What can we learn from the American left’s apoplectic reaction to Pope Francis' meeting Kim Davis?
Perhaps nothing; the reaction is entirely predictable. By turns disillusioned, gasping in disbelief, screaming “I TOLD you so!”--the left progressive crowd is now more or less united in writing off Francis as a loser and a bigot and not someone any respectable person could support.
As for those few liberals who still remain sympathetic to Francis--“even after he met with her”--Charles P. Pierce kind of summed up their tone in Esquire:
This is, obviously, the dumbest thing this Pope ever has done. It undermines everything he accomplished on his visit here. It undermines his pastoral message, and it diminishes his stature by involving him in a petty American political dispute.
Pierce more or less sees the meeting with Davis as the end of the Pope’s honeymoon with liberal America. Note his particularly obtuse suggestion that it is all so sad--because the Davis case, after all, is just “a petty American political dispute.”
There’s the rub right there, the crux of liberals odd misreading of Francis. The assumption that gay marriage is “just, like, so obvious”; that of course a man as progressive as Francis must see this; that any foolish individual, such as Davis, who’d risk legal repercussions for refusing to go along with the agenda is just being “petty”.
I myself don’t think Davis has conducted her conscientious objection very wisely. But I do think she counts as a conscientious objector. And from the Pope’s words during his visit it’s pretty clear (pace Pierce) he doesn’t consider struggles over religious liberty, or individuals with the guts to wage them, at all “petty”. In any case, I don't think the Davis meeting was or is important on the Pope's visit agenda. It is one short encounter among many.
After the news hit, I stopped by at the “progressive left” DailyKos community to see which way the wind was blowing. As if I didn’t know. It was the usual righteous fury one sees in that crowd whenever anyone disagrees with one of the Holy Gender Tenets.
The meeting with Davis proved that Francis is obviously, as one person put it, “just another misguided, anti-gay bigot who pretends to be loving and compassionate”. Another instructed as follows: “Add poison to an otherwise nutritious soup, and all of it is poisoned.” A third waxed poetic: “All I can say now is, hypocrisy, thy name is Francis!” Etc., etc., on it went.
Yes, there were some mentions of the good that Francis had done on climate change, but in general the mood was: Bigot. Hypocrite. Fool. Fake.
Francis’ radicalism on so many issues supposedly so dear to the left would no longer influence the Kos majority. If you don’t worship LGBT people’s every demand, you don’t get a pass with this crowd.
I commented as follows:
Listen to you all. “I’ve no more use for this Pope." "This Pope is slimy." Etc., etc.
At present Pope Francis is probably the world's most consequent voice calling for serious action on global warming. He's a trenchant critic of unfettered capitalism and outspoken supporter of the dignity of workers and of unions--to the point that he sets the Fox crowd and the Limbaughs into shivers of rage.
But the fact that his thinking (as is very likely the case) doesn't line up with yours on same-sex marriage means you've all suddenly "no use" for his stance or voice.
"No use" for Francis' stance on climate change? For his stance on free-market madness? For his stance on militarism?
Again you show that sad old trait of yours. Any figure who doesn't check all the same boxes you've come to check in your own historically specific cultural setting, any person who doesn't see eye to eye with American progressive liberals on EVERYTHING, especially those things related to sex or gender, is necessarily "slimy" or of "no use".
What kind of mature politics is that? It is cultural imperialism is what it is.
You think the Pope is being hypocritical?
The Pope's remark "Who am I to judge?" came at the end of the following statement spoken of a gay or lesbian person: "If someone is trying to live a holy life and seeking God, who am I to judge him?"
Why would progressives assume that the whole first part of that sentence was irrelevant to the Pope's meaning and why would they read into the last five words something like: "Though I'm the leader of the Catholic Church, I'm utterly against its teachings on sexual ethics."
It is very likely Pope Francis does not consider same-sex marriage to be marriage. It is very likely that when he refers to "attacks on the family", he is thinking in part of things like the Obergefell decision. (For the record, during his tenure in Argentina he did express support for something like civil unions for non-heterosexual couples. Which makes him more liberal than most in his church.)
So assuming that Francis does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, and recognizing the importance of religious liberty and the right of conscientious objection in his vision (how many of you, by the way, believe in conscientious objection? or perhaps you only believe in it when the objector agrees with you on all sex/gender/marriage-related issues?)--assuming this, why would it be hypocrisy on his part to meet with Kim Davis? Has she advocated jailing gays and lesbians? Has she picketed funerals with "God Hates Fags" signs? No, she has taken the one step of refusing to allow her name on licenses for same-sex marriages. As a purely negative action, a refusal to act, it's actually a pretty classic conscientious objection stance: "I won't bow to or sign my name to or perform such-and-such an action required by," etc., etc.
So I would think, in Francis' book, Davis' case would count as a valid instance conscientious objection. How not?
Yes, I also have some doubts that the story is legit. But if Francis did in fact meet with her, it wouldn't shock me--as it seems to have shocked so many of you. Is it because so many of you can't imagine there exist people who might agree with you on A, B, and C, but not on D? Is it because that's just too much of a stretch for your "progressive left" cultural imagination?
As myself a Catholic on the left, I admire Francis all the more for the way he screws up the expectations of both the American left and right. And it isn't any wonder. American left and right are both growing to be about equally bigoted and deranged.
I knew I’d mostly be attacked for this comment, and I was. After all: Who was I, “a Catholic”, to be calling anyone a bigot? How “ironic”. Etc.
But what does all this reveal about the current American left? I’d have to put it bluntly: They’re not so much left-wing in any traditional sense as they are obsessed with sexual identity politics. In my comment I mention the need to check “all” the boxes they do, A to Z. But of the boxes one must check to be heard in this crowd, worshiping the LGBT movement is now by the far the most important. How has it come to this?
A pathological Gay Fundamentalism has taken over the American left. And of course, since we’re dealing here with a fundamentalism, it is no longer by any means enough to respect LGBT people or defend their rights. No, one must agree with their every demand. One must of course, first of all, acknowledge that gay marriage is an obvious right, true from all eternity; that gay couples can raise children just as well as heterosexual couples. But in addition to this, one must also express delight at LGBT people’s vanguard role in all the central social arenas. Because, don’t you know, it is LGBT people who are leading the charge to right our education system (from Kindergarten up), our public mores, our very ideas of sex and gender. For who is it if not gays and lesbians who’ve taught us that great and fundamental truth of human being, namely: Male and female sexuality have no inherent relation to male and female bodies. Indeed, everyone can--and should!--bend any such supposed relations as much out of shape as possible. For only then will the “ideology” that made them be broken! Only then will one be free to be oneself! Which is . . . whatever one demands oneself to be.
Disagree with these fundamental truths and you are a “bigot”. And in this crowd, a bigot is the worst thing you can be. (Rod Dreher, who recognizes that what these authoritarians are forcing on us is an actual shift in metaphysics, has been particularly good at reading the fallout of this shift.)
On the left myself in many things, I cry bullshit to all of this. With each passing year I’m ever more sickened by this cultural demagoguery. That these Gay Fundamentalists need to be hounded back to the margins where they belong is more obvious with each passing season. They must be stopped, but with the youth almost entirely under their sway, and with the remaining sane people cowed into keeping their mouths shut, how might this be done?
The basic truths here are clear. But is anything accomplished any more by simply stating basic truths in a culture that’s given up on the very idea that the universe and humanity have truth?
One finally has the exasperated feeling one might get trying to explain to an especially dumb geometry class that they can’t draw four-sided triangles, even if they want to.
And so, yes: Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. That exceptions exist does not mean this paradigm is wrong; it merely means these exceptions aren’t part of the norm to which the vast majority fits.
A just society gives space to and doesn’t persecute the exceptions. A sick society fetishizes the exceptions and uses them to destroy the norm. A sick society lets the exceptions remake the whole culture in their own image.
This is what is happening in our society now; our media, our mores, our education system. Gay pride has morphed into gay arrogance. The media and fashion industry cheer in perverse glee at the newness of it, if only because “newness” is the very definition of media and fashion. The public, lacking any deeper education, doesn’t want to feel left behind.
Thus a Gay Fundamentalism is given carte blanche to impose its agenda on our schools, our universities, all central institutions. Anyone who dares risk opposing this agenda will be fined, run out of business, jailed. The gay commissars know what is right, they are watching, and woe to you if you do not bow to their wisdom.
We must have the courage to call out this new fundamentalism. With a vengeful animus, it will not stop until it has ferreted out every pocket of dissent. And so: We must dissent loudly, and work together. We can start by calling the movement what it is--a form of fundamentalism--and by making the label stick.