New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced his intention to erect a statue in Brooklyn in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is rich, considering that just a few months ago he was all in favor of tearing statues down.
In a June 23 interview with Savannah Guthrie of CNN, Cuomo said tearing down monuments is a “healthy expression of people saying, ‘Let’s get some priorities here, and let’s remember the sin and mistake that this nation made, and let’s not celebrate it.’” If only he were as worried about the sin of abortion as he is about the sins of racism and slavery.
In the days since her death, Ginsburg has been rightly remembered as someone whose legacy will long be felt in this country. Yet a huge part of that legacy was her promotion of an industry that is as morally heinous and devaluing of human life as slavery: the abortion industry.
Recent paeans from pro-abortion voices have referred to Ginsburg as “one of the Supreme Court’s strongest champions for abortion rights,” a “relentless” defender of “reproductive rights,” and an “unmatched guardian of each individual’s right to choose abortion care.” Of course, Cuomo would no doubt say her support of abortion “rights” is one reason she deserves a statue. In January 2019, Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act, describing it as “a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health.”
The campaign by some on the political left to pull down historical monuments and statues because of the supposed moral imperfection of those they memorialize is a stark illustration of the elitism that so many Americans are fed up with these days.
Monuments that were conceived of, paid for, designed by, and erected by our fellow American citizens of the past are now being removed by self-aggrandizing snobs who think they are more intelligent, virtuous, and enlightened than their forebears. A simple look around should give the lie to that view. As a country, we might have come to our senses on slavery, but we have a long way to go on a host of other moral failures, of which abortion is only one example.
In the last week on social media, I have seen more than a few posts with a photo of Ginsburg and the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia sharing an obviously warm and friendly moment. The two were reportedly good friends, and people on both the left and the right are pointing to their friendship as evidence that it is possible to disagree with someone, even vehemently, and still be kind.
Respectful, friendly disagreement is something we seem to have lost in this country, so the photo is a welcome and needed rejoinder to our politically polarized times. It’s also a reminder of something else: It’s possible to esteem and appreciate the contributions of those who don’t share all our values or adhere perfectly to our own standards of morality.
That’s exactly what we saw from conservatives as the news of Ginsburg’s death broke. Hearing about her passing after wrapping up a rally in Minnesota, President Donald Trump called Ginsburg an “amazing woman who led an amazing life.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called her a “trailblazer of keen intellect” and a “judicial giant.” Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said she was a “credit to the Court,” and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham praised her “tremendous passion for her causes.” The Federalist’s own David Marcus described her as a “great American.”
Too bad her friend Scalia didn’t receive the same sort of courtesy when he died.
Racism is wrong. Slavery is wrong. Abortion is wrong. We will be a better country when we can agree on all of those statements.
The world is complicated, however, and human beings are imperfect. Sometimes it takes good people time to come to the right conclusions about things. Unfortunately, Ginsburg never came to the right decision about abortion. I am still willing to acknowledge the things she accomplished and the good she did in her life, and I have no plans to protest the erection of a statue in her honor.