This was about 12:30 a.m on August 6th. Only a few of the protesters had showed up in the parking lot to this point. They were awaiting the others preparing for their day. I crossed the street to start my interviews when I noticed a gentleman in an Islamic cap heading toward the Mosque that had been on Main Street for many years.
As I never had been inside I wanted to get the views of the local Islamic community, as Catholic and protestant communities had already joined various protests. He invited me in and I ended up viewing the Islamic service and interviewing the Imam.
I’ve already told the story of that encounter but I will add after the service we talked for 45 minutes and I asked him the opinion of Islam on Abortion in general and of planned parenthood in particular.
According to Imam Bashir Uddin Mehmud Islam forbids abortion unless the choice is between the death of the mother and the death of the child.
He was unwilling to make a pronouncement on the behalf of the community but was willing to talk on behalf of himself. He talked about the changes in Fitchburg, the lack of modesty, the increase of drugs in the city and the coming of the gangs. He pointed to the strip club (the other side) on water street, and the fact that a lot of the services that the center will be offering are offered in schools and the colleges and readily available.
His point was Planned Parenthood was not so much the problem but a symptom of the bigger problem of our walk away from morality.
I left the mosque a bit after 2 p.m. and the protest was in full swing. Many familiar faces were already on the line, but the face that jumped out at me was my own pastor, Fr. Robert Bruso.
Fr. Bruso has issues with his legs but that didn’t stop him from marching for two hours in the hot sun. I greeted him and mentioned the Iman’s remark. He remarked that it really goes back to the Reformation where it was decided that Eternal Truth could be individually defined. From that point we have reached a state where people are unwilling to admit the existence of simple truth (let alone eternal ones).
Nothing slowed him down and he only paused twice when different gentlemen passing by stopped and spoke with some surprise to see a Catholic priest marching. It doesn’t seem odd to me, but it got me thinking that this is the real casualty of the scandals; that people expect and many a priest has, retreated from proclaiming truths to the world. Fr. Bob is not among them.
During the entire time I witnessed the protest new people came and other left, while the owner of the building looked on nervously from the second floor of the building. Only one or two people actually entered or exited the office itself.
After taking care of a personal errand I returned for the last hour of protest. Some had come and some had gone but a core group remained and new people came to join them continuing the vigil in front of the office and making their presence known.
Planned Parenthood on main street Fitchburg is now a fact. The imprimatur of the City Council and the cash of the federal government had made it so. What remains to be seen is if the protests against them and regular picketing by those who support life will also be a fact, if today and the regular smaller protests are any measure I would say they will be.
But I keep going back to the words of the Imam and the Pastor on how we as a society have reached this point. The answer comes from something I read today from columnist and classical author Victor Davis Hanson. Commenting on the state of the country he wrote:
If one were to survey the elite campuses around 1975 and talk to those in law school, poly sci, or the humanities, then imagine them 35 years later as our elite leaders in government, the media, the universities, the foundations, and the arts, one could pretty much expect what we now have.
The answer seems to be what it always is, we get the country, the society and the culture that we deserve.
Update: Fixed some grammatical mistakes.