By now just about everyone has read or seen the interview with Rick Santorum in which he said, about President Obama’s support for abortion rights, “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we’re going to decide who are people and who are not people.'”
Not to make it Weigel day here or anything, but David Weigel’s assessment of Santorum’s statement as mainstream in the religious right touches on just one part of why Santorum’s remark resonates. Weigel writes:
Many pro-life activists consider their work a continuation of other movements that protected human life and elevated the status of people whom the law doesn’t consider “human.” In the 19th century, it was African-Americans; in the 21st century, it’s children in the womb. This is a common point at the annual March for Life. In 2009, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told activists at the pro-life event: “You are the new abolitionists. You are the new civil-rights movement.”
Jamelle Bouie rips into Santorum’s attempt to analogize abortion to slavery.
But I actually think Santorum is aiming to suggest something even more sinister about Obama’s support for abortion rights, rather than just claiming abortion as a conservative “civil rights” issue (for fetuses). The “black genocide” movement, which perpetuates the trope that Planned Parenthood, and abortion rights generally, were created to target black babies in particular, has been a way of attracting blacks to the anti-choice movement and to conservatism generally. When I read Santorum’s remark this morning, I couldn’t help but think that by expressing faux shock that a “black man” would support abortion rights, Santorum also is hinting that Obama is in league with a plot to kill black babies.