In the Village Voice Nat Hentoff now defends Terri Schiavo and calls the legal charade in Florida for what it is. Noting that Terri swallows her own saliva and might be able to take orally administered fluids, he seconds Wesley Smith's realization "that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."
This is Nat Hentoff we're talking about. Ralph Nader stands with him. As does Jesse Jackson. And Mary Johnson. And Harriet McBryde Johnson. And a host of other disability rights activists who championed this case long before most people had ever heard Terri Schiavo's name. (Not to mention other liberal stalwarts such as Mickey Kaus and Marshall Wittmann.)
Still, those who want Terri dead--people like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds--dishonestly insist that the debate is between sensible, law-abiding people on one side and "theocons," the "religious right," and "Christianists" on the other. (This last term has been donated to the discussion by Rik Hertzberg, who agrees wholeheartedly with Reynolds and Sullivan.)
Eager to reinforce his point, Sullivan (who promised weeks ago to stop blogging) recently posted an email purporting to be from a someone who has one of these Christer-zealots in the family. Describing this nutty sibling, Sullivan's emailer writes, "My sister-in-law is a devout Catholic, a Republican, and she watches Pat Robertson's 700 Club almost religiously." Get it? All the cues are there. "Devout" Catholic. "Republican." "Pat Robertson." "700 Club." Just one question: How many Catholics do you know who watch the 700 Club? Me neither.
Reynolds, in his continuing, if understated, campaign for Terri Schiavo's death, has tried to distract attention from the facts of the case by pointing to the involvement of self-promoter/hack Randall Terry. "If you don't want to be confused with a movement led by theocrats," Reynolds says, "don't let actual theocrats be seen as your spokesmen." Thanks for the tip. And how, exactly, is one to supposed to shut Randall Terry up?
Sighing at the burden of it all, Reynolds now tells us that "this is one of those episodes that seems to bring out the worst in people. That's why I didn't really want to weigh in to begin with--I knew that I was unlikely to persuade anyone, because very few people seem to care about the facts, or about arguments."
How droll. Like Sullivan and Hertzberg and the rest of the crew eager to get Terri Schiavo in the ground, it is Reynolds who assiduously avoided the facts at every turn--choosing instead to condemn the poor woman by association because of (some of) the people who have rallied to her cause. As Hugh Hewitt observes, this is demagoguery, pure and simple.
8 hours ago