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Some Atrocities are Worse than Others | Mary Beth Bonacci
The Gulag was worse than Gitmo. And abortion is worse than just about anything
in America today.
Guantanamo Bay is the new Gulag.
So says the Secretary General of Amnesty International, a woman named Irene
Khan, comparing the Soviet Union's labor and extermination camps to the
U.S. prison for Al-Quada detainees. Never mind, of course, that residents
of the Gulag were placed there for "crimes" such as growing too much grain
or refusing to sleep with Soviet officials, while Guantanamo (or "Gitmo")
is populated with militants waging war against America.
Never mind that millions were starved to death in the Gulag, while the United
States not only feeds the inhabitants of Gitmo but also provides them with
food that meets the strict requirements of their religion. Never mind that,
while millions died in the Gulag for the simple "crime" of professing their
faith, the U.S. provides the detainees at Gitmo their own copies of the
Koran, the same "sacred" document that many of them used to justify their
violence against the U.S.
And, of course, never mind that literally every story I've seen about the
alleged "abuses" at Gitmo, when probed, turns out not to be abuse at all.
(For instance, the "desecration" of the Koran, which turned out to be a
case of a prison guard inadvertently relieving himself too close to an air
duct. The prisoner whose Koran was "desecrated" immediately received a new
uniform and a new copy of the Koran. Try that in the Gulag.)
William Schultz of Amnesty International USA, in backing off the story,
said that the comparison wasn't intended to be "literal" but that certain
Yeah, like the fact that both the Gulag and Gitmo were located on planet
This is not generally a political column, and I'm not writing one today.
But Schultz's comment goes to the heart of what I see as a larger problem
in the world and in the Church. People make comparisons that make
no sense, and then they build entire belief systems around those comparisons.
Let's take, for instance, the abortion issue. I wrote a series of columns
about that subject last fall, and received an avalanche of mail much
of it angry. The thing is, not one person attempted to defend abortion.
Instead, they adopted what I call the "Yeah, but . . ." position. "Sure
abortion is bad. But what about . . ." You can insert any issue into the
sentence. The unemployed, the uninsured, the homeless anything to
steer the topic away from abortion.
So what about them? And what do they have to do with abortion?
I'm not in favor of homelessness, or joblessness, or any other "-lessness."
Nor do I, contrary to what Howard Dean may say, want children to go to bed
hungry at night. I work to rectify the injustices I see in the world, to
the extent that I am able.
But when it comes to injustice, nothing going on in this country comes close
to the abomination which is abortion.
Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt summarized the problem in a nutshell when
he said, "scale matters." There is a difference between Gulag and Gitmo.
There is a difference between losing your job and losing your life. There
is even a difference between one person unjustly losing his life and 45
million people unjustly losing their lives. Both may be bad, but one is
a whole lot worse than the other.
45 million innocent unborn Americans have lost their lives since 1973.
And those lives have been lost in particularly brutal ways. They were torn
limb from limb. They were burned. Their skulls were pierced with scissors
and their brains were sucked out. And it all took place in the clean, sterile
environment of our medical centers. It was legally sanctioned, and happened
for no other reason than that those lives were inconvenient to us.
Who could dare to compare that to a round of layoffs?
As I said, many of the "yeah, but . . ." people I hear from are angry. I
suspect that not a few of them are angry because they have personally been
involved with an abortion somehow. They don't acknowledge the horror of
abortion because they can't bear to acknowledge the horror of abortion.
So they change the subject to anything and everything else they can
That's understandable. Not constructive, but understandable. Each of those
45 million abortions represents a mother who was violated whose child
died violently inside her own body. It represents a father, grandparents
an entire extended family who will never see that child in this life.
We have a whole lot of walking wounded here. And many of them are using
their anger as a shield to protect themselves from facing the unfaceable.
But we do ourselves no favor when we refuse to face reality. We deny God
the opportunity to forgive and restore us. And we deny our nation the opportunity
to face and address our deepest problems.
It's quite simple: anyone who says that Gitmo is the Gulag of our times
doesn't understand the Gulag. And anyone who says, "Sure, abortion is bad,
but . . ." doesn't really understand abortion.
Because some things are worse than others.
(This article was originally published on June 6, 2005.)
Ignatius Press books by Mary Beth Bonacci:
Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings
about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens of
thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World Youth
Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television
programs, including several appearances on MTV.
Mary Beth has written two books, We're
on a Mission from God and Real
Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various publications.
She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest video series,
also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex
and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown Award
for Best Youth Curriculum.
Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from
the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of Marriage
and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University. She was
also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the Franciscan
University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding Young Women
of America for 1997.
Visit Mary Beth and Real Love Incorporated online here.
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