Friday, March 25, 2005

Stem Cell Opponents Take Heat From Jewish Community

As blogged previously here, the Washington legislature’s passage of the stem cell bill undoubtedly allows for human cloning. Seemingly innocent now, this is what I might humorously call “gateway science” that could lead to all sorts of unethical and gratuitous experimentation with our newfound legalized science.

Republican arguments in the House floor debate on this bill cast comparisons of Auschwitz and the Third Reich to state sanctioned embryonic human cloning. The legislators who drew these comparisons simply meant that the Nazis aimed to establish the perfect human race and allowing human cloning could lead to experimentation on the same level.

House Republicans are now taking heat from Jewish organizations that are crying anti-Semitism. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the Coalition for a Jewish Voice are seeking an apology from legislators who made such comparisons in the debate.

The Olympian has now reported the Jewish outrage at the comments made during the floor debate.

"To take such unspeakable horrors and inhumanity, and to try to create a moral equivalency to using scientific and medical knowledge to alleviate the suffering and the pain of people, is something which is totally inappropriate and terribly disappointing," said Rabbi Moshe Kletenik, leader of Washington's oldest synagogue, Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath in Seattle. Both of his parents are Holocaust survivors.

Yet House Republican remarks should have hardly been inflammatory to the Jewish community. If anything, the arguments made on the floor were in defense of such atrocities.

Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, said in his floor speech that Nazi Germany's policy was "in order to perfect humanity, it was necessary to selectively destroy humanity. And the medical experiments at Auschwitz were carried out for that explicit purpose."

It is irrational to tie anti-Semitism to such arguments. Many opponents of government endorsed cloning do not want science to repeat the awful experiments that occurred under Nazism. Nazis reportedly did horrific things to holocaust victims at Auschwitz and elsewhere. Rep. Jim Clements (R-Selah), a man I deeply admire, also made comparison during the debate.
He talked in his floor speech about how "the Jewish people suffered in the history for science -- the 'Super Race' and all those theorems of a better life in the 1930s all come to pass."

I watched this debate from the sidelines of the House floor. Many of my colleagues were offended that Jews would single themselves out as being the only persecuted group during the Holocaust and therefore any arguments in comparison were incomparable to their suffering. Let’s not forget that there were Catholics, Gypsies, mentally disabled, and many other groups who suffered the same atrocities in the Holocaust.

One thing needs to be made clear in all this. The Republicans who made these comments, as well as the rest of their caucus are not against scientific research that would find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s et al. However, when such research expends human life – even in its earliest stages – we should be wary. Additionally, we should never allow for the cloning of human embryos no matter what the intent of its use is (i.e. therapeutic or reproductive).

As for the argument itself that compared embryonic stem cell research and human cloning to the Nazi experiments, never will such comparisons win the hearts and minds of those unsure of such technology. Sadly, I’d say that social conservatives (and House Republicans) lost the PR battle in this one.

Monday, March 21, 2005

What people are saying about Spike the Underdog blog...

"he is so political, silly guy. but bright, for a republican...lives with undeniable conviction. has a dog named bella. i wish i had a dog..."
- welshrats

"You guys are tools."
- rfb