Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hating on America in the Catholic Blogosphere

Mark Shea posts on the recent reaction of the Cuomo's to Pope Francis I.   The basic take is that this is typical NE liberal elitism.  Read the article and conclude for yourself.  But what I found fascinating is some of the comments on Mark's page.  This:
I see the Cuomo reaction as another indication of the tendency to see the US as having the right to police the world, as well as eliminating the leaders of countries when they disapprove of the choice (remember Allende and Pinochet?) . Now they decide that the Catholic church is fair game too – when are they going to organize a military coup in order to get a Pope to their liking? (emphasis mine)
And this:
It is sad that so many are simply ignorant of U.S. foreign policy and its effects in so many places throughout the world, especially Latin America. But hey, why inform yourself when your living off the benefits of Empire? So the ignorance and the exaltation of the U.S. centric view continues.
Jumped out at me.  Mark's site has become one of the rallying points for Catholics Who Hate America.  Really.  There is an entire swath of the Catholic internet that hates, and I mean hates, the United States.  Whether it's Catholics here or Catholics abroad, hating on the US is almost a sacramental badge of honor.

None of this is to say the US isn't above reproach.  And goodness knows, it's not as if we're heading in the right direction.  But let's be honest.  There's a difference between someone who criticizes something because they care, and someone who criticizes to buttress contempt and hatred.  

These are not folks saying that this or that US policy is bad, or even that the US is heading in the wrong direction.  These are people who speak of the US the way the US used to speak about the USSR, or in the war years, Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.  The US, in no particular case, is simply the blame.  The cause.  The problem.  There's an assumption that the US just is - evil, rotten, the reason for problems, inferior.  Read those quotes again.  These aren't thoughtful statements that say 'in this case, America has certainly been wrong.'  These are statements that basically say evil is in the nature of America, and the world's sufferings are the direct result.

Why did they attack us on 9/11?  America made them hate us.  Why does Latin America struggle?  Because of US policies.  Why are there tensions in Asia?  The US, that's why.  And on and on.  The Catholics who see things this way appear to come from different molds.  Though this is the hallmark of America and European liberalism (you don't get change until you convince people that things are completely horrible - just ask our Founding Fathers), it's not confined to only the progressive wing of American Catholicism. Some are traditionalists, others not.  Some are American (a major problem, more on that in a minute), others are not.  But it is a unifying attitude for many across the Catholic blogosphere that the US is really a pretty rotten place, and always has been.

Now for those in other countries, what can we say?  Other countries have disliked the US for ages.  The Iraq war didn't make countries hate us, it simply gave people who hated us a valid excuse to finally express it.  But those in America?  Especially Christians, especially Catholics? I once had a professor who spoke to the issue of properly and improperly criticizing our nation.  To nothing would be wrong.  To not point out our country's failings is to deny reality.  America has done horrible things, allowed horrible things, partaken in horrible things.  Just like any nation, kingdom, empire, or civilization. 

But there's a limit.  Like anything, it should be criticism to construct, to build up, to improve.  To help right wrongs and turn the people back to the face of God.  To beat up on the US just to beat up the US, to act as if the eighth sacrament of the Holy Church, is to declare your eternal disgust with an entire nation of people, a nation with blessings and benefits you're more than prepared to enjoy.  To be stupid and blind enough to lump the US into the same mold as a Nazi Germany or USSR, is beyond the pale.  If you think it's that bad - leave.  

Unlike Nazi Germany or the USSR, you lose nothing by trashing the country.  Despite rumors to the contrary, there are no secret death camps in the Nevada deserts to which you will be whisked away by men in sunglasses driving vans with tinted windows    You can pretty much say anything about our country and, as of now, get by without a hitch. Unlike, again, other nations.  Likewise, you can leave.  If you were in Nazi Germany or the Khmer Rouge, you were screwed.  Try getting out of there.  If you labored to change, not only did you risk of injury or death, but you also had little other choice. 

In America, you can leave.  So standing about and trashing the nation day after day, declaring it bad and evil, and making no real and honest attempt to do anything other than get your pound of flesh, is a bit like having sex with a prostitute while insisting that prostitution is a sin.  You don't have to have sex with a prostitute at all, but you want that orgasm all the while making yourself feel so righteous for calling her a sinful slut.  

Why Mark's blog has become particularly popular for the 'Good Catholics Hate America' contingent  I don't know.  Mark doesn't seem to be there himself. Though I admit Mark's own tendencies have certainly shifted over the years.  One of Mark's first pieces I read that turned me on to the possibility of not being an America Hating Catholic was a rousing defense of our urgent need to respond to the 9/11 attacks.  Why we must fight!  That was its title.  It was a call for Catholics to understand why America must take up arms and defend our nation against the real and immediate threat of Islamic terrorism. 

Today, the link is disabled and the piece cannot be found anywhere.  Likewise, I noticed last year, Mark - for the first time I think - had no real kudos on Veterans Day.  Perhaps a coincidence.  I don't know.  Again, nothing wrong with criticizing the US.  Just make sure we do the same for other countries by name.  And nothing wrong with wanting to see the US improve and come closer to what God would bless upon this earth.  Just make sure that's the reason for the criticism.  Having specific criticisms of specific issues as well as solutions would go a long way in that department. 

But it's impossible not to notice that there are those across the Catholic blogosphere who, for whatever reasons, are convinced that in the annals of history, few nations have been simultaneously inferior and yet the single cause of human suffering in the way the US has.  And they do it with no apparent desire for anything to change.  There appears only the desire to condemn a country in the way that anti-Catholic bigots of old said they would.  And as I said before, we don't need to live up to negative anti-Catholic stereotypes, no matter how much we may want to. 


  1. In other words, many Catholics treat the USA in the same manner many atheists treat the Church?

    Funny that. I'd say almost a human tendency... ;)

  2. Yeah. It probably is, as is most sin. I'm not saying there's nothing to criticize, but it's obvious when it goes beyond that.


Let me know your thoughts