Monday, April 22, 2013

In the bombing's aftermath, let the platitudes begin

I haven't written about this because I think reticence the best course when the only response one has to offer is anger of the merely bloodthirsty sort. I turned on the TV a few days ago mere moments after the bombs went off. I'm pretty sure I saw the earliest camera shots of people tearing down the barricades to get at the wounded. The first thing I noticed was the presence of so many dazed and bloodied women, and that was pretty much the end of my ability to reason. I wonder whatever happened to this lady:

or this one:

I've got another one of a fellow with nothing left of his leg but a long, footless bone protruding from his mangled thigh, but I didn't think anyone would appreciate seeing it. Those gals could be your wife, your sister, your next door neighbor. I'm sure they're sinners like the rest of us, going about their everyday lives, while off in the background someone else thought they needed to be turned into mincemeat. They were worse than sinners. They were infidels, enemies of the Prophet, buglike little satans in service to the Great Satan itself, the wages for which sin is death. It seemed to me the appropriate and proportionate punishment for the surviving, zombified, Islamist fanatic would be to strap him to a chair in a concrete bunker, set off a pressure-cooker bomb filled with the usual razor-edged, metallic, people-cutting implements and see what happens. An eye for an eye, yes?

Unfortunately, no. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his big brother killed three people, severed so many limbs, and inflicted so many different wounds on so many others that it would be impossible to extract from him a suffering similar in kind and degree. Besides, I know that my desire for revenge is an unworthy impulse. Justice must be the end, and this is best administered with a dispassionate efficiency by duly constituted authority. Put him in a chair wired for the next life and turn on the juice. Far superior to an eye for an eye, yes?

Well, again, no. Cardinal O'Malley tells me so. He gave a sermon yesterday in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross memorializing the victims. A humane and gentle wisdom was on display. There was nothing especially, or shall I say, peculiarly, Christian about it, but it was gentle and humane. He admitted that he did not understand "what demons were operative" in the lives of the two brothers, nor in "the perversion of their religion." And with that he is already off the victims and on to reminding us what we're supposed to think: that this seemingly endless train of murderous onslaughts against the innocent, emanating almost exclusively from one religion, is not indicative of a problem with the religion but with its perversion by a very select few under the influence of some party of demons (although his use of "demons" probably has less to do with the devil than you might suppose). Well, let's say he's right. And this website would certainly agree with him. Then could he be bothered to take a minute or two to explain - if it is a cultural problem rather than a religious one - why the cultures that embrace Islam are so commonly connected with these sorts of attacks? Or, if it is a matter of political fanaticism, why the political cultures that embrace Islam are likewise so frequently connected? Or, if it is a problem of religious zealotry propagated by the Islamic variety of fundamentalism - as opposed to the urbane, open-minded, and highly civilized sort of Muslim we are led to believe the vast majority aspire to become - why this religion lends itself so easily to its own perversion? I'm afraid he never took that detour.

Now listen to this:

“It was amazing to witness, however, how much goodness and generosity were evidenced in our community as a result of this tragedy,” he said. "We have certainly experienced a surge in civic awareness, and a sense of community as a result of the tragedy this week. Our challenge is to keep this spirit of community alive going forward. As people of faith we must commit ourselves to the task of community building."
I told you he was gentle and humane. And he knows all the right words, like "community." He says it four times. I've heard it so often in church that I don't know what it means anymore. Does it bear any resemblance to Hillary's village? I hope not. Could he have been thinking, without saying it, of something more like 'family,' or of the Body of Christ, of which those sitting before him are members, their creation by God the source of their infinite value, and the cause of our horror at seeing them attacked? He ought to say so. He's a preacher, after all, commanded to be one in season and out. If this wasn't the season, it's never coming.

He also brings up the culture of death, mentioning abortion as "just one indication of how human life has been devalued," and then..and then: "as well as violence in entertainment." Yes, those two are so much alike. And then..and then: "He also chastised Congress for its inability to pass stricter gun control laws, calling it 'emblematic of the pathology of our violent culture.'"

"It is only a culture of life and an ethic of love that can rescue us from the senseless violence that inflicts so much suffering on society,” he said.
See? Gentle and humane. And preaching to the choir. Go say it in Chechnya.

And, piling on: "We must be people of reconciliation, not revenge. The crimes of two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Muslims or against immigrants." Yes, the Tsarnaevs were just ordinary immigrants, no different than a couple of Mexicans sneaking across the border looking for jobs in landscaping or roofing. But shouldn't he ask, at least hypothetically, on the off-chance that they weren't just like any other immigrants, whether a little discrimination ('prejudice') in the matter of Muslim immigration, rigorously and religiously applied, might have prevented the rampage?

We must be people of reconciliation, not revenge.

That is complete nonsense. Someone explain it to me. I dare you.

And finally:

Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime. But in our own hearts when we are unable to forgive we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred. Obviously as a Catholic I oppose the death penalty, which I think is one further manifestation of the culture of death in our midst.

And there you have it. He probably thinks that's a pretty smooth move, but it's quite repulsive. The seamless garment is re-sewn for the next generation. No one escapes culpability for the Culture of Death, for it now embraces all those who support the abortion sacrament, those who desire to blow up hundreds of innocent people, and those who think the death penalty a just punishment for blowing up hundreds of innocent people.

Before Francis was elevated to Peter's Chair, there was some enthusiasm for the idea that an American of U.S. origin might become that Pope. I am very glad it didn't happen. Any Eminence of the U.S. hierarchy could not have gone there without taking with him the poison of our political liberalism, and the stench of that cultural death he condemns while using the enemy's own vocabulary.



2 Responses to In the bombing’s aftermath, let the platitudes begin

Thomas D (alias dylan) says:
April 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm (Edit)
I love my archbishop — nay, revere him, as he is reverend. But I do wonder what he makes of CCC 2266 (second edition): “Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty” [emphasis mine] “to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.”

William Luse says:
April 23, 2013 at 8:31 am (Edit)
Simple. He thinks the death penalty is never proportionate punishment. CCC 2266 won’t even give him pause. But that’s the least of his problems. His mind is a laundry list of liberal pieties, which he parrots on cue, and I’m sick of hearing them – not just from him, but from any clergy. It’s an infection in the Church, and things aren’t going to get better until it’s exorcised.

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