A Few Links Discussing the General Jackassery of Certain Liberals in re: the Late Gabriel Santorum

First, we have an column from Mark Steyn on the left’s pseudo-compassion:

The Left’s So-Called Empathy
@ the National Review

In 1996, the Santorums were told during the pregnancy that their baby had a fatal birth defect and would not survive more than a few hours outside the womb. So Gabriel was born, his parents bundled him, and held him, and baptized him. And two hours later he died. They decided to take his body back to the home he would never know. Weirdly enough, this crazy weird behavior is in line with the advice of the American Pregnancy Association, which says that “it is important for your family members to spend time with the baby” and “help them come to terms with their loss.”

Would I do it? Dunno. Hope I never have to find out. Many years ago, a friend of mine discovered in the final hours of labor that her child was dead but that she would still have to deliver him. I went round to visit her shortly after, not relishing the prospect but feeling that it was one of those things one was bound to do. I ditched the baby gift I’d bought a few days earlier but kept the flowers and chocolate. My friend had photographs of the dead newborn. What do you say? Oh, he’s got your face?

I was a callow pup in my early twenties, with no paternal instincts and no great empathetic capacity. But I understood that I was in the presence of someone who had undergone a profound and harrowing experience, one which it would be insanely arrogant for those of us not so ill-starred to judge.

There but for the grace of God go I, as we used to say.

Next, we have sympathetic response from a decent liberal, Charles Lane:

Rick Santorum’s baby — and mine
@ the Washington Post

I regret that, unlike the Santorums, who presented the body of their child to their children, we did not show Jonathan’s body to our other son, who was six years old at the time. When I told him what had happened, his first question was, “Well, where is the baby?” I tried to explain what a morgue is, and why the baby went there. It was awkward and unsatisfactory — too abstract. In hindsight, I was not protecting my son from a difficult conversation, I was protecting myself.

I’m not defending Rick Santorum the presidential candidate. From what little I know about him, he seems to have his own issues with moralizing and judging. To the extent he has used his family’s experience to make a point about abortion, I object.

But I am defending the right of the Santorums and all families to grieve an infant’s death in accordance with their personal needs and beliefs. My plea is for a little more respect regarding the way people deal with loss, and a little more maturity about physical contact with the dead. If that puts me in sympathy, for a moment, with this right-wing politician, so be it.

As one of Glenn Reynolds’ readers notes here, people used to prepare their own family members for burial as a matter of routine. Being in close proximity to death, in other words, used to be a fact of life. Now, however, we leave death to the professionals — and I think the result – i.e., the modern tendency to view spending one’s time in the presence of death as “weird” or “gross” – has fundamentally damaged our society on a spiritual level.

The people of earlier generations had a more balanced view of death, I think. Generally speaking, they didn’t rush towards it to escape pain (as our euthanasia enthusiasts are wont to do), nor did they try to avoid reminders of its inevitability through plastic surgery or other youth-defying fads. Moreover, they were more likely to respond appropriately to grief. Why? Because they encountered death on a regular basis and consequently came to terms with its reality.

Personally, I think the Santorums had the right idea. Their children needed to understand what had happened and why it was tragic — and like Charles Lane, I don’t think that understanding would’ve been achieved without the concrete experience bringing the baby home provided.

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