It’s always good when people take time out of their busy schedules to protest what they believe to be an injustice.
And the Cradle of Liberty, good old Philadelphia, is the place to be for protests of all kinds, as we saw last week.
On Tuesday, we had pro-life activists raising their voices in support of one of their own, Mark Houck. Six blocks away, there were Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, and other acronymed activists protesting at the Union League, a private club founded in 1862 in support of the policies of Abraham Lincoln.
The pro-lifers were there to support Houck, who was being prosecuted by the Department of Justice for having allegedly violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which prohibits violence and trespass at abortion clinics.
Not to get too deeply into the weeds, but this father of seven was protesting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2021 when clinic escort Bruce Love got in his face and started harassing Houck’s 12-year-old son. Houck’s push came to Love’s shove, so to speak, and the latter fell to the sidewalk.
According to public records, the escort suffered no injuries, but the DOJ decided to make an example of the pro-life activist and arrested him in an early morning raid in September.
Given the fact that it took almost a year from the time of the incident to the timing and manner of the arrest, one can only assume that this federal prosecution was Biden’s triggered response to the Dobbs decision in June.
Over six times as many people have been prosecuted under the FACE Act in 2022 as they were in the previous year, a number after Dobbs was decided. So, you do the math.
While folks were railing against the hypocrisy of the DOJ, which hasn’t been able to make much headway with those cases of vandalism against churches and bombing of pro-life clinics, the alphabet soup of social justice was having its say at the Union League.
When the League announced last fall that it was going to confer upon Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis its highest honor — The Lincoln Award — there was some dissent from members.
A number of them signed on to a letter asking that the League retract the award because of DeSantis’ brand of conservatism. Speaking as the daughter of a man who was a member of the League back in the 1970s at a time when women were not allowed to be members and had to enter through the back door of that magnificent building, I had to chuckle at the outrage.
Those who can afford the $6,000 annual membership fees clearly have the desire and means to belong to an exclusive club. And the League, while a wonderful Philadelphia institution, is not exactly the kind of place where you’d be wearing your Black Lives Matter T-shirt while sipping your legendary snapper soup.
If politics mean anything to the protesters, they should read up on their history. It was the League that raised the funds to help the Union win the Civil War, that helped support President Lincoln, and hosted some high-profile abolitionists. Sadly, the kind of folks who gathered at the base of that impressive stone staircase on Broad Street on Tuesday missed that part of the history lesson in high school.
They were probably out protesting in front of the cafeteria for vegan choices on the lunch menu.
You can tell from my tone that I am not impressed with the hullabaloo at the League. Part of that is because I share DeSantis’ views on just about everything from the need to keep sexual issues out of elementary grades to questioning the need for AP Classes in African American or Women’s History, when we cover those things in a class called, wait for it, AP History.
And of course, that is why I was at the other end of the city, protesting in favor of something that means the world to me: the protection of unborn human life, the real social justice movement.
And yet, I was happy to see the crowds with their signs at both gatherings, happy to know that even on a very cold day and under grayish skies, Philadelphians cared enough about things that mattered to them, and put their bodies on that invisible line.
To quote the late great Langston Hughes, who might have been heard at the Union League this Tuesday but who speaks, as well, for those of us at the federal courthouse:
I look at my own body / With eyes no longer blind — / And I see that my own hands can make / The world that’s in my mind. / Then let us hurry, comrades, / The road to find.
Copyright 2023 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].