‘The Economist’ shames itself by extolling American door knockers for abortion

This week’s issue of The Economist, the world’s most respected news magazine, features the iconic Rosie-the-Riveter under the headline “Meet America’s Most Dynamic Political Movement”.

Intriguing. What’s old Rosie up to now, 80 years after D-Day?  

It turns out that The Economist is touting abortion activism -- not just as the most dynamic, but as the noblest, bravest, most altruistic, most democratic movement in the US in 2024. Its leader (editorial) describes it as: “a revolt of millions of Americans who think government has little business inserting itself into private decisions … [a] movement [that] will restore or fortify the freedom to choose.”

Mercator never has and never will support abortion. But it has been debated for half a century and there are arguments on both sides. In such a controversial issue, the business of the mainstream media is to report on both and to assess them in its editorial columns.  

What The Economist has done is to step over the red line separating opinion from propaganda. At least on the topic of abortion, it has become more like China’s Global Times or Russia’s RT News.

The difference between the two lies in acknowledging the possibility, however remote, that the other guys might be right. And this The Economist does not do. A classic definition of “propaganda” notes that “to maximize effect, [the propagandist] may omit or distort pertinent facts or simply lie, and they may try to divert the attention of the reactors (the people they are trying to sway) from everything but their own propaganda.”

In its cover story, The Economist ignores completely the possibility that there is another side to the story. Those heroic women with clipboards collecting signatures for abortion amendments are foot soldiers battling mysterious aliens. We learn nothing about how many of these malignant beings exist (at least half of America), or why they oppose abortion (human rights), or whether they are women (half are), or whether they are the privileged elite (the poorer and less educated they are, the more likely they are to be pro-life).They have been cancelled.

The magazine’s lack of curiosity is scandalous.

 

 

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Propaganda differs from opinion in at least four ways:

• Propaganda always begs the question. In other words, it assumes that its conclusion is correct before commencing the argument. In this case, The Economist assumes that abortion is not merely morally neutral, but bold and virtuous.

• Propaganda always ignores the central issue. In this case it is the ethical status of abortion, which is killing a baby. Assume, for the sake of argument, that it may be necessary for some women. But it is pure propaganda to treat the three-syllable word “abortion” as if it were as innocuous as “bananas” or “cheeseburger”.

• Propaganda is always selective. Rather than confront opposing ideas, it ignores them. G.K. Chesterton captured this strategy well as long ago as 1909: “[News] may be so selected as to give a totally false picture of the place or topic under dispute. Selection is the fine art of falsity. Tennyson put it very feebly and inadequately when he said that the blackest of lies is the lie that is half a truth. The blackest of lies is the lie that is entirely a truth. Once give me the right to pick out anything and I shall not need to invent anything.”

• Propaganda always idealises supporters as heroic. Just have a look at Russian advertisements recruiting men for its “special military operation” in Ukraine. In The Economist’s feature, not only is Rosie the Riveter flexing her biceps defiantly against a 2024 enemy every bit as evil as the Nazis, but it portrays abortion activists as brave, generous supporters of grassroots democracy.

• Propaganda always assumes that its ideology is self-evidently true. In this case, The Economist, as Mercator has often pointed out, esteems autonomy as the highest of moral values. Even within this bleak and solipsistic framework, this ignores the fact that a foetus (or baby) has competing interests.

A newspaper or magazine loses credibility if its journalists fail to ask obvious questions. In this case The Economist praises “America’s Most Dynamic Political Movement” for organising an army of grassroots volunteers to canvass for abortion rights legislation. These are people:

giving up their weekends and evenings to try to persuade their neighbours of an idea they hold deeply. It is participatory and local, the kind of thing that de Tocqueville raved about after visiting the country back in 1831. It is how democracy in America is supposed to work.

Who could deny that many supporters of abortion rights are passionate? But are all these door-knockers genuine volunteers? Planned Parenthood is spending millions to promote pro-abortion politics this year.

A jobs website in North Carolina, for instance, is recruiting for PP:

We are currently hiring campaign staff to canvass door-to-door on behalf of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic to rally the vote for candidates who will protect our right to make our own decisions and keep the government out of our health care … All positions run through November 5th with possibilities for continued work afterwards. Shifts run between 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM with the possibility to work part-time or full-time.

Get paid well! Canvass positions start at $20/hour base pay. Leadership positions earn up to $21.50/hour. In addition, we offer overtime pay, paid training, sick pay, and bonuses.

Most dynamic political movement? Or best paid political movement? We deserve to know. Isn’t it the job of The Economist to ask challenging questions like this?

By publishing mawkish propaganda about abortion, The Economist is prostituting its stellar journalism. If it's prepared to bend its ethical standards on the issue of abortion, whom will it be shilling for next? Ukraine? Russia? Hamas? Israel? Big Tech? Big Pharma?  


Does the mainstream media report abortion politics fairly? Forward this article to your friends!


Michael Cook is editor of Mercator  

Image credit: Bigstock   


 

Showing 26 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    Miss Susan, feticide is a crime & a human rights violation. Acknowledging that does not require religion. Just as civil rights activists & abolitionists were not required to be people of faith.
    Faith is a very good thing & those who champion human rights causes are often believers, but it’s not a requirement.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-12 00:16:51 +1000
    Steven, you are making many points, so I reply in many parentheses (note not all of my original points were covered by you)

    " Lunch counters may be private property but they are intended to be open to the public. Since Blacks are part of the public, excluding them is a denial of equal rights based on race. The premises of a private abortion clinic are not intended to be open to the public. (the premises of those premises are the production of dead babies, in other words. prolifers seek to sit beside the victim as a nonviolent witness to the inhumanity of abortion as the lunch counter sitters sought to witness to the inhumanity of racial discrimination) They are intended to be open to staff and women seeking abortions. (Presumably also open to info seekers about abortion. )

    But even in the case of lunch counters, what do you suppose would happen to vegan Christians made a nuisance of themselves by praying over customers enjoying a burger? (The correct analogy would be someone advising against an objectively poisonous ingredient) They’d be kicked out is what would happen. Lunch counters are intended to be open to the public for the purpose of having lunch, not praying. The cases are not comparable. (Now it is you who is avoiding literal interpretation of your own words. The whole lunch counter analogy was started after you said: “Entering private premises without permission is a crime.” But you expect me to interpret “all men are created equal” to a literal man ) I don’t understand how either of you could have thought they were. Your (I argue it is for all nations, including the post forced abortion Chinese woman whose fetal sac is kindly left beside her in bed)

    declaration of independence actually says: “…all men are created equal…” You interpret this to include women. It’s an interpretation placed on the words. If I take them literally I would have to say women are excluded. (You and Jeff Davis (he excluded blacks from same))

    So what does “created” mean? When is the process of creation completed? I could argue that foetal development is the process of creation of a man or woman and this process is nowhere near complete during the first trimester. I don’t see how an entity with no thalamocortical connections to sensory organs, no myelin sheaths on the nerves, to name but a few things lacking, can possibly regarded as an actual man or woman deserving of protection of the law. (That child was conceived by marital embrace and has a right to that atom thin connection to its act of creation. Or, conceived of a not so marital embrace but not his fault and deserving a connection nevertheless to the mystic embrace which created, and is adumbrated by, the marital embrace)
    (where do you draw line if not at conception. Any intermediate paves way for euthanasia. How do we know you are not, right now, still in the process of being created (and therefore vulnerable to being aborted?) )

    You are simply trying to make a non-religious argument against abortion. There isn’t one. Anyway this is moot. So far as I know your (it is everyone’s in gulags everywhere)

    Declaration of Independence was never cited in Dobbs. (Exactly as I predicted. That dearth of Declaration is the defect in Dobbs. As I argue at momanddadmatters substack, president warp speed is far from “most prolife president ever”, was arguably a Democrat trojan horse plant, is about to rape the GOP platform with respect to abortion and ssm, and we need a better GOP choice to celebrated “created equal”s birthday in 2026. )

    The question was whether abortion law was for the states to decide and the decision was probably the constitutionally correct one. Lennart Nilsson? Irrelevant since SCOTUS did not ban abortion. It simply said, as a matter of constitutional law, that it was a matter for the states to decide. Lennart Nilsson and God? Again, irrelevant. I am not arguing about the existence of God. I am simply stating, as a matter of plain fact, that you cannot demonstrate any link between God, assuming such exists, and your concept of God and so-called “holy texts”. None whatsoever. It is quite possible that God exists and regards your religious pretensions as folly. I cannot emphasise this strongly enough. You cannot demonstrate any link whatsoever between the “Christian God” and Christian sacred texts and the actual creator of the universe assuming such an entity exists (that link is the Incarnation, to which we date all time).

    None! In the end you are asking people to conform to certain behaviours based on ideas about a creator that, so far as anyone can tell, exists only in your imaginations. (So too said the slaveholders) (The early martyrs, who were in a position to know the truth of Resurrection, testified with their lives.)

    ( Christians were able to roll back slavery several times (ancient and Lincoln) in favor of imago dei.)

    (Just listen to “the Epistle of Diognetus” (2nd cent), speaking of Christians: "Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
    They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven.)

    Is this a reasonable expectation? Seriously, is it? (They said that abolition of slavery, too, was unthinkable)
  • mrscracker
    You know, the comments here illustrate the point that we select which protests to harshly punish based upon how they oppose our own ideology.
    However noble or ignoble the cause, simple trespass or loitering can be charged and enforced locally as misdemeanors.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-06-11 12:49:45 +1000
    Susan Rohrbach and mrscracker.

    Lunch counters may be private property but they are intended to be open to the public. Since Blacks are part of the public, excluding them is a denial of equal rights based on race.

    The premises of a private abortion clinic are not intended to be open to the public. They are intended to be open to staff and women seeking abortions.

    But even in the case of lunch counters, what do you suppose would happen to vegan Christians made a nuisance of themselves by praying over customers enjoying a burger?

    They’d be kicked out is what would happen. Lunch counters are intended to be open to the public for the purpose of having lunch, not praying.

    The cases are not comparable.

    I don’t understand how either of you could have thought they were.

    Your declaration of independence actually says: “…all men are created equal…”

    You interpret this to include women. It’s an interpretation placed on the words. If I take them literally I would have to say women are excluded.

    So what does “created” mean? When is the process of creation completed?

    I could argue that foetal development is the process of creation of a man or woman and this process is nowhere near complete during the first trimester. I don’t see how an entity with no thalamocortical connections to sensory organs, no myelin sheaths on the nerves, to name but a few things lacking, can possibly regarded as an actual man or woman deserving of protection of the law.

    You are simply trying to make a non-religious argument against abortion. There isn’t one.

    Anyway this is moot. So far as I know your Declaration of Independence was never cited in Dobbs. The question was whether abortion law was for the states to decide and the decision was probably the constitutionally correct one.

    Lennart Nilsson?

    Irrelevant since SCOTUS did not ban abortion. It simply said, as a matter of constitutional law, that it was a matter for the states to decide.

    Lennart Nilsson and God?

    Again, irrelevant. I am not arguing about the existence of God. I am simply stating, as a matter of plain fact, that you cannot demonstrate any link between God, assuming such exists, and your concept of God and so-called “holy texts”.

    None whatsoever. It is quite possible that God exists and regards your religious pretensions as folly.

    I cannot emphasise this strongly enough. You cannot demonstrate any link whatsoever between the “Christian God” and Christian sacred texts and the actual creator of the universe assuming such an entity exists.

    None!

    In the end you are asking people to conform to certain behaviours based on ideas about a creator that, so far as anyone can tell, exists only in your imaginations.

    Is this a reasonable expectation?

    Seriously, is it?
  • mrscracker
    It’s a good point Miss Susan. We can pick & choose which protestors should be harshly punished according to how their cause matches up with our own ideology.
    Trespassing laws are on the books for every US municipality & would be more reasonably enforced by local police agencies. Bringing federal agencies into the equation is heavy handed & politically motivated.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-10 19:45:52 +1000
    Steven,
    ’Entering private premises without permission is a crime. I have no sympathy with people who are jailed for doing that no matter how peaceful their intentions. The fact that they only intended to pray is no excuse.*

    Would you say that about the lunch counter sitters?

    Every civil law presupposes some cosmic notion of right and wrong – our own founding document, the Declaration, recognized inalienable rights , among which are life and liberty. It was because slaveholders disputed the application of that principle to their own practice of enslavement that slavery was tolerated for so long. To me, that seems like deliberate blindness, but it was aided by local governments (via “slave patrols”) that backed up that schizophrenia. Fortunately, the civil war finally resolved this issue in favor of the truth that “all men are created equal” applied to blacks as well. Lincoln very clearly appealed to the existence of God in allowing the sacrifice of union soldiers to end this disregard for the equality of black and white people.

    There should not have to be further bloodshed to prove the application to that other inalienable right (life) And note the Declaration very carefully says “created” equal (not “born”). What other boundary could there be but the fusion of sperm with egg to “create” a new individual with a unique complement of dna? That was when you became you

    Previous generations could be forgiven ignorance of the biophysical chemistry of fertilization but we have no excuse. And in fact, the beautiful pages of Lennart Nilsson (which ought to convince you there is a God) were available to the Roe v Wade Judges, so they really had no excuse, just as Roger B. Taney had no excuse.

    Perhaps my biggest reason to oppose abortion is seeing what it has done to men in exploiting and then abandoning women. What it really winds up being is a man’s right to have abortion erase the consequences of his unbridled lust. (Which Bible has much to say on btw)

    To bring this full circle to today’s Rosie Riveters. The heavy media celebration of feminism has tended to push more women into nonstop careers that feel disrupted by the unanticipated pregnancy. They may feel they are letting employers down by dropping out to mother. And in a way they are… employers shouldn’t have to worry about footing the cost of on again off again employees. That is the reason sex should never have been added to the 1964 civil rights act, eclipsing the issue of race. The effect of that act was to flood the labor market with women, taking away the jobs from black men almost as soon as they won them. That along with welfare has had extremely negative effects on the black family. (A good book on this is “Masters of the Dream”, by Alan Keyes).

    So my point is men should not feel so sanguine about un consented sex (and there’s an argument for “I do” as consent). And even within “I do” there should be a consciousness about the awesome nature of the sexual act. Read Humanae Vitae and see how prescient it was to predict for example, the forced abortions of China, coming soon to a country near you.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-06-10 15:33:01 +1000
    Susan Rohrbach

    You obviously feel strongly about abortion. I’m guessing you identify as a Christian and believe your God has decreed abortion as a sin akin to murder.

    In other words, you believe abortion = murder of babies.

    I am not going to argue with you. You are welcome to your beliefs and you are free to try and persuade others that your beliefs are correct.

    However I do not believe your God even exists. I’ve never seen the slightest evidence for his existence.

    If the universe does have a creator I doubt he, she or it has anything to do with any of your sacred texts.

    I outright deny your right to demand that other people conform to the behaviour demanded by your beliefs no matter how strongly you feel about them.

    When it comes to abortion, I don’t like it. I would love to see a world in which no woman feels compelled to undergo an abortion for economic reasons.

    But, in the end, it really is “my body, my choice” within reason.

    So what is “reason”?

    Most abortions occur within the first trimester and religious doctrines such as “ensoulment at conception” aside, I do not see how anyone can regard a foetus at that early stage of development as being sufficiently developed to be regarded as a person deserving of the protection of the law. At that stage the brain has not developed sufficiently to eg start reflexes such as chest movement or swallowing. The nerves have not even been encased in myelin. The connections from sense organs to the thalamus/cortex do not develop until 22-24 weeks so it is dubious that the foetus can even be regarded as a conscious being during the first trimester.

    I’d say an abortion within the first trimester has the moral weight of a haircut.

    To me a reasonable cut off for abortions would be prior to 22 weeks, before the connection from sense organs to thalamus occurs.

    However, the right to life is not absolute. If it is a case of the pregnant woman or the foetus I see no reason why it is the mother who has to be sacrificed.

    I’m not pointing all this out to persuade you. I’m simply try to explain why I, and people like me who do not believe in the existence of your God, think the way we do,

    The only thing that would change my mind is evidence that your version of God exists and regards abortion as murder.

    For what it’s worth, abortion per se is never mentioned in the bible. What evidence there is suggests that the killing of a foetus at any stage is not regarded as murder though it may give rise to a civil claim. (Exodus 21:22-23, the translation “fatality” most likely refers to the mother dying, not the foetus)

    I don’t expect this to convince you. I’m simply pointing out that even within what you regard as “holy text” there is some ambiguity. Incidentally, Exodus 21:17 reads:

    “And one who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

    No room for ambiguity there. Do you wish to see that enforced as well? If not, why not?

    Entering private premises without permission is a crime. I have no sympathy with people who are jailed for doing that no matter how peaceful their intentions. The fact that they only intended to pray is no excuse.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-10 10:22:50 +1000
    David you are correct that they entered and blocked clinic doors. I don’t see where they were violent, please link (that would obviously be counter to their pledge to nonviolent resistance.)

    This is what FACE punishes:“According to the DOJ, a person is guilty if he or she engages in “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with an individual’s right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services” so mere “interference” (a la civil rights protest/blockade) is punished.

    But I had confused these inside nonviolent but blockading protestors (jailed for years) with outside pray-ers (arrested at times as well though not as severe punishment) and thank you for the correction.

    The point stands, though that every abortion deals out violence, the guilt of which can induce a type of abortion derangement syndrome which*has* caused additional violence motivated by guilt (I can supply links), Churches and families at home, especially Mom’s and children are prudent to feel a threat from abortion “door knockers”, especially should they say the “wrong thing” to them.

    My mother was a Rosie, too but was glad to return home after war, along with her friends and let their sole breadwinners have the jobs
  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-10 09:11:32 +1000
    My Aunt was a Rosie-the-riveter at the Hingham shipyard in WWII. It was good money, made possible by the labor shortages that always accompany war.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-10 08:52:31 +1000
    Susan, the only person ‘jailed for years’ led a violent invasion of a clinic. She wasn’t jailed for praying. People were injured.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-09 17:37:45 +1000
    The “crazed Rosie” depiction is entirely suitable given the derangement the act of aborting one’s children imposes on self. And the tendency to work out that guilt by attacking the symbols of the more virtuous life (moms and babies in their homes) is a nonfiction representation of today’s society.

    The irony of jailing pro-lifers praying at the entrance to the abortion clinic for years (MLK only jailed for 11days!) vs abortion promoters literally knocking on the entrance to the private home is simply too exquisite! Are these door knockers looking for honest dialogue? Their method of problem solving is simply too brutal to give them credibility in that domain. More like the way their grandparents (via sanger) the KKK went about things.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-06-09 14:11:34 +1000
    It could equally well have done it by having Rosie doing door knocks and confronting bewildered looking people.

    It did not have to depict a crazed Rosie terrifying women and children.

    This is a choice the cartoonist made.
  • James Dougall
    Steven Meyer, the cartoon heading this piece clearly is satirizing The Economist’s frontcover usage of the icon Rosie the riverter.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-06-09 12:29:28 +1000
    Let’s take an example of propaganda:

    The bare facts.

    Rockets from Gaza landed on Israel.

    Two hours later rockets from Israeli fighter jets landed on Gaza.

    The Israeli Government reported no casualties. Hamas made no report about casualties.

    Two Australia TV stations covered the incident. In both cases it was the second headline. Both stations used almost identical wording which they seemed to have taken from a wire service. The language was fairly neutral. If you confined yourself to reading the transcript you would say the coverage was identical and factual.

    However, one station opened with a few seconds of Israelis rushing for cover with their children to the sound of blaring sirens.

    The other opened with ambulances pulling up at a Gaza hospital, also to the sound of sirens.

    Obviously the emotional impact of the two reports was very different.

    However, it gets more interesting. Both stations were using stock footage. Neither station’s video was actual coverage of the events of the day although viewers probably thought it was.

    What is more, both stations added the sounds of sirens which was not part of the original footage.

    In other words, both stations were engaging in propaganda while appearing to be covering the events objectively.

    Why is this relevant?

    Take a look at the cartoon at the cartoon heading this piece,

    Regardless of what you think of the door knock campaign and who may, or may not, have been financing it, does a mad riveter demolishing a door, terrifying the inhabitants of a house, bear any relationship to an actual door knock campaign?

    Is it, in its own way, as fake as the footage used by the two TV stations?

    Of course a cartoon cannot have the same impact as TV footage with accompanying sirens. But isn’t the intent behind it too create the impression of a menace that has nothing to do with the actual story?
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-06-09 11:53:11 +1000
    LOL mrsracker,

    Definitions:

    I like the conclusion: An objective, well reasoned analysis

    I hate the conclusion: Propaganda Or, as Bertrand Russell once put it:

    I persevere

    You are stubborn

    He is pig-headed
  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-08 15:29:21 +1000
    Reply to Michael Cook on the subject of propaganda – I once heard a person who worked in an abortion clinic refer to fetuses as “the products of conception”. An obvious attempt to distance themselves from the reality of what they were doing there. On the other side, calling a fertilized egg a baby is just as absurd.
  • Michael Cook
    commented 2024-06-08 10:04:41 +1000
    reply to Anon Emouse — thanks for your comment. True, both sides of an argument can produce propaganda. Rosie the Riveter was part of American propaganda in favour of freedom and democracy. But if you want us to critique “pro-life propaganda”, it would be helpful if you mentioned some aspects in need of scrutiny.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-08 07:45:05 +1000
    Women flooding labor market starting in sixties grabbed jobs from black males at the same time they were supposed to to be benefiting from civil rights, thus impairing the black family massively aling with every family to a certain extent.

    Reparations for double incomes depressing wages and competing unfairly against sole providers should be made. One key way is to means test the government schools.
  • Susan Rohrbach
    commented 2024-06-08 06:06:50 +1000
    Abortion rights are men’s rights, because they cover up the rape and protect against the demands of fatherhood, leaving them free to rape again. Abolition would be a deterrent and greatly diminish the amount of fornication, let alone rape.

    Rosie riveter, come home (to homeschool). The sheep’s in the meadow and the cow’s in the corn.
  • mrscracker
    I suppose we’d need to define propaganda.
  • Anon Emouse
    One wonders if Mr. Cook is as keen to call out the propaganda of the pro-life movement as he is for the pro-choice movement.
  • James Dougall
    Everyone knows that one reads The Economist for its quality in most everything except for moral issues about which its libertarianism blinkers its capacity for objective analysis.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-07 09:47:34 +1000
    My opinion on abortion is well known here. I am not a fan. But I am also not a fan of criminalizing it. I am not a fan of monitoring the movements of pregnant women. I am not a fan of using the opposition to abortion as a springboard to the outlawing of contraception. And I am haunted by the suspicion that all this boils down to the suppression of women and ‘putting them in their place’. As for the demographics of a collapsing birth rate? I suspect that some of you are carrying water for the Ponzi scheme that is modern capitalism. Demographic nightmare? Only if we insist on hanging on to an economic system that has outgrown its usefulness. Modern technology, with its enormous ability to increase productivity, is quite capable of handling a decrease in population, if we just let it.
  • mrscracker
    What else might we expect from The Economist? This is just more of the same. If they actually had any interest in bettering econ0mies & society they might consider the demographic nightmare approaching & how the commission of millions of feticides have contributed to that.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-06 15:00:59 +1000
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-06 15:00:58 +1000