April 18, 2017
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Tuesday, April 18, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Glorifying abortion, Planned Parenthood to honor Hillary Clinton with "Champion of the Century" award
You might say by their awards, we shall know them. Word came in recent days that Planned Parenthood is going to be awarding two big awards in its 2017 ceremony. It’s going to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Planned Parenthood, and these awards are indeed very revealing. One of them is going to be given to Hillary Clinton. She’s going to be given the first-time Champion of the Century award by Planned Parenthood. The second is going to be given to Shonda Rhimes “for revolutionizing the way women and issues of reproductive health — including safe, legal abortion — are portrayed on television.”
Now the big thing to note here is that we’re looking at the intersection of the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood—the organization actually tracks its history back to October 1916. So the ceremony is coming perhaps just a little bit late, but we’re also looking at an organization that is deeply rooted in that history. You go back to 1916 and not only is Planned Parenthood as the organization is now known contending for birth control, it is also contending for legalized abortion and, furthermore, the founder of that organization, Margaret Sanger, was herself committed to the movement known as eugenics. That is a very racially specific form of suggested birth control. The eugenics movement argued that society would be strengthened if there were more children from the fit and less from the unfit, and that category of unfit was often defined in explicitly racist terms.Show Full Transcript
Planned Parenthood doesn’t like to talk about that part of their heritage, but there is no doubt that they continue to celebrate Margaret Sanger as the organization’s founder. You go back to the sexual revolution in the early decades of the 20th century, there can be no question that Margaret Sanger was one of the seminal figures in terms of what became the sexual revolution. But what’s really interesting is that Hillary Clinton has already received the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood for their centennial celebration evidently felt that they had to come up with a way to honor Hillary Clinton beyond how they had even honored her previously. Thus the award is going to be known as Champion of the Century.
Now writing at National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis gets right to the bottom line here. As she writes,
“These two awards are merely the latest proof that Planned Parenthood is not, in fact, an innocent defender of ‘women’s rights.’ Nor is it a ‘pro-choice’ organization that exists to give American women an array of health-care options. Planned Parenthood is an abortion corporation that seeks every possible opportunity to glorify abortion and deify the public figures who push for total access to government-funded abortion-on-demand.”
I think that’s a really insightful paragraph. I think DeSanctis is exactly right. What we see here is the reality of the organization crystallized in terms of the awards that it is now presenting in the anniversary of its centennial. Naming Hillary Clinton the champion of the century is in every way glorifying abortions and, as DeSanctis says, deifying “the public figures who push for total access to government-funded abortion-on-demand.”
That’s what makes this so interesting and timely. That’s because Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic nominee for President of the United States pushed for and actively defended the inclusion in the Democratic Party platform in 2016 of the removal of the Hyde amendment and for public taxpayer funding of abortion on demand. Now you note that Hilary Clinton was not elected President of the United States, but this does underline once again what’s at stake in election. And looking at this award given by Planned Parenthood, you fully understand that the Champion of the Century award is being given to the woman who as United States Senator, as former First Lady of the United States and of the state of Arkansas, and as the former Secretary of State of the United States was indeed one of the most avid defenders of abortion in terms of American political history.
As Secretary of State, she served President Barack Obama, who in 2008 won the Democratic nomination as the then-most avidly pro-abortion politician in American history. But eight years later, Hillary Clinton eclipsed even Barack Obama in that account. That’s why it is she rather than he who is being awarded the Champion of the Century.
And as I said, by their awards we shall know them. These awards reveal not so much about Hillary Clinton but about Planned Parenthood, and that’s really what’s important here. Alexandra DeSanctis is absolutely right. These awards are the latest proof that Planned Parenthood really isn’t about choice. That word pro-choice completely evaporates in these awards. No one here is being awarded by Planned Parenthood for being a champion of choice, only for being a champion of abortion.
There’s really very little surprise in this news story, but it is still very much worth our attention because what we’re looking at here is the revelation of what Planned Parenthood actually celebrates. Why? Because this is their celebration. They get to set the terms, they get to define the awards, they’re going to present the awards. And as they do so, they’re going to reveal in a very unmistakable way exactly who they are and what they are about.
Will free speech survive on America's college campuses? Latest trial at Wellesley and Pomona colleges
Next, we’ve been watching some really bizarre happenings in terms of America’s academic life on its major college and university campuses, but a couple of stories gain our attention just in the last couple of days, and they come from Wellesley College and from the Claremont Colleges. That means from both coasts. We’re looking at an East Coast college, Wellesley, and we’re looking at the West Coast network of colleges known as the Claremont Colleges. In both there has been interruption which amounts to an absolute denial of free speech. And what we’re noticing here is something that will not stay on these two campuses and nor will it say on the two coasts.
Now moving first to Wellesley, in an editorial that was published on April 12, the editors of the Wellesley News, the official student newspaper there, declared that “free speech is not violated at Wellesley.” What’s really violated here is common sense. The student editorialists at the very elite Wellesley College said that they’re all for free speech, but they’re against hate speech, and they’re for free speech unless it’s speech they do not want on their campus. The kind of language that is now becoming routine in these controversies is found in this staff editorial’s opening lines. By the way over the weekend, the staff editorial and this issue of the paper disappeared from the Internet. But the language nonetheless is striking. The editors wrote,
“Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right. Many outside sources have painted us as a bunch of hot house flowers who cannot exist in the real world. However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.
Now if you’re listening, you heard the inherent contradiction. We are not against free speech. We’re just against free speech.
Wellesley College is one of most elite colleges in America today. It is exclusively for women, according to their own self-identity, but Wellesley is also one of those colleges that by its own declaration isn’t exactly sure what a woman is any longer. It’s one of the schools that in the wake of the transgender revolution has said that almost anyone can be a student at Wellesley so long as that person is not a person born male and identifying as male. The most famous alumnus of Wellesley College is almost assuredly Hillary Clinton. But as you look at the staff editorial, the key sentences come later where the editors write,
“if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted. If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions. It is important to note that our preference for education over beration regards students who may have not been given the chance to learn. Rather, we are not referring to those who have already had the incentive to learn and should have taken the opportunities to do so. Paid professional lecturers and politicians are among those who should know better.”
Now let me just decipher that language. What the editors are saying is that they’re for free speech so long as it does not include what they call hate speech. And they’re saying, “We’re not here so much talking to students who have not yet been fully indoctrinated as to what hate speech is, but we’re talking about those who are scholars who might be brought to the campus, public figures who might be invited to speak.”
What we’re noticing here is the intellectual justification for shutting down all campus conversation. We have seen this repeatedly now as people have gone to speak at major colleges and universities, and they have been absolutely shut down. What makes this editorial at Wellesley so remarkable is the absolute justification that is found here for taking rather radical action.
As I read from that particular paragraph, if those speakers are found to be offensive “then hostility,” in the words of the editors “may be warranted.”
As the Boston Globe explained in its coverage of the controversy,
“Debate about free speech at Wellesley has intensified since last month, when Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, spoke on campus during ‘Censorship Awareness Week.’”
Now at this point we have to interject that Laura Kipnis is herself a rather well-known liberal feminist. The problem? In the contemporary campus context, she’s not liberal enough, and here’s where we see the big problem.
Liberal academics and philosophers have set loose toxins within the system of higher education that will destroy themselves. It is impossible to stay liberal enough for the current generation of students in so many of these elite academic institutions. They have been fed for so long on a diet of the most radical ideology that there is no professor who can stay liberal enough to stay in good standing, even with these students. And if that’s true of professors, it’s certainly also true of administrators and others.
But then we turn from Wellesley College to Pomona College, one of the well-known Claremont colleges in Southern California. In particular, we are looking at an open letter sent by students at Pomona College to the president of the college, David Oxtoby. Oxtoby had sent a memo to the entire institution defending free speech in the Pomona College context. A part of the free speech in terms of that campus is the existence of an independent student newspaper that’s more conservative known as the Claremont Independent. These students openly called for that newspaper to be shut down. But they also demanded that the president take action against the student editors of the newspaper, and furthermore that he change the entire climate of the institution, once again to fit the shutting down of free speech, even in the name of free speech.
In their letter to President Oxtoby, the students wrote,
“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions.”
Now just note those last two words, “hegemonic institutions.”
“Hegemonic” is one of the code words of the new, neo-Marxist vocabulary of the ideological left. It refers to an institution that serves to oppress. And in this case oppress means I disagree with you. The students accused the president and others in the college culture of “Columbusing”, referring to imperialism in the name of Christopher Columbus. But then the students wrote this,
“Pomona cannot have its cake and eat it, too. Either you support students of marginalized identities, particularly Black students, or leave us to protect and organize for our communities without the impositions of your patronization, without your binary respectability politics, and without your monolithic perceptions of protest and organizing. In addition, non-Black individuals do not have the right to prescribe how Black people respond to anti-Blackness.”
Now there is so much to unpack there, but you simply note that there is nothing the president of this college can do in light of these demands. The demands themselves are not actually quite even comprehensible. But this is the language of that neo-Marxism that has been one of the toxins set loose in higher education today, and it goes further. The students also wrote to the college president saying,
“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples.”
They went on to say,
“The idea that there is a single truth–‘the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
Now once again, there’s a lot there, but at the very core of it is a denial of the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity and the denial most specifically of the reality of objective truth. Now in making this argument, these African-American students have some legitimate historical points to make. Many of the leaders of the Enlightenment were explicitly racist, and they must stand judged, not only by the verdict of history, but by objective moral standards. The only way we can judge the wrongness of the racism of the past is the fact that racism is understood to be wrong, objectively wrong. The denial of objective reality, including objective moral reality, actually undercuts the very ability of these students to make their case. But they have been drinking long at the poisoned wells of modern academia, and they now deny the very reality of truth and they deny the distinction between what is merely subjective and that which is objective. Now just to make an objectively irrefutable statement, you can’t possibly have anything like higher education if there is no notion of objective truth.
This letter from the students to the president of Pomona College has gained a great deal of publicity over the last several hours, and we can understand why. The students have demanded that the president respond to them and capitulate to their demands by 4:07 PM this afternoon, Pacific time. It’s incredibly revealing that these students demonstrate their own dependence upon the notions of objective reality even in the way that they made their statement in the fact that they made their statement, and evidently they believe in something like the objectivity of time when they demanded that the president respond, not just whenever he felt it convenient, but by 4:07 PM Pacific daylight time, today.
As the old adage reminds us, the chickens do come home to roost, and that’s exactly what we are seeing on these college campuses. And in the case of Pomona and Wellesley, we’re talking about some of the most elite, well-funded, and liberal academic institutions to be found anywhere in the world. But by the measure of their own generation of students, they are now not even close to being liberal enough. But you can’t possibly keep up. That’s the problem with Laura Kipnis, the professor from Northwestern University in the controversy at Wellesley. Professor Kipnis, as I’ve said, is a liberal feminist. But she also writes books and she makes arguments and she has been a public figure, which means she has a track record of having published things and said things. And that means that some of those writings and statements are now going to be found by today’s standards of these students not liberal enough. There will be no way to stay current.
Perhaps the most haunting thought in all of this is that the students really were listening over the last several decades as professors were teaching them what became known as postmodernism, but now the very prophets of postmodernity find themselves at the center of the target. They’re liberal. They’re just not liberal enough.
Don't all jobs matter? The importance of work and dignity in the biblical worldview
Finally in yesterday’s edition of the New York Times, Paul Krugman, Nobel prize-winning economist, very well-known columnist of the left, wrote an article asking the question,
“Why don’t all jobs matter?”
Now Krugman is a very bitter opponent of the Trump administration and actually of anything that comes anywhere in the neighborhood of American conservatism, not to mention the Republican party, so you can expect that this is going to be yet another of his critiques of the Trumpet administration, the Republican party, conservative economics, and just about everything else. But in this particular column, Paul Krugman asked a very, very good question. Don’t all jobs matter? If not, why not? Here’s what he’s talking about. There is a critique of the Trumpet administration in this column. You simply have to expect that from Paul Krugman. The critique is this: President Trump gives too much attention to the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector and in certain economic areas such as mining, not so much to the losses that have occurred in other sectors of the economy.
For instance, the New York Times ran a really important article over the weekend in the fact that the retail trade has also seen an evacuation of many jobs. We’re talking about millions of jobs, and there are other sectors of the economy that have suffered commensurately. Paul Krugman’s asking the question, why isn’t the president talking about those jobs? Now there might be any number of reasons behind that. One of them is that the loss of manufacturing jobs has been particularly acute in many areas of the country where President Trump was trying to make his case and in particular was looking at electoral map that he not only hoped to win but did win. There can be no question that President Trump as a candidate tapped into a great deal of anxiety in the United States about the very real problem of so many jobs evaporating. And what Paul Krugman doesn’t acknowledge openly in this article is that there has been a particularly devastating impact in many communities that are far outside the enclaves of Manhattan, looking particularly at the loss of manufacturing and other jobs where there is a very real and genuine resentment against the political elites of which he is proudly a member.
But there is a basic question here that he’s asking. Why don’t all jobs matters? At one level you can see this as an economic question. At another level, it’s a political question. Krugman is addressing his argument, his critique, at that point. But this is where Christians have to recognize there’s another level to this question, Why don’t all jobs matter? But Christians can’t think in merely economic or political terms, we have to think in biblical terms. And this is where we understand the biblical worldview values every job, every honest and righteous job, as contributing to the entire society. The Bible honors labor wherever it is found in whatever form it is demonstrated. The Bible reveals that God, having made us in his image, made us for work. A part of the dignity and the meaningfulness of human life is found in that work.
Now Paul Krugman as an economist seems to genuinely understand that the losses of so many jobs effects the lives of so many people, and in a very important way he seems to recognize that there is an important issue here, something that has to be understood. He doesn’t say that there has not been a devastating effect from the loss of all these jobs in the mining and manufacturing sectors. He’s simply saying those other jobs that have been lost count too. And this is where Christians respond by saying, you’re absolutely right. In economic and political terms, there is no question that nations and their governments have to make priorities and no one can be attentive to everything all the time.
But this is where Christians have to understand in a way that Paul Krugman does not by his worldview have to understand: there is a dignity to work, there is a dignity to every job, that means that every job does matter. All jobs do matter. One of the realities we see breaking through in this story is that the biblical worldview draws attention to itself even when questions like this are asked. Don’t all jobs matter? One of the things we see is that no economic or political worldview can adequately answer that question, but the biblical worldview can. And it does. Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is absolutely right. All jobs matters, but it’s Christians who understand why.