The Norman Transcript

Columns

January 20, 2014

Slavery analogy obscures reality

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Far from accomplishing its goal, Thomas and Risen wrote, the episode “would serve as a warning of the movement’s coming slide into extremism and violence.” It’s hardly something to praise, no matter what your opinion of abortion. But that’s why Brownback tried to draw a moral parallel with Bleeding Kansas. After all, John Brown, the legendary antislavery militant, is immortalized in a prominent mural at the Kansas State Capitol — and he had led (before his raid at Harpers Ferry) a murderous foray that butchered five men at Pottawatomie Creek.

We give Brown a pass — he’s an American hero — and so we must give the bombers and shooters of the pro-life movement a pass, too. Hey, they’re fighting for the lives of the unborn, which is the same as fighting for the freedom of a race of people enslaved for the benefit of another race.

Is it the same thing? I’m not convinced it is — and I personally believe that abortion is wrong. A fetus is human life that deserves to be protected. How that is best accomplished is where I differ from many of those who stormed Wichita that summer. Prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, instead of harassing women and rising to a level of violence against the doctors who try to help them.

Slavery was a brutal economic system. People were captured into it. They were born and bred into it.

It was codified by law for the benefit of a certain class of white people but it also nourished a prospering nation. Many of the economic gains of the fledgling United States can be credited to the free labor of slavery. That’s why its legacy is so firmly entrenched, why the forces that benefited from it fought on well into the 20th century to maintain African-American peonage, agitating against civil rights laws and other government efforts to establish equality.

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