Friday, September 25, 2015

DOH! The Pope Was NOT Speaking As A "Leftist" - But As A HUMAN!

Pope Francis arrives at the House to address congress yesterday morning.

"We on this continent do not fear foreigners because we were once foreigners too." - Pope Francis in his address to congress.

Leave it to the Neoliberal -leaning NY Times to come away with exactly the wrong message in its reporting of Pope Francis' address to congress, painting it as "tilting to the left". The author wrote:

He called for the mightiest nation in history on Thursday to break out of its cycle of polarization and paralysis to finally use its power to heal the “open wounds” of a planet torn by hatred, greed, poverty and pollution.

Taking a rostrum never before occupied by the bishop of Rome, the pontiff issued a vigorous call to action on issues largely favored by liberals, including a powerful defense of immigration, an endorsement of environmental legislation, a blistering condemnation of the arms trade and a plea to abolish the death penalty.

But the Pope's whole point was for the nation to escape polarized political perceptions, whereupon the NY Times columnist injects them! He portrays the Pope's positions as "one largely favored by liberals". Ok, let's get it straight - all those positions really fell under his invitation to adhere to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Is that a "liberal" line? Of course not! The Pope's whole emphasis reinforced that it was a HUMAN line of approach!

If the conservatives are not with the rest of us on those positions then the question to ask is: Why aren't they?  It means they are the outliers or aberrations of humanity. What's wrong with their brains, or perhaps, what's wrong with acceptance of the Golden Rule? (Ok, mayhap most conservos really go by "Do to others before they do to you!" Which would be in line with all the anti-human, hostility meme the Pope inveighed against.)  This is the thinking that promotes me-firstism, exceptionalism, wars, greed and inequality - as well as xenophobia and barring newcomers to one's land because they are somehow untrustworthy or  inferior..

Fortunately, not all conservatives have their heads up their behinds. For example. Wall Street Journal columnist William A. Galston ('The Refugees Test Obama's Moral Leadership', Sept. 23, p. A11) concedes the refugee crisis is a moral issue as well as a leadership  test. He puts the two together under "moral leadership".  In his article he compares Hungary's leader Viktor Orban to those fascists forming the Arrow Cross Party in WWII. He also adds: "America cannot stand by. Sins of commission during George W. Bush's presidency contributed to this crisis".  And "We cannot say this is Europe's problem alone. Nor can we make a token contribution and walk away."

He goes on to note that a group of national security, international humanitarian and human rights appointees from both Democratic and Republican administrations have urged Obama to support the admission of "at least 100,000 Syrian refugees on an expedited basis" and further argues "This should be the floor of the U.S. effort not the ceiling"

Most notably, Mr. Galston wants Obama to bring the matter up at the upcoming conference for world leaders at the UN next week. He pins it as a sign of moral leadership for the President - in contrast to the knuckle dragging, anti-humans that want to "bar the doors to ragheads" - some of whom even now are mocking the deaths of 717 Muslims near Mecca.

What does Mr. Galston know that xenophobic conservatives don't? Or does he have a higher IQ? Or perhaps, and this is my bet, he has a more developed moral conscience and is fully able to apply the Golden Rule (which he does noting in the article his own Jewish background on the eve of Yom Kippur.)

While the Pope didn't explicitly tell the congress how many Syrians and other Middle East refugees to take (maybe for fear too many Reepo heads would explode) he did leave no doubt it's a lot - citing the Golden Rule and also the fact this is nation built from immigrants. OK, they may not have been Middle Eastern in origin but they were immigrants and the Pope's message bade us to not pick "sides" and exalt one form of immigrant over the other, say by calling the new wave "ragheads". Indeed, his message was explicitly NOT to pass judgment on fellow humans of whatever origin given we are all in this together on one world. We either learn to live together or we perish together, it's that simple.

"Ragheads" itself is a disgusting, dehumanizing epithet  as bad as "gooks", which only appeals to the basest nativist instincts and which definitely is not consonant with the Golden Rule. It is more at home with nativist paranoia, hate and Islamophobia.

The Rule also applies to our treatment of those enmeshed in poverty at home. Thus,  Francis beseeched a nation that generates a disproportionate share of the world’s wealth to not let money drive its decisions at the expense of humanity. “Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one, the greatest common good,”

Also words for the Business Elites:  "While business is a noble vocation it must be an essential part of its service to the common good.” Uh, that's common good, not personal good.

Speaking of which, let's recall that the Golden Rule is not Christian in origin. It is, in fact, the fundamental tenet of Hammurabi’s Code  which recognizes a communitarian moral order. In effect, the Rule's authors believed if people rigorously followed this tenet there'd be little or no greed, theft, or even war. Why would a person want some hellish end for another that he doesn't want for himself?

The Pope's message was to get back to that wholly HUMAN frame of reference and exclude the artificial one based on personal aggrandizement, personal priority, material consumption and grabbing more than you need.

In like manner,  the Rule applies to immigration, and accepting the "stranger" from other lands yearning to breathe free. It says in effect, "If you were in the typical Syrian refugee's position, what would you want for yourself, for others?" Well, you'd want a safe, secure place such as you are seeking.

Those who refer to potential Syrian immigration as a "Trojan horse" are also operating under severe negative ideation and fear, which as the Pope noted yesterday  - will limit one's ability to reach out. It hampers one's generosity, reducing it to a survivalist meme that will countenance nothing for strangers who one dismisses as less than human. It is in reality an inducement to the Brutal Rule: Do to others before they can do to you..

But look, if this Rule dominated our history we'd never have become the nation we are today. NO way!. We'd be just like the nations from which the refugees are fleeing. Fear and hostility would rule and we'd not have become a union that transcended its individual, separate parts.

Those who want to ditch the "ragheads" or prevent allowing them to find refuge here, need to bear that in mind.

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