So a reader sent a link to Mark Shea's Facebook page. I swore bushy tail on that site, and to be honest, I've been the happier for it. Nonetheless, he sent it to me and observed that this post explains a lot. And indeed, it does:
"Interesting. Dreyfuss is an old Lefty. But lots of old Lefties are people who, like Rachel Maddow, self-identify as people who would have been happy voting for Eisenhower. People who, like Dreyfuss, owe a huge amount of their outlook to such dangerous Communists and America-haters as Frank Capra and Jefferson Smith. They are, in short, flag-waving patriots every bit, if not more so, than a Tea Partier. They are quite sincere about hoping that the GOP finds its way back fro...m the abyss of nihilism into which it has hurled itself. And, I am sad to say, with rare exceptions like Robert P. George, it would be extraordinary to see somebody from the Right make a similar visit to see what the Dems are up to. The fear of contracting Liberal Cooties is too great. Good for Dreyfuss for venturing on to foreign soil to try to make common cause with fellow Americans. This is light years from the spectacle of Trump urging his brownshirts to beat up protesters. Gives me hope."
Mark comments on the story about Richard Dreyfuss going to the GOP and looking for the Old GOP. Now what he means by Old GOP is not explained. It could be he wants that pre-Goldwater, pre-Reagan GOP that didn't concern itself with social issues, and in fact, was often pretty far to the left as we understand it today. I don't know. I like Mr. Dreyfuss, and admire his willingness to do homework when it comes to American history. Even if I disagree, I can respect someone who has gone the extra mile and studied what he is talking about. That doesn't mean he hasn't had his moments of crazy. But on the whole, I like him.
But Mark's post is revealing. One of Mark's major themes is that liberals are ultimately better than conservatives. At least nowadays. In fact, apart from a couple unfortunate sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance, liberals are right and awesome and hip and cool and swell and caring and kind and pure and fun and on and on. Conservatives, on the other hand, are the gun totting, Bible clinging racist, bigot Neanderthals that such esteemed publications as Huffington Post and Daily Kos suggest they are.
It's worth noting that, on his blog CAEI, Mark insisted that part of the proof for this assumption was all the mean and horrible things conservatives said to him, and all of the terrible accusations they made against him. More than once, for example, he insisted that conservatives accused him of being secretly pro-choice. For my part, I could say many things about Mark, but I would never say he was pro-choice, secretly or otherwise. And yet Mark accused me of doing just that. No matter how I protested that I never thought of such a thing, Mark held his ground. So I often wonder just how accurately he portrayed other cases where conservatives supposedly accused him of such things. Did they? Or did he simply say they did, in a way similar to what he said about me?
But factual or not, this is one of the main reasons Mark justifies his warmness toward liberalism and liberals - even those who are passionate defenders and champions for abortion or gay marriage, blaspheme or heresy. They're just more swell than those rascally mean and hateful conservatives.
But note the post. This is the revealing part of it all. Mark uses Mr. Dreyfuss to demonstrate some sort of unstated fact that liberals are the sane ones and good ones who really love our country and would gladly reach across party lines. I don't know if Mr. Dreyfuss has reached out at other times or not. And I don't have any numbers on just how many liberals would gladly support a Republican president, then or now. I only have the example in this post of Mr. Dreyfuss (and a nod Mark gives to Rachel Maddow). Mark also presents Mr. Robert George. I don't know Mr. George, but Mark presents him as an example of Conservatives willing to reach across the aisle. But here is the telling part: Mark presents the two differently. Mr. Dreyfuss represents the best of the "Good Old Days" as well as, not too subtly, the best about liberals. Mr. George, on the other hand, is presented as some freakish exception to the unfortunate rule that most Conservatives would never be so good or awesome. Two examples, each used differently to sustain the narrative.
And that, kiddies, is how Mark does it. Just why Mark now aligns with the Left is beyond my ability to guess. In fairness, that doesn't put him too far from the leadership of the Church as a whole. But he justifies it in large part by insisting that it's conservatives and their wicked ways that have all but shoved him over the aisle, as opposed to liberals who are just nicer, sweller people. It's never hard to besmirch a group of people if you see one bad example as proof of their badness, and any good examples as nothing more than some strange exception.
BTW, we should realize that Mark's entire premise about the superiority of liberals is obviously wrong, if not downright stupid. Liberals, just like conservatives, are no better or worse as people because of where they stand on the issues. You get good. You get bad. They may be different in how they act or tend to react based on their beliefs, but the goodness and badness is going to be the same, at least on a personal level. In fact, it's almost childish to say 'they're just nicer people than those people there' based on politics or issues. People are far more complex than red state/blue state. What adult would even listen to such a thing? For every case of good liberals, I can find as many bad. And for every case of bad conservatives, I can find as many good.
If you embrace liberalism as the best method for living out the Faith, then say so. Don't base it on the laughably inane notion that, Jesus notwithstanding, where you fall in a media generated political narrative dictates the kind of person you are. That a leading Catholic apologist rests his case on something so clearly false is troubling enough. That he continues to be lauded and praised and called to represent the Faith says more about the state of Catholic apologetics today than I care to admit.