Today's episode brought to you by Racism, and the letters "P" & "K".
I've seen this image come up several times on Facebook, but when I saw it today on /r/CatholicMemes, I just couldn't get past it. I despise Planned Parenthood as much as the next guy, but this is just... wrong.
This post comes about because I've had to address this particular issue in too many forums, and so I need to just put down what I have to say on the topic so that I can stop repeating myself.
I don't mean to rag on the CatholicMemes subreddit, usually there is some pretty good stuff on there using humor to share the faith. For instance, this morning someone shared this tweet, which is hillarious:
This is what humorous education is supposed to look like: funny, and right. But saying that because Planned Parenthood aborts 90,000 black babies a year the Confederate flag isn't that bad? Come on.
Because the thing is, two wrongs don't make a right.
"This sin is the worst sin, so ignore all other sins," is not Catholic. We are Catholics, not Republicans. We don't have to toe the party line when the party is wrong.
What we currently call the Confederate Flag was only made popular post-reconstruction, by the Dixiecrats and KKK who were formed to take away the rights of recently freed blacks. There was a brief moment after slavery ended when blacks were actually free people, before the political powers in the south enacted the Jim Crow laws, took away voting rights, &c.
They did this under this flag, this symbol that the South was still right, but right about what? State's rights? The State's right to determine who is and isn't a person? The "inherent supremacy of the White Race," which the fathers of the CSA WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT (just search the Cornerstone Speech, or the description of the "Unstained Banner" by its designer. Tl;dr: "Whites rule, blacks drool.") They did this under the flag that symbolized the same sentiments that led Margaret Sanger - noted fan of the KKK - to found Planned Parenthood, which still systematically targets non-white and poor neighborhoods.
Maybe those symbols are more alike than they are different.
A Catholic should have a broader view of history than the last 20 years of American Politics.
The point of places like /r/CatholicMemes and other social media humor sites in the context of a broader evangelical reality is to tell the truth with humor (much like the Freddy Krueger/Planned Parenthood 3% tweet). This meme fails both conditions, and makes us sound like Planned Parenthood's apologists do: "Lynching is only 3% of the KKK's activities, what about their bonfire hotdog roasts?"
"But," I hear so many people say, "That's not what it stands for now! It's just states' rights and Southern Pride! It's foolish to hang on to old outdated meanings that nobody believes in anymore!"
And again I say, southern pride in what?
And again I say, states' rights to do what?
Yes, symbols change, but for the love of Truth look at Donald Trump appealing to the worst elements of racism in our country and tell me there aren't people for whom this is still the meaning of the flag. We are not so far from the civil rights movement that we can so callously dismiss the "former meaning," when there are still people alive who witnessed the inhumanity of that "former meaning," whose parents and grandparents told them of the injustices accomplished under that "former meaning." THAT is foolishness.
"But," I hear till more people say, "What about the Stars and Stripes! The KKK claims that they are American and fly the Star Spangled Banner in their marches too! And what about all the bad things Americans have done?!"
America is not perfect, granted. Two wrongs still don't make a right. More than that, and something which you should understand if you're Catholic, acts are important but so is founding. As G. K. Chesterton said, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." The same could be said of the American Ideal (whilst being cautious not to fall into the heresy of Americanism.
The Star Spangled Banner has waved over many atrocities, it's true. Every single one has been contrary to the founding principle that "We hold these truths to be self evident: that All Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Every atrocity committed under the Star Spangled Banner is not just a violation of the natural law, God's law, but also of her very ideals.
Every racially motivated atrocity committed under the "Unstained Banner," or under the modern "Rebel Flag," is a violation of the natural law, of God's law, and yet is in keeping with the principles and ideals of the Confederate States of America that the White Man was created superior, and that servitude and slavery are the natural state of all other races.
Because here's the thing. You wouldn't buy it if I started using Nazi symbols and claiming it was just part of being proud of my German heritage. I am proud of that heritage, but I'm also proud that as far as I know most if not all of my ancestors came to the United States before the Nazi rise to power.
Planned Parenthood is evil, founded by a very racist woman who inspired Hitler to kill millions of "inhumans" even as her own organization continues to kill millions of "inhumans." But those same sentiments are found in the "Cornerstone" Speech, given by the Vice President of the CSA, Alexander H. Stevens:
The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
It is the same sentiment that leads Planned Parenthood to follow in its founder's footsteps in targeting poor and minority communities that lead the designer of the "Unstained Flag", William T. Thompson to say this:
As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.
As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
We are CATHOLIC. If we want to defend decentralized government and political subsidiarity, then why not pick Chesterton, or a Saint? Or for that matter the founding fathers, who understood just war theory and put so much thought into their efforts? Why are we shackling ourselves to a symbol which has literally no inherent value or benefit to us, and yet is such a source of pain for so many people?