Kristen Walker Hatten

5 myths about pro-lifers, and how to refute them

Kristen Walker Hatten
By Kristen Walker Hatten
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December 13, 2011 (LiveAction.org) - There are a lot of negative stereotypes about the pro-life movement. I could easily write a list of 20 or more. These five, though, are the ones I personally encounter most often, and in the most capital letters. You’ll probably find them familiar. If you don’t know how to argue against these, you should.

5. We’re all brainwashed.

Since they can’t seem to wrap their brains around how a person might make an intelligent, informed decision to oppose abortion, anti-lifers sometimes like to assume we have all been duped. I have been accused, via Facebook, Twitter, email, and comment, of having been brainwashed by the following people or organizations: the Republican Party, Christians, the Vatican, white men, television, the conservative media, Sarah Palin, and the devil. I am not making any of those up.

While I suppose there are those who were raised inside Vatican walls and never heard a dissenting opinion, the truth is that even kids brought up in homes with pro-life parents were probably exposed to pro-abortion ideology somewhere along the way. It may have even happened without their knowledge.

Let me give you an example: I loved the movie Dirty Dancing as a kid. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, but I managed to watch it almost constantly, starting at around age ten. A major plot line in that movie is a main character having an abortion. Everyone is super casual about it, although they never use the word “abortion.” The girl ends up getting hurt by the procedure, but the impression is that this is because the woman had to go to an unsafe doctor with “a dirty knife and a folding table.” Then a real doctor is called and the girl is okay and everyone dances some more. The impression I got as a kid was that abortion was a tragic and sexy thing that pretty girls sometimes had to get because they were so desirable and awesome.

I don’t remember hearing anything about abortion from my church or my mom or my friends. I only heard about it from TV and movies, and it was always portrayed in the same light: a sad but necessary thing that boyfriends should pay for while wearing sheepish expressions. I ended up pro-choice until age 27, when I made a decision, based on little or no Chinese water torture by any Popes or Palins, that abortion was wrong and must be ended.

The best way to combat this stereotype is to share your own story. Let anti-lifers know the sound, rational, scientific and ethical reasons on which you base your pro-life activism. And don’t let your kids watch Dirty Dancing.

4. We’re violent.

This is my least favorite myth because it’s the least true. The pro-life movement is by definition an outcry against a violent act.

Eight people have been killed in the United States by anti-abortion protesters. Last I heard, they had all been caught and punished. Fifty million babies have been killed — legally — by abortionists since 1973. Yet we’re the side that gets called violent. Fifty million to eight… Those are pretty dramatic numbers. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s safer to be an abortionist than an unborn baby. Somebody somewhere is probably going to quote that in outrage, never mind the fact that is statistically 100% true.

The pro-life movement as a whole continuously and widely condemns acts of violence, yet anyone who professes a pro-life viewpoint is subject to being called a “clinic bomber.” Eight people — out of hundreds of millions — do not represent the movement, especially when their actions have been decried countless times.

If someone accuses you of belonging to a violent movement, remind them that since Roe v. Wade, every year an average of 1.2 million unborn children have been killed in the U.S., versus an average of two-tenths of an abortionist. The numbers don’t lie.

3. We’re all religious, conservative, and old.

There’s nothing wrong with being religious, conservative, or old, but it’s a mischaracterization. I am a conservative Catholic in my early 30s now, but when I became pro-life, I was a liberal agnostic in my 20s. While many — probably most — pro-lifers believe in some sort of deity, or at least in the human soul, not all of them do. The arguments that made me pro-life were grounded in science, ethics, and human rights. They had nothing to do with religion.

The friend who changed my mind knew better than to use a religious argument with me; I would have stopped listening. I was already wary because she was Catholic. I guess I thought she would sprinkle holy water on me while I wasn’t looking. But she didn’t. She just answered my questions — I had a lot of them — and by the end of the conversation I was, quite against my will, pro-life. I have remained so ever since.

I was also not a conservative, and many — including the friend I mentioned — remain pro-life and liberal or Democrat. The atheist, liberal New Yorker writer Nat Hentoff, after “coming out” as pro-life, experienced a backlash of negativity from fellow writers, intellectuals, atheists, Jews, and Democrats, but he stayed pro-life and a “civil libertarian” for the rest of his career.

A lot of people, when they think of pro-life activists, think of little old ladies saying the rosary outside a clinic. God bless those little old ladies and the work they do, but the truth is the pro-life movement is becoming a youth movement. Despite the fact that society in general seems to get more secular and less conservative, more and more young people oppose abortion. There is no consensus as to why, but it may have something to do with advancing science and technology. We know far more about the unborn human today than we did when Roe v. Wade was decided.

If someone tells you all pro-lifers are middle-aged white Christian Republicans, tell them they’re wrong — even if you are a middle-aged white Christian Republican. I have known pro-lifers of every age, color, religion, and political persuasion. If you don’t, try to get to know some. They’re everywhere! Check out Secular Pro-Life, Pagans for Life, or Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League. They may have a perspective you haven’t considered, which will help build your arsenal of pro-life knowledge and arguments, and make your parties more interesting.

2. We’re hypocrites if we oppose abortion but don’t oppose (fill in the blank).

Can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty? Yes. Can you be pro-life and support the war in Iraq? Yes. Can you be pro-life and eat meat? Yes.

You can’t compare these things to abortion. You can’t compare anything to abortion, except certain instances of euthanasia, which by the way are also covered under the pro-life umbrella.

Abortion is child murder. It’s the intentional killing of an innocent human being. And when I say “innocent,” I mean it in the most literal sense. I don’t mean “innocent” of murder, shoplifting, or appearing on “Jersey Shore,” though all of these are undeniably bad things. I mean completely innocent. The unborn child has never harmed a living soul. He did not cause his own existence. He did not ask to be conceived. He is brought to life and, in an abortion, he is killed, most often for the same reason he was conceived: because his mother made a choice.

No act compares to abortion in its heinousness. So don’t let anyone tell you that you must oppose the death penalty, or war, or meat if you are pro-life. Explain the difference between incidental death and intentional. Explain to them the difference between a cow and a human. Explain to them the difference between a convicted criminal and an unborn baby.

1. We have an ulterior motive.

This is the most common argument you will hear, and it honestly doesn’t even deserve the term “argument.” It is a non-argument. An argument would be, “Abortion is okay because the fetus isn’t human,” or “Abortion is okay because the unborn deserve no rights.” Those are arguments. They’re wrong, but they’re arguments. Instead, I am often accused of pretending to be against abortion when what I really want to do is one of the following:

Take all human rights away from women.

Stop everyone from having sex.

Encourage child abuse.

Make promiscuous girls feel bad about themselves.

And so on. So instead of saying, “Abortion should be legal because….,” the presenter of this “argument” says, “Well, you just want to enforce your Puritanical sexual values.” Or, “You just want people to have babies they can’t afford.” And so on.

Look. I’m gonna take this opportunity to come out with it: I am secretly okay with abortion. I honestly don’t mind if women go into clinics and pay doctors to suck their children out of them. What I’m really after, what I’ve really wanted all along, is to engage in “slut-shaming.”

This is my favorite non-argument ever. Written by “freelance journalist and stand-up comic” Amanda Grimes (whose graduate thesis was on “gender and stand-up comedy”), this blog made me literally wipe tears of laughter from my eyes. So she’s got the comedy part down! According to Grimes, pro-lifers aren’t really interested in saving lives. What they secretly want to do — wait for it — is make slutty girls feel bad about themselves. You heard me. The ulterior motive behind the pro-life movement, according to Andrea Grimes, is “slut-shaming.”

Ms. Grimes, if by “slut-shaming” you mean encouraging young women to behave in ways that will result in less pain for themselves, their children, and society, it is certainly on my list of reasons for opposing abortion. However, I hate to break it to you, reason number one is that I am actually nutso enough to believe in the sanctity of every human life. Sorry to disappoint. Now get back to that groundbreaking, totally relevant thesis!

By the way, for the record, you know what changed Grimes’s mind about abortion? I’ll let her say it in her own words:

Well, I got off my religious high horse and on to a sex life I enjoyed and found fulfilling.

That is… profound, isn’t it? She went to college, lost her virginity, and found out sex was fun! So then she discarded all the morals her parents went to the trouble to teach her, and ”went right the f*** out” and got on birth control, which, as it often does, led her to going right the eff out and feeling okay about abortion. “I believe wanting to take that choice away from others is deeply about shame and punishment and judgment, and not about righteousness and love.”

Guess what, Grimes? Just because you believe something about us doesn’t make it true.

So apparently, Ms. Grimes did not believe in the sanctity of life. She was merely having fun “slut-shaming.” But just because she didn’t have strong, factual, righteous, loving reasons for opposing abortion doesn’t mean that’s the case for you, or me, or any other pro-lifer.

Don’t let anyone assign you intentions that aren’t yours. We are pro-life because we care for women and their children. We are pro-life because we believe in human rights. Don’t give an inch when it comes to your reasons for opposing abortion.

If you engage in any kind of pro-life activism you are going to encounter resistance. Not all of it will be honest, pleasant, or fair. If they haven’t yet, people are going to assume things about you and assign you traits and beliefs that don’t belong to you. (We’ll get to the name calling in another article.)

Learn to politely, rationally, tell them why they’re wrong, and bring the issue back to what it’s really about: the reprehensible act of abortion, what it truly is, and why we have to stop it.

Reprinted with permission from LiveAction.org

 

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Science magazine retracts pro-gay study over phony data

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

LOS ANGELES, June 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A discredited paper that alleges LGBT activists can change the minds of traditional marriage supporters in one conversation has been formally retracted -- against the wishes of one of its authors.

On Thursday, the magazine Science said on its website that "with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green,” it is retracting the report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” which was published last December 12.

According to Science, "survey incentives were misrepresented." In the study, LaCour and Green said they had paid participants "to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys." However, Science said it "confirmed" with Green's co-author, Michael LaCour -- who has continued to defend the study -- that "no such payments were made."
Additionally, the paper misrepresented its financial sponsors. "In the report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true," said Science.

On Friday, Lacour released a lengthy statement in which he took "full responsibility for errors in the design, implementation, and data collection regarding the field experiments and panel survey reported" and apologized "for misrepresenting survey incentives and funding, though he also defended some of the survey's results.

"In fact, I received a grant offer from the Williams Institute, but never accepted the funds, the LA GLBT received funding from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund., and the Ford Foundation grant did not exist," said LaCour. Additionally, the grad student said that he "raffled Apple computers, tablets, and iPods to survey respondents as incentives. I located some of the receipts....Some of the raffle prizes were purchased for a previous experiment I conducted."

Science's final reason for retraction included the fact that "independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses. LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings."

According to LaCour, he destroyed data "in the interest of institutional requirements" at UCLA -- in other words, because that was the university's standard.

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The retraction follows more than a week of criticism that began when LaCour's co-author, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green, expressed concern about LaCour's work. Green said that the UCLA grad student's work comprised "an incredible mountain of fabrications with the most baroque and ornate ornamentation."

LaCour has maintained that the study, which was published in December 2014, should not be retracted, and his 23-page response to critics indicated that he has not changed his position.

In the meantime, LaCour has been accused of faking another study on media bias that BuzzFeed reports "was unpublished but frequently cited at scientific conferences." That study was privately critiqued by Emory University political science professor Gregory Martin a year ago. Martin decided to publicly report that criticism after the Science controversy arose. 

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James Matthew Wilson

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The joyful death of Catholic Ireland

James Matthew Wilson
By James Wilson

June 1, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- Do you remember the joke about the Irish brewery worker who drowned in a vat of suds? “Poor Sean,” the new widow said upon learning her husband’s fate, “He didn’t stand a chance.” “Oh, I wouldn’t say that, Mrs. Reilly,” replies the foreman. “He did crawl out three times to use the bathroom.”

The Republic of Ireland has just voted, by a commanding and unprecedented popular vote, to establish “gay marriage” in its territory. The world, and the Irish themselves, who generally look at themselves from the viewpoint of the foreigner in a sad kind of “double consciousness,” will not fail to read the message: “Catholic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with De Valera in the grave.”

The coverage of the vote holds it up as an occasion of joy, of national pride, of a new era in an old country. I am sure there are some who use these expressions sincerely. Modern westerners usually think of life in this world in therapeutic terms. Matters of what is sometimes called “private” morality are decided entirely in terms of the question, “How will this make me feel?” while matters of “public” morality are submitted to a utilitarian calculus the numbers of which are usually undefined or unsatisfactory, boiling down to something like, “How will such-and-such a measure affect public health?” These are the only questions one can ask, if one inhabits an impoverished world where goodness and truth, happiness and justice, are taken for mere “subjective” projections onto the wandering atoms of the universe. But this diagnosis is not my interest today, because it cannot wholly explain the queer elation in Dublin.

What I want to consider is the specific conditions in Ireland that led up to this moment. My account will be somewhat hobbled; though for a number of years I resided in Dublin regularly, I have not visited the country since 2007, and so learned of some of the more recent and traumatic events in Irish life only from the newspapers.

My days in Ireland began just after the peak of the so-called Celtic Tiger. The economy was expanding, the “ribbon effect,” or suburban sprawl was spreading out around Dublin and Galway, and the restaurants, bars, and hotels were staffed by immigrant workers, most of them from Eastern Europe.

My interest in Irish culture was incidental to begin with. I had fallen in love with the modern Irish poets, from Yeats to Mahon, for their formal dexterity. But I also loved God above all things, and viewed the love of country as little less sacred than the love of one’s father and mother. The Irish narrative of faith and fatherland, fought and died for, resonated with me and, I thought, provided an occasion to deepen my understanding of those loves. To study Irish literature, it seemed to me then, was to study the work of authors who lived and died for the sacred.

What I found in the Ireland of 2001 provided little occasion for dwelling on any of that “rubbish.” In the previous decade, the hierarchy of the Irish Church had been wracked with scandal. Its prestige had come to be viewed as hypocrisy and arrogance, its power as conceit and corruption. Regular Mass attendance had dropped from nearly 90 percent a few years prior to around 60 percent, and it continued to plunge in the years of my visits. If practice of the faith was plunging then, it has plummeted since. The churches were full on Sunday, then, now they sit empty, as if Dublin were Paris or New York.

I saw few signs of genuine piety, and the demeanors of the pious seemed passive and weary. The Irish saw well that prosperity had at last come to their land; it seemed to entail a giving up of both Irish folkways and the ancestral religion, and that was a bargain they were willing to make.

The political elite in Ireland had long since come to have more in common with their counterparts in other western European nations than with the supposedly backward sensibilities of the people they ruled. They clearly saw the embarrassment of the Church as something to be capitalized on to advance the secularization of the country—its normalization, you might say, within the post-Christian mainstream. A prime minister brought his concubine to dinner with the Archbishop; it created a sensation rather than a scandal. Where Nelson’s Pillar had once stood—blown up in a symbolic act of nationalism by the IRA in 1966—the Irish government had erected a “millennium spike.” It is just as bad and stupid as it sounds. I wrote about it thus in my first book of poems, one inspired by the Belfast poet Louis MacNeice:

Where Nelson’s Pisgah pillar pruned, then plumed,
They’ve propped a sterile spike up like an altar
To pious E.U. secularity.

Irish society never fully recovered from the Civil War that humiliated it in 1922-23. The internecine conflict was, as Thomas MacGreevy once wrote, a last humiliation by the British Empire, disillusioning Irish nationalism just at the moment when it had achieved something like victory—a modest independence called “home rule.” In the subsequent decades, Irish politics was marked by a persistence of nationalist ambition to make Ireland in actuality what it has long been regarded as being: a distinctively Catholic republic that would stand outside the main tendencies of western Europe toward secularization, economic liberalization, and, later, the welfare state.

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In this ambition, they succeeded. The Church enjoyed a central place in Irish public life; its charitable institutions served as a non-state agent to educate, heal, and care for the Irish people in lieu of public schools, hospitals, and other social services. The long-reigning Eamonn De Valera attempted a third-way economy—one founded on agriculture and autarchy, especially in regards to its powerful neighbor. This last was not a great achievement, though it was more successful than it would have been had the ranks of Ireland’s lower classes not already been emigrating in a continuous flow for most of the previous century.

The persistence of these nationalist ambitions should not surprise us, given the tremendous symbolic power generated in the decades before independence. Nonetheless, it was a waning influence from the beginning. In the 1950s, the Irish economy was liberalized and increasingly opened to the European market. That was sufficient to make most Irish conclude that their country was nothing special; it should rightly assume its place as a marginal junior player in the global economy. Economic liberalization led to secularization, or might have, were it not for a string of public controversies, including votes on abortion and divorce, that reminded many Irish of their distinctive self-image as a Catholic nation—much to the anguish of liberals, including the literati, who sought to show that the only thing distinctive about Ireland was that it was much worse than other countries.

It was the expansion of the Irish economy and the sex scandals in the Church in the 1990s that brought this long developing contempt for Irish exceptionalism to a head. It seemed to vindicate every accusation of Ireland as a backward backwater of hypocrisy. But this contempt for the past was softened by the unprecedented prosperity of the Celtic Tiger. The young were too busy earning money and spending it to have children much less to attend to the dissolution of Ireland’s Catholic culture.

When the global economy collapsed in 2008, Ireland was among the handful of worst-hit small countries.  Emigration increased to highs not seen for decades.  The time had come for reprisals. Their hopes for prosperity dashed, the Irish had few political options, and a future of bailouts and austerity imposed from abroad.  Enda Kenny was elected Prime Minister on a European liberal economic platform, but it soon became clear that his power could only be enhanced by taking Irish society in a leftward direction.  Every confrontation he staged with the Church, he won.  He was called brave for taking on such a venerable but hidebound institution in the name of truth and progress; but, indeed, how much bravery could it require to fight a battle he could not lose?  The disappointments of Irish society were increasingly expressed as contempt for the Church.

Year by year, government inquiries into sexual abuse within Church-run institutions, the physical abuses of those in the care of nuns and priests, and finally the supposed unearthing of mass graves of children on the properties of homes for unwed mothers. The stories themselves were increasingly distorted in the press, but nobody cared; the outrage and contempt only increased. To present oneself as a faithful Catholic in contemporary Ireland would require far more bravery than, say, to present oneself as a practitioner of sodomy.

For more than a century, the Irish had been told, had told themselves, that they were something distinctive in the history of Christendom. A Catholic nation that had persisted in the faith despite domination by a Protestant foreign power, the service of country and of God seemed almost as one. But, for just under a century, a nagging doubt had haunted such convictions. Ireland was insignificant: its dream of itself consequently stood in the way of its simply getting on as one more country on a continent that had long since lost its faith but had embraced the mundane contentment afforded by a liberalized economy, the welfare state, and a far more immanent horizon of beliefs.

Some scholars tell us that the gothic genre of story-telling grew up as a response to the Catholic Irish. A society that saw itself as enlightened, rational, secular, and modern suddenly found itself haunted by some frightful other, a ghoul, a return of the repressed: an avatar of superstitious, atavistic, arcane Catholicism. The Irish and Catholic response to such tales of Whiggery was easy: Catholicism “returns” not as the ravenous claw of the past reaching up from the grave to strangle the present, but as the truth, which never goes anywhere. Truth always asserts its inescapable claim on every person.

But what is one to do when that claw represents not simply the past, but also the future, the Catholic nation that Ireland was meant to become, but never quite did? What is one to do when the gothic monster is not something intruding from the depths beneath one’s society, but is, if anything, the institution that seemed to represent the most distinctive virtues of that society? Kill it, of course. Kill it, and take joy in the sport.

The joy with which the “gay marriage” referendum is being greeted not only in the streets of urban Dublin but across the whole country must surely be a complex emotion. Insofar as the Irish are just like most of us westerners, they are celebrating a new freedom of the will to assert itself without any moral prohibition. But the therapeutic triumphed long ago, and didn’t need Ireland to cement its victory.

The reason the Irish—as Irish—are celebrating is that they have with this referendum delivered a decisive and final blow to their venerable image as a Catholic nation. They have taken their vengeance on the Church. They must relish the unshackling; they must love the taste of blood. But, finally, they take joy in becoming what, it seems, they were always meant to become. An unexceptional country floating somewhere in the waters off a continent that has long since entered into cultural decline, demographic winter, and the petty and perpetual discontents that come free of charge to every people that lives for nothing much in particular.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine.

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Katie Yoder

Taxpayer-funded PBS pushes teaching sex ed to 4-year-olds

Katie Yoder
By Katie Yoder

June 1, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Watching PBS? Might want to ask the kindergartners to leave the room.

In a May 27 piece for tax-funded PBS, NewsHour producer Saskia de Melker argued “The case for starting sex education in kindergarten.” In her piece, she held up the Netherlands as an example for the United States in “sexuality education” – for those as young as 4-years-old to learn “honest conversations about love and relationships.”

To begin her piece, de Melker pointed to “Spring Fever” week in Dutch primary schools, or “the week of focused sex ed classes … for 4-year olds.”

“Of course, it’s not just for 4-year-olds,” she reassured about the Netherlands’ “comprehensive sex education.” “Eight-year-olds learn about self-image and gender stereotypes. Eleven-year-olds discuss sexual orientation and contraceptive options.”

She assured prudish Americans that, “You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class,” she wrote. “In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education.” (Funny, that’s not how her headline read.)

Citing Ineke van der Vlugt, who works on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, “the Dutch sexuality research institute behind the curriculum,” de Melker urged the program is “about having open, honest conversations about love and relationships.”

De Melker highlighted how Netherlands law requires all primary schools to teach “sexuality education” that must include “certain core principles” like “sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness.”

“The underlying principle is straightforward,” she wrote, “Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.”

And, according to de Melker, the approach works as the Netherlands “boasts some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health” with statistics on birth control, contraceptives, and sexual experiences.

“There are multiple factors that likely contribute to these numbers,” she hyped. “Easy access to contraception is one. Condoms, for example, are available in vending machines, and the birth control pill is free for anyone under age 21.”

De Melker provided more solid examples of just what kindergarteners learn.

“[S]tudents draw boys’ and girls’ bodies, tell stories about friends taking a bath together, and discuss who likes doing that and who doesn’t,” she wrote. “By the end of kindergarten, students are expected to be able to properly name body parts including genitals. They also learn about different types of families, what it means to be a good friend, and that a baby grows in a mother’s womb.”

11-year-olds, on the other hand learn to discuss “hypothetical situations” like:

  •  “You’re kissing someone and they start using their tongue which you don’t want.”

  •  “A girl starts dancing close to a guy at a party causing him to get an erection.”

  • “Your friend is showing off pornographic photos that make you feel uncomfortable.”

If a student thinks she’s a lesbian, some teachers, like Sabine Hasselaar, explain to the class, “It’s not strange for some girls to like other girls more than boys. It’s a feeling that you can’t change, just like being in love. The only difference is that it’s with someone that is the same sex as you.”

If you’re wondering where Dutch parents are in all this, it isn’t as though they’ve totally abdicated their responsibility to the state. Well, OK, it is. In fact, the schools teach them too.

“Parents nights are held to give parents tools to talk to their kids about sex,” and “Public health experts recommend that parents take cues from their kids.”

In other words, “if you walk in on your child masturbating, don’t react shocked; don’t punish or scold them,” she detailed. “Have a talk about where it is appropriate for such behavior to occur.”

While the U.S. is still far behind, de Melker encouraged that, in some places, “the tide is shifting toward an approach closer to that of the Dutch.”

Reprinted with permission from NewsBusters.

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