Catholic Social Teaching Supports Trump’s Challenges To the Media…


From
Crisis

It is not an overstatement to say that the time of the Trump presidency has been one of protracted struggle between the national administration and most of the media. To be sure, the press and the electronic media have faced off with presidential administrations for a long time. Actually, the press has had their political and ideological biases since the beginning of the Republic. After all, weren’t the Federalist Papers originally articles in newspapers that wanted to support the proposed U.S. Constitution and influence the crucial ratification debate in New York State? Don’t historians write about how “yellow journalism” helped lead to the Spanish-American War? Still, when one looks at the behavior of the media in recent decades, the argument can easily be made that as far as concerns political bias, lack of concern for fairness and objectivity, separating out reporting from commentary, a willingness to dig for the facts instead of just reporting what someone claims, journalistic professionalism, and even attention to whether something reported on actually even happened, we are at a historic low.

While Republicans have probably borne the brunt of harsh presidential media treatment since LBJ, the level of vituperativeness directed at Trump is perhaps unparalleled—even surpassing what Nixon, who was known for his long chilly relationship with the press, faced. Certainly, the media’s unremitting pounding of Trump, beginning even well before Inauguration Day, is unprecedented in these recent decades. Some might say that Trump has invited it, with many questions about his background before coming into office, the attention to the ongoing investigation of “collusion” with Russia during the campaign (although this may actually be an example of the “fake news” that the president criticizes), and Trump’s constant sniping at the media with his regular barrage of tweets. Still, it’s hard to make the case that the media has given any breathing room to Trump anywhere along the way.

Most people would probably say that a president is justified in calling out the media and challenging their misconduct. Other presidential administrations have done it, although probably not as regularly and publicly as this one—nor has the president himself usually been the point man, as is the case with Trump. Despite plenty of grounds to challenge the media, Trump was recently attacked in a manner that surely seemed “over the top” by two senators from his own party. Senator Jeff Flake, who has repeatedly tussled with Trump, first conceded that presidents can surely criticize the press but then equated Trump’s actions with Stalin and seemed to suggest that the media can almost unquestionably be relied upon to present the truth. Flake’s fellow Arizonan, Senator John McCain, who has also had a strained relationship with the president, wrote an op-ed arguing that Trump’s criticism of the press is having the dangerous effect of discrediting it and so was emboldening foreign despots to suppress journalists.

All the while, Trump has not threatened the press with anything like censorship, or prior restraint as in the Pentagon Papers case, or imposing a special tax on oppositional newspapers like Huey Long did, or imprisoning journalists as various judges have done for not revealing their sources. Neither senator had much to say about journalistic responsibility or about whether the media—and what we’re mostly talking about here is the mainstream or “big” media—has in fact been discrediting itself by its actions, the most egregious of which has been reporting on stories that have no factual basis (“fake news”).

One wonders if the senators have any sense about the need to confront adversaries, even when they royally deserve it. Their response to Trump was a particularly striking example of what the Republican “establishment” in Washington has been consistently criticized for: routinely conceding to the other side, a “go-along, get-along” attitude that results in the left advancing its agenda even when it loses elections.

The strikingly uncritical and almost apologetic attitude about the media of Senators Flake and McCain is not something that Catholics should countenance, whether or not they like Trump’s approach or manner—that is, if they think he doesn’t act in a way that is “presidential”—or even if they think he carries it too far. Untruthfulness and wrongdoing—and imperviousness to propounding untruth certainly qualifies as wrongdoing—need to be challenged. Let’s remember how Christ had little reluctance about confronting the errant Jewish authorities of his time and that admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy. It’s especially necessary for top leadership to do it—both for the greater effect they can have and to inspire others to do the same in their own little arenas. Recall what St. Thomas Aquinas said about how those who rule set the norms for their people.

Moreover, when we talk about the media and calling it to responsibility, Catholics need to be particularly attentive to what the Church has said about this. In his social encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope St. John XXIII set out his famous listing of human rights and stressed that rights always have corresponding duties. So, while there is a right to express and communicate one’s opinions, to freedom of speech and publication—which certainly includes people acting in the context of the formal organs of communication, like the news media—the people on the receiving end have “the right to be informed truthfully about public events” (#12).

Vatican II’s Inter Mirifica (The Decree on the Means of Social Communication) stresses that while the media has rights it also has the duty to uphold the moral law, which certainly includes the obligation to report truthfully so that this right of people, the citizenry, to be truthfully informed is realized. It also asserts that civil authorities have a duty “to ensure … that public morality and social progress are not greatly endangered through misuse of these media” (#11-12). The Church here is not saying that government should or that it’s desirable for it to impose censorship, or even that it’s mostly government that should be the vehicle to promote this grave journalistic responsibility. She just says that government has or may have a role of some kind in this. That, of course, may involve nothing more than “setting the record straight” or challenging the media when it puts out false or biased information.

Recently, Pope Francis scored the media’s reporting of “fake news,” saying it always has bad effects, and emphasized the obligation of journalists to report the truth.
From a Catholic standpoint, then, while Trump’s confronting the media about ideological bias, reporting “fake news,” and the like may not be elegant and may even seem excessive sometimes, it is warranted as a means of prodding then to act rightly and be more responsible. As such, it certainly may help the cause of promoting the common good. While scrutiny and challenges of the media’s errant practices should come from many sources, to be sure, when the highest American public authority is willing to take it on it especially highlights the problems and may have the most effect. Again, as St. Thomas said, rulers or leaders shape the course of things. Further, the way Trump is doing it is entirely in line with American constitutional principles. Contrary to what Senators Flake and McCain may think, the First Amendment is in no way being trodden upon. [Stephen M. Krason: A Catholic Reaction to Trump and the Media]

Comments invited…  

Nicola Sturgeon’s Talk on Catholic Schools Leaked To Catholic Truth!

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

As the proud pro-abortion, pro-LGBT rights leader of a country with, as I keep reminding everyone, the values of a progressive, liberal democracy, I’m stunned delighted to be asked to mark the Centenary of the Catholic Education Scotland Act 1918 and the partnership between the Catholic Church and the State in Scotland in the provision of education to our young people in Catholic schools.

And this partnership is working very successfully, with Catholic schools in Scotland now providing safe spaces for LGBT pupils. Of course, we’ve a way to go. I believe Catholic schools in England are now allowing gender neutral uniforms, with one pupil making “their” First Communion in a white trouser suit because that child now wishes to identify as a boy. I’ve not heard of any similar cases in Scotland but maybe Scottish Catholic schools will, er, follow suit, to so speak, soon, not to fall behind in the progressive, liberal stakes.

Abortion is still a bit of a hot potato in the Church, I know. Still, now that the truly wonderfully progressive and liberal Pope Francis has given a pontifical honour to the internationally acclaimed Dutch abortion activist, Liliane Ploumen, it’s only a matter of time before we can get those pro-abortion, pro-contraception posters into every Catholic classroom.

And, of course, we’ll have our spies Named Persons in place by that time, supervising parents and dealing with those reactionaries who don’t like living in a progressive, liberal Church. So, thank you for inviting me to give this prestigious lecture. I knew we were making progress but I’d no idea you were already so stupid enlightened as to invite someone who is not a Catholic and who is, in fact, completely committed to progressive, secular, liberal values to speak on the subject of Catholic education. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to congratulate the Catholic sector on your excellent exam results. The pupils DO learn arithmetic, reading and writing and that is absolutely praiseworthy. Well done!

Thank you, all especially Bishop Keenan for his support for my invitation to address you all here today. Oh and, er, if there IS a God, may he (or she) go with you!

Comment: 

Obviously, the above “leak” is no such thing. It’s our satirical take on the disgraceful invitation from those running Catholic Education in Scotland to a wholly “liberal” politician, who has not a scintilla of interest in supporting Catholic schools.   The fact is, if Catholic schools were doing their job, the  First Minister would have made her excuses to decline the invite.  It’s only because they are failing as Catholic schools that (a) she would be invited in the first place and (2) she could agree to give the Cardinal Winning Lecture.  At least one bishop – John Keenan of Paisley – supports this year’s choice of speaker. Click here to read more, vote in the poll below, and then share your thoughts…

Cabinet Reshuffle & Jacob Rees-Mogg…

Today’s news includes clips from the new army advertisement designed to encourage people to join the UK army irrespective of faith, sexual orientation, or “genders”.

Got me thinking.  When the Catholic MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, known to attend the Traditional Latin Mass, was quizzed about his views on “gay marriage” and abortion, he was at pains to assure the interviewer (and thus the wider public) that he would certainly accept an invitation to a “gay wedding” (“and probably enjoy it”) and that, while opposed to abortion at all stages and in all circumstances himself, he would not seek to change the law.  Abortion would remain legal.  Yet, neither these flexible moral principles, nor his unwavering support for Brexit, where in every interview he has shown himself to be thoroughly well informed,  were enough to see him brought into the Cabinet in this week’s reshuffle.  

No vision. There’s simply no vision. No suggestion that, if elected to lead the nations of the UK, he would order a health campaign to educate the public on the health implications of both homosexual activity and abortion,  in the spirit of the public health campaigns on smoking (which led to a successful ban on smoking in public places)  and no suggestion that, thus, perhaps with more information, the public would be perfectly happy to see a pro-life Prime Minister in office.  No such suggestions because there is simply no such vision.  

 And – in the case of a weak Catholic – there’s no real faith: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these other things [power, political office, for example] will be given to you.” (Matt 6:33)  Put simply, if Jacob Rees-Mogg puts God and His Moral Law first, ahead of peer and public opinion, God will take care of his career. 

Surely, too,  a politician confident of the truth of his position on such important moral matters who genuinely seeks the well-being of the countries of the UK, would win over public opinion, based on the facts,  the objective health data.  

That Jacob Rees -Mogg was, yet again, passed over for promotion in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle should bring home to him that fact that his flexible principles have not paid off.  If he has any ambition for higher office – and surely, as a pro-life Catholic in politics, he ought to have ambitions for the highest office, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding – he ought to openly oppose the evils of abortion and homosexuality and openly resolve to educate the public on the health issues involved with a view to restoring national good health – physically and morally – under his premiership. 

I believe that such openness and honesty would see him brought into the Cabinet and ultimately at home in No. 10 Downing Street – what do you think?  

Comments invited…  

Bishops of Scotland: Anti-Catholicism Rife – Please Review “Hate-Crime”

Press release from the Scottish Catholic Media Office…

Catholic Church suggests Hate Crime review, offers opportunity to consolidate rather than separate legislation.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Church comments come in response to the Scottish Government’s Review of Hate Crime legislation, chaired by Lord Bracadale:

http://www.gov.scot/About/Review/Hate-Crime-Legislation

The review is charged with considering whether existing hate crime law represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice..

Commenting on the review, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan who submitted a detailed response on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:

“This process is an opportunity, ultimately, to ensure that the legislation is just and that every group is protected. This does not have to be a “zero sum game” where one group “wins” and another “loses” but rather could be an opportunity to rationalise and simplify legislation. A desirable outcome would be a single aggravation such as section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Applied to all protected characteristics equally, it would be a simple and straightforward “message.” which would foster harmony in that all groups would be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”

Mr Horan added:

“It is important that any legislation, preserves judicial discretion recognising that Scotland has a Criminal Justice System populated by highly trained prosecutors and Judges. They are best placed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual cases and should be free to do so in the absence of their decision being “politicised” by legislation which creates a perceived “scandal” where none exists.”

The Church response also highlights Scotland’s long history of anti-Catholicism and urges Government recognition be given to the historic roots of present conflicts. Pointing out that for over twenty years successive Scottish Governments have dedicated significant resources into programmes and projects designed to tackle the symptoms of sectarianism. The submission adds, that in the same period the growth in such funding has been matched by an increase in religious hate crime.

The response notes, that “an opportunity exists to acknowledge that anti-Catholic sectarianism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other types of religious hate crime in Scotland. Instances of anti-Catholicism outnumber all other type of religious hate crime combined, in a country where Catholics represent only 16% of the population. This is a product of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 and its condemnation of Catholic doctrine and worship including the ban on the celebration of all Catholic sacraments. No other religion or belief has ever been so proscribed in Scotland, the legacy of this proscription continues to the present day. A recommendation by this review, that the Scottish Government consider issuing a collective, retrospective apology could go some way towards building, repairing and renewing bonds between communities harmed by historical wrongdoing. It could also be the first step in addressing historical iniquities.”  ENDS

Click here to read the full text of the Church’s response to the Hate Crime review 

Comment:

We can’t speak for lapsed Catholics, but it is simply not possible for a truly practising Catholic to be filled with hate and that’s what defines bigotry.  Many of us, myself included, count members of non-Catholic communities among our families and friends.  There is no way that I can even begin to comprehend what it must be like to hate someone for any reason – let alone on account of their religion.  Christ told us to go out into the whole world and convert – not kill, not hate. He explicitly told us that it is just not possible to love God if we hate our neighbour (1 John 4:20). 

The fact is, though, that there is much hatred directed against Catholicism, and it is sadly true that anti-Catholic behaviour is tolerated in Scotland –  to the point where it is effectively institutionalised.  Below, a short video clip showing an annual public demonstration of this institutionalised bigotry – the Orange Walk(s) which take place throughout the summer.  These events, which are permitted by the local political authorities and supported by the police, testify to the tolerance of anti-Catholic sentiment and behaviour by the powers-that-be in Scotland.   The participants sing offensive songs – some of the lyrics of one of the most popular Orange songs  is placed under the video, to give a flavour of what goes on during these marches, although the one on film below is relatively mild. 

As you watch, ask yourself if such a hate-march would be permitted against Muslims. Ask, yourself, too, if the Editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer was right to invite the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge to write a column in the paper a few short years ago…  Is that really what Catholics want to take home and leave lying on the coffee table?  Albeit in the name of fostering ecumenical relationships? Howzabout the Grand Master cancels the annual Orange Marches in the name of ecumenism?  


“The Sash My Father Wore” Lyrics
Sure I’m an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin’s Isle I came
To see my Glasgow brethren all of honor and of fame
And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore
All on the twelfth day of July in The Sash My Father Wore.
Chorus:
It is old but it is beautiful, and its colors they are fine
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne. From my orange and purple forefather it descended with galore
It’s a terror to them Papish boys, The Sash My Father Wore.   [emphasis added].

 

The Sexual Culture of Politicians Vs The Sexual Culture Of The People…

It’s fascinating to listen to the news broadcasters taking some very high moral ground this week, as they report lurid stories of  alleged sexual abuse of both men and women by Members of Parliament.  Everyone agrees that this is shock-horror stuff, posture amazement, and insist that it must stop.  It’s almost like watching one of the old interviews with Mary Whitehouse

Whatever happened to the whole “let’s ditch morality” thing, and “no more hang-ups about sex” – whatever happened to sexual freedom and liberalism? 

Comment:

Will it be possible to change the culture in Westminster, but not in the rest of the country? Should we really expect the politicians to live by a higher standard of sexual morality than that taken for granted in the wider (very) sexually permissive society, UK-wide?

Oh, and wouldn’t this be the ideal time for the Bishops to be speaking out – sort of “We [or, more accurately, God] told you that sexual permissiveness brings nothing but misery”  – wouldn’t that be something for the population of the UK to hear and ponder?  

Scotland To Ban Smacking… Childless Politicians Rebuked by Majority of Scots

Click here to read about the Scottish Government’s plans to ban smacking. Parents who choose to discipline their children with a timely smack, are to be criminalised – although we’ve yet to find out exactly how this crackpot law will be enforced. Below, a letter written by our blogger, Athanasius, which was published in The Scotsman Newspaper: 

LETTER from blogger, Athanasius (Martin Blackshaw) published in The Scotsman…

The arrogant interference in family life by Scotland’s political leaders is again on display as a recent ComRes poll, reported in the Scotsman, shows them at odds once more with parents, this time in the matter of smacking children.

Having already ignored the will of parents and the Supreme Court by forging ahead with their State-usurping Named Person scheme, it seems the next step in eradicating parental authority is to criminalise so much as a slap on the hand or the leg of a child.

They say it’s all in the interests of child safety and wellbeing, a red herring argument backed with endless liberal psychobabble about how smacking can scar the mind of a chastised child for life.

These are the same politicians who dismiss traditional Christian moral teaching in State schools, choosing instead to rob Scottish youth of its innocence at a vulnerable and tender age through sex education. That too is backed up with psychobabble despite a shocking decline in youth morality since the almighty switch from God to government began in the 1960s.

Well I have some news for our politicians, it is that I was smacked countless times by my parents when I was growing up and I love them for those corrections. Children, like adults under the law, have rules to obey if they are to enjoy true liberty. Parents understand this and that’s why they enforce the rules with the threat of physical punishment if breached. It’s a tried and tested method both privately and publicly over many millennia by authorities who actually had children of their own and truly cared for their welfare. Holyrood hippies take note! END.

Comment:

Given that the majority of the politicians are childless who are leading this drive to criminalise loving parents for their choice of discipline, albeit that it may be a rare, even one-off, occurrence, it seems like a monumental cheek for them to set themselves up as experts in any aspect of childcare. How unreasonable is that?

Parents, on the other hand, tend to be even handed, reasonable to a fault when it comes to disciplining their offspring.  Some of them have even launched a group emphasising this parental reasonableness.  Click here to reach their website.  It’s great to see parents leading the fightback by refusing to accept this latest bullying attempt by the Scottish Government to take control of the nation’s families.

It’s time that the Scottish Bishops did the same, time that they exercised their duty to support parents in the raising of their children, by objecting, publicly, to this latest State intrusion into private family life.  But, will they?