Really, do you think of me as a ‘Holocaust’ survivor?5/21/2014
I’m a bastard.
Not in the way you’re probably thinking right now, which is open to interpretation.
But in a first-reference manner as defined by Webster’s — “an illegitimate child” — which is a fact.
This doesn’t bother me, color my world. It is what it is. I’m adopted, the product of two teens consummating their lust in northeast Iowa. Probably right around Thanksgiving, considering my Aug. 20 birthday. Thankfully, dinner was light enough on gravy to allow an evening of mistakes to proceed to its wonderful conclusion: my conception.
Over the years, I’ve been asked hundreds of times what I’d say to my biological mother if I ever met her — which I don’t intend to do out of respect for my legal (and real) family, the people I’ve loved for 44 years.
The answer to that birth-mom encounter question is easy for me. I’d first thank her for not having an abortion, which legal or not, in the late 1960s, remained very much an option — and a less politicized one at that as the Iowa Republican and Democratic parties each counted among their ranks people with a full spectrum of opinions on the termination of pregnancies.
Flash forward to the contemporary debate on abortion. In this context, if you accept the language and boundaries of the arguments as defined by much of the anti-abortion movement, I’m a Holocaust survivor.
This is preposterous. I’m nothing of the kind.
But to many modern conservatives the Holocaust analogy is an easy reach for rhetoric on abortion and contraception.
“Think of the outrage that would be out there if they tried to pass a law that said a Jewish printer had no choice but to print up handbills for a neo-Nazi rally,” Iowa Third District Republican candidate Monte Shaw says of the Affordable Care Act’s treatment of birth control. Churches have an exemption, but Shaw, speaking in a recent forum, said he thinks owners of businesses with certain religious opinions shouldn’t be required to provide plans to their employees that may include contraception services.
In South Carolina earlier this month, a Republican promoting an abortion ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy invoked the Holocaust.
“This Holocaust of our making in our country is 60 million and counting,” state Sen. Mike Fair, a Greenville Republican, said of the estimated number who have died in abortions, according to the Greenville News.
“Six million, it shouldn’t have been one, for crying out loud,” Fair said. “Six million is incredibly horrible, what they endured. But those 60 million taken out of the womb will never have a chance to be dragged into anything. They’re gone.”
Here’s the defining the difference between abortion in America and the Nazis: The Holocaust — and by this, I mean the only Holocaust — was the systematic, bureaucratic, murder of 6 million human beings, largely based on their religion. It’s one, centralized decision to kill. The abortion count is the result of millions of individual choices made for a myriad of reasons.
The unwanted, unborn baby in America today is not akin to the German or Polish Jew boarding a train for a concentration camp in the 1930s and 1940s.
Travel to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., walk through its somber halls, and absorb the evil piercing from the pictures. And at the end, spend some time in the museum’s theater, watching video accounts from true Holocaust survivors.
There’s nothing analogous to it. No appropriate second reference.
So take it from this bastard. Like any other unexpected baby, I may be a survivor in some stretched sense.
But my experience has no connection whatsoever to the Holocaust. To suggest otherwise, even loosely, offends survivors of the Nazi regime and dives our public discourse into deeply troubled waters. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.