Saturday, April 8, 2017

End-of-Week Miscellany: War and Rumors of War, the Catholic Vote in 2016, Catholic Leaders and LGBT Community

David Gibson reports on Father James Martin's new book Building a Bridge, which calls on Catholic pastors and the LGBT community to listen to each other. As he notes, Father Martin's book is being praised by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and Bishop Robert McElroy inter alia. I respond:

It's an interesting "conversation," isn't it, when the people being talked about, defined, argued over, are not in the room as they are talked about, defined, argued over — have no say in the "conversation" at all? 
An exceedingly one-sided "conversation" between ordained men, none of whom claim in any open way at all to be gay themselves — handing down their definitions, their words, their terms, their categories, and then counseling the LGBT community to listen respectfully and be happy to be treated in this way. 
As pawns. As things. As the defined and never the definers. As objects. 
All against a backdrop of big, high rhetoric about "love" and "justice" and "mercy," terms made meaningless by this behavior. 
But we aren't ever supposed to say this. 
We're accused of being "angry" and "divisive" if we observe that the emperor has no clothes.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, "Trump's New Leaf: Shock and Semi-Awe": 

Just over 24 hours later, the Russia investigation was off the front pages, off the cable news shows, banished to the furthest reaches of the public's consciousness when down at Mar-a-Lago, Trump gathered his "national security team," in a hastily put-together "situation room" where everyone sat on gilded chairs pilfered from the ballroom and, with son-in-law and International Man of Mystery Jared Kushner at his side, the president of the United States launched 59 cruise missiles at some empty airfield in the Syrian desert in a show of Shock and Semi-Awe and drew Presidential First Blood. Wow. Out of the Rose Garden and into the foxhole at Mar-a-Lago overnight! A thrilling transformation of a man in crisis to a Man in Full. 
There's a new sheriff in town. That’s the "message" those 59 cruise missiles were supposed to send not just to Assad, but to the goddamned congressional committees, the FBI, hell, to every swingin’ dick in D.C. who didn’t know who the hell they were dealing with! Listening to the line-up of macho men on the morning shows on Friday — and yes, they were all men, at least in the first segments — it worked! You'd think that Washington, D.C., had just been hit with a brand new chemical weapon of mass delusion — The Viagra Bomb. The Talking Heads were so thrilled with Trump's big exciting strike on one goddamned Syrian airfield they were practically vibrating in their chairs. I sat there watching the display of talking head peacockery and fluffing and strutting, embarrassed to be a man.

Greg Grandin, "Trump Hits His Target: Domestic Critics Who Think He’s Too Close to Putin and Not Interventionist":

The bombing was for domestic consumption. According to The New York Times, "The Pentagon informed Russian military officials, through its established deconfliction channel, of the strike before the launching of the missiles, the official said, with American officials knowing when they did that that Russian authorities may well have alerted the Assad regime." In other words, the object of Trump's Tomahawks was not Syria's capacity to deploy gas, but domestic liberal opponents who base their resistance to Trump entirely on the premise that he is anti-American because he is too close to Putin, and that he is a traitor to a bipartisan policy of humanitarian military interventionism. He bombs, drones, and kills, but he doesn't do it, like his predecessors, in the name of humanity. Until yesterday.

Jon Wiener asks Sarah Posner, 

When November 8 came and it was a choice between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, how did white evangelicals vote?

Sarah Posner responds: 

That was an easy choice for them. They've been inculcated for a couple of decades with the idea that the Clintons were evil incarnate. Top that off with a big dose of misogyny, and you’ve got 81 per cent of white evangelicals voting for Donald Trump.

81 per cent of white evangelicals and some 60 per cent of white Catholics and Mormons, it must not be forgotten — though the U.S. bishops and their apologists would like to keep very quiet about that fact and distract us from the glaring responsibility of white Catholics, under the bishops' pastoral and moral leadership, for the Trump regime . . . . White evangelicals are a convenient scapegoat for the bishops and for white Catholics, as they try to pretend that the alliance the bishops have made with white evangelicals is not fundamentally and originally about race. Because white Catholics in the North cannot, ipso facto, be racists, and there is nothing to discuss here. Move along.

But it is fundamentally and originally about race, and the pretending and posturing are not getting us far down any plausible moral road or onto any redemptive path.

Michael O'Loughlin reports for America Magazine on analysis of polling data from the 2016 election by Mark Gray, director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown, which suggests that Catholics voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a slim margin. Gray notes, "Mr. Trump fared well among white Catholics, who backed him nationwide 56 percent to 37 percent, according to the A.N.E.S. data." Hispanic Catholics, by contrast, voted for Clinton by wide margins.

This analysis breaks down the Catholic vote by regions, showing that Catholics in the Northeast and Midwest — the regions in which the U.S. Catholic church is most strongly institutionally rooted, which have the most clout in defining what it means to be Catholic in the U.S. — voted by hefty percentages for Donald Trump. Catholics in the South went for Trump, too, by a slimmer margin, while Catholics in the West, where Hispanic Catholics are concentrated, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

America wants to spin these data as something new, but I myself see little new in them. We've known for some time that there was a huge discrepancy between how white Catholics and Hispanic Catholics chose to vote in this election. We also know, if we have much information at all at our fingertips, that it's white Catholics, especially older ones, especially those in the Northeast and Midwest, who hold the purse strings of American Catholicism.

Who control most of its institutions. Who are represented in glaringly disproportional ways in the Catholic media and in Catholic academic institutions. Who define what it means to be Catholic for the entire nation without making much attempt at all to include alternative Catholic voices. Who appear totally unashamed to act this way even as they claim that they are defining what it means to be catholic — universal, welcoming to all, inclusive of all.

It's not in the least accidental that these are the Catholics who put Trump in the White House, claiming to have done so for "pro-life" reasons. And no matter how we now try to spin the data or how the bishops try to evade speaking about their abdication of pastoral and moral responsibility and how it has led to this point, white Catholics in the U.S. — who are richly, lavishly represented in Trump's inner circles — are responsible for Donald Trump and complicit in all that he does.

(Thanks to Jim McCrea for sharing the Michael O'Loughlin article.)

The photo of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh is by Mahmoud Raslan of Anadolu Agency/Getty Images and was taken in August last year after an air strike in Aleppo. The photo then went viral and appeared at many websites — e.g., at NPR.

No comments: