I was raised by an intersection of white and Catholic communities, often finding myself in spaces saturated by people belonging to both groups. My hypothetical religious resume boasts a baptism, confirmation, and a degree from the only United States educational institution founded by Catholic bishops. In these spaces I have found that the religious conservatives express both their white fragility and Catholic piety in strikingly similar ways, perhaps because of political bubbles and echo chambers. The result is not only that the convictions in faith and politics bleed together, but also that the white conservative develops a singular technique for rhetoric. My assertion is that there is a symbiotic relationship between white fragility and Catholic piety.
The arguments below are frequent assertions by this individuals within this Catholic and white crossroads. Each header introduces a comparison between a Catholic conservative and white conservative mindset. They are forged in a similar spirit and feature comparable logical fallacies.
Abortion and Black on Black Crime
- Catholic conservatives perpetually protest the existence of safe and legal abortions without exploring related discussions that involve issues of healthcare, economics, and crime. The result is that Catholics find themselves fixated on a singular issue rather entertaining a discourse about sustainable solutions for improving the holistic human experience.
- White conservatives often respond to anecdotes of police brutality by citing statistics about inner-city violence. These statistics have no rational or logical connection to unarmed people of color being shot by police and are often cited without acknowledgment of the redlining, education inequity, and other discriminatory policies that underlie inner-city violence.
- Both arguments are lazy versions of red herrings. A genuine desire for improvement would inspire a much broader, intellectually taxing conversation. Instead, the low hanging fruit of the right to choose and urban violence are picked because of their appeal to the lowest common denominator and their ability to sidestep the complex climate underlying both issues.
Gay Marriage and Affirmative Action
- Catholic conservatives believe that the legality of gay marriage will erode the value of heterosexual marriage or “redefine” it, as if marriages are a currency susceptible to inflation.
- White conservatives assert that the existence of welfare and affirmative action programs devalue their achievements of the hardworking white middle class, often using the framing of handouts and “Obama phones.”
- These are examples of false equivalencies. The opposition of affirmative action is built on the false belief that America is a true meritocracy. The white woman who believes her college prospects are reduced by affirmative action misunderstands the relation between herself and her minority counterparts. Similarly, the entitlement toward a traditional definition of marriage relies on a contention that love and modern partnership is a zero sum game where a value can be assigned to each marriage and somehow can effect the value of other marriages. In short, both parties overestimate the degree in which they are affected by policies targeting minorities.
Sex Scandals and White Terrorism
- Catholic conservatives refuse to acknowledge the rampant sexual perversion of leaders within the Church. There are notable examples of the church silencing victims and employing a hierarchal system of clergy that makes culpability for these actions rare.
- White conservatives shrug at the overwhelming empirical evidence that demonstrates white male’s proclivity toward violent acts and terrorist attacks. Instead, the white moderate will devote attention to the threat of radicalized Muslims or exercise complicity in a system that over-represents black people as criminals.
- It reasonable to state that there are problematic aspects of the church’s orientation toward sexuality and the white community’s rationalization of toxic masculinity. These features of the culture have devastating consequences but rather than concede the existence of an issue, both groups spend more time denying and deflecting.
In each of these cases, a healthy dose of humility dissolves any allegiance to these flawed premises. This humility will have to be borne from a desire to improve quality of life for all global citizens and will require a dampening in American’s feverish identification with their political affiliations. The truth can belong to those who engage rich and diverse discourse and hides from those who surround themselves with ideological counterparts. It is worth mentioning that the left is guilty of echo chambers that rival the aforementioned in both intensity and ignorance. However, these parallelisms are the cause of an intellectual embargo within each contingent of the country. Without the free flowing exchange of ideas, red and blue opinions will continue to sound like diluted, parroted versions of one another.