Politics

The hypocrisy of anti-abortion activists | Leonard Pitts Jr. | Columns

Last week, a man tried to convince me that he believes black lives matter.

This is a kind of rhetorical judo some anti-abortion activists have adopted in debating pro-choice African Americans. They argue that black women have abortions at higher rates than others and that this amounts to a “genocide” or a “holocaust” — yes, they often use those words — that black people are morally bound to resist. Because black lives matter.

As I told the guy who tried that argument with me last week on Twitter, that’s disingenuous: “If you are as concerned for black life as you purport, may I assume you have been equally exercised over, say, ongoing police violence against unarmed African-American men and women?”

Predictably, he answered the question with some variant of “all lives matter.” Or in other words, No.

In itself, the debate was not particularly important, but the timing felt poignant. It came at roughly the same time news broke of a 2014 text message exchange between New York Police Lt. Christopher Bannon and Sgt. Dhanan Saminath, who had just been involved in an altercation with a black man named Eric Garner. Saminath texted that Garner had no pulse and was probably dead.

“Not a big deal,” answered Bannon. “We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

 

Garner, you will recall, verbally resisted when police attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on the street. Whereupon they tackled him to the ground and Officer Daniel Pantaleo administered a chokehold. Eleven times, Garner, a 350-pound asthmatic, complained that they were killing him.

“I can’t breathe,” he gasped.

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

…continued

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