The Book of Judges has a curious story about a fight between the men of Gilead and the men of Ephraim. After the battle the fugitives of Ephraim attempted to cross the fords of the Jordan River but were stopped by warriors from Gilead and presented a challenge:
And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right.
Today, the term shibboleth is used to refer to a word or phrase that can be used to distinguish members of a group from outsiders. It can also be used to refer to customs, practices, or cultural touchstones that identify a person as being a member of a particular group.
For example, I have my own shibboleth that I used to identify members of the class, Civilized Human Beings. I call it the infanticide shibboleth. Opposing the blatant killing of human infants is admittedly a low bar of entry. But I figure you have to start somewhere.
Regrettably, the current Democratic nominee for President may not meet this minimal standard.
Of course most people–including Senator Obama–would say they oppose infanticide. This is why it would be necessary to present them with a test. For instance, I would ask them to read this description of the procedure known as “intact dilation and extraction”, commonly referred to as “partial-birth abortion.” I would also ask them if they thought that a baby that had survived a late-term abortion should be killed after it was outside the mother’s womb.
After asking those questions I would gauge their reaction. If they recoiled in horror at the mere mentions of such actions I would warmly welcome them as fellow Civilized Human Beings. But how should I classify the moral prevaricators who would attempt to justify such atrocities? And what about a politician who voted in favor of protecting partial-birth abortion and voted against protecting born-alive infants?
Which brings us back to Sen. Obama. In 2002, as an Illinois legislator, Obama voted against the Induced Infant Liability Act, which would have protected babies that survived late-term abortions. The bill sought to protect babies who survived premature inducement for the purpose of abortion and would have given them the same rights as babies who were born prematurely and given live-saving medical attention. The bill was so commonsensical than even NARAL Pro-Choice America did not oppose its passage.
My friend Jill Stanek, a registered delivery-ward nurse who became the primary champion behind the legislation after she witnessed aborted babies’ being born alive and left to die, testified twice before Obama in support of the Induced Infant Liability Act. She told reporter Amanda Carpenter that her testimony “did not faze” Obama.
To earn my vote a politician must pass my dignity litmus test. Obama, like many Republicans and almost all Democrats, fails to meet that standard. But to earn my recognition of you as a fellow civilized human being a person simply has to oppose crushing the heads of infants. Sadly, Obama fails to meet that standard too.
Maybe something is lost in translation, or perhaps I simply speak a different dialect. But whenever I hear people describe Obama as an “inspiring speaker” I only hear the words “infanticide apologist” echo in my ears.