Belmont Club

The House on the Corner

One of the fugitive themes in the recent spate of articles about the Kermit Gosnell abortion clinic is introduced at the 6:20 mark of the video below. Wade McKissick, who apparently lived not far for Gosnell’s said of it, “you could see the weird stuff … but I didn’t know … the killing … I didn’t know what was going on.”

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No one could have heard McKissick’s words without connecting them with the equally vehement protestations of the residents of Dachau seventy years ago.  Asked by the arriving Allied Armies about what went on the camps  they said ‘we didn’t know what went on there’, though some responded more forthrightly “what could we have done?”

Roger Simon who lost most of the European branch of his family to events there at the time, understands the grievous nature of the  question posed by Gosnell’s clinic, to which we shall return later, but it is Andy McCarthy who presses down hardest on the keys.

He spells it out plainly. Perhaps none of us are innocent of the House of Horrors if only because “Stephen Massof, one of Kermit Gosnell’s fellow butchers” was from the viewpoint of the law largely innocent. “After all, most of what he did at the ‘Women’s Medical Society’ was perfectly legal.” He committed no crime because he broke no law.  He was only doing his job.

Yet it is not deja vu at those words but shame which McCarthy expresses. Nor is it simply the regret over the behavior of some wayward reprobates.  It is the shame of being part of a country that hatched a corrupt process. McCarthy argues that Gosnell was only the end of the line, the ultimate development of a massive industrialized process that has been going on for decades. “In Philadelphia, at a human abattoir on Lancaster Avenue, is where it ends, not where it starts. It starts with the perversion of language.” And it goes on from there; to where ‘fetus’ is substituted for baby; and in turn ’embryonic tissue’ for  fetus; to where ‘D&E’ is used as a euphemism for pulling a baby, fetus, tissue — whatever — apart with a forceps. It goes on and on and on.

No, we  knew what was going on. It was simply that nobody wanted to call it what it was.

But as Roger Simon noted “Dr. Gosnell — monster though he is — has accidentally shoved that uncomfortable truth in our faces.” And so Roger argues that whatever their points of view people owe it to themselves at least to call things by their proper names. He recounts:

“my wife Sheryl and [I]. We were in the kitchen last night, preparing dinner, when we saw a short report of this story on the countertop TV.

Both lifelong “pro-choice” people, after watching only seconds, we embarked in an immediate discussion of whether it was time to reconsider that view. (Didn’t human life really begin at the moment of conception? What other time?) Neither of us was comfortable as a “pro-choice” advocate in the face of these horrifying revelations. How could we be?”

Yes, Dr. Gosnell was exceptional (thank God for that!), but a dead fetus was a dead fetus, even if incinerated in some supposedly humane fashion rather than left crying out in blind agony on the operating room floor, as was reportedly the case with one of Gosnell’s victims. I say blind because this second-trimester fetus did not yet have fully formed eyes. (Think about that one.)

So I don’t think I’m “pro-choice” anymore, but I’m not really “pro-life” either. I would feel like a hypocrite. I don’t want to pretend to ideals I have serious doubts I would be able to uphold in a real-world situation. If a woman in my family, or a close friend, were (Heaven forbid) impregnated through rape, I would undoubtedly support her right to abortion. I might even advocate it. I also have no idea how I would react if confronted by having to make a choice between the life of a fetus and his/her mother. Just the thought makes my head spin.

Anyone who he thinks he knows how he would respond in these situations — and hasn’t — is doing nothing but posturing.

Roger has at all events restored the question of abortion to a legitimate subject for debate again and away from the facile mantra peddled by the the system so aptly described in 17:47 of the video. It was narrated by a woman who started with Gosnell as a younger girl and had  8 abortions at his clinic. Each time they told her “It’s Ok. It’s Ok. It’s Ok.”

And suddenly she knew, though she still could not explain, that it was not Ok. And why that is  deserves a closer look.

There is in the recent coverage of Kermit Gosnell’s House of Horrors a puzzling sense of shame among conservative pundits, almost as if the guilt for keeping silent fell hardest on them. As if they of all people failed the most by not speaking out. There is the understandable regret for having gone along with the lies, partly for the sake of social peace or the reluctance to engage in acrimonious debate, or out of a fear to appear ‘square’ or ‘clenched’ or outmoded.

But there is more to this than the simple shame of being afraid to be caught in the snare of being holier-than-thou, there is a sense of having been conned into a contamination that is hard to explain. For abortion, more than other public policy issues of a sexual nature, is harder to look in the face than the others for the precise reason that it goes to very core of what it is to be human. It is the Gorgon of our psychological landscape; the place where we would let no light fall.

Though 3801 Lancaster Street seemed to stand on a major Philadelphia street in the apparent blaze of day  its doorways were really guarded by a spell that guaranteed that no one inquired into what happened within because everyone knew what was happening already. A knowledge not only that infanticide was practiced within but that most of us, in small or big ways, had tacitly given our imprimatur to it.

For the House guarded one secret that has not been touched upon in the cultural debate. That the real purpose of abortion is to make it impossible, once we have acceded to it, to object to anything else.

To understand 3801 Lancaster street maybe we should go back to  Moloch rather than to  the system of industrial execution that flourished 70 years ago. “Child sacrifice — “the ritualistic killing of children in order to please, propitiate or force a god or supernatural beings” was long practiced by the Incas, Aztec, many cultures in the Middle East, North Africa and in pagan Europe.  The question is: why?  What was its purpose that Moloch should be worshipped thus in his many names?

One theory is that child sacrifice was a sacramental device used to kill what we used to call “God” Himself.  Moloch’s problem was how to get everyone to belong to him and to no other. His answer was to arrange a radical crossing over, an extreme commitment, a journey beyond the pale so shocking that to embark upon it was to go beyond point of no return. There was no going back to God after that.  And once you had offered your child to Moloch there was no point refusing him anything else.

Killing your own child  — just as acquiescing to killing the Jews was to the German public — was a form of enlistment by complicity. It is the last and most decisive step in the extinction of freedom. Though apparently practiced upon the child the real target of abasement is the mother. And by extension it is all of us. That is the shame the conservative pundits felt. Not the shame of sexual guilt. It is the shame of having gone along. By consenting to be an accomplice in the destruction of her own child she binds herself mystically to the doctrine of Moloch. “You are nothing but meat. So take this child and eat. Do this in memory of you.”

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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