Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Experience as the Campus Misogynist

By James Silberman

In mid-October, a member of my school’s Students for Life club discovered that Planned Parenthood was listed among the school’s “community partners.” Being that we attend a tiny, Christian school, this came as quite the surprise to the group. As a member of the student newspaper, I decided to investigate further.
Whitworth Students for Life (J. Silberman, right)

Community partners are those organizations which Whitworth professors decide to use as resources for student learning, volunteering, and internships. There were a 153 such organizations listed on the school’s website.

In addition, Whitworth:
  • Had tear-off cards on walls around campus referring pregnant women to Planned Parenthood (which have since been taken down).
  • Sponsored a community bioresearch event defending Planned Parenthood from wrongdoing and praising fetal tissue research.
  • Gave Planned Parenthood a booth at the school volunteer fair.
  • Uses multiple textbooks which either blatantly push abortion to students or slander pro-life individuals.

You can read the whole op-ed here for more information.     

I was, of course, expecting a response from both sides of the abortion debate, but I didn’t anticipate the magnitude. The story got picked up by LifeSiteNews, Life News, Live Action, Campus Reform, Washington Times and a number of others. I was receiving threats from hippies in California and praise from pastors in Kansas.

Locally, the story led to a club being formed to support abortion rights, although I do not know as of yet whether Whitworth will allow the club to charter. They showed up to our next Students for Life event and protested, forcefully at first, surrounding us and our display and not letting anyone near. They moved to the outside of the HUB once we alerted security that we had the space reserved.

The Administration Responds
On Dec. 2, Whitworth Students for Life met with two members of school administration to discuss the situation and suggest a few changes. Our message was threefold:

  1. As an institution of higher learning, we understand that it isn’t your role to take sides on political issues. Abortion, however, is not a political issue. It is an issue of immense human pain and suffering. For any institution, but especially a religiously-affiliated one, to give credence to the idea that dismembering a human being is morally acceptable is abhorrent. The school has a responsibility to stand up and be counted on this issue.
  2. Even if abortion weren’t so abhorrent, to affiliate with Planned Parenthood makes no business sense. For decades, Planned Parenthood has skirted around the law with ease due to their political connections. With Jeff Sessions and his 100% pro-life record as the soon-to-be U.S. Attorney General, Planned Parenthood is about to go down in flames. Whitworth needs to get off that ship soon lest they get pulled down with it.
  3. Whitworth should replace all links to Planned Parenthood with I-Choice, the local pregnancy resource center. Student interns, as well as pregnant women, are in much better hands there.

Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Spokane
On the Planned Parenthood front, the school was unwilling to budge. The two administrators stated emphatically that they only hire professors whom they trust to teach students, and that they had no interest in telling professors what to include or not include in their classes. Planned Parenthood remains a “community partner” and the two administrators stated that Planned Parenthood would continue to be allowed to have booths on campus to recruit students if that is something professors wanted.

The administrators were, however, amicable to getting I-Choice more involved on campus. The volunteer center scheduled a meeting with them and I-Choice will be an option for service-learning moving forward.

It was frustrating, to say the least, to receive pushback from Christians on the idea that human dismemberment was objectively immoral. I do think, however, a few observations need to be made before coming to final judgement.

Bad, but not the Worst, Alas
Whitworth is far more conservative than the vast majority of their competitors in higher education. For instance, Pacific Lutheran University advocates “sex positivity” in some departments and administers Next Choice and Ella pills in their health center. Normally these pills are able to prevent conception from occurring. In the case that ovulation has already occurred, however, the pill eats away at the uterine lining which prevents the embryo from being able to implant itself. In such cases, these pills act as abortifacients. A Lutheran school is administering this on campus.

Around the same time the drama at Whitworth was unfolding, a Catholic university in Chicago had their medical students perform “mock abortions” on a papaya, with the seeds representing the child. The University of Chicago and the University of New Mexico have medical centers which perform second trimester abortions.

In my original article I wrote:
“The only mitigating factor of my distaste towards the actions of the school in regard to Planned Parenthood and abortion is the fact that I know this isn’t just a Whitworth problem.”
I should have clarified further. Relatively speaking, Whitworth is downright conservative, as hard as that may be to believe.
Student-made posters at Whitworth University,
a "conservative" Christian school

This is not a Whitworth problem, per se. It’s an education problem, higher education in particular. There aren’t textbooks which accurately relay information about abortion risks and fetal development and there aren’t many professors who care. They’re more than happy to take their talking points straight from NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

This doesn’t exonerate Whitworth, but it puts their actions in perspective.

Dilemma for Christian Parents
I received many emails from concerned parents of teens who said they will reconsider recommending Whitworth to their kids and their neighbors. I told these parents that no matter where they send their kids, unless it’s a straight-up Bible College, these ideas will be pushed on them, and that Whitworth actually has remained truer to its Christian roots than most “Christian” schools. There are still a number of active ministries on campus and, from what I hear, a great theology department.

Nevertheless, I would support plans to pressure the school to cut all ties with Planned Parenthood. If that were to happen, it would be unfortunate that an example would be being made of a relatively conservative school, but it is difficult for me to feel bad for a school that allows Planned Parenthood to recruit student on campus, allows their professors to tell students that Margaret Sanger was a hero, and gives them textbooks that depict pro-lifers as violent misogynists.

There needs to be wholesale change in the American education system. We’ve allowed the pro-abortion side to run campuses and curricula for far too long.

A Silent  and Scared  Majority
The biggest thing I learned through this ordeal has to do with the nature of the debate. In the weeks following the publishing of the story, I was surprised to discover that most people on campus actually agreed with me. This is surprising because few were willing to say that publicly, and the public stream of conscious rage displayed by dozens of abortion supporters creates the impression that they are the majority. This finding is consistent with recent data. According to a Students for Life survey, 53% of millennials oppose abortion in all or most cases and 17% oppose it in all cases.

The problem is that pro-life individuals are far more hesitant to speak up than their pro-abortion counterparts. Despite PP’s extreme views on abortion representing a tiny minority of Americans, their positions have been mainstreamed by the media and the education system. Anyone who speaks against these ideas is publicly ridiculed and even threatened. I merely got a few mild threats of physical violence, but a previous Whitworth Students for Life president received numerous death threats. This seems to be the preferred tactic of the Left.

If the pro-life movement is going to succeed, it’s members are going to have to be brave. You will be publicly dressed down. You will be called a bigot and a misogynist, even if you’re a woman. You will be out of place on a campus where pro-life ideas are pushed to the fringe. But once you get past that, you’ll realize there are a lot more people on your side than you thought and also that there’s nothing the Left can do to you that’s worse than knowing you could have done something and didn’t.