Washington Post op-ed ties pro-lifers to white nationalism; takes swipe at Catholic author, backpedals

The newspaper's banner logo is seen during the grand opening of the Washington Post newsroom in Washington January 28, 2016.
The newspaper's banner logo is seen during the grand opening of the Washington Post newsroom in Washington January 28, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

A Washington Post op-ed that tied pro-lifers to white nationalism is being decried for its misrepresentation of J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy.

In a Tuesday op-ed, Marissa Brostoff, the culture editor at Jewish Currents and a research fellow at Political Research Associates, argued that a connection exists between white nationalists and the pro-life movement. She specifically highlighted the recent words of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently told a far-right Austrian magazine that at the root of Western decline is that Westerners are aborting their babies and importing "a replacement for them in the form of young violent men," who are undermining civilization.

King is one of the most outspoken members of Congress in his opposition to abortion and has often come under fire from both sides of the political aisle for remarks many consider as sympathetic to white nationalism and his open embrace of far-right candidates in other countries.

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Brostoff went on to insinuate that conservative Vance — author of the New York Times bestseller Hillbilly Elegy — lamented the lack of white babies being born, and that racial minorities were replacing whites. That racial minorities will eventually outnumber whites is something to be resisted and is a fearful sentiment among those affiliated with the alt-right and white supremacist groups.

"[A]s replacement discourse enters the conservative mainstream, talk of birthrates comes along with it. 'Our people aren’t having enough children to replace themselves. That should bother us,' J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling 'Hillbilly Elegy,' told his audience at the National Conservatism Conference last month; earlier this year, he described himself as 'appalled' by Democrats’ permissive attitudes toward abortion. Vance did not spell out exactly who was included in the word 'our.' He didn’t need to," Brostoff wrote.

But Vance, who also happens to be married to an Indian-American woman and is Catholic, was not engaging in dog-whistle rhetoric, as she suggested.

In the speech she cited, Vance spoke broadly about statistics indicating that American citizens are troubled by their economic prospects and such things as the ability to provide their kids with a good education. Americans are also not seeing the future as hopeful enough to even have children in the first place, he explained. Thus, birthrates are dropping. But he made no reference to the race of the Americans about which he was speaking.

The Washington Post ended up taking out the passage referencing Vance and added an editor's note, clarifying what Vance actually said. The updated version of the op-ed concludes: “As replacement discourse enters the conservative mainstream, talk of birthrates comes along with it.”

But that new conclusion does not make sense, according to Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review.

"Brostoff didn’t need to quote any of those sentences, of course; to carry off her smear, she needed not to," he explained Tuesday on the site's blog The Corner.

"The smear of Vance was necessary to appear to justify the comment about the 'conservative mainstream'; now the alleged justification for the comment is a remark by some white nationalist you’ve never heard of."

Orthodox Christian author Rod Dreher blasted the newspaper for running the column.

"It is. J.D. Vance is married to a person of color, and the father of a mixed-race child. The Washington Post should be ashamed of itself. It won't be, though," he tweeted Tuesday.

Though some cite Nazi Germany as an example of white nationalist distaste for abortion — the regime penalized Aryan women for seeking abortions and concurrently sterilized Jews — unlike mainstream conservatism, opposition to abortion is not a central belief among white nationalists and alt-right devotees.

As The Christian Post previously reported, in an April 2016 essay titled "The Pro-life Temptation," from the alt-right publication Radix Journal — an article which appears to have been taken down — it was explained that pro-lifers justify their cause on principles the alt-right rejects.

"The alt-right is skeptical, to say the least, of concepts like 'equality' and 'human rights,' especially as bases for policy. The unborn fetus has no connection to anyone else in the community," author Aylmer Fisher said, emphasizing that the alt-right value for life is rooted in the belief that it is found in connection with a tribe or family.

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