Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Compare and contrast

Chris Trotter, 2008: NZ's Taleban on the march:

Because behind National, hidden by all those glossy placards depicting the handsome John Key, marches a much less appealing army of fanatical right-wing activists, all of whom are impatient to advance the conservative causes that nine years of Labour-led government have held in check.


All that stands between them, and the anti-abortionists' long- delayed revenge, are the young, confident women of 21st-century New Zealand – and their brothers – who still believe in a woman's right to choose.

Chris Trotter, today: Harping On About The Abortion Issue
What QoT and a host of other feminist bloggers objected to so strongly back then, and are even more vociferously opposed to now, is the notion that reforming the abortion laws might take second (or even third) place to other political considerations. I don’t believe I’m in any way misrepresenting their position when I say they consider anyone who counsels letting sleeping dogs lie on this issue as “objectively” (if I may resurrect that fine example of Leninist jargon) locating themselves in the anti-abortionist camp.

There’s a bullying aspect to this style of politics which takes me all the way back to the late 1970s – when the only acceptable position for a man to adopt in relation to feminist political priorities was one of enthusiastic and unquestioning support. (As I scrolled down the hundreds of passionate comments elicited by QoT’s posting, I must confess to experiencing a wave of nostalgia for those ideologically invigorating times.) But nostalgia is no substitute for hard-headed political analysis. Abject surrender to ideological extremism and political solipsism is no more intelligent now than it was 40 years ago.

It is worth re-stating, therefore, that the heedless pursuit of abortion on demand could very easily prove counter-productive [to Labour's election chances]

...and therefore women should shut up (rather than "harp on") about it.

The conclusion? That to Trotter, a woman's fundamental right to control her own body is just ammunition, to be used to whip people into toeing the party line. And his expressed concern about saving solo mothers from Paula Bennett should be seen in the same light: he doesn't really care about them - he just sees them as a useful weapon to kick people back into line behind his precious Labour Party.

Its as cynical as it is hypocritical. But it is basically Trotter in a nutshell.