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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Being Pro-Family

"Polite society has greeted the “pro family” movement, a political development unique to the past half decade, with a mixture of ambivalence, panic, and discomfort. A minority of liberal voices, including the venerable New Republic, have counseled a bemused toleration of this latest example of small town Babbitry. Left-leaning clerics, civil libertarians, and other politicos of more excitable disposition have nurtured a media image of profamily advocates as Bible-thumping, jackbooted, moral zealots trampling on human freedoms, modern lifestyles, pluralism, and the Constitution. They have conjured up visions of the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem witch trials, and have regularly invoked the whispered words, “Moral Majority” or “Phyllis Schlafly,” to scare young children or frighten wayward partisans back into the fold...

The movement has been sometimes portrayed as a monolithic effort to force a tired moral‘ code down the collective American throat. Borrowing a page from Joe McCarthy, commentators have delighted in ferreting out the supposed interlocking directorates of profamily and other “New Right” groups. Yet the pro-family label has also been attached at various times to individuals or groups drawn from widely disparate and historically hostile religious traditions, including Roman Catholicism, fundamentalist Protestantism, Mormonism, and Orthodox Judaism. Even refugee Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans have been known to confess publicly to pro-family sentiments.

Meanwhile, the movement’s agenda has normally been characterized as constituting a rigid opposition to a litany of liberating causes-abortion rights, contraceptive rights, women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights, and federally funded day-care-girded by simple-minded support for prayer in public schools and an inferred hostility to diversity, change, and all things intellectual and urbane. In sum: a coalition of hayseeds, housewives, the Pope, and preachers sporting leisure suits and Southern drawls, doing battle with the forces of enlightenment, pluralism, refinement, and liberty...

Admittedly, the pro-family movement is difficult to demarcate. At last year’s White House Conference on Families, for example, virtually every delegate present - whether “straight” or “gay,” “parent” or “family professional,” “married” or militantly “single,” “traditional” or ‘‘life styled”-claimed to be pro-family...

Yet among these diverse elements can be found four recurring attitudes which, I suggest, essentially define what it means today to be pro-family:

To be pro-family is to reject most recent effusions from the social sciences concerning the family. During the past two decades, the normative American family structure served as a favorite target for a series of highly politicized intellectual movements bent on transforming or destroying the existing social order. New Leftists, feminists, cultural relativists, populationists, and sexual libertarians lashed away at family life as the cause of < poverty, violence, imperialism, inequality, the oppression of women, overpopulation, and mental disorders of all sorts. The large majority of publishing family sociologists, revealing a pitiful lack of objective standards and their own subservience to ideology, seemed to take special pleasure in challenging the prevailing social framework. A few more memorable examples of this intellectual catharsis should suffice. Consider sociologist Merwyn Cadwallander, who declared in a 1966 Atlantic article that “marriage is a wretched institution,” where beautiful romances are translated into dull matrimony and where relationships inevitably become “constrictive, corrosive, grinding, and destructive.” Or ponder a 1972 contribution to the Family Coordinator by psychologist Janis Kelly which, after noting that women “cannot develop fully in a heterosexual context,” offered the corollary that conditions allowing women “to love fully and without fear are at present met only in a homosexual setting.” Or meditate on the vision presented in a 1971 article by family-counselor Robert Harper, which included a call for abortion-on-demand to avoid inflating America’s ‘ ‘already pathologically swollen population” and suggested a “blockbuster intensive therapeutic” federal program to help children and youth “overcome the contamination and crippling of their sexual beings by our culture. . . .” Harper urged parents to “encourage, help, and foster” sexual play among their preadolescent children. “To prevent sexual hang-ups in interactional as well as masturbatory sex,” he concluded, “we have to start when children are barely toddlers”...

Since the mid-l960s, sociologists have systematically stripped the word, “family, ’ ’ of intelligible meaning, preferring instead the dual concepts of “changing families” and “a pluralism of family forms.” The Forum 14 Report of the 1970 White House Conference on Children, for example, defined family as “a group of individuals in interaction,” while the American Home Economics Association, an occasional fount of obscure sociology, views family “as a unit of two or more persons who share resources, share responsibilities for decisions, share values and have a commitment to one another over time.” Such expansive definitions, designed to offend no one, arguably extend the “family” label to everything from group marriages and homosexual couples to a pair of winos sharing a boxcar and a bottle. Pro-family activists, on the other hand, support a less sweeping, more historic definition, limiting the ‘‘family” designation to two or more persons related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption.

To be pro-family is to war against the cultural death-wish of modem Malthusianism. Just as “pro choice” means more than “pro abortion,” so does the “pro life” label encompass sentiments beyond opposition to that particular “medical procedure. ” Ideologically, the phrase symbolizes aversion to the whole anti-growth, anti-large family, anti-child, and proeugenic culture promoted by the modern Malthusians. In a spiritual sense, “pro life” means a struggle against the cool allure of Death and his steadfast companions, narcissism and sterility.

Indeed, the sterile orgasm may be among the most appropriate orgasm may be among the most appropriate symbols of the contemporary liberal temperament. Progressive doctrine on family and sexual matters has spread widely, and early and extensive sexual experimentation, the conscious rejection of parenthood, a reliance on abortion to correct sexual mistakes, a dogmatic adherence to the view that there are no differences between the sexes, and the elevation of selfishness to a virtue have reached pandemic proportions, particularly among American youth. Opposition by the pro-family coalition to the gay rights movement arises from the same revulsion towards the cult of sterility. As Midge Decter has recently pointed out, “the one thing that even the most passionate exponent of, or most ardent sympathizer with, homosexual liberation is bound to admit is that homosexual relations are-and are meant to be-fruitless.” When a society views heterosexuality and homosexuality as merely interchangeable forms of sexual release, and considers the birth of a child as but another burden on an already overtaxed environment, then procreation and the nurturing of children have in fact lost all claim to special social consideration. And human life is effectively reduced to a deplorable accident.

In contrast, pro-family activists unashamedly declare that parenthood, birth, and the rearing of children are positive, even superior, social tasks. And without discounting the complex ethical questions that do arise, they give strong preference to life-creating and life-sustaining acts over their life-denying and life-destroying antitheses.

To be pro-family is to oppose the union of educational and family professinals with the coercive power of the state...

Malefic motives, not just intellectual muddle-headedness, are suspected. For it is clear that the modern liberal temperament, wedded to a host of anti-natalist sentiments, is likely to produce few babies among its own adherents. Yet no political movement, however hostile towards procreation it might be, can long survive without initiating someone’s children into its mysteries. In consequence, family and school professionals can sometimes loom as modern equivalents of the faeries and trolls who, in former times, stole human children away during the night to raise in their own alien ways...

Collective paranoia? Phantasms of Twinkie- besotted imaginations? Regrettably not. One need only look to the humanistic paradise of Sweden, where the modern collectivist state is somewhat ahead in its task of severing children from their parents. Since passage in 1979 of Sweden’s notorious Parenthood and Guardianship Code, it has been a criminal offense for parents to spank, strike, intimidate, threaten, ostracize, ridicule, or otherwise “psychologically abuse” their children. ‘‘Children’s ombudsmen” work diligently to inform the moppets of their “rights,” while the Swedish parliament has seriously considered legislation allowing children to divorce their parents. It takes no great leap of imagination to appreciate that it is only a matter of time before Swedish family professionals, given their characteristic adherence to value-free humanism, will show religious indoctrination to be a particularly brutal form of psychological child abuse.

The essentially defensive nature of the American pro-family movement becomes apparent when one turns to the legislative measure most fully embodying its agenda. The Family Protection Act, first introduced in Congress by Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt, has been vilified by critics as a repressive monstrosity...

Unless one assumes darker motives, it is difficult to understand why liberals are driven to such apoplexy by this measure. Even if the whole Family Protection Act were approved, liberal progeny could continue virtually undisturbed in their secular-humanistic ways. They might have to tolerate a few voluntary prayers by their classmates, or give occasional notice to the theory that women make the best mothers. But they would undoubtedly survive such experiences with their value systems intact. One does suspect, however, that at least some of the outrage spawned by the Family Protection Act arises from the consternation liberals feel at seeing their fayorite social engineering tool-the coercive threat of withholding federal funds turned, against their most cherished schemes.

To be pro-family is to accept a common ’measure of right and wrong. It is here that people who otherwise span the political spectrum commit the single, unforgivable act that finally separates them from the modern liberal temperament. For in the culture which liberal laxism has produced, you can perform virtually any voluntary act of decadence, debauchery, or perversion without opprobrium or guilt. But you may not, under any circumstance, accuse another of hedonism or sin...

There is apprehension that the great eighteenth-century champions of liberty were correct in their belief that a free society cannot exist without strong, internalized moral values, nor without well-defined and commonly accepted social norms. As this century’s foremost philosopher of freedom, Friedrich Hayek, wrote in his masterpiece The Constitution of Liberty: “It is indeed a truth . , . that freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs and that coercion can be reduced to a minimum only where individuals can be expected as a rule to conform voluntarily to certain principles.” The preservation of identifiable social norms and a common moral code may, in fact, be necessary for the very survival of our free society."

--- Radicals Liberals, Illiberal Families / Allan C. Carlson. The American Spectator, April 1981
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