March 30, 2004

"George Bush has launched a full-scale assault on women while the war in Iraq continues to provide cover for the damage he is doing to our rights at home." So reads a letter from NOW I received yesterday. Oh, how I detest this kind of rhetoric! I suppose it helps raise money to instill a sense of emergency and to make the other side look aggressively evil.

I was particularly struck by the weird invocations of the war on terrorism, because there is no connection between the war and abortion rights (other than that people in politics have positions and fight about both things). The letter calls for a march on Washington in support of abortion rights, and states "we've put our bodies on the line to stop anti-abortion terrorism. And now we must take to the streets again." One could defend the use of the word terrorism by saying it refers only to people who try to murder abortion providers and bomb clinics, but the letter is all about defeating George Bush. The letter says we need to "send the ultra-conservatives who've hijacked out government a message," and I don't think the word "hijack" (or any other word) in this letter is accidental.

The letter describes the faces of "Bush and the applauding crowd of men behind him," as he signed "an abortion ban," as "smirking." It contends that Bush is "pulling out all the stops to impose his anti-woman agenda." (This is done, in case you're interested, by appointing federal judges who are "extremists who will enforce his malicious policies." And did you know that NOW's "allies in the U.S. Senate understand that we expect them to filibuster each and every judicial nominee who opposes" abortion rights?)

The tone of this letter is so overheated and lacking in rationality that if I were not seeing the name of the organization that sent it, I would not believe it was sent by a large, important organization. Clearly, many people who support abortion rights also understand and can respect the position of those who oppose them. I'm completely offended by this characterization of abortion opponents as outrageous extremists who smirk with glee as they exercise ill-gotten power to carry out a dangerous anti-woman agenda.

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