Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yes, God, please help us!

Bob, you have problems with your "argument" at more than one level. First, you assert that the Pentagon has good reason to consult with Mikey Weinstein, who you label as "rhetorically adolesecent" because he is upset "by a problem that appears to be real," but Patrick undermines the mission of MOJ by citing to Breitbart, "of all places" because ....?? Second, you are engaged in a classic argumentum ad hominem against Breitbart and against Patrick for linking to Breitbart rather than engaging Patrick's argument.

Breitbart links to Weinstein's Huffington Post rant ("rant" doesn't do it justice). Weinstein starts: "Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on."  Who are these monsters?  "[I]ncredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity..." He says that the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly labels the Family Research Council and the American Family Association "hate groups." 

He continues: "We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as "hate groups" with no place in today's U.S. military. But we are compelled to venture even further. We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all."

Bob, please tell us WHY the Pentagon ought to consult with this particular individual who seems so hell bent on demonizing his enemies rather than engaging in reasoned argument.  And, could Patrick be right - could it be that there is a developing pattern of government hostility toward Catholics and Evangelical Christians?  Bob, is his thesis at least worth considering?


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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I wrote a more detailed comment to Bob's post but it appears to have been eaten. So, with apologies, a shorter reply:

1) Weinstein's op-eds are unquestionably offensive. Indeed, even some supportive commenters on his group's own blog criticized them. I certainly find them objectionable.
2) It is true that even if Breitbart is often a poor source, the story should be judged on its own merits. On those merits, it remains true that Weinstein wrote those offensive op-eds. Much of the rest of the story is irrelevant at best and poorly sourced besides. Unfortunately, the Quinn story is terribly written and not much further help.
3) As far as I can tell, there is little evidence to support the idea that Weinstein is an "official consultant to the Pentagon" in any meaningful sense of the words. It appears, rather, that he was one of several invitees to a meeting at the Pentagon. One may reasonably question whether he ought to have been invited at all. But it is true to anyone familiar with government practice that such listening groups are held all the time, that they often consist of mollifying vocal interest groups with a meeting, and that they constitute no endorsement of the invitees. As I said, one may question whether he ought to have been invited; many other people and groups work on these issues. But neither should one inflate the import of that meeting too readily.
4) It is also true that the kinds of proselytization that Weinstein complains of exist and have little to do with what we might think of as peer-to-peer proselytization; rather, they have involved harassment, overweening statements, and occasional abuse of authority, particularly in places with very junior folks like cadets. The military, to its credit, has attempted to address these issues in a way that makes clear that religious speech is allowed, especially peer-to-peer speech, while curbing some abuses. That doesn't make Weinstein's language any less offensive to me. But some context is important, especially because of Brennan's eagerness to draw broad conclusions.
5) Michael's final question deserves a response. I would say, of course such a thesis is worth considering. But I would also say that the Weinstein story itself is ultimately poor evidence of the thesis; that Brennan (and the Breitbart story) exaggerate its import in a way that distorts the facts; and that both the hysterical level of his rhetoric and his apparent contempt for anyone who thinks this is anything less than proof positive of an emergency are misplaced.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Apr 30, 2013 10:03:38 AM

"And, could Patrick be right - could it be that there is a developing pattern of government hostility toward Catholics and Evangelical Christians? Bob, is his thesis at least worth considering?"

Yes, but there is precedence which has deep roots in American history. See Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden (see the allies with Cologne) which were all Catholic Christian enclaves of enemy nations. See also WWI where the Wilsonians decimated the last remnants of Christendom. See further the recent Iraq War which decimated the Iraqi christian population, and also the current US government backing of Syrian (al queda) who make martyrs of Syria's remaining Christian population.

The Pentagon (or is it Pentagram) and the US war machine have done much to destroy and suppress Christian populations.

Posted by: CK | Apr 30, 2013 10:09:33 AM

That's fairly detailed of a response and provides a balanced approach.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 30, 2013 10:46:56 AM

Ah, yes. This explains why they've packed the Supreme Court with Catholics and Jews.

Oh, wait--it doesn't. Hmm.

Q. What percentage of government workers and administrators are Catholic? Does anyone have the numbers?

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 30, 2013 12:54:29 PM

Sean, the question is, what percentage of The Supreme Court and those who profess to be Catholic deny Christ's teaching on The Sanctity of Human Life, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family? (Catholic Canon 750)

"You cannot be My disciples if you do not abide in My Word." - Jesus The Christ

Posted by: Nancy | May 2, 2013 9:05:17 AM

Most likely those who profess to be Catholic but deny The Sanctity of Human Life and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family believe that respect for the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the Human Person is not binding in public as well as in private.

Posted by: Nancy | May 2, 2013 9:10:39 AM

Also Troublesome Are Those Who Do Not Recognize That Things Are More True When Written With Capital Letters.

Posted by: AnneD | May 2, 2013 11:05:00 AM