Thursday, July 28, 2016

White Catholics, White "Liberal" Churchgoers, and Racism: Three Discussions Hot Off the Presses in Light of Trump

Three passages from my reading in the past day that speak quite directly to questions I have raised repeatedly in the last several days here:

First, Michael Pasquier on white Catholics and the perduring sin of racism:

White Catholic support for desegregation grew during the 1960s, a decade that witnessed the peak of the civil rights movement and the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council. But a comprehensive plan to address racism never materialized in the church. The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus observed in the late 1960s that "the Catholic Church in the United States, primarily a white racist institution, has addressed itself primarily to white society and is definitely a part of that society." Since then, U.S. bishops have issued pastoral letters and conducted studies on the realities and sinfulness of racism. Yet as much as some white, Catholic activists have worked for racial equality both inside and outside the church, many rank-and-file Catholics of European descent have continued to harbor attitudes toward interracialism ranging somewhere between ambivalence and violent opposition. 
This brings us to the present day.

This brings us to the present day . . . when one in two white Catholics are reporting that they support Donald Trump. And when the best and brightest among American Catholics, its intellectual elite, are prone to outlaw open discussion of racism, and prefer to decry, instead, "identity politics" and "political correctness."

Peter Laarman on the considerable complicity of white "liberal" church folks, who prefer to talk to and to talk about African Americans, but who remain unwilling to invite African Americans into white "liberal" church conversations in a way that displaces the white liberal from the status of normativity and forces him/her to listen and learn: 

We speak today of the fecklessness of white liberals, and I certainly am among those who have decried, in these pages and elsewhere, the special fecklessness of white Christian progressives when it comes to the hardcore issues of race and class. The difference between today's progressives and the "benevolent" reformers of 200 years ago is that those pious reformers actually had the ear of Congress and of six successive chief executives—whereas faithy liberals in our era talk mainly to themselves. 
But there is also a telling and dolorous similarity between the two groups when it comes to people of color: enlightened whites of the 21st century continue to offer all sorts of ideas about "what needs to be done" for the sake of racial justice. But only rarely do they/we bother to sit with and learn from the main victims of racial oppression. Normal social intercourse is still not the norm. The message continues to be a mixed one: you (people of color) deserve full equality in every dimension of life; just don't come too close.

And Chauncy DeVega on the very high price our culture is now paying for such evasion, game-playing, and pretending — including among its intellectual and moral leaders in the church-based academy and church-based journalistic sphere:  

It took four days of unrepentant hate, bigotry, and fear mongering that culminated with Donald Trump's noxious coronation speech in Cleveland for some in the American news media to finally concede that the Republican Party in 2016 is the United States' largest white identity organization. They are surprised by what is obvious; the American news media is 50 years late in acknowledging what has been clear for decades. 
Why is this?

Pretending is simply easier, is it not? Pretending that we represent the norm and those others out there are somehow less than normative — to be talked at and talked down to, but not talked with. Pretending that we represent Catholicity in its purity though our behavior is the very antithesis of catholic.

Blaming "political correctness" and "identity politics" and nasty leftists who insist distastefully on raising the topic of racism as a conversation topic, when we ourselves know better — when we know that moral discussions should be about the issue of abortion and the ontological status of the zygote, not the issue of racism. 

Pretending that nothing is seriously wrong with a culture that could elevate Donald Trump to the status he now enjoys, and that no alarm bells are to be rung when a full half of white Catholics in the U.S. state that they intend to vote for this open racist and xenophobe, who is in no way qualified to be president. Pretending that our own white Catholic "liberal" complicity in this racism for years now is in no way responsible for bringing our nation and our church to this frightening point.

Pretending is easier, when all is said and done. And talking among ourselves, though the conversation circle grows ever smaller, tighter, more parochial — less catholic — as younger Catholics leave the church in droves, fed up with its monomaniacal emphasis on abortion to the exclusion of all other moral issues, with its abuse of LGBTQ people; as LGBTQ people leave in droves, too, having been made totally unwelcome in our "catholic" "moral" conversations; as women are stigmatized as the enemy while the zygote is accorded a human status that demands our unique focus while we ignore all those already born young people who are walking away, all those LGBTQ people who have been purged from our institutions, all those women alienated by the deep misogyny in the Catholic institution.

Conversations are easier when they occur in a tight, parochial circle which dictates that no one different from ourselves should be made welcome, and that no viewpoints other than our own (We decree by fiat that the zygote is a human person, and no discussion of alternative viewpoints will be permitted) are allowed into the conversation. 

Moral discussions should be easy, after all. Shouldn't they?

I find the graphic, evidently an historic photo, at a number of sites online, with no clear indication (that I have seen) of its source.

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