First Things has published a truly dreadful article–Catholics Must Resist Ethno-Nationalism. Excerpts:
Whatever else is said about the election of 2016, we will remember this campaign for the reemergence of explicit ethno-nationalism as a force in American politics. Rather than listing and litigating the well-publicized instances of pandering to white identity politics that have marked this campaign, let me make some personal observations that I believe are widely shared…
This neo-nativism is based on the myth of “white heritage” (about which Congressman Steve King of Iowa stupidly held forth during the Republican National Convention). It is, on the one hand, an understandable (if not excusable) reaction to the solidarity-starved society of secular liberalism. It is also, however, a peculiarly dangerous American tradition—the modern descendant of the laws and social codes once used to exclude everyone but northern European Protestants from full participation in American life.
It is a scandal for any Catholic to support such ideas and the political movements animated by them—not just because they violate Church teaching, but because they betray our history in this country. These Catholics would be exchanging the only social force that can provide a foundation for a healthy and humane solidarity—the Faith—for the emotional affirmation of a mythical cultural identity. They would become what they claim to hate: relativists who cling to a politically-useful identity rather than to enduring truth…
When we hear a black man describe police violence; when we hear an undocumented immigrant describe exploitative labor; when we hear a prisoner describe institutionalized brutalization; when we hear a young gay woman describe homelessness—our first response must not be to attempt to discredit, to rationalize, to explain away. Rather, we must give them the credit we would expect others to give to us, and try to understand experiences that differ substantially from our own. When white Catholics stand in distant, dispassionate judgment of the experiences of people outside our comfortable mainstream, we betray both the gospel and our forebears in this country.
This doesn’t mean credulously accepting every narrative or policy proposal that is accompanied by a claim of oppression; we still have to apply our rational faculties. It does mean treating every story with the solicitude we would reflexively grant to members of our own economic, social, racial, and religious tribes.
After all, every sign suggests the Catholic experience in America is reverting to the historic mean. As our politics accelerates its drift from Catholic teaching on marriage, family, and justice—and as the liberal norms that provided a hint of insulation from adverse political and economic power wither—we should expect to find ourselves marginalized and excluded from full participation in American life once again.
- From the way commenters talk, one would never guess that it is the Democrats who have based their campaign on stoking racial strife while the Republicans have been pushing a nonracial nationalism. I guess for some people it’s hatred when white people don’t agree with our demonization fast enough.
- Steve King is supposedly stupid for claiming that Western Civilization is second to none. One might have supposed that Catholics would take some pride as Catholics in Western civilization, a thing that was in no small part our creation. Instead, the only history American Catholics are to remember is being poor and poorly regarded recent immigrants in America.
- Yes, I know, everyone has a good reason to try to jump on the victim bandwagon. “We Irish didn’t used to be white!” Sure, when the rioting negroes come to your neighborhood, see how impressed they are with that. Any straight Catholic with white skin had better understand right now that he will never be accepted into the victims club.
- What is impressive is the ingratitude to the host population. Even many generations later, Catholics are supposed to automatically take the side of mass importation from anywhere and despise any concern to preserve the current home culture, as a matter of loyalty to our own “history”. What better proof could one want that 19th century nativists were right to oppose Catholic immigration? What better proof could one want that they were right to regard the immigrants as being not of them? (Note I am here acknowledging that they were right to want to keep out my own ancestors.) Presumably the next batch of immigrants, who look even less like the now-hated-in-their-own-homeland WASPs, will be no different.
- Any kind of particular loyalty to a cultural or biological group is now to be regarded as a form of “relativism” and incompatible with Catholicism?
- “the black man..police violence…an undocumented immigrant…exploitative labor…a young gay woman…” Good God, First Things is going full Social Justice Warrior. Rather than concern for everyone, this list clearly evidences conformity to what the media dictates should be the objects of our solicitude and uncritical affirmation.Of course, “this doesn’t mean credulously accepting” every demand from official victims, but we’re not allowed to judge their claims dispassionately either, so in fact it pretty much does mean credulously accepting whatever they say.
- “It does mean treating every story with the solicitude we would reflexively grant to members of our own economic, social, racial, and religious tribes.” There, there is where we disagree! This moral principle, expounded as if self-evident, is in fact completely insane. If I can’t show special solicitude to members of my own tribe, in what meaningful sense can I be said to have a tribe at all? What could a tribe be, if it doesn’t involve a particular group of people to whom I owe particular concern? Take the principle to its ultimate logical conclusion: “I must show equal solicitude toward the needs of every human being on Earth as I do toward my own children.” This principle, which seems to sound so lofty to so many, is in fact monstrous, tyrannical, and inhuman. And the Church has never embraced it.
- You notice how “religious tribes” was snuck in toward the end. For most of the article, it seemed the point was to be true to our American Catholic identity rather than make common cause with the WASPs. But this is insufficient for its ultimate purpose, because, whatever the case for issues of hispanic Catholic immigration, we Catholics surely do have good Catholic-tribal reason to make common cause with the WASPs against the Mohammedan hordes. But a general principle of universalism won’t even allow that.
- It’s true–Americans are becoming less tolerant of Catholic moral teaching. Importing millions of Democrat voters won’t help with this problem.
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