Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith have a very important article up today at Politico entitled, “The new battle: What it means to be an American.” They argue that Obama’s push for various reform efforts in health care, financial regulations, the size and scope of government, his support for the Bush-sponsored bailouts of Wall Street and his own decision to bailout Detroit, all have shifted the focus away from the “social issues” that used to drive the GOP to a different, and in a sense, deeper issue of what it means to be an American.
The worst thing about reaching fifty is the recognition that I must write out a will. I am not wealthy but I have collected a few nice things. I would like my library to go to a graduating seminarian at Catholic University to be chosen by the rector of the seminary and the Dean of the School of Religion. I hope someone wonderful is around to take my wonderful dogs. I wish one of my nieces had taken up the piano so I would have someone to give my extraordinary 1920 Mason & Hamlin piano. Ezra, a friend with whom I used to work at Kramer’s and is the only person I will permit in the kitchen when I am working there, gets the copper pots I lugged back from Paris, one per trip. Etc. Whatever money and property is left will be split between my family and the Church. There will be no, repeat no, restrictions on the money left to the church. The reason: The O’Neill legacy.
Leave it the hate-filled Father John Zuhlsford to suggest that instead of a mosque and community center near Ground Zero, there be erected a chapel dedicated to Sts. Nunilo and Adolia, two 9th century Christian martyrs who were executed as apostates under an Islamic regime. I do not know many people who look to the 9th century for inspiration on the inter-religious dialogue front, but Zuhlsdorf is happy to stoke the flames of religious hatred. This is beyond Yahoo. This is evil. And for someone who fancies himself as uber-orthodox, his Muslim-bashing could not be more different from Pope Benedict’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world and build relationships founded on common respect and common concern for the human dignity of all. Zuhlsdorf is moving into terrain that is as dangerous as it is looney, Father Coughlin territory. The harm that Coughlin did the Church was real, and he only had the radio.
One of the difficulties of doing a segment of the blog that entails coordinating replies from five different people is that sometimes I mess up with the coordination. As well, August is simply a dreadful time to try and enlist comments from people, many of whom are on vacation or otherwise happily absenting themselves from the rigors of analysis. So, I do not have an interviewee lined up for today. You are stuck with me.
This week, we are looking at the children of immigrants who have made significant contributions to the life of the nation or the Church or both. This is because of all the foolishness about changing the 14th Amendment to deny the children of immigrants their birthright: citizenship. Drawing analogies to earlier times is difficult because, throughout most of the 19th century, there were no restrictions on immigrants, so everyone was a legal immigrant. Still, the point holds: The history of America would be vastly more impoverished than it is were it not for the contributions made by the children of immigrants and we should remember that before we start placing new restrictions upon them.
There is an interesting article in Canada’s National Post about Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is now the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome. Ouellet is a remarkable man, and already considered papabile, and as this article makes clear, he will play a vital role in the selection of the next generation of bishops. I am a fan of the cardinal's and hope for great things from his oversight of this important office.
There are many reasons that our nation’s political discourse has become coarsened over the years. But, here is the main one: willful stupidity.
According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of Americans now believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. More than a third of self-identified conservative Republicans, believe Obama is a Muslim, which is more than the percentage of Republicans who vote in your average primary election.
During the campaign, Sen. John McCain was at a Town Hall meeting when someone in the audience suggested that Obama was a Muslim. McCain corrected the person then and there. Who among the Republican leadership will stand up now and correct the record?
We can disagree about many things in a democracy, indeed such disagreement is the very stuff of democracy. But, there is no arguing with stupidity. As Cong. Barney Frank once said to a woman holding a photo of Obama defaced to make him look like Hitler, it is better to argue with one’s dining room table than to argue with such stupidity.
Unbeknownst to me, Professor Robert George has been dealing with a dreadful personal family tragedy, so I shall ignore his comments about myself and my writings at the blog Mirror of Justice.
The pictures from last night could not have been more different from those we all witnessed on May 1, 2003. Last night, as the last combat troops left Iraq, everything was understatement. In 2003, standing before the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush told us that major combat operations were over. They weren’t. Nor did they end last night. What ended last night was the U.S. military having the principle responsibility for the conduct of combat operations. Our combat troops have left. Whatever fighting remains to be fought, will be fought by the Iraqis.
One last excerpt from my childhood encyclopedias. As the reader will have noticed, these encyclopedias did not contain the most refined, exhaustive treatment of many subjects. It is odd to me that the entry for “Refrigeration Systems” is the same length as that for “The Reformation” but there it is. Still, every once in awhile you come across an entry that still would enjoy scholarly consensus but which seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of those you would assume would be most concerned. I would like all the of Tea Party activists, and especially Mr. Glenn Beck, to stop invoking the U.S. Constitution long enough to turn to page 139 of Volume 23 of the 1970 Compton’s Encyclopedias. There they will find this opening:
“United States Constitution. Most people think of the United States as a young country. Yet it has the oldest written constitution among the important nations of the world.
All the week at Q & A, we are asking people to name a child of immigrants they admire, and the contribution they make to the nation or to the Church.