Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eric Holder Promises Not to Kill or Torture Edward Snowden: I Feel So Much Better!

President Obama has tried to play down the Edward Snowden saga, saying he would not scramble jets to capture a 29 year-old hacker. But Edward Snowden, the high-tech whistleblower, is a very big deal indeed.

I solemnly promise not to torture Edward Snowden.

The U.S. accused Snowden of spying after he fled the country for Hong Kong. Now he is in Moscow hoping to make his way to one of three South American countries that have offered him asylum.  Vice President Joe Biden made personal phone calls to South American leaders trying to persuade them to turn Snowden away.

And now Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has seen fit to promise the Russian justice minister that the U.S. will not execute or torture Snowden if the Russians turn him over to us.

Can you imagine? America's top justice official feels compelled to assure Russia--Russia, for God's sake--that we won't kill or torture an American citizen!

Personally, I hope Snowden obtains asylum in a friendly country.  I am convinced he is a whistleblower and not a spy; and a lot of Americans agree with me.

But any conversation about extraditing Snowden from Russia should take place in the context of a larger conversation about America's lawless policies all over the world--including its policy of practicing 'extraordinary extradition' by kidnapping people and taking them to a third country to face torture.

The Italians, you recall, prosecuted several Americans for involvement in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan.  Robert Lady, head of the CIA's Milan office, was convicted for his participation in that crime and sentence to 9 years in an Italian prison.

But will the Americans turn Lady over to the Italians? It will not. In fact, the U.S. managed to get Lady out of Panama just a few days ago after he was detained there while Panamanian officials  considered whether to honor an Interpol request to send him back to Italy.

And let's not forget those drone attacks. The U.S., the mighty protector of human rights--has launched drone attacks all over the world, killing hundreds of people, including U.S. citizens. 

And it has the effrontery to ask the Russians to hand over Edward Snowden?

Before the Russians comply with the U.S. demand to return Snowden, the U.S. should be required to make three public promises;

1) It will not prosecute or persecute Edward Snowden in any way.
2) It will turn over Robert Lady to the Italians.
3) It will stop all drone attacks in countries with which we are not at war.

Why is this a Catholic issue? Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, founders of the Catholic Worker movement, believed we all have an obligation to make the world a little better, to help make the world a place where it is easier to be good.

The United States, by its arrogant disregard for human rights, is offending people all over the world--especially the Muslim world.  I think we would take a big step toward a more peaceful world if the United States behaved like a good global citizen. After all, the U.S. can't kill all its enemies with drones.  It needs to work to turn at least some of our enemies into friends.

References

Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung. Panama releases former CIA operative wanted by Italy. Washington Post, July 19, 2013.  Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/panama-releases-former-cia-operative-wanted-by-italy/2013/07/19/c73ebc12-f083-11e2-a1f9-ea873b7e0424_story.html

Michael S. Schmidt and Steven Lee Myers. U.S. Letter Says Leaker Won't Face Death Penalty. New York Times, July 27, 2013, A4.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Second Thoughts About Wrestling With Pigs: No Communion for Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi
Photo credit: Examiner.com
Back in the days when I practiced law, my senior partner gave me some very good advice. Admit your mistakes as quickly as possible, he advised. The longer you wait to address a mistake, the more the mistake will cost you.

A few days ago, I posted a blog entitled "Never Wrestle With a Pig," in which I argued that the bishops should not deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi, one of the nation's most prominent pro-abortion politicians. 

But I was wrong to give that advice.

I am reading Philip Lawler's wonderful book, The Faithful Departed, about the collapse of Catholic culture in Boston. I wish I had read it before I posted that blog.

Lawler shows how poor leadership over more than half a century led to the downfall of Catholic values and Catholic culture in Boston.  Basically, three cardinals--Cardinal Cushing, Cardinal Medeiros, and Cardinal Law--responded to every major challenge to the Faith by compromising with the enemies of the Church instead of providing courageous leadership.

As Lawler wrote in Chapter 10 of his book, the American bishops have largely shied away from confronting Catholic politicians who openly support abortion on demand.  Perhaps, as Lawler suggested, "they believed that they should avoid  confronting dissident politicians so that the liberal media would not accuse the Church of authoritarianism."

But by refusing to sanction Catholic political leaders who openly defy Catholic doctrine, the bishops have only weakened the Church and demoralized faithful Catholics.

And what have they gotten in return for their compromising spirit? The liberal media still attack the Church regularly.  How many times has Frank Bruni attacked the Catholic Church in the op ed pages of the New York Times?

In arguing against denying Communion to Nancy Pelosi, I said we should not wrestle with pigs by engaging in unseemly controversy that the Church's enemies would love to see.  But Lawler's book convinced me that compromise on basic doctrinal issues only weakens the Church.

I also wrongly compared Nancy Pelosi with ordinary Catholics who might have strayed from the Catholic life--by living with someone out of wedlock, for example. Of course I hope the clergy will be generous and forgiving to the Church's common sinners. But Nancy Pelosi is not a common sinner.  She is a powerful politician who openly defies Church doctrine on abortion--one of the most basic teachings of the Church.

Finally, I wrongly personalized this issue, comparing Nancy Pelosi to myself. Of course I would be devastated if my priest denied me Communion. And perhaps Nancy Pelois would be devastated as well. But people who repeatedly and publicly undermine Church teaching on the dignity of life should not receive Communion, no matter how painful it might be for the person who is turned away.

No, I am now convinced that the bishops should deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi and other pro-abortion Catholic officials--Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden among them. Edward Peters' blog essay, which I include in my references, makes a compelling and balanced case that Nancy Pelosi should be denied Communion under Canon 915.

Mr. Peters is right. I was wrong.

References

Edward Peters. One canon 915 case at a time: Nancy Pelosi. In the Light of the Law, March 25, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.canonlaw.info/2010/03/one-canon-915-case-at-time-nancy-pelosi.html

Philip Lawler. The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture. New York: Encounter Books, 2008.

Cort Kirkwood. Pelosi's Support for Abortion Tells a Larger Story. Crisis Magazine, June 20, 2013.




Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frank Bruni Has It Wrong: Sexual Abuse of Children Has Nothing--Repeat--Nothing to Do With Religion.

In yesterday's Times, Frank Bruni took on sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, but he couldn't resist a slap at the Catholic Church.  I write to comment on one pernicious passage in Bruni's op ed essay:
Frank Bruni
Photo credit NY Times

But some of the same dynamics that fed the crisis in Catholicism--an aloof patriarchy, an insularity verging on superiority, a disinclination to get secular officials involved--exist elsewhere. And the way they've played out in Orthodox Judaism illustrates anew that religion isn't always the higher ground and safer harbor it purports to be. It can also be a safe haven for wrongdoing.
In this passage, in my mind, Bruni is implying that religion sometimes play a roll in sexual abuse. But that simply isn't true.

The sexual abuse of children has nothing to do with religion--any religion, and certainly not the Catholic religion. Sexual abuse is about the abuse of power for perverted purposes and it takes place in every realm of every culture.

The law books are full of court cases that document sexual abuse by teachers in the public schools and the cowardly efforts by school administrators to cover it up. We've often seen sexual abuse by elected politicians that have nothing to do with religion. Witness Jerry Studds, the Congressman from Massachusetts, who was censored by the House of Representatives for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a Congressional page.

Jerry Studds in Washington
The Church's sexual abuse scandal was a terrible thing--the worst thing to happen to the Church since the first Spanish padres stepped onto the beaches of Florida in the early 16th century. Catholics need 
to understand it certainly, and we need to act decisively and even ruthlessly to stamp out all vestiges of abuse in our Church.

But the priests who raped Catholic children do not represent the Church. They used the Church for their evil purposes and that is all. If there is a Hell--and I think there is--they will certainly be there. And the Church leaders who covered it up may be there with them. They will surely spend a substantial amount of time in Purgatory.

But let's not let our enemies use this tragedy to hector us into abandoning fundamental tenets of Catholic doctrine--doctrine hammered out over centuries in the crucibles of martyrdom.  Now is the time to stand fast and reaffirm the ancient Faith.

In my mind, the best analysis of the sexual abuse scandal is The Faithful Departed, Philip Lawler's study of the collapse of Catholic culture in Boston. Lawler explains how the archbishops of the Boston Archdiocese began compromising fundamental Catholic doctrine more than half a century ago. So intent on staying in the good graces of Boston's secular elites (many of whom despised Catholicism), these archbishops set the stage for the epic sexual abuse scandal that broke the back of Catholic culture in Boston--once the crown jewel of the American Catholicism.

So--it was weakness, compromise and cowardice that set the stage for the Church's sexual abuse scandal, and these vices have nothing to do with Catholic doctrine or with the ecclesiastical structure of the Church.

Frank Bruni has repeatedly criticized the Catholic Church and its beliefs in the pages of the New York Times. He is like a wolf stalking a wounded caribou. Personally, I don't think Bruni and the Times will stop criticizing the Church until it abandons its doctrine on marriage and sexual morality and meekly submits to the dictates postmodernism.

But I for one am not willing to see our Mother Church neutered or destroyed by postmodernism. And I will bet my soul that the Church will recover from the sexual abuse debacle that torments us now and will flourish again in American culture and that it will continue as the Bride of Christ until the end of time--long after the New York Times is as forgotten as a moldy old book from the ancient library of Alexandria.

References

Frank Bruni, The Faithful's Failings. New York Times, July 23, 2013, p. A19.

Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture. New York: Encounter Books, 2008.

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Explains So Much! Lots of Obama's People Graduated From Elite Colleges

I recall seeing a cartoon awhile back showing the puppet Ernie from Sesame Street at the doctor's office. Ernie and his doctor were viewing Ernie's x-ray, which showed a giant hand in Ernie's torso.
This explains so much!
Credit: Wikipedia
"This explains so much," Ernie exclaimed.

Yes, and the National Journal's recent report showing where Obama administration officials went to college also explains a lot.  Among 250 prominent officials in the Obama administration, more received a graduate degree from Oxford University (the one in England) than any American public university.

More Obama officials got  their undergraduate degrees from Harvard than any other university.  Forty percent of the 250 Obama administrators got undergraduate degrees from Ivy League schools.  And if you added the one ones who went to other elite schools--Georgetown, University of Chicago, Williams, etc--I am sure we would find that more than half of them went to exclusive private colleges.

In my opinion, this is a bad thing and goes a long way toward explaining why the country is going to hell in a hand basket.

There is a common myth that people who graduate from elite colleges received an exceptional education and acquired skills and values that will make them valuable citizens.  But I don't think that's true. In fact,many of them acquire traits and outlooks that contribute to the degradation  of American culture.

Postmodernism. Most of the people who are schooled at our elite institutions are thoroughly indoctrinated  into the culture of postmodernism.  And what are the characteristics of postmodernism? Secularism (atheism); individualism (selfishness);  and relativism, the cynical worldview that there are no ultimate truths.

Without a moral compass to guide their lives, our postmodern elitists gravitate toward an obsessive drive for recognition, power, and gratification, which is portrayed so powerfully in the recent movie, The Ides of March.  In the beginning of the movie, the main character, played by Ryan Gosling, is a political idealist, but by the end he is a cynical, power-driven schemer, just like all the other political figures in the movie.

Provincialism. I received a doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education, which admittedly is the least prestigious school at Harvard; and so I won't say my experience was typical. Nevertheless, I was astonished by the provincialism of the people I met while I was at HGSE.

Most of them had only a hazy idea about United States history or geography. I think I could have given them a child's puzzle map of the United States and most of them would not have been able to put the states in their proper places.

We see this elite regionalism displayed when we look at where Obama's top advisers grew up. According to the National Journal report, half of the top people on Obama's second-administration team grew up in the Northeast corridor (including Maryland and Virginia) or oversees. Only 12 percent of his top people are from the South.

Racism and Bigotry. I also encountered a lot of racism and bigotry during the years I was at Harvard. Not the hard kind of bigotry that is stereotypically displayed in movies about the South, but a soft kind. People in my classes would make offhand remarks about the insensitivity of white males--the same people who would be sure to use the term "mentally challenged" instead of "retarded" when talking about people of limited intelligence.

And the obsession with affirmative action that infests our elite colleges is often nothing more than a thinly disguised contempt for working class white people. It would be one thing if affirmative action benefited a poor white kid who grew up in the Delta country of Arkansas without regard to race , but so often the beneficiary of affirmative action is a minority person who attended an elite private high school.

And bigotry toward Catholicism at our elite colleges? Hey, let's not go there. I've talked about that already.

Not Problem Solvers

It would be OK if Obama's top advisers all came from Harvard or some other elite school if these people were smarter than the rest of us.  But they are not.

Indeed, if Obama's advisers are so smart, what are we doing in Afghanistan?

If Obama's people are such great problem solvers, why haven't we taken one sensible step to solve the student-loan crisis or at least reduce the suffering of people who are overburdened by their college loans?

No Sense of Social Justice

Many of the graduates of our elite institutions believe they have a keen sense of social justice and are particularly sensitive to human rights issues.  But I don't think that is true either.

If these people have such a good sense of social justice, why is our economic system rigged such that pensioners and people on fixed incomes are forced put their retirement funds in the  risky stock market to get a decent return because the Fed keeps interest rates artificially low to benefit the banks?

And if Obama's people have such a keen pining for human rights, why won't Obama and his people allow Italy to extradite Robert Lady, the CIA operative who was convicted of involvement in a kidnapping in Milan?  How can the Obama administration howl for the rule of law when it comes to Edward Snowden while helping Robert Lady avoid the justice that was meted out for him in Italy.

No this country would be better off if we declared a moratorium on Ivy League graduates serving in any public office at the national level--and that includes the Supreme Court, which is stuffed with nine old fogies who all graduated from either Harvard Law School or Yale Law School.

I am only kidding of course. We can't ban people from public office just because they went to Harvard. My point, however is this: Our elite colleges are not preparing people to be good public servants. We need to put people in positions of authority who are truly civic minded, and many of the leaders we need received their education at good public universities, including the universities of the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain West, and the South.

References

Brian Resnick and Brian McGill. More Top Obama Officials Have Graduate Degrees from Oxford Than Any Public University in the United States. National Journal, July 19, 2013. Accessible at:
http://www.nationaljournal.com/decision-makers/more-top-obama-officials-have-graduate-degrees-from-oxford-than-any-public-university-in-the-united-states-20130719




Saturday, July 20, 2013

American Universities Should Help the Christian Universities of Africa

Since 9/11, nothing has shocked me more than the recent news that militant Islamists attacked a boarding school in Nigeria, killing about 30 children.  Most were burned alive when the attackers doused the children's residence hall with gasoline and set it afire. A few children were shot to death rather than burned--which was a mercy, I suppose.

And why were these children killed? Because they attended a Western school.
 
Let's Get Out of Afghanistan, Where Everybody Hates Us, and Help Christian Africa

When President Bush sent troops into Iraq, I remember thinking that he surely knew best. When President Obama doubled down in Afghanistan and sent 30,000 additional troops to the fight, I had my qualms; but again I figured his military people must know what they are doing.

And if President Obama--a Nobel Peace Prize winner--wanted to widen the war in Afghanistan, well then, that must be the right thing to do.
Aftermath of bombing at Catholic Church in Tanzania (AP photo)
But lately I've decided to do my own thinking, and I urge others to do the same. Surely even a child can see that a dozen years of warfare in Afghanistan--years during which we bribed the Pakistanis to allow us to pack supplies over the Khyber Pass and sent packets of cash to the Karzai regime--has accomplished nothing.  The British and the Russians mucked around Afghanistan to their sorrow, and we too now know we made a mistake.  We just don't have the courage to admit it.

Even a small-town college professor like me can see that the United States has sent men and women to die in the Middle East in support of various regimes that don't like us, don't respect us, and share none of our values. We've squandered our national wealth, our national power, and our role as a world leader by launching these disastrous military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Militant Islam is making great strides in Africa.

Last May, terrorists threw a bomb into a crowd of worshippers at St. Joseph Mfanyakazi Catholic Church in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, killing two people. Tanzania is about evenly split between Christians and Muslims, and the two groups have lived together peacefully for many years. This incident of sectarian violence is deeply worrying.
 
And let's take a look at Mali. Although Mali is about 90 percent Muslim and only about 10 percent Christian, the two religious communities have lived together in relative harmony.

But that was before militant Islamists showed up and established a rump state, which they called Asawad.  They imposed a harsh regime over the areas of Mali they controlled, even executing people  The French did the right thing when they drove Islamic adventurers out of northern Mali earlier this year.

American Universities Could Help Strengthen African Higher Education

I am not a military person. Frankly, I don't know any more than the New York Times does about military strategy.  But I am an educator, and I've spent some time observing African higher education, which has a very weak infrastructure.

The United States has excessive resources in the higher education realm. We've got more colleges and universities than we know what to do with. We should put some of them to work in Africa.

For several years, our elite institutions have been establishing branches in the Middle East. New York University is in Abu Dhabi. Carnegie Mellon University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Texas A & M are in Qatar. George Mason University was in Ras al Khaymah for a time.

Why are they there? To make money, of course. As Congressman Dana Rohrabacher  observed, “A lot of these educators are trying to present themselves as benevolent and altruistic, when in reality, their programs are aimed at making money.”

I was briefly heartened by recent Reuters news story reporting that America's wealthiest universities have taken an interest in Africa.  Before I read the article, I assumed that interest meant an educational interest. But no, university endowment funds want to invest in Africa because they think they can make money.

William McLean, who manages Northwestern University's huge endowment, put it this way in an interview with Reuters: "Our motivations are making some money."

But why don't American universities establish a philanthropic presence in the underdeveloped regions
Student Union Office
Uganda Martyrs University
of Africa by partnering with African universities to help them develop their infrastructures? After all, the African universities are struggling, and they could use some help from their American counterparts.

Which ones should we help?  I can only comment on East Africa, but in the nations of Kenya, Tanzania and Kenya, the best and most respected universities are the ones begun by Christan denominations--particularly those founded by the Catholic Church.  In general, the Christian universities in East Africa are more disciplined, more civic minded and less corrupt than the public institutions.  Uganda Martyrs University, for example, is highly regarded as the most rigorous university in Uganda; and St. Augustine University in Mwanza, Tanzania is likewise well respected.

Strengthening Christian universities in Africa will strengthen African Christianity, which must be supported and maintained to preserve peace and stability in that part of the world  A radical element is loose in Africa that is willing to burn children alive just for going to school.  If American universities don't care about that, what do they care about?

References

Adamu Adamu, Michelle Faul. 29 boarding school students burned alive, shot dead by Islamists militants in Nigeria.  NBCNews.com. July 6, 2013.

Jon Lee Anderson. Letter from Timbuktu: State of Terror. New Yorker, July 1, 2013, pp. 37-47.

Tamar Lewin. Universities Rush to Set Up Outposts Abroad, New York Times, February 10, 2008. Accessible at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/education/10global.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Tosin Sulaiman. Insight--Africa makes the grade for richest U.S. university investors. Reuters, July 7, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/08/africa-endowments-idUSL5N0FB2IZ20130708



Monday, July 8, 2013

Frank Bruni is correct: The Church's shepherds were errant during the priest child-abuse scandal. But Bruni was wrong to criticize Cardinal Dolan.

In 1989, Judith Herman wrote a profound book entitled Trauma and Recovery, in which she linked the research on combat trauma with the physical and psychological trauma inflicted on civilians--victims of incest, child molestation, spousal abuse, etc. Herman made a major contribution to psychiatric literature when she pointed out that symptoms of combat stress and the symptoms exhibited by psychological and sexual abuse victims were similar and that both groups suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder--PTSD.

In her book, Herman asserted that everything we know today about PTSD was known after the First World War, when young men came home with "combat fatigue" and "shell shock." In the years following the Great War, medical professionals identified the causes and symptoms of PTSD
Bruni was wrong to criticize
Cardinal Dolan.
Photo credit: NY Times
and came to realize that the damage for some young men was permanent.

Unfortunately, the medical profession and society in general forgot what we learned about PTSD after World War I. After all, it is inconvenient to contemplate the damage inflicted on the powerless by violence, sexual exploitation of the young, and psychological abuse.  So--we pushed what we knew about PTSD out of our minds.

Obviously, the Catholic Church leadership--bishops, church administrators and even some cardinals--suffered from an unaccountable lapse in human compassion when they failed
to report sexually abusive priests to the police and covered up what they knew about the abuse.  In case after case,  church leaders assigned priests who were known child rapists to positions where they would continue to prey on children.

As a scholar, I have written a great deal about sexual abuse in the public schools and have served as an expert witness in a case brought by parents of a child who committed suicide after being abused by a school employee in a Catholic school.  Nevertheless, I still can't fathom why our Catholic Church leaders failed to stop the sexual abuse of children and even hid it from the police.

Even a person of the meanest understanding knows that the sexual abuse of a child demands swift and sometimes even ruthless action by responsible adults.  I know because I once was a practicing lawyer who represented school districts and confronted sexual abuse in the public schools very early in my career.

Even though I had no special training or expertise in the sexual abuse of children at the time I handled my first case of school-based child molestation, I knew my clients had legal and moral obligations that were not negotiable.

Even as a unseasoned country lawyer (I practiced law in Alaska and represented rural school districts), these rules were immediately apparent to me:

1. First, my clients were obligated by state law to report suspected child abuse to the police or the state children's services agency. This was an urgent legal obligation. They could not delay reporting for a week or even a day.  They were obligated to report immediately.
2. My clients were obligated to get suspected child abusers away from children and to promptly begin dismissal proceedings if the evidence warranted.
3. My clients were obligated to cooperate with the police in child-abuse investigations and criminal prosecutions.
4. Finally, under no circumstances would my clients cooperate with sexually abusive employees to help them find new jobs that would allow them to get access to more children.

Obviously, if Catholic bishops had followed these four rules, the Church would not be in the trouble it is in today. And Frank Bruni was right to call attention to the Church's "errant shepherds" in his recent op ed essay on the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Indeed, every priest who raped or molested a child and every Church administrator who helped cover it up has imperiled his soul.  What was it Jesus said? "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause of one of these little ones to stumble."

Nevertheless, I disagree with Bruni's characterization of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's response to the sexual abuse scandal in the Milwaukee Archdiocese when Dolan was archbishop there.  As Archbishop, Dolan had a responsibility to rid his archdiocese of abusers, but he also had a responsibility to protect Church assets in a prudent way. After all, the Milwaukee Archdiocese is responsible for church buildings, schools, and various Catholic charitable institutions where great good takes place.

As far as I know, Cardinal Dolan did nothing inappropriate regarding the priest abuse scandal in the Milwaukee Archdiocese when he was archbishop there; and nothing Bruni said in his recent op ed essay convinced me otherwise. As Bruni himself wrote, Dolan "has often demonstrated a necessary vigor in ridding the priesthood of abusers."

Certainly all priests who raped or molested children should be in jail. Indeed, if it were not for Pope John Paul's rejection of capital punishment in civil societies, I would be tempted to say some of these priest should have been executed.

And certainly, any member of the Church hierarchy who hid evidence of priestly child abuse from the police should be in jail as well. In fact, if even one Catholic bishop had served jail time for covering up sexual abuse, that abuse would probably have stopped all over the world.

But lets not besmirch our honorable and upright Church leaders--men like Cardinal Dolan--for the sake of making a point about the Church's tragic errors.  Our Church needs spiritual leaders like Cardinal Dolan, now more than ever.

References

Frank Bruni, The Church's Errant Shepherds. New York Times, July 7, 2013, Review Section, p. 3.

Judith Herman. Trauma and Recovery.New York, NY: Basic Books, 1992.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free": As a Catholic, I support humanitarian asylum for Edward Snowden

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  Who said that?
This man deserves humanitarian asylum

Wait wait. . . don't tell me.  It's on the tip of my tongue.  It will come to me in a minute.

Well--it's probably not important who said it. In any event, our national government has strayed so far from the truth that we are nowhere close to being set free.

Here are just a few recent examples of our government's deceptions:
  • Lois Lerner, an IRS administrator, testified before Congress that her agency did nothing wrong when it targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. She then took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions!
  • James Clapper, Director of the National Intelligence Agency, lied in a Senate Hearing, admitting later that he tried to answer a Senator's question in the "least untruthful manner."
  • An FBI agent shot and killed  Ibragim Todashev, who had been linked to the Boston Marathon bombing, while Todashev was being questioned in his home.  The FBI claimed Todashev unexpectedly attacked the FBI agent and at least two other officers with what one official described as "a knife, a pipe or something"  A month after the killing, the FBI still won't identify just exactly what kind of weapon the poor guy was wielding.
Not only do our government officials lie to us, they don't try hard to hide their deceptions. As Colonel

"You can't handle the truth!"
Nathan Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) put it so famously in the movie A Few Good Men, the governments seems to think "You can't handle the truth!"

That's why I support humanitarian asylum for Edward Snowden, the Department of Defense contractor who revealed to the press that our government has been secretly snooping on its citizens and our nation's European allies.  And I was pleased to learn today that the nation of Bolivia has offered Snowden asylum.

 I agree with The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that Snowden is a whistleblower who "made classified information about widespread surveillance available to the American public.

Why do I think so? First, as Ackerman pointed out, there is no evidence to suggest that Snowden is a spy, that he gave sensitive information to our nation's enemies, or that he was motivated to act by malicious motives. 

Second, Snowden is a brilliant young man who obtained security postings in Switzerland and Japan and had a cushy job with a prestigious consulting firm.  Snowden had everything to lose and nothing to gain by releasing sensitive information to two American newspapers.  I am convinced he blew the whistle on government spying as a self-sacrificing act of patriotism. 

Third, as a Catholic, I am aware that our government has persecuted civic-minded and decent people from time to time throughout our national history--including Catholics. 

For example, J. Edgar Hoover considered Dorothy Day a threat to national security beginning in the early 1940s.  That's right--our saintly Dorothy Day.  Hoover considered Dorothy to be an "erratic and
Hoover considered putting Dorothy
Day in an internment camp.

irresponsible person" who had an unacceptably hostile attitude toward the FBI. 

The FBI opened a file on Dorothy Day in 1940, which eventually grew to 575 pages (not including expurgated pages the FBI never released).  In 1941, before the United States entered World War II, Hoover filed a memorandum in which he recommended putting Dorothy in "custodial detention" in the event of a national emergency (Forest, 2011, p. 269). Can you imagine that--Dorothy Day in an American concentration camp!

As I have written before, I believe the day will come when Catholics will be persecuted in this country for their religious beliefs. Not me, of course. I confess I am too much like Rick in the movie Casa Blanca to do anything that will get me persecuted.  Remember what Rick said? "I stick my neck out for nobody."

But, like Edward Snowden, some Catholics will stick their necks out; and like Snowden they are likely to face government persecution. Let's hope Edward Snowden makes it safely to a friendly country like Bolivia.  The day may come when some American Catholics will be forced to join him. 

References

Christopher Drew & Scott Shane. Resume Shows Snowden Honed Hacking Skills. New York Times, July 4, 2013. 

Jim Forest. All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2011.

Spencer Ackerman. Edward Snowdon is a whistleblower, not a spy--but do our leaders care? The Guardian, July 5, 2013.

Glen Kessler, James Clapper's 'least untruthful' statement to the Senate. Washington Post, June 12, 2013.

Maria Saccetti. FBI tight-lipped on Todashev killing. Boston Globe. June 6, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/06/05/fbi-tight-lipped-todashev-but-not-past-shootings/61DuyVBjEIqm37JcAeT5bL/story.html

Michael S. Schmidt, William K. Rashbaum, & Richard A. Oppel, Jr. Deadly End to F.B.I. Queries on Tsarnaev and a Triple Killing. New York Times, May 22, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/us/officer-involved-in-shooting-of-man-tied-to-tsarnaev.html?_r=0


Note: My account of Dorothy's brush with the FBI comes from Jim Forest's excellent biography of Dorothy Day, entitled All Is Grace.