Recent postings on social media have made me ponder the subject of hateful overreaction. I speak specifically about the racism that exists in certain narrow “conservative” circles. (I put the word in quotes because I find that many who call themselves by that name conserve nothing but some revolutionary status quo or another.)
Jim Crow Laws in the South were a bad thing, and they were a reaction to another bad thing, namely, the horrors of Reconstruction, which witnessed a malicious vindictiveness imposed on the American Southland by the victorious Union. This does not make the Jim Crow laws right, for one cannot justify an injustice by pointing to an earlier injustice.
There exists, in some small segments of the American Right, a new breed of racism. It’s hard to miss in certain corners of the social media. Overreacting to the injustices and stupidities of political correctness, historical revisionism, reckless immigration policies, affirmative action, statue smashing, anti-white racism, etc. — in short, reacting to the progressivists’ general hatred for all things historically Western, Christian, and European — these folks have elevated racial issues far above their actual importance and have become what their enemies want them to be: genuine racists.
A Catholic cannot be such. We recognize saints among the white Nordic peoples of northern Europe; the olive-skinned Mediterranean peoples of southern Europe; the black peoples of southern India and Sub-Saharan Africa; the brown peoples of Latin America, Armenia, the Arab world, and India; the yellow peoples of Japan and Korea; the red peoples of the Americas, and even the various peoples of our own national melting pot in the good old U S of A. We are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. What matters is the unity we have in the Mystical Body, where Faith, Hope, and Charity forge stronger ties than flesh, blood, or “race.”
If you hate what the progressivists are doing by destroying the last dying embers of Christendom that yet exist, don’t become a Nietzschean, a Klansman, a Neo-Nazi, or a Christian Identity nut. Become part of the new Christendom; become a faithful Catholic dedicated to tradition and to the Church’s saving mission under Christ the King and Mary the Queen. Desire to receive your Eucharist Lord kneeling (yes, kneeling) alongside Arabs, Africans, Mexicans, Filipinos, and Jews. And if you don’t have any of those where you worship, this is not a problem; you shouldn’t seek some out just to prove you’re not a racist. That’s artificial. Just appreciate the fact that you kneel at a Catholic altar rail in communion with such people wherever they worship.
Let me finish these lines with a story.
In 1982, a Jew by the name of Israel Cohen was in the parking lot of Saint Benedict Center in Still River, Massachusetts. What brought him there was the fact that he had Catholic relatives, some of whom worshiped there. In fact, he was bringing his grandson to our school. Israel had been told that he had to become a Catholic, but as yet, he was an unbaptized Jew. Already in his eighties, Mr. Cohen did not have much time left in this world, and that time seemed up when he had a heart attack right in the parking lot. An excited crowd of children, including Mr. Cohen’s granddaughter and great grandson, ran to Brother Francis, telling him that something was very wrong. When he arrived, Brother Francis realized that Israel could be dying.
Some of my readers know that Brother Francis is an Arab from Lebanon, a fact that should be kept in mind as you continue reading.
Brother said to Israel words to this effect: “Israel, you could be dying. Do you want to die a Catholic? You have to be baptized.” Without any doubt, Mr. Cohen made it known that he wanted to leave this world in the embrace of the Church, so Brother Francis baptized him. Mr. Cohen lived for almost another year, during which time he was catechized and came to lectures at the Center. He died a happy death with the sacraments of Holy Mother Church.
A detail of the Baptism which provides both a lesson in the Catholicity of the Church and a humorous anecdote involves the baptismal name chosen for the baptizand. Brother Francis thought that he should give Mr. Cohen a Christian name when he baptized him. Thinking for a minute, he realized that Israel is a Christian name, and is quite a common one in his native Middle East. Brother Francis therefore baptized the dying man with his given name, Israel.
This led Bernadette Cohen, Mr. Cohen’s witty Franco-American daughter-in-law, to quip, “Imagine what the newspapers would do with this: an Arab baptizing a Jew into the Catholic Church and giving him the name Israel!”
In a eulogy after Israel Cohen’s death, the words of the Magnificat were recalled: “He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of our Fathers, of Abraham and his seed forever.”