Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be made of magic right now.
His recent tricks have included pulling a game-changing Iowa endorsement out of his hat and making debate moderators disappear, but there is perhaps nothing more astounding than the way he managed, with one statement, to turn hordes of internet liberals into pro-life warriors.
You read that right.
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, Cruz offered a statement that suggested, among other things, a military response to the Islamic State that includes more tolerance of collateral damage than our current rules of engagement allow.
"We must immediately recognize that our enemy is not ‘violent extremism.’ It is the radical Islamism that has declared jihad against the west. It will not be appeased by outreach or declarations of tolerance. It will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life. We must make it crystal clear that affiliation with ISIS and related terrorist groups brings with it the undying enmity of America—that it is, in effect, signing your own death warrant."
Predictably, librerals and left-libertarians exploded in outrage, decrying the statement and declaring that Ted Cruz wants to kill innocent civilians.
Scrolling through my news feed as the controversy unfolded, I stumbled across an old argument, repackaged for the express purpose of charging Cruz with hypocrisy.
"That's not very pro-life."
Now I've probably heard this really dumb argument a hundred times, usually drooled out by defenders of Planned Parenthood who get backed into a corner and are left desperately trying to equate wartime casualties and death row criminals to the profit-driven dismemberment of unborn children.
But this time someone decided to slip the premise into reverse and after several others took up the cry, I realized that the argument had once again earned a thorough debunking.
This undated image made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq, shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud, the child of Moroccan immigrants who grew up in the Belgian capital’s Molenbeek-Saint-Jean neighborhood, was identified by French authorities on Monday Nov. 16, 2015, as the presumed mastermind of the terror attacks last Friday in Paris that killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds more. (Militant Photo via AP)
Born 21 years after Roe v. Wade, I was raised in a staunchly pro-life family, and spent my childhood picking up trash on the side of a Florida road so that we could get the name and hotline of our local right to life chapter on an adopt-a-highway sign. We were at every annual life chain event, and were fans of Randall Terry's Operation Rescue.
My earliest political involvement was fighting for the rights of the unborn, and when I joined the Ron Paul campaign as a volunteer in the fall of 2011, one of the first battles I took up was defending his sterling pro-life record against attack.
My activism pales in comparison to that of my wife, who as a teenager began volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers, and whose passion for protecting innocent life has made her a leader in the Iowa pro-life movement.
Needless to say, both of us recoil from the suggestion that we cannot believe in the sanctity of life without condemning all war and capital punishment. In fact, it is that very passion for defending innocent life that finds us agreeing with Sen. Cruz in calling for violent military action against the Islamic State.
I want to be very clear here. I believe in the absolute sanctity of human life, and that's why I support the killing of every single member of the Islamic State, as well as anyone who aids and abets them.
Now don't get me wrong - there is no part of me that takes pleasure in the death of anyone, no matter how evil they may be. But I do rejoice in the administration of justice, as justice is one of the most fundamental virtues upon which any free society rests.
Those who throw poorly-thought-out catchphrases like "violence begets violence" in an attempt to deflect retribution seem to recognize the value of the lives of the aggressors, but forget the value of the innocent victims who suffered at their hands. Every single one of the 129 innocents killed in the Paris attacks were valuable. Their lives were sacred. They mattered.
Each sobbing, desperate victim that Islamic State has shot, beheaded, or burned alive has a story of their own. They are more than article headlines or campaign rhetoric. They were born, they grew, they smiled, the loved, they suffered, they died. Just like us.
If life were not precious, their losses could be swept aside for the sake of convenience, and similar future murders tolerated with the rationale that stopping them would require more killing. That's unconscionable.
Iraqi men inspect charred vehicles at a parking-lot at the Beirut Square, east of the capital Baghdad, following an explosion on June 24, 2015. Elsewhere, in the city of Baquba a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a gathering of Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders, killing at least 14 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Getty Images/Ahmad al-Rubaye)
Life is precious; and because life is precious, justice is also precious.
Good people have a responsibility to stand against evil and deliver the innocent. Sometimes that's a philosophical struggle, like the fight over abortion; a war of ideas and laws that can span decades.
But sometimes, it just means killing the bad guys before they kill anyone else.
When the Axis Powers declared war on the United States in 1941, good people didn't sit around trying to figure out if we had the moral authority to resist. We didn't trade the Nazis into surrender, or charm the Japanese imperialists into eventual alliance.
We killed them.
We crushed their militaries, we destroyed their industries, we bombed their cities, we broke their will to fight, and we forced unconditional surrender.
We didn't do this because millions of American just woke up one morning and decided it was a good day to kill Japanese people. We did it because we believed in the sanctity of each innocent life lost at Pearl Harbor, and because we understood that the idea of inalienable rights comes with an unspoken condition: one who violates the rights of another, forfeits their own.
Reciprocity is not a devaluing of life, it is in fact the ultimate acknowledgement of the value of each and every innocent life.
None of us believe the United States should target civilians in warfare, but we must also acknowledge that civilians inevitably form an integral part of any war effort.
If you are a civilian giving shelter or assistance to Islamic State fighters, you should absolutely fear for your life - whether you take up arms with them or not.
Civilians killed by our attempts to destroy the Islamic State are not the victims of unwarranted American aggression - they are the victims of Islamic militants who deliberately target our civilians while using their own as human shields.
Sen. Cruz is right, we must abandon the zero-tolerance policies that have crippled our war effort against the Islamic State - not because we do not value the lives of the Iraqi civilians we spent the last decade liberating, but because we do value the lives of the victims of Islamic State.
Thus, those committed to defending innocent life must be prepared to escort members of this violent islamofacist tribe directly to the gates of hell before they can further damage the life, liberty, and property of more innocent people.
We must confront and destroy the Islamic State, not because we take joy in their demise, but because their destruction has become necessary to secure the peace and security of our own civilians.
And to that end, pro-life Americans will join the fight.
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