Though only published on January 11th of this month, Blackstone Films’ public service announcement in support of the annual March for Life has already created controversy. I’m glad it has.
The short film—only two minutes—features the voice of President Obama when he addressed the nation soon after the Newtown Massacre as a stunned nation mourned a madman’s systematic murder of twenty children under the age of seven and six of their teachers. His words were sobering when delivered in their original rhetorical context. Arguably, they are even more sobering when accompanied by the images compiled in this video. “This is our first task,” the President tells us, “caring for our children. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.” It is, indeed, how we will be judged—but judged by whom?
Many, even in the Pro-Life community, have questioned whether the mash-up of the Newtown speech and the March for Life has an element of opportunism to it, or, perhaps is just in bad taste. As one person commented on Sister Anne Flanagan’s (http://romans8v29.blogspot.com/2013/01/in-his-own-words-obama-narrates-pro.html) blogpost on the film, “I hope to God no parents of a child shot down at Sandy Hook ever has to see their dear little one's death so callously co-opted by a movement that claims to RESPECT LIFE.” There is no denying that film is provocative.
But I don’t think the film is in any way manipulative. Indeed, calling attention to the fact that those slaughtered in the womb each year, each minute, are just as human as those poor children at Sandy Hook Elementary isn’t manipulative. What’s manipulative is pretending those in the womb aren’t and the violation of logic and common sense that tries to convince people that they aren’t—and then attempting to heap shame on them, calling them “hateful,” “bigoted,” “misogynist” or what epithet one wishes (I hear these pointed in my direction almost daily). We have lived through more than a generation of “advocates” (a spooky word when used in this context) trying to convince us that killing our own children is a right. But, even as The New York Times has recently been forced to admit, the voice of the people still remains largely Pro-Life.
Throughout his week, I’ve kept in mind Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s words at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington during Bill Clinton’s presidency. There, before the Pro-Choice, non-inhaling, POTUS, the diminutive Albanian nun directly implored, “Don't kill them, give them to me.” It seems many Pro-Choicers feel this is not a viable (one of their favorite words) option.
As President Obama says in the video, “These tragedies must end.” Chilling words, to which he adds, “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” The answer should be clear.
The controversy over the film will blow over. The mainstream media has an ingrained habit of ignoring the half-million or more who march on Washington every January to pray for the unborn, mourn those millions who died in death chambers made for giving life, and evince hope for the metanoia, the change of heart, of a nation that has forgotten what life is and what children are.
Spero columnist Michael Martin is a professor of English literature at Marygrove College in Detroit Michigan.