Monday, June 19, 2017

"Catholics, Take Responsibility for Hate": Twitter Discusses Terrorist Attack on Muslims in London Yesterday

I've recently been a lurker in an online conversation about Jordan Denari Duffner's Religion Dispatches article claiming that Islamophobia is common in the Catholic media. Several people involved in this conversation who are movers and shakers of the American Catholic intellectual establishment, with strong ties to leading "liberal" Catholic journals in the U.S., responded viterupatively to Duffner's report: Totally unsubstantiated, they said. Sloppy research, they said. Grew up Catholic and never saw any evidence of Islamophobia among Catholics, they indicated.

I kept my mouth shut as the defensive tribalistic responses poured out — from movers and shakers of the liberal wing of American Catholicism — because I knew better than to speak up. I know that I am not welcome in their discussions. They have made that very clear to me for some years now, even to the point of asking me to email them about why I find the Catholic church in the U.S. unwelcoming to LGBTQ people and then totally ignoring my email — not even acknowledging it.

These defensive tribalistic "liberal" American Catholic leaders who want to suppress open discussion of Islamophobia in the Catholic church are the very same set of people who claim there is no prejudice against LGBTQ folks in Catholic communities, that racism within the Catholic church in the U.S. is a made-up conversation topic pushed by ideological radicals out to get the church: does not exist.

We say that it's not there and that we don't see it, and so we don't intend to talk about it. Furthermore, we intend to exclude anyone seeking to open discussion of these issues from our Catholic-identity-defining conversations. We're Cabots, and by definition Cabots talk only to Lowells or God. You're not any of these. And so we don't intend to talk to you. We don't intend even to see you there.

Had I felt welcome to state an opinion about this discussion group's morally unserious defensive tribalistic Catholic reflex to Duffner's article, I'd have asked them how they think they can make such claims — really! — when one of Donald Trump's closest advisors is a Catholic man who gave a sword-rattling address to a Vatican conference in which he called for a holy war of Christendom against Islam. Can they really not know that Trump is surrounded by a circle of Catholics who think this way, from Kellyanne Conway to Sean Spicer to Corey Lewandowski to Newt Gingrich to "Cathevangelical" Mike Pence, for God's sake?

Mike Flynn: Catholic.

James Mattis: Catholic.

John Kelly: Catholic.

The Trump administration is chock full of right-wing Catholics, most of them loud and proud Islamophobes, but there's no problem with Islamophobia in American Catholicism? As I've said before, the U.S. bishops and powerful right-wing Catholic leaders like Carl Anderson are not the only ones responsible for paving the path that had led the nation to Donald Trump.

"Liberal" Catholic intellectual leaders who suppress open discussion of issues like racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny within the Catholic community, and who shun fellow Catholics who want to open such discussions: they're equally responsible for Trump. More responsible, I think.

Nor, as the tweet above by English Catholic Maureen Clark suggests, is this only an American issue: here's John Allen yesterday at Crux: 

Four years of Pope Francis notwithstanding, it remains generally true in Europe that the more overtly Catholic a political party is, the more likely it is to advocate a restrictive line on immigration.

I hear J.K. Rowling suggesting that it's better to have open and honest discussions about these matters than to go the defensive tribalistic route of U.S. Catholic lay intellectual leaders, don't you? So let's talk. 

If the religious upbringing or affiliation of every terrorist is fair game for discussion as we dissect acts of terrorism, I'm inclined to ask, now that we're remembering Dylann Roof's massacre of nine African-American churchgoers a year ago, what in Roof's Lutheran upbringing radicalized him.  Ms. Bachmann, you were raised Lutheran and attended a Lutheran church until you switched to a non-denominational one a few years back: can you please help us understand what it is in "the" Lutheran upbringing that produces terrorists like Dylann Roof?

Speaking of Lutherans and their demonstrable link to terrorism (the Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik was confirmed in the Lutheran church at the age of fifteen), after Scott Roeder gunned down Dr. George Tiller in a Lutheran church in Kansas in 2009, he stated that he had been radicalized after he became a born-again Christian while watching Rev. Pat Robertson's "700 Club" program in 1992, and that he began his plans to kill Tiller the following year.

Let's talk. 

(It goes without saying that I don't for a moment believe Lutherans are predisposed to terrorism, any more than I believe that Catholics, Muslims, Wiccans, or Rastafarians are predisposed to terrorism.

It also goes without saying that I consider the acts of violence in the London Bridge attacks several weeks ago heinous, and that I think such violence needs to be condemned without equivocation. To those who are inclined to ask why I'm speaking out, in particular, about acts of violence committed by white Christians, I would note that these are my own people, and we have an obligation to speak about what is closest to ourselves, in our back yard, first and foremost, when such events happen. I cannot shape what happens in the Islamic communities of the world, not in any direct way. I do have a chance — and an obligation — to try to shape the thinking of white Christians like myself.)

(A note of thanks to Jim McCrea for emailing me and others the articles by Jordan Denari Duffner and John Allen.)

(Later: I have removed a tweet by J.K. Rowling I had previously included at the head of this posting because it appears to have been deleted from her Twitter page.)

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