independent

Monday 11 December 2017

Amazing the latitude church people can give to extreme right-wing thinking

Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Some weeks ago an English Catholic magazine referred to Steve Bannon as a practising Catholic. When I read that I nearly choked on my porridge. It really was hilarious. Steve Bannon has married three times and has divorced three times. I have to admit that the piece confused me.

Leaving aside his marital status it's plain to see that Mr Bannon, a trusted adviser and friend of President Trump is a right-wing zealot who wants to destroy all and every trace of anything that smacks of liberal or moderate thinking. Bannon was a founding member of far-right Breitbart News, which is racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic. It would appear Bannon does not believe in compromise.

If Steve Bannon is what Catholicism is about then it's time for me to leave the church. It really is amazing the latitude many church people can give to extreme right-wing thinking. We really are being battered from every side. It's difficult to remain sane in the days that are in it. The Trump administration is not noted for telling the truth. I'm reminded of that infamous comment from Vladimir Lenin that a lie told often enough becomes a truth. Is that what alternative facts are?

When Anthony Scaramucci lost his job in the White House, it was reported that President Trump said that he had to go because of inappropriate language he had used. I have heard of examples of the pot calling the kettle black but this really takes the biscuit. Trump sacking someone for inappropriate language. He's talking about pardoning himself. Maybe he needs to think about sacking himself.

Trump and his team cleverly pandered to an American religious extreme right wing coalition and managed to garner their votes. But he also picked up a wider Christian vote. In an opinion piece in The New York Times on August 2, Ross Douthat talks about a 'cheerfully pagan Trump' getting the religious vote. Douthat points out that as politics in the US has grown more polarised, the Catholic position has become 'more difficult and perplexing'.

Sometimes it might seem that the President says the first thing that comes into his head. But most likely he is far more thoughtful than we think. If you look at his team you will quickly realise they are right-wing. And he now has four army generals in his cabinet. One might be forgiven for thinking that the US has been taken over by an army coup. Trump's popularity is now on the floor. Yes, he still has a fanatical support base but that can't last too much longer. When the coal mines stay idle and the factories in the rust belt remain closed even his die-hard support will begin to wobble.

History tells us that going to war boosts the popularity of a leader. North Korean President Kim Jong-Un is proving to be the perfect bogey man for the Trump administration. While the shenanigans in the White House may make for fun television every evening, we are living in scary times. Trump has not shown any signs of being good at diplomacy, something that the world needs in spades in the current tension-filled atmosphere.

All the time Mother Russia and The Middle Kingdom (China) watch on. And what must Pope Francis think of the alignment between Trump and some of the US bishops?

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