Komen and the Politicized Body

Ted Olsen at Christianity Today put together a number of interesting pieces on the Komen controversy.

Russell Moore‘s and Mollie Hemingway’s are, I think, especially worth your time.

I chimed in with a few hasty thoughts of my own, which are admittedly underdeveloped:

But such an environment, the language of “health care” and “public health” stands in danger of being reduced to a Trojan horse for competing social visions. Consider smoking restrictions, for instance, which have become increasingly popular in cities in recent years. The question pits smokers and whatever rights they might have against the concerns and cries of “public health.” And when the debate is framed in such terms, it is clear which one will come out ahead.

The problem, of course, with such comprehensive visions is that it can be difficult–if not impossible–to find common ground. Either the smokers get their way, or the public health does. And that is the crossfire that Komen has found itself in, which is why their insistence that politics should not enter into it has been resoundingly and universally ignored.

We should and ought work together to eliminate breast cancer. But the idea of a non-political body is a chimera. The culture wars are still upon us–they have never left us, though they may have gone into hibernation. And beneath them stands the body, with all its needs and failings and dependencies on resources that wrap us in the relationships with our neighbor and with the world beyond.

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