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Incapable of Shame?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In “The Death’s Head Chess Club,” a new novel by John Donoghue, chess player Emil arrives at the Auschwitz concentration camp with his family. Soon his wife is in one line for women able to work. He is with men able to work. His two small sons, with their grandmother, are in a third line.

The scene continues: “Emil is anxious about his two boys, but the officer tells him not to worry ... the children will be sent to the family camp, where they will be cared for by those who are too old for manual labor. He says it with the weary calmness of a man who has given this reassurance a hundred times before. It has the ring of normality, of truth. But ... in Auschwitz, ‘family’ means death.”

Guards march away the children and the aged. “Emil mouths a quiet, ‘Au revoir,’ to his children. ‘Be good for Granny.’ He does not know he will never see them again.” They and grandma go to the gas chamber and then “up the chimney,” as their corpses are burned. Months later, Emil is “crying, inconsolably. ‘My children, my children,’ he wails. ... ‘My beautiful boys ... I don’t even have a photograph of them. I can’t remember what they look like.’”

Six million Jews died, and others as well. This year we’re on track to hit 60 million aborted babies since the ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision on Jan. 22, 1973. Ten times as many. The four-year Holocaust began in earnest in 1941, when German armies headed east and paramilitary units conducted mass shootings of Jews, maybe including my great-grandparents. We’re now at 44 years since ‘Roe v. Wade,’ 11 times as many.

If you’re an abortion advocate and you’re reading this now, you’re probably angry at such a comparison. You might point out that pro-life people generally allow for abortion in those (very rare) cases when it’s needed to save the life of the mother. You might point out that the penalties for abortionists when their practice was illegal were not the same as the penalties for murdering born humans.

And I’d agree with you that the Holocaust in its wholesale evil -- starting in 1942, crowding men, women, and children into a closed room and wafting in poison gas -- provides a more brutal picture than the current abortion retail trade, where an unborn child floats peacefully in protected space, until needles and knives suddenly invade.

Nevertheless, think of what Samantha Power, concluding her time as U.S. ambassador to the UN, said last month as parents holding babies in blood-soaked blankets picked their way past corpses in the streets of Aleppo, Syria. She asked the Assad regime and its Russian enablers, “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child, that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?”

We should say not only to abortionists but to all their enablers—justices, politicians, propagandists, and bystanders -- what Powers said: “Denying or obfuscating the facts, as you will do today -- saying up is down, black is white -- will not absolve you. When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo [substitute: abortion] -- and that day will come, sooner or later -- you will not be able to say you did not know what was happening. You will not be able to say you were not involved. We all know what is happening. And we all know you are involved.”

As many have said, a single death is a tragedy, a thousand deaths a statistic -- but at some point big numbers become grotesque. Six million Holocaust deaths. Sixty million U.S. abortions. An estimated 56 million induced abortions worldwide each year. When do those numbers creep us out—at least a little bit? “My beautiful boys,” Emil mourns: “I can’t remember what they look like.” We do know what aborted babies cut apart in their sanctuaries look like.

Jan. 20, 1942: That’s when senior Nazi officials met in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee and planned what they thought would be the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Jan. 22, 1973: That’s when seven Supreme Court justices agreed to the mass killing of unborn children. Now cemented: the infamy of those two dates. Still being poured: this January’s cement. What kind of a sidewalk do we hope to see?

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