Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Anthony Annett and Patrica Miller Respond to Catholic Neocons Calling on Catholics to Stop Trump: "These Issues Are All—to Coin a Phrase—Non-Negotiable"

At Commonweal, Anthony Annett responds to the appeal of Catholic neocons Robert George and George Weigel to Catholics to stop Donald Trump in his tracks, which I discussed earlier today (and here):

It is galling to see Weigel and George proclaim that the Republican party has been promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States. I ask myself, in what alternative reality are they living? 
This is a party itching to cast millions into the abyss of having no health insurance, proud of its cavalier attitude to human life. 
This is a party promising to actively undermine the Paris climate change agreement, the most important international agreement since the Second World War, and endorsed by 196 countries—and a key priority of Pope Francis. 
This is a party strongly committed to the upward redistribution of income, promising to slash both taxes on the wealthy and the most basic social protections for the poor—and a party that bows low before the “deified market” condemned by Pope Francis. 
This is a party that has spent decades seeking to undermine and destroy the ability of labor to organize, a direct attack on both solidarity and subsidiarity—and a party that prizes corporate profitability above the need for a living wage. 
This is a party that seeks to rip asunder basic consumer protections, and to go back to a financial wild west at a time when large financial institutions are larger, more interconnected, and more self-absorbed than ever. 
This is a party of war, of bellicosity, of torture—a party that prizes machismo posturing over reasoned dialogue, or—God forbid—peace building. 
This is a party that appeals to the worst instincts in human beings, seeking to demonize the other, deport the other, bomb the other—and a party that brazenly pours fuel on the flames of America’s tragic racial legacy. 
This is a party that presents a distorted vision of Christianity, one in which God bestows wealth on his favored, and where his favor covers the United States more than any other country. 
It is simply not possible to argue that this party embodies the principles of Catholic social teaching. These issues are all—to coin a phrase—non-negotiable. Ask yourself: would Pope Francis feel comfortable with the values and positions of this party? Would he even recognize the severely distorted vision of Catholicism put forward by Robbie George and George Weigel?

And then he adds:

The bottom line is this: George Weigel and many of his pals on this list have been actively undermining authentic and traditional Catholic social teaching for decades now. This implicates them in the rise of Trump in a number of ways. 

At Religion Dispatches, Patricia Miller also addresses the appeal of Robert P. George and George Weigel and other Catholic neocons to Catholics to stop Trump:

This is, of course, hysterical coming from people who sat by and let the Bush adminstration demagogue LGBT people to get the crucial margin of victory in states like Ohio to win a second term. (Remember when "judges from Boston" were going to force sodomites on the good people of the heartland?) And who were similarly silent when the party tried to capitalize on the coded racism of the anti-Obama forces in 2012 or upend the Affordable Care Act, even though the Catholic Church has been advocating for universal health care since Model Ts were on the road. 
And it's even funnier that those who helped put Bush and Cheney in office and watched as they led the nation into endless, unwinnable wars, and justified torture to prevent an ever-present Code Orange threat of terrorism, are lamenting that Trump’s stance on torturing terrorists and killing their families are "actions condemned by the Church." I guess the crucial difference being that the Bush adminstration didn’t kill terrorists' families—except by accident. 
But what George and Weigal are really worried about when it comes to Trump is that he won’t support the real priorities of the Catholic Church: 
"1) providing legal protection for unborn children … and other victims of what Saint John Paul II branded "the culture of death"; (2) defending religious freedom in the face of unprecedented assaults by officials at every level of government … (3) rebuilding our marriage culture, based on a sound understanding of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and (4) re-establishing constitutional and limited government."
Wow, 12 years of Catholic school and I missed that "re-establishing constitutional and limited government" is a core Catholic value. The priorities they list may be priorities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has long had an alliance with Catholic pro-business conservatives and neocons, but, it turns out, not the white working class voters who are supporting Trump. It seems that if you don’t have a job and are watching your community crumble around you from years of economic stagnation, "defending religious freedom" or "rebuilding our marriage culture" as defined by the Catholic right are of little concern. And while George and Weigel give lip service to "wage stagnation," it's still wrapped up with their pet concerns of "grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending [and] inept foreign policy."

Patti Miller's conclusion:

And after almost 40 years of supporting Republicans, the gig is up for these folks. They've finally realized that no amount of tax or regulation cutting, no amount of abortion or same-sex marriage banning, is going to bring back their jobs. They're culturally alienated from the Democratic Party, with its tilt toward educated, urban elites and people of color. That leaves Trump as their last and best bet. And as the primary contests move into the Rust Belt and Northeast, this Catholic base may turn out to be Trump's secret weapon, exploding the elite Catholic neocon-evangelical alliance that has dominated the Republican Party from within. 

If Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidency, white Catholics will place him in the White House, and will play a key role in doing so. As Fred Clark observes, yes, working-class Americans are angry that they've been betrayed by their political leaders. But for some of us, he notes, the anger is misdirected.

Instead of being angry at the betrayal of leadership our political (and religious) elites have exhibited, which has brought us to our current sorry state, we're directing our anger towards the wrong people — towards racial and ethnic minorities, towards women and queer people. And the very same people who are now telling us to turn off that anger are the ones who seeded it in us, as our leaders.

This is shameful in the extreme when we're talking about Catholic pastoral and intellectual leaders, the bishops and the lay leaders like George and Weigel whose voices have resounded through the Catholic academy and journalistic sector for decades now, drowing out all other Catholic voices, and, in particular, those from the margins of church and society.

For information about the graphic, please see the posting linked above in the first paragraph with the phrase "I discussed earlier."

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