"What are we doing that bothers you?"
This question is put to prisoners of war to find out which activities are actually being effective.
For those whose concern is winning the war, the question is not, "What are we doing that folks back home will understand and appreciate?" The question is not, "What are we doing that those funding us are into?" The question is not, "What are we doing that doesn't provoke too much of a backlash, so that we can live peaceably enough alongside those on the other side - since we can never win anyway?"
The question is: "What are we doing that bothers you?"
Because the answer to that question shows what is actually making a dent in the enemy's position.
The enemy may not be too bothered if you blow up bridges that he never intended to use again.
But the enemy's attention will be caught if you hack into his intelligence and communications, if you destroy key arms factories, if you bring down strategic strongholds, if you damage morale.
If he's upset by something, you know you're doing the right thing.
Now for purposes here I'm going to sidestep the rights and wrongs of military warfare and of the questioning of prisoners of war.
I'm also going to, for the avoidance of doubt, make it clear that I agree with Ephesians 6:10-13 which tells us that our fight is not against "flesh and blood" (i.e. human beings) but against "the cosmic powers over this present darkness...the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places". The real enemy is not who it appears to be, and for that reason spiritual armour is required, and prayer; nevertheless the enemy's agenda is carried out through human agency, industries, and ideologies.
The point I wish to make here is simple: in this war - and it is a war - the principle holds. We need to ask, "What are we doing that bothers you?"
The answer can be read from reactions.
I'll make one more comment before applying this question to the war over abortion.
Someone has recently poured scorn over the idea of "winning" being the most important thing. This person seems to understand what's at stake here as a (probably intractable) "debate" and therefore trying to "win" as a rather childish ambition - perhaps even counter-productive (which I have refuted here). Politeness, and an acknowledgement that we can never win, are to be preferred, this person has suggested.
But in fact what's at stake here is 800 innocent lives every working day in our nation. This isn't a debate, it's a genocide. Winning is essential.
This isn't about you, and isn't about me: it's about getting relief to the hundreds of thousands of babies and women abused by abortion every year in the UK.
I'm not talking about winning at all costs - I'm not advocating for an ends-justifies-the-means, throwing all other morality and caution to the wind. We will never lie. We will never be violent. We will always be respectful and gracious (though maligned as being the opposite).
But let me be absolutely clear: winning is essential.
So, what do the abortion industry and its acolytes lose sleep over? What strongholds do they not want to be compromised? What makes them angry?
The visual evidence of what abortion actually does to babies.
Nothing blows a bigger hole in their web of rhetoric, euphemisms, and deception, than the simple truth about abortion. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth about abortion really hurts the abortion industry.
This is why Stella Creasy has been working overtime the last couple of weeks doing anything and everything (and she will use the ends to justify the means!) to get these pictures out of the public square.
She tried to get the police to do it.
She is trying to get Parliament to do it.
She bullied the advertising agency into doing it.
She leant on Walthamstow Council to do it.
She has appealed to her constituents to do it.
Why all the effort? Could it be that these pictures are doing damage to her abortion agenda?
In the meantime she has been trying to discredit the pictures, repeatedly claiming, falsely, that they are unscientific.
Is it because she knows, and fears, as Tim Stanley of the Daily Telegraph has said, that when people see the reality of life in the womb and what abortion does to babies, it reframes the debate?
She has also been frantically changing the subject. "This is not about the rights and wrongs of abortion," she has repeatedly insisted. It's about "intimidation", "harassment", and the fact that she is being "personally targeted". By crying victim, she is trying to draw attention away from the real victims: the babies.
And she has been tearing strips off CBRUK in a barrage of ad hominem attacks and false allegations (ever the sign that someone's arguments are weak). For the truth, click here and here. But again, all this is just another way of changing the subject.
Why? Why is Stella so bothered by these pictures? Why doesn't she want people looking at them?
Because when seen for what it is, abortion protests itself.
Only if you're up to something dodgy do you feel harassed when it's exposed to the public.
It's much harder to claim that abortion is healthcare when people can see with their own eyes that in fact it kills babies.
History Repeating Itself
This is nothing new. The history of social reform is riddled with reformers exposing injustice with visual evidence, and those overseeing the injustice scrambling to cover it up.
Thomas Clarkson, friend and ally of William Wilberforce, made it his business to ride the length and breadth of the country on horseback gathering and distributing visual evidence of the slave trade - pictures such as these.
So hated was he by those with a financial interest in the slave trade that he had to have a personal bodyguard. He was very nearly assassinated on a pier in Liverpool by a gang of sailors.
The slave trade had been resting on the fact that very few folks in England had a clue about what this business - far off in the West Indies and the shores of Africa - actually looked like. The truth was incredibly damning.
If space permitted we could list case after case of where the pictures have radically changed the temperature and brought about societal change - right up to the picture of Alan Kurdi, which Stella herself has obviously been moved by.
A brief introduction to some of these cases can be found here.
But let it suffice to say here: it is a fundamental tenet of the history of social reform that injustice thrives in the dark.
“Like a boil that must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed to the light of human conscience before it can be cured.” – Martin Luther King Jr
No-one has ever ended systemic injustice by covering it up.
No-one with an interest in injustice has ever shown appreciation for its being exposed.
Whose Side Are You On?
Stella's anger and the history of social reform bear witness together: the pictures are doing something. The industry hates the use of imagery. It does damage to their interests.
I have therefore a question to put to friends of mine in all sincerity - friends who describe themselves as pro-life but who, along with Stella, are angered by the use of imagery and would like to see these pictures banished from the streets:
Whose side are you on?