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Diversity and the merits of hope

Newly elected French president Francois Hollande provoked what media are terming “soul searching” throughout all Asia these recent days when he appointed Fleur Pellerin as minister of small and medium enterprises and the digital economy. The appointment had to have spoken to the people of France as well.

Ms. Pellerin's birthname is Kim Jong-sook. She was adopted in Seoul by her French parents at the age of six months.

The South China Post headlined an article about Pellelrin with the words “Tolerance Korea can learn from” (5-23-12). South Korea's own Hankook Ilbo daily wielded a scalpel in words even more slashing. Minister Pellerin of France, said the newspaper, with a nod to her name “Fleur,” had “bloomed as a flower” in Paris after “being abandoned” in Korea (TT 5-20-12 p. 5).

Journalist Akira Nakano of the Japanese think tank Asahi Shimbun (As Shi below) remarked that in the aftermath of the Korean War, from 1950-53, some 160,000 Korean babies were adopted overseas. Today, “due to financial and other problems, some 1,000 South Korean children end up overseas after being adopted.” (As Shi 5-19-12).

Several issues here deserve comment. First, that word “abandoned” bothers me.

Since when is bringing a new life into the world and allowing someone else to adopt the child an act of abandonment? Perhaps it is time for wordsmiths to re-fashion not only the meaning of this term, but of “pro-life” also.

Over the years, I have irritated or infuriated some readers, and perhaps pleased a few, by taking a pro-life stand on a variety of questions. I have written in opposition of absurdly liberal gun laws in the United States, for example. Gun control is a pro-life issue. From the start of it, I opposed the war in Iraq. I've remained pro-life in sensitivities to euthanasia. I strongly oppose blanket condemnation of gays and lesbians and the stereotyping of persons because of race or nationality. In taking these stands, I believe I have been pro-life.

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