(“The Coming 2nd Civil War,” No. 10) Column No. 58

By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - April 28, 2005

This column is the tenth in my “Coming 2nd Civil War” series.  As I have noted previously, the projected cataclysm will come to our nation, if it does, because of the ideology, policies, and ever-growing political power of the Republican Religious Right (RRR) and their policy arm, the Georgites.  The agenda’s major components are: imposing their religious beliefs on all Americans through the use of the criminal law; reducing the functions of the Federal government to the barest minimum outside of the military-and-prison-industrial complex, of opposition-repression/suppression and private-thought/behavior-control complexes; and by replacing government under the Constitution as we have known it with overwhelming Executive Branch dominance operating on its own authority, establishing a theocratic-fascist dictatorship.

Since “fascism” is a term coming increasingly into use by opponents and critics of the Georgite regime, a short definition of the term is useful.  (For a long one, see my TPJ column of May 24, 2004, “On Fascism ---- and the Georgites” (just click on the blue hyperlink to go directly to the article)  Here is the short one: “Fascism is total executive branch control of the government, no independent judiciary, a single national ideology that demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition, with corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.”

This column is the fourth in my five part series on the Schiavo case.  As I noted previously, I believe that history will come to see it as the Dred Scott case of this era, whether or not there is in fact a Second Civil War.  Why Dred Scott, you might ask?  That case made the nation face the reality of what was in the Constitution about slaves and the nature of slavery.  It also made the nation face the reality that the South wanted to expand slavery into the Territories without limit.

Schiavo will, I believe, eventually make the nation face the true nature of Georgitism and the RRR, a major feature of which is their goal to force the expansion their religious belief system into the mind of every American, through the use of the criminal law.

The "Culture of Life" is the Republican Religious Right's new buzz phrase, the latest invention of Karl "I Change Constitutions" Rove (yes, he really said that, see Dr. J.’s Short Shot No. 25: The True Agenda of the Republican Religious Right (just click on the blue hyperlink to go directly to the artice) at Planetary Movement, or at least a member of his staff.  What does “The Culture of Life” really mean?  To begin plumbing that depth, I looked at two headlines that appeared on opposite pages in the March 26, 2005 edition of Newsday, Long Island, NY's, daily newspaper.

On p. A6 appeared "Vital Programs to be shut: Huntington Hospital [NY] is closing lung and cardiac rehabs, citing shortfalls caused by [declining insurance] reimbursement rates."  Without the services presently provided, a number of people, with full mental capacity, will die prematurely and very uncomfortably of gradual heart and lung failure.  With this being so, are the Republican Governor of the State, the national Republican Congress, and the Republican President rushing finally to solve such problems once and for all by creating a National Health Insurance system with the proper financing?  No.  In the face of these impending patient deaths, the silence is deafening.  But after all, these interests are trying, in Grover Norquist's timeless phrase, to "drown government in the bathtub,” not let it grow ("government", in his terms, meaning programs that help people to have better lives).  These lives at stake obviously do not count as "Life" (even though most Americans would say they do).

Facing this article, on p. A7 of the same issue of Newsday, appeared an article headlined "Schiavo's ‘last hours:’ Courts continue to deny parents' desperate appeals to restore daughter's feeding tube."  Where the Republican Religious Right stood on this issue is well-known.  They tried with increasing desperation to amend the Constitution on the run so that the result of years of a long and painstaking legal process, a result they did not like, could in the space of days be overturned.  The patient in whom they claimed to have an interest here had no discernible brain function and no discernible healthy tissue in the part of the brain that produces consciousness and the ability to reason.  Thus, we now know what "Life" in the "Culture of Life" means: a human body with fully functioning cardio-respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems, but with no conscious, reasoning brain function whatsoever.

Fits right in with "life begins at the moment of conception," doesn't it?  It also fits right in to another major element of the philosophy of the Republican Religious Right and the Republican Right: obedience to authority is the Number One characteristic to be fostered.  Thinking gets in the way of that.  This woman cannot think.  Mrs. Schiavo’s condition, therefore, became the perfect description of “life” for these people.  Most unfortunately, thinking with who knows what part of their body, but surely not the educated part of their collective brain, the media bought right into this definition of “life.”

Yet then the RRR went right on to mix definitions, when it suited their media/public relations purposes.  For they compared Mrs. Schiavo, whose powers of human thought were dead and gone, with concentration camp victims, whose bodies were in much worse shape than Mrs. Schiavo’s, but whose mental faculties were clearly in much better shape.  For example, the National Jewish Democratic Council told us, “The Traditional Values Coalition is an interest group that closely coordinates with top GOP leaders and staff in the House, Senate, and White House; it is run by a former Reagan Administration official and supported by countless top GOP elected and appointed officials.  The TVC has invoked Holocaust and Nazi references at length in its rhetoric surrounding Terri Schiavo.  For example, TVC notes, ‘The philosophy of the Nazi doctors lives on today in the minds of federal judges ... as well as Michael Schiavo and his New Age attorney George Felos.’

“Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan has compared Terri Schiavo's ‘capital punishment’ to ‘the method used at Auschwitz to murder Father Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who volunteered to take the place of a Polish father of a large family, who was one of 10 the camp commandant had selected for execution in reprisal for the escape of a prisoner.’  Buchanan argues that supporters of Michael Schiavo ‘approximate, in belief and argument, the elites of Weimar and Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.’” What a comment on Buchanan – that he not only equates the non-thinking Schiavo with the thinking victims of the Nazi Auschwitz horror, but also equates mass extra-judicial murder with a feeding tube withdrawal in a woman with no conscious brain function, after seven years of judicial proceedings.

But then again, this is what the “Culture of Life” is all about.  It is concerned with human organ systems, such as the cardio-vascular, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems, that operate on automatic (functions controlled by what the physiologists call the “autonomic” nervous system) before birth, when there is no consciousness, and can operate on automatic at the end of what most of us define as “life” for a very long period of time after consciousness has disappeared, for one reason or another.  It has little concern with what goes on in between, except that it is absolutely determined to make sure that all human conscious thought adheres to its doctrines, its dogmas of what thoughts are “right” and what thoughts are “wrong,” and do it by force if necessary.