The Roe Misdirection?

Fred Clark fumes over “the abortion myth”:

White evangelicals certainly were upset with the U.S. Supreme Court in those years, and Roe fit broadly into the pattern of the decisions about which white evangelicals were angry. But that anger wasn’t about abortion at all. That anger was about — to borrow Reagan’s preferred euphemism — “states’ rights.” It was about the belief that “that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.”It was about white evangelicals’  desire to run tax-exempt private schools without federal interference.

He quotes historian Randall Balmer:

The abortion myth serves as a convenient fiction because it suggests noble and altruistic motives behind the formation of the Religious Right. But it is highly disingenuous and renders absurd the argument of the leaders of the Religious Right that, in defending the rights of the unborn, they are the “new abolitionists.” The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools. Whereas evangelical abolitionists of the 19th century sought freedom for African Americans, the Religious Right of the late 20th century organized to perpetuate racial discrimination.

And yet myths endure. Like the idea that the Stonewall riot began the gay rights movement. It didn’t. It was a critical cultural flashpoint of empowerment – but the gay rights movement had been around for decades already and some of its greatest heroes, like Frank Kameny, was a simple federal employee, not a finally pissed off drag queen (but good for her, of course, as well). But what am I gonna do when the president mentions “Stonewall” as the marker for gay equality? Let it go. After constantly getting pissed off about it. Bruce Bawer’s essay on the mythology ishere. As a corrective to new left historical revisionism, it’s well worth reading. As a deeper insight into what Stonewall meant at the time – read ACT-UP heroine Garance Franke-Ruta here.