By Charlie Johnston
When I was a boy in the mid-60s, my best friend was a kid named Randy who lived just across the street from me. He was the middle child of the Ostermann family (not their real name) and born just two days before I was. Mr. and Mrs. Ostermann had a fascinating story of how they met. Karl was a German soldier during the invasion of the Netherlands. His wife, Willie, was a Dutch girl who he fell in love with. They came to America in the aftermath of the war to get away from the hideous European memories. My family became good friends with the entire Ostermann family. Karl was a professor at the University of Chicago. When my Mom got worried about my early enthusiasm for comic books, Karl reassured her – told her to buy me as many comics as I wanted, that the important thing was to foster a love of reading…and if she did that, she could be assured I would end up reading a lot more than comic books.
I became a peculiar sort of marriage counselor for the Ostermanns. I was a rather gifted mimic. When the Ostermann’s got into a particularly prolonged argument, one of them would eventually get me aside and tell me to tell the other one something – but they would give it to me in German. I had no clue what they were saying, but could repeat it back precisely. So I would dutifully go say it. Then that one would tell me something to say back, again in German. It rarely took more than the delivery of three such messages before they were reduced to gales of laughter and were in love again. They would never tell me what I had said meant, though.
Mrs. Ostermann gave me my first Advent Calendar for kids, one where you pulled the paper back each day and it showed some symbol of Christmas to come. I thought it the most charming thing I had ever seen. Randy’s younger sister, Karla, had a crush on me. She was two years younger than us – and when you are that age, two years is a big thing. Besides, she had bright red hair and freckles – could have played the role of Annie without make-up. She was pleasant and fun…and she often tagged along with us, but I was not interested. My parents sent me a picture of her as an adult – which made me think I really blew it. The adult Karla looked very much like Ingrid Bergman, elegantly beautiful.
During those innocent times, I had the scariest dream of my life. I did not think it a prophetic dream at the time, just a terrifying nightmare.
In the dream, Mrs. Ostermann had taken Randy and me down to the Museum of Science and Industry on Chicago’s south side. It was a great museum for kids, with all sorts of interactive displays. She let us wander off on our own to enjoy whatever we liked. Suddenly she came running up to us with urgent fear in her eyes. “Quick boys, I’ve got to hide you,” she said. I asked her why and she said they were “putting the children to the knife.” I asked her why she didn’t call the police. “The police are helping them,” she said. We found an alcove well hidden and screened under a table. Randy and I huddled up in there. And we listened to the screams and agonies of the dying children. I woke up trembling in fear and ran to my Mom and Dad’s bed. Over the next few weeks, Mom had to soothe me repeatedly that it was just a bad dream and that something like that could never happen.
I loathe the idea of abortion. It baffles me how the untrammeled right to execute children should become a rallying cry of the progressive left. I think to myself of the Nazis and their assertion of the untrammeled right to execute Jews. How could this happen in America? Oh what damage it has done on three levels. First, there is the obvious violence it visits on the child, leaving the surviving mother with a wound that will not heal. Second, there is the great damage it has done to civil discourse. Third, there is the devastation it has visited upon its advocates, who must coarsen and mutilate their own consciences to live with it.
When the indictments came down in Harris County, where Houston is, against those who had exposed some of Planned Parenthood’s atrocities rather than against the perpetrators of the atrocities, my dream of 50 years ago came flooding back vividly to me. They are putting children to the knife. And in Houston, the police are helping them.
I was wonderfully proud of the way you all went into action last Thursday in response to my summary of what was happening in Houston on the indictments from Harris County against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.
We often see these public battles as kind of engaging abstractions. We frequently forget that the people at the center of such controversies are real people, not just characters representing some sort of ideal in a play writ large. Over the course of my life, I have been at the center of a few such controversies (though on a MUCH smaller scale than what Daleiden is living through). However powerful and steadfast your convictions, you feel the hurt, the pain, the fear of what might happen if you stay the course of your conscience. I am grateful that, through the course of my life, I have occasionally been someone who very strong public figures have been able to turn to in private to vent those fears and hurt, and get some bucking up. I remember a powerful public man who everyone thought unshakeable coming unexpectedly to my office one day. He said firmly he needed to talk with me in private. When we got the door closed, I was astonished when he burst into tears and told me weepingly how the swirling controversy he was living was tearing his wife up – and he did not know if he could continue while watching his family in such agony. The guy was not a client of mine, just a friend who held high office. But he had been witness to my year-long public scourging and vindication – and so felt like I would understand and that he could trust me…and that maybe I could give him some advice on how to bear it. It might have been the first time I gave heartfelt thanks to God for that prolonged public scourging.
I know that when these things come, people at the center grab at any lifeline of those who actually do something in support of them and living solidarity with them. I have been forever grateful to those who held me up when I was under siege. You do find out who your friends are in those times – and you do discover the authentic character of those around you. But you can feel so isolated, so alone, that the little kindnesses of those you count on become incredibly magnified and soothing.
I was marvelously proud of Daleiden and how he handled his booking that day. The District Attorney’s office (DA) wanted to cut a deal with him for a much smaller, innocuous penalty. He refused and instead demanded an apology for this weaponizing of the justice system to crush political dissent while protecting malefactors. That was the call of a lion, a lion we need in these times.
Make no mistake, there is a silver lining in all of this. The silver lining is that even radical abortion proponents shrink from advocating trafficking in dead babies’ organs. Planned Parenthood (PP) is a modern grave-robber, but unlike those of days gone by, PP kills the people whose graves they rob. The videos Daleiden captured provide irrefutable evidence that this is what PP is doing. That is why PP and their media and governmental allies are so shrill and hysterical in trying to discredit the stark evidence in the videos. They want to make them so toxic that you don’t watch them. There are many among the “pro-choicers” who actually believe whatever PP says. Among those, if they watch the videos, they may have a Paul-at-Damascus moment. This is what most terrifies PP. I know when I was discussing Margaret Sanger when I was on the radio, I constantly quoted her own words and encouraged people to get a copy of her book, “The Pivot of Civilization,” to decide from her writing whether she was a monster or not. I heard from one woman who had worked at an abortion clinic who told me she did exactly that – and quit her job. She told me several of her friends did the same, for Sanger’s book showed her that I was telling the truth and the abortion advocates had been lying to her all along.
I tell you, every day there are “pro-choice” people who are watching these things and seeing what they have done – and leaving. That is why PP is so frantic to shut it down. They have both the legal liability if government officials were actually to do their jobs – and they are quietly hemorrhaging activists who are seeing what they are. The indictments were an effort to shut down those who would shine the light on this. The offered deal was to try to get Daleiden and company to admit to some sort of moral equivalence with the monsters at PP and their ennablers in the DA’s office. If Daleiden had accepted the easy plea instead of being willing to accept the legal scourging to stand for truth, it would have made it much more likely that the Harris County DA’s office could avoid being targeted for prosecutorial misconduct, that the federal suit that threatens to expose the financial inner workings of PP would go away, and that fewer people would watch the videos.
That is why the light must be shone relentlessly. This is a moment that can truly cripple the abortion industry and the culture of death. Of course they fight frantically. But both PP and their media and governmental ennablers must be held up to the light of day, whatever the cost, for here is the evidence of the ghouls they are – and that we will become if we do not stand against it.
I thank you for the support you have given to Daleiden in this battle. It is written that whosever shall give a prophet to drink shall receive a prophet’s reward. You have given a warrior to drink – and God is generous in His rewards.
In exorcisms, one of the prime goals is to get the demon to give its name, to identify itself for what it truly is. Once this is accomplished, it is all downhill for the demonic entity from then on. Daleiden’s videos reveal PP for what it truly is. We must not let it hide itself any longer. But we should not be surprised it reacts in frenzied, raging malice against the revelation.
For too long, we Christians have acted in a defensive manner, worried that satan might successfully storm the gates of heaven. We are to take the offense – take the battle to the satanic strongholds, call things by their proper names. Good is not evil: evil is. Evil is not good: good is. Call things by their proper names. Executing infants is not good, it is evil. Harvesting executed babies for their organs is not good, it is evil. Using the justice system to persecute whistle-blowers and protect evil-doers is not good, it is evil. The Lord said the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. That is a call to bring the fight to the satan, not merely to defend against his assaults against us. It is time to storm the gates of hell with confidence and vigor – for our Master has already told us they will not prevail against our assault. That is how the Rescue commences.