- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Terri Schiavo case is a microcosm of 60 centuries of recorded human history, the story of man’s struggle to advance from tyranny to freedom. This struggle came to a head in the 20th century when the great killers set out markers regarding how they saw man’s worth.

Josef Stalin is reputed to have said, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Most historians hold him accountable for up to 50 million deaths.

In “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler described the unproductive disabled as “useless eaters.” History holds him accountable for euthanizing the physically and mentally disabled in Germany prior to World War II as a dress rehearsal for butchering the Jewish people. Along with Stalin, he is responsible for starting World War II and for the resultant deaths of untold millions.

Mao Tse-tung, a child of privilege, murdered perhaps 60 million Chinese and others to center all relevance in himself.

The United States was critical in rallying the Western world against fascism, militarism and Stalinism and destroying those evils. But the U.S. has its own checkered past. In 1857, the Supreme Court under Roger Taney, a Roman Catholic, sanctioned slavery on the individual level, saying it was constitutional for one man to own another.

That decision made the American Civil War necessary, the bloodiest civil war in human history and the first modern, industrial war. Even though the Civil War expunged slavery in the United States, the courts acquiesced in its successor, segregation, buttressed by Jim Crow laws of the post-Reconstruction era. Not until the 1950s did the Supreme Court begin breaking down segregation and forced inequality.

But it was Congress that really dealt the death blow to segregation through the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other similar laws. Truth be told, it is the nation’s elected officials who, by and large, have safeguarded American liberty.

Unlike the Founding Fathers, judges often see law as a matter of procedure and try to manage human affairs as if they were omnipotent. As a result they sometimes exclude justice, which is the application of love to human affairs and institutions.

Law is about what we can do, whereas justice is about what we should do. Law chooses between parties in contention without regard to morality; justice chooses between right and wrong.

Since the early 1970s, the Supreme Court has injected itself into the Constitution in ways the Founders never envisioned. In Roe v. Wade this hubris led the court to create law partly based on a now-acknowledged falsehood, that Norma McCorvey’s pregnancy resulted from rape, and decree that law valid nonetheless. Whenever this happens, tyranny shows its ugly face. Since 1973, 43 million innocent humans have been murdered, to the detriment of every American.

The Terri Schiavo case shows the effect of the callousness of Roe v. Wade on the other end of the spectrum of life. Sanctioned by the Supreme Court, we’ve been killing the inconvenient unborn for 32 years, and now we move to kill the inconvenient disabled. Soon we may become like decadent Europe: We will kill, or allow to die, anyone we find inconvenient or inconsequential. Then, we will have validated the evils we vanquished abroad and invited them into our homes.

If Terri Schiavo is allowed to die a court-demanded, ignominious death, one worse than would be permitted a death-row prisoner or a dog, it’s not just the disabled who are in danger. We all are. If the state can decree food and water, no matter how administered, are “extraordinary means,” we all exist at the whim of tyranny, with or without the veneer of legality. If there’s no justice for Terri, there’s no justice for any of us as we, inevitably, become inconvenient.

William Goldcamp, who has quadraplegia spastic cerebral palsy, is a diplomatic historian and former intelligence analyst.

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