[Marxism] Sitting Shiva for Schiavo and America: a lynching in New Mexico

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Wed Mar 30 18:58:31 MST 2005

Fred Feldman makes diligent inquiry as to why and how I know that the
American Papist hierarchy is what's moving the Schiavo case. 

I actually didn't realize that there was any question on this. The
Schindlers SAY they talked extensively to their confessor before initiating
legal action and every step since then. Papist mouthpieces have been there
at the microphone every step of the way. The main argument presented to
refute the testimony of Michael Schiavo --and others-- that Terri expressed
her desire not to be kept alive artificially if her medical condition was
hopeless is that she could not possibly have said that given her faith, or
that if she did say it she could not possibly have meant it for that reason.
That's what the parents say, the titular protagonists of this whole

In a broader framework, this is clearly a campaign being waged by the
anti-abortion-rights movement. And even if protestant evangelicals tend to
be more out front on things like clinic bombings, assassinations of health
care professionals, terroristic threats, and even many press conferences and
demonstrations, it is the Catholic Church as an institution, because of its
social and economic power, and its ability to wield them coherently and in a
coordinated way, that is the real backbone of the "pro-life" movement. 

Put those two factors together, and the conclusions are inescapable. There
is no secret about the Papist cabal's role in this. 

Perhaps Fred missed it, I don't know. As for what Jack Barnes may have as
his sources, I don't know. Maybe a palantiri tied directly to the Eye. It
has nothing to do with me. It’s been twenty years since I laid mine own eyes
on that one-armed bandit.

When I first started working in a technologically advanced newsroom more
than a decade and a half ago, I sometimes felt like I had landed in
information Nirvana. I had at my fingertips not just the American, but all
the "western" wire service copy and some non-western also, notably Tass and
the non-aligned pool. I could see not just how U.S. networks were reporting
a story, but also how it was being presented in many other countries.

Today thanks to the Internet we all have something close to what I have at
work. I realize not everyone will have the privilege of getting to access
the material while being paid, thus "multitasking" for yourself and the
employer on the company's dime. But if you feel strongly that I've
misrepresented a point, you should be able to provide at least *some*
evidence of it within a few minutes with nothing more than google and a
dialup internet account.

Because if a suggestion like that which Fred makes here is being laid at my
feet, that I'm making this stuff up, I think it should be grounded on
something more than mere assertion or suspicion. 

Find the statements by the parents where they say they didn't talk to the
priests about this. Find the statements where they say their religion, and
those they look to as their religious authorities, have nothing to do with
this. Find the statements by the priests and bishops saying the Church is
staying strictly neutral. Show with facts and figures how little weight,
influence and property Roman Catholicism as an institution has in this
country. Go ahead.

Until then, I'll restate my conclusion based on what I've seen and read:
this case and its notoriety and the extraordinary resources, time and
attention poured into it, are the result of the Catholic Church and its
(all-male) hierarchy's vendetta against women. That is the organized social
and political force that has *driven* it. The Papist mafiosi --and it IS a
mafia-- were the prime instigators and movers and manipulators. Have others
played a role, even a prominent role, an important role? Sure. Could others
in the fetus fetish phalanx have propelled this case to such prominence?
Perhaps. But the reality is that it did happen a certain way, in which the
RC role was central.

*  *  *

Fred seems to be of the opinion that absent a current statement from her,
which is hardly to be expected, it is really *society* which is making a
decision about the course of her medical treatment, and he is in some
anguish about it. 

First, I disagree with Fred that the wishes she expressed when she was still
alive (in a meaningful sense of that word) should be disregarded. The state
of Florida's laws provide that such verbal expressions are valid indications
of the person's preference, and should be respected. That strikes me as
reasonable. The judge who heard the case, despite TONS of political pressure
from the other side, which resulted in the most extraordinary latitude being
afforded to counter-evidence and argument, made the evidentiary finding that
not being kept alive artificially in a hopeless situation is what she said
she wanted. The normal round of appeals plus several extra rounds added on
by pandering politicians have upheld the judge. 

But even if that were not the case, the question would then be: who speaks
for Terri now that she can no longer speak for herself, and has no prospect
of ever being able to speak for herself again? 

And I think the answer to that must be, the person she was sharing her life
with. Whatever we can say about marriage or couple-hood in general, or about
any individual couple, the truth is that the closest most significant bond
someone in such a relationship normally has is with their partner or spouse.
It may make no sense to have a society where people are driven to find
refuge and solace in such relationships, but the truth is we do have such a
society, and since we do, we should respect those choices when people make
them, which Terri Schiavo did.

Thus I reject, quite vehemently and categorically, that whether nature is
allowed to take its course with what remains of Terri Schiavo or whether she
is maintained "alive" artificially by forcing chemicals into a tube doctors
ripped her stomach apart to insert, is a decision "society" should make. I
believe that is a decision that is and must remain within the sphere of
individual freedom and autonomy. 

So if you deny or refuse to accept as definitive Terri's *own* statements as
they have been relayed in testimony, then I submit in *this* kind of
situation, with a person in a persistent vegetative state for more than a
decade, with no activity in the cerebral cortex, with everything medical
science knows saying definitively and categorically that there is no
treatment and no hope, that the decision on whether to continue to
artificially maintain her functioning as a vegetative biological organism
belongs to Michael, the person she chose as her spouse. Not her parents, not
her siblings, and certainly not the courts or the clergy, both of whom are
just robed reactionary stooges of the ruling rich.

*  *  *

Fred echoes Lueko and the Papist argument that this isn't a question of
being kept alive artificially by a machine like a respirator, but of being
denied food. As you can tell by the way I described the options above, I
think the claim is bunk. 

One can much more easily suggest that a feeding tube is a violent, invasive
and completely unnatural recourse to artificially maintain life (in contrast
to a respirator, which might merely use EXTERNAL air pressure to help air
flow through the organism in the normal way, in the same way that it has
been flowing since the day the person was born and every minute of their
life thereafter).

Unlike a respirator, where the gases supplied are just the normal, everyday
air, with at most some change in the concentration of one or another
component, but otherwise no change in their characteristics, or even in many
cases the path they travel in the body, the chemicals used in artificial
feeding through a tube are a laboratory concoction which none of us would
recognize as food or voluntarily ingest in a million years. The mouth,
teeth, tongue, saliva, throat and esophagus, with all the senses of touch,
smell and taste as well as the physicality of eating and drinking, are
completely bypassed. The physical integrity of the body is violated, it is
ripped open and a tube that's nothing like anything mother nature ever
designed is inserted directly into the stomach. 

If you hear these right-wingers talk on TV, you will hear them saying that,
unlike a respirator which mechanically PUMPS air into the person, Schiavo is
merely being allowed access to food and drink. The way they put it you'd
think the feeding tube suckles at a bag of lipids and amino acids the way a
baby suckles at her mother's breast. The truth: computer-determined
cocktails of life-sustaining chemicals are delivered by computer-controlled

Given the actual physical things involved, one can much more reasonably talk
about a person being "denied air" than being "denied food" in these two
cases. I don't suggest we do either -- but recognize that life is being
maintained artificially in either case, and that the decision to continue or
put a stop to such prolongation of life is one that lies entirely inside the
sphere of individual freedom and autonomy, and is not for the capitalist
state or the capitalist churches to dictate.

Fred then drags in all the "contextual" garbage that the media has roped
into this case to muddy the waters so that they may seem deep. Dr.
Kevorkian. "Quality of Life." Assisted suicide. Echoes and undertones of
everything from Soylent Green to Socrates and hemlock. None of this has
*anything* to do with Terri or Michael Schiavo. 

This is quite *typical* of the modern media feeding frenzy. Associations get
ripped apart and violently pushed back together in a mad, mindless rush to
random, meaningless entropy. 

That is so of necessity, for the idea is to keep a constant discussion of
the issue going. And the reason for this is the higher the ratings the
higher the profits. 

That’s why, outfits like CNN keep creative and/or twisted people around to
do "sidebars" --i.e., to drag into the discussion of the given case things
which even journalists recognize are basically not relevant. 

Like Dr. Death. This case is nothing like those which involved Kevorkian.
His patients were sentient, self-sustaining living organisms. Terri Schiavo
is neither.

This case is quite simply about extending state control over individuals.
That's what it has ALWAYS been about. The reason the Papist evangelical and
ultrarightist anti-abortion cabal, and their pandering politicians, have
pushed the parents’ position is to try to gain some purchase for the
anti-abortion campaign.

It is unfortunate that a number of comrades don't seem to be able to see
their way clear to taking a clear-cut position opposing the reactionary
forces that are manipulating this issue.

*  *  *

Fred also raises questions relating to the political sociology of this
issue, how Americans get dragged into the debate and so on, why it obsesses

I don't want to get into another whole discussion of that here. I am beyond
caring. I will merely repeat my opinion that U.S. society and culture are
profoundly sociopathic: the United States --not just its ruling class and
corporations or their state and government, but "America" viewed expansively
and as a whole-- is a profoundly predatory and anti-social organism.
Understand that and you will understand all. 

But know also that to understand all is not to forgive all -- not in this
case. For if America cannot be cured, it must be put down. For the sake of

As for the possibilities of a cure, I would not have said this a few years
ago, but this is what I think tonight: Terri Schiavo’s chances are higher on
her thirteenth day without food or hydration, and assuming there is no
government or divine intervention.

America is rabid with racism beyond any possible hope for redemption. It
must not be merely defeated: it must be destroyed.

Humanity’s chances of surviving this century may not be all that great, but
America’s chances are less than zero. She may destroy the world with her,
but at any rate, she will certainly destroy herself. 

I wrote about this here in the discussion about Germany and Nazism. 

The Germans at least have the decency to pretend to be ashamed of what was
done in the name of their nation and culture. 

Unlike them, America does not need a social crisis, dictatorship, press
censorship, or a Gestapo to commit genocide: it does so, organically, as a
matter of course, as an expression of her innermost nature and being.

*  *  *

Last Sunday -Easter Sunday-- at 3 a.m. in the morning, Fausto Arellano, a
single father of two boys, ages 11 and 16, was taken from his home, tied by
ropes to the back up a pickup truck, and dragged for a kilometer through the
main streets of Gallup, New Mexico, leaving a trail of flesh and blood that
still stain the roadway.

Finally the rope snapped or Arellano broke free. Someone called 911 and
Arellano was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in
Albuquerque, where he remains unconscious, in critical condition. 

An Associated Press dispatch quoted the Gallup police chief belaboring the
obvious: "Whoever was responsible for this definitely wanted to send a
serious message." 

And it pointed to the similarity to the Texas lynching of James Byrd, a
Black man, in 1998. "Three white men were convicted in the racial hate crime
that shocked the nation," the Associated Press reminded us.

How much such crimes “shock” the nation can be judged by how the Schiavo
case has been eclipsed by coverage of this attempted lynching.

This morning Gallup Police Chief Sylvester Stanley was back in the

“There's nothing at this point that would indicate that it is a hate crime,”
Stanley said. 

“In the year-and-a-half I've been in Gallup, we've not had any racial
tension that would indicate that we have a problem,” he said. 


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