It's been a busy couple of days for me but I did want to make a few comment on Mike Myer's Saturday column, "Who Are You Calling 'Extremist'?" Myer discusses the abortion issue using a recent Gallup Poll that found that 29% believe in abortion under any circumstance, 19% totally oppose it, and 51% believe that it should be legal in certain situations. His conclusion:
A whopping 51 percent think it should be legal only in certain situations - and many define those narrowly. (Note - the poll does not say "narrowly.")
Abortion-on-demand proponents are the real extremists, then.
But allowing abortion under certain circumstances is not what he and his fellow anti-abortionists are calling for. Most would ban it altogether or so severely limit it that's its effects would be similar to a ban. Let me re-write his conclusion:
A whopping 80% think it should be totally legal or legal in certain situations.
Those opposing abortion under any circumstance are the real extremists, then.
The Myer column starts with a quote from Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate for president in 1964. Goldwater is often considered the politician "who founded the modern conservative political movement in America." Myer begins his column by citing the famous Goldwater quotation that:
"extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Myer then uses the Goldwater quote to justify his defense of the anti-abortion movement. While I remember Goldwater when I was growing up, I don't remember his views on abortion. So, I did some research. Here is Barry Goldwater on abortion:
That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.
Goldwater had a lot to say about the Religious Right. In 1981, he said:
I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
And in 1994, he anticipated what would happen to the Republican Party:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.
A prophetic statement. If he were alive today, I have a hunch that the "father of modern conservatism" would look at the Republican Party and disown it, that is, if they didn't kick him out first.