Sophist, as when he writes (ibid.):

"The needs of poor and middle class children in Catholic schools and the right to life of the baby in the womb - have largely been rejected by the party of our youth".

Which is total balderdash.   The Dems have certainly done nothing to undermine the  "needs of poor and middle class children in Catholic schools".  If anything, they've  fought tooth and nail to defend social support for those groups. For example,  by keeping eligibility for food stamps and Medicaid which the Republicans have tried to strip away, e.g.


The GOP plan also wants to slash spending on the Medicaid aspect of ACA by 2020. This will be by giving states the option of a "block grant" or a per capita allotment. So here in Colorado, for example, that may mean allocating the state a fixed amount for next year of $100m. That then will have to suffice to cover the needs of some 125,000  citizens, mainly frail elderly, poor, unemployed or under-employed. But if those people normally need some $4,000 a year each for their medical needs, just doing the math discloses the shortfall will be nearly a factor 5 less than needed .

In other words, the threshold to receive badly needed services would be so high  that most families wouldn't qualify unless they had virtually no income to speak of, e.g. $6,000 a year or less.  So, in effect, what is Dolan telling Catholics? If you don't want the Dem policies, say on abortion rights, then go to the Republicans?   "I object so much to what you stand for I'll just cut off my face to spite your nose!"

As for the "right to life of the baby in the womb" I already showed there is no baby in the womb. A baby doesn't exist until it is actually born and breathes on its own.  Moreover, nature interferes in the process as much or more than humans. As Ethicist Cheryl Mendelson has noted ('The Good Life', p. 159):

"Nature sloughs off early pregnancies at a high rate and we do not hold funerals for these embryos and early fetuses.  As many as 60 to 70 percent of fertilized eggs are lost overall, usually silently - without anyone ever knowing fertilization took place."

Here's a question for Dolan: Are each of those  sloughed off embryos and fetuses "babies"? If so why aren't funerals held for each and every one of them?

Let's also recall that six years ago when the ACA birth control provisions were also under attack by Dolan and other Catholic absolutists, Dolan was actually quoted as vowing:

"If the government forces the Church to provide lawful benefits to NON-Catholic employees, we may have to respond by cutting all services to the poor including meals and housing to the homeless, health care to impoverished kids and meals, assistance for the elderly and disabled."

 Seriously! So WHO is the real enemy of the poor here?  It sounds to me like Dolan is advocating his Cburch throw the poor under the bus if they didn't get their way on rejecting the ACA artificial birth control mandate. He goes so far as to threaten withholding "meals, housing and even health care"  plus  "assistance to the elderly" - all if "forced to provide lawful benefits (e.g. birth control) to non Catholic employees!

Let me again remind readers that the Church's birth control proscription is not any kind of a central doctrine-  issuing as it does from the Magisterium or teaching office, and not ex Cathedra or from the 'Chair of St. Peter' (which office designates "infallibility"). In fact, even the "infallibility" doctrine itself is open to question. Hans Kung has pointed out ('Infallible?', p. 145):

 No one, neither Vatican I, nor Vatican II, nor the textbook theologians, has shown that the Church - its leadership or its theology - is able to put forward  propositions which inherently cannot be erroneous."

 Hence, if these propositions "inherently cannot be erroneous" there is absolutely no compelling reason to follow them and Dolan's threats to gut support of the poor at that time were based on fatuous posturing.

More to the point, Pope Paul VI actually formed a commission to look into the matter in 1968, with the view to altering this teaching and was roundly informed he needed to do so - or the Church would lose millions in first world nations  (as it has, including me).  Paul rejected the conclusions of his Papal Commission, likely owing to some arm twisting by the relics in the Vatican Curia. 

The other aspect Dolan hasn't processed, like the other absolutists and dogmatists in his Church,  is that IF forms of artificial contraception were allowed without all the threats, and sanctimony, then the abortion rate could be significantly reduced. It is precisely because too many poor families, women are unable to gain access to contraception methods that they finally resort to abortion.

Lastly, again, if you're only pro-life to birth, then you're a damned hypocrite, and don’t truly believe black lives (or any lives) matter at all.  If you're truly pro-life you have to take civic, community ownership for the child's welfare -after it is born as much as before, via appropriate legislation- enabling it, not impeding it. And further this has to be effective  all the way through that child’s dependent years.

The GOP emphatically is not in favor of such support, even now as I write this planning a "balanced budget amendment" to carve out monies from Medicaid, food stamps and other essential services to make up for the expected deficits caused by their tax cuts. Is this really the only voting option Dolan affords Catholics?

Dolan ends by writing:

"I'm sorry to have to write this. But not as sad as you are to know it is true."

No, not as sad as we are to know it is all posturing, fallacy-laden drivel  and B.S.

Update: 3/30

A superb takedown of Dolan's babble appeared in the letters section of today's WSJ, submitted by Eddie Zakreski of Duquesne University. He notes the confluence in positions between the Democrats and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on: "the need for gun control, accepting immigrants and refugees, extending DACA  and CHIP, the right to health care for all, raising the minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and increasing welfare given to low income families."  As he concludes and Dolan ought to take note:  "To say Catholics are abandoning the party is only hurting the work on causes they both share with Democrats."

No comments: