Thursday, April 10, 2008

Personal Asides: Fr. Greeley Again Brings Up Obama Possibly Being Shot...Excellent Responses to The Kerner Report, Defining Moment of the `60s IV…and Defining Moment V, The Environmental Movement.



All of us who are familiar with the, um, priest Fr. Andrew Greeley know he is desperate for celebrity…psychically unconvinced that, although having earned millions writing soft-porn using his clerical collar (and at one time wearing vestments in a photo on a novel’s back cover) as sales inducement, he will be ever taken seriously—as indeed with most cultivated people and knowledgeable Catholics, he has not. Moreover we all understand that Greeley’s true church is the Democratic party, one, unholy, venal and catastrophic. As he has been a kind of perverse court chaplain to the Daleys where he gently wafts the big fan over the brow of the Big One, he seeks to graduate to the White House where he can saunter, roman collar and all, into meetings as the spiritual (sic) counselor to a Bigger One. This hope is keeping this elderly, mostly ignored, spitting vitriol cleric alive. He has been serenading Barack Obama continually, defending his choice of spiritual guidance from Jeremiah Wright and has resorted to something greater than mere obsequious flattery.

Now for the second time, in his “Sun-Times” column, he has raised the possibility of Barack Obama being shot—assassinated. First, allowing that Greeley has no self-restraint where his desire for notoriety is concerned, it is the grossest act of editorial irresponsibility for the newspaper to have kept the reference in his copy. Whenever one raises the question of assassination of a public official, he runs the risk of triggering a similar desire for celebrity in a fevered mind that can be drawn to Greeley’s column. Second, the “Sun-Times” should immediately apologize for the lamentable lack of judgment from Greeley and his editor.

`60’s Defining Moment IV: The Kerner Report of 1968.

Comments yesterday on The Kerner Report included probably one of the finest commentaries we have received on the Series—the views of Frank Nofsinger. To my mind he sizes up the disarray concerning the races perfectly. You can read his and all other commentaries, of course, in Reader’s Comments for yesterday. Leon Dixon supplies another worthwhile piece. Elizabeth Alexander (I use her name because she does in Reader’s Comments) fears that we do not fully understand the black-white divide and she refers us to comments received from a John Kass “Tribune” column of Sunday which is contained in the Chicago Tribune website. All these things and John Powers, my good colleague, who has a scathing comment on the mis-uses of government to solve the poverty problem.

What Kerner did was to recast the civil rights narrative from a legitimate drive to equal opportunity and color-blindedness to a scathing fiction of racial victimization and irresponsibility. Martin Luther King and Roy Wilkins had concentrated on color-blindedness but were moving toward the more radical direction when King was assassinated. Probably the most immediate reaction to the Kerner Report was the furor over local control of public school faculty appointments in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn. Jews historically engaged in the teaching profession in New York but Kerner inflamed the situation so that blacks demanded “local control” over their schools, placing control on a higher priority than quality of teaching. Many bad speeches were delivered there—with indigent blacks declaring that the first and foremost thing was that black teachers and principals take over…shrugging off matters of educational excellence in favor of skin color.

This antagonized what had heretofore been a bastion of liberalism, the American Federation of Teachers and Albert Shanker. With “The New York Times” opting to its usual role of subservience before the specter of angry black demonstrations, the area was forced to decide whether American liberalism would continue to maintain support for a classic race-blind society or descend to black militancy. It chose the latter. An historic rupture was then effected between two once valuable allies—Jewry and blacks. The vestiges of Kerner are still seen in that choice as differences increase between blacks and Jews. Jesse Jackson’s scurrilous comment about “Hymietown” stems from that. Increasingly a segment of Jewish liberalism broke away over racist demagogues like Jackson…who was not punished by society for his bigotry…creating a segment that has aligned with the Republican party—Irving Kristol, his wife, Gertrude Himmelfarb, their son William; Norman Podhoretz, his son John and many many others. Most of the neo-cons who joined the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations are ex-liberals estranged either directly or indirectly from the national effects of Ocean Hill/Brownsville whether they were involved personally or just followed it.

Kristol, a former Marxist, provided brilliant leadership by starting a journal that for me was a must-read for many years—“The Public Interest” which he edited with Nathan Glazer. He then became an editorial board member of “The Wall Street Journal” and wrote Op Eds that dramatically affected a new relationship between intellectual Jews and conservatism. He became a permanent fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and was a lecturer at our Quaker Oats public policy forums for years. His wife, Gertrude, was likewise a powerful force in shaping a counterculture to liberalism. Their son, William, is the editor and publisher of a fine magazine, “The Weekly Standard.” Podhoretz as editor of “Commentary,” a magazine initially put out by the American Jewish Committee, turned it into an exciting and challenging conservative vehicle which it still is. I regard it as the best and most satisfying of all conservative magazines. They were instrumental in leading Jeane Kirkpatrick, a liberal professor, to the Republican party and to the post of UN ambassador where she served stunningly.

But the bleak effects of the Kerner Report are with us yet. The continuing challenge against blacks who favor a more moderate way by being called “Oreos” by the militants, the expanded role of Jesse Jackson as extortionist are all vestiges of that ill-considered report. Just as with the Tet Offensive, the existentialist view of liberals…contrary to facts and history…is that it was a failure—giving birth to the “Iraq is lost” proclamation of Sen. Harry Reid. As with existentialism generally, what counts is not what is but the nobility of my feelings. I feel blacks should have overthrown “the Jewish teachers lobby” in Brooklyn; therefore it is a moral imperative. If there is resistance the Jews are at fault. Another vestige of existentialism is Fr. Michael Pfleger’s and others insistence that the murders among black poor are not caused by chaotic non-family structure or single-headed families but simply “the availability of guns-guns-guns.” Concentration on removal of guns relieves the poor of any appreciation of the role family stability plays in moral guidance. Guns supposedly go off by themselves and children are killed—not much concern is shown to how the children who roam the streets at night in gangs come from broken homes…for that would affix responsibility which for Pfleger and Jesse Jackson would be unpopular to admit.

Media go along since it is politically inadvisable to challenge. All existentialism is whim of the moment and angry rejection of facts that displease.

Thanks to all who participated and who may yet write on this issue.

`60s Defining Moment V: The Rise of Environmentalism: 1969.

With the perceived vacuousness of traditional religion there came good and bad: concern for conservation of resources but occasionally the worship of a new god—the earth. For practical purposes it began with the landmark book by Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring,” Pollution of the atmosphere became joined with criticism of technology. Interestingly enough, it was technology that gave the movement its first boost. Photographs of planet Earth made by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders from the command module windows of Apollo VIII electrified the nation and created the aura that we are all inhabitants of the same planet which seemed to blur national boundaries. There was perceived some smudges in the photos which were immediately ruled as pollution and started a grand furor. Environmentalism and anti-pollution are virtues but there has ever since been the danger of materialistic pantheism.

Global warming and the awarding to Al Gore of the Nobel Prize and all the attendant issues about environmentalism have produced Earth Day and the fear that we are going to be suffocating in factory smoke and poisoned water. And what of the population? Too many of us as Ted Turner says. Now I’d like you to comment on this Defining Moment: V. The Rise of Environmentalism. Itemize the good and unsalutary parts if you would.


  1. The acceptance of the fallacy that minority success in the classroom was dependent upon employing minority principals and teachers in the school buildings (and renaming the schools for minority heroes and role models, many of dubious historical fame) has proven to be an utter disaster for the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago. I have never forgotten an essay written by James Baldwin in which he posited that one of the prime reasons for desegregating public education and ending separate but equal schools was to liberate minority students from their minority principals and teachers who he derided as largely incompetent. Desegregation and affirmative action hiring policies have made public schools equal in that many schools are uniformly bad.

  2. Father Andy is being ignored. In this town, when Chicagoans get tired of one's guff, they tend to ignore the guffer.

    Guffer Greeley has bored a hole through me for decades, but, occasionally he shouts louder and I nod attention his way - kind of like, the class moron who, after years of belt watching silence, shoots his arm up, buttressed by his other arm fixed to the desk, 'S'ter, S'ter!!!! 1/32 is way bigger than 1/4 - I'd take 32 over 4 any day!' . . .

    . . . And. thus, my plumber was born and he should have gone to St. Mary of the Lake!

  3. I believe that our Country became aware of environmental abuse before the rise of "The Movement." Steps were taken at Federal and State levels to correct matters, and this is on going.

    Now however many vital energy needs are being ignored because of fear of these wackos. This is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's pipe smoking Energy Czar telling everyone to "buy a sweater."

  4. Rachel Carson's “Silent Spring,” has left a legacy of millions of dead especially in Africa. The main culprit in her book, DDT, was responsible for the eradication of malaria in southern Europe, Asia and South America. Under pressure from non governmental organizations working in Africa, most of the African countries stopped using DDT. There was also pressure from the U.S. government in the manner of no-DDT-use strings attached to foreign aid of various sorts. As a result, malaria deaths have shot up in Africa in the last 20 years and are about a million a year presently. In South Africa for example the apartheid government, under fire from all corners, had ended DDT use in the early 70s to try and find applause from the green crowd and malaria shot up and was killing tens of thousands. The present government, caring more about people than tree huggers, restarted the use of DDT a couple years ago and malaria is almost unheard of today. Next door in Mozambique, which doesn’t use DDT, malaria is the biggest killer of children.
    Carson and her book were the kindling for the great war on the modern economy where Cancer is seen lurking behind every corporate decision. She said modern chemicals would cause cancer in young children. False. The number of children who die from cancer is exactly the same as it was in the 1930s. Modern chemicals have brought us the greatest food production the world has ever seen and we are living longer and longer.
    I appreciate the environment but it is through the building of wealth, brought by modern capitalism, that we can protect the environment. Witness the cities in socialist China which have filthy air and polluted waterways. Much of that existed in the U.S. at one time but as wealth was created factories could afford the technology to clean up and spend the time to research new ways producing products cleaner.

  5. Years of public school indoctrination and misspent tax dollars on Earth Day celebrations, have failed to keep the young ones from littering at a frenzied pace, even within plain view of garbage cans.

    Environmentalism is a a pseudo-religion for cultists. While market forces and increased demand account for part of the soaring price of gasoline, the environmentalists will not let allow new refineries to be built and existing refineries to expand. Drilling for oil in the desolate Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, in a remote and inaccessible part of uninhabited Alaska above the Arctic Circle, is deemed to be the equivalent of strip mining in Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Blending ethanol with gasoline, a politically correct government subsidized program that is valueless, has caused food prices to soar while not producing meaningful new sources of fuel.

    I sometimes believe that the environmentalist will someday call for zero population growth and the eradication of people to spare the planet from humans.

  6. No matter how you cut it Mr. Roeser, your views are contributing greatly to an Obama win. By supporting the views of Mssrs. Podhoretz and Kristol etc., you are damaging the social conservative base of the Republican party and are destroying the coalition that made Ronald Reagan a winner. As a conservative in the Kristol mode you must then support open borders, free trade at any expense, big government spending, pre-emptive wars in support of Israel regardless of price.
    Mr. Roeser is the United States less important than Israel. Must we spend our treasury dry to without question following the Likud or Labor party of Israel or other more radical Zionist agendas? Do we really need to entangle our foreign policy in such a one sided and biased way? In the end what is in it for the United States? This is a tough question that must be asked. Must we "do" Iran next and then Syria. Is Iraq really a success or are we in there forever to keep the bad guys apart?

    Out dollar is becoming worthless, gasoline prices are going through the roof, stagflation is apparent, our debt is soaring, we are in the midst of a wretched credit crunch, and we are over run with illegal aliens who are sapping the system more than they pay in. Case in point. A taxpreparer in Lake County told me that she prepares taxes for illegal aliens so that they can get back the earned income tax credit; a payment from the rest of us.

    Mr. Roeser, with all due respect is the policies of the Kristols, the Podhoretzes, etc. that are destorying the Republican Party bit by bit and handing it over to the Democratic Party.
    Just what about this can you not see?
    Because of your foreign policy and economic views, you and those like you are handing this country over to the likes of an Obama on a silver platter.
    Are you proud of that? In a way you are just as culpable as George Soros in this. No wonder Republicans are not enthused to vote and are not donating to the likes of McCain.

  7. Obama's remark, "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

    Tom Roeser's comment, "To him you add the Pat Buchanan paleo-conservatives who wish to return to the libertarian pre-World War II era of the America First committee of happy memory and who feel that we have been betrayed, ill-served with internationalism, a promiscuous “free” trade that abjures protectionism, an immigration policy that requires a 10-year moratorium for even legal immigration and a domestic government the size of 1800’s…to which Ron Paul (believing erroneously--contrary to this nation’s founders did that every dollar spent on government is a dollar spent to deprive us of our liberties)".

    One comment emanating from the Liberal Left who despises the morality and the concerns of the middle class Americans under the squeeze.

    And the second comment emanating from the Neo-Con intellectuals who despise the values and economic position of the middle class Americans caught under the squeeze and yet want them to pay for fightin endless wars.

    Obama and Roeser are two peas from the same pod along their friends from the liberal left and the neo-cons who in reality are one in the same. Tom shame on you for believing the words of so called "former Marxists" who never wandered far from the fold.

    Is it any wonder that Roeser now says Obama is the inevitable president?

  8. Obama says the same thing Roeser says and Roeser gets huffy and high and mighty about it? Roeser's the one who's been compaining about a Christian America, and now he's mad that Obama says people cling to religion?