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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, December 28, 2006

McIlheran Watch: Quiverfullofit

Sometimes I feel what Batman must feel if he goes on vacation only to find out that the Joker has been hard at work--what a mess to clean up. It's so bad that even with several heroic others steping in, there's an overwhelming pile of Patrick McIlheran-flavored baloney yet to address. I may not get to all of it anytime soon.

Burt I need to start with McIlheran's column from yesterday, on the "Quiverfull" movement. Now, I got no beef with people who want a lot of kids (I want exactly zero, but to each his or her own, I say), and I certainly would not say, as P-Mac quotes Pam Spaulding as saying, that I "imagine masses of bible beaters shooting out of wombs." Of course, I also wouldn't truncate Pam's context, as McIlheran did--Pam's concerned not about real battle, but about future voting habits.

It is, in fact, the Quiverfulls themselves who see what they do as a part of a battle, despite McIlheran's insistence that Pam's "rudeness clashes with the more gentle reality of big-family Christians around Wisconsin. This is less about breeding weapons for a culture war and more like putting daisies in gun barrels." The name of the movement evokes arrows in a quiver, and comes from Psalm 127:
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.
What makes McIlheran's daisy-in-a-gun-barrel statement so very offensive is that he devotes a considerable part of his column to one such happy man, Matt Trewhella. I particularly love this line: "Not that Trewhella doesn't do politics. He's a leader of Missionaries to the Preborn, which protests abortion."

Saying that Trewhella "protests abortion" is a like saying that Michael Jackson is quirky. Or that Brett Favre plays a little football. Among the things Trewhella is best known for is getting himself arrested, repeatedly, for harassing and abusing people outside of family-planning clinics, both here in Milwaukee and all over the country. His group famously handed out bullet-shaped tracts at Milwaukee schools in the aftermath of Columbine and other school shootings. He supports killing abortion providers as "justifiable homicide," and has praised and defended their murderers. Trewhella also wants his followers to "buy each of [their] children an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition."

Now, I don't know for a fact that Trewhella (or any of the other families McIlheran mentions) is buying his kids Armor of God PJs and reading Birthing God's Mighty Warriors as bedtime stories. But McIlheran tries to structure the article to make people like me--and people like Pam Spaulding, who see the Quiverfull rhetoric as being war-like and dangerous--out to be the warring ones, all the while ignoring the very violent words (and, indeed, deeds) of the very people he praises.

(And I love Steve Gilliard's reaction to the Quiverfulls. Steve, like Pam, is black, but McIlheran doesn't quote him: "When black women have eight or nine kids, they're called welfare queens and looked down as parasites. Why not these people?" McIlheran has his own opinions about welfare, which seem to clash with his views on the Quiverfulls.)

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