Thursday, August 26, 2010

A project for Commonweal Catholics

This week, Commonweal, published an editorial in support of the Cordoba House project, and criticizing Abp. Dolan for not being more supportive of it, and I'm sure they're quite proud of themselves for it.  Though I kind of see it, as Mark Shea would say, of "bravely facing the applause".

My distaste for the opposition for the House still stands; nevertheless, I had a few problems with the editorial.  It begins:

In the past nine years, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have been invoked, distorted, and exploited to serve a variety of political and ideological agendas. But no such effort has been quite as shameful as the current campaign against the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.
Emphasis mine.

:et's catalog some of the agendas that the 9/11 attacks have been invoked to support:

  • The war in Afghanistan, which continues without a clear path to victory, or even an idea of what "victory" might mean.
  • The war in Iraq, which we are just now getting out of, and required us to defy the United Nations and sully world opinion.
  • The adoption of torture, or "enhanced interrogation techniques."
  • Various civil liberties erosions
  • Rendition
How I wish the most shameful effort that 9/11 is used to prop up is an effort to move an Islamic Center a little further away from Ground Zero!  

It's possible that it represents the clearest departure from our country's founding principles, but I find torture and preemptive war more shameful than property decisions.

The editorial goes into familiar territory (with which I concur, absent the eagerness to brand opponents as bigots), and concludes with a desire for Archbishop Dolan to be more active in support of the project.

Now, this is the same publication that will issue editorials expressing grave concerns everytime a bishop so much as wrinkles an eyebrow at a pro-choice publication.  My understanding of Abp. Dolan's position is that he affirms the rights of the Center to be built, and would like to help mediate a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties.  Which seems quite similar to Commonweal's preferred disposition for bishops on abortion.  But that's just the legally licensed killing of innocent babies, not something as fundamental as the most prudent use of lower Manhattan real estate.  On the Cordoba House, unity!

Anyway, maybe I shouldn't begrudge them their home run trot slamming this fat pitch into the seats.  And there are those who have opposed the project who deserve to be called out for it.

But it seems that Jon Stewart is doing a decent job of that, so it may be time to move on to a more challenging mission.

Dana Goldstein wrote a piece linking the Tea Party movement to socially conservative positions.  She promoted it with the tweet, "The tea party movement is more and more embracing an extreme agenda on abortion, other social issues "  From the article, the "extreme" positions include:

  • Support of an Alaska ballot initiative requiring parental notification requiring parental consent for abortions procured by unmarried minors.
  • Pro-life activism
  • Support of the Mexico City Policy of not allowing foreign aid to be used to fund abortions.
  • A suggestion that rape victims should avoid abortion
I think that Catholics who are involved in the political left are uniquely positioned to help shape the culture such that the positions articulated above are not considered extreme.  Commentators like Goldstein are comfortable labeling them as such, in part because they probably don't know anybody who holds those positions.   Catholics on the political left can change that, and not let commentators get away with that.

This will require some sacrifice, because labeling the opposition as "extreme" is helpful for Democratic candidates, and raising the cost of using this tactic may result in more Republicans being elected.  But I submit that any victories won on the back of the social marginalization of the pro-life perspective are hollow indeed.

Doing this probably won't be as fun as calling those opposed to the Cordoba House bigots, but needs to be done.
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