Politics

Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion

Deal W. Hudson
April 10, 2018

Pope Francis get’s it. He understands why 52 percent of Catholic voters helped to elect Donald Trump in the face of fierce resistance from nearly all the of the U.S. Bishops, and the pontiff himself.

What Pope Francis gets is precisely what has historically pushed Catholic Democrats to vote for Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump — the abortion issue.

To remedy this, the pope has published an Apostolic Exhortation, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World,” with the resulting headline from The New York Times: “Pope Puts Caring for Immigrants and Abortion on Equal Footing” (Jason Horowitz, April 9, 2018).

The headline, unlike most on the Catholic Church, is not an exaggeration, as seen in the following from the Pope, “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”

This is no mere throw off line; he reiterates it, connecting the issue of abortion and immigration directly to politics: “Some Catholics consider it [migrants] a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. (Emphasis added) “Such a thing is understandable,” yes, Pope Francis gets it — he realizes that a political candidate who is pro-life will attract Catholic voters when pitted against a rival who supports abortion-on-demand while insisting our national borders remain porous for the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross it each month.

The context of these statements in an exhortation on the “Call to Holiness,” suggests Pope Francis realizes the issue of abortion for Catholic voters is not a “single issue” at all — abortion connects to concerns about the moral dissipation of the culture in general.

Catholics regard a pro-life candidate as someone who will stand against the increasing tawdriness of culture which mocks religion and puts deviance on display. In other words, a pro-life candidate resonates with the still socially conservative America. (This is why I predicted pro-life Catholics would support Trump as early as February, 2016).

In 2016, Catholic voters rocked the liberal, Democrat-aligned, Catholic establishment by ignoring the nonstop attacks on Trump and his “wall” by Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, professors, and journalists. Indeed, their voices chimed in with the same message throughout the campaign: Immigration is a “life issue,” putting it on par with the defense of innocent life. Pope Francis now seeks to codify that message. But it won’t succeed, and I will explain why.

His apostolic exhortation ignores the basic moral problem in equating immigration with abortion: prudential judgment (see my explanation here). Any Catholic’s opinion and action on what the bishops have called “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us” has no single answer.

Do we support the “catch and release” ordered by President Obama? Do we support enforcing our laws pertaining to entering the United States? Do we build walls? No church teaching obligates a Catholic to a specific answer to these questions of public policy.

On the other hand, the question about whether to abort or not to abort has only one answer — no. Abortion is not a prudential matter. Some have called it one of the “non-negotiables,” others a “settled issue,” but the moral difference is clear.

Certainly Pope Francis is right about this: at a general level, both abortion and immigration do meet on equal ground — the principle of loving one’s neighbor. But, as has been explained, that moral equality doesn’t confer equality on type of moral judgments Catholics are obliged to make, one is liable to a variety of answers, the other is not.

To give an example of the distinction, here is a portion of letter written by then President of the USCCB, Archbishop Wilton Gregory to President Bush about the Iraq War: As Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, then president of the USCCB, wrote to President George W. Bush: “People of good will may apply ethical principles and come to different prudential judgments, depending upon their assessment of the facts at hand and other issues” (“Letter to President Bush on Iraq,” Sept. 13, 2002).

I’m not convinced that Pope Francis recognizes the “good will” of those Catholics who disagree with his view of immigration. As he puts it, “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God.”

Pope Francis has done his best to prop up the those Catholic Democrats who continue to promote abortion, support government funding of Planned Parenthood, and ignore the church’s teaching on life. His apostolic exhortation does not to change Catholic moral teaching because, as I have shown, the claim the Pope is trying to make cannot be rationally defended.

In spite of the headlines, the Pope’s gift to the Democrats will not be of much use to them in propping up their Catholic credentials. Lay Catholic voters will see through this claim just as they saw through the church’s barrage of anti-Trump rhetoric in the historic 2016 presidential election.

Read Newsmax: Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion | Newsmax.com
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Buckley’s ‘Republic of Virtue’ Chronicles America’s Fight for Integrity

Deal W. Hudson
December 18, 2017

Frank Buckley, a law professor at the Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, has written an extraordinary book that deserves to find a wide readership and, hopefully, to wield considerable influence on the future of U.S. politics. Why such large claims? Simply put, “The Republic of Virtue” pinpoints and clarifies the issue of political corruption responsible for the widespread confusion, frustration, and growing cynicism about the power of the presidency and the sadly comic mayhem exhibited by the Congressional branch of government.

What seems an impossible task is achieved by Buckley by skillfully weaving together seemingly disparate main narratives — the debates over the Constitution, the Clinton Foundation scandal, the corruption of the Mississippi judiciary, and the search for campaign finance reform. Several shorter narratives — the IRS persecution of Tea Party groups, the 1972 bribery trial of Sir Francis Bacon, and the 1976 Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo, shed further historical light the issue of the corruption in American politics.

It’s interesting that Buckley relegated “corruption” to the subtitle of the book, giving pride of place to “virtue,” but his reason becomes apparent as he traces the self-conscious attempt of the Founders to write a Constitution that would avoid the corrupt practices that dominated the British political system. The end sought by the Founders was precisely a framing of what would become, “The Republic of Virtue.”

The word “virtue” throws many people off who immediately associate it with the Neo-puritan demands for men and women in politics who have never misstepped in matters either sexual or obedience to the demands of political correctness. The virtue the Founders had in mind both more simple to explain and reasonable to expect — to put the interests of the nation, its common good, ahead of personal interests such as money, power, and advancement. Republican virtue requires the sacrifice of self-interest to the good of the nation. The Founders took as the “ideal of Republican virtue” the founder of the Roman Republic (509 B.C..), Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew Tarquin the Proud but subsequently had two of his sons executed for attempting to restore the monarchy.

At the heart of his book, Buckley describes how the focus of the Constitutional Convention was to prevent “importing corruption” from the Britain they had rebelled against. Thus, they were determined not to have a strong presidency, a monarch-in-disguise. Thus, “Our government was designed to resemble a parliamentary regime, with the president selected by the House of Representatives or by electors exercising their own discretion.” Buckley argues for the superiority of a prime minister who must defend his government on a daily basis in a House of Commons, rather than a President who is nearly impossible to remove from office and are “relatively immunized from accountability.…”

This is not to suggest that the author, a Canadian by birth, is snootily anti-American — far from it. He points out that the final outcome of the Framers’ deliberation was masterful compromise between the competing faction of those wanting a powerful central authority — the Federalists — and those who wanted to preserve the power of the States. For example, when the Framers decided on “electors” it was assumed that presidential elections would end up in the House of Representatives where the president would be chosen, where an educated elite would make the final decision. This assumption preserved the kind of “filtration” process favored by James Madison and others would did not trust the unwashed and uneducated to elect a presently directly. “In essence, they [the Framers] thought they had agreed upon a Congressional elected president.”

Buckley lithely points out that the delegates could not have anticipated the broadening of voting rights to all adults, the direct election of Senators (17th Amendment), and the resulting choice of electors directly by the voters. The process of filtration was doomed without the delegates in Philadelphia knowing it, and as a result: “The Framers meant to produce a corruption-free government, but like a boomerang their Constitution flew back and hit us on the head.”

The growing power of the presidency, spurred by the introduction of the spoils system by Andrew Jackson in 1828, was not the only way the Constitution failed to meet its goal. The separation of powers itself, as Buckley argues, created a government susceptible to corruption “in ways the Framers would not have imagined,” for example, members of congress who are able to channel tax dollars to their local districts through “earmarks” Did you know, for example — I didn’t — that there over fifty Robert Byrd Centers “for This or That” in West Virginia? Earmarks are a way spending federal money without interference from the executive branch while buying the good will of voters for next election.

Interestingly, another result Buckley descries is “technological change and the rise of democracy broke down the electoral process that were expected to filter out ignoble politicians.” The author, as far as I can tell, does not tie this insight specifically to any of the further narratives; however, I see them closely connected to his discussion of bribes, “crony capitalism,” lobbying, and campaign finance through which money passes hands in exchange for political influence and, most of all, legislation.

What all these have in common are certain degrees of hiddenness, actions either deliberately secretive, hidden from view by legal means, or by the difficulty of tracing the paperwork. It’s commonsense, in my opinion, to think a person’s character, nobility or ignobility, is measured by what he or she will do when no one is watching or no one will find out (supposedly).

Buckley provides plenty of examples of financial corruption where large sums of money are taken by elected politicians in exchange for influence and legislation that will gain the buyer many times what was paid. But rather than spending much time of condemning these practices, he offers some very sensible suggestions for reform which could actually be done without causing further harm: 1) Require all political contributions be anonymous; 2) Restrict gifts from pay-for-play donors; and, bar certain donors from accepting positions in government and prohibit congressman and their staffers from becoming lobbyists after they leave government.

This gist of his argument, which I find compelling, is as follows: Actual anonymity would end the quid-pro-quo expectation between the donor and the politician. Donors groups such as government contractors should not be allowed to donate to the politicians who pass the appropriate bill, an obvious conflict of interest. Donors compete for various appointment goodies, such as ambassadorial posts which leads to wealthy but unqualified individuals representing the U.S. around the world, and former Congressmen and staffers are often influenced while in office by offers of employment in a lobby firm if they lose the next election or chose to “cash in” by stepping down.

“The Republic of Virtue” is a rich book, well-written, often humorous, and impossible to summarize in short review such as this. But as I said at the outset, Frank Buckley has put his fingers on what is alienating the American voters from politics, and he has offered both an explanation of what has happened and prescription for what needs to be done.

Read Newsmax: Buckley’s ‘Republic of Virtue’ Chronicles America’s Fight for Integrity | Newsmax.com
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Archbishop and Trump May Have Much in Common

Deal W. Hudson
November 28, 2017

A few days ago, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby was asked if he understands why Christians in the U.S. support President Trump in such large numbers. “No, I don’t understand it,” said Welby. “I really, genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.”

Nevertheless, there are clear signs that Trump and Welby will hit it off famously when the time comes to meet. And that might happen shortly, since the president is scheduled to visit the UK early next year. Asked he if would attend a state dinner, the archbishop said he would, “You know, part of the job is to meet people you disagree with, and to testify with the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them in to a different way.”

From my perspective, the two have a lot to agree on. For example, Welby calls himself an “evangelical” even admitting to speaking in tongues: “It’s just a routine part of spiritual discipline — you choose to speak and you speak a language that you don’t know. It just comes.  . . . ”

It’s well known that President Trump has become good friends with number of leading evangelicals in the U.S. — Ralph Reed, Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, and Paula White. They have nearly unfettered access to the president and, recently, he took six evangelical leaders on his trip to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Welby’s evangelicalism can be trace back to his conversion while at Trinity College, Cambridge after years of spiritual indifference. In 1975 while praying with a Christian friend, he suddenly felt “a clear sense of something changing, the presence of something that had not been there before in my life. Though he told his friend that the experience “embarrassed” him, it didn’t keep him from declaring his evangelicalism even in the face of a hostile press.

President Trump, it must be said, has gone through some sort of conversion himself, though it probably was not as dramatic as some have claimed it to be. Trump had spoken to evangelical groups such as Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition for several years prior to his decision to run for the White House. Further, anyone who followed the trajectory of his campaign, and its rhetoric, will have noticed the gradual increase of references to Christianity.

Both men are willing to stand firm against left-wing media pressure. Last year, Welby bravely contradicted those in the UK who refused to connect ISIS with the Islamic State, “If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult — probably impossible — to overcome it. . . . This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Isis is ‘nothing to do with Islam,’ or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.

Such directness befits a cleric whose mother was private secretary to Sir Winston Churchill for six years during Cold War.

There’s evidence, as well, that Welby’s appointment to Canterbury was held up because of his acknowledged evangelicalism and his less than enthusiastic support for same-sex marriage. As recently as April, a Guardian headline read, “Justin Welby unable to give ‘straight answer’ in whether gay sex is sinful.” On this issue, the archbishop may well be to the right of our president.

They also have business acumen in common. After graduating from Cambridge, Welby became a businessman before turning to the ministry and being ordained in 1992 at the age of 36. He worked for several oil companies, one in France, and learning perfect French, which must have given him a understanding the kind of economic issues the president is seeking to correct with new trade agreements.

The president and the archbishop have also experienced the vicissitudes of marriage and family. It was only four years ago that DNA tests revealed that Welby’s father was not whom he had thought. Given his personal experience, it’s highly doubtful that the 105th archbishop of Canterbury would jump on the bandwagon of some religious leaders who have judged Trump as morally unfit to be president of the United States.

The similarities between the two men will undoubtedly make their eventual meeting much more genial and fruitful than the archbishop’s comments suggest. They will discover themselves on the same side on important issues and will encourage each other to bear the cross of a rancorous press.

Read Newsmax: Archbishop and Trump May Have Much in Common | Newsmax.com
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Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility

Deal W. Hudson
October 11, 2017

When was the last time you told a visitor from another country that their head of state was a “fool” or a “disgrace”? When is the last time you visited a country and lectured those you met on the “horrors” of their elected national leader?

The perpetrators of mass slaughter come to mind when such remarks would have been appropriate.

But after hearing President Trump excoriated each day on a 9-day trip to Germany and the U.K., I am left wondering if my manners need updating. Rudeness has become the accepted norm of behavior on the other side of the Atlantic when it comes to our president. This rudeness reveals an astonishing level of ignorance about the history of the United States and the deep division and repressed fury created by the Obama presidency.

President Trump has become objectified, stripped of any humanity, and made the target of any remark no matter how offensive to visiting Americans. Attempts to explain his election, or cast him in a positive light, are met with scornful astonishment rather than a listening ear.

Yes, there were exceptions — an Irish bookstore owner in Rye, a French businessman, a German entrepreneur, a British hotel clerk. All of them had one thing in common — a distaste for media groupthink.

This was a golf trip for me, three hickory tournaments in three different locations — South of Munich in Bavaria, the northeast coast of Edinburgh, and the historic town of Rye on the coast in Sussex. I liked everyone I met, without exception, even those who bashed my president around. I don’t require my friends to hold my political or religious beliefs.

But why do these comments arise at all? Part of the problem is that people commonly “google” those they meet and this would have led associating me with support for President Trump and, before that, President W. When these hooks are thrown towards me, I don’t bite which surprises them. They’ve become accustomed, evidently, to provoking Pavlovian political outbursts.

Did I defend my president? Of course, but in a very measured way, correcting some basic errors about his tweeting, the “popular vote,” and, sadly, his wife, Melania.

What kept me so detached? As I said, I don’t require friends to share my political convictions, that seems simple, doesn’t it? Second, I was on vacation from the world of Washington politics, in search of golfing euphoria, which I captured for a few moments along the way. Third, these accusers read and hear media that contains nothing but vituperative attacks on the president and his family, so I can understand what feeds their mindset.

What I cannot understand is their evident lack of self-awareness that their treating of an elected American president as if he was evil incarnate. Wouldn’t a moment of self-scrutiny raise questions about why Donald Trump won the election when absolutely no one, except the candidate and his inner circle, though he could win? Surely such a man and his achievement is deserving of a more understanding than condescending dismissal.

And, surely, the American visitor need not endure the implication that his own political judgment is foolish.

In my lifetime, I have watched as the social habits of meeting people and making friends has been misshaped by the intrusion of politics. As dearly held moral views became less and less a matter of faith, tradition, or, even, reason, a person’s political stances, or mere affiliation, became sole standard of judgment about whether he was worthy of a relationship or not. There was no longer a higher vantage point from which to judge a person’s character than his or her politics, no ground for toleration of opposing views.

Now all the pastimes where people of diverse opinions used to mingle freely have been affected. Communities once formed by faith, education, sports, hobbies, the arts, and neighborhoods have allowed politics to intervene — need I mention the recent mess in the NFL over “taking the knee”?

I recall my Shakespeare teacher at the University of Texas in the late 60s. He was an Englishman whose constant wit kept me on the edge of my seat. I forget the context, but I once asked him what he thought of Americans. “They lack urbanity,” he said. Once I looked up the word, meaning detachment, I understood what he meant because our Austin campus was constantly riven by protests over Vietnam and the Nixon presidency. Shouting protesters deliberately provoke police and intimidating passers-by had become culture heroes. The detachment had been replaced by existential engagement.

It was the issue of engagement that famously destroyed the friendship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. When Sartre pressed Camus to support Communism and its “necessary” use of violence, Camus demurred. The detachment required by friendship was sacrificed by Sartre for the sake of “the cause.”

Closer to home, we watched the always urbane William F. Buckley completely lose his composure during a near-violent exchange with novelist Gore Vidal at the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Buckley who often shared charming banter with liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently became embroiled in more acidic exchanges and subsequent libel suits. The Buckley-Vidal episode, like that between Sartre and Camus a decade earlier, showed that cultural currents were flowing which could test the detachment of our most-schooled public intellectuals.

Now nastiness is the norm on both sides of the Atlantic, though nastiness is easier to accept when it comes from Americans about America. There was a time when Americans looked to Europe and the UK for its civilizing norms of education and manners. That time is long past, and Americans should access the deeper wells of our own cultural legacy to recover the spirit of tolerance that made the Founding possible.

As de Tocqueville wrote, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

Read Newsmax: Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility | Newsmax.com
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Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President

Deal W. Hudson

August 30, 2017

I know I am not alone in being bewildered by the daily pummeling of President Trump throughout the media. We are witnessing something more than the usual criticism any politician can expect. Instead, it’s become a kind of madness, where the president can be depicted with his head cut offstanding naked, or being hung from a tree.

All these images were reported by the major media. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia the president has been repeatedly called a “racist” in the mainstream media, including The Washington Post. But that’s not the worst. The president has also been routinely compared to Hitler and the Nazis.

The German magazine Stern published a cover depicting President Trump giving a Nazi salute while draped in an American flag. In England, The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland said, “We thought the Nazi threat was dead. But Donald Trump has revived it.”

Freedland went on to predict an American outbreak of anti-Semitism based on the fact that many white supremacists have free speech rights. Entertainers fantasize about “killing the president.” Rosie O’Donnell tweets to her 1,000,000 plus followers about a game she plays, “Pushing Trump off a cliff.” A New York Times reporter calls The first lady a “hooker.”

These attacks defy the standards of commonsense and public civility. Their sheer viciousness points towards an deep and more disturbing explanation — a mass hysteria elicited by the surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton. One could hardly find a better description than this published by John Waller of the British Psychological Society, “‘[M]ass hysteria’ are cases in which groups of people act upon beliefs which gain exaggerated credence in times of social and economic distress.”

This hysteria outbreak should have been widely recognized the day after the election.

Recall how college campuses across the nation responded to the election of President Trump with support groups, cancelled classes, creating “safe spaces,” and “self-care guides.”

Dan Gainer of Fox News described the media’s reaction to the election as a “primal scream.” In California, Washington, and Oregon, efforts are launched for those states to secede.

The central symptom of hysteria is “ungovernable emotional excess,” which in this case has become a case of mass hysteria, one largely due to the incessant use of social media to wage political and ideological war.

Writing in The Atlantic,  Laura Dimon connects increasing outbreaks of mass hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness (MPI), with the impact of Facebook and Twitter. Formerly people had to be in the same room to share in the hysteria, but that’s no longer the case. Today, social media has become “extensions of our eyes and ears.” It has made hysteria a global phenomenon.

Just think about it, Rosie O’Donnell has over 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. Many Trump-haters have far more. Katy Perry has over 100 million followers; Justin Bieber, 99,000,000, Rhianna, 76,000,000; Ellen DeGeneres, 70,000,000; and Lady Gaga, 69,000,000.

High-minded conservatives who sniff at these numbers and their cumulative influence are dissociating themselves from the way we live today.

Writing in Psychology Today, Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., describes the symptoms of mass hysteria: including having “no known organic basis,” meaning no basis in fact; occurring in a specific group; extreme anxiety; spread by world of mouth or popular media; spread from older to younger victims; and predominately female.

Regarding the last symptom, I would offer the observation that both the viciousness and sobbing character of the anti-Trump hysteria does have, at least to me, a curious female aspect. Just as Esther Goldberg has described former FBI Director James B. Comey as talking “the way high school girls talk,” the catty displays of commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews are positively feline, “One good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law,” said Matthews — referring to Jared Kushner.

Some theorists of mass hysteria say that these outbreaks usually pass quickly. That’s not been our experience. The hysteria over the bogus Duke University rape allegation did not subside until all charges were dropped over a year later. Similarly, it took over a year for the Charlottesville, Virginia police to find no evidence of the rape on campus reported by Rolling Stone for which they paid heavily in civil damages. In the meantime, in both cases, all the mainstream media joined in the chorus of defamation.

Who will play similar role in the case against President Trump? Who will help calm the hysteria? Perhaps, it will be people like Sen. Diane Feinstein , D-Calif., who recently stunned an audience in San Francisco with her refusal to support impeachment, saying Trump “could be a good president.” A reporter at the meeting said, “the crowd reacted with stunned silence, broken only with scattered ‘No’s’ and a few hisses and some nervous laughter.”

It’s in a moment of silence like the one elicited by Sen. Feinstein that the much-needed injection of reason and civility can take place and the mass hysteria can begin to pass.

Read Newsmax: Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President | Newsmax.com
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Artists Who Slam President Trump Slamming Rest of Us Too

Deal W. Hudson
July 24, 2017

“I don’t do idiots,” says composer Philip Glass, is the latest in a long list of derogatory comments by prominent artists about President Trump. Recall all the performers who self-righteously announced their intention not to perform at the inaugural, even if asked, including Elton John, Garth Brooks, Kiss, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Charlotte Church, The B Street Band, Jennifer Holliday, Rebecca Ferguson, and, sadly, the Rockettes.

Bearing in mind that 62,979,879 Americans voted for the Trump-Pence ticket, is it going too far to say that in turning their backs on the new president these artists are dissing his voters as well? I don’t think so. There is more to this disrespect than immediately meets the eye. Throughout the entire arts community, including film, music, museums, theatre, literature, critics, and academicians, there inhabits a deep disdain for the Americans who value the defense of innocent life and marriage, the value of patriotism, respect for the military and police, the rights of parents to educate their children, and reject the threat of globalism.

To put it more simply, if you can be labeled Republican, pro-life, pro-marriage, conservative, or a traditionalist, the artistic world will turn its back on you, unless, of course, you happen to be wealthy. The wealthy are treated with respect as long as the checks arrive on time onto the desk of the development director.

Some months ago, I addressed this situation from another angle, “A Cultural Outcast Asks: Who Can I Turn To, When Nobody Loves Me?” This complaint was prompted by the barrage of articles disparaging Trump shortly after his election in the magazines and on the websites I regularly read about books, music, films, and other cultural matters. Messages sent to a few editors received either no reply or snide ones declaring that “artists have always been on the side of the progressives…”

Am I the only one to notice that it has become tiresome practice in reviews of anything artistic to throw in an aside that it “has become terribly relevant to the age we live in,” meaning Trump and Brexit? I dare anyone to cite a single issue, since November 7, 2016, of the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books (et al) that does not take a cheap shot at President Trump and, by implication, those who voted for him.

Here you have millions of Americans, many of whom love the arts, engage the arts, donate to the arts, and look to the arts for insight and inspiration who are being told, basically, “you’re an idiot” (“but we will take your money”). Why is there such a deep disconnect between artists and the social conservatives in their audience? If they are such idiots, why do they still read good books, collect classical CDs and downloads, buy films from the Criterion Collection, attend concerts and operas, go the theatre and the ballet, and visit museums around the world? Why do they listen to the music of Philip Glass, which I first met and admired in his score to the 1988 documentary, “The Thin Blue Line”?

Could it be, after all, that artistic taste is not determined by moral and political outlook? Going even further, could it be argued that the extreme liberal attitudes of some artists doesn’t get in the way of their creation of beautiful works of arts? I think that is exactly the case, with one caveat: There are artists and audience members who allow their morality and politics to overly influence their creativity and receptivity.

Thus, they view the making of art as primarily a platform for delivering a message, while the audience takes all it sees or hears and filters it through moral, political, or religious criteria to determine its worth. When neither the artist nor the audience put the beauty first, the artistic experience is inhibited if not destroyed completely.

After calling President Trump an “idiot,” Philip Glass went on to say that he was grateful for his election: “It is wonderful: for the first time even children are getting politicized. Even my children, who used to be sunk in video games, now go to demonstrations and get involved politically. We should be grateful to Trump for having shaken us up.”

It’s sadly ironic that an artist would celebrate his children’s embrace of politicized art. I’ve read countless pleas for donations from groups that celebrate the arts as a vehicle for human solidarity, freedom, unity, transcendence, and the overcoming of divisions within society. Music itself is supposed to the “universal language of mankind” according to American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Music also contains in innate spirituality, or as Leonard Bernstein put it in his 1973 Norton Lectures: “Through music you can reach the unreachable and communicate the unknowable.”

According to Philip Glass, President Trump, evidently, does not quality as worthy of being exposed to the wonder of great music, and neither do the rest of us “idiots” either.

I supposed if Trump decided to quadruple the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts some of this nonsense might be tamped down, but not that much. Trump would be accused of attempting to buy respect. The disdain in the arts community is far too ingrained to be mollified by gestures of good will from “idiots.”

I’m saddened that I don’t have a solution to this state of affairs. I will continue to seek out and promote good books, music, films, and plays regardless of what these artists think of my president and me. After all, what the artists themselves seek is far more important than the politics hold as absolute.

Read Newsmax: Artists Who Slam President Trump Slamming Rest of Us Too | Newsmax.com
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Theocrat Trump Accusation Laughable, Unoriginal

Deal W. Hudson
July 19, 2017

There’s been much consternation following the publication of an article in Civiltà Cattolica attacking the alliance between Evangelicals and conservative Catholics in recent presidential elections. The authors, Antonio Spadoro and Marcelo Figueroa, don’t manage to produce a single charge that was not already thrown at President George W. Bush under the marquee heading of “Theocracy.”

The only reason this article is receiving attention is the close connection between Civiltà Cattolica and the Vatican, thus giving the impression that the co-authors speak with the support of the Curia and Pope Francis himself.

I was in charge of outreach to Catholic voters for George W. Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, and subsequently wrote “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a 2008 book about the developing political alliance of Evangelicals and conservative Catholics. Catholics are the swing constituency in American politics, and delivered 14 percent more Catholic votes for George Bush in 2000 than Bob Dole received in 1996. That was a major factor in Bush’s victory.

In 2008 Catholics voted for Obama, but in 2016 they were plus seven for Trump, 52 to 45 percent. White Catholics were plus 23 for Trump, and this was crucially important in the rust belt states that put him over the top. The dynamics I described almost ten years ago in “Onward Christian Soldiers” were still churning in Trump’s direction.

The Democrats didn’t seriously campaign for Catholic votes in 2016, but liberals seem to have finally figured it out, and that’s what’s behind the charges of theocracy. As if Catholics and Evangelicals want to impose some kind of Holy Fascism, Iranian-style.

Spadoro and Figueroa cite three figures — Lyman Steward, Pastor Rousas John Rushdonny, and Norman Vincent Peale — to find Christian Trump supporters guilty of Fundamentalism. They suggest that that’s what Reagan and Bush secretly wanted. But anyone with the slightest acquaintance of either man would roll their eyes at this. Only Italian academics with the visceral hatred for American conservatism could come up with such nonsense over their lattes.

I once asked President Bush what he thought about Rushdoody, the founder of Dominionism, and he answered, “Rush-what-did-you-say?” I had to briefly explain to him that Dominionism taught that the Book of Genesis gave humanity “dominion” over creation. He didn’t seem interested in hearing much more about it. But our diligent co-authors use Dominionism to explain lack of enthusiasm for getting on the climate change bandwagon shown by Trump and his backers.

Nevertheless, our “political Manichaeism” is blameworthy because we employ a “political strategy for success becomes that of raising the tones of the conflictual, exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism.” Perhaps the co-authors didn’t pay much attention to the highly charged rhetoric of President Obama, such as:

“Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.” (Emphasis added)

If any one person or party is sounding apocalyptic at the present moment, it’s the Democratic Party and its leadership. Need I illustrate?

And speaking of Obama, the co-authors play the racist card by noting that the fundamentalism embraced by Reagan and Bush was born in the “deep American South” and was composed “mainly of whites.” I guess they’ve never heard of the greatest of all revival preachers during that period, Billy Sunday, who was born in Chicago. Or the fact, somewhat later, that Billy Graham’s career was launched by the Los Angeles Crusade held in 1949.

Attempting to put all Catholic Trump supporters in the worst possible light, the co-authors throw in a few quotes from an organization called Church Militant, led by the very marginal Michael Voris. The authors seem unaware that Voris has played no political role in any presidential election since 2000. In fact, Voris publicly scolded EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo and me for holding a conference call about Donald Trump with some Florida Catholic voters.

The real religious fanatics are people like Spadoro and Figueoa who want to demonize Catholic Republican voters in America. They suppose that American Evangelicals are the cartoonish bigots that our elite media portrays them to be, that they are Hillary’s “deplorables.” That’s nonsense, of course. They’re our neighbors, and we know them to be good and decent people. There was a time when Catholics took some heat from Protestants who worried that we’d take political direction from the Vatican. It turns out that that’s exactly what Spadoro and Figueroa are trying to do — dictate to American Catholic voters. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“Make America Great Again” was the theme of Donald Trump’s campaign and now his administration. Where is the fear in that? The only fear it evokes is in the likes of Spadoro and Figueroa who would rather see the U.S. remain under the thumb of the Clintons, the Obamas, the United Nations, and George Soros.

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