Monday, November 14, 2016

The Nightmare That Is a Trump Presidency: What We Can Expect to Hear from U.S. Catholic "Liberal" Intellectuals Now

I posted this Facebook message to my Facebook family and friends two days ago. I'd like to build on it here this morning.

What we're going to hear more of in the days to come — what we're already hearing — from leading Catholic "liberal" intellectuals and leading Catholic liberal media gurus, people with much power to represent the official voice of the Catholic church in the U.S. public square, is that the Democrats had their drubbing coming because they abandoned the (white) working classes this election cycle. What we will not hear from leading Catholic "liberal" intellectuals offering us this analysis is that their idealization of the working classes is idealization of the white working classes, particularly of the white working- and middle-class Catholic voters in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan who formed a significant portion of Trump's base.

While African-American and Latino working-class people voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate in this election . . . . What we will also not hear from leading Catholic "liberal" intellectuals as they idealize the white working classes and suggest that their legitimate economic grievances led to Trump's election is the role played by racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in the political upheaval we've just witnessed.

American Catholic "liberal" intellectuals cannot say any of this, you understand, because the cozy, elite, stiflingly parochial (and very white) club they have created for themselves does not solicit the voices or welcome the input of people of color or Latinos or women committed to feminism in any thoroughgoing way or of LGBTQ people. While decrying abortion as some monstrous and singular sin, the American Catholic "liberal" intellectual club does not decry the sins of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, or homophobia.

This club wishes, in fact, to suggest that only supercilious "elites" out of touch with real working-class people push discussions about these matters, and that real working-class white Catholics cannot be racist, xenophobic, misogynstic, or homophobic, because Catholics do not suffer from such afflictions. Those are afflictions of less enlightened people in less enlightened regions of the nation than ones in which Catholics live. 

And so "liberal" Catholic intellectuals, who wield enormous power in the American Catholic church through their academic and journalistic connections, do not need to listen to silly analysis of non-existent issues like racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophbia pushed by "elites" who are, in any case, hostile to the Catholic church and its interests. They can be content to talk among themselves — overwhelmingly white, affluent people living in regions of the country in which they themselves never really rub shoulders with the white working classes they are eager to idealize, and to use as a weapon against the Democratic party with claims that, if the Democratic party paid attention to the real moral issue of our time, abortion, and stopped listening to "elites" nattering on about racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia, it would be healthier and have more power.

When all is said and done — and we need to be honest about this — the position taken by leading American Catholic "liberals" about these matters for a long time now has helped create the conditions for Donald Trump to rise to power. It also represents a gross and immoral abandonment of all those who are now already being targeted by Trump's followers, and who will continue to be targeted, with all the branches of government standing behind the targeting, when he assumes office. 

The "liberal" U.S. Catholic intellectual and journalistic club has learned absolutely nothing at all about its obsolescence, its moral and intellectual impoverishment, even as a result of this dark moment of kairos to which it has now helped lead the nation. It cannot learn, because it refuses to listen to any voices other than the voices of its own (almost exclusively white and affluent) club members, who have much more invested in solidarity with the 6 in 10 white Catholics who elected Donald Trump than in solidarity with people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, or women who are outspoken feminists.

Expect a lot of blather from these folks now about how the Democrats have abandoned real poor people (you know: white people, salt-of-the-earth Catholic people in the urban areas of the country who are by definition not motivated by racism, xenophobia, misogyny, or homophobia because they're Catholic). And as you hear that blather, ask yourself if these folks will ever stand up for those outside their stiflingly parochial club until their own children are the ones encountering the swastikas, the racial slurs, the taunts about dykes and fags and hijabs and that big wall to be built on the Mexican border, when they go to school in the era of Trump.

(15 November: please note a change I made to this posting after it was initially posted. I have inserted a link in the first sentence of the second paragraph that was not in the original posting.)

No comments: