Andrew Sullivan, another proof of my pet theory

I’ve suggested a few times that the problem with lefties is that they’re not only strident but actually stupid.

Andrew Sullivan, The Times US columnist, has kindly helped my case along with yet another diatribe that doesn’t add up on even the simplest of levels.

Actually, Mr Sullivan’s Wikipedia entry identifies him as a conservative, but then political nomenclatures mean so little these days that they can be safely disregarded.

In the past Mr Sullivan didn’t bolster his conservative credentials by editing The New Republic, a publication to the right of Pravda circa 1970 only marginally and not invariably.

Mr Sullivan is an HIV-positive homosexual, which by itself doesn’t disqualify him as a conservative. However, a few years ago he posted anonymous on-line ads for unprotected anal sex, “preferably with other HIV-positive men”. I’m sure he had his reasons but these must have had little to do with promoting a conservative agenda.

In his articles Mr Sullivan consistently comes out on the left side of the watershed, supporting such unconservative causes as same-sex marriage, progressive taxation, anti-discrimination law, Obamacare and what not.

This time he has uncorked a double whammy. As a political leftie, he attacked Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-show host, for taking issue with the Pope’s Marxist remarks; as a Catholic leftie, he supported those remarks. Since we still retain some vestiges of free speech, he’s entitled to his views, of course.

Alas, in the process Mr Sullivan showed his ignorance of politics, economics, Christianity in general, Catholicism in particular, rhetoric and logic. Pretty good going for a 1,000-word piece.

In a general and typically vacuous remark, Sullivan claims that Christianity takes no political sides: “To co-opt Christianity for either side in the pursuit and transference of power is to miss the core point. Jesus had no politics, because he was utterly uninterested in power, as the world understood it and still does.”

True, Jesus’s kingdom was not of this world, but those of us who aren’t divine have to relate Christianity to worldly issues, such as politics. For example, even left-leaning Catholics took the Franco side in the Spanish Civil War because the Loyalists were murdering Catholics, even the left-leaning ones.

Until the Bolsheviks co-opted the Russian Orthodox church to their cause, it had staunchly opposed them. When a sewer underneath the Lenin mausoleum burst, flooding the interior, Patriarch Tikhon quipped, “The incense fits the relics.” Wasn’t he making a political statement?

Truisms need to be either properly qualified or left unsaid, but obviously Mr Sullivan was playing truant when this lesson was taught. Nor was he paying attention when the Catholic social doctrine was being explained.

He extols the two previous Popes, along with the present one, for taking issue equally with “unfettered market capitalism” and communism. He states correctly that Benedict XVI “always opposed those aspects of [capitalism] that treat material gain as the sole criterion of human happiness.”

This is saying nothing at all. Any Christian, indeed any thinking person, would share this position, opposing materialism in general and its excesses in particular. But this doesn’t mean that he would attack the very principles of free enterprise, as Pope Francis lamentably did:

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets… by attacking the structural causes of inequality,” said Pope Francis, “no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

This is criticising free enterprise not from a Christian but from a Marxist perspective. Moreover, it’s passing a purely secular judgment flying in the face of all available evidence. The Pope can be forgiven for his ignorance of such basics; a political writer can’t be. 

Speaking of Pope Francis, Mr Sullivan gushes, “He is the first pontiff to describe himself first and foremost as a sinner.” This is arrant nonsense.

Not only every Pope but also every Christian in history would have described himself in that way. If we weren’t all sinners, Christ’s Passion would have been superfluous, and no Christian can regard it as such.

So here we have another sample of the same “profound ignorance of Catholic social thought” that Sullivan ascribes to Palin and Limbaugh.

In a further demonstration, Sullivan regales us with yet another truism: “a Christian cannot be indifferent to the poor or the unemployed or those without access to basic healthcare.” That’s God’s own truth, but only a complete – and thoroughly politicised – ignoramus would infer that therefore Christians must support the welfare state and nationalised medicine.

A true Christian, especially one who doesn’t advocate anal sex with HIV-positive men, would express his love for the downtrodden through personal charity. This would be a step towards not only helping the poor but also towards saving his own soul.

On the other hand, paying hand over fist into the atheist state’s coffers is the principal (though not sole) cause of the very social ills that so vex His Holiness and Mr Sullivan. It not so much helps the poor as increases their number, while robbing them of any incentive to improve their own lot.

I understand Mr Sullivan’s urge to accuse Sarah Palin of not knowing “what she is talking about”: good knockabout stuff is hard to resist. But before engaging others on such subjects perhaps he should remind himself of this quote from the book he so woefully misunderstands:

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”




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