Thursday, April 27, 2006
"The Party of Death" is the title of Ramesh Ponnuru's new book, which is subtitled, "The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." As Amy Welborn writes, though, "[t]he title is provocative and a bit misleading. The 'party of death' refers to those who support unfettered abortion access, assisted suicide, embryo-destructive research, and so on - politicians, activists, scholars, judges and medical types. Included in that Venn diagram is the Democratic Party, but to tell the truth, that is really not the focus, nor the primary 'party of death' of which Ponnuru writes, although it gets its due attention, particularly in the chapters on abortion." And, one might reasonably object, the title does not take account of the facts that (a) many Democrats are pro-life; (b) many Republicans are not; and (c) Democrats and Republicans alike support capital punishment, bombing suspected terrorists, etc.
Ponnuru answers some questions along these lines here. This exchange is particularly relevant:
Lopez: What do you say to people who say that conservatives are the "party of death," since they have supported the death penalty and the Iraq war?
Ponnuru: I get that a lot from people who haven't read the book. The most articulate defenders of abortion, some types of euthanasia, infanticide, and lethal embryo research argue for those things on the theory that the human beings they kill are not persons. My book argues against that theory and goes into the chilling implications of that view.
Articulate defenders of the death penalty and the Iraq war make very different arguments. They do not, that is, say that death-row inmates and Iraqi insurgents are "human non-persons." Thus the death penalty and the war raise very different issues. This is not to say that the moral issues raised by the war and the death penalty are not serious. (I think the moral issues raised by the death penalty are sufficiently serious that I oppose it.) It is only to say that they are mostly distinct from the ones that come up in this book.
Here is another interview with Ponnuru about the book. On the other hand, Andrew Sullivan objects strongly to Ponnuru's book title and claims, here. My quick surf through the blogosphere suggests that many others on the progressive / liberal side of things share Sullivan's view.