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Joan Andrews’s Stubborn Challenge to Prolifers

WHY, IN THE FACE OF EVIL, DO GOOD PEOPLE LOOK THE OTHER WAY?

By Michael Gallagher | September 1988
Michael Gallagher is an author, film critic, and translator, whose articles have appeared in Newsday and elsewhere. He received a National Book Award nomination for his transla­tion of Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow, and his book on Catholic resistance to immoral public policy, The Laws of Heaven, will soon be published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Joan Andrews grew up on a farm near Nash­ville. While still a pre-teen, she developed a love of history which has stayed with her to this day. She took all sorts of books out of the library, and so it was that she learned at a tender age about the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews.

Her sister Susan couldn’t bear to look at the pictures in the books Joan brought home. “Joannie,” she’d protest, “I don’t see how you can look at those terrible pictures.”

But Joan would answer: “Susan, I have to look at them. Germany was a Christian country, and they killed millions of innocent people. And the only reason that bad Germans were able to do this was because the good Germans looked the other way.”

Joan Andrews, you see, was already making people feel uncomfortable at age 11, and she’s still at it nearly 30 years later. Arrested in Pensacola, Florida, two years ago for a nonviolent demonstra­tion at an abortion clinic, Joan Andrews is an acute embarrassment to, among others, the American Catholic hierarchy, which has done nothing in her behalf; the leadership of the National Right to Life Committee, which has disowned her because of dis­approval of her direct methods; the liberal Catholic press, which has ignored her; and yours truly, who hasn’t done anything much either.

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