"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is the Catholic Left in this much trouble?

Perusing a site I visit often, I was led to this article from last week by Fr. Andrew Greeley. (I admit not being hooked into the 24/7 news cycle, but for my purposes that doesn't matter.) Its headline is: Obama has become target of sick minds. Having investigated the substance of that assertion, my concern is more about Greeley's mind than about Obama's critics or even the Senator himself, whom I would never support anyhow. And my question is how representative that mind is of Obama's Catholic support.

It goes without saying that some sick minds have attacked Obama. In a country as big and diverse as ours, it would be shocking if a viable presidential candidate were not a target of a few sick minds. Anybody who reads Internet comboxes can easily spot them. But the minds Greeley alleges to be "sick" with "hate" are those of Thomas Sowell, a prominent conservative academic who happens to be black, and Naomi Schaefer Riley, "assistant taste editor" at the Wall Street Journal. You can find their cited articles here and here. Having read those, I find no evidence of mental illness or even of that kind of "hate" which is an evil thing indeed. What I do find is a rather transparent attempt on Greeley's part to turn Obama's "pastor problem" back on the Senator's critics. What causes my concern is the cynicism and ham-handedness of the attempt. Since I don't have time for a detailed presentation, I'll just state my reaction and leave the analysis to those who care to read all three articles at issue.

Greeley would have us believe that Rev. Jeremiah Wright's anti-American and racist words were taken out of context and weren't really hate speech, which rather emanates from Sowell and Riley. But when you read what the latter two wrote, you don't have to agree with everything they say to see that it's not hate speech. Riley's article in particular is moderate, well-researched, and carefully argued. Nor can any contextualizing turn Wright's words into something other than hate speech--which is why Obama repudiated them even as he tried to excuse them. But Greeley won't even admit that they were hate speech; supposedly, the "hate" comes from people who think the Wright scandal says something troubling about Obama. Of course that scandal has receded for now, and I'm not really interested in it for its own sake. But I can't help wondering how representative of Obama's Catholic support we may see Greeley's attitude as being.

Consider, for example, that Obama is the only member of the Senate who has refused to vote for protecting infants born alive during attempts to abort them. On that basis alone, it is simply inconceivable to me how an informed Catholic could actively support such a candidate without mental gymnastics of the degree one observes in Greeley's article. The gymnastics are certainly far less plausible than the arguments his article condemns as "sick." That worries me.
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