The hysterical mob reaction to Cecil the lion should not surprise us. If the Internet has taught us anything, it is that an impossibly large number of people in this country have an unhealthy obsession with cats. The only question is what the target the mob will move on to attack tomorrow. Certainly it will not be the atrocities of Planned Parenthood. As one friend put it, “Once more, the lions are preferred to the Christians.”Ignatius of Antioch being devoured by lions, from the Menologion of Basil II, c. 1000
In recent months, we have seen the Internet mob rear its ugly face in all manner of controversies, whether in the death threats against the proprietor of a random pizza parlor victimized by a drive-by media hit piece, or in the rancorous and ignorant call to eliminate all traces of the Civil War from the public square, to the point of desecrating graves and vandalizing memorials to the dead.
The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, memorials to the war dead of the Confederacy, and an African feline killed by a Minnesota dentist would seem to have nothing in common, but it is precisely because the mob is immune to reason that its targets are chaotic and unpredictable. When the pitchforks and torches come out, there is no reasoning or argument which can appease the seething throng. With the power of the Internet and cable news to spread the story, real people have their businesses wrecked and their livelihoods stolen in less than 24 hours only to be forgotten just as quickly.
On the other hand, the pro-life movement has a different character. We have been consistent and unwavering in our aims and methods. As the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves, we speak with conviction and compassion, but not in anger–even though in truth, a righteous anger is entirely justified in our cause. If we are to save the tiny precious lives of the unborn, we must win over our opponents through a conversion of heart. A mob does not seek to persuade in free and open debate, but rather, to silence the conversation altogether.Two Minutes Hate, from “1984”
The ubiquity of social media makes it easy to express outrage at current events–and there is much in the world today which causes and indeed ought to cause us consternation. Furthermore, the deep strain of liberalism which runs through our society is a continual tugging at our elbow that, when faced with the troubles of the world, something must be done about it. Yet, aside from some of the more notable episodes given above, who can remember what the outrage of the day was a few weeks or months ago? To paraphrase an old Bedouin proverb, the profile pictures and hashtags will change, but the caravan goes on.
A movement is not so easily dissipated. Like the elephants of the African savannah, we will never forget what we have seen–and what we are seeing now with the Planned Parenthood exposé is horrifying and agitating to be sure, but it is not a spontaneous or isolated event. Cecile Richards dismissed the videos as the work of an extremist fringe group, but on Tuesday, as people gathered across the country in support of the rights of the unborn, the hashtag #WomenBetrayed was trending and Planned Parenthood was not. Even so, long after the news cycle and hashtags have moved on to give the next victim his or her 15 minutes of fame, we will continue to press on towards our one goal: to end abortion.