Sneak preview of the forthcoming book I Am Worthier Than You: Racism in the United States and its Multidimensional Effects by Marcelle Bartolo-Abela:
(A section from Chapter 2):
2017 – Blood and Soil! Never Again!
The Charlottesville Rally
On August 12, 2017, a Unite the Right rally led by a White nationalist, Jason Kessler, took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the aim of protesting the town council’s suggested removal of the statue of Robert Edward Lee from Emancipation Park, after the council had been pressured for a long time to do so by non-White residents (Fausset & Feuer, 2017; Montgomery, 2017). Lee had been a general of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, with which he invaded the North and won various battles against the Union with tactical brilliance, until his defeat in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg and his surrender two years later to Ulysses S. Grant (A&E History Network, 2017). Lee has been portrayed as a legendary figure in American history and is revered by the American South as a heroic symbol of their ‘Lost Cause,’ a revisionist narrative of the Civil War (Contreras, 2017). Historic documents have, in fact, shown that Lee was a known racist and “cruel figure with his slaves [who] encouraged his overseers to severely beat slaves captured after trying to escape” (ibid.). Given the above context, the Unite the Right rally soon escalated and turned violent, leading the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, to declare it unlawful at the request of the Virginia State Police (BBC, 2017; Ford, 2017; Katz, 2017). He also proclaimed a state of emergency.
Unite the Right clashed repeatedly in downtown Charlottesville with a broader-spectrum group of anti-racism counterprotesters who descended into the streets to challenge the former’s ideology. Unite the Right consisted of groups of hundreds of White nationalists and White supremacists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis, ‘patriot’ militias and supporters wearing paramilitary protective gear and armed with guns, semi-automatic weapons, clubs, rods, three-foot wide wooden shields, and pepper spray among several other items. They sported Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats, Confederate flags and swastikas, and carried both Trump/Pence signs and various banners with anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic screeds. ‘Hitler salutes’ were reported to be frequent (Lithwick, 2017). Among the identifiable Unite the Right groups were Identity Evropa, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, Proud Boys, the Traditional Workers’ Party, the Three Percenters, and Vanguard America (Cicero, 2017; Montgomery, 2017). Continue reading “SNEAK PREVIEW: ‘I Am Worthier Than You’”
“This is a very fair book. It reminds us that being Catholic is being neither right nor left. One of the great joys of belonging to this Church is that our outlook is always universal: that is what being Catholic is.
“In the past, there seems to have been a widespread assumption that a Catholic in the US will vote for a Democratic candidate. Rather like Catholics in the UK who generally voted Labour. So when these parties became virulently “pro-choice”, Catholics, even those who took their faith seriously, continued to vote for these parties. But ought Catholics identify themselves with the Right as an alternative?” Continue reading here.
The Revised Edition of the book Who Are You? What is Your Faith? America’s 21st Century Alt-Right and Catholic Social Doctrine has now been released. It is available in paperback and ebook editions from the usual outlets.
Regarding the book Who Are You? What is Your Faith?
“Progress in our nation happens when everyday Americans get involved and come together to chart our country’s course. It’s that uniquely American character—enhanced by a rich diversity of beliefs and a deep reservoir of ideas—that has always propelled us forward. As long as citizens of every party, every background, and every walk of life continue speaking out on the issues that matter to them and working toward the future we know is possible, our best days will always lie ahead . . . You have my very best” – Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States. Dated October 5, 2017.
Houston, we’ve had a problem (James A. Lovell).
Ask and you shall receive (Mt 7:7).
On April 11, 1970, the seventh manned mission in the US space program, Apollo 13, was launched from the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 2016). The astronauts on board the mission were James A. Lovell, jr., Commander; Fred W. Haise, jr., pilot of the lunar module, Aquarius; and John L. Swigert, jr., pilot of the command module, Odyssey (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], 2009). The mission was intended to be the third lunar landing attempt and Apollo 13 was set to land in the Frau Mora highlands of the moon (US Congress, 2010). But the unexpected took place.
Two days into the mission, which had been characterized by uneventfulness and being “bored to tears” (NASA, 2009) as reported by the capsule communicator, John Kerwin, the second oxygen tank on board the service module exploded after it had been stirred as part of routine maintenance procedures. The explosion resulted in the failure of the first oxygen tank. The mission of Apollo 13 became crippled.
Critical supplies of electricity, light, and water were lost aboard the spaceship. The oxygen supply started being vented out into space in an uncontrollable manner at a high rate per second and the fuel cells started to die. The entire Sector Four panel of the service module had been blasted away by the explosion and wreckage was hanging out. Aquarius became a ‘lifeboat’ for the crew, despite having been designed to hold no more than two men for just two days (The New York Times, 1970). The astronauts were 200,000 miles away from the earth. Continue reading “Chapter 10: The return”
Does Protecting the Nation Serve America?
The bow was wedged in and could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the pounding . . . Once we reached safety, we learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary hospitality; they lit a fire and welcomed all of us because it had begun to rain and was cold (Saint Paul).
The Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation and its revised version, Executive Order 13780 with the same title, were enacted by President Trump and his administration to ostensibly protect the American people from terrorism (Salama & Caldwell, 2017) “because you don’t know who’s who . . . We can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States” (Jarrett, 2017). According to the President, “hundreds of refugees are under federal investigation for terrorism and related reasons . . . We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people” (Trump, 2017g). Prima facie, the intent behind these two Orders seems good – but is it?
At this time of writing, at the level of law, six courts (and counting) have struck down the two Executive Orders as violating both the letter and the spirit of the US Constitution. Some courts have found that there is no probable cause for the Orders in terms of specific evidence and that taken in the context of their construction, they represent nothing more than codified religious animosity toward a different people and a group of territories.
At the level of Christianity and the moral law, President Trump has been known more than once to pray with evangelical leaders, even in public, and it has been reported that he has a longtime spiritual advisor, the megachurch pastor and televangelist Paula White (Timm, 2017). The President has admitted that “we all are made by the same God” (Trump, 2017g). But this public declaration as well as the no-less-equal and public manifestations of faith, taken in context of the design, construction, rollout, and implementation of Executive Order 13769 as shown in the first chapter and Executive Order 13780, beg the question: Are we really all made by the same God? Continue reading “Chapter 9: Does “Protecting the Nation” serve America?”
The new law of love embraces the entire human family and knows no limits, since the proclamation of the salvation wrought by Christ extends to the ends of the earth (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace).
The human person was proclaimed by God the Creator in Sacred Scripture as having been “made in our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1:26; cf 5:1-3; 9:6), so that s/he could live in communion with God the Holy Trinity and one another, while progressing on the path of deification (Saint Irenaeus, Adv. Haer.) and becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4; Pope Paul VI, 1965a; Saint Athanasius, De Inc.; Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol.). The human person is considered to be “the only creature on earth which God willed for itself” (Pope Paul VI, 1965a) and who was given the divine commission to:
“Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food” (Gn 1:28-30).
The human person is thus “not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God’s creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom He has always loved” (Pope Benedict XVI, 2009a). S/he has been granted a dignity and rights that are inviolable by any system in and of the world, because “his sovereignty within the cosmos, his capacity for social existence, and his knowledge and love of the Creator – all are rooted in man’s being made in the image of God” (International Theological Commission, 2004).
The Dignity of the Human Person
Constitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations (Pope Paul VI).
The inherent dignity of the human person has been described by Saint John Paul II (1988) as “manifested in all its radiance when the person’s origin and destiny are considered, created by God in His image and likeness as well as redeemed by the most precious Blood of Christ.” The Spirit had testified to this in the Old Testament through the psalmist who said, “You are gods, offspring of the Most High, all of you” (Ps 82:6) and “You have made man little less than the angels, you have crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps 8:6). Jesus Christ witnessed to this in the New Testament with the words, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods?”’ (Jn 10:34). God, therefore,
“Who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood. For having been created in the image of God, Who ‘from one man has created the whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth’ (Acts 17:26). For this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment . . . [and] love of God cannot be separated from love of neighbor . . . because all men are called to one and the same goal, namely God Himself (Pope Paul VI, 1965a).”
In consequence, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offense against the Creator of the individual” (Saint John Paul II, 1988). The saint continued,
“In virtue of a personal dignity, the human being is always a value as an individual, and as such demands being considered and treated as a person and never, on the contrary, considered and treated as an object to be used or as a means or as a thing.
“The dignity of the person constitutes the foundation of the equality of all people among themselves . . . All forms of discrimination are totally unacceptable especially those forms which unfortunately continue to divide and degrade the human family: from those based on race or economics to those social and cultural, from political to geographic. Each discrimination constitutes an absolutely intolerable injustice, not so much for the tensions and the conflicts that can be generated in the social sphere, as much as for the dishonor inflicted on the dignity of the person: not only to the dignity of the individual who is the victim of the injustice, but still more to the one who commits the injustice” (ibid.). Continue reading “Chapter 8: Human persons in Christianity and Catholic Social Doctrine”