There’s been talk on the internet and in some of the media recently about the tactics being used by Lila Rose and her group, LiveAction, “a new-media movement for life!” As glad as I am to see Planned Parenthood exposed for the morally bankrupt organization they are, I’m not proud to see anyone on the pro-life side use morally questionable tactics to achieve this much-desired goal. After all, the ends do not justify the means. I am also loathe to see anyone using tactics recommended by the reprehensible Saul Alinsky in his Rules for Radicals, which is one long diatribe against morality if ever there was one. But perhaps this is not surprising given that until just a few months ago, LiveAction was recommending Alinsky’s book on their website.
I was so disturbed when I saw Rules listed on their site (see this post) that I immediately sent them an email. I received a reply informing me that they were well aware of what the book contained and that they not only recommended it but had learned a lot from it. I responded that, as Christians, the only thing we can learn from Alinsky’s handbook for organizing is that we should, in fact, organize, but not how. The representative who corresponded with me told me that they didn’t have a problem with it, Lila didn’t have a problem with it, he thanked me for my time and that was pretty much it.
But my interest didn’t end there. I removed LiveActions links from my site, with an explanation, and periodically checked back to see if the book was still recommended there. Why? Because I knew this was important and would become even more important as time went on. And it has. We cannot build a culture of life by using the tactics and means of the culture of death we seek to defeat and transform.
As Catholics we know better than to accept the fundamental Alinsky teaching: that anything goes as long as it gets you what you want. Here, I’ll let Alinsky speak for himself.
That perennial question, “Does the end justify the means?” is meaningless as it stands; the real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, “Does this particular end justify this particular means?” [Emphasis in the original.]
A Christian, a Catholic Christian, sees nothing wrong with this? Recommends it? And what about this?
The end is what you want and the means is how you get it…The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work.
This is about as morally bankrupt and corrupt as you can get. And in the very next sentence the author admits just that:
Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.
Politics of bedtime, huh? I am willing to believe that Mr. Alinsky’s childhood was one corrupting influence after another, based on what I know of his later years. And I’m willing to believe that he sincerely believed the garbage he spouted. But Lila Rose, as a Christian, as a Catholic Christian, at that, and any person of good will, should know that resisting corruption is part of life, part of being a human and spiritual being. That to do an evil thing that good may come of it is wrong. That the ends do not justify the means. That shortcuts in the area of ethics and morality, especially Alinsky-esque “quick and dirty” methods, hardly ever lead to the destination one ultimately desires.
After all, the Lord doesn’t ask us to win the war at any cost; but, rather, to fight the good fight and fight it well, trusting in Him, waiting on Him, leaving the victory, and the glory, to Him, for His plan will be fulfilled by Him in His own good time. Something we would do well to remember in these days of intensifying spiritual combat, lest we forget just Whose side we are on.