Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fr. Larry on Manliness

Fr. Larry Richards

Crux just published a puff piece on Fr. Larry Richards ("Fr. Larry", as he is often known), the celebrity priest and author of Be a Man! who was just exposed as falsely claiming that Church Militant had made death threats against him:

Abuse survivor priest tackles ‘crisis of masculinity’ in the Church

The piece is notable for two things:

First, in a 1,500 word article, it doesn't mention that Richards was recently forced to issue a quasi-apology for his Jussie Smollett thing against Church Militant.

The post does mention that Richards "recently went under fire by the conservate [sic] group 'Church Militant' for saying that LGBT inclusion advocate and Jesuit Father James Martin “'is a good priest seeking God’s will'...”

It does cite Richards's admonishment of Church Militant and others for practicing demonization
We have to stop demonizing people who don’t agree with us,” he said, adding that division within the Catholic Church makes it harder to face the challenges that its [sic] faced with today.
It doesn't mention that even before the false death threat accusations, Richards frequently accused Church Militant and other Catholic organizations and sites as being "of the devil."

But what does one expect? It's Crux.

Second, the article cites Fr. Richards' views of what it is (or should) be to be a man and to be a male priest.
In Richards’s view, manhood today is less about self-aggrandizing concepts of power, dominance and machismo and more about being capable of laying down one’s life for others and offering an example “of the love of the Father.”
Richards believes men shouldn't be afraid to use the words, "I love you." Men should not be afraid to cry. Manliness means putting the needs of others before one's own.

For Richards, men should be holy and priests should be deep men of prayer. He adds, however:
"We need seminarians that are real. Not hiding behind any kind of piousness. Because when someone is too pious that scares me. I wanna run. It seems like they are hiding something,” Richards said. “Be real! Christ was real!”
Crux helpfully adds that this is "reminiscent of Francis’s often heard refrain of priests needing to have 'the smell of the sheep' on them."

According to Crux, Richards also believes that accountability and transparency are also manly virtues.

Of course, much of this is in and of itself unobjectionable. But it's hard to see which of the above virtues are specifically manly per se. Shouldn't women also love others and be holy, etc.? (Though one hopes they might avoid the smell of the sheep.)

Without being unfair, it almost sounds like for Richards, being a man, or perhaps, being a man today, for the most part means not doing the things that some believe are stereotypically male, like keeping one's feelings to one's self, getting into fist fights, cutting short the family prayer so one can put the storm windows up, etc.

Stereotypical manliness is not manly.

Again, fair enough. But what does this have to do with mountain climbing?

We should mention Fr. Richards's comments about his own abuse:
As a priest and having experienced clerical sexual abuse at the hands of the rector of his seminary nearly 40 years ago, Richards has a unique insight into the abuse scandals that have been hitting every level of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. 
Casting the darkness aside, he has come to realize that “the greatest thing that’s happened to us is the scandal.” 
“In my day, when I was molested, I couldn’t tell anybody anything. It wasn’t even an option,” Richards said, but today he believes that the exposure and awareness of the issue within the Church is forcing seminarians to go through a much harder vetting process leading him to say that “there isn’t a safer place in the world right now than the Catholic Church.”
...“I am not a victim. I am not a survivor. I am a warrior. Because I will not let what someone else did to me affect my life,” he said. 
“Today we gotta make sure to teach young men coming into the seminary that you have to be real. If someone above you or among you is doing anything wrong you must say something and you must bring the light of Christ to it,” he said.
When Fr. Richards, at the age of at least 19, was allegedly abused in seminary, he failed to tell anyone, even though his abuser (the rector) presumably was abusing and would continue to abuse other seminarians. I wouldn't fault him for this except for his claim that it's important for men to be real and say something. Presumably this aspect of manliness is independent of the current state of organizational "awareness," and one assumes that for a man, doing something (I prefer that more general formulation to saying something), especially if it concerns preventing serious harm to innocents, is always an option. But no matter, he's now a warrior.   

Given his arguably gender-neutral views on manliness, it's perhaps not surprising that he holds to the Francis party line on the priestly abuse crisis:
Unlike some who point to homosexuality as the root of the problem in the priesthood, Richards doesn’t buy that explanation and has identified a “lack of holiness” as the primary cause.
In a previous post I said that in his ubiquitous recorded homilies and video presentations, Richards comes off as having a distinctively unmanly manner - sort of a cross between Jim Bakker and a parody of Mr. Rogers. Listen for yourself if you don't believe me. Again, I'm not saying that's his fault. Indeed, if that were my lot, I'd probably be a sort of revisionist on manliness, myself.

But let me serious for a moment. The problem with Fr. Richards types is that in their opposition to stereotypical manliness they have erected, as it were, a straw man. It's similar to modern churchmen implying that the historical Catholic Church (before they came along) was not merciful.

But we've always known that the stereotype of manliness has always been just that, a stereotype.

Instead of or as a supplement to Be a Man! watch a good western.

Manliness means doing what's right, whether it's popular or not, and being willing to lay down one's life for others.

Manliness means meekness (in the original and positive sense), taking wrongs and insults in stride and fighting only when necessary or as a last resort.

Real men aren't afraid to say they're scared.

And, of course, real men pray. 

We Were Soldiers (In many ways, it's a modern western. Admittedly, the end of this prayer is a bit unconventional.)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Christchurch Mosque Linked to Two al-Qaida Members Killed in Drone Strike

The Al-Noor Mosque in 2014

Below is a full reprint of one of a number of articles from 2014 linking the Al-Noor mosque in greater Christchurch, New Zealand - the main target of the recent anti-Islam terror attack that killed at least fifty - with organized Islamist terrorism.

In news stories of the recent terrorist attack, the Al-Noor mosque is listed as located in the suburb of Riccarton. But in some of the 2014 articles it is described as being in the suburb of Addington, just south. However, it is clearly the same mosque.   

New Zealander Daryl Jones and Australian Christopher Havard were converts to Islam who, according to their parents and others, met at and were radicalized at the Al-Noor mosque. They would subsequently travel to the Middle East where they joined al-Qaida, with Havard allegedly becoming involved in the kidnapping of Westerners. Later, they would both be killed in Yemen in a U.S. launched drone strike on November 19, 2013.

Here is an excerpt from another 2014 article in Stuff.cp.nz
Mosque leaders confirmed Havard stayed there and studied in 2011, but denied radical teaching took place. But a man who attended a converts' weekend at the mosque 10 years ago said a visiting speaker from Indonesia talked about violent jihad and plenty [?] shared his views. "Most of the men were angry with the moral weakness of New Zealand. I would say they were radical."
Of course none of this justifies the calculated mass murder of innocent children, women and men - many of them coldly and sadistically shot and shot again while attempting to flee, hide, protect loved ones and so on.

The full horror of what occurred on Friday is currently being censored by the New Zealand government and the American tech-media oligopoly. But one can well imagine it.

(You can read stories on the Christchurch mosque attack at the Newshub site, based in Auckland - the same media source from which the 2014 story, below, was taken.)

But the massacre, by a self-described "Eco-Fascist" or white pagan nationalist, should also not be allowed to bury the facts of what actually happens at mosques like Al-Noor.

From Newshub, 6 April, 2014:
A Christchurch mosque has been linked to the drone killing of New Zealand al-Qaida suspect Daryl Jones. 
The parents of an Australian killed alongside Jones say their son was taught radical Islam in Christchurch, where he also met Mr Jones. 
Christopher Havard was killed alongside Mr Jones by a US drone in Yemen last year. 
His parents, Neill and Bronwyn Dowrick, say their son told them he was first taught radical Islam at the Al Noor mosque in Addington. 
Mr Havard moved from Australia to New Zealand in 2010. He's remembered at the mosque by the name of Saleem Khattab. 
"[He was] no different than other people," says mosque president Mohamed Jama. "He was a normal man." 
Mr Havard's parents say it's at the mosque he met fellow convert Mr Jones, who was known at Muslim Bin John. 
But the mosque can't remember Mr Jones, and denies teaching radical Islam. 
It seems Kiwi spies may have had the mosque under surveillance. 
"I'm not going to go into the individual entities or the operations that the SIS or the GCSB conducted," says Prime Minister John Key. 
Australian Federal Police (AFP) began an investigation into Mr Havard's possible involvement in an alleged al-Qaida kidnapping of three westerners in Yemen. 
Documents show, "Mr Havard and Mr Nin John were of long-standing interest to the AFP due to their assessed activities in Yemen liked to al-Qaida". 
All that's known of Mr Jones is that he was 31 years old, a joint New Zealand-Australian citizen, and his family are still here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Bizarre Jim Bakker/Mr. Rogers Priest Fr. Larry Richards Does a Jussie Smollett Against Church Militant Then Tries to Weasel Out

Fr. Larry Richards, from his website

I like Mr. Rogers. But when I say "Mr Rogers priest", I think you know what I mean.

Celebrity priest Fr. Larry Richards ("Fr. Larry"), founder and head of the The Reason for Our Hope Foundation, looks and sounds like a slightly more plump combination of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker and Mr. Rogers.

In his podcast homilies and YouTube videos he often goes into a sort of shriek/whine denouncing "ang-guuur" and "hate-tred"  

Weirdly, he may be most well-known for his "Be a Man!" book and DVD set.

Speaking of weird. Why are our priests like this? I mean, even though he comes off as a bit girlish, for all I know he's straight as an arrow. And as far as I can tell, he's orthodox, at least by the standards of 2019. Yet why is he like this?

Now, maybe he can't help the way he looks and sounds. But here's the thing:

Real men don't make up hoax stories against their perceived enemies just to get sympathy or make a point.

Mr. Rogers wouldn't do that.

Not only did Fr. Larry do a Jussie Smollett against Church Militant, but when called out on it, he tried to weasel out.

Here's what Richards said in a January lecture to the Legatus Summit.
You know, a couple months ago I said something about Church Militant and they threatened to kill me. Literally. I got death threats from a good Catholic organization that wants me dead in God's name.

When Michael Voris and Christina Niles of Church Militant were alerted to this, as part of a story by Dorothy Cummings McLean of LifeSite News, published yesterday, they not unexpectedly strongly denied it.

Voris held out the possibility of legal action while stating that the celebrity priest appears to be "suffering from some condition" or "suffering from some disorder."

Late last night, Fr. Richards responded, as is often done these days, with a tweet:
I was wrong in what I said about Church Militant - it was NO ONE in their LEADERSHIP who threatened me - it was one of their FOLLOWERS who called me on the phone and threatened me. I should have made that clear. We need to stop demonizing each other, I will stop first. Peace

I understand that it's difficult for people, especially quasi-famous people with a following, to explicitly admit to telling a whopping lie. But still.

"I should have been more clear."

He was clear - "I got death threats from a good Catholic organization that wants me dead in God's name" - that's the problem.

And, of course, I'd love to hear the recording of that death threat. The one where someone threatened to kill him. Literally. One would save that, right? Though there is no indication that he ever notified the police. Perhaps he didn't want to give in to fear.

Richards has been quite clear on other occasions about what he thinks of Church Militant and two other Catholic sites (from a homily on 9 September, 2018):
First of all, we cannot stoke the fear, right? And we stoke the fear by listening to things that just keeps piling on that fear. Like again, I've told people before, three websites you should not be paying attention to any of these websites right now, is LifeSite - it's not of God, it's filled with anger, it's filled with hate and it's filled with mistrust [I mean] mistruth. Church Militant - you should not be watching that. It's filled with anger, hatred. This is not of God. OnePeterFive. These are three websites that a lot of Catholics are going to now, and that's where they're getting their information. And what this information is doing is causing you more fear, more anger, more hatred. That is not of God.
LifeSite News broke the hoax story. I guess they're not completely filled with mistruth.

In his career, Fr. Richards has steered a sort of middle course, working with orthodox or "conservative" publishers and media such as Ignatius Press and EWTN, while at the same time defending the likes of Fr. James Martin against the stokers (I guess) of anger, fear and hatred.

That he was chosen to host the Legatus Summit was apparently somewhat controversial among its members.

His Jim Bakkeresque quasi-apology seems to be going down okay with his Twitter followers - "Its great to see FrRichards keeping it classy!!" said one, who also admitted to listening to Church Militant.

Well, I jumped around for a few minutes on his homilies and videos and I have to say I see no reason to spend any more time with Fr. Larry. I think I already get the message about the anger and fear thing. And to the extent that I sometimes need a bit of help being a man, there are other sources.

But when Fr. Larry claims that Mahound's Paradise dumped bleach on him in the rectory, then I'll know I've made it.

Monday, March 11, 2019

"NOTICE: I will not commit suicide. I won’t be bought off or drown in a bath tub, nor will I shoot myself in the head. So, if that happens: IT WASN'T ME. Save this tweet."

As many of you know, Natacha Jaitt's lifeless body was discovered two weeks ago. The autopsy found that she had died of drug-induced organ failure, though who administered the drugs - whether it was Jaitt herself or someone else  - has not been established.

Her lawyer believes she was murdered.

Jaitt had been an adult model (featured in Playboy, among other media), actress and escort, and more recently reality TV star and radio and television host in Spain and Argentina.

She was also a mother who left behind a son and daughter.

And of course she was also an alleged whistleblower, who claimed that Gustavo Vera, the well-known head of an anti-child trafficking organization, based in Argentina, had himself led or been part of a child trafficking operation.

Vera is a long-time close friend of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. According to Ann Barnhardt, who gathered information from Argentinian sources and media, Vera had frequently traveled back and forth between Buenos Aires and the Vatican until (according to the sources) Vera and Francis had some sort of a falling-out last year.

Francis and Gustavo Vera at Casa Santa Marta
Though Vera did return to the Vatican four days ago as a featured speaker at a Vatican conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Jaitt had also publicly alleged that many other high-profile personalities had been involved in or had knowledge of Vera's alleged child prostitution ring.

One of those explicitly named by Jaitt was Bergoglio.

Vera had sued Jaitt for defamation, and initial depositions in the case were about to be taken when her body was found.

Since her death, there have been a number of notable developments. Among them, her business associate who had driven her to the location of her death was arrested for lying to investigators and attempting to lift Jaitt's cellphone from the scene.

Ann Barnhardt was perhaps the only English commenter to have tracked this story before Jaitt's death, though it had been a pretty big deal in the Buenos Aires media.

You can read one of her earlier stories here and there are more links here.

Complicit Clergy summarized in a video, things as they stood one day after Jaitt's death. 

And just yesterday, Miss Barnhardt went over the most recent developments for her regular podcast, here.

There is no question that Jaitt was a controversial character, to say the least. As stated, she had herself been involved in prostitution and had at one point been accused of blackmail and extortion. The Argentinian media has been on all-sides on this one, alleging criminal behavior and conspiracies by Jaitt as well as against Jaitt. And a connection with the murder of Alberto Nisman, the crusading Argentinian lawyer who was killed on the eve of presenting his findings on the involvement of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, has been alleged. Jaitt herself made the claim in a tweet made two weeks before her own death.

Natacha's Jaitt's verified Twitter account is, perhaps surprisingly, still up. Its last entry is stamped February 22, 2019. But on April 5th of 2018 she made her prophetic warning:
NOTICE: I will not commit suicide. I won't be bought off or drown in a bath tub, nor will I shoot myself in the head. So, if that happens, IT WASN'T ME. Save this tweet.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fantastic Interview! Bishop Thomas Daly, Cupich's Successor in Spokane, is the Anti-Cupich: "'Can't we all just get along?' No, we can't just get along."

Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly

When then Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane was appointed Archbishop of Chicago in 2014, reputedly on the recommendation of now disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it wasn't all bad.

It wasn't bad for Spokane.

By the end of his time in Spokane, Cupich had already solidified his reputation as a "progressive". Read the outgoing (Spokane) and incoming (Chicago) media puff-pieces and you'll quickly get the idea. In Spokane he was missed by the pro-gay rights city councilman and the affordable health care activist. In Chicago was welcomed by the VP of Catholic Extension ("Ignite the Change!") who praised his work with Native Americans. There's liberal use of "inclusiveness", "listening", "reform", "transformative" and so on.

In Spokane, Cupich had also earned mixed praise (which most of the major media emphasized) and criticism (which much of the major media tried to de-emphasize but couldn't quite hide) for his handling of the dire financial situation of the Spokane diocese, culminating in an unprecedented lawsuit launched by the bishop against the law firm that had handled the diocese's earlier bankruptcy, a lawsuit that was still ongoing as of Cupich's departure. (It was settled a year later on terms that some claimed were favorable to the law firm and something of an embarrassment for the diocese.)

When Cupich left for Chicago, the diocese of Spokane was still in turmoil.

A few months later, Thomas Anthony Daly, a then auxiliary bishop of San José, was appointed as his replacement.

Who is Bishop Daly?

Not all Catholic news is bad.

Cupich's successor is the anti-Cupich.

Some of you may recall Bishop Daly's criticism of the Vatican and some of his fellow American bishops at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November. He was one of those present who spoke out against the Vatican's action, facilitated by Cupich and others, to suppress voting on two proposals to take more aggressive action on the priestly sexual abuse crisis.

Yesterday, the Spokane Inlander released a fascinating and revealing interview with the bishop, who has now been on the job for almost three years.

The interview and introductory commentary was by staff writer Daniel Walters, who also took the above photograph.

I urge you to read the lengthy original interview in its entirety, here. But below is a partial summary and some choice excerpts - in the same "heading and response" format as the original, though the new headings are my own. The bishop is not only the anti-Cupich but in comparison with most of the other leading American prelates that we are now (unfortunately) all too familiar with, Daly is, well, an alien.

In other words, he's a good and faithful Catholic bishop.

And he is refreshingly frank, even combative, though I would prefer the word "righteous."

The interview gets off to an appropriately frank start as Daly directly makes reference to some of his colleagues:
I believe the church is divided because we have people who want to compromise — and I’m talking about bishops — fundamental principles of morality that the church has remained very clear and steadfast on.
Are Catholics in Spokane divided? Daly implies that they were in the Cupich era but that that "dark moment in time" is now over:
...Maybe I’m a little naive, but I think this diocese has been so demoralized because of bankruptcy and abuse. In fact, I was asked by someone, 'Why didn't you, when you were installed, make reference to your predecessor at that time?' My impression was that the people in Spokane, the Catholic community, including the press, went through such a dark moment in time with what went on. It was the winter of discontent. They wanted to move on. I don’t think this community now is divided.
Here, Daly makes a few observations - one, politically incorrect - on the sexual abuse crisis and the difference between evil and weakness:
The sexual misconduct of the clergy, it may be caused by weakness. It may be use of drugs and alcohol and loneliness. It may be, in fact, evil and diabolical.
There was a priest in California who would take kids out to his summer place, get them drunk, rape them, and then make them serve mass the next day. A lawyer who was initially asked to defend him said, ‘I can’t. This man’s evil.' I believe that case is evil.
A priest who gets involved with a woman in a counseling situation, I don’t think that’s evil. That’s weakness. Much the way a guy in a good marriage suddenly falls in.
There is a diabolical element to this, I think, because a church weakened is a church who cannot proclaim the Gospel.
You also have priests who do not take seriously what it means to be vowed. I think we’re seeing — and I have never [sic?] been told this — some priests think the vow of celibacy is, ‘I do not get married to a woman. So, therefore, I can have sex with anybody,’ That’s wrong. That’s a violation of the vow.
And here he trashes the buzzword "transparent" (Thank you! Thank you!)
What does the church need to do? We need to be truthful. I don’t like the word ‘transparent.’ It sounds like our ad agency, our PR firm, polished us up. … We all understand the meaning of ‘truth.’ What is the truth? Regarding McCarrick, who knew what and why?
Unlike Cupich, Daly is a supporter of Archbishop Viganò:
...I think Viganò is a man of integrity. I just know of an appointment of a bishop that was clearly dictated outside the normal channels [confirming one of Viganò accusations]. I'd like to get into it, but I know it gets a little controversial.
To the ones (Viganò) spoke about, look at the way, they never address what he said. They just try to destroy him personally. I find that very troubling. I look at those guys who focus on what he raised, and not the person of Archbishop Viganò.
And here is some straight-talk, as it were, about homosexuality and the priesthood:
"I know that there have been situations — and I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about this — there are certain diocese and religious communities where there is a clique that runs things. Are they defined by their sexuality? They may very well be.
The rector when I was in the seminary said, if there’s a gay subculture in a presbyterate or seminary, then the clandestine behavior leads to other clandestine behavior. You’re secretly living a double-life. And that is a recipe for disaster.
...The Vatican document (prohibits) those with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies. And they talk about those who live in a gay culture. All people are called to chastity — chastity is different than celibacy. A married person is chaste, in that you're not breaking your vows of marriage.
A priest is called to be chaste in that you're not breaking your vows with sexual misconduct. The issue about homosexuality in the priesthood is that an individual who defines himself by his sexuality, and is not supportive of the church's teaching on the call to chastity, marriage between a man and a woman, that becomes a problem. You're asked to teach what the church believes.
The belief is and the experience has been, when they speak about that from the pulpit, there’s an assumption that people make that they’re sexually active. I was talking to a priest in California, he said, a priest was in the pulpit, and he was saying, ‘When God did not give me the man of my dreams, I decided to become a priest.’ There was a security guard at the church who said, ‘I’m not Catholic, father, but I don’t know if that’s something that I want to be hearing from a priest from the pulpit.’ And if that’s his motive for becoming a priest? If that’s his motive, for becoming a priest?
A priest has to be a credible father. That’s that quality I look for. If a priest is defining himself by his sexuality, I think that’s not an integrated sexuality.
In one of the best quotes of the thing, the bishop doesn't and does directly refer to his own sexuality:
If I wasn’t a priest I would have married and probably have five kids and I’d probably be a prosecuting attorney.
Here is a sample of Daly's dissident opinions (in relation to those of many of his colleagues) on the Church partnering with government or secular agencies:
My main concern with a cozy relationship is it never ends well. There’s too much of a tendency to compartmentalize. The problem isn’t the church in the world, it’s the world in the church.
...When you have government contracts you run the risk. ‘Well, you know, we can’t talk about this, because we have government money, and they won’t allow it.'
I’m not in favor of government funding for our [Catholic] schools, for example. There’s always a price to pay.
Who’s really running the show? It’s pretty much secular people. I think a lot of problems in our society have come from a breakdown in Judeo-Christian values. My experience coming from the Bay Area is 'Compassion always, compromise never.' (By compromising) you never win. Politicians will use you.
According to Daly, while, say, homosexuals should not be barred per se from working within Catholic agencies, public scandal or dissent from Church teachings should be avoided:
When a church’s ministries are very clear in their identity, it helps people know, ‘Well, this is not a good fit for me.’ … It’s an important thing that the people who are in ministries in the church support the mission of the church. If somebody doesn’t agree with that or doesn’t abide by that, there are many other ways to serve society.
Here, Daly navigates the risky (given the Pope's recent words and actions) issues regarding the differences between the morality of capital punishment and abortion:
Capital punishment in the code — though the pope has changed it, and there’s controversy about the fact that it was just this unilateral change — allowed in very rare circumstances for capital punishment. I’ll use an example: to keep Osama Bin Laden alive had he been captured. Would his ongoing living be a risk to a great deal of people? There could be moral arguments about that.
There are never moral arguments to justify abortion. It’s not there.
[Daly then goes on to charitably - though, I think erroneously or misleadingly - praise Pope Francis on a few things, perhaps to soften the blow of his veiled criticism of the Pope's "change" on capital punishment. We won't reprint them, here. Nobody's perfect.]
While Daly did oppose President Trump's recent "family separation" policy, his positions on immigration and "open borders" in general, are clearly out of step with those of most of his very vocal fellow bishops:
There’s a priority. We need borders. I said this in the meeting of the bishops of Washington state. I said, to just naively think we can open the border and let everybody come, that does not help the church’s teaching on the dignity of the person and the immigrant and the refugee.
We were talking about the Syrian refugees, and I said, ‘I’m reluctant to sign this statement until I find out what I heard, about whether Christians are reluctant to go to these UN Camps.'
‘Well, yeah, actually they are, because they’re being targeted by ISIS.’
Well, then why don’t we hear that?! I’m not going to put my name on this, if in fact that’s true.
I think there’s a naivete at times in the church. ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ No, we can’t just get along. It’s like my line about, ‘Jesus didn’t like everybody. He loved everybody.’ That’s why he wanted what was best for everybody.
What's the point of it all? What should a faithful bishop do and why?
We have gone through a period of time — for whatever reason: weakness, moral relativism, sin, even evil — that’s not the church that Christ founded. Yes, it can be sinful, because we’re weak human beings. But sin cannot drive or shame or cover-up the issue. Why I came across as angry is I have seen how important the Catholic faith is in the lives of people.
I saw how much good the church does. And there’s a whole group of people who say, ‘You want me to be part of that? That group of degenerates? Who hurt our kids? Who lie about it? Who take our money?’. And then they never come to know Christ as savior. That’s when it hits me, the church needs a call to holiness and a reformation.
There it is. Not inclusiveness, accompaniment, caring or any of those other terms that may have been meaningful and even useful in an alternate world but have now been reduced to Orwellian banality, but holiness.

And not change or even reform but reformation.

Daly and other bishops like him are the hope of our Church.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hollywood Gives Oscar to Director who Pushed Tawana Brawley Hoax

Clockwise from left: Movie poster from Do the Right Thing (director and actor Spike Lee is holding the pizza), 1989 - Tawana Brawley and Al Sharpton, 1988 - The S1W "security team" from the music video "Fight the Power", 1989.

The director is Spike Lee, of course.

He shared the Best Adapted Screenplay award (for BlacKkKlansman, which he directed) with three others.

Though he wasn't exactly happy about winning only that award, feeling that there was some sort of plot or conspiracy to foil him with interracial driving movies. Classy as always, when Green Book won Best Picture (beating out Klansman), he stormed out of his seat, only to return and sulk with his back to the stage.

But in this era of Covington and Jussie Smollett I thought it only fair to point out that Lee was an enthusiastic backer of the Tawana Brawley hoax, I'm not talking about when the accusations were first made (when most people believed them) but more than a year later, after a New York grand jury had found it to be a fraud.

"Tawana Told the Truth", says the graffiti message appearing by surprise as Lee's character walks by. It's one of the most iconic clips from Lee's third film Do the Right Thing.

I'm not saying that that in itself involves pushing the Brawley hoax (but see below). It's just a scene from a movie, after all, in which all the different characters, including blacks, whites and hispanics, famously have their own point of views. Most seem to be racist against other groups, to at least some degree, and there's even a large dollop of racial stereotyping - blacks like to blast music, have a fixation for high-end basketball sneakers and burn down things when they're angry. Whites are insensitive to the diversity requirements of pizza parlor wall decorations and occasionally choke-hold to death black teens. Hispanics like to argue. And so on. On one level, Do the Right Thing is a moral Rashomon. Is there a fair or neutral perspective or are we all just locked in to outlooks that go with our racial identities? Can't we all just not be racist or is that now (in 1989) simply a naive dream? What is the right thing?

This intentional ambiguity and obvious (though odd and in the end depressing) shout out to a certain skewed kind of diversity was largely the reason for the film's success among critics if not audiences. It was different, honest (so they said) and frank. It catapulted Lee into the ranks of major American directors.

But there was another level to the film and its marketing - the effort to bring full-on black militancy into the mainstream. Lee wanted an "anthem" as the movie's theme. Notably, he first imagined using a modern version of the unobjectionably optimistic "Lift Every Voice and Sing". But he soon felt that something stronger was needed. So he turned to Public Enemy, a still somewhat niche band in a still somewhat niche category - black "hip hop" - that had cut its teeth as the opening act for the Beastie Boys, a white band playing to largely white audiences.

The song Public Enemy created as the theme for the film wasn't a Stevie Wonderish hymn to everyone coming together or the worth and excellence of all races but a full-on broadside against Whitey and "accommodation" in general:

Elvis was a hero to most but he
Never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne
'Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for four hundred years if you check

Fight the Power!
You gotta fight the powers that be!

The song "Fight the Power" even dissed the then recent mega-hit "Don't Worry be Happy".

Worry and don't be happy. Especially you, Whitey.

Today, thirty years later, take a bus through the black ghettos of Chicago - Austin, Englewood, West Garfield - and listen to the music blaring from headphones. Or for that matter, note the music playing on the speakers at white hipster gyms.

Stevie Wonder lost.

But I'm digressing a bit. Spike Lee also directed the music video of "Fight the Power". It features Public Enemy performing the song at an outdoor concert/march/rally in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn for what appears to be an almost entirely black audience (most of the few whites are cops). All the tropes are there: the righteous but serious Chuck D, his clownish side-kick Flavor Flav, the Marcus Garvey/Nation of Islam-like soldier dancers, often angry spectators pumping their fists. Jesse Jackson appears in it, as does Al Sharpton who had hitched his star to the Tawana Brawley case.

And there is Miss Brawley herself, appearing a number of times jiggling to the beat in front of the locked-step Marcus Garveyites. She smiles knowingly. They get it, she seems to be thinking while jiggling. We get it. Fight the Power!

This was well-after virtually all of white America and most of black America knew she was a fraud and had attempted to frame, by name, a number of innocent men.

Well, maybe Lee was saying, you know, we all have different perspectives.

Brawley and most other principles of the hoax, including Sharpton, would later be sued and forced to pay damages.

What did Spike Lee explicitly say about the case? Years later in 2001 he would comment:
No one is ever going to find out what the true story is, but I still find it hard to believe that Tawana Brawley, at that age, would have covered herself with feces and thrown herself in a garbage bag.
Actually, according to numerous official and unofficial sources, now accepted by almost everyone, that's exactly what she did.

But here is Lee again, this time in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone:
Do you still believe Tawana told the truth?
Well, I don’t think the story has really come out. One day we’ll find out what really happened.
One is pretty sure that Lee does indeed "know" what happened, but saying it would not be to fight the power.

Stoking grievance, anger and racial hatred is hip. And it also makes money. Truth or even peace be damned.

Thirty years later, where has it gotten us?

What does Spike Lee care? He doesn't have to live in Austin.


Watch the music video to "Fight the Power". Or watch it again if you've already seen it. By the way, the featured "ghetto" is now gentrified with renovated multi-million dollar brownstones inhabited by white lawyers and hedge-fund managers.

The video is a bit of a Rorschach test, I think. It will either inspire you to fight the power (or pump some iron at your hipster gym), or it will make you sad.