Scragged has from its inception been mostly an opinion magazine. The occasional opportunity arises to do some actual journalism and independent reporting on news, but in the main, as one of our slogans has it, "They Report, We Decide."
This sort of writing carries with it the burden of needing to evaluate the credibility of the original source, which is not at all as easy as it might appear. The National Enquirer, for example, not noted as a leading factual publication, turned out to be spot-on about John Edwards' extramarital escapades; whereas the New York Times, long known as "America's Newspaper of Record," routinely gets stories exactly backwards these days.
Once you get used to the obvious and well-documented bias of the mainstream media, it is fairly easy to adjust for. We're finding, however, that the underlying feelings and experiences of the editors, writers, and interviewees that are not said out loud, but which can be discerned in other ways, are far more interesting than what they present as "facts."
A profoundly moving example of this phenomenon appeared on the cover of a recent edition of the Washington Post Magazine. The cover photo showed a (very) young lady dressed as a doctor; the caption was:
An aspiring doctor believes deeply in a woman's right to choose. But is she willing to back that up by providing abortions?
This headline, all by itself, encapsulates the ultimate doom of the pro-abortion movement. By its very presence in that most stalwartly liberal member of the mainstream media, the Washington Post, this headline recognizes that abortion is not just about a scrap of tissue, that a fetus is in fact a human being, and that abortion is indeed murder - though of course, they cannot say so. Most probably the writer dares not even think it, at least not consciously.
But what else could the Post mean? Consider this alternate title: "An aspiring doctor believes deeply that cancerous tumors should be removed. But is she willing to back that up by performing the surgery?" That headline would be nonsense.
Of course a doctor is going to perform surgery to remove cancer - it's just a piece of tissue that's at at best inconvenient, at worst deadly. Maybe a particular doctor isn't going to do the surgery personally - jittery hands, not trained in that discipline, etc. - but there are no moral issues involved, and nothing to write an article about. Tumor present - surgery needed - do the surgery, or refer the patient to the appropriate specialist. End of story. Zzzzz.
Abortion is completely different.
The Clintons were perhaps the first to reveal this truth, with their mantra that abortions should be "Safe, Legal, and Rare."
What in the world is that getting at? Do we say that biting off your hangnails should be safe, legal, and rare? Of course it's legal - it's your own darn hangnail, how could it not be? Of course it should be safe - don't bite your finger off by mistake. And who cares if it's rare or not? If you bite off your hangnails every day, or never in your entire life, it makes absolutely no difference to anyone or anything at all, except possibly to yourself, and even then only in the smallest and most trivial of ways.
"But," you say, "Abortion is NOT trivial!" No, it most certainly is not. And the reason it is not trivial is precisely because a fetus is not just a scrap of tissue like a hangnail or a tumor.
It is, in point of scientific fact, a genetically distinct person, its own entity - temporarily dependent on the mother for survival, it's true, but an entity which is on a course for an independent existence and destiny if allowed to pursue it. Everyone knows this, the most fervently pro-choice most of all.
The article details how very rare abortion training is; how most medical schools shy away from discussing it as "too controversial," and most medical students strive to ignore it. Medical students, who are precisely those young people who are most thoroughly steeped in science and genetics, strive to ignore abortion!
In the story, the budding doctor, Lesley Wojcik, arranged for a private practice-abortion exercise involving fruit, which turned out to be quite difficult reading for one who believes abortion to involve the murder of a human being.
"This is the most important thing and the hardest to learn," the doctor said as she pulled out lots of seeds and juice, what in a real abortion she called the "products of conception", or POC. "You put the POC into a bowl, repeat if necessary, and examine them under a microscope to make sure you got everything."
It's stomach-churning in much the way that watching a horror movie can be - even though you know that the movie is not real, that the actors are covered in ketchup and went home unharmed at the end of the filming day, the horror it represents is nevertheless a real and palpable thing. This horror builds until Lesley attends at an abortion, depicted in all the gruesomeness any pro-life activist could hope for. In the end, as the article concludes,
Lesley still believed passionately in abortion rights and was proud at what she'd accomplished at Maryland with her activism. She didn't want to let people down. Even so, she had to follow her heart. Somebody else - maybe Laura Merkel, the new chapter president of Medical Students for Choice - would become an abortion provider. But it wouldn't be her. [emphasis added]
Goodness! Why ever not, for an aspiring doctor who believes in abortion "passionately"?
Because it's wrong, and even though she won't admit it to herself, she realizes it somewhere down deep in her conscience. Even though the writer and the editors would never say so either, the way the article was written reveals that they, too, must have realized that abortion is wrong.
And here we see the path back for conservatism. Abortion represents the one, single, solitary policy on which conservatives have succeeded in truly changing hearts and minds and achieving conviction.
American support for abortion rights grows weaker every day and public desire for restrictions grows stronger. With every ultrasound, with every medical advance, normal people living normal lives realize more fully that a person is a person no matter how small - and, though the culture and opinion-makers pound the drum of abortion for all, which makes it difficult to come right out and say "No", in their heart of hearts a growing majority of voters are convinced that, regardless of what others might think, abortion is simply wrong.
Once upon a time, all the leading opinion-makers had eloquent, widely accepted justifications for slavery - and yet a small group of dedicated people were fervently convinced that it was evil. They went about convincing others, until ultimately everyone today agrees that slavery is not, was not, and never could be anything but an appalling crime.
Why is the pro-life movement being successful where so many other conservative goals fall flat on their face? Because from its inception, the primary element has not been the lost causes of legal action, winning elections, or even legislation: it's been winning hearts and minds by instilling convictions. This is much harder and much slower, but it's also the only way to long-term success.
In the midst of liberal victories on every other side, 2008 also saw not one but several successful movies released - from Hollywood, the enemy of all that's right and good - celebrating bearing a baby to term when an abortion would have been the more "rational" choice.
All those years of signs saying "Abortion stops a beating heart" have paid off. Americans, most of them, are now convinced that abortion does stop a beating heart. The pro-choice screaming on the left is fading away; Roe vs Wade will someday fall by popular disgust, in fact if not necessarily in law. The closer people come to the facts, the more the truth becomes apparent.
It's easy to be "pro-choice" when it's just words, just as "sharing the wealth" sounds nice and "Make love, not war" is appealing. But when the "choice" is revealed as a helpless infant left to die in a hospital storage room; the "wealth" being shared is not Bill Gates', but Joe the Plumber's; and war comes unexpectedly on a cloudless September morning, the false choice stands revealed in all its squalor.
Conservatives have of late been terrible at communicating these truths, ever since the loss of the Great Communicator - but that's a fixable problem.
The left is crowing that the youngest voters are overwhelmingly liberal, and thus that they own the future. This is true, or could be true - but only insofar as these new leftists can continue to be insulated from reality, as the tireless efforts of the teachers unions, the overwhelmingly leftist universities, and the nakedly partisan mainstream media work so hard to ensure.
But with each passing day in the real world, their lifelong assumptions will be challenged. And we'll see the same thing happen as happened to the New Deal babies that now vote overwhelmingly Republican, and as happened last year to the famous playwright David Mamet: as he put it,
I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other - the world in which I actually functioned day to day - was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).
And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.
David Mamet thought he was a liberal - but the way in which he lived his life each day revealed him to truly be a conservative all along. He just hadn't put two and two together - until one day, he did, thanks to conservative writers making their arguments and having them ring true, while the arguments of liberals, when exposed to the harsh light of day in the real world, ring transparently false.
Lesley Wojcik doesn't seem to have quite realized this yet, as far as we can tell from the article, but she's on the same road: her life choices flatly contradict one of her fundamental "fervent" beliefs, and she has a cover article, no doubt framed on her dorm-room wall, to remind her of that fact each and every day. As a successful medical student, she is obviously a very smart young woman; she'll figure it out sooner or later.
While America's right regroups to determine a new strategy, the article from the Washington Post Magazine should be required reading. Learn from success. Learn from failure. The more we learn from both, the less of the latter we'll have.