The African-American news and commentary site The Root has plowed some new ground in the field of disgusting race-baiting. An article by Charles D. Ellison argued that the same conservatives who fought to block Terri Shiavo’s husband from authorizing the withholding of her food so his vegetative wife could die should be supporting Jahi McMath’s parents’ efforts to keep their brain dead 13-year-old daughter on life support. That they are not, he suggests, is because Terri was white, and Jahi is black.
I wrote about Schiavo’s plight here, over at the Ethics Scoreboard, in 2005. I wrote recently about Jahi McMath, here. There is no inconsistency in my positions, but there is also none in the reactions of some conservatives to the two cases, because they are not comparable. Here’s Billy Crystal explaining the divergence exquisitely in “The Princess Bride”:
In Billy’s words, Jahi is all dead. She is brain dead, which is to say, dead. Keeping her on life support is a waste of resources, and a tragic exercise in denial. Terri was mostly dead, and was never getting better. Most of her brain was gone, but her vital functions were still operating. Conservatives regarded the withholding of food from her as murder, just as they oppose the destruction of frozen embryos that will never be born.
They were wrong to try to interfere in Terri’s case, but that is irrelevant here. There is no racism involved at all. If Jahi were white, she would still be all dead, and even the most doctrinaire conservatives don’t believe that dead people should be kept on respirators.
The Root’s piece is dishonest, ill-informed, hateful and unfair.