One thing I have learned during this past election cycle is that I am not the brightest bulb in the box. Frankly, I take comfort in admitting I was completely wrong about the chance for a Trump presidency because I am in great company. People like Peggy Noonan and George Will thought he would implode. Apparently we missed something (a BIG something) and now I am playing catch up on a lot of stuff in order to figure out what happened.
I am blessed with a fairly strong constitution. I do not need counseling and I am suspicious of the need for things like Empathy Walls or Comfort Spaces for all the people who have been traumatized the election results. I find myself shutting up about this wailing and gnashing of teeth because I do not want to be accused of 'shaming' people who need help and because I don't want to sound like my late father. I cannot even imagine what he would be saying right now - or maybe I can, and so am glad I do not have to worry about this year's Thanksgiving Dinner conversation.
I learned something else from this past cycle and that is to not trust any news media outlets. Apparently, in the past, one could count on the reporters getting out of their chairs and actually searching out the truth of a story but today all we seem to get is warmed over ideas from bloggers and late night talk show hosts on both radio and television. Edward R. Murrow is turning in his grave and the spirit of Woodward and Bernstein are dead.
This is why when people started screaming about Steve Bannon being a proponent of White Supremacy I did not rush to judgment. I wanted to find out what I could and the best way I could figure out how to do that was to read the transcripts of some of his speeches and to read some recent interviews.
I really didn't know (and still do not) that much about the man other than to think it is too bad Phillip Seymour Hoffman is dead because he would be the perfect guy to play him in the movie. I started by reading a transcript of a speech he gave at the Vatican in 2014. The speech is reported by BuzzFeed and my antenna went up when I saw that this venerable news organization had referred to Raymond Burke as " one of the most vocal critics of Pope Francis who was ousted from a senior Vatican position in 2014" . The tone is set by the reporting - these people gathering for that summit are far-right conservatives and so should be treated with suspicion.
As I read through this particular speech I saw very little to take exception to philosophically but I could see where the culture in America today would be freaking out over what this guy said. The attitude today is "Western Culture bad,,,,all else good". I have seen this with my own eyes. I once saw a Facebook post referencing a strangely titled internet group. The group (something like HERstory or TRUESTORY or some such revisionist stuff) was trying to convince African Americans that Napoléon conspired with Leonardo di Vinci to make all of the paintings of Jesus show him as a white man in order to wipe out the truth that He was Black. I remember when I pointed out to an otherwise intelligent and very articulate man that the two people lived in two different centuries I was told that the reason I did not believe the information is because I have been brainwashed by the Euro-centric historicity taught in most school. I was also told that I was using the evil calendar devised by the Roman Catholic Church. If I used the JULIAN Calendar, he said, I would see how the evil Catholics had conspired to wipe the truth out that Jesus was a Black man. When I told him that Napoleon had ruled in 1804 and di Vinci had died in the 1500's, I was ignored.
For this reason I did not leap onto the Southern Poverty Law bandwagon and proclaim Bannon a member of the KKK. I wanted to try and figure this out for myself - do I like him or not? I started my own quest for information and it has been enlightening.
If I understand Mr. Bannon correctly much of the values taught (though not often upheld by the teachers) by the Judeo-Christian Culture have been abandoned and that this has left our culture careening towards economic destruction. He also admits that much of what he proposes in terms of 'Economic Nationalism" can be misappropriated by the far right goofy people (KKK and other White Supremist Types) and used to advance their agenda - an agenda which flies in the face of true Judeo-Christian Values.
It is an interesting speech, and I do not pretend to understand all of it. Nor do I agree with his dismissal of the weird fringe type as eventually washing out. I happen to think he needs to publically denounce and disavow them, because now he is the Senior Advisor to the most powerful man in the world. To not do so is politically dumb at the least, suicidal at the most.
This got me thinking, however, about the responsibility we all share for the goofy people who may or may not like us. How important is it for my readers, for instance, for me to state clearly and carefully that I do not hold to any ideas held by Catholics who read my blog who are not in full communion with the Church. If they think that only those Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass are good Catholics, or only those Catholics who vote Republican are good Catholics or that every woman who had an abortion is going to hell then I disavow them. They may share my Faith Tradition but they do not share my understanding of it.
If anyone who loves me thinks that Truth is subjective and so carry all the wackadoo ideas that goes along with that - I disavow them too. It does not mean I don't still love them, however, but they have to know I believe in ALL that the Holy Catholic Church teaches - even the parts that are politically incorrect or that I have not even learned yet. That is how much I trust Her...and The Holy Spirit.
Come to think of it, if you don't like dogs and cats I disavow you....just to be safe.
As a public confessor (writer) I have to consider the possibility that at least 10% of the people who read my stuff and regularly contact me about what I write might be nutty cookoo. Am I responsible for them? Does that responsibility change as my worldly importance changes? Today I am just a small time blogger, one blog among a bazillion blogs, but if, by fluke, I was suddenly catapulted into the stratosphere of fame would I be responsible for the opinions and beliefs held by every one of my readers?
Steve Bannon may or may not be a good guy. I was put off by his references to 'Dark Power' during an interview and I think he may be a little grandiose (we will govern for 50 years!) but that truly could be chalked up to being a big mouthed man more than anything else. I do think that, if we could hold to true Judeo-Christian Values, society would be better off. I do believe that forced capitalism is another form of slavery and I do believe that capitalism must be regulated because of concupiscence.
Am I ready to jump on his bandwagon? No more than I am ready to have him shot by firing squad because the far left thinks too many White Supremists like him.
If he is right, and we can rebuild the middle class and the infrastructure without having to start or participate in a world war then that is great....and if he is wrong?
Well, heck - we will be having another election in four years.
Maybe by that time, George and Peggy and I will have learned something.