Best columns: The U.S.
Abortions for me, not for thee
Rep. Tim Murphy wants abortion to be made illegal except in cases of “rape, incest, the life of the mother, and...Tim Murphy,” said Molly Roberts. The pro-life Pennsylvania Republican resigned last week after revelations that he’d asked his mistress to have an abortion when she thought she was pregnant earlier this year. That’s the “dictionary definition of hypocrisy,” but Murphy probably really did think he was against abortion until an unwanted pregnancy threatened his marriage, his political career, and his plans for his future. The same was true of several other pro-life public officials who sought abortions for mistresses, wives, and teen daughters. Why the discrepancy between their public and private selves? You don’t know what you’d do if you had an unwanted pregnancy until you have one. Then many people convince themselves that their situation is “different.” Some women have told sociologists they are pro-life “as they wait in an exam room to terminate a pregnancy,” because, well, they’re not like the bad women who have them for no good reason. Women who choose an abortion do so because they feel that carrying the pregnancy to term would ruin their lives. Perhaps Tim Murphy can empathize with that feeling now.
The purge the GOP really needs
“What’s a revolution without purges?” asked Kevin Williamson. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, last week urged major Republican donors to conduct a “purge” of GOP legislators who aren’t on board with the Trump agenda. But “what, exactly, is the Trump agenda?” This administration promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the president has never provided any actual health-care policy beyond saying he wants “terrific” coverage. His taxreform plan consists of a vague set of numerical cuts, with no explanation of what loopholes and deductions would be eliminated, and he has no coherent policy on entitlements, the national debt, the border wall, foreign policy, crime, abortion, or anything else. The president “has many thoughts about the ratings of various television programs,” and tweets incessantly about how awful his critics, Cabinet members, and other Republicans are. He “has been successful at one thing—bringing Americans politics down to his level,” which is “childish and emotionally incontinent.” We’re now supposed to purge Republicans who aren’t comfortable with the daily insanity? A purge is indeed needed in coming years, “but it won’t be the one that Nick Ayers is contemplating.”
Protests aren’t ever popular
Many critics suggest that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality are hurting their own cause by alienating white people, said Ta-Nehisi Coates. But when didn’t civil rights protests and African-American activism produce an angry white backlash? Today, our society fondly remembers Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Freedom Riders as noble and sympathetic figures. But during the civil rights era, “only 22 percent of Americans approved of the Freedom Rides, and only 28 percent approved of the sit-ins.” The majority of Americans viewed King as a troublemaker pushing change way too fast. The civil rights movement was “neither neat nor particularly unifying” and in fact ripped apart the Democratic Party of Roosevelt and Truman, turning millions of Southerners into Republicans. But the protests of the 1960s did change the attitudes of many young white Americans, and eventually shamed the nation into meaningful change. Today’s protests aren’t aimed at the older people “who boo even when a team kneels before the anthem is sung,” but at younger Americans. The point isn’t to unify the country today, it’s to build a better one tomorrow. ■