I was one of the many Washington D.C. visitors who found herself snowed into a friends’ apartment during the weekend of Winter Storm Jonas. I arrived on Thursday night with a backpack and North Face boots, ready to brave the elements. I didn’t expect to stay past Sunday, and I have no one but myself and Delta to blame for a flight delayed until Tuesday morning.
The weather reports gave everyone adequate time to welcome Jonas into Washington, D.C. on Friday afternoon. Meteorologists foresaw the cold, the likely car wrecks, and the flight cancellations that would bring the nation’s capitol to a standstill. The city’s sense of emptiness seeped into the snowed-in apartments on Saturday just as softly as the snowflakes smoothed into snowdrifts outside.
Following the storm, Reuters reported that “the National Weather Service said 17.8 inches (45.2 cm) fell in Washington, tying as the fourth-largest snowfall in the city’s history.” Across the East Coast, there were at least 19 weather-related deaths, with public transportation operations suspended in D.C. from 11 p.m. on Friday through Monday morning.
But for all that the measurements and weather alerts were worth, they left out mention of the other storm that brought me and tens of thousands of Americans to DC in January. This forty-year long storm system culminates annually as the March for Life.
The March for Life is scheduled every January on the anniversary of the day that Roe v. Wade was decided. In 1973, a panel of Supreme Court justices voted that public-approved state legislators were wrong to put regulations on abortion. Roe put a limit on states’ control over abortion policies, and attempted to make the abortion issue a matter of Constitutional protection: a matter no longer open for public debate.
The March for Life demonstrates that those justices were wrong. They were wrong to add abortion to a list of “privacy rights” that the Constitution protects, and they were wrong to think that Americans would be silent in their dissent.
Whether or not those justices lacked the foresight of our meteorologists isn’t the issue. The issue is that this event is regularly ignored by media. Once again, 2016’s March was underreported, and any mainstream media coverage angled the story through a hazy media bias.
The New York Times reported vaguely that there were “hundreds” in attendance at the “anti-abortion” rally. Likewise, The Washington Post generously suggests a number closer to the “thousands.” These numbers are fractional compared to the forty thousand estimated by LifeSite News insiders.
Maria Servold, a professor of Journalism at Hillsdale College writing for The Federalist discusses how mainstream media acknowledges its social importance, they just fail to give it journalistic relevance. She insists that “If something is “one of the largest” of anything, it’s worth covering in some way every year, without fail, with the same respect that any other large gathering would get, and especially if it’s during a snowstorm. This isn’t an oversight. This is a concerted effort to ignore a message that doesn’t fit with the media’s pro-abortion agenda.”
For the thousands who attend the March for Life, words can never quite capture into words the “message” that compels them to walk from the Mall to the Supreme court every January. Even the nature of the walk – a literal mile long hike up Capitol Hill in the snow – sounds on paper exactly like that three-mile, uphill trek that all our parents supposedly made on a daily basis walking to school.
Unlike that anecdote, the March for Life is no fiction. The blizzard grounded it in a reality that even mainstream media couldn’t spin for long. Storm Jonas became a vehicle of discussion when actual vehicles leaving the Rally and March were stranded on the side of the Pennsylvania turnpike
The New York Times issued a later report on Saturday detailing the ongoing traffic backup of Marchers returning home across the Midwest. The backup lasted for hours through the night on Friday, with at least one group from Franciscan University of Steubenville finally moving forward 32 hours later on Sunday.
Andrea Moury, one of the students stranded in Franciscan’s seven buses, explained that “there were many inconveniences we endured during the time we spent waiting to be rescued. We had to divide a cold pizza by 40. We had to sleep two extra nights on the bus. We did not have running water.”
Perhaps the most memorable image from the backup was the Mass that was held on the side of the turnpike. Catholic high school students and their priest returning from DC turned to prayer as soon as their wheels stopped turning.
In this image, the mainstream media grasped what they didn’t quite grab hold of at the March: The responsiveness of the pro-life movement is deeply related to the responses that are waited for in the silence of prayer.
In my own experience of the March, I was just as distracted by the weather reports once I landed at Ronald Reagan airport. It wasn’t until the next morning during a well-versed homily at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church behind the Supreme Court that I felt my own individual worries begin to melt away. The priest was visiting the D.C. area, and he spoke about how he had almost canceled their parish trip due to the weather reports. Amidst phone calls and prayer, this priest made the decision to take the trip. That single moment of clarity gave him the peace that he then conveyed to the crowded morning Mass.
As he spoke, I looked around at travelers wearing leg warmers, layers of coats, and Washington DC tourist garb, and I was reminded of the sense of community that is critical to the pro-life movement. A community that spans generations, cultures, and age groups is one that will soon overcome the silence imposed by mainstream media.