by Greg Swann
To my shame, I actually do have an opinion about what Senate-Majority-Leader-to-be Trent Lott ought to do in his current predicament. My advice to Lott would be the same counsel I would give to Pope John Paul II, to Bernard Law, now the former Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Boston and to Thomas O'Brien, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. I would offer to all of them the same guidance, and all for the same reason.
My advice, for whatever it's worth:
The news we know, of course, is the same old blah, blah, blah: Lott has issued another non-apology apology for giving an encomium to an old segregationist, among whose numbers he is seemingly to be found. John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, has evidently played a greater role than was previously thought in the Roman Catholic priesthood's inability, first, to keep its hands off the young boys entrusted to it, and second, to do anything of consequence about this pattern of ephebophilic rape. Law has resigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston as a result of public reaction to his handling of the priestly boy-rape scandals. And here in sunny Phoenix, O'Brien is threatened with prosecution for his own management of the scandals.
Please understand that I do not endorse or uphold the beliefs or behavior of any of these men. Although I am very publicly an atheist, I am a nevertheless a Roman Catholic for non-theological reasons. I go to Mass every week. I have met Bishop Thomas on a number of occasions. He said the Chrism Mass for my son, who is a believing Catholic, and blessed a Crucifix of his afterward. Whatever he might have done in pursuit of Church policy, I know him to be a good and decent man, and I have no doubt that he would never intentionally act to another person's injury. I'm sure this is true of Law and the Pope as well. That's not the point, nor is Lott's purported racism, which I have no trouble believing at all. It is not difficult for me to criticize the core dogma of the Judeo-Christian faiths, and, taking account that Lott is a boss in a neo-fascist kleptocratic mafia, how he feels 'in his heart of hearts' about black people doesn't seem to me to be very important.
But that's not the point, either.
The point is that Trent Lott answers to the voters of the State of Mississippi, as a senator, and to the other Republican senators, as their majority leader. He does not answer to the blow-dried idiots of the television news programs, nor to the self-inflated overblown pundidiots of the blowflysphere, nor to Jesse Jackson or Maxine Waters or Al Gore or any other race pirate who can get on TV by saying something vicious. He does not answer to the public at large, nor to black America at large, nor to the media at large. Nor to the New York Times. Nor to Andrew Sullivan, self-appointed Pope of the Blowflies, Vicar of the Festering Pig in Cyberspace. Nor to George W. Bush, President of the United States. Lott does not answer to any of the people shrieking for his head on a platter, and his answer to all of them should be a single silent and dignified act:
To hang tough.
Whatever faults I might find with the Church, Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic, it is what it is. One of the things I admire about it, one of the things that keeps me coming back to Mass every week, is that the Church endures. Fashions come and go. Philosophies come and go. Governments come and go. But the Church endures, virtually unchanged after two millennia. Sicut erat in principia, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. I think Pat Buchanan is right that Vatican II has been an unrelieved disaster for the Church, precisely because that which is put forward as Eternal Truth cannot change. It does not matter how many sheep are in the flock, to use the Church's own pastoral language. What matters is the uncompromising moral authority of the shepherds.
This is what the Church sacrificed with Vatican II, and this is what it sacrifices when it encourages, or at least permits, the resignation of Bernard Law. Bishop Thomas and Cardinal Law answer to the Pope, not to their parishioners, not to the parish priests, not to the public or the press, not to angry prosecutors with headline fever. And the Pope, says the doctrine, answers only to God. If prosecutors can find the leaders of the Church guilty of crimes, then, by all means, prosecute them: Let them answer to the law, not to the howling mob. But the Church should never collapse in fear of the social pressure of public disapproval. Here, for once, is an appropriate place to ask the question posed by a million trivializing trinkets: What would Jesus do?
Trent Lott is wrong--in my opinion. Wrong to have praised the 1948 segregationist presidential campaign of retiring-Senator Strom Thurmond. Wrong to be a racist, in his 'heart of hearts,' if he is. And wrong first, last and always to oversee a machine that exists to confiscate and destroy the values of innocent Amercians--black Americans first, it should be noted.
The Roman Catholic Church is wrong--in my opinion. Wrong in its doctrine. Wrong to have diluted that doctrine in pursuit of popularity with Vatican II. Wrong to have overlooked and covered-up homosexual ephebophilia among its priests. And wrong now to bow to public, press and prosecutorial pressure.
But if Lott and the Church are wrong, the forces arrayed against them are still more wrong. Whether those forces are led by the fancily blow-dried or the fanciful blowflies, this is mob rule at its worst--howling, shrieking, screaming bloodlust and nothing else. This is not reasoned discourse among people with a right to have their opinions heard--voters or senators or jurors. This is simply a call to sacrifice by savages, a public display of barbarism. Whatever their wrongs, Lott and the Pope and the Cardinal and the Bishop have rights, and civilized people settle their disputes in a condition of civility. I have not cited The Lord of the Flies on my weblog by accident. What the shrieking mobs seek is not a civilized resolution but instead a cathartic release from the awful burden of rationality by means of the pantomime of blood sacrifice.
To put things very mildly: This sort of behavior should not be encouraged.
In all honesty, I fully expect Trent Lott to cave. He would not be a politician if he were not first a coward. He's just waiting for the worst possible moment to flee from his principles, assuming he has any. The Church will endure, if not with this Pope then with the next one. And the shrieking mobs who sometimes pretend to be civilized, who sometimes affect to be rational, will not be cured of their savagery by these episodes. More is the pity.
But the principle stands, and to be rational, I think, is to be much more interested in principles than in people. It is when people waver that the principles that could buttress them grow stronger. It is when people stray that the principles that should guide them prove themselves straight and true. When you believe yourself to be right, to be fully rational you must press on regardless, though the shrieks of outraged savages come in gales. Whatever the Church happens to do right now, what did Jesus do? Whatever Lott does, whatever the next candidate for blood sacrifice chooses to do, what did Socrates do?
What should rational people do, to answer savagery?