02 September 2016

No Mercy: Review Uses Space to Promote White Guilt

Here we go.

I saw this op-ed earlier, but I've tried to refrain from shooting fish in the Review's barrel for some time now.  On first read I just shook my head and wondered what in the world is the point of having a diocesan newspaper anymore.

But Canon212, by linking the piece, has rightly shamed me into posting about this embarrassing and silly piece in Our Archdiocese's newspaper of record.  Essentially, it is just the type of race pandering, race baiting, juvenile fake-apology-for-no-reason-to-prove-how-non-racist-I-am that you would expect from a high school student newspaper or perhaps the Oprah Winfrey show audience. 

In other words, I would say it is all just a lot of light and heat, signifying nothing, except there isn't any light and the heat is about the strength of a refrigerator light bulb.

Consider: this piece was written. Then it was submitted. Then someone decided to publish it.  

Anyway, here are some excerpts, with a bit of my own commentary:

Understanding, then addressing, ‘white privilege’

By Cathy Pressimone

As a white woman, I've had to work hard to understand that I'm privileged in a way that my black brothers and sisters are not. [...] Don't be alarmed, she is not about to engage in any meaningful discussion of the differences in races. Nor is she hinting that her black brothers and sisters aren't children of God just like good old white people-- because even in today's intellectual and theological wasteland this is not controversial.

I have never walked into a store — as a white mother of many children — and felt that I was being watched as a potential problem. I have never been followed when I have gone into a shop or walked in the mall, just because of the my skin color. Great. Thanks for sharing. Have you shopped in a predominantly black neighborhood? Or have you walked down St. Louis Avenue after dark? Those questions are equally relevant; that is to say, equally irrelevant.

I have never wondered how a police officer was going to treat me if he pulls me over for speeding, running a red light or stop sign. I have never wondered if I was pulled over because the officer thought I was driving a car out of my league or because of the color of my skin. I have never wondered whether a police officer would draw his weapon when I reach into the glove compartment for my registration and insurance papers. This is a grotesque oversimplification and mostly inaccurate parroting of the false narrative that is paralyzing our country and preventing any real progress in race relations and in protecting civil liberties.  

This peace of mind, freedom from fear, doesn't exist for my black brothers and sisters; sons and daughters. The situations experienced by black neighbors and friends are the opposite of my experience. [...] Doesn't exist? At all? with your black neighbors? Is your neighborhood so racist? I'm thinking this is a mere rhetorical device.

A good friend who is a retired federal judge — a black woman — doesn't know of any black acquaintance who hasn't been pulled over without cause. An African-American university president was pulled over with an excuse that his tail light was out and given a warning. He stopped a couple blocks away to check; his tail lights were working fine. Is this the equivalent of assuring us that "some of my best friends are black?" Obviously, the story, if intended to relate an actual event, is hearsay.

This is what "white privilege" means. This inequity is something I have and can't discard, share or opt out. I'm aware I have benefited from it without intent. I don't even know if it is something for which I can apologize. You can't without looking like really silly, but hey, go right ahead.

But I want to correct this. There needs to be culpability and acknowledgement among white people, whether or not we're intentional in our "white privilege." I find no culpability for being the person that God created, the way he created me. Why does there need to be culpability? For what? This is truly asinine. 

We need to address our black sisters and brothers, look them straight in the eyes, and ask, "What can I/we do? What will prove to you my/our willingness to stand for your rights and freedom? How can I/we make amends in a world where racism is allowed to exist? Can you forgive me/us?" Here's one idea: treat them truly equally-- like adults, who don't need to be condescendingly pandered to by someone brainwashed into liberal guilt. You know, the magic guilt of a liberal that tends to make one feel, in fact, quite smug.

Pressimone is pastoral associate at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Clayton. Actually, the parish includes portions of Clayton and University City. Median household income: $210,057; 5.9% black population. Parish registration forms can be had at the rectory.


Anonymous said...

All I needed to do was skip to the last line to understand the reasoning behind all of this. Let's dissect it: (1) The writer is a pastoral associate. Pastoral associate is the very definition of "liberal Catholic". No conservative, and very few moderates (at least those that take time to think about it), see any need for this role and believe it should be abolished. According to them, laypeople should not be doing a job that belongs to the pastor. Thus, the only type of person willing and desiring to serve in this role is a liberal who wants a lay priesthood. (2) The parish is Our Lady of Lourdes. The writer is from a parish where, quite literally, the street that runs behind the property won't allow yard signs of any sort, including "for sale" signs. They say this is to keep things all nice and tidy looking, but lets be honest, that's only double-speak for finding a way to keep undesirables (read: African-Americans) out of the area. Any parish where a substantial portion of your parishioners act in that manner needs to make themselves feel better and pretend they are working for the betterment of the community that they won't ever live with. (3) The address of the parish is listed as Clayton. Last time I checked, the parish is physically located in University City (unless the angels recently carried it away without making the news - and that's a story even the liberal media couldn't hide!). By placing the parish in Clayton, it makes the parish appear even whiter and more likely to be suffering from 'white-privilege syndrome'. If it was listed as U-City, (a city with a substantial black population - even if it is segregated to the poorer part of town), one might think the whites of the parish had already begun to address their so-called 'white privilege' by embracing their African-American neighbors. But if the parish is in Clayton, everyone knows the best they can hope for is black friends, because they certainly don't have black neighbors - thus giving more credibility to the writer's inherent and life long 'white privilege' mantra.

What a joke of an article!

- YoungCatholicSTL

Peggy said...

This was awful drivel. It was linked at Canon 212 I believe. Yes, "pastoral associate" is all one needs to know. Thanks for running down the demographics of her parish. There is so much to fisk. You did a nice job. The archdiocese should apologize to the faithful for publishing this unCatholic garbage.

Anonymous said...

A few observations to start:

1) While I do not like the term “white privilege” – it makes sound like confetti and joyous bells go off every time I walk into a building – I would be hard-pressed to say that the statistical experience of a young black person, especially male, in traffic stops, in stores, in job applications, etc. is exactly the same as mine. And I mean a young black person with the same academic, career, and social background as myself. Yes, privilege is not a solely one-way street – there are scholarship monies that my skin color cannot access, there are ethnic/gender/etc. topics that are off-limits to me, and so on – but on the whole, I suspect the net deference of society tends to lean my way as a white man.
2) I also think the impacts of any inbuilt societal biases on minority communities is dwarfed by the impact of family breakdown in poor urban communities – entire neighborhoods of boys are growing up looking for male role models on the street that are unavailable at home, and a generation of girls never learns that a man can love them simply for who they are, but only that men’s affections must be lured.

All that said, this post talks of “smug” liberal guilt, but I cannot say I saw a whole lot of “meek and humble of heart” in the critique either.

1) So the story of the man pulled over despite functioning tail lights is implied to be invalid evidence because it is hearsay. Well, I have yet to see objective, concrete evidence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican; I presume were I to browse the archives of this site, I would find that rumor dismissed as “hearsay”? Has this site ever been guilty of using hearsay to bolster a point it wants to make? I will fully admit I have in various debates.
2) You suggest there is no culpability for Americans of European ancestry to apologize for, with which I would largely agree. However, I also have to believe you know that Ms. Pressimone is not calling for you to apologize for your lack of melanin (“the way He created me”), but rather is calling for white society to apologize for a man-made social system she perceives as discriminatory. To suggest the former in your commentary strikes me as a bit of rhetorical device.

Anonymous said...

3) The statistics quoted in the final comment on Our Lady of Lourdes Parish warrant some elaboration. First of all, the editors can be forgiven for placing the parish in Clayton because city boundaries are not at all clear in the Archdiocesan parish map website, and the word “Clayton” is about half as far away from the church location as the words “University City”; the Clayton boundary is actually about one block south of the parish campus.

Regarding the $210,000 median (household, not individual) income figure quoted to make the parish look as limousine liberal as possible:

- That data appears to be for a six-square-block City-Data block group that the church happens to fall on the edge of; the neighboring block group – literally across Asbury Avenue from the church – has a median household income of $76,000. In short, the $210,000 is not representative of Clayton, University City, 63105, 63130, or Our Lady of Lourdes parish territory as a whole (though obviously those areas are on the upper end of regional incomes).
- Statistics can be deceptive: A block where five households make $2 million per year, one household makes $210,000, and five households make $10,000 a year also has a $210,000 median household income, but that figure surely is not descriptive of 10 of the 11 households.
- Regarding the inclusion of Ms. Pressimone’s position as pastoral associate, obviously parish staff positions are not famous for being lucrative. Granted, we could do away with pastoral associates altogether – we would simply need to conduct a wave of parish closures larger than the 2005 one under Archbishop Burke, so that every remaining parish can have at least two priests to cover the workload.
- But Ms. Pressimone is married to the presumably better-heeled president of Fontbonne University, Michael Pressimone, meaning they likely have oodles of disposable cash. After all, his bio also notes they raised twelve children, and I am sure any traditionalist Catholic family would testify that virtually allows a family to wallpaper its living room with the excess dollar bills they have. (His bio also notes that the couple works in RCIA, meaning they engage in the groundwork of bringing people into the Church, and had a previous stint at Belmont Abbey College, fairly stalwart in its orthodoxy and a leading plaintiff in the HHS lawsuits.)

I labor over this point because the premise of this blog post is that Ms. Pressimone and the Review have been lax in their research.

Anonymous said...

The above really encapsulates the dilemma that the traditional Catholic blogsphere poses for me. It provides a number of good, and otherwise unexplored, topics, but so often adopts the tone that anyone with a diverging take must be a moron or dishonest (or “lyin’”, as some might say). Heck, when I had the temerity to dispute the nomme de blog “St. Corbinian’s Bear” on some Church hierarchy issue, he somehow parlayed that disagreement into a hypothesis that I am transgendered, which is fairly rich charge from someone who publicly, enthusiastically self-identifies with the genus Ursus. And that kind of stuff is frankly a deterrent to people who might be curious about Tradition; imagine someone who might be wondering if the Mass of the Ages really is the next logical step in their faith growth, only to read that a) the Novus Ordo Mass is so “obviously flawed” that he/she, and much of his/her family, have simply been useful idiots for FrancisChurch to not notice thus far and b) any theological or liturgical misstep he/she makes is grounds for derisive online merriment.

So that is why I will conclude my daily reading of this blog, insignificant as that departure is. I actually owe a good deal to this blog. The snippet on the woman clothed in the sun and September 2017, even if it turns out to be flawed astronomy, is one of the most valuable wake-up calls I have received in recent times. I was grateful for the early reporting of the Traditional Anglican Communion being welcomed back to the flock, as well as the flirtations of rapprochement with the Society of St. Pius X. The observational post that, as much as we talk about a range of issues, the overwhelming bulk of Church dissensions arise from rejections of classical Christian sexual morality is one I have borrowed and brought up unfailingly with a number of bishops to whom I have written over the years. It has crystallized for me the realization that the Tridentene Mass suffers no temptation to entertainment (even though I am willing to suffer that risk in the Novus Ordo in trade for its more accessible language), and that the key criterion for any act of worship is whether it is motivated by a desire to glorify God or the actor… and that I cannot automatically presume the former for the priest celebrating ad orientam or the organist, nor the latter for the guitarist or liturgical dancer.

But my comment here, like so many prior, is more full of snark than I planned, so it is time for me to avoid the near occasion of sin. Not to mention that my argument to assume the best in people’s intentions, even if their position is wrongheaded, has been made. There are numerous candles to be lit in the Church and world, but in forums like this I spend precious time and mental resources simply arguing over just how @#$%^! dark it is, which is not productive for myself or anyone I inflict my opinions on.

So, I appreciate that my contrarian opinions have been posted, even though they do not have to be. God bless, everybody, and say a prayer for our city, state, country, and world… 2017 is going to be a rough ride.

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

thetimman said...

Well, Bryan, I feel bad now. I wish you wouldn't drop the effort to read here. I always enjoy your comments-- obviously you put thought into them, and probably more than is put into many of the posts that incite them.

I don't apologize for Bing strident at times-- I think a shock is good for the system many a time. But remember that your blogger is flawed like anyone else, and doesn't always hit the mark he seeks. Nunc coepi.

God bless.

Trad Deacon said...

On point again and 110% right, Timman. I too was wondering why such propaganda makes it to our diocesan paper. Just to get my bearings I asked my balanced wife to give me her opinion after a read. She concurred ( a pleasant event). Check the events going on in our diocese, we are providing lots of guilt inducing opportunities. We have a new set of non-negotiable issues based on race and ethnicity. But hey who am I to judge! Trad Deacon

traddadof4 said...

The "narrative" ... Whites all evil and privileged, Blacks lacking all agency.. is the reason race relations get worse and worse. The problem of race is extremely complex, factually and morally. And that is the truth. As Catholics we should be about truth, even inconvenient truth.

Peggy said...

This was part of a concerted archdiocesan effort. See today (9/9) STltoday for an article on a full on push on "racial divide" issues in the STL area.