Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Politization of the Sun-Times: Where Religion and Politics Merge

Since the two crooks have gone, the newspaper’s books may be more honest (unless Jim Thompson, the watchdog who slept during the old regime while gloriously clinking wine glasses with Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle, still continues inattentively with the New Guard) but the old modishly leftward tilt, historically there, has veered so decidedly as to seemingly fall off the edge of the earth. There was a time when Ray Brennan and others led the pack of investigative journalists there; but now all that seemingly remains are some doggerel posing as straight news which is nothing less than the uptown edition of The Nation magazine. To discover it, don’t take a look at the editorials but at the news columns, signed columns and “analyses.” In particular, take a look at the left-wing hallelujah chorus comprising Friday’so-called Religion column by one Cathleen (with a “C”) Falsani. I don’t know her but to give her the benefit of the doubt one would surmise she is a bubble-gum popping adolescent.

There are all kinds of religion stories to be covered that are languishing. I’ll name only a few from my particular religious perspective: how are the city’s two Catholic universities, Loyola and DePaul, doing with the mandatum that Rome had tried to install under John Paul II where theology taught is supposed to have the approval of the bishop? And what happened with a drive to fund a so-called Catholic college on the north shore where Barat stands? These stories are sparsely covered, if at all is my conclusion as one who taught as an adjunct at both universities and fought to create the third.

Instead of purveying news, what is her religion column to Falsani? It is license to write about herself, of course. A favorite Sun-Times habit is for columnists to think it’s all about Me. In addition, Falsani propounds her political views. And what does Falsani tell us about herself and what does she think about public issues? : Why, she writes she’s receiving an e-mail from a friend named Amanda who “happens to be a Jewish atheist, more or less.” I digress but: an atheist more or less: an this from a so-called religion writer? Aquinas proved conclusively in the 13th century that one is either an atheist or is not; if one is “less” she is an agnostic. But the Me column goes on,

Amanda lists President Bush’s faults (which Falsani reproduces in detail): He supports the death penalty, “he reversed the civilized world’s abhorrence of preemptive war,” he “sold America a war based on lies,” he willingly “started an unnecessary war that has resulted in the deaths of 2,000 and tens of thousands of Iraqis; he tacitly “condones torture”; he is “against stem cell research”; he “does not push to fully fund Veterans Administration hospitals or health insurance for veterans.” Then Falsani (purportedly the Sun-Times religion Editor) declares “[f]or a year I’ve not been able to bring myself to respond in any substantive way.” What a ghastly admission.

How about correcting her kinda atheistic friend’s god-awful misstatements of fact? The death penalty, when applied justly, is not immoral as propounded for 1,500 years. With the exception of World War II all the wars we engaged in were preemptive. What was Woodrow Wilson”s credo “to make the world safe for democracy”? What was Lincoln’s decision to reinforce Fort Sumter? What was Truman’s decision to send troops to Korea? The North Koreans who invaded the South didn’t attack us. When the colonists took muskets to Lexington and Concord before the Brits fired on them: what was that? Bush is not against “stem cell” research; he is against embryonic stem cell research.

What kind of “reporter” is Falsani anyhow? Bush “sold America a war based on lies”? If the TV weather person tells you it’s going to be sunny tomorrow and it rains, that’s not a lie: it’s an error. Since the Congress had all the intelligence Bush had and voted for war—including John Kerry—did Kerry lie to America? Did Congress lie to America? Since Britain had the same intelligence, did Blair lie to Great Britain? Did parliament lie?

Falsani announces, “[T]here comes a time when silence is immoral. Now, I believe is that time.” Drum-roll, please. How about practicing a bit of silence while you do your homework and research the facts, Ms. Falsani? How about using your column to cover religious news not as an bludgeon for sloppy, half-baked opinions? And where are your so-called editors? Or are they, like you, so badly informed they cannot separate ill-considered rubber-stamped ignorant vacuous pap from clearly delineated opinion? I’m going to keep this up for the good reason that if there needs to be a liberal newspaper in Chicago, it should observe accurately and reason clearly. This is an embarrassing teen school-girl social illiteracy of the Michael Moore genre that is pure tripe. What has oozed from the newsroom into the pages is salacious `60s-style hippie commune thinking as to make the judicious weep.


  1. You slam Falsani on the death penalty, but do you think that Bush acted "justly" as Governor of Texas in approving the execution of people represented by lawyers literally asleep on the job?

    Why do you think the United States engaged in a "premptive" war when it joined the Allies in 1917? Hadn't Germany already admitted that they tried to get Mexico to join an alliance against us? Hadn't Germany publicly reneged on its pledge made to us in 1915 to not engage in unrestricted submarine warfare? Weren't German submarines sinking American ships and killing our people? Even the German Chancellor expected that the unrestricted U-Boat attacks would bring us into the war. What exactly were we preempting, then, by our declaration of war upon Germany?

    When do you think the administration decided to invade Iraq? Would they have done so even if they knew there were no WMDs in Iraq? I think that's what Falsani is getting at when she refers to the "lies" about the war by the White House.

    You say that Falsani got the facts wrong and that Bush is against embryonic stem cell research. Why, then, did Bush approve federal funding for studies which involve existing embryonic stem cell lines? If Falsani was incorrect, then so were you in this instance.

    Regarding Falsani's style, I think that she made it clear from the beginning that she was going to cover religion in a different way than her predecessors. Just look at her interviews with people in the news (be they religious or not) on issues of faith. And so, it doesn't surprise me that she includes comments from an atheist in her column.

    Having dealt with skeptics, I think you're a bit hard on Falsani's "more of less" comment with regard to her friend's atheism. Within skepticism, there are several degrees of atheism (i.e., "strong" vs. "weak") and they would take exception to being painted with the same brush. Would Aquinas have made no distinction between Catholics and Muslims just because both are theists?

    There's something that's been puzzling me for awhile. What is your relationship to the Sun-Times? Their website lists you as a columnist, but none of your columns are on the webpage they have for you. And if you are a columnist for them, why do you use your blog to knock the Sun-Times and several of their writers? It's unseemly.

  2. While I don't read either local paper the Sun Times is pure filth and I am not talking about the ink they use. If only an Atheist like Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Mihn or Pol Pot were in charge there would be health care for all - all that is who they wouldn't have murdered. Now they have something they can both "pray" for.

    Reason 1,573,963 to never purchase the Sun Times.

  3. I think the Democrats talk about lies to avoid talking about the war.

    At some point they'll have to and it will split the party between those who believe 911 was "imperial blowback" from a Unites States that's the fundamental problem in today's world vs those who believe Bin Ladenism and access to WMDs is the biggest threat.

    Better talk mumbo jumbo about Bush lies than grapple with that fight because there is a huge chunk of the Democratic party now that thinks America and Americans are the real evil-doers.