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Friday, February 09, 2018

Another 50 Shades Movie? Isn't Every Movie A Fifty Shades Movie?

I suppose we could get moralistic about it again--and it's not wrong for someone to do it--but I need to be real about another aspect: the pornification of our culture only has been successful because we are in fact sexual beings. Not as some uncomfortable concession that slips out into view when the 12 kids burst forth from the matriarch's long skirt, mind you. Every titan of lechery you could name knows that he's trading in something the vast majority of us desire. And that desire itself is good. It's twisted all over the place, and we could write monstrous tomes about the damage this disordered desire does.

If our culture made an icon, well, it would look like the '50 Shades' movie poster. But the first step in desiring the good instead, and the highest goods, is to acknowledge that this counter-appeal has an appeal. There's nothing prudish about most of the people I know, but "Hollywood" aren't aliens from the planet Zaltan; they are us. They might be particularly broken versions of us, but they are us. Perhaps even perpetrators of great evils, but then, so have I been. I don't have the right to speak the name "Harvey Weinstein" or "Polanski" or whomever, as though I haven't needed to go to Confession--actually--in 20 years. Quite the contrary.

Fair enough, I will never be arrested, publicly shamed, and excoriated for anything I've ever done, and I pray it will always remain so. But I understand these perverts; these perverts are me. It's not the hottest of hot takes, but it will have to do.

While I'm At It

I think that caring about how policies affect various people, especially people of color, is an important consideration. Even to say "people of color" enrages some people on the Right, as if you've already conceded to some leftist identity politics. All that I will concede and do say is that when we attain equality before the law, it will be because we have joined our neighbors in overcoming the unique challenges of being non-white in this society. We can't listen to anyone's experience, empathize, and fulfill an obligation in solidarity, if we have decided we don't have to, because they are on--or even sound like they are on--"the Left."

If that even sounds like a concession to everything you hate, you might be part of the problem.

And to follow up on my last post, and some questions I received privately, you're darn right I take these unjust deportations personally. If I decline to tell you why, just know that this is not an abstract discussion for me. Frankly, I tire of arguments appealing to abstract principles, while simultaneously  my interlocutors even defend injustice in the concrete and specific. These almost daily reports of almost unbelievable deportations force us to reckon with the fact that these are not mistakes or clerical errors.

I concede that the US has a right to protect its border. Do you really believe that throwing out people who've been enriching their communities for decades in many cases enhances the security of the United States? I'd honestly like an answer. Against what or whom are we enforcing these laws? Better question: If someone cannot attain legal status in 3 decades, even 4, and not for lack of trying--whose fault is that? I say it's not the immigrant's. Aside from the fact of the perfectly valid point that you shouldn't have to be on your way to sainthood, just to get a seat at the table.

The danger of appealing to the majority is that it assumes whatever that majority holds is correct, just, and sensible. Populism is a whole political style and method based upon this fallacy. We're living in these times.

Just suppose that one political party fields a candidate that is endorsed by the largest abortion mill in the nation. Said candidate promises to continue also the normalization of alternative sexuality, and the government-sponsored persecution of traditional religious believers in their fight against all these things. That candidate is a hectoring, domineering scold, who by the way, is casual with national security secrets, to say the least.

The other is completely unqualified, incurious bigot, who--whether in a quest for power, or as part of his constitution--has normalized racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, police brutality, and sexual assault. I concede that if you voted for the latter, you may not be any of these things. Here's the million-dollar question: How many injustices are you prepared to accept, in your quest to say, "I thank you Lord, that you have not made me like one of these Democrats"?

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

If He Were From Norway, We Wouldn't Be Having This Conversation (Yes, Donald Trump's Campaign And Presidency Is Racist)

You need to know that I'm writing angry. My question is, "Why aren't you?" Here's the latest outrage from the Trump administration. Seems like it may work out, thanks to Congressman Ryan of Ohio.

We have but one brief paragraph in the Catechism about immigration. But that part about a "natural right" is key. People have a natural right to seek livelihood and security in another country. That says to me that any juridical actions taken by the US to impose obligations on the immigrant are after they've been a guest here. You don't simply get to say, "Your obligations to the country of arrival are, "Don't come here."

Therefore, the conclusion is this: It's an immoral violation of natural rights for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport anyone whose only crime is being an undocumented immigrant.

Let's be real here: Most conservative Catholics have made their peace with this. If Tony Esolen or whomever can give them cover, they'll find a way to make Trump's policies fit the Catechism. As long as the Democrats are radicals on abortion and personal morality, nothing else matters. I know about being enraged at the Democrats, believe me. The first step in the right-wing revisionism is to say that only "intrinsic evils" are issues that bind the conscience. Everything else is prudential judgment, or so it goes. "Prudential judgment" is right-wing Catholic code for, "Well, that's just your opinion, man." But surely we can think of situations where, if you change the circumstances, the act becomes quite grave, indeed. And this is one. It's not immoral for the government to deport people, as such. Therefore, deportation will never be intrinsically evil. But again, an act could be a grave injustice without being intrinsically evil.

You'll hear right-wing Catholics lament "identity politics" from "the Left." And yet, no one has come to terms with the white identity politics of Donald Trump. And right-wing Catholics can't, because they have chosen him to defeat "the Left." As long as sexual politics is poisoning the political culture, we can't have a conversation about what the totality of our faith really says. It may not say things we agree with.

It's hard to imagine what American politics would be like without abortion-on-demand. I think my political enculturation would have been different indeed. And maybe we wouldn't be here, reckoning with Donald Trump.

Update: The first US Senate candidate in Missouri who promises to stop this will get my vote, regardless of their stance on abortion.