By Miguel De La Torre
There is no such thing as a “legitimate” rape, but despite my personal disagreement with Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s opinion, I defend his right to voice it and to stay in the race for the United States Senate.
In a democracy people are sometimes cursed with those they vote for, but not choosing wisely should never be an excuse to suspend the democratic process.
The people of Missouri voted for Akin to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent. That choice should not now be handed over to the Missouri Republican central committee.
Unlike totalitarian states where a central committee picks those who will lead, a guiding principle in this country is that the people choose. And that choice must be honored, no matter how poorly the people decide.
I am deeply concerned that the political establishment, along with their media outlet over at Fox News, is trying to push Akin out of the race. It would set a dangerous precedent for any political machine to invalidate an electoral process reflecting the will of the people.
Akin’s comment was more than a gaffe, and his wordsmithing leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, that which is in the heart comes out of the mouth. Regardless of one’s view on abortion, this really is an issue about women. There are men, and some women, who believe that some women are “legitimately” raped, while others fake it.
Therefore, I am happy to see many conservative Republicans reject and rebuff Akin’s reprehensible comments. Still, I am deeply disturbed by comments of support made by some, specifically the Family Research Council.
What other politicians are receiving funding from a political action committee that “fully and completely” supports Todd Akin? It’s easy to say that the Republicans are not waging a war on women, but it is hard to believe when some continue to receive their funds from anti-women organizations that confuse God’s design for family as patriarchal and hierarchical. Their oppressive focus on the family has no place in this new millennium.
When Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called for Akin to step down from the race, FRC President Tony Perkins responded in a way which revealed the unholy alliance between faith in God and earthly political maneuvering. He said, “[Scott] has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say.” For Perkins and the folks at FRC, Republican and conservative are equivalent to Christianity.
Christianity is abused and misused whenever we assume that a particular political persuasion is from God. Neither conservatives nor liberals, Republicans nor Democrats, are any more Christian because of how they vote. All sides, and every shade of gray in between, fall short of the glory of God.
What we can say is that there exists a theme throughout the biblical text that calls all to their full humanity and dignity. Jesus said, “I have come to give life and give life abundantly” (John 10:10). Whatever leads to greater life for humanity is more in line with God’s will than actions which bring death.
We all may, and will, disagree politically as to how this mandate to bring life is interpreted. For me, patriarchy brings death to women. Homophobic legislation brings death to my LGBT sisters and brothers. Tax laws which transfer the vast majority of this nation’s wealth to the richest 1 percent bring death to the poor. Neoliberalism brings death to the wretched of the earth.
No doubt my more conservative sisters and brothers may politically disagree, but that’s the beauty of a free society. We get to debate the issues, though the weak-minded prefer to conduct character assassination by questioning the faith or patriotism of those with whom they disagree.
Yes, Akin, as a candidate to the Senate, has a right to voice his opinion. All politicians should be as honest and open. It would make choosing candidates much easier.
No, he should not leave the race because he angered the political establishment who are more concerned with running the Senate than the will of the people.
Yes, the folks at Family Research Council have every right to support Akin.
No, FRC Action PAC cannot equate their support with the proper and correct Christian response.
And yes, as a doctor of the church of Jesus Christ, I have every right to claim that the assumption that some rapes are “legitimate” is contrary to the will of Christ, which remains that all should have life abundantly.