Participation in the March for Life begins early as a rite of passage for members of the anti-choice community. As a child of Quiverfull parents, I remember attending local marches and vigils in middle school, with all my younger siblings present with me. Other families brought toddlers in strollers, babies carried in slings. We carried the gruesome signs made with photos of aborted fetal tissue and stood in front of the local Planned Parenthood.
It was a family affair because the issue at stake was, we were told, a human rights issue and we could all have been at risk of abortion ourselves. I had to care, because it could have been me on that panel.
On the March for Life website, the first slogan that appears is: “Abortion is the most significant human rights violation of our time. Do you want to take a stand? This framing is essential to ensure the longevity of the movement – it must be seen as a cause of human rights or civil rights in order to gain the support of Christians who want to be active citizens and patriots and who do not don’t know much about reality. the history of human rights abuses in the United States.
When I was a child, my parents chose a homeschooling program that framed US history as if Christians were the heroes: the slaughter of Indigenous peoples was presented as failed missionary efforts to stubborn people. and ungrateful; slavery was portrayed as benevolent but morally bankrupt; the founding fathers were upheld as paragons of moral excellence. This view of history centers whites and Christians as protagonists. Everyone is basically a secondary character.
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American history, when taught in this way, plays into the anti-choice agenda. My sense of myself as a participant in “pro-life” vigils and the March for Life was that I was committed to a civil rights movement, following in the footsteps of Christian activists like Martin Luther King Jr. , William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. . This perspective was necessary for me and the other protesters to continue to believe that we were on the side of good, on the side of the vulnerable, on the side of God.
There is a level of cultivated ignorance required for this belief. I had to be prevented from understanding the history of racism, the history of capitalism depriving medically vulnerable people of their rights, the history of sexual violence and patriarchal coercion of economically vulnerable people with wombs. To believe that I was participating in a crusade for good, I had to not understand the real history of the Christian empire imposing itself on those it had conquered.
Every month or so I learn just another way our history is riddled with abuse of power and legalized brutality.
The March for Life deliberately mimics the focus of the 1963 March on Washington, following a similar route, centering prayer and religious leaders as speakers. That’s not unusual for demonstrations held in Washington, DC, but as a kid, I didn’t know that. All I knew was that the images from the 1963 march looked like the images from the Marches for Life because that’s what my textbooks showed me as a parallel cause.
As the 2022 March for Life approaches, I reflect on how this approach to teaching history also parallels current debates about teaching history in public schools – the theory critical of race, or CRT, is Actually a term for a certain method of legal historical interpretation, but as a buzzword today it’s shorthand for something like “to learn that white people have oppressed the people of the world majority over the centuries “. Realizing the discrepancies between my childhood whitewashed history education and the real history of the United States is a process of deconstruction and active corrective education that has taken years and is far from complete. . Every month or so I learn just another way our history is riddled with abuse of power and legalized brutality.
If the panic of the CRT succeeds in censoring the pedagogy of history, there will be a whole generation of children who will have to re-educate themselves as I had to do. And since the same conservatives organizing the March for Life are also pushing the CRT Panic, it appears to be part of a strategy to resurrect the moral majority, which had originally coalesced around reaction. conservative at Roe v. Wade.
If kids think they’re part of a crusade for good because they don’t know what they don’t know, it will be easy to manipulate them into anti-choice activism, just like I was.