An Open Letter to Fellow Catholics: About That Letter by Robert P. George and George Weigel

Jack Kerwick
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Posted: Mar 15, 2016 12:01 AM
An Open Letter to Fellow Catholics: About That Letter by Robert P. George and George Weigel

To My Fellow Catholics,

On March 7, our brethren in the faith, Robert P. George and George Weigel, published an open letter in National Review addressed to the Catholic world.

Trump’s “appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice,” they assure us, “are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility [.]” Nor is there anything “in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.”

The authors also add that Trump’s position in favor of torturing terrorist suspects and killing their family members are not only condemned by the Church, but such policies “would bring shame on our country.”

George and Weigel “urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to reject” Trump’s “candidacy…by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate.”

And that candidate, of course, is one of the Republican candidates, for while the GOP is “imperfect, like all human institutions,” it is nevertheless a “serviceable” vehicle “for promoting causes”—like the “legal protection for unborn children, the physically disabled and cognitively handicapped, the frail elderly, and other victims of what St. John Paul II branded ‘the culture of death’”—that are “at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States.”

Where to begin?

The authors essentially make the same bipartisan Everything-and-the Kitchen sink argument against Trump that the hard and moderate left in the Democrat/Republican axis have been making against him for months. The only difference here is that this ad hoc hodgepodge line of reasoning, this GOP Establishment boosting, is decorated with the veneer of religiosity.

Inasmuch as George and Weigel don’t substantiate any of their assertions, theirs is, in effect, an extended ad hominem assault against the Republican presidential frontrunner.

For starters, Trump has most decidedly not made “appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice,” as the authors insist. He has noted, indisputably, that a not insignificant number of Mexican immigrants to the United States have been criminals. Not only is this documentable; those masses of working-class Americans whose persons and communities have suffered first-hand from the ravages of unrelenting immigration and who George and Weigel condescendingly suppose are animated by raw, irrational prejudice recognize Trump’s claim for the self-evident truth that it is.

As for Trump’s call to temporarily halt immigration from Islamic countries until we can ensure that we aren’t importing jihadists who want to slaughter Americans, this too is something that sounds eminently sensible to countless numbers of everyday Americans—however politically incorrect and professionally dangerous it sounds to Princeton academics and Beltway journalists.

George’s and Weigel’s charge of racial demagoguery fails. In leveling it, though, they “strain out the gnat while letting in the camel”:

Castigating Trump for allegedly stoking racial and ethnic division in advocating a position designed to spare injury to Muslim and non-Muslim alike out of one side of their mouths, they endorse Republican politicians who favor—and who have executed—the invasion of Third World lands of people of color. Consequently, well over 100,000 lives have been ended, families decimated and displaced, ancient Christian communities destroyed, and many more lives severely injured.

Trump opposed and remains strenuously opposed to the war in Iraq. He is the only presidential candidate who has not spoken belligerently about Putin or the heads of any other states. On the other hand, George and Weigel’s “serviceable” party and its “reformist” candidates continue to stand by the incalculable blood that’s been shed for most of this century as the price necessary for the sake of exporting “liberal democracy” to the Middle East.

Yet it is Trump who George and Weigel promise will bring “shame upon our country.”

The authors think that Trump will not serve the victims of “the culture of death”—but, presumably, Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz will.

This point is especially puzzling. What exactly do they expect for the President of the United States to do for, say, abortion? Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for over 40 years. Republicans have not only made no attempts to overturn this Supreme Court decision; they repeatedly assure their opponents that they will make no such attempts.

It’s true that Republicans continue to espouse their commitment to “life.” Trump does the same. As far as action is concerned, however, he can’t possibly be any worse in this regard than those of his fellow GOPers who have spent decades in Congress funding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

George served on the President’s Council on Bioethics under Bush II, who also awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal. But Bush II is the first president to have authorized federal funding for embryonic stem cell research—a move that certainly didn’t advance those concerns at the heart of “Catholic social concern.”

And then there’s the author’s contention that Catholics should vote for any other Republican but Trump because the latter is the one candidate who is not interested in “limited government.” This is probably true of Trump. As should be obvious to anyone who’s been alive for more than a handful of years, it’s at least as true of the other candidates and the GOP as a whole. But I will not elaborate upon the obvious here.

If the GOP is “serviceable” for us Catholics, then Trump may be all that much more serviceable.

In truth, however, George and Weigel are trying to make Catholics “serviceable” to the GOP.