So, about that whole Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend narrative

Reader Irenist writes:

On the Wikipedia vetting process, and the way that journalists and comboxers who cite to it will end up with the results of a GIGO algorithm if they don’t wait until the initial edit war for a newly prominent page dies down, I found this instructive exchange on the talk page for the Pope Francis article this morning:

involvement with argentinian dictatorship

The following sentence “Verbitsky also writes that the Argentine Navy with the help of Cardinal Bergoglio hid the dictatorship’s political prisoners in Bergoglio’s holiday home from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission” should be removed as it is not true. The note links to the source which is an article on “The Guardian”, but the article itself has been amended on this regard with an apologising note stating this is not actually true — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:39, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes Done. Good catch, I verified the change to the cited source and removed the incorrect content. Andrew327 14:13, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

(my italics). N.B. that the Guardian, one of the Anglosphere’s more prominent mainstream papers (although of a left-liberal bent that is openly admitted in the European fashion, rather than hypocritically denied, in the fashion of the Acela Corridor), was propagating this psuedoknowledge, too. Here’s the article in question, to which, among other prominent American news sites, Andrew Sullivan was pointing people yesterday in that knee-jerk way of his that has led him into believing all sorts of nonsense (uranium in Iraq, e.g.) without properly vetting things:

For a vitally important take on the far graver psuedoknowledge problem that happens when journalists cite made-up nonsense in Wikipedia as fact without acknowledging that they got it from Wikipedia, leading to the journalist’s own article becoming the cited source for the now dangerously credible psuedo-fact when another Wikipedian subsequently edits the article, it’s worth checking out the xkcd cartoon on “Citogenesis,” which is one of the most incisive commentaries on the perils of Internet rumor ecology I’ve ever seen.

Note to Combox Star Chamber members *and* fans of Francis: This does not mean Francis is a Living Saint Above Criticism.  As the careers of other recent hastily anointed Living Saints have demonstrated over the past decade, the Church is smart to wait until saints are dead to call them saints.  But it does mean (for Star Chamber members) that due process and adequate fact gathering is still a duty, even when your bigoted soul hates the guy.  Otherwise you come off like a prosecutorial jerk who will buy any internet rumor if it strokes your bigotry.

Here’s what we *do* know: that Wikipedia link that formed the backbone for the Combox Star Chamber prosecutors who instantly condemned him as a torturing murdering fascist turns out to be , ‘ow you say?, a load of dingo kidneys.  Here’s the Guardian retracting that whopper (one wonders how you “accidently” charge somebody with conniving to hide political prisoners from human rights advocates: “Ooops!  We *meant* to say he pled for the lives political prisoners and rescued them from the regime”):

This post was amended on 14 March 2013. Hugh O’Shaughnessy’s original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors in the period of military dictatorship. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human right abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s “holiday home”. These references been corrected.

Oh, and speaking of human rights advocates, it turns out this smear was raised at the last conclave.  So John Allen, Jr., reporter for the arch-conservative National Catholic Reporter called the zealously right wing Amnesty International and several Jesuits who were not notably fans of Bergoglio.  They scotched that lie and pointed out that Bergoglio had rescued two priests from the regime.   In short, it’s really looking bad for the Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend propagandists.

The reality is that most of us in the English-speaking world know very little about him, because he a) speaks Spanish and most of the press on him is in that language; b) seems to have a certain affinity for Calvin Coolidge in terms of his volubility.  What we do know so far is this (collated by Steve Kellmeyer):

As archbishop of Argentina:

We also know this:

So to the atheist combox trolls who were so eager to believe the worst, it would appear that you have nothing to support the Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend narrative.  In light of this, it would be good if those so eager to accuse would do two things:

First, use your intellect instead of worshipping it.  When somebody tells you a priest of seven years with this guy’s rep for spartan living had a “holiday home” dust off your vaunted “critical intellect” and question such an assertion.  Otherwise, you come off like a credulous bigot (which, you know, you are).

Second, it turns out (as Francis demonstrates above) that the poor and suffering are actual human beings and not simply useful tools and stepping stones for you to fake concern and register fake dudgeon against the object of your bigotry.  So in future, I would urge you to imitate Bergoglio in actually caring for the poor and not merely use them as disposable tools for pummeling the object of your bigotry.  It kind of makes you look like a heartless tool without the normal complement of social and affective skills of normal people.  If you want to shake the whole “Napoleon Dynamite with a Mean Streak” image that so many Evangelical Atheists so richly deserve then try to actually *care* about poor people and not just use them.  If you aren’t sure what to do, just imitate Bergoglio.  He’s been living with and caring for the poor for decades while you’ve been doing what again?

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