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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cecil the Lion? How about Jivan the Human?

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Just for the TUSKS?!?! Just for the TUSKS?!?!

You know what? I get it. I really do get the outrage over a Minnesota dentist’s $50,000 vanity kill of Cecil the Lion. With elaborate measures in place for his protection, the dentist finished Cecil off with a rifle after ineptly wounding him with a compound bow, which left the animal bleeding for days as the intrepid hunter and his professional guides tracked it down. Then he hacked off the beast’s head so he could take it home and mount it in his study.

A fair fight, if you please! A man-versus-beast, put-your-life-on-the line, kill-or-be-killed sort of encounter with the wild. That is what we imagine big game hunting to be: an extreme sport for those who crave killing a beast that at least has a realistic chance of killing them (the mortally sinful nature of such daredevil sports aside). Or, more nobly, the defense of people against a predator on the loose in a human community. But not this mode of hunting: an elaborate Disney World-style thrill ride, the illusion of danger in a cocoon of safety with a moneyed vulgarian’s ultimate souvenir waiting at the end. Lured into the open with tasty bait, Cecil, a celebrity lion used to friendly relations with humans in the Zimbabwean wildlife preserve from which he was lured, walked cooperatively into the hands of his killers.

 

Now this kind of touristic safari “hunting” goes on all the time. It’s a profitable business and generally nobody really cares. But if you’ve paid fifty grand to kill a celebrity animal in such a craven way, and then you lop off its head for a trophy, what can you expect but big trouble if news of the kill goes viral in our emotivist age? Yet while outrage over this incident is one thing, quite another is the fulminating hatred for Cecil’s killer, including demands for his imprisonment and even obscenity-laced threats to kill him in the same manner he killed the lion.

The world is braying for the blood of an obscure Minnesota dentist, to the point where he can no longer extract teeth for a living because he had to shut down his dental office in fear of violence. Yet America’s abortionists go on with their deadly extraction of human beings from their mothers’ wombs—hacking off human, not lion heads. These butchers are undeterred by anything more than a few dogged pro-life demonstrators who face federal prison if they dare to impede access to legally protected abattoirs. The Senate vote to defend Planned Parenthood on account of its trafficking in the organs of aborted babies has failed—of course—yet a resolution to condemn the killing of Cecil the Lion would undoubtedly have passed by a wide margin.

So what’s it all about? It’s not about the overvaluation of animal life, as a superficial view of the affair would suggest. How many of the people screaming about the fate of Cecil the Lion would have paid even a hundred dollars to save him? If faced with a choice between watching Sunday football and saving Cecil, how many of the infuriated callers to the radio talk shows over the past week would have given up The Game in order to save The Lion? And who would be screaming for the dentist’s head had he felled a dumpy hippo, a nasty rhino or a brutish wart hog?

What it’s really all about is not the overvaluation of animals but the radical devaluation of humans. The capacity for outrage over cruelty to animals is still there in the public mind, even if it is only the fate of the more attractive victims that arouses it for a time. But that same sense of outrage no longer extends to rational animals. Abortion is now as much a part of the fabric of American life as The Game, and even those who condemn it in principle passively accept it in practice.

Not even the “pro-life” American bishops are calling upon Catholics to march in the streets to stop murder in the abortion mills, leading those marches themselves. One thinks, however, of the late Bishop Austin B. Vaughan, who did just that, was arrested and imprisoned many times, and told Mario Cuomo that he was “in serious danger of going to hell.” The death of the Rescue Movement was the last gasp of the social recognition that abortion is the cold-blooded killing of innocent human beings and should be prevented no less than the murder of what Justice Antonin Scalia calls “walking-around persons” in callous contradistinction to the “fetuses” he deems unprotected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Abortion goes on because it is not perceived by the generality of people to have any tangible social or even psychic cost. And so the abortion mills keep humming along as part of the background noise of American life. The outrage over Planned Parenthood’s profiteering in human organs is but an implicit confirmation of this: the ongoing mass murder of the unborn had long been accepted as part of the sociopolitical status quo; it was only the harvesting of the victims’ organs that had revived the public’s sense of cruelty to humans. But, oh well, the Senate vote failed. Time to move on to the next issue. And the slaughter of innocents will continue just as before.

What it’s all about, then, is that people have become weary of their own species. To be sure, they still love their loved ones as instantiations of it. But they do not hold the species as such in very high regard. Thus the human sacrifice of 10-year-old Jivan Kohar in a Hindu temple, as reported by CNNonly days ago, was a story that immediately sank beneath the waves. The murder took place in Nepal, where the father of an ailing boy followed the advice of a Hindu “priest” to sacrifice someone else’s son in order to heal his own. Behold the victim:

boyIn fact, human sacrifice remains very much a part of Hindu ritual in various places. In 2006, for example,
the Indian press reported the sacrifice of a three-year-old child, “one of dozens of sacrifices” performed by a local Hindu cult: “The two men then used a knife to slice off the child’s nose, ears and hands before laying him, bleeding, in front of Kali’s image.”

But in America the same sort of ritual takes place in abortion mills, where children are sacrificed even without reference to the imaginary favors of an imaginary deity but merely for personal convenience. And our nation lets it happen—year after year, decade after decade. Again, people still love their own but think little of the species to which they belong. As Aristotle observes in The Politics: “…when devoid of virtue man is the most unholy and savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.” (Politics, 1253a). Man is weary of himself because he is weary of what he has become. No wonder people in our time are inordinately attached to their pets, who have never betrayed them like their fellow men. No wonder the public mind evinces vastly more outrage over the fate of Cecil the Lion than the fate of Kali the Human.

This same deprivileging of humanity underlies the worldwide cult of environmentalism, which is why it is tied so closely to “reproductive rights.” We see this in a subtle way even in Laudato si (LS), the first environmentalist encyclical. LS eloquently laments at its very outset “the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see” and which “will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us.”

Having nothing whatsoever to say about contraception, however, LS defers the brutal murder and dismemberment of hundreds of millions of innocent children by abortion to distant paragraphs that say nothing of God’s glory and speak only of “the human embryo” as a “part of reality” we must not overlook in our “concern for the protection of nature” and “our struggle for the sake of the environment.” LS 33, 91, 117 120.

Even the encyclical’s call for “tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings” is expressed in terms of “[a] sense of deep communion with the rest of nature…” while its references to “human dignity” and “the inalienable worth of a human being” appear in the context of “cruelty towards any creature” and “caus[ing] animals to suffer or die needlessly.”  LS 92, 130. The very notion of a human dignity radically different from that of non-rational creatures, placing man with his rational soul in a category above all of nature, is undermined by the risibly timid assertion that “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures…” LS 119. What God has ordained under the divine and natural law binding all men does not even enter the picture.

Man’s weariness of his own nature has penetrated the human element of the Church along with the rest of the nihilistic spirit of this post-Christian age, giving rise to a Church that is now, in practice, post-Catholic in its approach to the world. That is why we are given a 185-page encyclical on the environment, addressed to “every person living on this planet,” while Francis and the Vatican remain silent about such matters as the Planned Parenthood affair, the ongoing massacre of Christians in nation after nation, and the human sacrifice of Jivan Kohar (and who knows how many others) in a Hindu temple only a week ago. And it is why Laudato si reduces millions of human sacrifices on the altar of abortion to “fail[ure] to protect a human embryo.” LS 120.

Last year Cardinal Tauran, head of the supremely ridiculous Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, issued a “Message to Hindus for the Feast Of Deepavali 2014.” No religion on earth has less regard for the human species than this one. Yet, ignoring this cult’s congeries of diabolical superstitions and its age-old oppression of inferior castes, Tauran declared:

As people grounded in our own respective religious traditions and with shared convictions, may we, Hindus and Christians, join together with followers of other religions and with people of good will to foster a culture of inclusion for a just and peaceful society.

We wish you all a HappyDeepavali!

So it seems that this weariness of human nature extends, at last, to weariness of God Himself, whose divine decrees in the Person of Christ, including the Great Commission to His Church, no longer seem to arouse even a flicker of passion in most Catholic churchmen. Nowhere is this weariness of both man and God in our time captured better than in Eliot’s The Hollow Men:

For Thine is the Kingdom
 
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
    
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends


Not with a bang but a whimper.

The world is not ending yet. And the Church will be restored before the day when men will see “heaven departed as a book folded up… (Rev. 6:14).”  But it behooves us to recognize our situation for what it is in order that we might orient our hope to what it ought to be, praying and acting accordingly.

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Last modified on Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.