The True Content of Character

Matthew - Chula Vista, California
Entered on December 4, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: birth, morality, race

I believe in the patient struggle to overcome injustice, no matter how popular the injustice might be.

I got up the nerve to write this essay after hearing for the umpteenth time how the election of Barack Obama as this nation’s first African-American shows that America is finally judging a person “not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.” Really? Does that mean that the 48% who voted against Barack Obama were judging him by the color of his skin? Does that mean that the President-elect’s character is superior to that of his main opponent? Does that mean that the President-elect’s character is unimpeachable?

I ask all these questions not as exercise in reductio ad absurdium. As one-half of an inter-racial couple, my wife being from Kenya, with an African-American son, as a former Chicagoan and as a life-long Democrat, one would think that I would be the ideal constituent for the President-elect, but one would think falsely. That’s because I am also staunchly pro-life. The President-elect’s record regarding the sanctity of life is abhorrent even in comparison to other pro-choicers. He voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions. He voted against requiring medical care to U.S. citizens who were born alive as a result of a botched abortion. He has also stated that the first thing he will do in office –the very first thing– will be to sign F.O.C.A. into law, an act which, beyond codifying Roe v. Wade into legislative fiat, would overturn all state restrictions on the abortion industry and would threaten to close every Catholic hospital in the country. He has even referred to the potential of his own daughters becoming pregnant as a form of punishment. While I don’t much care to speak of politicians’ personal lives, since the President-elect brought up the topic, it doesn’t speak well of a man that he considers his own grandchildren to be punishment on his own daughters.

Content of his character? This hatred for the right to life is the true content of the President-elect’s character. But just because everyone else has enamored themselves with the President-elect doesn’t mean I have, for one second, lost my resolve to fight to defend the sanctity of life. I continue to argue, protest, cajole, and sometimes even cry over the need for this country and her people to recognize the atrocity of 48 million of our fellow human beings being brutally and profitably murdered. I continue to push for the alternatives to abortions offered by Democrats for Life in their 95-10 Initiative, especially when self-righteous and self-important pro-choicers claim that we pro-lifers “aren’t doing anything for all these unwanted babies.” Unwanted babies? Their own words expose their hypocrisy, and I continue to point that out in the marketplace of ideas.

Why do I persist especially when so many have fallen for the President-elect? It’s because I’ve found such persistence pays off in the long run. I was reminded of this recently by a discussion I had with a colleague of mine. He grew up in a Protestant church in Kansas City, but he had long since stopped attending services. His brother is a respected historian and liberal pundit. For years, he would berate me about how narrow-minded I was for continuing to espouse pro-life views. I argued with him –sometimes loudly– not based upon God’s Law, the Church, the Bible, or any other moral source of reference that he had long since abandoned. I argued my case from a position of civilization and equality –that civilizations, if they want to survive, do not destroy innocent life, that a movement which denigrates the one thing which women can do –namely give birth– that also happens to be the one thing which men cannot do, cannot call itself feminism, and that, even though pro-choicers invariably judge measures that pro-lifers do to mitigate the allure of abortions as insufficient, such insufficiency will never justify the evil of murdering the innocent.

After many years of going back and forth with him about this issue, he came to my office. After some water-cooler discussions about blues music and college basketball, the topic of abortion came up, as it invariably did, and he said, “Alright, Matthew, you win. You’re right. Abortion is wrong and should be outlawed.”

I was stunned. Still disbelieving, I asked, “What made you change your mind?”

“You finally wore me down.”

“Wow! And it only took me 10 years to convince you.”

This is a man who is still a Democrat, still a liberal, still lapse in regard to religion. My argument didn’t change him; it just changed his mind. That’s why I keep fighting for the right to life. It may not win today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now. I may even be long gone by the time the right to life is finally won, but I know that persistence will pay off in the long run.

Maybe in 10 years time, the President-elect will come up to one of the few pro-lifers he allows into his inner circle and tell them, “Alright, you win. You’re right. Abortion is wrong and should be outlawed.”

Perhaps, by then, we will have had our first pro-life African-American president who will undo all the damage the Barack Obama did during his administration. On that the day, I believe we will finally be judging someone by the content of their character.