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Rick Warren engages in a form of Holocaust denial

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, December 18, 2008 18:02 EDT
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To add to the pile-on about Rick Warren, I have to add that Warren is another one of those wild misogynists who engages in a common form of Holocaust denial. It’s not the traditional form we’re used to hearing about—people who claim the Holocaust didn’t happen or that it wasn’t widespread—but it is serious nonetheless, in no small part because it’s common and people who engage in it are taken seriously, as Rick Warren is.

Attempting only to make abortions “rare” is not much different than saving some of the Jews during the Holocaust when all could be saved, according to megachurch pastor Rick Warren.

“Of course I want to reduce the number of abortions,” Warren told Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman when asked if he was going to work with the Obama administration to achieve an abortion reduction agenda or if he thinks that the effort is a charade.

“But to me it is kind of a charade in that people say ‘We believe abortions should be safe and rare,’” he added.

“Don’t tell me it should be rare. That’s like saying on the Holocaust, ‘Well, maybe we could save 20 percent of the Jewish people in Poland and Germany and get them out and we should be satisfied with that,’” Warren said. “I’m not satisfied with that. I want the Holocaust ended.”

“Traditional” Holocaust denial is about saying that the Holocaust didn’t happen or downplaying the extent of it. But this is a form of Holocaust denial that downplays the tragedy of it. How?

*It implies that zygotes and fetuses without feelings, brains, memories, lives, or families are equal or greater in value to the lives of the living, breathing, feeling, thinking people that were murdered in the Holocaust. This is an insult to those people, their memories, and their families.

*It’s another form of the “liberal fascism” slur, an attempt to rebrand the fundamentally right wing ideology that was Nazism as just another form of liberalism. This is ahistorical in the extreme, and is a form of denialism. The Nazis actually agreed with the Christian right about gays(well, that they’re perverts, not that they should be killed), abortion, women’s roles, and the centrality of Christianity. Now, obviously they strongly differ on what levels of violence they’re willing to use, and the Christian right in America currently rejects most eliminationist rhetoric. But they’re on board with “Kinder, Küche, Kirche“.

*Few people, even those that claim abortion is “murder”, will actually commit to the logical conclusion, which is that 35% of American women are murderers. The anti-choice movement currently portrays women who obtain abortions and pea-brained children who make a terrible mistake because they don’t have the intelligence to assume moral culpability, and who will be saved by abortion bans into making the “right” choice that they don’t have the intelligence to make themselves. By equating abortion with the Holocaust, you are extending this lack of responsibility to the people who gassed and shot Holocaust victims.

*And that’s at best. As you can see in the above quotes, people who compare abortion to the Holocaust tend to use very passive language to describe the Holocaust, as if it’s an event that just happened, like a bad weather event. I don’t think they’re letting the Nazis off the hook on purpose exactly. It’s just that when you use language that properly puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who murdered their fellow human beings in cold blood, you’re inviting your audience to see why it’s a bad metaphor, even if you believe that abortion kills a person. And that’s because there’s no “cold blood” in abortion. No one gets an abortion or performs an abortion out of some anti-baby bigotry. Most abortion providers and women who get abortion have and love children. Thus, anti-choicers have to conceal and distract from the fact that the Holocaust was fundamentally a hate crime, albeit one on a scale that is impossible to wrap your head around.

*All of the above applies to comparisons between slavery and abortion. These comparisons are an insult to the actual people who suffered under slavery and its aftermath.

In case all the above doesn’t get you upset enough, I read an interesting post at a Christian website that is “pro-life”, but isn’t as wackaloon crazy as the people they call hyper-patriarchs. (Thanks to commenter Laurie for directing my attention to this fascinating website.)

I was confronted by a fellow church member and basically called an adulterer and a harlot for choosing to practice birth control—that I was effectually castrating my husband.

To be very clear, this woman is anti-abortion and would probably disagree with my take on this. But I read something like this, and I connect it to the way the same men will reach for Holocaust metaphors to describe the right of women to terminate unwanted pregnancies, and I think you can see where I’m going with this. The anti-contraception and anti-abortion movement are more than linked. They’re one and the same. In fact, the whole reasoning behind expanding the reach of the HHS conscience clause is so that people who “believe” that the birth control pill is abortion (despite the fact that the pill works by preventing fertilization, as does emergency contraception) can choose to obstruct women who seek to prevent pregnancy. So if you believe that contraception is abortion and that abortion is the Holocaust, then your moral barometer is completely broken. Rick Warren isn’t some foolish child weeping over the lost babies who hasn’t made the connection between controlling women’s bodies and keeping women as second class citizens. He openly preaches a gospel of female inferiority. To reach for Holocaust metaphors to describe a pain that’s fundamentally rooted in an egotistical anger over loss of male privilege is quite possibly beats all the other reasons I’ve listed here that it’s wrong.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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