Sins of the Flesh: Reflections on the Pro-Life March in Ottawa

Going Naked to a Funeral

     The National Post acknowledged that this year’s March for Life in Ottawa saw a record turnout, easily “eclipsing” (in the words of Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes) last year’s crowd of 12,500.  The Post‘s sub-heading exerted itself to explain the quantum increase:  “Bused-in teens swell [inflate?] the ranks on Parliament Hill”.  If it hadn’t come from the normally friendly National Post, I would have taken this as the usual scoffing qualifier of a pro-abortion partisan.

As a participant in the March, I can attest that the numbers this year were impressive.  But “bused-in teens”, mostly from local Catholic schools, did indeed inflate the ranks; and though no one wants to rain on his own parade, their giggling and jiggling presence ought to have given the Movement pause.

Busing in teens, of course, has been the strategic resort of protesters on the Left; and the critics of the Left have rightly condemned it as morally disreputable. During the Cold War, we all remember seeing children who had not yet reached the age of reason deployed as props in little anti-American morality plays.  What did these youthful idiots (with apologies to Lenin for the pun) know about capitalism, socialism, totalitarianism, the Gulag, or mutual assured destruction?   The shameless exploitation of children by the Left has hardly abated since.  Today, seniors who have lived through the serial hardships of war, dislocation, and depression are hectored by their infant great-grandchildren on the sacred obligations of recycling, and the finer points of climate change.

In Ottawa, alas, the only mark of coherence in the pre-march rally was that nauseating pandering to “young people” that has been the leitmotive of every leftist demonstration from the love-ins of the Woodstock generation to the hopey-changey mob ecstasies that exalted Obama into sainthood and the presidency.

From the pinched sonorities of her Valley girl voice–I was too far away to see her–, I gathered that our mistress of ceremonies at the rally was another pubescent teen attempting to compensate for bad grammar, vulgar usage, and intellectual vapidity with ear-splitting volume in the cause of forced enthusiasm.  The microphone was then handed over to another pubescent female who mutilated the national anthem in the now-canonical, tarted-up rendition warbled by every other North American teen starlet prior to the start of every televised sporting event.

Each of the speakers then formulaically, but in the, like, totally cool lingo of youth, gushed over the number of young people in attendance (“amazing”, “awesome”), and one, an MP, invited them to give themselves a round of applause–which, naturally, these imminent graduates of Self-Esteem High were only too happy to do.  Another MP pointed to the Parliament Buildings behind him and told them that this was “their house”, and they “should take it”:  a prospect that, for me at least, was a little too reminiscent of the ageist revolutionary brutality of the gun-toting ten-year-olds of the Great Leap Forward, the Shining Path, and the Khmer Rouge.

The same political pander subsequently exulted at the record number of young people who had just been elected to Parliament, apparently forgetting that all of them ran for the NDP (a party not well-known for its defence of life or other fundaments of Christian morality).   Do we really want to identify  “our” young people with the student-council Communists and bar-tending, single-mother Vegas junketeers that make up the risibly under-qualified new parliamentary cohort?  Is that the sort of youth-culture the Pro-Life Movement wishes to emulate?

Apparently so.  On the Hill, a significant plurality of the teens I saw were spread-eagled on the grass in evident boredom, obliviously chatting and giggling amongst themselves, staring fixedly at their iPhones or listening to the tunes on their iPods (these, the visual and auditory pacifiers of an arguably pathologically self-absorbed generation), and generally disporting themselves as though they were in Ottawa because it meant a day off school.  Many of the female students were adherents of the obligatory modern Whore of Babylon school of fashion:  frayed short-shorts, so tight as to accentuate both posterior and anterior nether cleavages, and sleeveless shrink-wrap tops with bra straps and bra-contents protruding fetchingly.  These girls, especially those who were also defiantly proud of their obesity, certainly “swelled the ranks”.   But the moral irony clearly escaped both them and their recruiters.  Might not their “Catholic” school teachers, or the march organizers, have pointed out that there is a connection between rampant abortion–used as a disinfectant for the messy by-products of rampant sex–, and what  Christians once quaintly referred to as “wantonness”?   Soi disant Christians can inveigh against abortion all they like, but if they insouciantly conform themselves to the permanently engorged sexual culture that breeds abortion in the first place, they convict themselves of rank hypocrisy.  The words of the Gospel about casting the first stone come to mind.

As the marchers passed the inevitable ambush of pro-abortion protesters, snarling their abuse from behind police barricades like caged animals straining to get at their prey, it was impossible not to be taken aback by the feral sexuality to which they gave voice.  PRO SEX, PRO QUEER, PRO CHOICE, shouted one sign; IF YOU CUT OFF MY REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE, CAN I CUT OFF YOURS?, threatened another.  The most honest and philosophical of them stipulated:  SEX IS BEAUTIFUL; REPRODUCTION IS OPTIONAL. Personifying this doctrine, like the female moral allegories of ancient and medieval art, were two bare-breasted goddesses, swinging their tassled nipples menacingly at their enemies.  As they took note of the sluttishly-attired teens on the pro-life side of the barricades, I couldn’t help but wonder if these goddesses were at the same time concluding triumphantly, as I concluded desolately, that the culture wars were over.

The response from our pro-life teens to this evidently uncomprehended moral symmetry was another of those infantile boot-camp marching songs typically chanted by the interminably protesting Left:

If you–can’t–hear–us,
We’ll shout–a lit–tle loud–er.

Please.  Let’s leave the shouting to the other side, shall we?  For ourselves, let us rather cultivate reason, fortitude, and quiet contemplation.

     And then, finally, came a moment of seriousness that erupted into the silliness like an epiphany from on high.  As the teen chanting subsided, the marchers filed past the grisly photographic images of the dismembered and re-assembled corpses of aborted children, butchered after a mere ten to twenty weeks.  The images were clinical, almost paleontological, but for all that, umistakably and undeniably human.  The bloody lacerations and disfigurements that they bore were also provocatively lurid–in the way, I suppose, that the wounds of Christ must have seemed almost deliberately lurid to His tormentors.  Yet these few photographs testified with greater eloquence and honesty to the moral enormity of abortion than all the earlier reassuring encomia of youth and euphoric exclamations at their multitudinous presence put together.

One would expect that a pro-life march ought to have something of the solemnity of a funeral rite.  In the Movement, after all, we pay our respects–however belated and inadequate–, to the millions of aborted human beings, nameless and unloved, whose deaths, like their births, were stripped of every ceremony and dignity.  We remember that abortion is a double tragedy:  denying its victims birth in the world, and then cheating them of a decent burial.  Who would have thought that they would be cheated of this dignity yet again, by their own pro-life champions?