What Rick Santorum Talks About When He Talks About Black Men

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 20 2011 11:42 AM

What Rick Santorum Talks About When He Talks About Black Men

What does it say about Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential bid that he can only get attention when he "gaffes"? He sat down with Terry Jeffrey for a lengthy interview , ABC News watched it, and this was the newsy quote :

The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says "no." Well if that person -- human life is not a person -- then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, "we're going to decide who are people and who are not people."

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The coverage of this quote so far doesn't appreciate how mainstream Santorum's point is among pro-life activists. Many pro-life activists consider their work a continuation of other movements that protected human life and elevated the status of people whom the law doesn't consider "human." In the 19th century, it was African-Americans; in the 21st century, it's children in the womb. This is a common point at the annual March for Life. In 2009, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told activists at the pro-life event: "You are the new abolitionists. You are the new civil-rights movement."

Is this something that'll get Santorum negative stories? Sure, although the choice for him presently is between negative and nothing. Is this something that pro-life voters disagree with? No: They, too, fail to see how the rest of the country misses the connection between the abolitionist movement and the fight to give unborn children the same rights as everyone else.

Here's the video:

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.