Saturday, January 3, 2015

Odds and Ends of News: Cologne Cathedral to Go Dark to Protest Muslim Bashing, Continuing Need for Wake-Up Call about Racism for U.S. White Catholics

Here are some odds and ends of news in the past few days that seem noteworthy to me, and which I haven't quite known how to fit into any other posting than this grab-bag one:

1. As Reuters reports (by way of The Guardian), the dean of Cologne cathedral, Norbert Feldhoff, has announced that the cathedral will turn off its lights in protest of an anti-Islamic march in Cologne on Monday evening. The right-wing Muslim-bashing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) is fast gaining alarming currency in Germany, where 17,000 people attended a PEGIDA rally in Dresden last week and recent polls indicate one in eight Germans say they'd march with PEGIDA, given the chance.

I'm especially struck by Father Feldhoff's rationale for protesting by shutting out the cathedral lights: as he notes, PEGIDA is seeking to build a movement in which middle-of-the-road Germans find common cause with folks on the hard, mean right — with outright racists. And so:

By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.

One of the tragic aspects of German history in the 20th century (and through Germany's central role on the world stage, in world history) is that too many ordinary German citizens apparently didn't stop and think about whom they were marching alongside until the Nazi movement had seized control of the country and started exterminating millions of people. As that tragedy unfolded, too many German churches and church folks stood by in stolid, complicit silence.

I'm grateful to Father Feldhoff for choosing to shut down the Cologne cathedral lights as Islamic citizens of Germany are targeted by the hard right with the active complicity of the mushy center, and for asking people to stop and think about whom they're marching alongside. I wonder how a similar wake-up call can be issued to the 60% of white U.S. Catholics who just voted for a political party in which overt out-of-the-closet white supremacists now occupy prestigious national positions

While mealy-mouthed apologists for Catholic "centrism" like Michael Sean Winters predictably try to spin that Catholic choice for the GOP as all about abortion, abortion, abortion — but never about Catholic white racism and Catholic white privilege . . . . I'd like to see someone find a way of issuing a wake-up call to U.S. white Catholics who vote Republican that might make them think more criticially for a change about whom they're marching alongside.

Lord knows, the U.S. bishops aren't issuing any such wake-up call. They're at the front of the march, in fact. Along with the mushy Catholic "centrists" who occupy the bully pulpits of the Catholic media and academy . . . .

2. This is related to point #1: okay, here's what really galls me about some of the Catholic commentators who logged into Mary Ann McGivern's discussion of Catholic white privilege and Catholic racism at NCR to which I pointed readers recently. Several of those who logged into the discussion to shout, "What white privilege?," and, "If we ethnic white Catholics have made it, then black folks can do so, too, if they'll give up crime and immorality," are Catholics whose M.O. at NCR discussions is love, love, love.

Some of these privileged white Catholics who refuse to recognize that they are privileged, and who want to play their white privilege against the historic injustice experienced by African Americans as they blame African Americans for being poor, log into NCR discussions constantly to talk about love, love, love. About how they support and exemplify a love-centered version of Catholicism . . . . 

As Cornel West has stated, "Justice is what love looks like in public."

'Nuff said.

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