Friday, November 17, 2017

"The Fish Rots from the Head" and American Catholic Reasons for Choosing Trump: My Take

In an article yesterday at Vox entitled "'The fish rots from the head': a historian on the unique corruption of Trump's White House," U.S. presidential historian Robert Dallek tells Sean Illing that "the Trump administration easily ranks among the most corrupt in American history." Dallek states,

The fish rots from the head, and the stench of this administration starts at the very top….
This administration is a low point in our history. We've been through scandals before, going as far back as the Grant administration in the 19th century and the Harding administration in the early 20th century. Presidents have been accused of bribery and shady gift-giving. So it's not entirely unique to see scandals subsume a White House. 
But the shamelessness of this administration, the dishonesty, the total indifference to facts, is something I haven’t seen before — at least not this blatant. I think it's demoralized people and made them even more cynical about politics.

All of this seems self-evident to me and, I'm certain to a lot of people with functioning intellects and consciences in many places in the world.

Nonetheless, the Jesuit publication America chose recently to feature the voices of some American Catholics who voted for the moral monstrosity occupying the White House, and who also claim that they love Pope Francis. A recurring theme as they talked about why they chose that moral monstrosity: he's sincere. He's honest. He shakes things up. Things need to be shaken up.

(I wondered as I read the article whether interviews with the German people could have been done as Hitler came to power in which you could find "good" Germans — and America wanted to depict these Catholics as "good" ones — saying similar things about Hitler. My strong suspicion is that you could find those voices aplenty.)

The Vox article concludes that history will judge Donald Trump harshly. I think that history will judge us harshly. It was us, many of us, after all, who placed him in the White House. And it's "liberal" Catholic organizations and "liberal" Catholic groups that continue giving a pass to Catholics who made this choice, as these groups press the both-sides-have-a-point analysis and refuse to make clear moral choices that place us on one side or the other of the massive corruption, dishonesty, betrayal of ecological systems and human rights and the poor, that this administration represents.

My little dog Valentine has a nasty habit. Daily, as our three dogs eat their breakfast outside, when he has tired of his bowl, Val goes to Chris' and Flora's bowls, hikes his leg, and pees in their bowls. This is, of course, about claiming that food for his own. It's about male marking and male territorialism and male dominance.

It's about spoiling what's left in each bowl so that Chris and Flo can't enjoy it. But it's also about spoiling what's left in the bowl so that Val can't enjoy it.

This is the choice many American citizens made with the moral monstrosity they chose to place in the White House. In the name of "shaking things up," those citizens have chosen to tear down, to destroy, to bring things crashing down around our heads — and around their own heads. 

This is an indefensible moral choice, and it's not to the credit of Catholic leaders that they seek to present this choice as the "other side" to which people committed to defending human rights, the earth, and the least among us should listen attentively. Especially when such self-chosen destruction always targets first of all the most vulnerable members of the human community and of the earth itself . . . .

I'm truly happy not to have any connection at all to a church whose "liberal" leaders can present this . . . lethal, immoral stuff and nonsense . . . as "the other side" to which people of intellect and conscience should pay devoted attention. Let them have it, the American Catholic church, with its defiant Trumpist bishops and their 1950s solutions to 21st-century problems

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