Thursday, May 18, 2006

Please Go Away, Ramesh Ponnuru



I don’t know how many of you saw Ramesh Ponnuru on the Daily Show yesterday. He was hawking his new book, The Party of Death, one of the endless recent parade of popular nonfiction books on politics. This particular book takes the stance that the Democratic Party is the titular Party of Death, encouraging murder and disrespect for life on a worldwide scale. The fact that Mr. Ponnuru is a senior editor at the National Review should let you know what to expect before even reading his book (and I will freely admit that I have not nor will I ever). Jon Stewart took a pretty hard line with Mr. Ponnuru and was gentleman enough not to point out that Ponnuru is a squeaky-voiced little wiener who has never touched a boobie.
Whether or not Mr. Ponnuru is a wiener has little to do with the argument of his book (though it may have quite a lot to do with the fact that he chooses to make this argument). Basically, abortion is the main issue: Ponnuru sees abortion as being wholly and indelibly defined as a lust for death, a state sanctioned murder, and an erosion of “our fundamental right to life.” Ponnuru claimed on the Daily Show that he advances a principled, ethical, rational argument against abortion that does not rely on Biblical interpretation (what this could possibly be I don’t know, and he didn’t say). He also claimed that he could make the same kind of scientific argument about stem cell research (one wonders if he also opposes blood tests, or surgery). Jon Stewart asked him how the President could justify shedding innocent blood in Iraq to defend us from the (imaginary) weapons of mass destruction while at the same time steadfastly opposing abortion and potentially revolutionary research on stem cells because it represents a sacrifice of innocent life to save other lives. Good question, Mr. Stewart.
Basically, this all boils down to Benveniste and Agamben’s Culture of Life. Mr. Ponnuru calls the democratic party a culture of death and champions a conservative valuing of life as an inalienable, sacred right. Yet when we make life sacred and inalienable, at the same time we absolve the state of any responsibility for its quality. No wonder we do not have national health care yet we enjoy unprecedented tax cuts for the immensely wealthy. No wonder the Bush administration and its conservative and evangelical allies assault sex and science education. This insistence on the sacredness of life cannot emerge from a scientific ethics; my opinion is that the current pusillanimous championing of the rights of the blastula comes from a bottomless hatred and fear of women, and a neurotic, consuming desire to control their reproductive organs. I’m really so, so sick of this. See my previous post for a better explanation of the culture of life idea.

1 comment:

tMa said...

I am sorry I missed that interview, it sounds as though it would fill me with the rage that is my daily bread. This is just more of the same crap from a party that speaks down to its supporters and does not seek to empower anyone to formulate their own idea but rather tries to shame and frighten them into obeying. Personally I am astounded that their are so many conservative men who think they have the right and experience to legislate what women should be doing with their bodies and their lives. In a perfect world a man would be as affected by pregnancy as a woman but this is certainly not that world and the only person who will be truly changed by pregnancy is a woman. THerefore it is only a woman who has any right to decide what is best for her own life. Shouldn't valueing life include the life of a woman who may not want to be pregnant? It seems that these bible-thumping whack jobs seem to think that pro-choice means pro-abortion; not everyone thinks in black and white terms. Pro-choice means personal choice and responsibility, it values the life of the people LIVING! Why is an object -for lack of a better word - floating around in amniotic fluid valued more highly than the life of the PERSON it is inside?