We shall overcome!

Both Lives Matter | Blog | We shall overcome!

On Saturday October 6 2018, in Derry’s Guildhall Square, people from across the north, from diverse religious and political backgrounds and none, stood together, proudly celebrating the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, and asserting that without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.

The Civil Rights Association, which organised the first march fifty years ago was drawn from all sections of societand demanded social justice and a better future for all our people. The struggle in the north in 1968, along with other progressive political movements in Europe and the US, are today recognised as pivotal events which shaped our modern world.

Our history in the intervening years has been often painful and contested, but it was heartening to see yesterday that the right to life transcends all of our differences, and is a force for unity and solidarity. We stood on the steps of the Guildhall, with our placards and t-shirts and we draped our banners from the city’s wall, proclaiming that civil rights are for all.

“Cherish all the Children” is a republican group, campaigning for human rights and dignity. We take our inspiration from the Proclamation of the Republic, posted on the GPO in Dublin in 1916, which asserted that the nation and all of its resources belongs to the people of Ireland, regardless of age, ability, state of health, wantedness, or any other attribute. We have rights simply because we exist.

It seems bizarre that many who walked the streets of Derry in 1968, and over the intervening years, demanding social and political change are now promulgating the theory that the most vulnerable and defenceless members of our human family have no rights whatsoever. The child in the womb,the place where we all started our life’s journey, is expendable.

As a lifelong republican, feminist leftie, I’m astonished at the almost unopposed narrative among my erstwhile political allies that a pro-life stance is regressive and anti-woman. It is an analysis which pits women’s freedom and progress against her maternity, and her children. It erroneously, or deceptively, conflates her health and wellbeing with her “choice” to destroy her child. It ignores the wealth of medical literature which shows that abortion, far from being healthcare, harms women, mentally and physically.

They haven’t even tried to produce a class-based analysis of the pro-life position. The fact that abortion disproportionately affects the poor, those from ethnic minorities, females and the disabled is not mentioned. The militant feminists, the political class, (with some honourable exceptions,) and many erstwhile human rights bodies have climbed the high moral mountain and proclaimed “choice” as the only endorsement required to justify our actions, even when they harm others. They scream abuse at anyone who dares question the basis of this thesis.

The left, cowed and cowardly, led by narcissistic ideologues and hidebound by dead dogmas refuse to consider the real lack of choice which many women have. They don’t do facts, only rhetoric, and soapbox politics is easily delivered.

Of course we need houses, a health service worth the name, joined-up services, jobs and hope. Many pro-life people recognise that social justice is central to caring for women and families, but they do not have the power to change the structural inequalities that exist.

Incredibly, some who claim to be on the left apparently believe that that billionaire venture capitalists are going to finance the revolution! Organisations such as Amnesty, whose motto used to be “Protect the Human” are now bestfriends with classic neo-liberal monetarists and accept their funding in return for promulgating widespread access to abortion.

These pseudo-philanthropists don’t recognise the rights ofthose who don’t turn a profit. Incredibly they get tax breaks for using their profits to shape the world to serve their monetarist agenda. But there’s not a word of challenge from those on the left who should be defending the values which they claim to espouse.

The globe’s richest 1% own half the world’s wealth and the disparity between rich and poor globally has been on a steadily upward path ever since the crash.  These vastly wealthy people who account for 0.7% of the world’s adult population – control 46% of total global wealth, about $280tn.” The left, it seems would rather promote abortionthan challenge the real reasons for poverty.

Only free people thought slavery was a good idea, and only those who have already been born advocate for abortion. The anthem of the struggle for Civil Rights, in Derry in 68, and worldwide since is the beautiful and powerful song We Shall Overcome. Catholic, Protestant and dissenter shouldstand together and sing it for the future generations.  

We shall overcome, we shall overcome
We shall overcome, some day
, deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand, some day
deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We shall live in peace we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace, some day
, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We are not afraid we are not afraid
We are not afraid, today,

For deep in our hearts, we do believe,
That we shall overcome someday.

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Both Lives Matter.)