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Seldom do I come across a piece of work as arrogant, intellectually bankrupt, and irresponsible as Peter Heck’s blundering piece on Barack Obama, slavery, and abortion. Heck shares in the belief that abortion is as morally repugnant as slavery– and believes President Obama should join every other black person and denounce its virulent wickedness. I can’t begin to do his work justice. Here is Heck making his main point:
Intellectual honesty demands that we face a harsh and uncomfortable reality: Barack Obama – our first black president – has chosen to take up the whip against his fellow man. By doing so, he carves out an eternal legacy for himself far removed from the dignified halls of honor reserved for those with the moral courage to defend the defenseless. By instead regarding them as subhuman, Obama wars against the life work of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln.
So now he’s a traitor to his race? That is unfathomably ignorant on a myriad of levels. Rather than engage in an argument regarding a black man’s path to decide his own compelling moral interest–an argument Heck would find himself on the wrong side of, and one that sounds awfully close to a slave mentality– I’m going in another direction.
What these short sighted revisionists fail to recognize–probably because it deflates their case– is that abortion and slavery have been intricately linked for many years. It’s not some new discovery. It’s the latest attempt to buffer their own attempt at reversing Roe v. Wade, and it’s a desperate gambit. This crooked analogy consists of rotten logic, and flawed suppositions.
I would surmise Mr. Heck has no experience coping with soul crushing captivity. If he had, he would understand that slaves–particularly slave women– might not have relished the childbirth experience. It was a pipeline to hell. It provided the slave owner with more property to feed the machine, and it deprived them of their own flesh. More simply:
When people talk about slavery and abortion as if they existed in two separate realities, they are ignoring so much and giving enslaved women very little credit and no agency. At the same time, as Morgan so beautifully writes it, having a child as an enslaved woman was not the wonderful thing we like to imagine motherhood and childhood to be. I think that is really important when we think of the institution of slavery, abortion nowadays, and the history of enslaved women.
Two things strike me quite clearly: First, these rabid pro-lifers have no regard for the welfare of women in the context of this argument. They are seen strictly as constructs, malleable figures moved across the board to divert attention from the real issue–forcibly controlling a narrative, and taking away the right for women to make their own moral argument. This narrative continues to encompass a blindingly blatant disrespect, and malice toward women. While race provokes and titillates, it is ultimately the false argument; the real fight is, and has always been the fight for a woman’s right to equality.
Secondly, folks like Heck and Rick Santorum have no real understanding of the black struggle personified through and by slavery. I’m sure they really have no desire to understand it– which makes their invocation of the slave/abortion analogy so fiendish. If they cared so much about Barack Obama “disgracing his racial ancestors,” they should ask themselves how disgraceful it would be to spare their babies from the acid-tinged sting of the whip. Would they subject them to the life-long chains of servitude if they could choose? Can they answer these questions with the same moral clarity and certainty they use in judging and condemning another human being’s personal choices?
Until then, I suggest they desist from the degrading exploitation of slavery as a means to prop up their pro-life narrative. My ancestors have suffered enough.