Monthly Archives: April 2012

Unless there is a Third Party Upset, the Constitution is Dead

No matter who wins this election, the Constitution is dead. The reason is that, all other issues aside, the two dominant parties are forcing us to choose between the two kinds of candidates the Founding Fathers wanted to prevent.

Those who are ignorant of history think that the United States was the first democratic representative government in Western history. This is most certainly not true.

England, quite obviously, had a functioning representative Parliament for centuries, and one of the goals of our Constitution was to correct some of the failures of the English system (including Common Law, which essentially gave the courts in England an oligarchy–the Constitution forbids the courts from legislating precisely to do away with Common Law amd Judicial Review, yet somehow those powers were usurped by the Courts, anyway).

Since Plato, political philosophers were aware of the dangers of democracy. The various failed attempts at democracy in Greece, combined with the failures of the Roman Republic (failures our nation has emulated), the historical lessons of democracy were clear.

History has shown that democracies inevitably fail and turn to dictatorships. Prior to the US, the most successful democratic system was the Roman Republic, which, like the US after it, was adamant about not having a king. Yet the Roman Republic converted to the Roman Empire, and the way things are going, our Republic will not last nearly as long as Rome’s did before it suffers the same fate.

Historically, democracies and republics fall because of one or more of three things:
1) People are greedy, and support the candidate who best facilitates their greed, eventually bankrupting the government
2) The people will elect a demagogue who tells them what they want to hear and seduces them into giving him dictatorial powers
3) A guy with enough money can essentially buy an election.

So, that’s what we have in this election.
In this corner is Barack Obama, a classic example of a demagogue. He has gained power by dividing the country on race and class. He has made false promises to the poor while giving huge “bail outs” to corporations that did nothing but lay people off, so that the existing public services are increasingly strained. His administration has doubled the national debt in four years.

In the other corner, we have Mitt Romney, an unlikable candidate with no clear convictions other than economic conservatism who has essentially bought the election. His competitors, all of whom were far more popular among actual voters, simply could not compete with his seemingly limitless campaign funds.

So, there you have it, folks. The two candidates that our Founding Fathers specifically warned us against and designed the Constitution to prevent. After all, that Electoral College that liberals keep complaining about and telling us is obsolete was supposed to prevent this. Presidents were never supposed ot campaign directly to the people; the Electors were supposed to campaign on behalf of the presidential candidates and do it face-to-face.

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St. Therese never made her final profession

In December 2013, hopefully, I am scheduled to take my definitive promises as a Secular Carmelite. I made my “temporary promises” (for the second time) in December 2010. In the ceremony, it’s the same promise, but the text has the option of reading “for the next three years” OR “until the end of my life.” They emphasized the importance of reading only the one that was applicable, though of course there were people who read both. When it came to my turn, I almost jokingly reading, “For the next three years OR until the end of my life, whichever comes first.”
Little did I know that just a few weeks later, my aorta would dissect. The fact that I’m still alive at all is a miracle. In the meantime, my ill health has been a detriment to my attendance at meetings, which is a crucial element in the formation process (though technically the Constitution and statutes of the Order refer to “unexcused absences,” and enforcement of the attendance rule is up to the discretion of the Council).

I first began formation in 1998, and do to circumstances both in and out of my control, I’m still at the formation stage that should only last 6 years.

I was hoping not to have any absences this year or next year, so that I could average out my extensive absences from last year. This month, however, I had already been granted an excused absence because I miscounted the weeks and thought it was going to conflict with my daughter’s First Communion. Then we realized that today, the 22nd, was the fourth Sunday, when my Community’s meetings are held, and next week was First Communion. However, this week *was* the First Communion “Retreat”–though that was only held during religious education this morning and did not have to conflict with my meeting. It *did* require me getting up for religious education and Mass.

St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” or “Little Theresa of the Child Jesus”, has always been one of my favorite saints. Holy Mother Teresa of Avila, or “Great Teresa of Jesus,” has also always been a favorite. But I’ve always felt a special devotion to Therese because I always felt she exemplified a “happy death,” and I took the “shower of roses” promise literally in the version I read in Fr. Daniel Lord’s _Miniature Stories of the Saints_.

On June 9, 1996, the night before my aortic root replacement, I was flipping around the TV and heard, “She said when she died she’d send down a shower of roses.” I flipped back. I wasn’t too familiar with EWTN at the time, other than knowing it existed. The program was _Mother Angelica Lives_, with Fr. Jacques Daley, OSB, as the guest, talking about St. Therese. He was discussing how she pondered the question of living a long life on earth to serve God or going straight to Heaven, and reconciled it by saying, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” It was just what I needed to hear the night before my surgery.

Either shortly before or after my surgery, I got a card in the mail from my grandma that she had sent a donation to a Carmelite convent to make a novena to St. Therese for me.

Later that year, I read _Story of a Soul_.

My name in Carmel is “John of the Little Way.”

Recently, EWTN happened to rerun an episode of Fr. Jacques’ series _The Little Flower_. I’m not sure if it had been running the whole series, and I just happened on the last airing, or it was just the one episode for some reason, but in the episode in question, Fr. Jacques happened to mention that Therese died before she ever made her final profession as a nun.

Once again, Fr. Jacques said just what I needed to hear. I worry about not being able to make my “definitive promises,” but if I should die before I do, then I’ll just be following in the footsteps of St. Therese.

The following Notre Dame faculty members need to be fired

Bishop Daniel Jenky has made headlines recently for a column rightly comparing Occupy the White House community organizer Barack Obama to Hitler and Stalin .
The following individuals need to be fired from Notre Dame’s faculty for opposing their bishop:

Katrina Barron, Mathematics
Laura Bayard, Library
Patricia Blanchette, Philosophy
Kevin Burke, IEI
Joseph Buttigieg, English
Robert Coleman, Art, Art History, and Design
Suzanne M. Coshow, Management
Mary Rose D’Angelo, Theology
Margaret Doody, English
Julia Douthwaite, Romance Languages and Literature
Kevin Dreyer, Film, Television, and Theater
John Duffy, English
Stephen M Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies & English
Carolina Arroyo, Political Science
Barbara J. Fick, Law School
Christopher Fox, English & Irish Studies
Stephen Fredman, English
Laura Fuderer, Library
Agustin Fuentes, Anthropology
Patrick Gaffney, Anthropology
Jill Godmilow, Film, Television, and Theater
Daniel Graff, History
Stuart Greene, English
David Hachen, Sociology
Richard Herbst, Law School
Peter Holland, Film, Television, and Theater
Raúl Jara, Institute for Latino Studies
Felicia Johnson-O’Brien, Center for Social Concerns
Janet A. Kourany, Philosophy
Sean T. O’Brien, Irish Studies
Julia Marvin, Program of Liberal Studies
Maria McKenna, Africana Studies
Mark McKenna, Law School
Sarah McKibben, Irish Studies
Dianne Pinderhughes, Africana Studies & Political Science
Ann Marie R. Power, Sociology
F. Clark Power, Program of Liberal Studies & IEI
Ava Preacher, College of Arts and Letters
David Ruccio, Economics
Valerie Sayers, English
Kristen Shrader-Frechette, Philosophy & Biological Sciences
Anne Simons, Psychology
John Sitter, English
Cheri Smith, Library
Donald Sniegowski, Emeritus-English
Laura Walls, English
Robert E. Walls, American Studies & Anthropology
Andrew Weigert, Sociology
Richard Williams, Sociology

Why I’m not quite buying the “Romneys are a great family” Bit

Anyone who follows this blog or my Facebook page knows that I am constantly arguing that contraception and the definition of the family are the fundamental issues that should always be on our minds in politics. They are the crucial issues of *any* age, but particularly our own since the family is directly under attack in contemporary Western societies.

Thanks to the HHS Contraception Mandate under Obamacare, and the fact that the US Bishops are finally taking a stand on it, and thanks to the bitterness of the Republican Primary, and thanks in part to the fact that Obama and the Left have characterized the Catholic Church’s efforts to NOT be forced to support contraception as a “GOP War on Women,” family issues have become one of the top concerns in this election, even while some commentators on both sides still insist they’re “distractions” from the “real issues” (Catholic Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has lost a lot of “points” in my book for saying that).

In the GOP Primary, great efforts were made by the neoconservatives to argue that Rep. Ron Paul, MD, from Texas is “not pro-life” because his approach to ending abortion is based upon constitutionalist, subsidiarist grounds, even though he has one of the best and most consistent pro-life voting records in history, even voting for measures like the Partial Birth Abortion ban that otherwise violate his principles. The fact that he once observed a medical partner performing an abortion–which Dr. Paul says was a major point in converting him to being adamantly pro-life–is used against him by his detractors, while the fact that he ran a pro-life OB/Gyn practice and primarily served poor women in a Catholic hospital is ignored. Similarly, those who would normally laud a politician with a large family ignore the fact that Dr. Paul has seven kids and has been married for over 50 years, instead focusing on the fact that his son the senator was apparently named after Ayn Rand. It’s absurd.

Then there’s Rick Santorum. Now, Santorum has his problems, like any politician. His claim of being unequivocally pro-life is mitigated by his fervent support of neoconservative policies on war, torture, “national security” and even assassination. While abortion should have #1 importance both in its objective evil and its horrendous scope, most authentic teachers of pro-life theory in the Church recognize the importance of being consistently pro-life: Bl. John Paul II, the late great John Cardinal O’Connor, and even “EWTN priests” like Frs. Frank Pavone, Robert Levis and Benedict Groeschel–and even Mother Angelica herself–are all anti-war and anti-death penalty. So Santorum’s positions on those issues are problematic from a consistent pro-life perspective. However, his positions are more or less consistent with Church teaching, in that he sincerely believes he’s applying Just War Theory. Santorum has also proven himself capable of changing his views, more than any other politician, so that’s a plus.

Then there’s his controversial endorsement of Arlen Specter, but he has made statements on EWTN since then that indicate his repentance of that decision.

Nevertheless, per the point of this particular thread, Santorum has 7 kids. Santorum has been mocked by the Left and some on the Right for revering the body of his dead son Gabriel after the child died in childbirth, and showing the body to his other children. Why he should be mocked for this when it is traditional to view a body for an extended period of time before burial is beyond me. Indeed, the practical purpose of a wake is to make sure the person is really dead, and the recent headline about a “stillborn” baby being found alive in a morgue shows that maybe Rick and Karen Santorum aren’t weren’t so “nuts” after all. His daughter Isabella has the genetic disorder Trisomy 18, and they were strongly encouraged to abort her but did not. Santorum had to stop campaigning twice to tend to Isabella during illnesses, and he suspended his campaign after the second time. In spite of his positions on war, these facts ought to make him the #1 choice for any pro-lifer, and he ought to have one the nomination by a landslide if the GOP were as pro-life as it claims.

Santorum also supports Church teaching in his position that contraception could and should, at least theoretically, be outlawed. This has been a politically suicidal position ever since “Catholic” Democrats led by Ted Kennedy thwarted the nomination of Judge Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. _Roe_ would be gone if Bork had been appointed, and the fact that a mass murderer like Kennedy was given such a lavish Catholic funeral and such accolades from Church officials is objectively a worse scandal than clerical sexual abuse.

I strongly support both Dr. Paul and Rick Santorum, and both have great strengths and great weaknesses in my calculations of candidates. I ended up deciding to support Santorum, for the reasons here outlined, but I applaud both of them for how they’ve personally lived a pro-life witness in their personal lives.

Then there’s Mr. Rockefeller Republican Mitt Romney. He’s the stereotype of a guy who’s only Republican because he’s rich. He has inconsistent political views. In his past, he donated to Planned Parenthood. He was openly pro-choice when governor of Massachusetts. He passively legalized “gay marriage” in Massachusetts. He forced hospitals, including Catholic hospitals (though he claims they “voluntarily complied” with the law he passed) to provide abortifacient contraceptives.

Then he suddenly decided he was pro-life when he ran for President. Now, that’s common enough on both sides. Al Gore had the best pro-life voting record in the Senate but suddenly became pro-abortion when he ran for president in 1988. Reagan and the Bushes all started out as pro-choice. However, politicians have switched from pro-life to pro-choice have done far more for abortion than politicians who’ve switched from pro-choice to pro-life have done against it, except for those like Santorum and Sam Brownback whose political conversion coincided with a spiritual conversion.

So, right after Santorum suspended his campaigning for family reasons, suddenly the big issue of the campaign was what a family man Mitt Romney supposedly is. Democratic activist Hilary Rosin criticized Ann Romney for always being a stay-at-home mom, having five kids and never “working” a day in her life. Now, there are several issues here.

First, again, the Democrats’ War on the Family should be the number 1 issue of any campaign, and Rosin’s statements drive that home.

Second, the only reason for men *or* women to work is to earn money. Chesterton teaches that it is wrong for a person to earn more money than his family needs. Why should Ann Romney, whose husband is rich, have a career and take up a job that could be held by someone who *needs* the job? The feminist movement is a major factor in our contemporary job crisis. Yes, there are women like my own wife who need to work either because they are unmarried or their husbands are disabled. However, now that it’s taken for granted that women *should* have jobs outside the home, we have twice as many people trying to get jobs as we would have if society was in favor of families having stay-at-home spouses.

It’s highly tempting, in jumping to Ann Romney’s defense on this issue, to turn to supporting the Romneys. However, as the Internet is plastered with pictures of their family that are made to look fairly recent, the Romney children were all born in the 1970s and early 80s. They’re all grown adults now. That doesn’t make a difference in terms of their family–Ron Paul’s children are also grown up–but the fact that they’re showing pictures of the Romneys with 5 *young* children is clearly a campaign ploy.

It would be one thing if, like the Santorums, they started off pro-choice and changed their views and then started living an actively Christian life. However, the Romneys had their kids in the 70s, and then supported Planned Parenthood in the 1990s and early 2000’s. They ought to have known better by then. No, the implication is the Romneys are pro-family if you’re rich.

The Catholic Church teaches that couples are to be as fertile and productive as their situation allows. Technically, by Catholic standards (and traditional Mormon standards), the Romneys ought to be like the Duggars by now. They’re mega-rich, so they can afford lots of kids. If they choose to abstain from relations to postpone children for other reasons, or if they have secondary infertility, then the Church would say that they should adopt.

Yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a noble profession, but how many servants does Ann Romney have to help with the housework? I hardly see how a struggling middle-class family trying to be consistently pro-life is expected to identify with the Romneys. The Santorums or the Pauls, certainly. But this voter is not buying the attempt to package Mitt Romney as pro-family *after* the personal merits of Paul and Santorum were either ignored or criticized, and now we’re supposed to believe a trumped-up image of the Romneys as pro-family.

Some people have their knickers in a twist over the fact that radical pro-death philosopher Peter Singer has been invited to speak at Georgetown. Now, the circumstances are very important: is he being presented as an “esteemed” philosopher? Is he being presented in some honorary fashion such as a graduation speech? Or is he being presented as a speaker whose views need to be heard, even though we disagree with him?

Pro-life Catholic Robert George is often pitted as Singer’s arch-rival because they both teach at Princeton. They are often presented on a “joint ticket” debating with each other.

The purpose of a debate in the fields of rhetoric or law/political science is to win over public opinion and possibly change the other person’s mind.
The purpose of a debate in the field of philosophy is to take an opinion and strip it down to the person’s first principles.
That’s why George says he ultimately doesn’t have much to debate against Singer about. Singer is at least honest that the entity in the womb is the same as the entity out of the womb. He only differs from us in *how* that entity is to be treated, so from a philosophical perspective, there is little to debate with him about. He is clear on the logical connections between his first principles and his conclusions. Changing his first principles is a matter for prayer. Other pro-choicers would do well to at least learn Singer’s consistency, and hopefully hearing his views will change the minds of people who think they’re “pro-choice” but fail to realize the implications of that viewpoint.
George says that Singer’s views *need* to be heard because they expose the truth of the “pro-choice” viewpoint that most “pro-choice” people are in denial about.

How “Arrest Bush” People Promote a Catholic State

I think everyone in our culture, if they know anything about Catholicism, know that the Catholic Church used to have an Inquisition. Now, much like Bishop Sheen’s statement about people hating not the Catholic Church but what they *think* that Catholic Church is, those people often think they know what the Inquisition was but know little about it.
First, there were technically two sets of entities known as the “Inquisition.” On the one hand, there was/is the entity that worked within the Church to enforce orthodoxy and investigate heresy and other issues. It still exists, though some of its methods and organizations have changed with its name. Its name was later changed to the Holy Office, and it is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
The other side or form of the “Inquisition” was the internal agencies of local countries where Catholicism was the state religion, which enforced violations of Catholic teaching as criminal offenses. Sometimes, quite rarely, that meant “witchcraft” or “heresy,” but it also included moral offenses. The different state Inquisitions would use different methods, and the exact methods of the Inquisition would vary with different officials like any organization. Sometimes, it used torture. In some cases, it was actually closer to modern notions of justice than the criminal and civil courts of those times.

Sometimes, it would be over-zealous.

When Joan of Arc was sentenced to death by the Inquisition, her trial was overseen by substitute officials because the Grand Inquisitor was in Rome during the whole affair, and as soon as he came back, he reviewed the trial and found it to be unjust, though it took another 50 years to fully reverse the verdict and 500 years for Joan to be canonized.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who united Spain after centuries of wars between Christians and Muslims, instituted the Spanish Inquisition, which was notoriously harsh and overzealous in trying to keep the Muslims from retaking the country, and trying to keep Protestantism from overtaking Spain as it had so many countries in Northern Europe. The Spanish Inquisition was overzealous to the point that Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, two of the greatest saints of all time and both later deemed Doctors of the Church, lived in fear of the Inquisition, and at least one of Teresa’s books was “lost in the shuffle” as the Inquisition investigated it.

Yet in spite of these offenses that everyone knows about, the Inquisition did a lot of good. Back in those days, there were priests who committed sexual abuse (Holy Mother Teresa writes about one in her _Life_), but the Inquisition punished them. In World War II, the Holy Office used its network to assist Allied spies and as an “underground railroad” to help Jews and Allied POWs escape the Nazis.

The abuses had more to do with the local state-affiliated Inquisitions than the overall Inquisition of the Church, which is why the Church changed the name and reorganized it. On the other hand, a lot of what is “commonly known” comes from anti-Catholic propaganda and is actually historically inaccurate.

Thus, I find it ironic that, on the one hand, the Church is criticized for having the Inquisition. On the other hand, the *contemporary* Church is often criticized for things that the Inquisition used to handle. The extensive problem of sexual abuse by priests in this century could be blamed, in part, on the absence of an Inquisition. The insistence of bishops on emphasizing reform and forgiveness in dealing with sexual abuser priests was due, in part, to a mentality of “We don’t want to be like the Inquisition.” If the Inquisition was still active, and was a government agency, there would have been a clear avenue for punishing priests who engaged in sexual abuse or embezzlement or other offenses. But since the US insists on separation of Church and State, and the Church says, “fine; we’re separate, so stay out of our business,” the problem arose that we are all aware of.

Dr. Charles Rice points out that people are opposed to the notion of Natural Law until it’s convenient. Suddenly, at the Nuremberg Trials, people were talking about Natural Law. Then it was moral relativism all over again. People will tell me that they don’t believe in Natural Law, then say that BP needs to be punished for the oil leak in the Gulf–a form of Natural Law.

Earlier, I posted about uncivil political rhetoric and noted that I believe Barack Obama should be impeached and prosecuted for a number of things, including war crimes, violations of the Constitution and defrauding the people.

I figured an automatic reply from some would be, “Prosecute Bush,” and in one sense, I agree. Anticipating that response inspired *this* post.

Morally, Bush is responsible for a lot of offenses. I don’t think he’s responsible for everything that the Left claims. The assertions of WMDs in Iraq, for example, were made under the Clinton Administration, and again, proving a negative is impossible. We’ll probably never know for certain whether the WMDs were there or not. There are Iraq veterans who claim they found WMDs but the media didn’t report it. There are various conspiracy theories about the WMDs being sent off to other countries before the invasion. Who knows? I think that Bush was sincere, though, in acting on the intelligence he was given. I suspect something like what happens in the movie _Wag the Dog_, however.

I still think Bush also did a lot to violate the Constitution, and to violate human rights, but he did it with the support of Congress, and there is nothing in US law that would directly impeach him. Even if the Supreme Court were to rule the Patriot Act, or NCLB, unconstitutional (it already ruled McCain-Feingold unconstitutional), that still wouldn’t be grounds for prosecution. You can’t prosecute someone for passing a law that’s later overturned.

Of course, the Left would argue that he should be arrested by some UN agency, but of course that’s not an option I would support. The UN goes against everything I believe in, starting with the principle of subsidiarity, and including the fact that it’s basically a Masonic entity.

To this, I note how many Papal documents, such as Caritas et Veritate, that seem to support the UN are actually undermining it. When the Vatican says something like, “There needs to be a global entity overseeing the morality of the banking industry,” the Church is saying, “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge”; “There needs to be an entity to oversee global morality. By the way, we’re a global entity that God established to oversee morality.” It’s saying basically that the Church should be running the UN.

That gets us back to the Inquisition. Just as a modern day Inquisition would have stopped the sex abuse crisis in its tracks, so too would it give us something to do with Bush.

Obama is clearly guilty of constitutional crimes. Bush is guilty of grave moral offenses, many of which he shares with Obama, but he did them all with the protection of the institutions we have in this country. We don’t have an entity that punishes violations of Natural Law that are not also part of the criminal code. That’s what an Inquisition is for.

So, that’s how the Occupy Wall Street Left, which would reflexively say “Inquisition” as a response to any pro-Catholic statement, is actually arguing *for* an Inquisition.

Can we please NOT feed into the other side’s characterization of us?

OK, I have had it.

Yes, satire, polemic, sound bites, etc., are part of rhetorical debate and discourse. Yes, the reason our country is so ideologically divided is that we’re facing such crucial issues that people have disparate views on. I don’t understand how anyone can deny the humanity of an unborn child or the right of a disabled person to live. I also don’t understand how anyone who supports those rights can deny that the vulnerable need some help from society to live, and part of that includes some level of government assistance. Yet at the same time, I don’t understand how people can stick their heads in the ground about the fact that our government is already bankrupt, and this spend-spend-spend with no budget cuts or tax increases mentality will only lead to self-destruction (personally, I think officially adopting state capitalism is the only way to really get out of the mess we’re in). I understand that people are still afraid from 9/11, but I also don’t understand why people who profess to be devout Catholics can refuse to honestly interpret the Church’s teachings on Just War. I don’t understand why people who claim to be pro-life can fail to recognize that Blessed John Paul II, John Cardinal O’Connor and even Fr. Frank Pavone have all taught that war and the death penalty are just as much pro-life issues as abortion. At the same time, I can’t fathom how people refuse to recognize that the vast numbers of children killed by abortion compared to those other issues, and the fact that the Church teaches the state sometimes has to use them out of extreme necessity, mean that abortion should be our top issue in terms of voting. OK, I get why our country is so hotly divided.

I also think Barack Obama is a monster. His position on Born Alive Protection, that letting babies who survive abortions starve to death is “necessary to protect the right to abortion,” an issue which even NARAL won’t take a position on, which Alan Keyes pushed in the 2004 Illinois Senate election, ought to be enough to discredit him. I think the damage he’s done to our economy is offensive, and the fact that his supporters think that trillions of dollars in corporate welfare is equivalent to FDR’s New Deal shows how ignorant most of his supporters are. I’m a “birther” in that I don’t think Obama is eligible, whether or not he was born in Hawaii, because of his Indonesian joint citizenship, and his possible criminal activity. I certainly think he has nothing to hide, as he has refused to release, and instead suppressed, records which most presidential candidates have shown to the public. I think he should be impeached for his unconstitutional invasion of Libya, for his other gross violations of the Constitution, and now for his own lawyer’s admission that the “Long form birth certificate” published by the White House in April 2011 was actually a forgery meant to deceive the American people.

(Now, for those who say, “Throw Bush in jail,” I have a response coming later; stay tuned).

I am sick to death of the claim that those of us who oppose Obama do so only because we’re racists, and the ensuing debates that end up making Obama’s critics look racist in their attempts to save themselves from accusations of a “thought crime” and the effort to prove a negative.

All of that said, could we please stick to the issues and avoid making that impression? People tend to ignore the extremes of political argument that come from people they agree with. I have argued with people on the Left who insist that political discourse has only become so nasty under Obama, and that the Right is only nasty, and when I point out the 8 years of “Kill Bush” and attempts at obscene references to the president’s last name, etc., they have no idea what I’m talking about. People who never listen to Rush Limbaugh insist that he’s a hate-spewing demagogue. Then they happily listen to Jon Stewart and Bill Maher and other “comedians’ who do nothing but rip on the Catholic Church, rip on conservatives, etc.

So we keep excusing the ever-volatile rhetoric because in our eyes the other side does it worse.

But conservatives should be better. If we’re sincerely about promoting Christian values and human dignity and the Right to Life, then we need to reflect those values. Most of my political arguments with liberals the past few years have involved me fighting to prove I’m not a racist.

Then I look on my Facebook wall, and I see posts from my conservative “friends” (quotation marks referring to the Facebook term, not questioning the friendship of the individuals in question) that make me cringe: “Tar and Feather”; “Arrest Him” (again, used for Bush, took, but the pictures are the key); pictures showing either Barack or Michelle Obama with expressions on their faces that harken to anti-African American stereotypes. Then there’s the occasional outright racist reference, like the bumper sticker that plays on the N-word (in a manner that doesn’t even make sense). I saw a headline about how “Facebook censors conservative sites” that a few of my friends forwarded, apparently without reading the article. The article was actually about Facebook censoring *racist* sites, and the comments were things like, “I’m not a racist. I just believe white people are superior.” What the heck? How can anyone call themselves Christian and believe these things?

I wish to God that Alan Keyes had been the first African American president. I know one of the major reasons he wasn’t was that there is a great deal of active and latent racism among my political bedfellows–he was arbitrarily shut out of debates, for example. When Keyes and his supporters were protesting a debate he was shut out of in Atlanta, the police came and put him in cuffs, and then drove him to an African American slum and dropped him off.

I realize race is an issue, even though I think it’s stupid that people make such a big deal about it on both sides. Why should the color of one’s skin matter any more than the color of one’s hair? Oh, that’s right. In some parts of Europe, you might as well be black as have red hair (in fact, these days, red heads get treated worse than “racial minorities). African Americans argue amongst themselves about the merits of being “light” or “dark.” It’s absurd.

We intentionally put our daughters in an inner city Catholic school with a predominantly African American population partly because the school and parish are relatively orthodox/conservative/traditional, but also because we wanted them to be exposed to people of different races. While there are white children in their classes, our daughters’ closest friends are all of other “races.” Our son goes to a racially public school and in spite of his autism and severe aversion to socialization of any kind, his classmates adore him, and he seems to like them as best as he’s capable. We recently went to a birthday party for one of his classmates. We were only one of two white families at the party. It was clearly not a “we’re inviting everyone in the class” party. I think most of the guests were relatives, and it was a joint party for two sisters, so the guest list per sister was correspondingly reduced. The mother told us that, when they were doing the invitations, her daughter said, “We *have* to invite Josef!”

On the adult level, our friends are very diverse. We have friends who are white, black, Hispanic, Oriental and Arab. We don’t care about race. We *do* care that a person is Catholic and pro-life. I have a brother in law who says his standard for friends is, “Are you Catholic, are you pro-life, and do you like _The Simpsons_?” For Mary and me, it’s something similar. We dislike Kerry, Gore, and Clinton, and some of our own relatives as much as we dislike Obama, because we believe being “pro-choice” is a reprehensible position equivalent to being pro-Holocaust or pro-terrorism, but just because he happens to have darker skin tone than they do, people say we’re “racist”. It’s absurd.

But fighting that image is not helped by conservatives who consciously or unconsciously use racist language or images. I’m sick of it. You want to show Obama disrespect because he supports killing babies or he supports bankrupting our country? Fine. Then make sure your satires and images and sound bites reflect those reasons. Otherwise, when it comes to personal attacks, why can’t we as conservatives set a higher standard then stooping to the level of Jeneane Garofalo and Al Franken?