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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dousing Inflammatory Rhetoric

Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson of 19 people, including Rep. Giffords, and the deaths of six victims, has become a flashpoint for political opportunism of the worst kind. So much inflammatory rhetoric, mainly from the Left, on how violent society becomes because of...inflammatory rhetoric. Boy, talk about circular reasoning, huh?

It's one thing for political pundits and elected officials to sling mud from the trenches - that's their milieu and frankly, the way it's done today is no different than how it's been done in this country for more than two centuries. One only needs to read about how Adams and Jefferson went after each other - verbally - during their campaigns to recognize that, in some ways, we have progressed to somewhat more dignified mud-slinging. Not much, mind you, but a little. Now, I don't say this to justify it - stirring up emotions via hyperbole and rhetoric may be the practice du jour in politics, but that doesn't make it right.

So the barrage of unreasonable attacks and unsupported assertions as to the shooter's motivations, and the legislative solutions proposed by some elected officials - plexiglass shielding in Congress? Really? - are not all that unexpected. Unfortunate, ridiculous and opportunistic - yes. Unexpected - not that much.

But it's a completely other thing when certain Catholyc commentators fail to restrain themselves from joining the "blame the political (read as: right-wing) rhetoric" bandwagon, though - especially since it's been fairly well established that the rhetoric and posturing had nothing at all to do with this attack. And why jump on that bandwagon anyway? Political operatives and elected officials use this approach to gain some perceived political advantage, or curry favor with their supporters. So what advantage would Catholycs gain? Simple - they're bound at the hip with such people - ie., the Left, progressives, Socialists, Communists, whatever you want to label them - and to them, events and circumstances are much more political than spiritual anyways, and the average Catholyc leans left. Government is their God, while their professed faith is just an accessory - nice to look at, doesn't cost much, and never gets in the way.

For instance -it should come as no surprise that the National Catholic Distorter, in a column by Jamie Manson, has seen the light of day. It goes off on a tangent in the first sentence, and never looks back:
It is unclear to what extent Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was influenced by the epidemic of hostile, fear-mongering rhetoric that dominates public discourse on critical issues such as health care, immigration, and Islam.

Regardless of whether Loughner’s motivation was induced by the media or mental illness, the incident compels us to take a serious look at the violent overtones of political speeches, and the ways in which misinformation and exaggerations about hot button issues strike fear and trigger aggression in the minds of listeners.

In a country that spent the last several months exploring the problem of bullying in our schools, it is time to have a public conversation about the raging, manipulative demagogues who use untruths and scare tactics for their own personal and political gain.

Okay, so regardless of the reason, she's framing the issue as if "violent overtones of political speeches", and "misinformation and exaggerations" were the reason. And where did she get Islam from? Has anyone out there made that connection? None of what she says makes any sense. For a supposed Catholic publication, you'd think a more spiritual approach to the issue would be appropriate. Then again, this is the National Catholyc Distorter...

And wouldn't you know it - she does have something to say regarding spiritual issues - namely, the comixture of politics and spirituality of two people in particular, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck!

Perhaps the most vocal and visible preachers of rancor in our country right now are Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. But one other aspect of their lives unites them as well. They are both avowed Christians who claim that many of their political convictions are rooted in their faith.

Palin frequently draws upon violent imagery to drive home her points. As has been widely reported, she used “crosshairs” to designate members of Congress who needed to be removed -- Giffords was in the top twenty -- and often invoked her favorite motto, “Don’t Retreat, RELOAD!” and “aim for Democrats” to incite the crowds.

The icon and the mantra were quickly and quietly removed from her website after Saturday’s massacre.

Palin claims to have been saved as a Christian at the age of 12. She spent her high school and college years devoted to Christian causes. She proudly attends a non-denominational church and declares herself a Bible-believing Christian. She vehemently defends the notion that the United States is a Christian nation, and frequently addresses evangelical groups. Beck’s speech at his “Rally to Restore Honor,” sounded much more like a religious revival as he exhorted America to “turn back to God.”

Funny how she doesn't mention the "violent imagery" that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is known to have used. Maybe she agrees with him.

Now I don't watch Beck, and I think Palin is an intriguing figure. But what's the problem with turning back to God? Yeah, they're playing to their bases - but what politician or pundit doesn't do that? And being a Catholyc, you'd think Manson would agree with the idea that turning back to God is a good thing.

But of course she doesn't. Mainly because her view of God conflicts with the Church's view of Him. That while He is infinitely merciful, He is also infinitely just, and that the 10 Commandments he gave Moses were meant to be followed and not just not a neat idea whose time has come and gone. That He sent His only Son to save us from sin; that His Son established one church; that He finds sinful behavior abominable - some behaviors more than others, by the way; and so on.

Not only that, Catholycs like herself, and the publication she writes for, continually engage in inflammatory rhetoric, and her article reflects an awful lot of projection. A.lot.

In that regard, I agree that the inflammatory rhetoric ought to stop.

Hence from this moment forward, I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that the Church is misogynistic because women cannot be ordained priests; that women who go through fauxrdination and subsequently are excommunicated are spiritually harmed by the Church; that the Church is doing violence against women's religious orders vis a vis the Apostolic Visitation; that the Church only regards women's value as breeding children and serving their husbands.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that the Church is homophobic because She teaches it is impossible for gays to be married; that the Church is engaging in homophobic activity when She supports traditional marriage voting initiatives; that gay couples are disrespected because Catholic adoption agencies would rather close than be forced to allow gay couples to adopt children; that She is being hateful when She teaches that homosexual activity is sinful, unnatural, harmful and not in the slightest way an expression of authentic love.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that the Pope is killing AIDS victims and women in Africa because of the ban against condoms.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that certain bishops are politicizing the Eucharist when they prohibit pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving communion; that bishops are endangering the lives of people when they prohibit Catholic hospitals from calling themselves Catholic if they engage in procedures that are contrary to the Catholic faith; that certain bishops would rather have two people die instead of just one.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that the Church is imposing its will on the faithful through the new translation, that it will cause division and strife within parishes.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that Pope Benedict, and Pope John Paul II before him, are quashing the "Spirit of Vatican II", and preventing the Holy Spirit from working throughout the entire Church.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that the sex abuse crisis was only because of clericalism and celibacy rules, and that none of it would have happened if women could be priests.

I call on Catholycs to cease using inflammatory rhetoric that pro-lifers only care about the unborn child; that once the child is born, they don't care about it, the mother, her family or anyone else living for that matter, except other pro-lifers and their political connections.

Until those things happen - until they cease fomenting division within the Church and until they cease striking at the roots of the faith - well, then I will not cease calling them out on it.

Lead by example, Catholycs. Cease using the rhetoric you claim to abhor. Otherwise, shut the H-E-double hockey sticks up.