STEINBERG: 2 women speak their minds on the Holocaust, abortion rights
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The names Simone Veil and Brittany Carl probably shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. It’s an insult to one; I’ll let you figure out which.
Veil was an icon of French politics, its most significant stateswoman in the past half century, twice the nation’s minister of health, the first woman president of the European Union. She died June 30 and was interred in the Paris Pantheon, a rare woman honored among French heroes such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.
Carl is the communications specialist just hired by Gov. Bruce Rauner, part of a group of hard right ideologues our billionaire governor brought in after sacking much of his loyal staff. The new crew proved instantly embarrassing — or would have, if Rauner could be embarrassed, an open question — because of their various racist, sexist and homophobic baggage. Rauner’s valet, or “bodyman” as they’re called, was fired Monday, the day he started work.
Carl’s lapse is no less odious but probably survivable, in that it doesn’t directly attack a particular group but merely perverts history. Besides, it’s so well-worn. In April, Carl wrote a piece for the Huffington Post airing the standard anti-abortion trope comparing a medical procedure voluntarily practiced every day by women around the world to the Holocaust of the Jews during World War II.
A subject Veil knew something about, having been sent to Auschwitz when she was 16.
“Certainly nothing matches the atrocity of the Holocaust,” wrote Carl, the standard disclaimer. “But it’s undeniable that abortion is being used to rid the world of disabled and other ‘unwanted’ persons — a fact the Left and their pro-abortion allies don’t want discussed.”
Rather than being “undeniable,” it’s completely deniable, easily deniable, because it isn’t true. There are two lies packed into that last sentence, and I’d be more than happy to discuss both. First, no “persons” are gotten rid of in an abortion. A fetus the size of a grain of rice is not yet a person, no matter how hard Carl insists they are Gerber babies ready to be cuddled.
And second, at least this fellow of the Left is happy to discuss the issue, because otherwise we yield the floor to religious fanatics who only want to force their religious dogma on the unwilling, using any argument, any sophistry possible.
Veil fought to make abortion legal, achieving a stunning victory in 1975, making France the first historically Catholic country to do so.
Since Carl believes the Holocaust was akin to women going to abortion clinics to terminate their pregnancies, let’s ask Veil to educate her about what it was actually like.
“I found myself thrown into a universe of death, humiliation and barbarism,” Veil wrote. “I am still haunted by the images, the odors, the screams, the humiliation, the blows and the sky, ashen with the smoke from the crematoriums.”
Veil pointed out that if there is a lesson to the Holocaust, it is not what Carl imagines: that every sperm is sacred, every egg ready for the crib unless the Lord God Himself — and only He — intervenes. The message from the Holocaust is about the dignity of individuals, even female individuals, and their right to live their own lives unmolested by the likes of Carl or her boss.
“As a Jew, as a concentration camp survivor, as a woman, you feel very much that you belong to a minority that has been bullied for a long time,” Veil said. “As for the deportation, what remains with you most is the memory of humiliation, and that’s a feeling many women have too, of trampled dignity.”
“Trampled dignity.” That could be the chapter heading for history books describing America in 2017. A president who lashes out at anyone slow to sink to a knee and praise him. A governor who’ll let his entire state come to a grinding halt rather than abandon his efforts to gut the middle class.
Veil, who was there, used the idea of the Holocaust to fight for human rights that Carl, annealed in the furnace of four years at the University of Notre Dame, would take away, citing the same event. As to which woman holds the moral authority, you can figure that out. Can’t you?