Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Pope Francis - a 'Feel Good' Choice for TIME Person of the Year
Two main contenders: Edward Snowden and Pope Francis. Snowden was runner up for Person of the Year, but ought to have taken it.
Well, the votes have come in and Pope Francis beat out Edward Snowden as TIME's 'Person of the Year'. While I love this Pope and his plucky statements, let's face it: he hasn't affected world events, governments to the extent that Snowden has by his revelations of NSA snooping worldwide. Those have shaken governments to their core, re-aligned relationships, created diplomatic turmoil in the highest reaches of power, and informed citizens across the globe that their freedom is essentially a myth. Based on lots of fulsome rhetoric - but when the state or states can spy on them at will (see previous post )grabbing emails, cell phone messages, etc. they are basically puppets.
Let us get it clear that the basis of the 'Person of the Year' award is not for the one "best loved" or even "most popular" or "most moral" - which is why TIME had no problem choosing Adolf Hitler once, to the consternation of most Americans. It is based on the Person who MOST AFFECTED global events for that year. Thus, it would have been a no-brainer to choose Edward Snowden.
Pope Francis, as loveable as he is, has simply not actually affected the world beyond the 1.1 billion Catholics. While he has chided the Vatican's fossils for their overweening attention to the "pelvic sins" (contraception, masturbation, abortion etc.) he has not actually changed any of the Church's doctrines in these areas or altered the Magisterium- based pronouncements or issued new encyclicals to redefine ethics.
Indeed, he comes nowhere near to the actual actions that had been planned by Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul 1, assassinated in September, 1978) who had intended to repeal the proscriptions against artificial birth control and also shake up the Vatican Bank, including ridding it of Paul Marcinkus. (See David Yallop's book, 'In God's Name').
So while on the religious ethics front Francis has delivered some terrific rhetoric, he hasn't really delivered in terms of actions.
He does merit credit for coming out strong against 'trickle down economics' and Neoliberal market capitalism, see e.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/11/bravo-to-pope-francis-for-warning-of.html
But even here, embedded Neoliberal Catholic columnists like Ross Douthat (of The New York Times) have written about Frances' remarks and exhortations can still be rendered compatible with Neoliberal market principles, e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-pope-and-the-right.html
it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise. But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.
Meanwhile, by taking actual ACTIONS - Snowden has upended the entire national security state and even opened the door to powerful legislation to curb the excesses of the NSA. He has also opened the world's eyes, including those of tech companies, citizen users, to just how insecure their communications are and how unstable the platforms and the 'cloud'. Never mind the Neoliberal Constitutional traitors regard Snowden as the traitor. This just shows how far removed they are from taking seriously their oaths to "protect and defend the Constitution."
In other words, TIME's choice of 'Person of the Year' amounted to a feel good choice that wouldn't upset too many other than a small coterie of hard-backed conservative Catholics. By contrast, if they'd selected Snowden they'd have had the whole constellation of Neoliberal politico assholes, puppets, media and zombies screaming at them and calling down perdition for TIME "honoring treason".
So, while one can understand the reason why TIME punked out and made the easy, non-controversial choice, one also understands it embodies the lack of courage that has dogged American journalism since Bernstein and Woodward helped expose Watergate.
In any case, Snowden was named as runner up but we all know - those of us with sense and perception - he ought to have been first.