Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Catholic Church Is Breaking Apart. Here’s Why.

By Jonathan V. Last
September 14, 2018

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Pope Francis and Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Consider what we know, and what has been alleged, about Pope Francis, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

For several decades, Father, Bishop, Archbishop, and eventually Cardinal McCarrick preyed sexually on the priests and seminarians serving under his authority. There are credible allegations he abused boys as young as 11. To the extent that this behavior was a secret within the American church, it was very badly kept. Between 2005 and 2007, three dioceses in New Jersey paid out large cash settlements to keep allegations of abuse by McCarrick quiet. As Bishop Steven Lopes said in a homily first reported by First Things, “I was a seminarian when Theodore McCarrick was named archbishop of Newark. And he would visit the seminary often, and we all knew.”

McCarrick ended his career as cardinal of the Washington, D.C., archdiocese and was succeeded by Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who arrived having just served as bishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl’s former diocese has been in the news recently after the release of a grand jury report by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office outlining decades of abuse by priests in the state.

As Wuerl arrived in Washington in 2006, McCarrick retired to the Redemptoris Mater seminary and was later ejected and sent to the Institute of the Incarnate Word seminary, both of which lay within Wuerl’s jurisdiction. In or about 2009, Pope Benedict XVI placed McCarrick under some sort of sanction. (The exact nature of the sanction is still unknown, but it seems to have been something like house arrest. It is also unclear when, exactly, Benedict first learned about McCarrick or how much time passed before he acted.) Yet somehow Wuerl insists that he knew nothing about any of this until June 2018, when the McCarrick firestorm exploded into public view.

Wuerl’s defense is that he is not an evil man who looked the other way about the behavior of a known sexual predator, but merely an incompetent dolt. And Wuerl seems to think that being guilty of gross incompetence should entitle him to keep his job. A responsible leader of good character would have walked away in disgrace the moment he learned of these scandals. Wuerl’s first public comment on the McCarrick story was to say, “I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.” On literally the same day that the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released, Wuerl’s diocese launched a barrage of defensive propaganda in the form of a new website, “The Wuerl Record.” It was quickly taken down when it became clear that it was hurting the cardinal’s reputation rather than helping it. Then Wuerl called for “a season of healing” with special Masses in his archdiocese. The best that can be said of Wuerl is that his crisis PR handling has bolstered the incompetence defense.

It was only after a month of trying to cling to his job that Wuerl said he plans to fly to Rome to discuss his future with Pope Francis. Francis has yet to say or do anything about Wuerl despite the fact that, as do all cardinals over the age of 75, Wuerl had a letter of resignation on file with the Vatican. Francis could have disposed of him in an afternoon without having to do anything more complicated than accept a pre-existing letter.

Those are the facts we know. None of them are in dispute.

Then there are the allegations: On August 25, 2018, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published a letter in which he claimed that he had been party to several attempts to make the Vatican aware of McCarrick’s abuses over the years; that he had personally discussed them with Wuerl; and that Pope Francis—knowing full well all of the above—rescinded the house-arrest order of his predecessor, made McCarrick his “trusted counselor,” and, at McCarrick’s behest, began elevating certain bishops—such as Blase Cupich and Joseph William Tobin—to positions of power in the American church.
If true, this would mean that we have one cardinal who was a sanctioned sexual predator, (at least) one cardinal who turned a blind eye to this man’s crimes as they were happening within his jurisdiction, and a pope who didn’t just look the other way but took affirmative steps to help both the criminal and his enabler.

And if all of that is true, well, then what? The potential answers to this question aren’t very nice. They include: schism, the destruction of the papacy, and a long war for the soul of the Catholic church. Because the story of Theodore McCarrick isn’t just a story about sexual abuse. It’s about institutions and power.

The abuse itself is terrible, of course. We should say that out loud, because while the details are unspeakable they must be spoken of. Without the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, we would know much less about the evil inside the church. (It is also instructive to note that authorities within the church opposed the release of this report.) But individual priest-abusers aren’t catastrophic to the church in any structural way. Predators will always be among us. It is a human pathology from which not even priests are immune. But the remedy for predation is straightforward: Whenever and wherever such men are discovered, they should be rooted out and punished.

The institutional damage is done not by the abusers but by the structures that cover for them, excuse them, and advance them. Viewed in that way, the damage done to the Catholic church by Cardinal Wuerl—and every other bishop who knew about McCarrick and stayed silent—is several orders of magnitude greater than that done by McCarrick himself.

By way of analogy, consider the dirty cop. About once a week we see evidence of police officers behaving in ways that range from the imprudent to the illegal. It has no doubt been this way since Hammurabi deputized the first lawman. But while individuals might be harmed by rogue cops, the system of law enforcement isn’t jeopardized by police misbehavior. The damage to the system comes when the other mechanisms of law enforcement protect, rather than prosecute, bad cops. If that happens often enough, citizens can eventually decide that the system is broken and take to the ballot box to reform it. The laity have no such recourse with the church.

The Catholic church is unlike any other earthly institution. It is strictly hierarchical, with its ultimate power derived from the son of God. The head of the church—the successor of Peter—is elected to a lifetime appointment by his peers, and his authority over them is total. He can allow them to carry on sexual affairs in broad daylight, as Francis did with Father Krzysztof Charamsa, a priest who worked for years in the Vatican curia while living openly with his gay lover. Or he can drive them from the church, as Francis did with Father Charamsa after the priest made his situation public in the Italian media in 2015. He can make either of these choices—or any choice in between—for any reason he likes. Or none at all. Such is the supreme power of the vicar of Christ.

Yet the pope’s immediate subordinates—the cardinals and bishops—function like feudal lords in their own right. The bishop can preach in contravention of the teachings of the church, as Cardinal Walter Kasper does on the subject of marriage and infidelity. He can forbid the offering of both species of the Eucharist, as Bishops John Richard Keating and Paul Loverde once did in Northern Virginia. He can punish and reward priests under his care either because of merit or caprice—because the deacons and priests all swear a vow of obedience to the bishop (or cardinal) himself.

All of which is the long way of saying that there is no mechanism for a man such as Donald Wuerl to be dealt with by his peers. The bishop of Madison can fulminate against Wuerl all he wants to, as Bishop Robert Morlino did in late August. His fellow bishops have no power over him. The only man Wuerl is accountable to is the pope. And the structure of the church has no remedy when a pope is foolish or wicked.

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Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

In the weeks after the Viganò letter was published, Francis preached a homily in which he declared, “with people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction” the best response is “silence” and “prayer.” If this sounds like Francis believes the real villains in this mess are Archbishop Viganò and people who want to know what the bishops knew, and when they knew it, well, yes.

In another homily on September 11, Francis went further, saying that not only was Viganò the real villain, but the bishops were the real victims: They were being persecuted by the devil: “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops,” Francis preached. And Satan “tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.” (The Father of Lies—as he is referred to in the Bible—has not traditionally been regarded as the revealer of sins in Catholic thought, but this pope has never been known for having a supple mind.) Francis then offered counsel for his poor, suffering brother bishops: “The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.’ A bishop’s strength against the Great Accuser is prayer.”

Other parts of the church hierarchy also seem to view themselves as victims. In late August, Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig decided to try to get to the bottom of the Viganò story by asking McCarrick himself. She went to the church-owned property where the former cardinal now resides and knocked on the door. Whatever representative of the church—God’s vessel for Truth and Light—lives there declined to answer. Instead, he called the Post to complain about her.

So what is to be done if the vicar of Christ is a fool who sides with bishops who enabled or hid abusers? Or is a wicked man who sides with the actual abusers themselves? That’s an excellent question and we’ll get to it.

The more immediate question is: Why would he do that? And the answer is simple: power.
The pontificate of Francis can, perhaps, best be understood as a political project. His election at the conclave in 2013 was—unbeknownst to the world at the time—the result of a campaign planned out in advance by four radical cardinals who saw then-cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the perfect vehicle for the revolution they wanted to launch within the church. (The story of how Cardinals Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Walter Kasper, Godfried Danneels, and Karl Lehmann formed “Team Bergoglio” is detailed in Austen Ivereigh’s worshipful biography of Francis, and even though the cardinals subsequently denied the account, their protestations are supremely unconvincing.) As the Catholic News Agency reported at the time, this politicking wasn’t simply a matter of bad taste: The apostolic constitution, Universi Dominici gregis, expressly prohibits cardinals from forming pacts, agreements, promises, or commitments of any kind. Oh well.

During his time on Peter’s throne, Francis has worked to dismantle many orthodox positions in an attempt to radically reorient the church toward—by total coincidence—the long-held preferences of those four radical cardinals. For instance: He has criticized Catholics for being “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. He has derided Catholic women for having too many children and behaving “like rabbits.” He sent a papal blessing to the lesbian author of the Italian version of Heather Has Two Mommies—a tract for children extolling the virtues of same-sex parenting.

All of this is in addition to his bizarre insistence that “never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake” and that the benefits of free-market growth have “never been confirmed by the facts.” (In case people didn’t get the message, Francis posed for pictures with a crucifix made of a hammer and a sickle.) Yet as bad as free market capitalism is, the pope insists “the most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” Which is a . . . curious view of our fallen world.

The most outré of the pope’s initiatives, however, have been his efforts to dismantle the restrictions on admittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to communion. For this, Francis convened a synod, attempted to ram through a change to Catholic teaching, and, when that failed, proclaimed via an apostolic exhortation that priests were free to use their discretion on the matter.

To non-Catholics, this may not sound like a big deal, but it is: Communion for the divorced and remarried is the first theological step to doing away with the concept of adultery. If such a change is accomplished, the Catholic church would eventually be forced to change all of its teachings on marriage, sexuality, and the family: Divorce, pre-, and -extra-marital sex would all then be sanctioned by the church.

And so would—crucially—homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Now maybe you like these things and maybe you don’t. Some Christian denominations embrace them. But the Catholic church has never sanctioned any of them and the entire revolutionary project of changing the church’s teaching on family and sexuality necessarily begins with communion for the divorced and remarried.

This project and the pope’s apostolic exhortation were serious enough that several cardinals sent the Holy Father a formal document, known as a dubia, asking if he truly intended to change Catholic teaching in a heretical manner, or if he had just made an honest mistake. Francis simply ignored them.

Which is his way. In his only conversation with reporters about the Viganò testimony, Francis declined to address the charge that he had known about McCarrick. Viganò’s letter, Francis said, “speaks for itself.” When it wasn’t clear what the Holy Father meant by this—Was Viganò’s account true? Was Viganò a mountebank?—Francis continued, saying, “It’s an act of trust. I won’t say a word about it.”

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago presents the Spirit of Francis Award to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, at an awards dinner on Oct. 27, 2016 in New York. (CNS photo/ courtesy Catholic Extension)

The pope’s favorite American cardinal is Blase Cupich, who heads the archdiocese of Chicago and has been the most persistent cheerleader for the Francis project in America. He has said quite a few words. Asked about the Viganò letter by a reporter, Cupich said it was a “rabbit hole” and “[T]he pope has a bigger agenda. . . . he’s got to get on with other things” such as “talking about the environment and protecting migrants.”

This was not a gaffe. A few days later, Cupich met with a group of seminarians who very much wanted to talk about the priest-abuse problem, the Holy Father, and this dark night of the church. Cupich told the group, “I feel very much at peace at this moment. I am sleeping okay.” Then came this, per the account in the Chicago Sun-Times:
The source said Cupich also told the group that, while the church’s “agenda” certainly involves protecting kids from harm, “we have a bigger agenda than to be distracted by all of this,” including helping the homeless and sick.
Which brings us, finally, to the question of what this “agenda” actually is.

It is difficult to disentangle the hundreds of cases of abuse in the church from the subject of homosexuality. No one wants to say, or even to insinuate, that homosexuality and abusiveness are one and the same, or that all, or most, or even a large proportion of gay men are abusers. Those statements are objectively false.

At the same time, the math is pitiless: According to our best data, a mammoth CDC study done in 2013, 1.6 percent of Americans identify as gay. Yet 80 percent of the abuse cases involve priests abusing other males. You can include all the caveats you like—maybe there’s selection bias, maybe the percentage of homosexuals in the priesthood is many times higher than 1.6 percent, maybe not all male-on-male abuse is perpetrated by men who would identify as gay. But the correlation is still high enough that it is impossible to ignore.

And despite the fact that everyone wants to insist that abuse by priests has nothing to do with homosexuality, it’s strange that the people who most want to open the church sacramentally to homosexuality are the ones strenuously ignoring the abuse. Priests such as Cardinal Cupich are certainly acting like they think there’s a linkage and that if the church were to crack down on abuse and the bishops who enabled it, it would somehow endanger their project.

And it’s not confined to the United States. In Chile, too, Catholic bishops have presided over a sickening culture of abuse and coverup. Confronted with charges of abuse, Francis stood by the Chilean bishop Juan Barros Madrid, saying of the allegations, “The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?” This, despite the fact that Francis had been warned about Barros and there was a mountain of evidence against him. Barros was on Team Francis, which is what counted most.

In July, a group of 50 seminarians in Honduras presented Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga with a letter and corroborating evidence alleging a ring of homosexual abuse at the country’s largest seminary. Maradiaga’s response, per the reporting of Edward Pentin, was to accuse the seminarians of being “gossipers.” You can think of Maradiaga as the Donald Wuerl of Tegucigalpa. He is also one of Francis’s closest advisers.

Whether or not it’s coincidence, the American bishops in the most jeopardy now—McCarrick, Wuerl, Cupich, Tobin—are also the ones closest to Francis and most supportive of his desire to revolutionize the church.

There was a general sense among Catholics following the pontificate of John Paul II that the church had been jolted by an influx of orthodox young priests. In time, the thinking went, these men would climb and, eventually, they would stock the positions of power throughout the church. Thus the church would remain, at least for the medium-term, an orthodox institution.

But the election of Francis changed all of that. Even though the radical elements within the church were a small and aging minority, the progressives realized that the only person who really matters is the pope. That’s why they organized to get Francis elected. Since then they have understood that if Francis and his faction can find just a few score of like-minded priests to elevate, they can ensure that the current pope’s successor will share his ideological preferences.

The College of Cardinals is supposed to have 120 voting members; currently there are 124 members eligible to participate in the next conclave. That’s more than the cap should allow. Why? Because 75 of them—including Cupich and Tobin—have been appointed by Francis. Unlike his predecessor, Francis understands power. And because there are so few high-level progressives in the church, Francis understands that losing any of these men could endanger his succession, which could endanger his larger project. His confederates, in turn, understand that losing Francis himself at this moment could sink it entirely.

The chances of the church’s losing Francis, however, are slim. You cannot impeach a pope. And barring an unexpected return to our Heavenly Father, Francis will remain pope for the foreseeable future. Which leaves four possible pathways, none of which is attractive.

Some conservative Catholics, such as Princeton’s Robert P. George, have suggested that Francis ought to resign—especially if the Viganò letter is corroborated. This is an attractive idea and would align with the cause of justice. Anyone in the church hierarchy who knew, or should have known, about specific abusers in their midst should, at the least, be removed from any position of responsibility. They simply cannot be trusted. If you were to extend this view all the way to the bishop of Rome, there is a certain cleanliness to its logic—a sense that maybe the church could make a clean break and begin to make things right anew.

But it might be a cure worse than the disease.

In the last 600 years, only one pope has abdicated: Benedict XVI, the man who immediately preceded Francis. Two abdications in a millennium are an aberration. But two abdications in a row would have the practical effect of breaking the modern papacy. From here forward, all popes would be expected to resign their office rather than die in harness.
This expectation of resignation would, in turn, create incentives for the pope’s theological adversaries to fight and wound him, in the not-unreasonable hope that if they could make him unpopular, he could be shuffled out of the palace and they could try their luck with a new pontiff. Before you know it, you’d have polling data and opposition research and the papacy would become an expressly political office. No Catholic should yearn for this outcome.

The second option is capitulation. Catholics could shrug and give up. They could let Cardinal Wuerl live his best life and then slink off to a graceful retirement; they could make peace with Cardinal Cupich’s view that the church exists, first and foremost, to deal with global warming, or the minimum wage, or whatever else is trending on They could toe the dirt and accept sacramental same-sex marriages, even if it destroys the theology of the body. After all, times change. Religions change. And if you really trust in the Lord, then no change could come to His church without its being the will of the Father.

The third option is schism. There has been loose talk about schism since the early days of Francis’s pontificate. The conversation became less whimsical at the time of the synod and the dubia. It will become deadly serious if Viganò’s accusations are corroborated and Francis shelters in place. Even so, it remains one of those low-probability, extinction-level events that every Catholic should pray does not come to pass.

The fourth option is resistance. We are only at the current moment because the forces that conspired to elevate Francis refused, for decades, to leave the church, even though their desires were at odds with its teachings.

Despite the fact that the Catholic church rejected their preferences as false, the South American liberation theologists, the German cardinals who wanted to redefine marriage, and the American progressives who never met a social justice cause they didn’t like all hung on. Eventually they organized. And after a generation of orthodox papacy, during which time most American Catholics forgot that there even was a radical side of the faith, they worked together to elect Francis. Organization works, if you’re willing to play the long game and play for keeps.

So Catholics could starve bishops such as Wuerl, Cupich, and Tobin of funds. Not a dime for any church in any diocese headed by a bishop who refuses to root out abusers and their enablers.

The bishops who do care about these things could start organizing for the next conclave now, identifying potential candidates and laying the groundwork for the election of the next pope.

Then, when the pendulum eventually swings back—be it next year or 40 years from now—orthodox Catholics could take from these years a very sobering lesson about power. And with neither malice nor mercy drive men such as Cupich, Tobin, and Wuerl into the sea and purge the church of anyone who believes that climate change is a more pressing matter than the abuse of Catholics by the clergy.

None of these pathways is attractive; each leads to a church that is at best impoverished and at worst crippled.

Then again, the church survived Caligula, the bubonic plague, the Third Reich, the Gather hymnal, and the autoharp. It will survive McCarrick, Wuerl, and Francis, too.
But crucibles are rarely pleasant experiences for those inside them and a great many souls may be lost in the transition.

Those men will have much to answer for.

Correction, September 14, 2018, 3:05 p.m.: The article originally stated that a bishop "can forbid the offering of both species of the Eucharist, as Bishop Michael Burbidge does in Northern Virginia." Bishop Burbidge does allow both species of the Eucharist, it was his predecessors, Bishops John Richard Keating and Paul Loverde, who forbid the offering of both species of the Eucharist. According to a statement from the Arlington Diocese: "Reverend Thomas Ferguson, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia with the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, [says that] Bishop Paul Loverde changed the policy to allow both species of the Eucharist to be allowed at Mass. The policy changed sometime between 1999 and 2004."

Also, the article originally stated that Bishop Steven Lopes said “I was a seminarian when Theodore McCarrick was named archbishop of Newark. And he would visit the seminary often, and we all knew." in the an interview with First Things. He made those remarks in a homily that was first reported by First Things.

We regret the errors.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why Black Voters Are Turning to Trump

September 14, 2018
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The growing positive attitude of black voters towards President Trump is the wildcard in the coming midterm elections. It is real and it is expanding. Polls are showing anywhere from 20 percent to 36 percent of blacks approve of President Trump. The Democrats even may have lost 11 percent of black women.
The cracks in the black Democrat bloc voting are one of the most consequential results of Barack Obama’s presidency and the phenomenal effectiveness of President Trump’s pro-business policies. This could be a historic turning point.
Measurable Progress
Trump’s economic policies have improved the lives of black Americans, just as he promised they would during the election. Unlike Obama’s media hype, Trump’s progress is as real and as solid as his buildings. Black unemployment continues to fall. Good manufacturing jobs are coming back.Paychecks are rising, too.
The roots of this political watershed in the black community are more complex than job figures and will last beyond Trump’s tenure. I have been listening for hours to ordinary black Americans on the #Walkaway movement’s YouTube channel. This is a movement of former Democrats explaining why they are leaving their party. While each face, voice, and story is unique and fascinating, there are some striking recurring themes.
Ironically, the change seems to have started with President Obama’s election.
President Obama raised the hopes of black Americans to the highest they’ve been since Martin Luther King. The entire country expected he would devote himself to getting blacks better schools, more jobs, higher wages, and safer neighborhoods. Instead, Obama ignored those bread-and-butter needs. His signature initiative was to send Eric Holder to stoke up publicity and fear in the wake of the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings.
In the short term, hyping fake white racism and police brutality worked to stanch the bleeding in black turnout in the 2012 election. In the long term, however, Obama’s reliance on racial fear and grievance increased black suffering. He broke people’s hearts and blew up many black voters’ loyalty to the Democrats.
The #Walkaway videos are remarkably consistent on that score. Obama got them paying attention to party politics for the first time. Next came the emotional roller coaster, as joy turned to disappointment. Obama’s identity politics agenda, now amplified by progressive Democrats, was a cynical ploy and it has become is a total turn off to those now paying attention. These black voters hate illegal immigration. Obama marked the end of their romance with the Democrat Party, not a new beginning.
Surprised by the Truth
Few of these ex-Democrats voted for Trump, but they were willing to give Trump a chance after the election. They find Trump Derangement Syndrome ludicrous. In fact, they love what he is doing. They appreciate the jobs he is creating, and they share his patriotism.
They are listening to—in some case meeting—deplorables and finding them kind, decent, and not racist.
A last, and very interesting theme, is after Obama got them engaged, most of these black Democrats started doing research on the internet. They were riveted learning the history of the Democratic Party. They care deeply and viscerally about slavery. What a shock to discover they had been lied to about it all their lives.
President Lincoln was not a Democrat, as they’d been led to think in school. It was not Republicans who were the party of racism, but Democrats. They learned for the first time that Democrats were slave owners. Over and over, they share their surprise at learning the Democrats are the party of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. Democrats are the party that destroyed the black family. Bill Clinton set off the explosion of black incarceration. They are done permanently as Democrats.
This is a revolutionary change of perspective on the identity of the two parties. It was mentioned in almost every video I watched.
Virtually every video begins with a statement like this one from a GenX woman: “I always followed the crowd. . . . Everybody is supposed to be a Democrat. Black people vote Democrat . . . . We were taught Republicans are all bad, racist, only care about the rich. I fell for that for quite a long time.”
Same words from a young  business major: “I never truly chose the Democrat Party. Being the family I’m in, the area I’m in, the color I am. Everyone was Democrat by default . . . I never heard anyone debate any political issue . . . I was on a conveyor belt of ‘next Democrat’ . . . never had any information . . . I didn’t know which side was left (or) right. I was so uninformed, so many people around me uninformed.”
working guy sounds a similar theme: “Way back when I was a kid, I was taught Republicans were evil white people who didn’t want to share with black people. Black people were Democrats. . . . there was a black party and a white party . . . I voted straight Democrat . . . I finally stopped voting . . . They’re all greedy, just another white man in the White House . . .  I forgot all about it to be honest . . . didn’t know who was in office.”
Obama Raised Hopes—and Dashed Them
President Obama got millions of blacks interested in following politics for the first time in a long time. “Hope and change” was not an empty slogan to them. They felt it, deeply, emotionally. Even uninterested, cynical, disengaged people allowed themselves to get invested.
young vet speaks for many. “I was so happy, I cried. I can’t believe I live in this day and age. I was told this would never happen because white America hates black people. That’s how I was raised . . . I was into him . . . I joined the military ’cause I wanted to serve Barack Obama.”
Another woman expressed what many others also said: “[Obama was] so eloquent, seemed intelligent, real cool . . . thought he’d try to get the inner cities together, get better education for black children. That’s what I assumed. Make things better for black people.”
Millennial man who first voted in 2012 repeats the typical story. Obama got him interested. “This is going to be historic.” He began to do “binge political researching.”
Obama got these supporters involved, and euphorically hopeful. Then he let them down.
“As soon as he got in office, this dude started going sideways . . . this isn’t what we voted for,” the Millennial says. Obama focused on getting money and votes from greens, gays, feminists, and illegals, and used race-baiting to keep the black vote. They noticed nothing got better.
These are people who did not have the luxury to make excuses for Obama. Many in the black community are enduring real suffering—not the snowflake variety. They were looking for results, not left-wing virtue signaling. Obama broke the spell. Here was the ultimate Democrat who had a shot to come through and improve black lives, and he fired blanks.
Under Obama, says a YouTuber who calls himself “That Black Dude,” “I watched my paycheck decrease from $860 . . .  after four more years to 690 bucks every two weeks . . . I can’t survive like this . . . and the news kept telling me that everything was great . . . this was the hope and change, and we have to get used to unemployment.”
“They just make promises and don’t do anything,” says another young black woman, “and our communities . . . education for our children are still jacked up . . . I didn’t see any progress for Americans, for working, everyday average Americans . . . Obama, all these promises he had not made and weren’t being kept.”
“Democrat Party have no plan, no direction, no future, no way of looking at growth . . . growing on hate is not what this country should be, wants to be,” says a man who goes by the handle “NtenseFit Way.”
A thoughtful young man explains his thinking in a video well worth your time:
All [Democrats] want to do is monetize white guilt . . . it’s not really productive, man, because we never address the core issues . . . . [Democrat] policies do not work . . . enough is enough. It is time to break the cycle. Me, I made a decision, man, I can no longer support the Democrat Party. Because they are not the party for black people, they’re not even the party of America. They are such a far-Left socialist party . . . I don’t know who they’re working for—it ain’t us. In every state they run . . . opportunities diminish . . . their policies are failed. . . . I can’t do it anymore. I’m conservative.
Some blame Obama by name. Many do not. But his failure to help, or even try, was their final break with the Democratic Party.
“All you seen since you were a kid and you were black were promises on things they were gonna change, things would become better. All you seen, things have become worse,” says a man who identifies himself as an ex-felon.
He asks and answers: “Who’s responsible, who’s running this system? It’s the Democrats. Destroyed the black family. Destroyed the black home . . . . They come every four years and they take take take and they don’t give you shit back. I’m tired of it, tired of the excuses.”
Identity Politics is a Loser 
Hillary Clinton tried to follow in Obama’s footsteps with identity politics. But many black men feel targeted by feminism. Others are appalled by the Democratic Party’s promotion of abortion, which disproportionately targets black communities. Black men and women are furious that illegal aliens seem to receive better treatment from Democrats than American citizens.  Intersectionality is failing to unite them with the other privileged grievance groups. These voters realize their interests are not identical or even similar to leftist politics.
Hillary personally was a turn-off and her corruption was appalling. A former Bernie Sanders supporter expresses his disgust, which extended from Clinton to all progressives, eventually including Sanders himself. “The thing that completely opened my eyes like someone threw cold water on you in the middle of the night . . . was the DNC rigging the election,” he says. “Those emails . . . money laundering through the Clinton Foundation . . . the whole shit show . . . The motherf—-r had all the questions to the debate, and she still lost the f—ing debate . . . starting with the election and past two years, bullshit and f—ery coming from liberals.”
The progressive Democratic Party has no positive message for blacks. “Party of victimhood. Party of excuses,” says Hermes Justin Wilson. “Those who see themselves as eternal victims will always stay that way . . . using black people as a stepping stool . . . keeping them low by having them stuck in this mindset.”
And then Donald Trump happened. Trump was not a turn off to them. He is familiar. Trump was known and liked by many blacks because of “The Apprentice.” They are fine with his braggadocio and outsized personality. They admire his success as a businessman. Some know his reputation as a friend of blacks. Some were willing to give him a hearing and a chance.
Even those who did not vote for Trump are open about how much they love him now. President Trump is delivering, big time, on jobs, on crime, on actually improving their daily lives.
Making Patriotism Cool Again
Trump is delivering on another thing a lot of these #Walkaways care about: patriotism and unity.
“We live in the greatest country on earth and I am proud to be an American,” says a well-dressed man who calls himself YG Nyghtstorm. “I am so happy to see so many of my fellow citizens standing against hatred and putting America first.”
Vanessa Rogers says: “I’m proud to say I’m an American. I love my country . . . Trump is doing a fabulous job.”
Millennial who calls himself Mike Nificent says: “I am all about personal responsibility, individual liberty . . . I believe in the Constitution, I love America. I’m proud, I’m patriotic.”
gay woman with the handle Bethegoldenera Ray explains: “I’m realizing conservative is not bad. It’s American values. I want free speech. I want the right to bear arms . . . .The only thing I heard the right say is get up, make something of yourself, this is America . . . why would people want socialism in this country? As a gay, black woman who is all about equality, I cannot believe the (Democrat) party I once believed in is so anti-American.”
The media crusade against President Trump leaves them cold. “A lot of black people like [Trump],” says a closet Trump supporter. Rappers talk about him all the time. . . . Let’s give the guy a try . . . Once I started researching things, watching his speech and how they reported it. It really is fake news.  . . . Resist? What are you resisting? He’s president.”
From a well-educated, mature man: “Convince people through evidence and facts why your point of view is superior than your opponents and why your direction of the country is better. To say Donald Trump is going to destroy America while you’re destroying America is an oxymoron, it’s hypocritical . . . You need to get control of your emotions, brother . . . if you want to convince me, show me through your policies.”
They are listening to Republicans, they’re meeting them at work. They like them and realize they have shared values. They are finding out for themselves that Republicans are not racist. These black voters have Republican values on abortion, marriage, hard work, creating opportunities for people to make something of themselves, and loving America.
college grad says: “I like that people on the right are way more open for conversation, for dialogue . . . examples, details, facts . . . being consistent . . . people on the right are way better at that.”
He concludes: “I’m about unity. I want this country to get better. I want race relations to get better. I want America to keep building and get stronger . . . we can barely make jobs for people. . .. I’m walking away from bad policies . . . corruption . . . Drain the swamp.”
If these were the opinions of a small group of mavericks, it would be interesting. If the poll numbers of  black voters liking Trump are accurate at only 11 or 14 percent, it will seriously impact the swing states, lowering Democrats chances in 2020. If the numbers actually are 21 or 38 percent, America will never be the same. Democrats tell themselves that black voters turning to Trump is not real and it will go away. It is not going away.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Rage, Rage, Against the Dying of the Dream

September 12, 2018

Related image

Anti-Trump protesters burned an effigy of the President-elect outside City Hall in downtown Los Angeles in 2016. At another demonstration, at Cal State in East L.A., Selena, who immigrated from Mexico when she was two, said, "We’re going to fight back, we’re going resist, and we’re going to stay."
Photograph by Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times / Getty

Homer’s Muse sings of the rage of Achilles, brought forth from his tent by the death of his friend Patroclus to engage the Trojan hero, Hector, in mortal combat. But Achilles’ anger solves nothing; although he kills Hector, he then desecrates the body by dragging it around the walls of Troy, thus violating the laws of warfare and sealing his own fate. His determination to avenge his friend thus becomes “the accursed rage that brought great suffering to the Achaeans.” In the end, it’s not the rage of Achilles that wins the war for the Greeks, but the trickery of Odysseus that finagles the wooden horse inside the impregnable gates of Ilium.

We are witnessing a similar self-destructive rage today: the rage of the American Left against the Trump Administration in general and the president in particular, an explosion of frustrated, impotent (but still dangerous) anger that has given up all pretense of genuine protest—against the results of a duly constituted American election, let us remember—and has devolved instead into a toddler’s extended tantrum. It bears the hallmarks of one of the most unseemly displays in American political history.
It’s being conducted in the halls of Congress, where the Democrats have at last dropped all pretense of civility and shown the voters their true, foam-flecked faces. It’s being waged in the media, where the ladies and gentlemen of the press, such as they are, have thrown over journalistic practicesthat served the profession well over the past century or so, and now regard malicious gossip and news as one and the same thing.
Most ominously, it is taking place in the streets where, over the past year, Republican congressmen and Trump supporters have been shot, attacked with a switchblade knife, clubbed with a bicycle lock, had their vehicles and offices vandalized and set on fire; even the president’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed.
The masked fascist thugs who ludicrously call themselves “Antifa,” routinely attack public gatherings, and Left wingers sporting “Say No to Hate” t-shirts scream at the sky at the very thought of Trump and his policies. Not since the 1960s have we witnessed such a public breakdown in moral and psychological order.
Socialism is the Goal
But even back then, there was the fig leaf of “protest.” The students who assaulted the Democratic National Convention in 1968 could pretend they were protesting the Vietnam War, and the complicity of the Johnson Administration’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, in it. The riots in major American cities in this period could be attributed to black Americans’ frustration over police practices, and their impatience with the slow pace of social change. And everybody still feigned a belief in America—imperfect, perhaps, but still capable of self-reflection and a determination to do better.
Today, not so much. Socialism is now openly a goal of the political Left, mostly mouthed by small children at the behest of their red-diaper baby grandparents. Calls for violent revolution are treated by the press as perfectly reasonable reactions to the 2016 election, and of course #TheResistance has only been emboldened by its media cheering section as it seeks to plant the notion, by means most foul, that they “wuz robbed” of an election they thought they had in the bag.
What besides a profound, educationally inculcated, and emotionally juvenile hatred for the United States motivates them to such paroxysms of hysteria? For the fastidious collaborationists known as the #NeverTrumpumpkins, they are personally offended by the president’s sometimes boorish behavior and have had their skirts ruffled by his flouting of what they consider to be the sacred rules, precepts, and preenciples of “The Conservative Movement.” In reality, however, most of them are simply returning to their roots as Democrats, their brief sojourn on the Right more an alliance of convenience than one of genuine principles.
On the broader Left, their rage, like that of Achilles, has to do with death—the death of the “dream” Ted Kennedy articulated when, his personal reverie of becoming president of the United States having come a cropper, he delivered himself of these lines: “For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
But the “dream”—a nightmare to most real Americans—is dying, and they know it.
The Last Flicker of Consciousness
It was a dream of statist control, run by experts in Washington, and brooking only token opposition from the Vichycons across the aisle. It was a dream of “fundamental transformation” of the most intimate and personal areas of our lives, including the very nature of sex. It was a New Luddite dream of zero carbon emissions, technological water-treading (except in pacifying personal electronics), and the destruction of national sovereignty.
The Obama Administration represented the high-water mark of the leftist floodtide, at least during this generation’s flood season. They thought that the eight years of misery America had already endured under the Punahou Kid’s malignant stewardship would be capped and cemented by the four-to-eight-year reign of the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, after which the deplorable country formerly known as “America” would have no hope of recovery. And when it didn’t happen, when 63 million of their formerly fellow Americans rose up and stopped Hillary cold in the Electoral College, they lost their minds in an Achillean rage that continues to this moment and is, if anything, intensifying as it reaches its climactic breakdown.
In his concession speech at the 1980 convention Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate who left a girl to die in the back seat of his car at Chappaquiddick, quoted from a poem by Tennyson, which just so happens to have been “Ulysses.”  The lines ran:
I am a part of all that I have metThough much is taken, much abidesThat which we are, we are–One equal temper of heroic heartsStrong in willTo strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
He might have done better to quote the lines that come just before:
Come, my friends,‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.Push off, and sitting well in order smiteThe sounding furrows; for my purpose holdsTo sail beyond the sunset, and the bathsOf all the western stars, until I die.It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
The great Achilles could tell them a thing or two about rage, and where it gets you when passion is unchecked by reason. Instead, they seem hell-bent on rage eternal, preferring to heed Dylan Thomas’s exhortation not to go gentle into that good night, but instead to rage, rage, against the dying of the light: the last flicker of consciousness they mistook for a dream before darkness closed in all around them.