When Nixon resigned, people danced in the streets of Ann Arbor. The moming I saw the headlines announcing the death of Spiro Agnew, an elderly gentleman in a blue suit handed me a Gideon bible. I accepted the gift as a sort of party favor. "Spiro Agnew, he dead. Have a bible." I guess we hated Agnew at least as emphatically as we despised Nixon. Maybe worse. I don't mean to be crude. My sympathies to Spiro' s family. It's a shame that the things he said made us throw things at nis face on the televisión screen. Spiro Agnew had a way of inspiring us to commit direct acts againstthegovernment. Somaybe I should thank him for being such an inspiration for young and energetic minds. Meanwhile, look at this bible. It's the all-new, gold-colored edition; not your run-of-the-mill, jellybean-green handout, but a souped-up jobber with a full-color American flag on the very first page. If this in itself fails to suff iciently signal the elimination of the separation of church and state, turn to the section marked "well-loved hymns." These include "America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner." Now wait a minute. What's the difference between a hymn and an anthem? Here in Gideon' s bible, they are one and the same. State is church and church is state. "Onware!, Christian soldiers, marching as to war" - a comforting image. LikeCotton Mather interrogating a wido w. Or Colin Powell selling the Republican party: "America is a place where the best is always yet to come." This is a sentence worth pondering. "Always yet to come" means it's never here. And that sounds more than a little like Christian heaven. Over there somewhere, but never here. I'm reminded of an irritatingly simple-minded message glimpsed on a marquee outside of a church in Ann Arbor. "To get to heaven, turn right and go sirait" (sic) Yes it's just that simple, and there are plenty of people simple enough for it, to be sure. ("Strait" implies a certain narrowness which is actually quite appropriate.) Jesus was a Republican. God is an Englishman. Ronald Reagan was a great communicator. And John Wayne Gacey loved children. Honestly, Colin Powell, what are you talking about? If you really believe in a woman's right to choose, why are you selling the candidate whose party has promised to act as if women have no say about their own bodies? Dole suggested a tolerance clause. Does that mean anything? Does any of this mean anything except more control? You cannot be a pro-choice Republican. The party platform is directly opposed to any such freedom. The proof is in the actions. I have a clipping from the Ann Arbor News, Sunday, Sept. 8th, 1996: "The nomination for University of Michigan regent tumed into a battle over abortion Saturday as state Republicans rejected an abortions rights activist who bad the backing of the anti -abortion govemor . . . Despite a plea from Gov. John Engler on behalf of Judy Frey of East Grand Rapids, the state Republican convention narro wly nominated abortion candidate Mike Bishop of Oakland County for one of the two U-M regents seats ..." Ms. Frey commented that she'd expected this from the very beginning. And I'm asking you to consider the fact that Engler is unable to control his own goons. Their lust for control has gotten very much out of control. As I've said before, "Choice" and "Life" are synonymous. Sitting on my desk is a photograph of a woman lying dead on a motel room floor; curled up, face down, blood and towels wadded beneath. She died of an air embolism suffered during an illegal abortion. Lots of women are too young to remember what it was like when abortion was a deadly, covert proceedure. Need we reinstate this hellish state of affairs based upon the archaic belief that women are merely vessels for patrilineal procreation, that menstruation and birthing are unclean, and we are all sinners because we came into the world by way of the cuised feinale parts? Need we believe a text which says that the original woman carne from somedude' s ribcage? And tbat knowledge and natural desire form the vexatious components of original sin? Need we be victimized by these hes any more? Wake up, people. Wake up and be faithful to your own evolution. "Women decide to be pregnant or not. Period. Thatis the beginning and end of 'population control' ... The anti-abortion movement in America calis itself 'pro-Ufe. ' Ín fací, it is 'pro-fetus, ' period. Championing afetus is easy - the mother 's body is doing all the work. What is hard is to change the world, so that millions and millions of chitaren have a chance f or some kind of qualitative Ufe after they have been bom - this is the onty genuine pro-life work. If the anti-abortion movement presented a consistent 'pro-life ' gestalt in the whole range of their political and religious belief s, then they would be presenting an ethical position worthy of respect, ifnot agreement. But this is not the case ..." (Barbara Mor, "The Great Cosmic Mother," 1991 Harper & Row). Woman has the power of life, and of death. Kali Ma: Mother Kali, creator, preserver, destróyer. She pre-dates your catechisms. Even Goethe had the sense to honor the Etemal Womanhead. All originate from and return to the Mother. Shall we consider the importance of sacrifice? "Thefirst Christians refused a life that seemed to them a negation of ove and justice. When a Christian chose martyrdom, he acted in the name ofhis spiritual life, and it was the purity ofhis commitment to human values that made him prefer death to a life of compromise. The same kind of thinking allows us to choose abortion when we are incapable of offering a child the best of ourselves and our resources. "There 's a threshold, both physical andpsychological, beyond which we sense we cannot offer the gift of life. Giving life is thefairest of gift s; it cannot be given bcdfway. f we want topoint thefingertoday at morally unacceptable behavior, it would be those persons whoforce others to reproduce without taking responsibiUty for the consequences. Maybe we should sendall the unloved, undemourished, uneducated children - the battered ones, the prostitutes, the delinquents - to the patriarchs of all churches who forbid contraception and abortion to their wives, mistresses, daughters, or sisters. Iftheywere truly held responsiblefor their religious belief s, and if, infact, theywere requiredtoassumefullfinancial care and everyday moral support for these unwanted children, life on this planet would never be the same again. Doing a mother'sjob would automat ically change their consciousness ..." (Ginette Paris, "The Sacrament of Abortion," 1992 Spring Publications). Karen Finley gets the last word; this is from her CD "A Certain Level of Denial" (1994 Rykodisc): "... I saw my Aunt Mandy and she was screaming. She came up tome and Isaidl'm sorry that you died from cáncer of the uterus and she said child, I died ofan illegal abortion at 50 with this damn gag in my throat. When you die like I died, they don 't even let you scream. Bied to death, I did Rats ate my insides out. I was 50. 1 was 50. "Then I saw the ghost ofmy childhood friend, Pam, who died by her own hands. She just didn 't have the money to go to New York City where abortion was legal in 1973. She didn't have the money. So one doy she opened a can ofDrano and poured it into her. She thought she couldjust bum it out. But she was only 12. She was only 12. "Let me teil you about children dying. Let me teil you about parental consent. Let me tellyou about the Sanctity of Life. Where babies die in Harlem at higher rales than in some Third World countries . . . say it, sister: NO ONE IS CONTROLUNG MY BODY. . . MEN ARENOT CONTROLUNG USANY LONGER ... and the spirits of women are remembering when men would gag women as they performed their hatchet job and the men would say, l'll killyou f you scream. But this time we 're screaming. This time we' re screaming. "
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