DePaul University recently made a controversial decision to prohibit signs that read “Unborn Lives Matter” from being held by the university’s College Republicans. The posters were a twist on the highly controversial Black Lives Matter (BLM) slogan.
While many in the pro-life movement considered the move to be censorship, going against the sign-holders’ right to free speech, it is important to understand why the school prohibited the message.
The problem with the phrase “Unborn Lives Matter” is that it takes BLM’s message and changes it to represent another issue, thus silencing the original intention of the phrase.
One of the problems that BLM tries to address is the marginalization of black movements and black voices. The slogan “Unborn Lives Matter” does just that.
While free speech is important, it is also important to realize when a slogan, idea or movement helps neither side in achieving their goals. This is especially true when one group’s use of a slogan disenfranchises another group.
To begin with, the slogan does not help the pro-life movement.
While provocative and certainly representative of the group’s message, it just serves to reinforce the common stereotype that pro-lifers (and the Republican group which set up these posters) are ignorant of the struggles of racial and ethnic minorities. Major pro-life groups generally don’t campaign against issues of racism present today, aside from presenting Planned Parenthood’s clinic location distribution as a conspiracy to eliminate minorities or connecting the modern day Planned Parenthood with its founder’s antiquated notions about race, which were unfortunately common during her lifetime.
The pro-life movement should speak out against all forms of racism, and it should show support for BLM, not appropriate its slogan while ignoring its platform.
While the two movements might be similar in that they both advocate for social causes, they address two entirely different issues, which could possibly stand in solidarity with each other, but often stand in opposition.
Finally, this message does not help the College Republicans or the Republican Party.
After the 2012 election, Republicans realized they needed to diversify their voter base to incorporate growing Latino, African-American and Asian populations. As a political party whose membership is approximately 90 percent non-Hispanic white, it should be trying to reach out to minority groups, not oppose them. The Republican party is often accused of racism for its policies and choice of presidential nominee. Remaining indifferent to the struggles of black Americans will not help reverse that notion.
In the end, it is important to note that pro-life groups can use their own slogans to get their message across. Their basic ideas and their right to come together and have discourse about their beliefs are not threatened by DePaul’s choice to prohibit one slogan.
Pro-life activists should use this as an opportunity to work with BLM and to advocate for black life in all its stages.