Subcontinental Divide - 2019


Two Shades of Gray and the Mortally Wounded Amicus Curiae

By Ahsen Jillani

I'm already on black ice even daring to touch this oozing wound; but what the heck. The last couple of years, I've gotten attacked weekly for being a “man." You don't have to do anything provocative to be a “man." I have made the mistake of saying volatile things like, “I have a craving for pizza." Oh, boy! “Craving? That's all the male gender has ever had is cravings. And look at the state of the planet under male control. Why don't you just assault me? My god, don't you ever think of your mother, your wife, your daughters? Shame on you!"

Oooops. Until a few months ago, I used to be defensive and post haste let my feelings be known. “Heck, I'm so liberal, I don't even kill a cockroach. I believe in co-existing and live and let live." Didn't work. “Cockroach? Now you are comparing women to roaches. Well, mister, it is over for you. Your so-called roaches will now eat your brain. You and all your pig men friends can go straight to hell."

It's just easier in my old age to hide in my home office (Man Cave to spitting mad feminists) and not have to witness dominoes tumbling in Republican-dominated state legislatures from the Deep South to the Midwest. The insidious plan to send outrageous and unconstitutional state anti-abortion laws barreling toward the Supreme Court is way beyond the capacity of the man-child casino owner sitting in the White House. He is, rather, a conduit for an agenda and a mindset that Reagan (another genius) barely scratched, but is coming to a head in a lawless America with a circus performer who pretty much exhibits symptoms that would even get him thrown out of a 4th grade special needs class.

I have been scratching my head about the American conservative obsession with abortion for four decades now. Along the way, I have encountered a thousand people from a hundred churches who preached a pro-life message, but met only one white family who adopted a black or Mexican child. Almost all would instead go through mind-bending and grueling lengths to first tackle the wild-west adoption bureaucracy in China, and then the highly controversial and media-scrutinized programs in Russia. It was notorious that Russia would identify problem children for the “do-gooder" Americans and in the process “cleanse" their gene pool.

The church adoption directives, however, are just one complex equation of the abortion debate. In the world of White House special “racial advisor" Stephen Miller, you begin to wonder where the truth lies. Do the conservatives really lose sleep over colored babies getting aborted when they definitely don't adopt them? Maybe the perceived damage of abortions truly lies in the white community, which, it is now especially clear, is headed toward becoming a minority in just 20 years.

So, throwing colored people over The Wall is one solution. Banning white abortion would be another great move. That way, every conservative congressman can adopt 500 Caucasian babies whose callous mothers made bad mistakes on dates, selfishly wanted to finish college, or didn't even have money to feed themselves in minimum wage jobs that politicians really haven't done crock to remedy in decades. It's all about that sperm meets the egg thing. It's somewhere in the religious books they read; somewhere in the obtuse constitutionality they imagine while they are all ignoring black letter law like congressional subpoenas, acting like cronies in a banana republic.

I've been unfortunate enough to be on both sides of the abortion debate over the years. A college friend crossed state lines to bring his girlfriend to my apartment so she could get a late term abortion at some suspect clinic. He dumped her a few weeks later, which is frequently the case in these casual dating situations where the guy really just wants to meet his obligation (“I'll pay for an abortion") but doesn't really want the memory of the incident or the emotional fallout to be cramping his style. I heard from her a year later at 1am. She had been having terrible nightmares since the procedure. I begged her to get counseling because she was suffering from trauma.

Now I know enough about the fast-food approach to American medicine that all those safeguards, the quiet discussion with the doctor, the post-procedure counseling, the emotional stress of something like that—nothing was probably done in the two signatures, wham bam thank you ma'am (and here's a brochure) world of medicine.

Conversely, a freshman college student I knew walked out with a guy at a college party and got pregnant. She had an autoimmune condition that made pregnancy deadly for her. Doctors told her to terminate to save her life. The boy's parents were conservative and their religious beliefs prevented any discussion of aborting.

They were both forced to drop out of college and get married. He worked two jobs while she spent most of the pregnancy in intensive care. Terrifyingly, the boy's family didn't believe in birth control either, so this scenario was repeated again a few years down the road. She died in her mid-40s. I can't speculate on what impacted her early death, but yes, that's another side of the debate.

Like abortion, feminism as a movement seems to become more relevant, and consequently more divisive and volatile in the surprisingly pluralistic world that is taking root around us. It appears I argue the complexities of what appears black and white to proponents of “-isms" on a weekly basis now. I want abortion to stay a choice (albeit a tough one for many). I want pay equity. I have known countless Asian men (myself included) who found out five years out that they were earning $20,000/year less than the white woman next to them. That's a different animal. That's our failure to negotiate with a ravenous, uber-capitalist, and often white male management culture. That's our complexes, and us translating dollars to rupees and thinking that's pretty good; that's our frugal nature knowing we can live on whatever the boss decides.

I pay the same without gender bias, but some forms of physical labor are ill-suited for a certain segment of society just as I am ill-suited to cut down a 200,000 lb. oak tree. I have run into very strong females in manufacturing, and men who couldn't handle UPS delivery jobs. To me, gender is irrelevant, but in the legal, federally-mandated embrace of “-isms," I have to hire an overweight guy in a wheelchair drinking a slurpy to take 2,000 lbs. of printing across town…and smile as I miss client deadlines. What, somebody tell me, is the true reality?

Maybe it's better to stay in the man cave, than to force a friendly smile for folks who are deciding for all of us at white-collar cocktail parties.

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Ahsen Jillani a former editor and publisher, is originally from Islamabad, Pakistan, and now lives in Mint Hill. He owns Must Media, a PR company focusing on both political and corporate clients.