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Archive for May 24th, 2012

Unquantifiable

For the last two weeks I have been talking about the appalling decision by the Franciscan University of Steubenville to honor General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA under Bush and torture apologist.

 As depressing as that was, it is more depressing to see so little controversy about this. A Franciscan institution bestows honors on a major agent of the Empire. Yawn.

It is not unlike my reaction to the story a couple of weeks ago that an American war college had, for 8 years, featured a class that portrayed Islam as the enemy and proposed genocide- using nuclear weapons on Mecca- as the answer. That story, rather than provoking outrage, disappeared; aside from  the Arab and Muslim presses I have seen no follow up report.  As I said at the time, I had thought I was cynical about the military but it turned out I was naive. Similarly, I thought I was cynical about American Catholics, but it turned out I was naive.

But the most depressing thing is that people in my comboxes actually argued either that waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation” are not torture, or that they really are not important compared to abortion. Never mind that people have died at the hands of American torturers, I want to tackle the abortion trump card.

It has always bothered me when antiabortion advocates downplay other moral horrors by citing either the numbers of abortions or the brutality of the act. Granted, the statistics are overwhelming, but when you say that, for example, the deaths caused by our attack and occupation of Iraq are really not significant because there were “only” 100,000 (to cite only one estimate) dead Iraqis you look like a fool. The impression is given that you really don’t care, or that to you it is a waste of time to be concerned about any evil except abortion. Far from being “prolife” you cheapen life by this sort of reasoning.

And in fact you miss the point entirely. Morality is not quantifiable.

Every human being carries within the image of God. When this image is desecrated and attacked, whether by war, abortion, torture, or any other way, it is an infinite tragedy. Every single act against that image is a grave evil, and these acts are all individual ones.

And every such desecration is an immeasurable affront to the Living God.

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The State of Things

(from the Economic Policy Institute)

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