Four Pieces of Correspondence

Exhibit A:

Instead of clinging with those Libertarians who live in lala land, give serious consideration to what happened last night…and just who voted for this disaster.

All the so-called Americans who are receiving government assistance, the minorities and the ideologues.

Exhibit B:

I’ve got an idea. Let’s abandon our principles and champion abortion, gay marriage, obamacare, wonen in the priesthood, legalize marijuana and same sez marriage, reduced military, abandon Israel, buddy up to Ahmidinijad and Chavez, open the borders, and forty acres and a mule for all black people. That ought to do it.

There’s much to be said about these particular braindead responses to the suggestion that the Thing That Used to be Conservatism needs to take a fearless moral inventory instead of wrapping itself more tightly in the veil of unreality it has woven for itself. But what I want to focus on here is the simple, raw, undiluted racism both these responses telegraph. You know, like this and this:

Funnily enough, when a reader called the second guy on his racist remark, guess what he replied?

what is it about you people that you interpret everything as racist? I am less racist than you in all likely hood.

The likely hood that reader wears may or may not be white and pointy, but what I want to note here is simply that he repeats, without a movement of the grey matter, the braindead trope that “you people” (meaning, in this case, an appalled Catholic who takes seriously the teaching of the Church on racism) just automatically and reflexively label all conservatives racist–and uses it to lie about his racism.

Yes, yes.  I know.  There are shakedown artists in the black community.  Al Sharpton is a creep and Tawana Brawley was a fraud and Jesse Jackson is a crook.  Some professionally aggrieved grievance professionals need insensitivity training.  Duly noted.  But you know what?  That does not exhaust the matter because here’s the thing: this dude *is* a racist. So was the woman who declared minorities “so-called Americans”. And, you know, for some reason, as a result, I got the following mail from two of my African American readers, both of them serious about the faith, both basically social conservatives and serious Catholics on the core moral issues–and both of them deeply conflicted about what to do since so many in the Thing that Used to be Conservatism treat them with casual contempt. Why do conservatives lose elections and fail to get traction with people from minority communities? Could have something to do with things like this:

I’m writing this message in regards to some of the comments that I saw and to which I replied on your blog. I’m asking that you give serious chastisement to those who have made blatantly racist remarks, but more emphatically. I know it probably doesn’t mean SO much to you, and while you think it’s terribly wrong, that one should not ascribe to malice what one can merely ascribe to stupidity, to someone like me, it’s a lot more than stupid. It’s hurtful. It’s actually scary. It makes me wonder what all the people I attend mass with are thinking. I don’t know these people and they don’t know me, and generally they aren’t very friendly. When I see sentiment like that, I think “do they think that way, too?”. I’m a graduate student at Northwestern University with a bachelors cum laude from the University of Michigan for crying out loud. And I was grouped into a subset of the less appealing elements of my race merely for the fact that this skin that I bear is with me every moment of my life? I was utterly appalled, and I really feel that you should say something about it. While it isn’t necessarily the fault of conservatives that the conversation of race is in the open, I don’t think many of them are handling it very well at all. This just a humble request from one of your fans and followers. I hope you take the time to think this over, even if you decide that it wouldn’t be within prudence to fulfill my request. Thank you.

Another reader writes:

To My Brother In Christ,

Your article “Well That Didn’t Take Long” was a true blessing to me today. As an African American Traditional Catholic, I can’t tell you how this election has tormented me. The identity politics alone have left me feeling tortured and homeless–until I read not only your article but your responses to the comments that followed. I move between liberal and conservative communities–feeling ill at ease and alienated by the discourse I find in both. So thank you for providing (even if just for a moment) a sense of community to me. Thank you for speaking truth to power. Thank you for not conflating Republican and Christian/Catholic. Thank you for not excusing the racism that somehow gets swept under the rug (either as a necessary casualty or heaven forbid “Christian”). Thank you Thank you Thank you! Tonight I feel like someone gets it; and if you get it there must be others–evidenced by many of the thoughtful, articulate and truly Christian responses that followed.

Thank you for your example of putting Jesus and His Church front and center–above self-interest and above some worldly notion of “winning.”

Thanks for giving me hope! –In Christ,

There is not one good reason these two people–and many more like them–should have to feel this struggle. A smart politics informed by the Tradition instead of by Talk Radio would take them into account and regard them as the Church says to regard them–as human beings and not as “so-called Americans” or moochers or as part of the 47%. A stupid one, like the Thing that Used to be Conservatism, alienates these natural allies. It does the same thing with Latinos, telling them things like “Amnesty Equals Abortion” instead of treating with the reality that 12 million, hard-working, socially conservative, largely Catholic people who are integrated into our economy and only interested in a future for their families are not going anywhere. So–brilliantly–we equate them–in a Catholic organ of GOP agitprop–with “abortion” and then blame them for not voting for the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. Smart.

Am I saying all or even most conservatives are racist? Of course not. I am, however, saying that the undercurrent of racism is pronounced enough in the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism that it has, for instance, fueled the years long delusion that Obama was born in Kenya (read: is a foreigner and, ‘ow you say?, only a “so-called American”) and that that he is a Muslim. Here’s more reality. Obama was born in Hawaii. He’s just not a Muslim. He is a garden variety secularized liberal Protestant from a politicized Black urban church tradition that sees the gospel almost exclusively in terms of “community organizing”.

Similarly, the right wing obsession with pointedly saying Obama’s middle name as though this is conclusive proof of something (in other words, that he is African and Muslim, and therefore a “so-called American” and a terrorist enemy who has infiltrated good–that is, “white” society) is likewise one of those common habits on the right that demonstrate once again the veil of unreality that the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism weaves around itself by a thousand little winks and nods. Sometimes, all the racism comes together in a perfect storm of repellent sickness, such as this little call for a lynching:

This was not on a Stormfront or KKK site. This was posted on the website of the Sacramento Republican Party.

All this filth is doubly duplicitous and delusional in that, while it clearly is about Obama’s race making him a “so-called American”, it is persistently denied to be so. And the lie is so thorough that those who practice it are actually outraged and offended when people like my last two correspondents see it for what it obviously is and name it as such. To people like them the wounded response is consistently given: “What is it about you people that you interpret everything as racist?”

Here’s the thing: to paraphrase Talleyrand, this is not merely sin, it’s stupid, politically speaking. Because once again, anybody with eyes in their head standing outside the epistemic closure bubble of the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism knows perfectly well that all this stuff is trading on racism and suggesting that the Kenyan Muslim (he is neither) is only a “so-called American”. Unsurprisingly, African-Americans get the message that they are unwelcome, just as “deport the wetbacks” does send a certain message to Hispanics. Mysteriously these people choose not to vote for a political movement that tolerates and, at the grass roots level, encourages such messages. Who can fathom the mysterious mind of the minority group member?

Solution: Stop putting up with sotto voce racist BS. Do it, not because it’s politically stupid, but because its a sin and God hates it. That means, among other things, stop already with the stupid crap about Obama being a “so-called American”, a Kenyan, a Muslim, etc. All that stupidity needs to go and reality needs to be addressed instead. Such stupidity springs from sin and, in this case, is a living laboratory demonstration of just how stupid sin can make people.

Or, go on pretending there’s no problem and losing elections–and ignoring God.  The consequences of the former are being felt by the Thing that Used to be Conservatism now.  They should be taken as a gracious chastisement from the hand of God so that we will start obeying God and discovering happier and eternal consequences later.

Update:  In my comboxes, a reader writes: ”

“Claiming that this stuff is even 10% of the reason why Mitt lost is just ridiculous.”

And a Latina reader replies:

No, it’s not.  Supposedly 7 out of 10 Latinos voted for Obama, and let me assure you, most of them did not do that because they think abortions are awesome.  They did it because for decades the GOP has made it clear, implicitly and explicitly, that we are not welcome in that party.  They did it because the Democratic party has made a point of addressing our concerns (poverty, immigration, education) in a compassionate way.

I did not vote for Obama this time around (he lost me forever when he passed the NDAA), but I have never felt welcome in the GOP.  I’m a white Latina (yes, that’s a thing, Latinos come in all colors) who passes for “regular” white, so I have been lucky enough not to experience much racism directly.  But my ability to “pass” means I also get to hear all sorts of comments made by conservatives and Republicans, things they say thoughtlessly or because they think their audience will agree with them.  Not all conservatives and Republicans are racist, by any means, but many of them are clueless and carry a lot of unexamined assumptions.

With all the hoopla of the presidential election, the media in the States has not paid much attention to what happened in Puerto Rico on Tuesday — for the first time, a majority of the population voted to become a state.  Long ago, Congress promised to make P.R. a state if the people want it,* so the GOP, which controls the House, now has a chance to rethink its approach to Latinos.  Will Republicans seize the opportunity to welcome P.R., to show that it cares about and values Latinos?  Or will the GOP continue to focus only on white men, even as that demographic shrinks?

*There are other factors at play, including economic factors and the fact that the new governor is of the Commonwealth party, but how Congress reacts to the vote is important.

Update II:

I’m Korean American and a lifelong Catholic. I suppose I do identify more with the progressive agenda, but I’m not a registered Democrat — and their support for unlimited abortion on demand is one reason (though not the only one). I’ve always been pro-life — I’ve worked in the pro-life movement — and I have held my nose and voted for Republicans in past elections because of it. But the direction the GOP/conservative movement has taken in recent years, their contempt (laced with thinly veiled racism) for the President, their leaders’ comments about “the end of the white establishment” and a MILLION more comments/articles/blog posts along those lines, and their dismissal of what they view as “racist identity politics” of people of color — this all creates an atmosphere in which people of color cannot help but feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, regardless of our personal politics or motivations.

I’ve had friends, good friends, Catholic friends, accuse me of playing the race card or contributing to the “over-hyphenization of America” or becoming embittered against all white people. This doesn’t sound like the conservatism I was raised with. It’s gone in a pretty scary and awful direction. I don’t feel that the GOP or its most avid white supporters WANT me in their party — unless I become one of those people of color who trots out the old line that race is completely unimportant to me personally and our society generally — so, for me, it’s been an easy choice not to go there where I’m neither accepted nor welcomed as the whole person I am. A lot of other Asian Americans evidently feel the same way, as 73% of us (according to exit polls) backed Obama this year.

What I hear from a lot of conservative white Catholics is that they feel attacked by the President or his policies or his party. They feel discriminated against. I wish more conservative white Christians of all faiths could understand why it is that so many people of color feel the same way about the conservative movement.

Time to escape the epistemic closure bubble and treat with reality.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    “It makes me wonder what all the people I attend mass with are thinking. I don’t know these people and they don’t know me, and generally they aren’t very friendly. When I see sentiment like that, I think ‘do they think that way, too?’. I’m a graduate student at Northwestern University with a bachelors cum laude from the University of Michigan for crying out loud. And I was grouped into a subset of the less appealing elements of my race merely for the fact that this skin that I bear is with me every moment of my life?”

    How ghastly to wonder whether those with whom one is worshipping the Lord, wish inwardly not to see you amongst them.

    If they do harbor such thoughts willingly, then those members of the congregation present themselves unworthily to receive Jesus in the Sacrament, and on the day they present themselves to to the Lord to give an account of their lives, they will have to answer for both: for their sins against justice and charity toward you, and for receiving Communion unworthily.

    God will punish them. His wrath will be terrible against those to whom much has been given in the way of grace and knowledge of His ways and membership in the Church, and who repay His gifts with acts of injustice and uncharity toward their neighbor whom He has also called.

    Perhaps it would be kinder to yourself as well as to them, not to grieve yourself by imagining what others might be thinking. After all, we really cannot know the thoughts of others. Chances are, they are thinking of their wayward children, their 401K, their ill mother, or their sore, stiff shoulder, knee or back. Spiritual writers always say it is best to assume the best of others, to think kindly of them if at all possible, and if incontrivertible evidence is presented that someone is up to no good, then to pray for that person and feel only sorry for them (even as we watch our backs.)

    As for whether someone is college-educated and a Catholic: it is most commendable to pursue higher education, but God’s love is more important than any degree or any professional career. The only degree that really matters in the end is the degree to which our Heavenly Father loves us – which is to an infinite degree. And the degree to which we love Him in return. Status, education, money, possessions, position – none of these matter a whit in the divine economy – what matters is love. One thing stands in the way of love, and that is sin. If a man dressed in raggedy clothes, with no home, no education, no job, enters the congregation to worship God with pure love in his heart, the angels see him as he truly is, as one dressed in robes of silver and wearing a crown of gold and sparkling jewels. That’s what love does for us.

    May God’s love be always with you.

    • Mercury

      I think the guy pointing out his education was not to boast but to say “Hey guys, I’m not some thug from the hood – I have more in common with you, so why are you looking at me funny based on my skin color?” That’s the impression I got at least. I didn’t think he was trying to sound important.

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        “I didn’t think he was trying to sound important.”

        But he is important! So are you! So am I!

        We are all important to God, and should be to one another. Black, white, male, female, educated, not educated, rich, poor – the Father of Mercies regards each of us personally and individually with a tenderness and affection beyond all telling.

        To the extent that a Christian does not treat his neighbor in a manner that comports well with God’s own attitude toward that neighbor, that Christian is out-of-whack. Out-of-synch.

        Out of line.

        No matter what that neighbor’s appearance or status or class.

        • Mercury

          Oh I know he IS important in that sense. I just mean he wasn’t trying to brag about his education.

  • https://www.facebook.com/zaphod77 Gardner Ruggles Jr

    You hate racism. Fair enough. You should. And when the racism shows up in your inbox it’s hardly surprising you would highlight that which disgusts you. And you’re 100% right. It’s a sin and God hates it too. He also hates smears. Mitt Romney had nothing to do with the idiot in the t-shirt or something that was posted on the Sacramento GOP website in 2008 (2008? Really? What on earth does that have to do with Mitt’s candidacy?) or the nonsense in that Mother Jones article. (So what if the article linked to the source materials! 99% of the article was about claims made by the fringe of the fringe.) Claiming that this stuff is even 10% of the reason why Mitt lost is just ridiculous.

    You chose not to support Mitt. Fair enough. It’s a free country. Mitt wasn’t the perfect candidate but I realized long ago the perfect candidate doesn’t exist. If you’re going to pretend to speak for real conservatism, you should keep that in mind.

    • http://moss-place.stblogs.org Peony Moss

      There was serious suspicion (based on evidence) that the guy in the racist T-shirt was a plant.

      • Dennis Mahon

        The Romney/Ryan part was photshopped in.

      • Mercury

        I don’t know about Photoshop, but we should always be careful of images that arise on the Internet.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Pointing out those stupid comments, even if they were made years ago, has nothing to do with smearing Romney personally, but has a lot to do with describing a certain attitude that appears to be prevalent among some Republicans. Maybe not all of them, but as you probably know, a few loud voices in an assembly can drown everything else and sound as if they expressed the opinions of all present. Particularly if no equally loud voice is not perceived as correcting them. Many if not most of the people who did not vote for Romney were probably expressing their opinion of the party Romney had been chosen to represent.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        You have written a statement of fact, one that can be easily checked by comparing McCain votes to Romney votes. Early analysis says you are wrong. Later analysis may change that opinion. Keep an eye on the election postmortem analysts and it will become obvious if your thesis has legs.

        • vickie

          This applies to this person. I have been appalled by the GOP and movement conservavtives. That, along with the inability for Romney to give a convincing idea of what he intended to do plus the push to vote based on fear, left me cold. Leaves me wanting to see the GOP die and let a better thing take its place.

    • Jamie R

      If Republicans are trying to figure out why they lost, racism among Republican supporters is part of why there are so few Republicans who aren’t old white people. Even if that shouldn’t be attributed to Mitt qua candidate, if you’re Black, and some folks at the Romney 2012 rally have racist signs, and everyone else there is cool for it, you’re not gonna be actively campaigning for Romney.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        It’s pretty obvious to me that not everyone else there is “cool for it”. The idea that Republicans are is an attack, depending on its truth value, it might be a libel and a sin. We should all care about the truth.

        I am offended when I find Republicans who are racist and do go after them on it when my intervention might do some good. I’m also offended about policy racism, something that is far more prevalent on the Democrat side. That, however, doesn’t seem to offend the majority of minorities.

    • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

      “Claiming that this stuff is even 10% of the reason why Mitt lost is just ridiculous.”

      No, it’s not. Supposedly 7 out of 10 Latinos voted for Obama, and let me assure you, most of them did not do that because they think abortions are awesome. They did it because for decades the GOP has made it clear, implicitly and explicitly, that we are not welcome in that party. They did it because the Democratic party has made a point of addressing our concerns (poverty, immigration, education) in a compassionate way.

      I did not vote for Obama this time around (he lost me forever when he passed the NDAA), but I have never felt welcome in the GOP. I’m a white Latina (yes, that’s a thing, Latinos come in all colors) who passes for “regular” white, so I have been lucky enough not to experience much racism directly. But my ability to “pass” means I also get to hear all sorts of comments made by conservatives and Republicans, things they say thoughtlessly or because they think their audience will agree with them. Not all conservatives and Republicans are racist, by any means, but many of them are clueless and carry a lot of unexamined assumptions.

      With all the hoopla of the presidential election, the media in the States has not paid much attention to what happened in Puerto Rico on Tuesday — for the first time, a majority of the population voted to become a state. Long ago, Congress promised to make P.R. a state if the people want it,* so the GOP, which controls the House, now has a chance to rethink its approach to Latinos. Will Republicans seize the opportunity to welcome P.R., to show that it cares about and values Latinos? Or will the GOP continue to focus only on white men, even as that demographic shrinks?

      *There are other factors at play, including economic factors and the fact that the new governor is of the Commonwealth party, but how Congress reacts to the vote is important.

      • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

        I, for one, would welcome Puerto Rico as the 51st State.

      • Ghosty

        Very interesting on Puerto Rico. I look forward to see what comes of it.

        To the “passing for White” thing, I can relate to some extent. I myself am White, I identify as White, but my mother’s side of the family is Middle Eastern. When I was growing up MEs were simply considered White (most are no darker than Italians), but that seemed to change after 9/11. One American comic of Arab descent said “on September 10 I went to bed White, and I woke up as a dirty Arab!”

        I got to hear all kinds of sad discussions after 9/11, and it’s fascinating to me what people will say when they think none of “them” are in ear shot. My cousins are also Black, and my wife is Japanese, so I notice a lot of remarks that get tossed off casually, always by people who “aren’t racist”.

        Peace and God bless!

        • Mercury

          This is true and we have to watch out for it. However, some of the most racist crap I have heard is from one minority group to another (I don’t know how many Asian students of mine I have had to tell that they can’t say what they say about black people) – and NO ONE cares when someone makes racist remarks about white people.

        • Arnold

          Arabs actually are classified as Caucasians, i.e. “Whites.” Some of the worst racism these days is to be found on the borders between the Latino population and Blacks in such places as Los Angeles. Sad but true. Some Asian immigrant groups can be strongly ethno and racially centric too. As for statehood for Puerto Rico, why would Republicans vote to add another automatic six electoral votes to the Democrat coalition? Racism does not have to have anything to do with it. Puerto Ricans are mostly in the lower economic groups and would be more than likely Democrats, way more than likely. One vote should not decide it. There must also be a consensus among the Puerto Ricans themselves as well as in the general U.S. population. I don’t think a consensus exists in Puerto Rico itself and certainly not in the country at large.

          • Mercury

            Well, in many Asian countries, people have no qualms believing in ethnic superiority as a matter of course. And my Saudi and other Gulf Arab students certainly believe that Arabs are blessed above all nations.

          • Mercury

            Puerto Rico should be voted in, damn the political consequences. All territories have the right to petition for statehood. No one denied other states from coming into the union for mere political considerations – at least not since the Civil War.

            Do you seriously want Republicans stonewalling the territory’s entry into the union because “well, most of them are poor and Democrats”? Good God, what a fiasco that would be! Aside from being simply wrong, it would be politically moronic.

      • Mercury

        Beadgirl, if you re Latina, I have a question:

        Is the perception of “Latino” as one ethnic group something we created in the US, or something that Latin Americans in Latin America perceive themselves? I mean, to me it has always seen that Latin America is an extremely diverse region united by language and a Spanish-style culture and religion, but that to think of “Latino” as an ethnic group would be like thinking of “(US) American” as a single ethnic group.

        For example, when you look at the US census, the subtopics under “Hispanic” pretty much mirror the subtopics on the rest of the census. Is this something self-perceived or something created by our culture?

        Like, if I were to go to Colombia, would I find that they perceive the light-skinned Europeans, the blacks, the morenos, the indios, etc. as different ethnic groups and lump all North Americans together, regardless of race (can a black American be a gringo?), based on their common language and ultimately UK derived social and legal customs?

        Or what common cause is there among, say, middle class white Venezuelan engineering students and Mexican Indian immigrant farmers, or Maya Guatemalans and Afro-Colombians?

        I teach ESL and I teach a broad range of Latin students, and there is a LOT of racial diversity among them. Even so, they tend to think of themselves more along national lines than anything – and from their comments it is all to apparent that racism is very much alive and well in their countries too.

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          Based solely on my own experiences and readings, I’d say that the concept of “Latino” is something that was created in the U.S. My experience, born in P.R., bred in rural Mass., is different from that of a Nuyorican from the barrio, which is different from that of a Mexican of Mayan descent who immigrates to California (legally or illegally), which is different from that of a very wealthy Argentinean of German descent who comes to the U.S. to go to Harvard, which is different from a Cuban in Miami whose family fled Castro in the 1960s. And yet, once we are all here, we are lumped together as Latinos.

          There is a shared history, of course, relating to the Conquistadores and an acknowledgement of our cultures coming from the intersection of Spanish colonials, Indian natives, and African slaves (not to mention other more recent influxes from all over the world), plus the shared heritage of Catholicism. But there is also a fair amount of racism based on skin color, and dispute over who gets to use the term Mestizo, and major political and economic disagreements because of the history of dictators, capitalists, and socialists in different countries. Not to mention the general nationalism you have seen — these countries all have their differences, too.

          I think it depends on the situation, ultimately. Sometimes “Latino” is a good term to get at certain commonalities, other times it is useless because of our differences. Much like many other terms used to describe groups of humans.

          • Mercury

            Good answers. Do you know if Americans, regardless of ethnicity, also get lumped together in Latin countries? Like are American black sand whites considered as different from native blacks and whites?

            • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

              That I don’t know. I lived in Spain for a summer, but that’s an entirely different situation with its own racial issues. For example, I tan very easily, but I was told by my house mother to make sure I don’t get too dark, or people would think I was a gitana (i.e. Roma, who are very discriminated against in Europe).

              • Mercury

                Why are the Roma discriminated against, though? Granted, they shouldn’t be treated as subhuman, but there are certain cultural ideals that clash with the host country big time.

                • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

                  oh, that’s a big issue, and I don’t really have the time to go into it (and I am not as knowledgeable as others), but basically, “gypsies” (not a good term, they prefer Roma) are seen as dirty thieving liars and con men.

                  See here, for starters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiziganism

                  • Mark Shea

                    Fun fact: Jim Caviezel is Roma.

                    • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

                      I did NOT know that. o_O

                    • Mercury

                      Wow. I just saw him in The Thin Red Lin eon Netflix last night.

        • Maiki

          The concept of hispanic is a US creation. In Peru, where I’m from, we have immigrant groups just like you have in the US: Chinese, japanese, italians, spanish, native, black, and different mixes of things.

          But coming to the US, you are all “hispanic”. I’m a quarter italian — in many parts of the US, if I was born here, I would be of italian descent. But because I was born in a hispanic country, I’m always “hispanic”

          Not to mention, the overall distinction between Latin American countries! The color of one’s skin can be seen as almost secondary than whether you are from Argentina or Bolivia or the Carribean, for example. To have that all be “Hispanic” is reductionist.

          I’m not saying we need more boxes in census forms. I just don’t understand why the question is being asked at all. Ok, sure, gerrymandering based on ethnic lines, not necessarily color of skin, but we aren’t supposed to talk about that. But Latinos from South America are not necessarily like Mexicans, for example, nor do they vote the same way.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Didn’t follow the PR vote this time around but this Republican finds nothing wrong with statehood for PR and the regularization of their status from commonwealth to state. Commonwealth seemed to me to have always been a transitory status. If the people actually want to move on, great. There’s a lot of work there that needs to be done on economic issues. Perhaps the transition to regular rules will wake people up over there that their policy choices have consequences.

        • Mercury

          The only thing that makes me nervous about Puerto Rico is that the state would be heavily slanted to the Democrat side of things – definitely two more Dems in the Senate and a lot more in the House. All the more reason for the Republicans to get their act together, or for a truly Christian third party to arise. Sadly, though, most Puerto Ricans I know are Democrats for the same reasons most Northeastern liberals are Democrats – often exactly *because* of the social and moral issues, not despite them. But that may have to do with the fact that most of my Puerto Rican friends and acquaintances are relatively wealthy sophisticated urban liberals.

          • Confederate Papist

            I would hope PR does not become a state. For their own sake they should keep their independence and stay as far away from DC as possible. Better to be a free citizen of PR than to be chained to DC.

            • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

              You joke that way, but economically we are a mess — the recession hit the island much harder than anywhere else. We are nowhere near strong enough to survive economically on our own, and over the last couple of decades the U.S. has cut a lot of the tax breaks and financial laws that helped P.R. That alone is the reason why I am for statehood. I love my island, and I want to see it healthy and the people thriving.

              • Mercury

                Like I said,my objections would be political – more Democrats in positions of power. However, those misgivings are NOT a good reason to deny statehood to a territory that honestly petitions. I do hope that if it comes up in Congress, Republicans suck it up and do the right thing and let them in, damn the political consequences.

              • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

                I welcome a 51st state especially for the symmetry it would bring to our flag.

                http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us51star.html

                But seriously, any territories that wish to become states should be allowed to do so. After the deaths of the Castros, I’m all for the annexation of Cuba. If parts of Mexico or Canada want to join the U.S.A., I say, let them.

          • Ted Seeber

            I hope and pray that PR becomes our 51st state and that I learn to spell it’s name. I’d love to see the northern Mexican states rebel and join us as well. And slowly add states to our United States until Argentina joins and we have to fight the British for control of the Falklands again (long before this of course, Canada will also give up the queen to join us).

            The reason I think this is because I think that free trade and globalization, if subsidiarity MUST be destroyed for it, is better done under a uniform set of laws and currency.

            If we’re not willing to form one set of laws and currency, then we’d be better off with subsidiarity to the point of every city, every town, every county, every parish having it’s own currency and tariffs.

      • Gardner Ruggles Jr

        “They did it because the Democratic party has made a point of addressing our concerns (poverty, immigration, education) in a compassionate way.”

        Conservatives give more to charity and give blood more than liberals. A Democrat’s definition of compassion is passing a law, playing the hero and then giving the bill to someone else.

        As for immigration, John McCain was pro-amnesty. Look where that got him. Hispanics didn’t rally to him. I guess compassion with regards to our immigration laws really means just ignoring them. It means if you’re a Spanish speaking immigrant, you get to jump the line just because your country is closer to the US. I love it when people talk about immigration. 99% of the time their concern ISN’T with immigration per se. They really ONLY care about Hispanic immigration.

        As for education and poverty, Democrats do NOT address education and poverty in a compassionate way. When Bush was elected, the first thing he did was make a deal with Teddy Kennedy on an education bill. Conservatives didn’t get much out of the deal – Kennedy wrote most of it – but Bush did get a pilot school choice program for Washington DC. This program served poor people and was extremely popular with those fortunate enough to get into to it. They saw it as their only chance for their kids. It was also one of the first things Obama killed when he got into office. Democrats serve the teachers unions not the cause of education. And as for addressing poverty, high unemployment causes poverty. Obama’s policies are CREATING poverty. What’s so compassionate about that?

        I don’t want to hear about “compassion” from people who are okay with this stuff. It’s just moral preening.

        • Mark Shea

          “I don’t want to hear” has been the strategy of the FOX newsified Thing that Used to Be Conservatism for 10 years. It is not working. And there’s nothing especially Catholic about it. When honest people tell you “You guys, who I actually agree with on a bunch of stuff that is super important to me and would like to support, make us feel hugely unwelcome” you should consider the possibility that the problem is not with them.

          • https://www.facebook.com/zaphod77 Gardner Ruggles Jr

            Way to edit down my comment (to FOUR words!) so as not to address what I said. She talked about education, immigration and poverty. I wrote about education, immigration and poverty. But you’d rather pretend I didn’t. What’s Catholic about that? You should consider the possibility that conservatives are more than the stereotype you so happily peddle.

            • Mark Shea

              Your dudgeon is duly noted. Still, you lost the election because, as minority after minority in these very comboxes make clear, they feel unwelcome in the ranks of conservatism, despite caring very deeply about a lot of things conservatives care about. Prudence suggests that instead of reflexively telling them they aren’t perceiving what they are all saying they perceive, some critical thought about what happens inside the bubble of conservatism might be in order. Or you can keep losing elections and getting more marginalized while blaming it on “so called American” minorities looking for handouts and being unworthy of your greatness, as Rush Limbaugh is currently doing. Prudence suggests that listening to people who are empathetic to your values, but still feeling alienated would be the wise course.

              • https://www.facebook.com/zaphod77 Gardner Ruggles Jr

                “Your dudgeon is duly noted.”

                Yeah, go ahead. Patronize me.

                I don’t care what Rush Limbaugh is currently saying. I didn’t quote him. Honesty suggests you not put words into my mouth. Listening is a two way street. I responded to what Beadgirl said regarding to the “compassion” of the Democrat party. You want to pretend I didn’t, fine. Have at it.

    • Mark Shea

      I didn’t say Romney had anything to do with the guy in the T shirt.

      • Richard Johnson

        No, but assuming that you did makes it easier to dismiss the message and the one wearing it. After all, he was a plant, the photo was photoshopped, and No True Scotsman is still in play.

  • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

    Thank you for this post. I read the comments you highlighted yesterday and felt a wave of disgust. I actually stopped and re-read each, hoping I had misread. Sadly, no. What was even more repellent was how the writer of the second comment dug in his heels and doubled down on his sentiment. Sad.

    I really appreciate how you are breaking down this oh-so subtle racism. “So-called American”… Really? On my father’s side, we are Black, and we can trace our ancestry back two hundred years in THIS country. At what point, exactly, will I be perceived as a truly true American?

    I didn’t vote for Romney. I didn’t vote for Obama, either. I’ll probably be choosing option C (yes, it is a valid choice) for a long time. But I understand why many minorities run from the grand ol’ party. We don’t feel we’re invited anyway.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “But I understand why many minorities run from the grand ol’ party. We don’t feel we’re invited anyway.” This is what comes about when you pick Mammon over God. The makers vs. takers mentality permeates what passes for the contemporary Republican intellectual foundation. Minorities are viewed with disdain because they are as a group frequently poorer and in need of financial assistance which is provided for the most part by the government. From the premise that they are parasites stealing from the productive members of society comes a mentality that, consciously or not, devalues them as persons. This conservative had enough of that crap years ago, and left the GOP with nary a backwards glance.

      Idolatry is sin, and sin makes you stupid.

      • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

        “Idolatry is sin, and sin makes you stupid.”

        Exactly.

  • http://raeblog.blogspot.com Rae Stabosz

    Keep up the good fight, Mark.

  • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

    Great post, Mark. One of the things I value about the Catholic Church is seeing the diversity in the pews every Sunday (well, not my current church, my neighborhood is not that diverse, unfortunately). I’d love to see that diversity reflected in the Catholic media more.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    The trick is to admit what’s obviously true, that there are clearly racists in the GOP, while not falling into the trap of assuming that to be part of the GOP is clearly racist. And that goes with not conforming to various progressive policies and solutions. It is not homophobic bigotry to oppose gay marriage. Nor is it racist to have various opinions on how to deal with illegal immigration other than straight amnesty. Nor is it sexist to oppose abortion rights. Getting rid of these assumptions helps us see that such things are alive and well in both parties, and that it might be better to hear what folks have to say, or see what they actually do, rather than assume based on this identity or that association.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “It is not homophobic bigotry to oppose gay marriage. Nor is it racist to have various opinions on how to deal with illegal immigration other than straight amnesty. Nor is it sexist to oppose abortion rights. Getting rid of these assumptions helps us see that such things are alive and well in both parties, and that it might be better to hear what folks have to say, or see what they actually do, rather than assume based on this identity or that association.”

      All true. Well said.

      However, in the argot of the Secular-materialist Left, anyone who opposes gay marriage is by definition a “homophobe”; anyone who opposes across-the-board amnesty is by definition a “racist”; anyone who opposes abortion is by definition a “misogynist.”

      These labels are deployed to demonize, intimidate, marginalize, and silence those who stand in the way of “progress” (i.e., away from God).

      A part of the reason these labels have the power to do those things is that these labels bear a pedigree of perfectly legitimate, reasonable meanings, historical definitions which are very negative, but which are also quite different from the ones the Left intend to convey when they deploy them. For example, a misogynist was once commonly understood to mean one who begrudges women the enjoyment of the dignity and the blessings God intends for all persons to enjoy . . . just because they are women. And one could reasonably describe another as “a misogynist” while all parties on all sides agreed that induced abortion is a heinous offense against God and man.

      Nowadays things are quite different. Things have been . . . redefined.

      See, that gets us into trouble. Them as controls the definitions, controls the conversation.

      I think we Americans have been a bit intellectually lazy over the years; I think we have tended to allow the Secular-materialist Left to undertake to do all the heavy lifting (such as they do) in the areas of philosophy, psychology, sociology. And so by default the Left has been permitted to redefine the terms we all have to use. This is not a good thing.

      Catholics ought to re-develop their philosophical world view and revive, re-develop and promulgate good definitions for words like “homophobe”, “misogynist,” and “racist”, in ways that, to avoid wearing them, a person need not embrace any of the Sins That Cry To Heaven for Vengeance. (Which the definitions put forth by the Secular-materialist Left do require.)

      Let Jesus (the Church) define what words mean. Not His enemies.

      • Chris M

        Great comment, Marion. I agree completely. We’ve allowed the pro-abortion/pro-SSM folks free reign to define the terms and frame the argument exactly the way they wanted. I can only hope we can find a way to change that. (haha.. hope and change.. that was unintentional, I swear!)

      • Andy

        I agree that being opposed to something does not make a person a racist or a homphobe. However, the manner is which the message is shared may be part of the problem. Our communication must demonstrate that it is the idea we find problematic and not the people. I fear that all to often the message is that the people are at fault.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “I fear that all to often the message is that the people are at fault”, which is especially true of all the abhorrent makers vs. takers lunacy.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          That is true, to a point. Not saying it isn’t important to communicate well, but am saying that even the best communication can be read in the worst way, depending on the person doing the listening.

  • vickie

    Great post Mark. I remember helping the parish DRE teacher -a faithful conservative catholic ™ who had Rush and Sean playing constantly. She, with a straight face, actually told the students in her class that AIDS came from African from people having “fun” with monkeys. That and firm support authoritarian policies as long as it benefits the Church is the sort of thing turns people away and gives ammo to those who want to label deeply religious people as loonies.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      When did she say that?

      • vickie

        I apologize if I was unclear, She said to me that she made that remark about people getting AIDS from monkeys to her religious ed class. It is my observation that some Conservative Catholics seem not to mind authoritarian government policies as long as they are directed toward the right people -Muslims and “bad people”.

        • Mercury

          Please, please let’s not confuse religion with race. I do not think we should mistreat Muslims, but I do think we need to be more sober about Islam and not pretend it’s just another denomination like Methodism. We need to respect it enough to take it seriously.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      The DRE’s decision to provide so vile an image to young people – or to anyone – is extremely unfortunate. Such things ought not be mentioned among Christians (except among those doing clinical or experimental research in the course of their work.)

      What was she thinking?

      That said, her appalling account may not, sadly, be far from accurate:

      From the website of the United States Department of Helath and Human services Office on Women’s Health: “Research suggests that AIDS appears to have started in Africa. Scientists found a type of chimpanzee in West Africa that may be the source of HIV infection and AIDS in humans. Mutations, or changes, in a single gene in HIV that infected the chimpanzee may have turned what was a fairly harmless infection in monkeys into a global killer of humans. The virus in humans appears to have lost a genetic trait that protected the immune system in monkeys and chimpanzees.” http://www.womenshealth.gov/hiv-aids/what-is-hiv-aids/myths-about-hiv-aids.cfm

      The knowledge that the virus’s primary mode of transmission is sexual contact renders any out-of-hand rejection of a hypothesis that such contact was present in the case of initial human exposure, scientifically insupportable.

      In other words, hers may be a crude version of the most current etiology of AIDS in humans.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “In other words, hers may be a crude version of the most current etiology of AIDS in humans.” Maybe. But then again, even a blind squirrel will find a nut every now and again.

      • Dan C

        AIDS is likely transmitted via the use of chimpanzee meat as a delicacy. Termed “bushmeat,” handlers butchering the meat may have been the first cases of HIV.

    • Ghosty

      To be fair, this misunderstanding about AIDS has been around for awhile and not as a race issue. The first time I heard it was from Chris Rock.
      Basically, the HIV virus comes from Chimpanzees in the Congo, and since it is typically passed sexually in humans people assume, upon hearing this fact, that someone was having sex with a chimp. The far more likely scenario, however, is that HIV passed in the blood because many people in that region EAT chimpanzee. A cut on the hands when butchering an HIV-infected ape would be all that’s needed to pass the virus along.
      This isn’t to say that the woman wasn’t racist, nor that she wasn’t saying this for racist reasons, just pointing out that it’s a common misconception.

      Peace and God bless!

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        Right. But the available data gives us no scientific basis on which rule out any one of these hypotheses, only to form an opinion as to which one seems more plausible.

        All the proposed methods work.

        The fact is, no Western scientist was present at the critical moment, and we will probably never know for certain.

        The most we can say is: this could have happened in one of several ways: A; B; C.

        Defining one of these as definitively true or definitively false is something that cannot be done; none of these is a “misconception” except insofar as any is presented as proven true or proven false.

        If the DRE didn’t qualify her statement to reflect that, she was mistaken in her facts.

    • Mercury

      Surely, DREs have provided students with far more insidious poison and heresy that bald-faced crude racism that is on its face moronic.

    • Mark Shea

      Holy moly. Is this person still teaching kids?

  • ivan_the_mad

    Hello, I’m ivan_the_mad, a conservative in the vein of Kirk, and I heartily endorse and commend this post.

  • Peggy R

    I thought there was plenty of demonization of whites as a race, because of their skin color they are bad people, in these past several years as well.

    • Mercury

      But that’s okay, you see.

    • Matt Talbot

      Is hatred of white people in the Democratic Party as pervasive and tolerated there as hatred of non-whites is in the Republican Party? This isn’t 1970, and the Black Panthers are a loony remnant, and Malcolm X has been dead for 50 years.
      Sometimes it seems to me that the tropes used by the right fit more with the liberalism of about 1972 than with any current iteration of the liberal left. The imagery used is anachronistic – I’ve heard people on Fox going on about hippies, when the real, actual hippies of history are in rest homes, gumming spinach and telling Kent State war stories.
      This is true not just of national-politics discussions, but also when the liturgy wars (which are usually a form of proxy war between the political tribes) crank up. I read caricatures of bossy, macrame-and-love-bead-wearing people insisting on playing Beatles songs during Mass and can only wonder what sort of parish actually has people anything close to that description, and where that parish got a time machine.

      • Peggy R

        This is the problem. The presumption that there is widespread “hatred of non-whites” in the conservative movement or GOP. Just wow. That is so offensive and unfair. And the accusations about the tea party was wholly unfounded and offensive. We were active in tea party events.

        As for racial hatred in the Dem party, O himself ginned up racial conflict with his “police acted stupidly” line and his speaking about Trayvon Martin. Never mind Martin’s killer is part Latino. O’s own biographies and his speech about his “typical white” grandmother reveal his own prejudices and confusion about his own racial identity.

        And have you ever seen the vile racist cartoons about Condi Rice and Michael Steele who ran for Senate from MD? Their fellow blacks despise them. And don’t forget Clarence Thomas.

        We can’t keep stereotyping based on skin color.

        • Matt Talbot

          This is the problem. The presumption that there is widespread “hatred of non-whites” in the conservative movement or GOP.
          Mark pointed to several examples, and there are reams more – and pointing to a black Tea Party member (or, uh, even both of them) doesn’t refute this.

          • Peggy R

            Do you really think GOpers/conservatives/tea partiers get together and talk about how much they hate blacks, Latinos, etc? Really? Wow. I didn’t point to any black tea partier. Whatever racism there was at any tea party event was rare, some were ginned up false accusations as well.

            If you believe in limited government and individual liberty then please join the conservative movement. Who cares what your skin color is? Your national origin?

            • Matt Talbot

              Peggy – do you listen to talk radio ever? Limbaugh? Savage? Hannity?

              • Mercury

                Savage is a disgusting racist. As much of a dumbass and party shill as Hannity is, a racist he is not.

                And by the way, there is a cordon sanitaire around Michael Savage among radio hosts – no one associates with him.

              • Peggy R

                I don’t like Savage and Hannity. Savage is too into himself as a victim. Hannity is a sanctimonious idiot.

          • Mercury

            Wow racism exists in the GOP? Get outta town! Good thing there is no racism in the Democratic party, and certainly no examples that can be found on the Internet.

            I was appalled at the comments Mark posted, and I think it’s very unfair to claim “widespread hatred of non-whites” based on that crap, just as much as it would be to describe “widespread hatred of whites” from the crap I read on Facebook or the kinds of statements made by hip-hop artists.

            • Matt Talbot

              Mercury – the racism Mark described is very visible in the rank and file of current American movement/populist conservatism, and which really isn’t a feature of the mainstream left.

              • Peggy R

                Again, I am missing something you keep seeing.

                Oh, as for Limbaugh. Have you ever heard Rush’s encouragement to nonwhites who have to buck their friends and family to support conservative ideals? Have you heard immigrants from eastern Europe who lived under communism discuss their fear of what the Dems are doing?

                Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams are brilliant men. They don’t seem to feel out of place w/conservatives. Williams is pretty hard core libertarian. Sowell is horrified by Obama’s policies. Condi Rice was not offended to stand by Romney. She backed Obama last time, recall. I think it’s generational too.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    As a non-angry white male, I just want to tell anyone who is of any minority that I rejoice whenever I see anyone of another race at Mass in our little suburban, 90%+ white enclave in Minnesota. It is so great to see the universality of the Church. I wish that the ideas of thinking of, and treating people differently because of their race could just die (and of course, it’s not just whites that do it.) for individuals and in public policy. I am so sorry that you may not feel comfortable in a “sea of white”. I do try to give an extra warm smile to those who might be members of minority groups during the sign of peace, but I will step that up even more as a result.

    It was very moving for me to attend Mass at the Our Lady, Queen of the Universe shrine in Orlando recently, and see a more or less proportional cross-section of the people of the world there together worshipping the Lord.

    • Nate

      Dave,
      Nice sentiments. But don’t sweat it too much. As a former Minnesotan, I realize that the demographics there are what they are. It’s mostly white because, well, as you know, it’s mostly folks of German and Scandinavian descent. No helping that. :)

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    By the way, Mark, I loved that one about the “likely hood”!

    • Mark Shea

      It was irresistible.

    • Mercury

      I also thought it was awesome.

  • Nate

    Forty acres and a mule….sounds quite close to three acres and a cow, a saying of a certain Catholic I admire.
    Me thinks your racist reader should have tried harder to find an offensive euphemism.

  • Causus Omnium Danorum

    That’s why I voted for Matt the Centaur Tailor–he transcends race, and unites us all!

    • Mark Shea

      He will usher in universal peace.

  • Peggy R

    I have become a champion of the rural white poor. They are held in contempt all the way around. No big city symphony will bring the arts to them. The ivy leagues aren’t pursuing their kids for “diversity.” They are the racists. It’s their fault they’re poor.
    I sub in a rural community school. Most kids are being prepped for college. I hope they succeed if that is what they want. We also have a great deal of diversity in our small parish and community. (Actually, the parish is big; most of our small town are Catholic.) Mostly through adoption. I thought we’d be unique as an international adoptive family when we moved here. What a lovely surprise to meet so many other adoptive families. We have kids from Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Asia and some American babies of white and black race adopted often through foster care first. Some of the adopted kids with learning disabilities like ours do struggle but are not ostracized, though some times we parents who want so much for our kids are anxious. I’ve gotten to know one of the few Mexican families here as the son was a PSR student. I think my sense of Catholic piety is similar to his family’s.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      As Catholics, we sometimes think that the last acceptable prejudice is that which is aimed at the Catholic Church. No, it isn’t.

      • Dan C

        Catholicism receives prejudice. Catholics are also Prejudiced. Both statements are true.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          Of course. I would never suggest otherwise. I merely point out that there are other groups that it is quite acceptable, in modern polite society, to disparage by virtue of their collective identities. Catholics being one such group. Poor white rurals another. We won’t even discuss poor white rural southerners.

  • John

    Bravo, Mark, Bravo. One of my great pleasures the other night was the lifting of the veil on “Bull S*%t Mountain”. Bill O’Reilly: “Traditional America”. That is code for “White America”. The voting support of African Americans and Latino Americans for President Obama has now reached the point where it is out in the open. The demographic change in this country is real, and now it is obvious. There are many, many people who don’t like it. The gnashing of teeth, and squeezing of the life out of to hold onto “Traditional America” has now officially been aired. True Conservatism has suffered greatly for it. It wasn’t conservatism. Conservatism doesn’t mean holding on to the past. It means to conserve, whether it is spending, the environment, et al.

    It was the screams of “White America” not letting go. All of the other codes: “The 47%”, “Welfare Queens”, “Makers & Takers” have been shown to the light. It IS racism. Plain and Simple. This country has gone through these gyrations before with “Irish Catholics”. If you recall, they were NOT welcome in this country at first. They are now, and time has brought down the anxiety level. Unfortunately, this is about skin color. If you say it’s anything else you are wrong. “Bull S&%t Mountain” has now been exposed. Let us move “Forward”…

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jon-stewart-gleefully-rips-into-fox-news-election-coverage-there-was-an-avalanche-on-bullsht-mountain/

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      I take exception to equating “traditional” values with racism.

      Justice, fairness, and equality ARE traditional values. Just like Mom and Apple Pie.

      Apple Pie today is considered too boring and too high on the glycemic index, and few eat it anymore. And Mom left her rocking chair and her needlework long ago, and is now on her way to Tokyo to supervise the opening of a branch office of her Fortune 500 company.

      To some extent, the concepts of justice, fairness, and equality have undergone revisions, as well.

      There are people with traditional values who are hateful and spiteful toward others. And there are some with traditional values who wish everyone well and want to see a better world for all.

      And the same with people with progressive values. I have met and talked with some very noble-hearted progressives, princes among mean, as well as some mean-spirited progressives, who harbor real ill will toward entire segments of peoples. It’s unbelievable.

      These kinds of generalizations — all people who vote this way are like this; all people who don’t vote my way are bad, no-good, etc. don’t work well in the real world. All people with a world-view different to my own don’t deserve a place on God’s green Earth — whether one wears the label liberal, progressive, whatever, these kinds of generalizations indicate a lack breadth of mind and a lack of generosity of spirit which I always find rather sad and rather distressing.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Again, nothing has been so effective in promoting the new than suggesting that wanting to preserve the old is really just a secret code for ‘wanting to maintain racism.’ It works wonders with abortion rights, gay rights, and just about any other new idea as well.

        • Mark Shea

          And again, the blame-shifting does not work. Moaning about false charges of racism from mean people does nothing to address the fact of racism that is real. Cease living in illusion.

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            It’s not blame shifting. It’s admitting a fact, unless you’ve come to the conclusion that all who are trying to maintain various traditional viewpoints are, in fact, racists by default. Otherwise, the same thing used to suggest ‘conservative = racism’ is the same line of thinking used to suggest ‘anti-abortion = sexism’ or ‘anti-gay marriage = homophobic bigotry.’ Which is why it’s worth keeping that in mind, even while admitting that yes, there are racists among conservatives.

  • Richard Chonak

    Even some of the crass racial and birther talk doesn’t reflect the speaker’s real belief, but is just a way that irate people use to express resentment.

  • Mercury

    This is what I do not understand, however. I get how minorities feel bound together in blocs, or how we say it natural for people to feel that their interests are bound together based on race.

    But if I ask myself “what is good for the white community?” or “how will this candidate help whites?”, or any concept of solidarity with other whites, the statements feel, in my mind, almost dirty – it feels racist, and any such statement would be publicly and most often rightly decried as such.

    But why is it that all groups *except* whites are allowed to think that way, or we say they naturally feel what other members of their “group” feel, or that ethnic identity is natural? Many will say that this is because the whites are the historic majority, the historic oppressor, etc., which is true in so many cases, most of all here in the US. The problem is, if we assume that racial solidarity is natural, or that voting based at least partially on reasons of race is acceptable because people are human and that’s what humans do, why do we get so upset when one group of humans feels that way and another doesn’t?

    This is why I am leery about any sort of identification or feeling of solidarity based on skin color. Nationality is one thing – human society is supposed to be such that we feel a bond with people in our nation. I just do not like the idea of racial solidarity – at least not when it is okay for thee, but not for me.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Very good post, Mercury!

    • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

      I think because “white” has for so long been the default — normal, average, what people are supposed to be. Frankly, it is a meaningless term, in part because it encompasses anyone who isn’t “other.” “Black,” on the other hand, I think has a more specific meaning — in this country, it generally means people descended from African slaves (and people who are assumed to descend from African slaves), and it is seen as referring to a particular culture (even though in actuality there is no monolithic black culture).

      Skin color in general is a ridiculous and antiquated notion anyway, because of genetics (and because no one is black or white). Mr. Beadgirl, the Beadboys, and I are all half Latino, half white, yet each one of us has a distinctly different skin color. It is a relic of antiquated notions of race, and now tends to serve as a shorthand for cultural or ethnic differences.

      (If this gets posted a million times, my apologies.)

      • Peggy R

        Lumping us all together as “white people” has caused us to deny our various heritages–French, German, Italian, Polish, Irish, etc. (I wonder if Americans of Spanish descent feel lost in all this as well.) We are more than “white” people. We are people of various important heritages and histories. We are Catholics and Protestants. We’ve forgotten who we are. White Americans are terribly unchurched today to great tragedies that clearly result from a lack of moral structure.

        I have enjoyed reading many books about the Catholic history of America, from the French and Spanish missionaries on. It is key in our local history here along the Mississippi. The development of our diocese was part and parcel the development of our state and region.

    • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

      There’s a difference between racial solidarity and helping a group of people who have been oppressed, disenfranchised, etc. Personally, I have more in common with white people than with blacks in terms of my personality and how I CHOOSE to live my life. It doesn’t change the fact that I know what it’s like to come from a background in which I wouldn’t generally be expected to be where I am today. I know and love a lot of black people who aren’t what many people think of them in general at all. I feel no sense of racial solidarity, but I do have a strong sense of fairness. It isn’t so much about this race getting to do what this other race can do in terms of strategy, but doing what can create a world in which we see eye to eye, and not one down upon the other.

      • Mercury

        I understand what you mean, Robert, but how about helping individual poor instead of helping them as groups? Why should a middle class black kid get more brakes than a bottom-of-the-barrel poor white kid because the former comes from a race that was historically oppressed, if the person in question is himself not oppressed? We should right injustices done to people, not done to groups. If large percentages of people from certain groups are living in unjust conditions, then by all means we should help them – the result would be assistance to the underprivileged *regardless* of ethnic background.

        That is what drives me insane – the poor are the poor and the middle class are the middle class. I am all for helping the POOR, but not the black poor, the white poor, the Latino poor, etc. Why MUST we categorize everyone into groups based on how oppressed their forebears were? This is why I would have no problem with affirmative action based on economic class or personal family background (i.e. men or women who come from poverty, broken families, etc.) but not based on what they look like.

        My whole point is if we say it is natural to see things in terms of racial solidarity, then why get upset when whites do the same thing? And if it is wrong, then we shouldn’t encourage it in some cases and discourage it in others. I would run like lightning from any candidate that went on and on about the interests of whites as a race.

        I also hate how people keep conflating race with culture and religion, both of which CAN be criticized fairly, whereas the former cannot and should not.

  • nicole_marie

    Thanks for posting this. A friend sent me the link — I appreciate you calling out the undercurrent/acceptance of racism in the modern conservative movement for what it is.

    I’m Korean American and a lifelong Catholic. I suppose I do identify more with the progressive agenda, but I’m not a registered Democrat — and their support for unlimited abortion on demand is one reason (though not the only one). I’ve always been pro-life — I’ve worked in the pro-life movement — and I have held my nose and voted for Republicans in past elections because of it. But the direction the GOP/conservative movement has taken in recent years, their contempt (laced with thinly veiled racism) for the President, their leaders’ comments about “the end of the white establishment” and a MILLION more comments/articles/blog posts along those lines, and their dismissal of what they view as “racist identity politics” of people of color — this all creates an atmosphere in which people of color cannot help but feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, regardless of our personal politics or motivations.

    I’ve had friends, good friends, Catholic friends, accuse me of playing the race card or contributing to the “over-hyphenization of America” or becoming embittered against all white people. This doesn’t sound like the conservatism I was raised with. It’s gone in a pretty scary and awful direction. I don’t feel that the GOP or its most avid white supporters WANT me in their party — unless I become one of those people of color who trots out the old line that race is completely unimportant to me personally and our society generally — so, for me, it’s been an easy choice not to go there where I’m neither accepted nor welcomed as the whole person I am. A lot of other Asian Americans evidently feel the same way, as 73% of us (according to exit polls) backed Obama this year.

    What I hear from a lot of conservative white Catholics is that they feel attacked by the President or his policies or his party. They feel discriminated against. I wish more conservative white Christians of all faiths could understand why it is that so many people of color feel the same way about the conservative movement.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “What I hear from a lot of conservative white Catholics is that they feel attacked by the President or his policies or his party. They feel discriminated against. I wish more conservative white Christians of all faiths could understand why it is that so many people of color feel the same way about the conservative movement.”

      In what way has any segment of the conservtive movement attempted to force people of color to commit the atrocious crime of viciously attacking the innocent and the defenseless, and if the people of color refuse so to do, to face the full force of the apparatus of the state deployed against them – to sue them and or fine them into bankruptcy and or face serious jail time and to have their operations shuttered or taken over by outsiders? Until they roll over and submit?

      When?

      Where?

      But the tyrant Obama is in the process of doing this to faithful Catholics and to the institutional Church.

      This is not about us having our feelings hurt, or not feeling welcome.

      This is war. On us.

      On the Church.

      Don’t delude yourself – or patronize us – by pretending it is anything else.

      • Mark Shea

        I seriously doubt she is referring to the Mandate here. The keyword is “white” not “Catholic”. Chill. Listen. Hear what’s being said.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          I thought I did hear, but it shall be as you please, gracious host.

          • Marion (Mael Muire)

            P.S. Nicole Marie, yoboseyo, if I misunderstood you, I apologize. Won’t you clarify so that I may understand you better? Thank you.

            • nicole_marie

              Not sure what to say; I thought I was pretty clear. Am genuinely sorry for any confusion. I wasn’t really talking about the mandate or “war on the Church,” I was trying to express my perspective and feelings as a POC and a Catholic, since Mark’s post got me thinking about it.

              • Marion (Mael Muire)

                Thank you, Nicole Marie. God bless you.

                Mr. Obama’s war on the Church has been uppermost on my mind for some time.

  • Peggy R

    The fact is that a huge percent of black and Latinos, eg, don’t agree with limited government and do favor more of a safety net, which only about half of white people favor. So, there is an ideological divide. It is not just looking at some one’s skin and saying you don’t belong. How can people who don’t believe in its message of liberty and limited government join the conservative movement? Conservatism is about a philosophy. Liberalism is about dividing us by race, age, religion, sex, income, and anything else that comes up. What do you believe?

    Here, Latinos in large #s favor a welfare state: http://www.latinovote2012.com/app/
    A poll from June 2012. Scroll down to “Safety Net: Beyond Party” for a comparison of white and black views on the safety net:
    http://www.people-press.org/2012/06/04/section-4-values-about-government-and-the-social-safety-net/

    • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

      Exactly what does limited government have to do with Catholic social teaching? You’re making the same tired appeal for the American conservative movement when it has NOTHING to do with the aims and goals of the Church. In fact, the Church very much favors a government that does what it can to increase the COMMON good, not just the good for those who have or those who are willing to surmount every challenge to obtain it. The so-called American spirit is not the spirit of Catholicism and never has been. America was started by a bunch of Protestants who got kicked out of Europe for trying to antagonize everyone else. It’s never been in line with Catholicism and I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        One word, subsidiarity.

        • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

          I guess I should have said more. Subsidiarity is the Catholic principle that matters should be handled by the most local, competent authority possible. Along with solidarity, it is a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching. Clearly (I would think), with over 300 million people in the U.S., the federal government is not the most local, competent authority to handle issues like welfare, health care, etc. The federal government’s proper role might be to ensure that the states are properly overseeing those concerns, and perhaps to re-route some limited funds to poorer states.

          • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

            Another dodge on another code phrase. Reducing the size of government is almost always linked with reducing government spending (ie. government assistance) when it comes to what the conservative movement wants. I have no problem with subsidiarity whatsoever. I don’t even have a problem with reducing WASTEFUL government spending. I have a problem with the perception that the government serving those of its people who need assistance as being too big and then linking the reason for it to a race or races of people as Peggy did at the beginning of her comment. Is it REALLY not clear to you yet?

            • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

              Robert, I’m not sure what the dodge is here. Can you please explain? I would like to see the size of the federal government shrink in almost every area, beginning with the military. Yes, I would also like to see it shrink in areas of government assistance, but only to eliminate wasteful or ineffectual spending. I would like to see welfare become more personal, local, and the recipients be more accountable, for example. My views may not be the same as Peggy’s and my comments were not meant to piggyback on hers.

              • Matt Talbot

                Dave – in a world where everything else is “personal, local” what you desire makes sense. In a world where large corporations have immense power and where the scale of harm they can inflict is way, way more than “personal [and] local”, then you need to explain to me what institution other than government can restrain that power.

                • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

                  Hi Matt,
                  I do agree with you about the need to regulate large corporations, and that only the federal government would really be equipped to take on that power. I have never been able to decide which is a greater evil, big government or big corporations.

                  I know what is even worse, though, and that’s what we have right now, a big government which is basically owned by the big corporations!

      • Peggy R

        Well, I thought we were discussing why many non-white are not or do not feel welcome in the conservative movement. No one is requiring you to join if you don’t believe it either as a Catholic. Enjoy your tax increases in January.

        I think as Dave points out here, there is a common idea that we can build on—subsidiarity.

        • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

          “No one is requiring you to join if you don’t believe it either as a Catholic. Enjoy your tax increases in January.”
          I love that this come right after this:
          “Well, I thought we were discussing why many non-white are not or do not feel welcome in the conservative movement.”

          Seriously? It can’t be a mystery why minorities don’t feel welcome.
          ‘Well, if you don’t want to join, then don’t. That’s perfectly fine.’

          Yup, open arms.

          • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

            I think Peggy is trying to say that you don’t have to join if you don’t share the conservative principles of subsidiarity, etc. Of course, subsidiarity isn’t the ONLY conservative principle, and I am sure she is not intending to say that anyone is not welcome. In reality, most informed Catholics will be seen as “conservative” in some ways and “liberal” in others.

          • Peggy R

            I appreciate Dave’s comment. You changed the topic of the thread from the lack of welcome non-whites feel in the conservative movement from the lack of perfect connection between American conservatism and Catholic social teaching. Non-whites are not comfortable in conservative circles b/c they believe in a more expansive safety net than most whites do. It’s a difference in belief. It’s real. You don’t seem comfortable w/conservative ideas either as Catholic. You seem to not want to be a part of it; when I say that’s fine, you’re offended. You are welcome, but if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. This is America where you are free to choose–today anyway. All are welcome to join the fight to reduce this government’s reach into our lives.

            I agree w/Dave also that the expenditures of our governments are huge and wasteful in many regards. I don’t think the safety nets are going to go away, but we need to make them available primarily to those who can’t care for themselves. The fact that 40% of babies are unwed births is a huge budget and public safety problem that cuts across races. I don’t know how we solve this social problem. At the federal govt, yes, military spending is very inefficient. I doubt the cuts will come in the right areas, however. The man or woman on the front line of danger is probably going to get a raw deal.

      • Peggy R

        P.S. But Catholics kept coming, found freedom and prosperity not possible in Europe.

        • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

          The peasantry of Catholic Europe kept coming, not the nobility. In the 19th and 20th centuries. America and Protestantism in general are a little older than that. I think we’re referencing very different events in history.

          • Peggy R

            Right. So? The Catholics came her and found property rights, freedom and prosperity that they could not obtain in feudal Europe. All those things Catholic peasants came for were established by protestants.

            • Mercury

              Catholics here in Louisiana came because they were poor as hell and it was better to try to live off of the king’s land here in yellow-fever ridden swamps than in la France. Or because they were adventurers. Or pirates.

              • Peggy R

                Here is a story I came across in research for PSR teaching last year. This community Sainte Marie, IL, was founded by French Catholics escaping the post-Revolution anti-Catholicism in France.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ste._Marie,_Illinois
                You wouldn’t believe the # of parishes that (mostly French) Catholic immigrants named Immaculate Conception in Southern IL! Their numbers are greatly reduced by now, sadly. Oh, but we have a new parish, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, combing 4 rural parishes (Belleville IL diocese).

              • Marthe Lépine

                And a number of Catholics from Acadia were deported to Louisiana by New France’s British conquerors because they were resisting the invaders…

  • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

    Mark, as always, beautifully and eloquently written. I can’t thank you enough for this.

  • CM

    Thanks Mark. I really do get discouraged with white Catholics when I hear them deny the racist code words that have been used during this election. It destroys trust because it seems dishonest. On the other hand, hearing a fellow Catholic challenge such statements (as you have) goes a long way to restore trust. Trust, is in fact, a HUGE barrier to getting African Americans to vote for “conservative” candidates–which is ironic because I think most people would be surprised to find out how truly conservative most African Americans are. This notion that African Americans want the government to take care of them is true, but not in the sense than so many “conservatives” invoke. As a little girl, I remember watching historical footage of the federal government enforcing federal laws, in the form of national guardsmen desegregating schools (countered by state governments turning hoses and dogs on little girls in Sunday school attire). So to a certain extent, I probably think of the federal government as a safety net in terms of my citizenship–states rights and all that “nullify” stuff is alienating to me and will not win me over. I do not, however, expect the government to take care of me financially. I am not on welfare, nor have I or anyone in my family (or any African American folks I know for that matter) ever been on welfare. The fact that I feel the need to say this feels oddly embarrassing. (which is ironic sense most welfare recipients are whites who reside in “red” states!) However, I never feel suspect in conversations among liberals. So those conversations feel safer and less assaulting to my dignity. However, I continue to seek common ground among conservatives, because I hold conservative values that I don’t share with liberals. Since Jesus and His Holy Church are at the center of my life, I continue to make efforts among “conservatives.” However, I sometimes have to come up for air, because some of their comments and assumptions can be so frustrating. Unraveling their twisted logic can be exhausting and usually ends in an impasse. I don’t mean to insinuate that this is a constant onslaught–that would actually be much easier. I could successfully navigate a Klan rally, because I’d know exactly where I stand (or hang) with everyone there. But when you’re talking with people with whom you share a profession of faith and the sacraments, and bust out with some nasty racial assumption–it cuts like a knife! It’s absolutely jolting! I want to run away–and who do you think I run to? In these conversations I’m sometimes asked to account for (or made to identify with) the behaviors/practices/beliefs of 12% of the “so called American” population. How can folks lump you in with a group using sweeping statements about your motives and values, and then get indignant by the fact that you identify and act in adherence with that group? A group is formed out of the historical experience of being treated as a monolith, and then said group is accused of reverse racism for behaving like a group that shares a common goal. That isn’t racism–that’ s survival! While I share most of your concerns regarding president Obama, I’d also like folks to know that his presidency has been utterly transformative for many African Americans. I just moved back to the States two months ago, after working in Saudi Arabia for the last five years, so the differences are in stark relief for me. The community I left isn’t the one I returned to. I guess all of this is to say that there are many parts to the Body. Though we are one, we were all formed in different circumstances. So let’s literally not cut off our nose to spite our face! Or it is the entire body that will suffer.

    • Mercury

      CM – you make some very, very good points. How are African Americans supposed to identify with the states’ rights argument when it was used for such nefarious purposes in the past? At the same time, it IS a valid point for those making it sometimes. I guess you have said a lot about how our perceptions and where we come from color how we see words, how we interpret events, etc.

      I see what you mean about the whole “Muslim” thing as hidden racism, and you may well be right, though I do not think the same would happen for someone like Jesse Jackson.

      I still stand by this, however, that it is not racist to point out that Obama was involved in some pretty radical stuff when he was younger, and that his gut ideological convictions are far to the left. In this way, he actually reminds me very much of the master social engineers in the British Labor Party and the puppeteers of the European Union – to me, he is one of these secular-to-the-core European politicians optimistic about nudging society along the right path, and knowing what is better for people than they do themselves. Not a communist, not by any means. And not even a real socialist per se, but he is someone that believes in a very secular vision of the state as bringer of prosperity. When I hear Obama, I hear Jose Manuel Barroso, Martin Schulz, and Herman von Rompuy. That has nothing to do with race.

      I hate all the “Muzzlim” and “Commie” talk because it detracts from real issues and is just stupid.

  • CM

    Mercury, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I shouldn’t and wouldn’t expect others to share my suspicion of “States Rights.” I would only want them to understand and acknowledge where my suspicion comes from. From that place, we might be able to create a new shared meaning of that term devoid of its historical context–because it might even be in my best interest to get past that barrier. Your acknowledgement of that past makes a new future possible :-) I agree that the Muslim, Commie and maybe even socialist “thing” detracts from the real issues. It also makes folks like me want to defend the man, because the charges are as you said blatantly “stupid.” I also agree that there is nothing racist about probing into Obama’s past. He should be held to the same analysis as anyone else who is asking for your vote. Perhaps he shares much in common with the movements and figures you’ve referenced–and I also can’t see how making these comparisons could be seen as racial in any way. While interesting fodder for reflection, I do think it might be a bit too complicated and other worldy, however. I think Obama is EXACTLY as Mark described him, “a garden variety secularized liberal Protestant from a politicized Black urban church tradition that sees the gospel almost exclusively in terms of “community organizing”.” No more, no less. So when I hear folks (certainly not you, but others) treating him like evil personified–it gets my back up. Here you have a man with ideas that are not good for America. Period! If the Republicans would have denigrated his ideas and not the man himself–they would have won! That’s what folks were responding to. And worse, they didn’t just say he was evil and un-American, but everyone who was voting for him as well. Well good luck winning them over now! They can’t even hear you now! African Americans weren’t in the bag for Barack Obama!! They could have been won over fairly easily. If you remember, African Americans didn’t even support Obama until he won the Iowa caucus. They support Hillary Clinton! Why? –because of the Clinton trust. Bill was (is) genuinely comfortable around black people. He didn’t just show up at black churches–HE BROKE BREAD!!!!! When the Clinton’s started engaging in some of the most shameless race baiting I’ve seen in modern political history, black folks dropped them like a bad habit. They would have done it again, if they’d been given a reason to do so. Obama hasn’t improved the lives of black folks. We aren’t stupid! But when the right demonized him rather than his platform they made him a living martyr who had to be defended at all personal cost! Because what stood to be lost by delegitimizing “black” leadership was a higher price to pay than the unemployment rate!

    • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

      CM, do you have a blog? If not, please consider starting one. Your comments are so on point!

      • CM

        Thanks Alisha :-)

        • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

          You’re welcome! Please write! :-)

    • Mercury

      I don’t know if I’d call him a “garden variety” secular liberal – I do think he’s more leftist than that, but he is not Chairman Mao, for Pete’s sake. And it’s good to remember that a lot of “community organizing” is grass-roots Marxism – NOT communism, I mean it is base don Marxian principles and presuppositions – Alinsky was an influence in this, and his “Rules for Radicals” is still the handbook of many such organizations. And he has an evangelical belief in the “right” to abortion and gay marriage – views NOT shared by many African-American friends of mine, not to mention Latin friends.

      That said, I do not think he is some scheming megamind intent on evil for its own sake, but like so many involved in politics, it’s a sort of “I want to do what I think will be best for people regardless of what they themselves want (I know better than them), and I’m not afraid to use Chicago-style thuggery and deception to get there.” Agree with that or not, it’s a far cry from calling him a Bolshevik. Or Hitler. I do find him to be like Mussolini in a lot of ways, especially in his relationship with corporations, but then again, Mussolini was not a mass murderer like the others.

      It’s the whole Republican attitude in treating the poor like they did it to themselves that is appalling. I don’t find it to be racist, but then again I am not black, so I cannot speak for others. There is a way to present conservative economic ideas without doing this, and Romney/Ryan failed.

  • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

    Peggy, this was the first part of the comment of yours to which I first responded:

    “The fact is that a huge percent of black and Latinos, eg, don’t agree with limited government and do favor more of a safety net, which only about half of white people favor. So, there is an ideological divide. It is not just looking at some one’s skin and saying you don’t belong. How can people who don’t believe in its message of liberty and limited government join the conservative movement?”

    Your words. Does this sound like the principle of limited government as it relates to subsidiarity as defined by Dave, or is it just more coded language dividing those who supposedly work for everything they have and those who just get hand-outs? Seriously, now.

    Dave, the comment you gave was a dodge because it didn’t address what Peggy actually said. Government being limited to the most local, competent authority doesn’t have anything to do with government programs that are run by both the state and the fed or any type of safety net. What she was expressing opposition to was not the size of government itself, but the fact that the government was helping people that she didn’t deem to be really in need of the help as if she’s one to say whether or not. That’s the issue I had. Every way you twist it, it’s pitting haves against have-nots and then including race as a tagline, just like Peggy did in the comment I quoted.

    M

    • Peggy R

      I am using language used in political discussions about government and its role, I think. Limited government is something our Founders had in mind. Not all of them were slaveholders. Read about John Adams’ distress with the inability to outlaw slavery in the new country.

      What is “coded language”? Really? “Safety net” is used in one survey I cited. The survey on Latinos itemized various activities of the federal government. The surveys show that black and Latinos want more government services and funding of their needs than whites do. That is a philosophical difference among the races. What am I to do about that? Are logical discussions no longer possible?

      As for subsidiarity, our constitution is really in line and compatible with such ideas if we consider the 10th Amendment, which offends blacks b/c of its use to defend slavery. So I am in trouble again, I suppose. We had a war over that and our federal constitution outlaws slavery and made freedmen American citizens.

      Romney was quite right and lawful about his state Romney care. He had a constitutional right to do that, though a government monopoly or even competitor is terrible economics— costly and inefficient. So, as an economist, I oppose it. But, yes it would be constitutional and more in line with Catholic ideas of subsidiarity. The federal govt is too remote. We are a union of states. States have wide berth in regulating anything they want within their borders. It was wrong for the SCOTUS to say states could not outlaw abortion or consider sodomy to be unlawful. It was wrong for SCOTUS to say states could not regulate contraception. As a matter of our constitution, that is so. I have worked in fed/state regulation of utilities for 20 years. I am not a lawyer,, however, but an economist.

      The federal govt safety nets are a constitutional problem, not the primary role for fed $, and are merely ways to move $ around states and support state social welfare programs. State social welfare programs are more constitutional, but are too big as well. 40% of babies in my state are born out of wedlock, as with the US average. That is a problem for the public resources and public safety. The culture of intergenerational dependency is a problem, not endemic to any one race. We have huge cultural problems. Safety nets should help in limited ways to the most needy and unable. My state’s budget is a mess. There is no need to expand public assistance to more services being provided or by making it available to folks who have higher incomes. The middle class won’t qualify, and they’re not wealthy enough to provide for themselves some things that the poor get from the safety net. The welfare state hurts the middle class by taxing them and telling them they don’t get anything even though they’re not “rich”. But yes the “rich” will be fine. So, yes, I am officially evil b/c I oppose the broad social safety nets we have today in our country. We do have private charity as well to help the poor. Let us lift the poor out of poverty and to the dignity of self-sufficiency.

      • Marthe Lépine

        “Let us lift the poor out of poverty and to the dignity of self-sufficiency.” Yes, a nice phrase. But it will not be done by reducing the safety net while corporations are still free to lower wages (a result of union bashing) and/or move the jobs overseas. In order to reach self-sufficiency, most people need real jobs with living wages. As long as the free-market capitalist economics remain the ideal, there will never be enough jobs. Telling the unemployed to “just take any job” will not work unless they can earn enough money doing it to get out of poverty.

        • Peggy R

          There will not be enough jobs under the excessive nickel and dime regulations of small and large businesses. There were more jobs, higher employment and higher household income before 2008 and the Dems’ attack on business. More people have been lifted out of poverty by market economies than by dictatorships of any stripe. It’s never good enough, for some of you. It is very sad.

  • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

    Mercury, I understand your frustration. I was merely saying that rather than help a particular race or talk about what one race can or should talk about, we should first establish that our race doesn’t really divide us as much as some like to think. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. It is very true that the majority of white people don’t live in working or sub working class households, and those that do are often forgotten, and that’s very unfortunate. It doesn’t exactly please me that blacks are poster children for disenfranchisement. That’s merely the way it’s framed because of all the poor, blacks are the majority. What we need to do is move past that and look at the poor as a whole. The problem with this is that no one wants to be “white trash” and many poor whites that I know tend to be even more racist than the richer whites. They try to pretend that they’re above even those who share their socio economic status simply because of their skin color and the status and perception that comes with that. Conversely, many blacks who are not the poorest in America like myself are often treated as though we’re outsiders, even among those with whom we have much in common. This goes back to a group of comments earlier in which two people were discussing the significance of me mentioning my education in my message to Mark. I have more in common with many whites that I know than I do with blacks that I know and it irks me when people shy away or act stiffly and closed-off around me as if we have nothing in common, which is ridiculous. No matter how you slice it, racial lines are drawn and while some minorities may abide by them, we didn’t put them there.

    • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

      I’m following your blog now.

      • CM (Cathlen)

        Me too! I live in Chicago–we should start a local movement :-)

        • CM (Cathlen)

          I agree Peggy. I’ve never understood the obsessive focus on black welfare recipients. While blacks are over-represented (in light of their overall percentage in the population), the majority of people on public assistance are white. Why is this important? Because even if you solved the problem of black participation in public assistance, you would still have a massive welfare problem to solve–notably how do we move whites off of welfare. The handwringing is disingenuous, but it serves a purpose. That image of the welfare queen is an old trope that gets paraded around at election time to motivate white voters. (It was invoked during this election by Romney surrogates who claimed that Obama was ending the work portion of welfare). It served its intended result–waving the fans of racism. Meanwhile, no one acknowledged that the average welfare recipient is actually white. I often wonder why “conservatives” interrogate everything the “media” purports to be true, except for these old stereotypes?

          • Mercury

            I’ve known some white welfare queens.

            • Peggy R

              Some have been my relatives.

    • Peggy R

      Blacks are not the majority of the poor. High percentages of non-white groups receive public aid, but whites are still a high percent of total population and make up most public aid recipients. Here is a statistical study I found. Looks interesting. ( I am sure some code-words are there too. ) American native peoples’ poverty is most severe.
      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9719&page=157

      This page is interesting. The percent of AFDC families that are white or black led households hovers between 35% and 40%; so blacks and whites account for about the same number of households on AFDC in this table. Collectively, they are about 70% to 80% of AFDC households. The other races are the rest. This is a time series. Even though a small % of whites take public aid, since whites are still a large majority of US pop, they make up the largest group of public aid recipients.
      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9719&page=162
      The study also looked at whether different attitudes toward public aid across races affected participation rates.

      In my state, the poorest counties are rural, nearly all white. Charles Murray just published a book about the train wreck of lower income whites: unchurched, unmarried, illegitimacy. I can’t count the sad stories I read of mom’s shack-up beating and killing her kid. Alcohol and drugs are key problems too. I’ve been on the front lines of some of this stuff.

      Talk of public aid is not about any one race.

    • Mercury

      Ha! You’re the guy from the original post. I see now. That was me who said I thought you were making that comment not to brag, but … well you know why you made it, so it doesn’t matter what I think!

      You’re right, man, about just everything you said. I have read that in the 19th century, real racial enmity arose in the south not when the blacks were slaves and everyone was “in their place”, but when they were freed and the poor whites suddenly felt threatened because they were now in the same social class as their supposed “inferiors” – I think that was a big engine driving racism well through the 20th century, though maybe not so much consciously today.

      I live in the Deep South, though, and one thing I notice is that while racism is certainly still around down here, its among the “rednecks” that I notice the most interracial cameraderie and even interracial relationships – all in a weird way that can only be Southern, some of it seemingly directly because “we’re the poorest of the poor together”. I think as generations change, a lot of the old prejudices and fences that were put up are slowly dying away. Thank God.

      I think the biggest issue that affects all the poor is the massive amount of out-of-wedlock birth and kids growing up without daddies. This cuts across racial lines – it perpetuates poverty and moral decadence, and I only see it getting worse.

      • http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/ Alisha

        “I think the biggest issue that affects all the poor is the massive amount of out-of-wedlock birth and kids growing up without daddies. This cuts across racial lines – it perpetuates poverty and moral decadence, and I only see it getting worse.”

        ^This.^

  • Grace Potts

    This is an amazing conversation, and so incredibly full of hope! I was going to respond much earlier in the day with something clever and snarky, but my children distracted me- and I’m so glad that they did. A fantastic conversation has unfolded here. I think the only thing that I have to add, is that conservatives- real conservatives- ignore the racism on the right to their own peril: spiritual and political. I don’t think anyone’s said- and I’m not saying- that the right = racist, but there is racism there, and it’s plain as the nose on your face, you don’t have to go digging for it. When you don’t call it out, and call it what it is- you’re condoning it… and when you condone it, people that are not also white wonder really hard about what kind of person *you* are, and _that_ mars the whole movement, that separates us from *incredible* allies not just in the faith, but in terms of conservative politics. It is true that a majority of Blacks and Latino/as think well of the welfare state. However, that ignores two other realities, #1- The right has spent 4 decades ignoring any interests those groups might have (policy development on the right has been in the pooper since about Nixon in my opinion)`; and #2 both of these groups have deep social conservative roots (Latino/as are predominately Catholic for Pete’s sake) and if pressed, would prefer a socially conservative political home that didn’t insult them when they walked in the door- while everyone looked on wondering why they were offended.

    I mean let’s think this through for a moment- if you have unchallenged derision on the one hand (the loudest voices carry the day in most political circles) and the welfare state on the other: which political outpost would you go and check out? Where would you make yourself at home, politically? Maybe I don’t have anything new to add after all :)

    How about this- one of the comments seemed to congratulate Mr. Shea on his hatred of racism… But I think the question we ought to be asking is not if we approve of Mark’s hatred of racism and how that balances against the possible sin of possibly insulting or slandering a politician, but if we ourselves hate racism- and if we don’t hate racism- why on earth not?

    • nicole_marie

      Standing up and clapping. Well said.

  • CHHR, VA

    Isn’t it sad that today we talk about racism as if it’s the only thing wrong in America. My entire life I’ve done my part to live to the glory of God and now, after 4 years of pure concern that the man in the White House, who happens to be black, is there simply because he is black overwhelms my senses. I do not believe Obama’s policies for America are good for America and to that I’ve received more hate than one can imagine.

    A reader mentioned that they were now wondering what the other folks at church were really thinking… not knowing the race, I have to say, I feel the same way. We’ve lived and relived a history that’s dishonorable on America to the point that even that history is suspect to the truth. In fact, I am amazed at how ignorant most are regarding the real history of slavery and black persecution. Sadly, the victim narrative is not only alive and well, but it still serves a real purpose in today’s society… policy manipulation that, in the end, serves no one but those who develop that policy.

    History is supposed to be something we learn from and continue to move forward with, yet we don’t. History is supposed to teach us how to make tomorrow better, but it doesn’t. But most of all history is supposed to become something celebrated, we can’t. Rather than look at the wrongs of the day and the actions we’ve taken as a society to correct, we paralyze ourselves in a history that has been manipulated to support special interests and not the people. Now, we have a mutilated society with a black man in the white house simply because he is black… why? IMHO, because he is black and so many came out against his policies, words twisted to meet a narrative, and, as a result, many in the community felt compelled to defend rather than seek the truth.

    I know, the TEA Party is a four letter word these days, but I honestly think most would be surprised at what didn’t happen vs. what did happen. It’s amazing how many still tout the nasty narratives of racism, then find the one or two examples to, with a broad brush, paint an entire movement… interesting? Just like the black person that wonders what the white person is really thinking, conservatives feels the same way. There’ve been ample lies and trumped up charges and being painted first as an extremist racist has done little to solve the problem… now, the heat is beyond flash point.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t become a card carrying member of the Communist Party USA, I didn’t say that I was going to take “from the wealthy” and give to someone else… of course the real meaning was from America to the rest of the world, nor did I say “the future does not belong to those slandering Islam”… Obama did and those things not only concern me, they scare me. Remember, under Islam, to slander begets death, under Christianity slander begets prayer. There’s a fundamental difference between the two. Quite honestly, it isn’t racist to expect that and MY President must be held accountable for what he says and does. There are 300 dead Mexicans and 2 dead border agents due to a failed gun running policy of the US under this administration, and the response should have been anything but the crickets we experiences. Fast and Furious was but a small example though when you consider Benghazi where 4 Americans were murdered by extremists. The President and his Administration have been given a pass on this and so much more… why? When the answer is because he’s black and we felt compelled to defend him, my response is utter fear. By the way, if you don’t know the significance of 9/11/1683 to the Islamic movement, may be that would be a very good place to start researching the real history, not the history that’s been manipulated to serve miscreant perceptions.

    So, when do we lay down our swords and start talking… the community that feels compelled to defend might be surprised at the multitude of information that has been uncovered. At the very least, shouldn’t we seek the truth first and together work on the message for all to understand and rally behind? Isn’t that our Christian responsibility?

  • R.C.

    There are no code words.

    That is arrant nonsense, bought hook-line-and-sinker by far too many members of minority communities in the U.S., who don’t realize that the racists are not the people who use the term “Traditional America” (which is code for: America that doesn’t support gay marriage and serial polygamy and anything-goes fornication), but the left-liberals, who hear that term and automatically assume that black people couldn’t possibly support traditional marriage.

    I cannot think of a single thing that the majority of conservatives in the U.S. supports, or has supported in the last ten years, which could fairly be called racist.

    But I can think of plenty of things that have been falsely labeled as racist by leftists. And anyone who gets their information about conservatives solely from leftists will, naturally, hear that conservatives are racist.

    But they’ll be hearing this from leftists, who go on to “prove” that conservatives are racist by ascribing weird unrelated motives and notions to random phrases made by conservatives.

    Take for example the blogger that made the statement that, while welfare assistance for the truly needy was all well-and-good, it (a.) should be mostly handled at the state and local, not the federal, level, and (b.) it shouldn’t be allowed to subsidize laziness. (Or some such phrasing.)

    The leftist outcry in reply to this was: “Look! Look! This conservative wants to deny welfare money to black people!”

    The oblivious conservative was all like, “Where the heck did I even mention skin color?”

    And the leftists were all like, “You said laziness! That’s code for black people!”

    And the conservative was all like, “I don’t think the set of all lazy people has any particular correlation with the set of all black people. Why is it that YOU PEOPLE ON THE LEFT ALWAYS THINK IT DOES?”

    And the leftists were all like: (crickets)

    Life in America.

    Conservatives are just as sinful as all other human beings. But I have trouble thinking of any other group of people, save Catholics and Jews and maybe Evangelicals, who so regularly get accused of sins that their accusers are so obviously more guilty of.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m pretty sure “Kenyan Muslim” is a code word.

      • CHHR, VA

        yea, as someone of Kenyan descent of the Muslim religion… stop trying to retrofit, it makes you look quite rediculous.

        • Mark Shea

          Huh?

          • CHHR, VA

            your response contains good insight for me, I rest my case

      • R.C.

        I grant that “Kenyan” could be “code” for skin color instead of merely being an assertion of non-U.S. nationality. But for the birther-conspirators, “Swiss”

        Muslim? That would (in the consciousness of the lowbrow who’re clueless about Indonesia) make him Arab, not black. Or maybe Persian. But then the lowbrow who don’t know about Indonesia probably don’t realize Persians aren’t Arabs, either.

        But…and pardon my naivite because the plain fact is I really don’t know…WHICH Republican candidate, or officeholder, or prominent blogger, or whatever, was it, that called Barack Obama “Kenyan Muslim?”

        I ask because, God’s honest truth, while I’d heard people speculating he was really a Muslim, and while I’d heard people saying he wasn’t really born in Hawaii (so…I guess one of the other possibilities is Kenya?) I myself never, ever heard the phrase “Kenyan Muslim” before arriving at this blog. As far as I know, that word pairing is unique to Mark Shea.

        But I gather you got it from somewhere, so…where?

    • CHHR, VA

      Thank you… someone with an ounce of common sense is a very good thing to see in this sea of blatant dishonest hyperbole.

  • CHHR, VA

    Folks, really read the responses on this blog… it proves the point that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth to those “low information” voters that supported the media in making sure Obama was re-elected without once vetting sources, yet again.

    To my mind, finding and recycling pictures and stories (like those posted in this blog) that have been proven blatantly false makes you just as “low informed” and a totally complicit to the wrongs perpetrated on our society. What’s infuriating, is that you all know the media has committed journalistic malpractice yet accept that which serves your sick purpose of perpetuating any narrative with which you disagree or worse, can be held accountable and responsible for not changing… and you expect Congress, one you did nothing to change, to end gridlock. Wow.

    Problems are not solved by crying foul, problems are solved by actually standing up and becoming informed enough to clean the swamp. But let’s face it, YOU’VE been duped, that’s a shame, but honestly, it’s time to call it as it is. Oh yea, and if you still don’t think the media won this election for Obama, simply because YOU wanted to believe hyperbole rather than stand for what is right, you’re delusional.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. People who heard themselves called “so called Americans” and have listened to endless panic-mongering the “Kenyan Muslim” (wink, wink) are delusional. And even though they are prolife and pro-Catholic and pro-family, even though they clearly opposed Obama, they are *still* the Evil Fifth Columnists when they all conspire to report that, yeah, they basically are made to feel pretty unwelcome by conservatives.

      Delusional. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  • WesleyD

    Mark, this is one of the most spectacular posts I have read on any blog in years.


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