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Archive for February, 2011

Never underestimate the capacity of the Left to shoot itself in the foot — and injure the rest of us while they’re at it. The New American reports:

Most of their pet “alternative energy” projects — solar panels, hybrid and electric car batteries, wind turbine magnets, compact fluorescent light bulbs, etc. — are dependent upon “rare earth elements” that have been made all but unobtainable here in the United States, thanks in significant measure to environmental [regulations]. Over the past two decades, various environmental laws and regulations have closed down mining operations for these elements in this country, making us almost completely dependent on the communist government of China, which now produces 97 percent of the world’s supply of these important minerals [even though it only has 37 percent of proven reserves.] Now that China has announced it intends to dramatically cut its quotas of rare earth exports, including to the United States, the Obama administration has expressed concern.

“We are very concerned about China’s export restraints on rare earth materials. We have raised our concerns with China and we are continuing to work closely on the issue with stakeholders,” an anonymous spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement carried by news services. The administration also says it will complain about the quota reduction to the World Trade Organization.

Don’t let the name “rare earth” mislead you: Most of the 17 “rare-earth” metals are anything but rare. For example, even the least two abundant, Lu and Tm are nearly 200 times more common than gold. Cerium, the most abundant REE, is more plentiful in the earth’s crust than copper or lead. Many of them are more common than tin, and all but promethium are more common than silver or mercury. The problem is that they are dispersed in forms that make them much harder to extract than those other elements.

Rare earth elements, or REEs, are those elements in one particular section of the periodic table of elements:  lanthanum and the fourteen elements following it (together, called the lanthanide series), plus scandium and yttrium, which tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and have exhibit many of the same chemical properties.

These elements were little more than a curiosity until the advent of “green technology” in the late twentieth century.

Their relatively low toxicity, combined with unique magnetic properties, quickly made rare earth metals vital to green technology. The USGS fact sheet [“Rare Earth Elements — Critical Resources for High Technology”] gives a detailed account of the environmental uses of rare earth metals. Some of these are:

  • Lanthanum could replace the much more toxic cadmium and lead in batteries leading to more environmentally friendly disposal and recycling.
  • Cerium could replace heavy metals in the commercial pigmentation industry.
  • The magnets in a 3 megawatt wind turbine use up to two tons of neodymium and other rare earth metals.
  • [A report published in the British newspaper] The Independent claims [that] the Toyota Prius automobile, the premier hybrid car in the world, uses up to 1 kg of neodymium in the electric motor and between 10 and 15 kg of lanthanum in the electric battery.

The U.S. has some of the largest known REE deposits. According to the U.S. Geological Service, the U.S. had, as of 2010, 13 million metric tons of rare earth elements. Unfortunately, according to The New American,

like many other minerals that have been put off-limits through environmental edicts, [REEs] have been made artificially rare…. Now there is a mad scramble to re-open some of these mines, as rare earth mining stocks have soared and green activists have reversed themselves in order to advance their “earth friendly” hobby horse technologies.

It did not take a crystal ball to see that the environmentalist attack on the rare earth mining industry would bring the serious consequences we now face. The New American warned about this repeatedly over the past two decades, including in this article, Engineered Extinction, in December, 2003. It reported:

Unfortunately, because of our anti-mining regulatory climate, we are now dependent on foreign producers for many of these vital materials. The case of the Mountain Pass Mine in California’s Mojave Desert is a prime example of the destructive power of the envirocrats. Mountain Pass, the world’s largest lanthanide mine, is a treasure trove of rare earth minerals like samarium, lanthium, europium and neodymium. The mine owner, Molybdenum Corporation of America, invested millions of dollars developing uses for these exotic elements in televisions, miniaturized motors, long-lasting lightbulbs, super magnets, and hi-tech military applications. Thanks to these efforts, the U.S. led the world in rare earth production and sparked a revolution in the use of these important minerals. But federal and state regulators shut the mine down on environmental pretexts.

Don Fife, a professional geologist and columnist, called the government action a “regulatory outrage” and “the coup de grace for America’s rare earth industry.” “With Mountain Pass Mine out of business,” says Fife, “we are dependent on foreign sources for our supply of these minerals. Since other countries produce only small amounts of rare earths, nearly all of these militarily strategic minerals now come from Communist China.”

This table will give you some idea of how utterly dependent our modern technological society is on these elements. ( I’ve omitted promethium, which has no known uses.)

Element Uses
Scandium Alloys for aerospace industry; sports equipment; metal halide lamps
Yttrium Television cathode-ray tubes; LEDs; spark plugs; catalysts; mantles for propane lanterns; microwave filters; lasers; strengthener for aluminum and magnesium alloys; camera lenses; cancer therapies; arthritis treatments; superconductors
Lanthanum High-end lenses for cameras and telescopes; catalysts; carbon lighting; ignition elements in lighters and torches; scintillators; gas lantern mantles; water treatment; pharmaceuticals; tracers in molecular biology; nickel-metal hydride batteries, including especially those used in hybrid cars
Cerium Catalysts in self-cleaning ovens and in petroleum refining; heat-resistant alloys; magnets; analytical chemistry; carbon arc lighting, especially in the film industry; gas tungsten arc welding; glass polishing powders; phosphors for screens and fluorescent lamps; pharmaceuticals; etching of electronic components; fuel additives for reducing vehicle emissions
Praseodymium Coloring glass and ceramics; catalysts; high-strength alloys used in aircraft engines; carbon arc lights used in film studios and movie projectors; achieving ultralow temperatures in physics research; fiber optical amplifiers; ignition elements in lighters and “flint” fire starters
Neodymium Coloring glass and ceramics; infrared radiation filtering; lasers; welder’s and glassblower’s goggles; astronomical spectroscopy; camera filters; incandescent light bulbs; powerful magnets (such as those used in wind generator turbines and hybrid cars)
Samarium High-strength magnets, especially when effectiveness at very high temperatures is needed; cobalt alloys; control rods in nuclear reactors; catalysts; geological dating; cancer treatment; lasers used in holography, astrophysics and high-resolution microscopy of biological specimens; pressure sensors and pressure-triggered memory devices; thermoelectric power converters
Europium Red phosphors and blue phosphors for color televisions and computer screens; “trichromatic” indoor lighting; compact fluorescent light bulbs
Gadolinium Contrast agents used for MRI scans; scintillators in PET imaging; gamma ray source for bone-density scans used in osteoporosis screening; high-temperature-resistant alloys; microwave applications; manufacture of optical components; green phosphors for TV screens and compact discs
Terbium “Green” (actually yellow) phosphors for color television and computer screens and fluorescent lamps; solid-state devices; stabilizers for fuel cells at high temperatures; sensors; naval sonar systems; biochemical probes; “trichromatic” indoor lighting
Dysprosium Control rods for nuclear reactors; data storage applications, such as hard disks; dosimeters; transducers; high-precision liquid fuel injectors; wide-band mechanical resonators; high-intensity lighting; nanofibers to strengthen materials or for use as catalysts; in drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles
Holmium Control rods in nuclear reactors; high-strength magnets; colorants for glass and cubic zirconia; spectrometer calibration; lasers for medical, dental and fiber-optical applications
Erbium Colorant for glass, porcelain and cubic zirconia; photographic filters; metallurgical additive; fiber-optical amplifiers used in communications; control rods for nuclear reactors; cryocoolers; high-power fiber lasers for metal welding and cutting applications; laser surgery; laser enamel ablation in dentistry
Thulium Radiation source for portable X-ray machines; lasers used for military, medical and meteorological applications; detecting flaws in inaccessible mechanical and electronic components; high-temperature superconductors; ceramic magnetic materials used in microwave equipment
Ytterbium Metallurgical and chemical experiments; optical and laser applications; some stainless-steel alloys

Sources: Chemical Elements.com; Wikipedia

New American continues:

REEs are essential for the increasingly ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries that power so many of our electronics today. And lithium-ion batteries are being held up as the saving technology that will power the electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that the federal government says Americans must give up their gasoline-powered cars for. However, lithium mining has fallen victim to the same legislative and regulatory forces that killed America’s rare earth industry.

So let’s get this straight. Environmentalists want us to use hybrid cars, wind turbines, compact fluorescent light bulbs and rechargeable batteries. But all of these “green” products require rare-earth elements — which we are not allowed to mine in this country because of “green” regulations! (Can you say “Catch-22”?) Instead, we must buy them from China, with whom we are running an annual trade deficit of over $273 billion, and which holds about $1.7 trillion in U.S. government debt. All while the U.S. sits on 13 percent of the world’s rare earth reserves.

It’s one thing if your enemy shoots you in the foot; but only a fool or a masochist shoots himself in the foot. And only a suicidal maniac shoots himself again and again and again.

It’s time to quit letting the lunatics run the asylum.

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Allen West and other people who know anything at all about on-the-ground reality in the Arab Muslim world have been warning us that, once Mubarak was gone, radical Islamists would almost certainly try to take advantage of the situation in Egypt. Despite the valid democratic and human-rights aspirations of many of the Egyptian protesters — and despite how wonderful it is to see people in places like Libya rising up and rejecting dictators who’ve been in place for decades — it’s a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood, like any other group bent on world domination, looks for opportunities. And political upheaval of any sort always presents opportunities.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is a long way from officially running things, but the hero’s welcome given to Qaradawi a week ago couldn’t help but disconcert all of us who are old enough to remember quite vividly a similarly triumphal return made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran 32 years ago. Sure enough, radical Islamism — which involves, by definition, the persecution of Christians and Jews — is already rearing its ugly head in Egypt. From AINA, via CrossMuslims:

Egyptian armed forces this week demolished fences surrounding ancient Coptic monasteries, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by armed Arabs, robbers and escaped prisoners, who have seized the opportunity of… diminished protection by the authorities in Egypt to carry out assaults and thefts. “Three monasteries have been attacked by outlaws and have asked for protection from the armed forces, but were told to defend themselves.” said activist Mark Ebeid. “When the terrified monks built fences to protect themselves, armed forces appeared only then with bulldozers to demolish the fences. [!] It is worth noting that these monasteries are among the most ancient in Egypt [dating to several centuries before Muhammad was even born — ed.] with valuable Coptic icons and manuscripts among others, which are of tremendous value to collectors.”

On Sunday February 20, armed forces stormed the 4th century monastery of St. Boula in the Red Sea area, assaulted three monks and then demolished a small fence supporting a gate leading to the fenceless monastery. “The idea of the erection of the gate was prompted after being attacked at midnight on February 13 by five prisoners who [had] broken out from their prisons,” said Father Botros Anba Boula, “and were armed with a pistol and batons….

Father Botros said after this incident they thought the best solution to secure the monastery was to erect a gate with a small fence of 40 meters long at the entrance of a long wiry road leading to the monastery, which would be guarded day and night by the monks, and advised the army of their plan. According to Father Boulos, the army came with armored vehicles to demolish the gate, but it was agreed the monastery itself would undertake the demolition of the gate in stages as army protection is reinstated. “We told the Colonel it would look ugly to the outside world if Egyptian army is demolishing a gate erected for the protection of the unarmed monks under the present absence of security forces. We gave them full hospitality but we had a feeling that they wanted to demolish the gate in a ‘devious’ way.”

On Saturday morning, seeing that only three old monks were guarding the gate, the army returned. “When the army found that very few monks were present, the soldiers, who were hiding in military vans, came out,” said Father Botros, “bound the three monks, threw them to the ground and confiscated their mobile phones so as not to photograph the incident.”

The monks were set free after the gate and the 40 meter fence were demolished.” Only four soldiers were left to guard the huge monastery.

“The army was here not to protect the monastery as they claimed, but to carry out their agenda of demolishing the gate,” said Father Botros to activist Ramy Kamel of ‘Theban Legion’ Coptic advocacy. “By removing the gate and the supporting small fence, the army is giving a message of encouragement to any thief or thug to break into the monastery.”

The St. Bishoy monastery is also under attack. More from AINA, via Weasel Zippers:

For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army’s use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday’s army attack. [Why are the victims being arrested?! – ed.] Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

“When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen,” said Monk Ava Bishoy. “Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest.”

The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.

Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. “The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying ‘Lord have mercy’ without running away. This is what really upset them,” he said. “As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Victory, Victory’.”

A particularly cruel twist is that the army wouldn’t even let the monastery’s car out for the monks to take the injured to the hospital.

AINA reporter Mary Abdelmassih goes on to describe attacks on yet a third monastery:

The army also attacked the Monastery of St. Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan, Fayoum, 100 km from Cairo. It stormed the monastery and fired live ammunition on the monks. Father Mina said that one monk was shot and more than ten have injuries caused by being beaten with batons. The army demolished the newly erected fence and one room from the actual monastery and confiscated building materials. The monastery had also built a fence to protect itself after January 25 and after being attacked by armed Arabs and robbers leading to the injury of six monks, including one monk in critical condition who is still hospitalized.

Frankly, I don’t know what it means that the Egyptian army — not the Muslim Brotherhood, but the army — is conducting these vicious attacks against unarmed Christian monks.

Whatever the explanation, it obviously does not bode well for Christians in Egypt.

In Cairo, Christians did their best to show solidarity with the monks:

Nearly 7000 Copts staged a peaceful rally in front of the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, where Pope Shenouda III was giving his weekly lecture… after which they marched towards Tahrir Square to protest the armed forces attacks on Coptic monasteries.

Don’t expect much coverage of these events  from the drive-by media, which have already decided that the narrative in Egypt is… a new era of tolerance and human rights! Freedom and diversity! Kumbaya and “Coexist”! Peace, love and flowers!

They’re not going to let any historical facts about Islam — nor any hard facts on the ground today — get in the way of that narrative.

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Seeing Allen West confront that CAIR guy with facts the other night reinforced for me how amazingly powerful the simple truth is. The Left is so rooted in a false ideology, and so accustomed to deceiving people in order to get their way, that they instinctively recoil from truth — including from plain, unadorned facts. It’s like a crucifix to a vampire. Like water on the Wicked Witch!

One of the reasons Allen West wows people is that, sad to say, it’s become so rare for politicians to stand on — and stand up for — the facts, that when Allen West does so, he really stands out from the crowd. (Of course, to stand on the facts, you have to know the facts, and too few people have taken the trouble to learn the facts about Islam. Methinks most of  ’em really don’t want to know, since, once you know, you have a responsibility to do something. And that’s where the courage part comes in — which Allen West also has in abundance.)

Seeing West’s refusal to be cowed by CAIR reminded me of someone else with the kind of chutzpah we conservatives need: Andrew Breitbart. After watching his speech in Madison, WI, last week, calling out the unions’ mischief, and his awesome, hilarious speech at CPAC, describing how much fun — yes, FUN — he has, going to leftists’ protests and deconstructing them on the spot, I was inspired to watch this video of Andrew in action, intimidating the intimidators by asking them to answer honest questions. (They couldn’t.)

This is how it’s done, folks.  Take it from Andrew Breitbart, Scourge Of Leftists! Watch ’em wither before his onslaught! Fighting fruitcakes can be fun! ( Also, as Breitbart shows here, and as Allen West showed the other night, defeating them is easier than we thought. Just the facts, folks, just the facts.)

Boy, do I love this guy. If you do, too, you’ll be happy to know: Andrew’s got a new book coming out!

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Just in case you thought Allen West was laying it on a little strong at that town hall the other night, check out the latest from the Religion of Peace™.

Federal authorities yesterday arrested Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari in Texas for plotting terrorist attacks, including on the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. From Jihad Watch:

Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal….

The affidavit alleges that Aldawsari also e-mailed himself instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home. One e-mail allegedly contained a message stating that “one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims.” During December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester….

FBI agents also found a notebook at Aldawsari’s residence that appeared to be a diary or journal. According to the affidavit, excerpts from the journal indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United States and helped him financially, which he said “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad.” The entry continues: “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”…

[boldface mine]

The Qur’an commands every Muslim to spread Islam, by violent or non-violent means, depending on the circumstances. Aldawsari was just fulfilling his religious obligation.  How do we reconcile that with the freedom of religion we hold sacred in this country? Can we rightly prosecute someone just for practicing their religion as they see fit?

It seems an impossible conundrum, until we discover — through historical, philosophical, legal and anthropological analysis — that, in fact, Islam is NOT a religion. I’ll be writing more on that subject later.

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Javier Manjarres of The Shark Tank blog received the 2011 “Blogger of the Year” award at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a couple weeks ago. Manjarres is a Florida dude whose blog made a big difference in helping to get Allen West elected to the House of Representatives, as well as Marco Rubio to the Senate. I especially like Javier because he seems to share the philosophy of West to the West Wing that we need Allen West as our Commander in Chief, the sooner the better.

Well, today he ran a story that warmed the cockles of my heart: “West’s Decision to Run for President Not Up to Him, But His ‘Real Bosses.'”

Allen West for President!!!  Well, not so fast. Just last week, the Shark Tank opined that Allen West should be seriously considered for the Presidential ticket in 2012.  Subsequent to that op-ed piece was the confrontation that West had at a Pompano Beach townhall meeting with a CAIR official that is now a permanent part of Internet History.  Prior to that incident, a woman in the crowd asked Congressman West if he would run for President of the United States. West eloquently stated that “I have to prove myself, I have to prove myself as an statesman, as a capable legislator.” Congressman West then went on to explain how our country got into our current predicament:

“We got into this mess because we thought that leadership was about giving a very good teleprompted speech.”

West went on to say that he is focused on being the best congressman he can be, and that like anything else- like perhaps running for higher office- it would be up to God and his wife Angela, and West suggested that she ask her for an answer.  Being the intrepid finned reporter I am, I walked over to Angela and asked her if she would like to see Allen run for President in 2012.  Angela answered me, “Not right now, but…”

Ah, but the greatest Town Hall Moment — and it’s already gone viral — is the one below, which we also have courtesy of the Shark Tank.   Nezar Hamze — yes, that Nezar Hamze, the regional head of CAIR, who harassed West after a previous town hall (see here) — showed up, to harass him some more. But West wasn’t having any of it. Nobody intimidates Allen West — not even the Muslim Brotherhood (yes, CAIR is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has spawned most of the Sunni Muslim terrorist groups in the world today).  Hamze must be a glutton for punishment, because the history of Islam is its own condemnation, and Allen West knows that history backwards and forwards. Listen to how much the crowd appreciates an American standing up for America against Muslim “political correctness”!

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This speech was given six months before the November election — but it is more relevant now than ever.

Republicans:  Listen and learn!   We’ve got a republic to save, people.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYHb9mAC%5D

Hat tip: Kitman TV

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A great man has passed.

I am very sad tonight, after just getting this news. Although I did not meet Dr. Nathanson personally, I feel as if I knew him. He was in the pro-life movement nearly as long as I have been — I have known of him and followed him all my adult life, and was hugely influenced in my youth by his book Aborting America, in which he fearlessly and with brutal honesty described his pivotal role in the abortion movement and his career as an abortionist who presided over the deaths of 75,000 babies.

In that book, he described how he and the other two co-founders of the National Association for the Reform of Abortion Laws (NARAL) deceived the public and framed the debate in order to build support for the legalization of abortion. (You can read his own very short summary of their tactics here.) But Nathanson also describes in his book how he came to realize what abortion really was. And once he did, he quit, and never looked back — indeed, he dedicated the rest of his life to fighting the Culture of Death that he had helped to create.  He was that most courageous of men: one who could admit — and very publicly — that he had been wrong. And then do his best to repair the damage, all the while knowing that amends could never really be made.  After all, nothing could bring those babies back.

Nathanson was the first really high-profile “defection” to the Culture of Life. Years later, there would be others, including the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, Norma McCorvey. But Nathanson was the first “big fish.” The remarkable thing about Nathanson’s conversion was that it was not a religious conversion. He’d been raised in a secular Jewish family, and was a very staunch atheist. What convinced him of the truth about abortion was the scientific evidence. John Mallon writes:

In the early 70s Nathanson began to have doubts about abortion, and with the advent of ultrasound he persuaded a colleague who was doing 15-20 abortions a day to record an abortion using the new technology.

After the two of them viewed the results his colleague never did another abortion, and Nathanson wrote, “I … was shaken to the very roots of my soul by what I saw.”

This began a long soul-searching journey for Nathanson.

In 1984, he incorporated the ultrasound films into a commercial quality film called The Silent Scream, demonstrating the humanity of the unborn child. The film created a sensation and the film has since become the most famous and sought-after pro-life video

I had the privilege of hearing Nathanson speak in person, in 1982, just a few short years after his conversion to the pro-life cause. It was a state Right to Life convention, and he was one of several people seated up on the stage. I have absolutely no recollection of any of the other speakers. Nathanson was the one I was there to hear; Nathanson was the one I will never forget. Someone — a priest? a minister? — gave an invocation, and while everyone else in the room bowed their heads, I peeked up at the stage and saw Nathanson the atheist sitting there, stone-faced, staring straight ahead, looking as if  “the God stuff” was something distasteful that he forced himself to sit through so that he could give his message — a message he had to give, a message he would go anywhere and sit through anything to have the chance to give.

Unlike many abortionists, Nathanson was a competent, caring physician. He had gotten into the business because he passionately believed at the time that he was providing a service for desperate women. As he described in Aborting America, the abortion business does not tend to attract the best doctors; Nathanson was always appalled and disgusted by the quacks, perverts and greedheads that tend to fill the ranks of abortionists. He always prided himself in being a competent and conscientious doctor.

Imagine, then, the psychological impact on such a person of realizing that he had killed, or supervised the killing, of some 75,000 human beings. Now imagine what it would be like to come to that realization as an atheist, having no faith in a God who could forgive you. And yet, the man lived with that burden, and forged ahead, working tirelessly, incessantly, in the pro-life cause. He was one of the few public speakers I’ve ever heard who did not start, end, or at any time punctuate his speech with any humor or small talk whatsoever.

From the National Catholic Register:

Outlining the enormous challenge of restoring a pro-life ethic, he wrote, “Abortion is now a monster so unimaginably gargantuan that even to think of stuffing it back into its cage … is ludicrous beyond words. Yet that is our charge — a herculean endeavor.”

He noted, regretfully, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.”

How was he able to bear his burden of guilt, and shoulder that responsibility, without the comfort of faith?  Many years later, he would say that, unbeknownst to him at the time, “the hand of God” had been on him. And that is what he titled his 1996 memoir, The Hand of God. During the ’90s, Nathanson would often see pro-life activists praying outside abortion clinics. On one particular occasion, police came to remove them. Despite the peaceableness and complete non-violence of the prayerful protesters, the police were very rough with them, manhandling them, even injuring some elderly nuns. Yet the nuns stayed calm and continued to radiate love and peace even as they were being dragged off roughly and brutally. Nathanson was astounded; what was going on? How could they remain so sweet-spirited in the face of such injustice? Where did that amazing peace and joy come from? He said that for the first time, he came to realize that there might really be a God; nothing else could explain what he was seeing.

The sight of so many pro-lifers selflessly sacrificing their selves… made him realize that they must be answering a higher call, he explained.

On the one hand, this gave him comfort; on the other, it scared the heck out of him. After all, if there really was a God, mustn’t there be a judgment, a final reckoning? He was getting on in years, and he was haunted by the 75,000 lives hanging over his head. It got harder and harder for him to sleep at night. He sometimes panicked, bordering on despair. How could he ever be forgiven? More and more, the Gospel spoke to his heart. He came to realize, albeit with fear and trembling, that there was hope.

The Catholic Church, in particular, appealed to him, because of the sacrament of Confession and its promise of real, true forgiveness of even the most monstrous sin, if the sinner is repentant. At the time of the book’s writing, he was taking instruction in the Catholic faith.

in December of 1996 he was baptized a Catholic by Cardinal John O’Connor in a private Mass with a group of friends in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He also received confirmation and first Communion from the cardinal. About his baptism, he said, “I was in a real whirlpool of emotion, and then there was this healing, cooling water on me, and soft voices, and an inexpressible sense of peace. I had found a safe place.”

Among those concelebrating the Mass was Father C. John McCloskey, an Opus Dei priest who had instructed Nathanson in the faith over a number of years.

“He was a pro-life prophet,” Father McCloskey said in a recent Register interview. “He saw the whole culture of death coming, and knew that abortion was just the tip of the iceberg.”

…After his baptism, Father McCloskey said, “He practiced the faith, he frequented the sacraments, and spoke about his Catholicism unabashedly.”

…In an epilogue to the second edition of The Hand of God, Father McCloskey called the book “one of the more important autobiographies of the twentieth century,” which documents “man’s inhumanity both to humanity and to his personal self, and the possibility of redemption.”

Another strong factor in his conversion was the book Pillar of Fire, by noted psychiatrist Dr. Karl Stern, who tells of his own journey from Judaism to the Catholic Church. Nathanson [had] studied briefly under Stern in medical school, though at that time he did not know about Stern’s conversion. It was only years later, when Nathanson read Pillar of Fire, that he learned of his former professor’s religious views.

Nathanson’s godmother for baptism was Joan Andrews Bell, who had served more than a year in jail for [civil disobedience at] abortion businesses.

She said she spoke to Nathanson by phone in February 2011, when he only had the strength to speak a few sentences. “He said he was praying for us, and I told him we love him and pray for him, too,” she said.

“He will be remembered as a very strong advocate for the babies,” she continued. “One factor stood out, knowing him over the years, and that was that he had a deep pain for what he had done in terms of abortion. I remember there were periods he was fasting; he underwent huge amounts of fasting to make up for it.”

She said that he had “a deep and tender heart,” and that once he saw the truth about abortion, he was determined to stop it. “He was like St. Paul, who was a great persecutor of the Church, yet when he saw the light of Christ, he was perhaps the greatest apostle for the Gospel. Dr. Nathanson was like that after his conversion. He went all around the world talking about the babies and the evils of abortion. Being his godmother was such an amazing thing, to see him come to Christ.”

In his later years, Nathanson became more and more concerned about other evils coming out of the Pandora’s box that legalized abortion had opened. At an age when many are enjoying their retirement, he went back to school, and at the age of 70, received his master’s degree in bioethics. He was a member of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission, and spoke out very persuasively against human cloning and the abuse of genetic engineering to create “designer humans.” (You can order audio CDs of some of his speeches on these topics here. He was a great speaker.)

I will give the final word to the American Catholic:

Nathanson’s life is proof of the power of redemption, and that no matter how scarlet our sins we can all be made white as snow with the Grace of God.  The still small voice of God in every human soul is the greatest ally of the pro-life cause, and why it will ultimately prevail.

Requiescat in pace.

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