U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington Feb. 12.
all the world surely knows by now, "equality" is the ideological key
to President Obama's domestic policies. That all people are created equal, the
president says, is the "most evident of truths." Whether that's so or
not, it is unquestionably the case that you express any reservations whatsoever
about equality these days at no little personal risk.
that as it may, nonetheless, the meaning of equality is hopelessly unclear in
the absence of specifics. Clarification requires asking and answering a prior
question: equal in regard to what? Weight? Height? Intelligence? Misery? This
plainly can't be what the president has in mind.
the contrary, when Mr. Obama speaks of equality, he seems to be talking about
giving things to particular individuals and groups who enjoy his favor and that
of his administration. Feminists and gays come immediately to mind as prime
members of this privileged group. And so we have administration policies like
women in combat and same-sex marriage, where the inconvenient fact of
significant differences is brushed aside while people who raise rational
objections based on the public interest are branded as foes of equality and,
very likely, bigots to boot.
the examples cited, the species of equality involved goes by the name
"gender equality." Here, of course, certain distinctions must be
made. Usually, they aren't.
homosexuals, and heterosexual men are indeed equal in regard to some things.
But everything? High up on any serious list of evident truths is the truth of
sexual complementarity, and its claims also must be heeded. Sorting out the
competing requirements of equality and complementarity is a political task
calling for the exercise of virtues like justice, solidarity, and especially
prudence. Unfortunately, this is something a one-dimensional ideological faith in equality can't be
modern times, painful public events have repeatedly shown that political
ideology can be a very dangerous thing. Ideologues, whether they be Islamic
fundamentalists or die-hard old Marxists, commonly nurture visions of some kind
of paradise on earth and, if fanatical enough, they will do profoundly
disturbing things in order to make their vision real. Barack Obama is no
fanatic, but he is an ideologue of equality with a strongly secular slant and
worrisome on that score.
HHS Mandate is a case in point. This is the proposed regulation emanating from
the Department of Health and Human Services in implementation of Obamacare that
originally would have required (and indeed may do so yet) that a large number
of church-affiliated institutions and programs provide their employees with
insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization.
a digression, but notice those words--contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization. The verbal sleight of hand often employed by
defenders of the mandate involves speaking only of "contraception"
while keeping mum about the abortifacients and the sterilizations. That's part
of the ongoing flacking for Obama that some journalists have been practicing
any event, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a Harvard audience earlier this
month that as of August 1 "every employee who doesn't work directly for a
church or a diocese will be included." That remains to be seen. But as
matters stand, and leaving aside technicalities, religious employers are to become
cogs in a vast machine delivering universal coverage for contraception (and the
rest) in the name of equality.
If this succeeds, don't imagine for a
minute that agitation won't quickly begin to add abortion at any stage of
pregnancy to the package. After all, the ideology of equality mandates it.