The Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray, distinguished himself last week by getting arrested in an act of "civil disobedience" reminiscent of the '60s. The mayor, six council members and more than 40 other protesters were detained by Capitol police for blocking the street to oppose the congressional budget deal that deprived D.C. of federal funds for abortions.
They were also protesting a mandate under the same agreement that revives a popular school choice program, the "Opportunity Scholarship Program," which allows poor children in failing schools an opportunity to attend schools they and their parents believe will give them the best possible education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had pulled the plug on the Bush-era program after pressure from the teacher's union which, in a reversal of Bush's "No Child Left Behind," behaves as if no child in a failing school should be let out.
It's peculiar how the left embraces choice when it comes to aborting children, but opposes it for children languishing in failing public schools. These substandard schools virtually guarantee their students a life of poverty, teen pregnancy, near illiteracy and welfare dependence.
Washington, D.C., a city that is 52.7 percent African-American, has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. There are 265 abortions for every 100 live births, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics published by The Movement for a Better America, a pro-life website (www.movementforabetteramerica.org/abortionindex.html). Since aborting blacks, immigrants and the poor, was a goal of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger (she compared them all to "human weeds"), one might think black lawmakers would do more to preserve the lives of a new generation of black children.
Some blacks refuse to accept abortion on demand as either a right, or a fait accompli. Responding to Mayor Gray's street theater, a coalition of 10 African-American pastors from D.C., and the suburbs, composed an open letter to the mayor. It says in part, "Who could have imagined during the height of the Civil Rights Movement a day when the mayor of Washington, D.C., would be arrested for protesting the right to use tax dollars to abort babies, a disproportionate number of them black? As pastors and community leaders, we feel bewildered and betrayed."
Noting that, "Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community," the letter continues, "While African-American women represent 13 percent of the female population, they undergo 37 percent of all abortions. As a leader charged with our protection and government, we are shocked at your passion to continue this trend with tax dollars."
The letter also promises a cooperative effort by the pastors to open a new pregnancy center in Washington, using private funds, "so that women have life-affirming and healthy alternatives to abortion."
These Guttmacher statistics ought to shock: The number of black babies in the U.S. killed by abortion between 1973 and 2010 was 17,237,000. That's a rate of 574,000 per year. Compare this to the number of blacks killed by lynching in America between 1864 and 1968 (4,946, or 47.7 per year). The public became rightly outraged about lynching -- it was usually done in the open -- and worked to put an end to it. Abortions are performed in private -- both result in the death of a black person.
By what moral standard do people embrace "choice" when it comes to destroying a life, but oppose choice when it comes to saving one by way of a quality education?
Liberal Democrats who favor "choice" on abortion and oppose it on education are wrong on both counts. As for the pastors who feel "bewildered and betrayed," they have a choice of their own to make. They can stick with a party that has dedicated itself to exterminating the bodies and wasting the minds of their community, or they can take their votes elsewhere to a party that will help their children survive to get a real education.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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