The National Catholic Review

For most of his life my father has been a man who “votes for the person, not the party,” even if that person is more often than not a Republican. This has always made sense to me, for Dad is a conservative guy (lowercase c); he generally needs to hear a good reason for changing something that seems to have worked well for quite a while. Yet he is also an undogmatic, critical thinker, pragmatic and independent. You’re never going to see him on the floor of a G.O.P. convention wearing a Stetson and waving a placard.

Still, he loves politics, a passion he bequeathed to me. Boys often accompany their dads to ball games and the like. But I was the only one who asked if I could go with him to Town Meeting, my hometown’s own incarnation of that venerable New England tradition. From a young age, I saw there in our middle school gymnasium democracy in action, with all its beauty and comic error, its low stakes and high drama.

My dad would explain every detail to me, pointing with pride, for example, to the fact that the rules required us to refer to one another as “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones” and to the chair of the proceedings as “Mr. Moderator.” The inherent nobility of the event, he explained, required a certain decorum and civility. 

On the way home from Town Meeting, I would pepper my dad with questions about what had happened, why so-and-so had said what he did, why what’s-his-name voted the way he did. My father would patiently explain and then wrap up the evening by reminding me that politics is a noble pursuit and civic duty is something we take seriously. After all, most of the world at the time did not have the right to vote for anything. 

My dad taught me all that, virtues and memories I cherish. You can imagine, then, how dispiriting it was to hear during a recent visit with my father that he was not sure whom he was going to vote for because he is so disgusted with our national politics. Hilary, Marco, The Donald—we’re all on a first-name basis now with these people we’ve never met. I suspect my father and I could adapt to that unwelcome though still rather minor social innovation. 

It’s the rest of it that is so deeply troubling. I have spoken with parents who have told me they don’t let their kids watch the debates because they don’t want them to think that that is an acceptable way for adults to behave. I’ve spoken with high school principals who have told me that their students see little use for politics except as a punchline. I myself wondered whether a single young person watching this spectacle would be moved to enter public service. Would any one of them think that this is a noble calling that is worthy of the best in ourselves? 

Over this last weekend, after Donald Trump called Ted Cruz “a liar” and Marco Rubio “a choke artist,” Mr. Rubio pushed back by mocking Mr. Trump’s appearance, the size of his fingers and even the size of his genitalia. Mr. Rubio’s crowds cheered him on, much like first-century Romans at a gladiatorial contest. The media, meanwhile, who share a hefty size of the blame for our descent into gutter politics, sat back in faux-shock, pretending not to know how all this came to be. 

When the major candidates for president of the United States are saying and doing such things and are then rewarded for it in poll after poll, then I no longer recognize my own country. Like my father, I don’t know whom I’ll vote for. A pro-life, pro-immigration, economic liberal who is no fan of guns but still a constitutional originalist has no natural home in either party. My father, I suspect, is now similarly homeless. But he would likely say that he didn’t leave the Republican party. The party left him.

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L J | 3/7/2016 - 1:13pm

A priest recently delivered a wonderful sermon and quoted St Irenaeus. I grinned from ear to ear, my spouse seated next to me asked me what was on my mind, and I quickly looked around to see if anybody had reacted

After Mass we approached the priest and I figuratively poked him in the ribs. "Irenaeus!?!? Who in this city knows Irenaeus!?!? Clearly you are channeling Golden-mouth and we need you to do that more often"

He embraced me, thanked me for the compliment and told me he was trying to be a good and holy priest.

Such a blessing.

Yet, Americans mill around complaining about one political party or another, gawd awful political candidates and acting as if candidate x or y is going to be The One.

I tell friends often that Trump, Hillary, Sanders, Cruz are a reflection of America's soul.
If they do not like what they see, they need to take a close look at their reflection

I miss not the former political parties that never existed. I do miss Bishops leading. I miss Bishops being taken seriously by politicians, Catholics and non-Catholic Americans. I truly miss the Catholic mark most Catholics once showed through their actions with civility, forebearance, humility, temperance, and restraint

America's political process has declined because the American soul has darkened. It is foolish to blame Hillary, Trump, Republicans and Democrats, and the others. These all metamorphosized on our watch with our monies. We are the ones who elected them

Give us Catholic leaders forming the conscience of America, and then we will make America great again

Until then, brace yourself

Ray Shanahan | 3/9/2016 - 8:37am

And I no longer recognize my own Church. As our Bishops retreat into silence and political correctness, the pastors and clergy in our parishes knowingly participate in “gutter politics” that Father Malone bemoans. Though the pulpit remains for the most part neutral ground, reminding us to keep our hands above the blankets and to visit the confessional more often, social media posts are filled with comments and discussions that are certainly unworthy of the intellectual descendants of Augustine, Aquinas, and Ambrose.
I share your feelings and also “truly miss the Catholic mark most Catholics once showed through their actions with civility, forbearance, humility, temperance, and restraint”.

Charles Erlinger | 3/6/2016 - 4:19pm

The referenced article in the previous post is a fine addition to the discussion, in my opinion. Here are some more thoughts along similar lines:

Many authors and politicians call for some actions by a community authority with respect to fellow human beings within the community. Assuming that these calls are made for the good of our fellow humans, it follows that the envisioned actions meet the criteria of the moral virtue of Justice. But the exercise of the moral virtue of Justice, according to Christian traditional thinking, influenced, up to a point, by Aristotelian ethics, receives its intelligent direction from that essential moral virtue, Prudence. In addition, we have to take into account, according to our assumption, that these authors and politicians must be urging action by persons suitably habituated to the practice of the relevant virtues, and that the virtues are of both the acquired (by practice) and infused (by grace) types.

Prominent writers in recent decades have been very helpful in explaining what the moral virtues of Prudence and Justice entail. These include Romanus Cessario, O.P. And Josef Pieper. Pieper explains, with frequent references to St. Thomas Aquinas, that Prudence is concerned with the means to the natural and supernatural ends of human life. It is a cognitive moral virtue, determining correct moral action based on objective reality. The practice of Prudence as a virtue then is based on understanding the ends for which humans exist and an appreciation of the realistic moral means to achieve those ends. Prudence and Justice are inextricably linked through actions by which we humans have an impact on each other.

The actions that are talked about in this context are actions of distributive justice. Under conditions of distributive justice, a community administered by some representatives is engaged in transactions that fulfill an obligation of justice with regard to individuals who are members of that same community. In these situations power is asymmetric. The individual is the partner in the relationship who has the claim under distributive justice and the community, called the “social whole” by Pieper, is the partner with the obligation. The characteristic attribute of the social whole is the common good. But in the asymmetric power relationship that prevails between the individual and the community, the justice that an individual receives is dependent on the virtue of the community representatives.

The claim that the individual has on the social whole is for a share in the common good. It is generally acknowledged that it is impossible to calculate what is due to any one person under distributive justice. Under distributive justice, as Pieper succinctly says, an obligation is not paid, it is allotted. But it is allotted on the basis of both the natural and supernatural ends of human life, not on the basis of the limited ends recognized, for example, by socialism and communism.

Finally, as we are taught by the philosophical and theological authorities, virtuously prudent persons can identify the morally most appropriate act of justice in a concrete circumstance, but no one can forecast the future to be certain that the act will have the intended effect. A prudential view of reality seems to insist that plans for just acts and programs should be flexible.

Gene Van Son | 3/6/2016 - 12:40pm

In reply to Vivian's post, neither party is 100% Catholic as far as their policy positions go, which is why I am an Independent. However, of the two parties, the GOP *tends* to be closer in their policy positions than does the DNC. The GOP Pro-Life, Pro-Traditional Marriage, and Freedom of Religion positions tilt things in the GOP's favor. Also your statements on the GOP being anti this and anti that are not entirely accurate. The GOP's stance on social issues is actually closer to Catholic Social Teaching than the DNC's since the GOP favors subsidiarity (local control) while the DNC wants all social programs controlled by the federal government. The minimum wage issue is also a 'red-herring' that the DNC never tires of harping on. Minimum wage jobs are not intended to be the kinds of jobs that pay a wage that will support of family of three of four. They are intended for young single people just starting out in the work force who need work experience, as a job providing a second source of income for a household, as seasonal jobs, as part time jobs with flexible hours for students, etc.

And just an FYI, you might want to check out this article on how Social Justice is really defined:

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 8:07pm

Gene. Your post is generally good; I have two comments: First, the Dems don't believe that the Federal government needs to run everything; the push in that direction is because the Republican efforts to put social programs in block grants to states has too often meant that the programs aren't funded in any guise. By keeping at the federal level it is an attempt to protect funds going to the specified goal. The bailout is one recent example of governors taking federal money that went to totally different purposes (most to pay off debts, not to put people to work...the point of the stimulus.)

The second comment is that the minimum wage is not just a beginner's wage in our current society. With the collapse of manufacturing jobs, many more people as a percentage of the work force are working in fields that pay the minimum wage or slightly above. I worked for Borders for 16 years part time; only 5 people in the store made more than about $11.00. The vast majority of people made within a dollar of the minimum wage. Pay raises were on the order of 5-10 cents an hour; not all people got a pay raise in any given year...some good workers could count on such a raise only 1 in 3-4 years because of the money management had to distribute. (I was a keyholder, in a large suburban store, responsible for closing at night, securing thousands of dollars in cash in the registers, and making sure that the tasks were completed. I was making $9.70/ California.) Many service industries, such as nursing home have many of their jobs scaled around the minimum wage; people who care for our parents and others in nursing homes are often working multiple jobs because the wages are so poor.

I don't really have a problem with the minimum wage if it IS a training wage...except that many teens just starting out are not working a job as an experience...often they are vital earners for their families. I haven't figured out how to set up a training wage as an introductory wage under some conditions, but anything I can think of harms poor families whose kids are just starting out, but who really need the income more than the traditional upper middle class kid saving his money for a car or for summer trips, and who knows his dinner will be there tomorrow whether or not he works. Any time/experience limited minimum wage just makes people unemployable when they reach the training time limit. Whole industries,especially in retail and service jobs, are structured around these near minimum job rates. Creating a wage structure so that people can live on what they make in 40 hours/week, especially in cities with high costs of living needs a lot of thought; and would cause an upheaval in our social structure. I would think that this would mean double and triple what most people in these service and retail industries make at present. How does the work of the employee compare with the right of shareholders to receive a return on investments? The typical picture of the young single person just starting out is gone as far as our society is concerned. Even upper middle class kids feel the pressure of expensive college looming over them.

Pr Chris

Bruce Snowden | 3/5/2016 - 10:12am

I agree entirely with Father Malone. There is a total lack of decorum and civility among the Debaters. They remind me of hungry wild animals in for the kill devouring and ripping apart each other. I do not know if I will vote this time around. Dr. Carson was smothered by the putrid scent of stage-rot forced on the Country and apparently approved by many. I could have voted for Carson.

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 9:09pm

Something for everyone to take to mind this year when the choices are between "yuck", and "no way!"

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't b* yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.”
― David Foster Wallace, Up, Simba!

(I take comfort that at the least, I am neutralizing my brother's vote...and if he doesn't vote, so much the better!)

Pr chris

Steven Reynolds | 3/5/2016 - 8:13am

I completely agree, but with one exception. While it would certainly seem dark indeed for expecting youth to see any merit in politics, my experience with my oldest son (an elected official at 18 and now studying at Providence College) and his friends and my time interviewing applicants to Georgetown as an alumni interviewer give me great hope that the next generation, both liberals and conservatives among them, may improve on the mess that we have left them.

Sandi Sinor | 3/4/2016 - 4:19pm

Mr. Cosgrove,

You have made many observations and complaints. Some are very questionable, including those that assume Muslims cannot adapt to the US while ignoring that other non-Christians have done so without problem. Could you please provide some factual evidence of the failure of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, atheists from Asian nations etc to adapt to US culture.

Since 1965 about 36 million immigrants have come to the United States, nearly all from non European countries. These immigrants did not assimilate as easily to Western civilization values as previous generations did.

Your apparent belief is that the US should have only white descendants of Europeans as citizens? Have I misinterpreted you on this? "

Can you provide evidence of the failure of recent immigrants to assimilate compared to earlier generations of immigrants? What about the Asian subset? As most know, Asians usually excel in our country. They often are among the best educated, most affluent, and have the lowest crime rates of any ethnic groups. But most aren't christian, nor white, and are obviously not descended from white Europeans or from 'western civilization".

As I assume you know, the Irish immigrants who came in the 19th century were not exactly welcomed by the exisitng citizenry. They were thought to be an inferior race, and that since they weren't Protestant, could not assimilate into the culture. The same was thought of Italians, Germans, Poles and others, mostly Catholic, pretty much all Christian, who came from southern and eastern europe.

In many cities of the US, these Catholic immigrants stayed in their own neighborhoods, had their own ethnic parishes, and at one time the marriage between an Italian and an Irish person was opposed by their families. The first generations who came from these countries seldom became fluent in English. They held on to their language, their cultural, their traditions. They even started their own school system, removing their children from the schools that the rest of Americans attended. Some might have interpreted this as being just one more example of how poorly these Irish and European Catholics were assimilating.

The same pattern is evident among Latinos today. The first generation, many of those who came recently, seldom become fluent in English. But the studies show that their children do become fluent - bilingual. After a generation or two, and intermarriage with non-Latinos, they begin to blend in just as those who came before them did.

From a story in the Wall Street Journal"

....most immigrants to America are assimilating as their forebears did. That’s the gist of a new 400-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which looks at everything from English proficiency, education levels and family structure to health, crime and employment.

...... “Across all measurable outcomes, integration increases over time, with immigrants becoming more like the native-born with more time in the country, and with the second and third generations becoming more like other native-born Americans than their parents were.........”The report also finds that the “increased prevalence of immigrants is associated with lower crime rates—the opposite of what many Americans fear.” The incarceration rate for the foreign born is only a fourth of that of the native born.

Hispanic immigrants are almost all christians, Catholics, are they not? But they often have darker skin than the descendants of western Europeans. Does that mean they cannot assimilate to US culture?

Muslims often have both brown skin and are not even christian. Yet Mulim immigrants to the US in the last 50 years are doing very, very well in this country. They have assimilated, but have not become christian. Do you believe that assimilating into American culture requires becoming Christian/?

Could you please provide us with the source of your conclusion: "Can Muslims legitimately live in a society governed by Western values? From all I have read, they cannot." Perhaps the problem is not with the Muslims' values, but with how they are treated in some countries.

The following is from an article comparing the assimilation of Muslims in the US to those in Europe and the reasons why assimilation is doing well in the US but not in all European countries.

... they are as likely as the general American population to report household incomes of $100,000 or more (14 percent of Muslims, compared with 16 percent of all adults). They are generally satisfied with their economic lot in life: 46 percent said they were in excellent or good shape financially, compared with 38 percent of the general public who said the same. And they’re almost as likely as the general public to have graduated from college (26 percent of Muslims vs. 28 percent of the general public.)

Guns - not a problem to you? According to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths due to guns almost equals deaths due to traffic accidents. Considering that almost every American rides in a motor vehicle every single day of their lives, but most Americans do not have or use guns every day, the near equality of numbers of deaths should be a red flag. I read almost every day of a gun tragedy. Shootings at colleges and schools are becoming so common that they don't make the news unless they are mass shootings. Accidental shootings by children who play with guns, killing either themselves or a sibling or a playmate, are in the news almost every day.

Motor vehicle traffic deaths
Number of deaths: 33,804
Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.7

All firearm deaths
Number of deaths: 33,636
Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.6 (Source: CDC FastStats)

Those who downplay the dangers of our lax gun control laws are simply ignoring reality. Tightening gun control regulations, without banning guns, is very possible, but fought tooth and nail by the NRA and its supporters.

While making many observations about various cultural problems, such as out of wedlock birth rates,
you have not offered any policies or solutions. Wishful thinking about going back to the good old days doesn't do anything. Nor have you noted the demographic characteristics - most out of wedlock births, whether to whites or minorities, are to those with the least educations, who are choosing not to marry. How do you suggest forcing these couples to get married?

So what do you suggest be done - specifically and within the realm of possibility and reality.

J Cosgrove | 3/5/2016 - 6:32am

I haven't much time since I am leaving on a trip for the next week. Maybe I can respond more next week depending on my internet connections and time. But in general you comments are wild speculation about what I believe. Some are very offensive. It is one thing to disagree but another to imply motives.

You have made many observations and complaints. Some are very questionable, including those that assume Muslims cannot adapt to the US while ignoring that other non-Christians have done so without problem

Muslims differ from all other religions in many things but one is that it is a political system as well as a religion and that the Koran is the basis of Muslim law and is the inerrant word of God. This leads to many conflicts with Western legal systems because Muslims consider what laws we make are laws of man not God. This should be explored more on this site and in the non Muslim world. They come to the West with the beliefs that the West is decadent (in some way right) and Western laws is not what should govern them. It is a problem that will not go away.

So to bring up other religions is irrelevant to this particular discussion. It has no relevance to what I said.

Your apparent belief is that the US should have only white descendants of Europeans as citizens? Have I misinterpreted you on this? "

Yes, you have misinterpreted me. It is interesting that you would make such an offensive statement. The theme of the OP is that somehow the present Republican party is not the party of Fr. Malone's father. I was trying to provide some major differences between when his father was young and today. In 1965 we had a population that had many ethnic origins but mostly all from various of parts of Europe including a significant Jewish population. There were a large percentage of blacks (about 12%), a significant but small population of people originally from Mexico mainly in the Southwest, a significant but small indigenous population and a small percentage of Chinese and Japanese descendants and a sprinkling of others. The country in 1965 was essentially a white Christian country but the other groups had similar values to this dominant group even if some were not Christian. It is not that way today. Do you deny any of this? I was making an observation of changes.

In 1965 changes were made to immigration policy to increase it and to exclude some areas of the world. The intent was to change the ethnic makeup of the country and they have succeeded. Some people are questioning the wisdom of this and that is what we are seeing in the country today, Do you deny that there is a significant number of people upset about the rapid changes in the ethnic makeup of the country and whether it is a wise policy? Or that ethnic makeup is changing quickly almost out of control?

The fact that the term "multiculturalism" is popular is an indication that all is not well in the assimilation process for everyone. It is not possible to have two primary cultures existing side by side in harmony let alone several. There should be an understanding that all immigrants are eventually going to be absorbed into another culture and they should welcome it. We should not insult them with the expectations that their culture will continue to be dominant for them. If I immigrated to France, I would expect to speak French, and support their customs and not expect they should cater to my old culture. If large groups immigrated to a country without being absorbed, then there will be problems.

Hispanic immigrants are almost all christians, Catholics, are they not? But they often have darker skin than the descendants of western Europeans. Does that mean they cannot assimilate to US culture?

Some of your comments are really offensive. Dark skin citizens have existed in the US for a long period of time. It was Western European values that ended slavery. It has nothing to do with the color of skin but with a willingness to assimilate and leave what was left behind. That doesn't mean that the culture they came from is inferior, just that there is a different one here.

But given that, the dominant US culture that existed in 1965 in now gone. Immigration is just one but a minor reason for that. I would look to the Frankfurt School and Critical Thinking as the main cause for the culture change. So the immigrants are not assimilating into any vibrant culture at all. They are coming to a successful economic system but not a successful culture. That is the dangerous thing that is going on. It is less likely they will give up their previous culture when the one they are coming to is disintegrating.

I am going to leave it at that. Have to go. It is late and maybe I can answer more later in the week.

Dena Sonneborn | 3/8/2016 - 3:49pm

I think the statement about Muslim's view of secular versus religious law is completely blind to the current trend among Evangelical Christians and Catholics to also want little distinction between secular and religious laws. You state

"Muslims differ from all other religions in many things but one is that it is a political system as well as a religion and that the Koran is the basis of Muslim law and is the inerrant word of God. This leads to many conflicts with Western legal systems because Muslims consider what laws we make are laws of man not God. This should be explored more on this site and in the non Muslim world. They come to the West with the beliefs that the West is decadent (in some way right) and Western laws is not what should govern them. It is a problem that will not go away."

However, at this time Catholic Bishops are busy lobbying politicians and their flocks to not allow the state to define a secular marriage contract in any way that differs from what we as Catholics believe is the inerrant word of Jesus as laid out in the bible. Some Catholic organizations have decided that a secular law that dictates insurance coverage requirements violates the biblical mandates and therefore use the secular courts to try and enforce this religious view on others who may not agree. We even have Christian organizations demanding that a copy of the 10 Commandments be kept in court houses and town meeting starting with Christian prayer claiming that all laws derive from the 10 Commandments. Catholics and other Christian denominations are just as capable of using a biblical text to dictate secular laws as any Muslim is. Failing to recognize that using the courts and secular legislatures to require others to follow your religious beliefs may someday result in a different religion resorting to the same tactics is a short-sited but very real threat to many of the "religious liberty" laws currently being pursued throughout the nation. These laws are not being pushed by Muslims intent on incorporating their version of Godly laws on a secular society, but rather Christians including the Catholic Church.

Sandi Sinor | 3/7/2016 - 2:19pm

We will all be anxious to read your clarifications. It is difficult to know what you are talking about.

You were offended because I called attention to comments that emphasize that recent immigrants don't come from Europe. You emphasize that the US has citizens that are the descendants primarily from christian, white European immigrants. You imply that you want an "honest" discussion, so I am giving you my honest response to the implications of your words.

Then you implied that I was unaware that the descendants of Africans, Asians, and Muslims have lived in this country for most of its history. Well, that is a total mis-reading of my comments, but communicating in comment boxes often leads to misunderstandings.

It was you, not I, who made the point that most of the 35 million immigrants to this country since 1965 have come from non-European countries, implying that this is a problem, and stating without qualification, that "most" have failed to assimilate into American culture. You said those things, Mr. Cosgrove, not I.

To quote your first comment:

Since 1965 about 36 million immigrants have come to the United States, nearly all from non European countries. These immigrants did not assimilate as easily to Western civilization values as previous generations did.

I am a member of a multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-cultural family - Catholic and Protestant and Jewish and nones, some descended from America's first immigrants in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and some descended from the most recent wave of immigrants. Multi-cultural is not a bad thing. Those members of our family, among the more recent immigrans and not descended from Europeans have "assimilated" to life in the US in everything that is important. They have not abandoned everything about their native cultures and should not be expected to.

It would be enlightening if you would explain yourself, your statement that recent immigrants from non-European countries have failed to assimilate?

You go on to say this:

In 1965 we had a population that had many ethnic origins but mostly all from various of parts of Europe including a significant Jewish population. There were a large percentage of blacks (about 12%), a significant but small population of people originally from Mexico mainly in the Southwest, a significant but small indigenous population and a small percentage of Chinese and Japanese descendants and a sprinkling of others. The country in 1965 was essentially a white Christian country but the other groups had similar values to this dominant group even if some were not Christian. It is not that way today. Do you deny any of this?

I do indeed deny this sweeping generalization that recent immigrants do not share our couintry's values. But perhaps my values and those I see as America's values are not the same as those you believe to be our country's values. So please feel free to tell us specifically which values you are referring to.

You ask me if I deny that some Americans are upset about immigrants who have come to this country from non-european backgrounds. I do not deny that. Unfortunately there are some in the country who are fanning the flames of distrust and fear. The fact that some are upset does not mean that it is wrong to welcome the more recent immigrants to our country. One of our country's core values has always been to follow Jesus' admonition to welcome the stranger and care for the poor.

Or perhaps you are talking only about Muslims, about 1-2 million of the 35 million? You should know, one hopes, that one reason thousands of people are trying to escape from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc is because they fear those, such as ISIS, who wish to impose strict sharia law on the entire populace. They too value living in a culture that does not impose religious laws on all.

So perhaps you could define for us exactly which values you are referring to lest we misunderstand you. We assume that you will not be offended by having an honest discussion of your views, should you care to be more specific.

The culture of America in 1965 is indeed gone. There is some “bad” but for many, the changes from 1965 are mostly a good thing. For example, racism against African-Americans was still very strong in this country, including in laws of many states. The civil rights movement eliminated most legal obstacles to full rights for African Americans, although it did not succeed in removing all racism from some of the population. Schools gradually became desegregated. African Americans began to get better educations and eventually to have better access to higher education and better jobs.

The same era produced the feminist movement. Success in this area meant that women had greater access both to education and to jobs than they had ever had. They had property rights they had formerly not had. Companies could not discriminate against married women or pregnant women, legally. There is not perfect equality either for racial minorities or for women in our society even now - especially in jobs and pay - but definitely a huge improvement over 1965.

So what values do you think are not shared by recent non-European immigrants? Family values? Valuing religious participation and membership?

As most know, those from Asian cultures have very strong family values as a rule. They value hard work and discipline, family loyalty. They very often care for their extended families, especially the old, in ways that "white christian" Americans seldom do. They have lower divorce and crime rates than do the "white christian" native born population.

Much of what is true of Asian communities is true of Muslims also. They have strong family values. They have strong moral values. As you know, modesty in women is highly valued. Muslims are dispersed and are only 1-2%% of the US population and really have little to no impact on our culture.. Muslims are not a monolithic group, just as Catholic and other christian immigrants were not a monolithic group. US Muslim immigrants have come from about many different countries. They do not all speak the same native language, nor do they all follow the same "brand" of Islam, or have all the same customs and traditions, just as christians have many different expressions of christian belief, different traditions and different customs, sometimes based on religion and sometimes on ethnic cultural roots.

Most of the cultural changes you decry in this country, such as the rate of unwed motherhood, are not the result of immigrants failing to assimilate or to adopt the values of a, to quote you again, "white christian" country. It is not Muslims praying five times a day, or fasting during Ramadan that have caused the native born white Christians to pretty much abandon formal religion and going to church.

It's the native-born, descended from western european christians, that have changed some aspects of American culture, and it's not because of the impact of immigration..

But, suddenly you are going from the failure to assimilate of the 35 million immigrants not descended from white, christian Europeans as being a big problem that Fr. Malone and others are afraid to discuss, to saying the big problem is the Frankfurt School, with immigration suddenly a "minor problem".

What is it you are really trying to say, Mr. Cosgrove? On the one hand, you say "If I immigrated to France, I would expect to speak French, and support their customs and not expect they should cater to my old culture.

Then you say

That is the dangerous thing that is going on. It is less likely they will give up their previous culture when the one they are coming to is disintegrating.

What about their previous cultures should they "give up"? Are they all to become christians? As a practical matter, they should learn English. But, the fact is, that even with recent immigrants, eventually almost all do learn English. Generally the first generation struggles with language, just as many Polish and Italian and other Catholic immigrants of previous eras never became fluent in English. But their children and grandchildren did, just as the children and grandchildren of recent immigrants have done. Give them time, Mr. Cosgrove.

What else? Should they give up their religious customs? No more traditional holiday customs? No folk dances or traditional music? No more celebrations of the quinceañera? Should Muslims stop celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday?. What exactly of their 'old" culture do you want immigrants to give up?

Then you say that we no longer have a "vibrant culture" that recent immigrants can assimilate into. What about our culture is not "vibrant" enough for you? In fact, what on earth do you mean by "vibrant culture"?

Perhaps those of us whose ancesters came here a long time ago would benefit from the often very vibrant cultures of our most recent immigrants instead of thinking that they are wrong to not give up all aspects of their heritage in order to conform to.....what?.

I, like you, tend to wordiness. So I will wait until your next comment, which, we hope will clarify for us what you are really trying to say. Two long comments, but I am still confused about what you are trying to say.

Douglas Fang | 3/6/2016 - 12:16am

Mr Sinor,

I really appreciate your responses to Mr. Cosgrove here. I agree with you on everything you said about the non-white European immigrants as I am one of them myself. His statements that immigrants should abandon their culture in order to be assimilated into the American culture is non-sense and a total joke. His critics of “multiculturalism” can get him into trouble with many employers these days.

The GOP party is no longer a party that it used to be or a party I used to know. It has been degenerating into a party of mostly angry white males. The only political donation I ever made was to the GOP party for the election of Reagan. The first vote I casted here after I became a citizen was for Ross Perot. The days that you can find something that excites you during the presidential campaign season have long gone. Watching the GOP debate on TV these days was like watching a sour comedy. It has completely lost any substance or meaning. What Fr. Malone said was truthful and honest. Like him, I cannot find a natural home on either party.

For now, my resignation is to vote for the lesser of the two evils and I leave it at that.

Sandi Sinor | 3/6/2016 - 10:32am

Thank you, Mr. Fang.

Sadly some do not yet realize how much richer our culture becomes because of the contributions of those who have chosen to immigrate here - many different cultures have contributed to this country.

I have always been a Republican, primarily because of economic policies. However, like you, I will vote for the lesser of two evils. I cannot give up my christian values simply because I have always been a Republican. Jesus taught that we are to love. Jesus taught that we are to help the poor, and to welcome the stranger. The hymn does not say "They will know we are Christians by our hate......."

Non-christian values have infected American politics at various times of history. The Know Nothing party (also called the American party) in the 19th century was founded on hatred of immigrants, Catholic immigrants in particular. Americans have always eventually triumphed over the toxicity that occasionally infects its politics. I have hope.


Chuck Kotlarz | 3/5/2016 - 5:35am

A global culture perhaps is aligning with a global economy. But that's what progress is, an old world passing away and a new one taking its place.

Joseph Manta | 3/4/2016 - 2:05pm

How did the Republican party refuse to govern, In all the years the Democrats controlled the Senate under Obama, did they ever pass a budget? That would be "No". So who refused to govern?

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 5:04pm

joseph: Don't forget, all budgets (all funding, period) begins in the House. The House has to pass a bill and then the Senate has to also pass it.

Pr Chris

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 1:17pm

People who make statements about Senate control and what happens have to remember that unlike the House, which is a body ruled by the majority, the Senate is a body controlled by the minority. One Senator can put a hold on an individual, and that individual will get no hearing or vote on their nomination. Virtually everything in the Senate since 2009 needs 60 votes now to pass, even items that used to be normal business, and passed with 51 votes. Thus, having the majority in the Senate doesn't mean much, because unless they have 60 votes, the minority filibusters. That is a tactic that has been used to death since the beginning of President Obama's time (in each of the Congresses under President Obama's terms of office, there have been more filibusters than in the first 150 or so years of the Republic, total.) So, when one looks at the Senate, the simple party count doesn't necessarily determine outcomes. In order to understand outcomes, one must look at each item, whether it was filibustered, or what happened after the President signs a bill, because it could be overridden. "cloture", votes to end debate and go to a vote have been used to control a bill, and the current order of business means that one bill must be resolved before another bill can get attention. Defeat of cloture calls means one bill stifles the business of the Senate for days, and nothing else can get done. A Majority Leader who wants to make the Senate an activist Senate can do a lot to move legislation; on the other hand, a Majority Leader who wants to stuff up the works in the Senate can bring it to a near halt. The Senate is infinitely interesting--and frustrating--for those who follow it activities.

PR chris

William deHaas | 3/4/2016 - 3:56pm

Yep - this is a tired mantra dragged out when Congressional polarization is raised. Fact Checker has shown that your allegation misses many facts; is incorrect in many ways; and basically is just finger pointing.

You have been *debunked*

Chuck Kotlarz | 3/5/2016 - 4:10am

Remember the good old days? The pastor built a new church and ten years later, I believe, the pastor “burnt” the mortgage papers. The church was paid for. A typical parishioner might be a fireman or a policeman who had built new homes and sent four kids to Catholic schools all on one income. The federal income tax top rate was ninety per cent at the time.

Charles Erlinger | 3/3/2016 - 5:12pm

Fr. Malone, confining my supposition solely to your words, I suspect that the past for which you wax sentimentally nostalgic never existed for many, if not most of us. And the faith and hope that you seem to invest in a political party (any party) seems to be skirting the ragged edge of irrationality.

Bill Mazzella | 3/3/2016 - 4:39pm

Everybody should have seen this coming. Things that were never acceptable. Ronald Reagan would not have allowed. Not did John McCain. Yet elected officials allowed others and did themselves question a president's birth and religious affiliation. To have a congress who just said no and refused to respect the office of president. Things needed to be shaken up. But there is a line between change and anarchy. So Congress and the Senate have themselves to blame. And we for allowing it to happen.

Carlos Orozco | 3/3/2016 - 3:29pm

America deserves better than the politicians that govern it. With respect to the next election, America deserves much, much, much better than Trump OR Hillary...

J Cosgrove | 3/3/2016 - 11:48am

Fr. Malone,

You are not going to find much of this in the Democratic party if at all but you will find it in the Republican party. Certainly not all but in many of its politicians.

Lisa Weber | 3/2/2016 - 9:53pm

I didn't have a party affiliation until the Republicans welcomed the Tea Party and began to refuse to govern. A political party has to participate in the process of governing the country. I haven't seen any willingness on the part of the Republican party to do that in the past eight years. Donald Trump is a buffoon and the Republican Party deserves him. If he becomes the Republican candidate, I don't see how anyone sane could justify voting for him. Hillary Clinton is certainly not a perfect candidate but she appears to be of sound mind, at least.

Vivian Stevenson | 3/5/2016 - 3:48pm

Hillary is a GOP in Democratic clothing. She will do nothing but what the owners on Wall Street let her. You need to investigate Bernie Sanders who of all the candidates in both parties is the most christian in his views of the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled and our veterans.

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 5:30pm

Vivian: I have lived in some of the northern European countries which are the basic model for Bernie's campaign. I agree that they have a much saner set of economic priorities than we have. The percentages of people living in poverty is much, much, lower than in the US; children and families get much help from the government as they live their lives and seize the future. There are fewer gross billionnaires in these countries than the top 1% of the US. And Bernie is to be congratulated for bringing this vision to the front. There's only one problem: Unless we have a large enough majorities in BOTH houses of Congress, of liberal Democrats, to pass this legislation, with a Democratic President. In short...Bernie's vision has zero percent chance of getting any of this vision enacted. Hillary has some desire to pass legislation that will benefit the poor and families, I think that is clear from watching her for 40 years, but what Hillary brings is a knowledge of what is doable and what is not. I don't want a President spending all his/her capital on legislation that cannot pass, and continuing the sort of gridlock that we have had in the past 8 years. I want a President who will do what he/she can to make the nation better...but it also requires that the citizens support it, and make sure our elected representatives know we do.

PR Chris

Bill Mazzella | 3/2/2016 - 6:06pm

Catholic bishops have something to do with the Republican party becoming a wreck. They encouraged irresponsibility by letting them plod along with one issue while contributing zero to the national product. This Republican party is the party of no. Their only goal was stopping Obama from being a good president with the bishops approval. This is why they and the bishops have such negatives. They deserve Trump.

J Cosgrove | 3/2/2016 - 12:50pm

Father Malone,

I am very politely going to contradict you. The country you and many of us grew up in no longer exists. It does in pockets but not as a country. What has happened here has happened also in other parts of the world but it is in full view here for us since we are here to witness it. There are many reasons for this and I list some below. It is not discussed in America magazine. I believe it would be too uncomfortable for the editors and writers to do so.

Since 1965 about 36 million immigrants have come to the United States, nearly all from non European countries. These immigrants did not assimilate as easily to Western civilization values as previous generations did. Many have but many have not. This has put pressure on low income job wages as the laws of supply and demand take hold. One economic writer has said that we are not exporting jobs but importing people to do the jobs.

Since 1965 the illegitimacy rate in the US has increased from about 10% to about 40% today. African American illegitimacy rates have increased from about 28% to 72%. This has created a dysfunctional culture contrary to the traditional culture wherever it has taken hold. This is one of the results of the sexual revolution fostered by one of the political parties in the US.

Guns do not cause problems in our society. Nearly 99.9% of gun owners have not caused any problems with deaths by guns. One of the ads by the NRA was that if you took the guns away from all non NRA supporters, gun violence in the US would disappear. Does conceal carry reduce gun violence death? Have a discussion. See

Have an honest discussion on Islam. Can Muslims legitimately live in a society governed by Western values? From all I have read, they cannot. But we are told that they are peace loving and only want to share in our economic wealth. How is this conflict which is causing many of the issues in the world to be solved. Have an honest discussion. It would help everyone.

What has caused the complete degeneration of religion in our country? I could point you to several but one is what has happened in our universities and popular media. Since the 1960's the proponents of Critical Thinking have taken over the universities, obviously not completely but to a large extent everywhere even in the so called Catholic universities. The average person has no clue as to how much this movement had destroyed the culture of the United States because it has been so slow. Just look at this youtube video on the changes in our society predicted in 1965 and think how much of it has come true. And how much do the editors and authors of America ever discuss it. The answer is almost never.

A large percentage of the people in the US are reacting to one or more of these issues and are very angry. You might want to consider how President Obama may have contributed to this anger and how the Republican party failed to react to this anger. That is why we have someone like Donald Trump and the media circus he has created.

One final thing, I suggest that you and all your editors and writers read "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?" by David Carlin. I would be interested in your response and that of the editors.

Christine Miller | 3/7/2016 - 7:19pm

Having read your post, I have some disagreements with you. According to State Department statistics, the percentage of immigrants who learn English is happening at the same rate today as has happened over the last century. Some will learn English quickly, especially if they are educated in their former nation; some, esp. those with little education previously, or who are older, may not learn English beyond a few words for shopping, or working on a cleaning crew. If learning English is a key indicator of assimilation, it speaks well of our current immigrants.

As far as Muslim immigrants; I am sorry, I don't know what you have been reading about Muslims,, but there are some very scary books out there in the popular press that paint a very negative picture of Islam. Ali Hirsi is only one such author, and not even the worst. Strict Sharia law is not much different than strict Biblical (Mosaic) law. BOTH come from the same culture and time frame. Have you read the OT eye for an eye type of strictures in Leviticus, etc.? Part of the turmoil in Islam is that there is no hierarchy or pope, a body or person who can speak for Islam and make directive decisions. You have Imams who speak on all sides of Islam; their reputation among their followers determines their ability to lead. This lack of leadership is recognized by Islamic scholars and leaders, and they are aware that they need to somehow create some leadership body that might rein in the worst of the fundamentalist radicals.

It is not Islam that determines whether someone assimilates to western culture so much as it is education when refugees and immigrants come into the country. The better educated do better; this is true of almost all our immigrants over history. When the normative schooling in say, El Salvador for most kids away from the cities is 5 years of school, they are not going to have much of an intellectual resource to draw upon. The same is true for those who come from the Middle East, especially women-headed families with small children. The other side, is that these kids will adapt stunningly fast; that is the nature of kids. They will be Americans, just like the Dreamers are, even though the latter don't have papers.

When you talk about the loss of many American strengths over the past several decades, I would agree with you; however, I see different mechanisms going on: During the Reagan years, some 80,000 manufacturing companies disappeared from the American economy. Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's company was typical. These companies were bought up, stripped of assets and employees summarily let go. Those who were rehired were often hired back at lower wages and fewer benefits. This process devastated our inner cities. As Chris Matthews (Hardball) has pointed out, his dad, with a HS education, could take mass transit from his house to his manufacturing job in the city; he raised a family well on one income. Those jobs are gone. What jobs do kids with hs educations (even if they actually learned something in school)) find in the cities? Service and retail. Beyond that, what? Not much. This has created a pathology in our inner cities, as the poorest have been concentrated in areas of pathology and hopelessness. One result: Prison is seen as a simple fact of life for most African American males in these areas. There are few young men, even those who want a different future, who escape this reality.

One of the most important books I read on the economy was one by Robert Draper entitled Do Not Ask What Good We Do. It described a dinner held on 20 January 2009 in DC. This was in the midst of our economy cratering, and we were losing nearly 3/4 of a million jobs a month. Who was at this dinner? John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Bob Luntz (the Republican pollster and message guru), and a half dozen other senior members of the Congress. I THINK Mitch McConnell was there, but I can't find my copy today and don't remember for sure. The topic of the evening: How to ensure that President Obama was a 1 term President; that they would block and try and prevent President Obama from accomplishing ANYTHING during his term in office. From that day on the Republicans have done whatever they could to shut down President Obama's Administration. (even the petty stuff. Not a single Republican accepted an invite to watch the Superbowl in the WH offered by the new President.) Do you ever remember a member of Congress saying "You Lie" to a President at a Joint Session of Congress before this President (PS: That member of Congress was a retired Bird Colonel in his state's Guard; as such he is under the UCMJ, and I believe, should have been Court Martialed under Article 88: Contempt for Officials.) What did anyone on the Republican side do about Trump's Birther movement, the overtly racist sub-text of much of Republican communications at all levels of Government? We have watched an honorable man have all of his actions, decisions, and words subject to obstruction from all directions. When he was re-elected with more than 60 million votes that only increased the Republican anger. What was the cost of that? True jobs bills were not passed, even when they are word for word from Republican favored bills in previous Congresses; the response to the disastrous economy in 2009 was severely cut back because of Republican objections. And as a result, the recovery was slower than it could or should have been. Because of Republican obstruction, we saw the US default on our credit for the first time in history (thanks to an untrue statement of what raising the debt limit meant, and spooking citizens on the issue.)

Yes, you are right that there is a lot of anger in the country: But it is not only the Republicans who are angry. Many Democrats believe that the promise of the Obama Presidency was systematically destroyed. In spite of this, we have seen what President Obama COULD have done; Executive Orders have been the default manner of governing because of a do-nothing Congress. Within 30 minutes of the first tv notification of Justice Scalia's death, Mitch McConnell had ALREADY said there would be no consideration of a Justice, even though President Obama has 11 months remaining on a duly elected Presidency. (Ronald Reagan made a nominee to the Court during the actual lame duck session between Bush's election and his Inauguration, and that Justice was confirmed AFTER the Inauguration of President Bush. So much for "lame duck") What will the Republicans do if a Democrat takes the White House again? When are they going to be a LOYAL opposition in Congress again? Our country cannot survive with this destruction of our Leadership. Eight more years of this kind of stalled governing may really come close to destroying our governance. The Constitution is no longer normative in too much of what Congress (and, some would say, the Presidency), is doing. And part of the problem has been that there are NO "liberal" or even "moderate" Republicans in Congress; just as their are NO "moderate" or even "conservative" Democrats in Congress. Thus, there are few kindred souls on the other side of the aisle. And that has severe consequences for both sides.

As to the Social Issues, aside from the issue specifically of abortion, Democratic values are more in line with Catholic Social issues than the Republicans, who have been systematically robbing the poorest in our country of their support. (And on the issue of those who support making abortion available, no one in this country is forced to have an abortion; what many on the pro choice side believe is that this decision is the responsibility of the woman who is having to make that decision,, with the aid of doctors, family and clergy as appropriate. The pro choice people want women to be able to make whatever decision is necessary for them. Most pro-choice people also believe that contraceptives ought to be widely and economically affordable to all, so fewer abortions might be necessary.) The funds which have gone to the poorest and most needy of our citizens are the first to be cut under the "balanced budget" ideas of the Republicans. They have been using the "family budget" as their supposed model, but they disallow the way that the federal government invests: Through programs that may not be totally funded initially, or will have to be funded over the meantime, they conveniently "forget" that the family balances its budget with the help of mortgages, auto and CC loans; if they had to pay cash for everything, we would all be renters taking the bus.

I have been very disappointed in the Republican primary contest this year. Not only the school-yard taunts of Trump, and others, but the complete lack of a plan for budgeting that gives any hope of relief for the poorest and most needy. No one has anything to offer except: "Drill baby drill" and balance the budget. Where is the investment in the nation, where is the development of our people and how does the Republican plan give people any hope that their anger, their desires and needs are understood? My biggest fear is that somehow we end up with President Trump, and then all bets are off. He is not a Republican (NOR Democrat...merely a blowhard) and no one knows what he will say and do on any given day or any given topic. Can anyone picture a President Trump in "diplomatic" discussions with other world leaders? Trump knows virtually NOTHING about how the government works. Does anyone guess what he will do when? How long will it takes him to learn to govern? Does he even WANT to learn how to govern? Or does he just want to put the Trump name on buildings all over the world? Is THAT how he wants to reduce the debt? No one knows---I think even Donald doesn't know. But his election rallies, are long on passion and short on data of any kind. But the now-ubiquitous show of "get him out of here" in response to protesters reminds me of the rallies in Germany in the late 1920s. When will the uniforms show up? Will they wear brown shirts or some other color?

Our nation is at a turning point. My prayer is that we vote with the best candidate to help bring us out of this conflict. We have so many gifts and resources as a nation. Why do we seem to have such a hard time being the city on the hill that Reagan liked to picture? (It is a fitting image on this weekend of the death of Mrs Reagan, who did so much to help her husband, both during and after the Presidency, during that "long good by" we watched from afar as he descended into the darkness of Alzheimer's. Our nation owes the First Ladies a debt we too often don't acknowledge.)

Pr Chris

Vivian Stevenson | 3/5/2016 - 3:55pm

I think my question would be "Can a Catholic be a Republican?" Yes, if you only base your membership on one issue, but if you consider the Pope's stance on the poor, the sick, the homeless and their treatment, I would say No you can't be a Catholic and a Republican when this party is continually abusing the poor, the sick, the homeless, the elderly, the disabled and our veterans by increasing social injustice by cutting food stamps, medicare, Medicaid, housing, and healthcare; by refusing to increase minimum wage to a living wage; by refusing to protect our citizens from companies that poison our air, our water and our land. Until we address these of issues of social injustice for the people who currently live in poverty, we won't be able to address the issues for the unborn who will come into a world that neither wants them or will take care of them. Pro-life has become simply pro-birth without address the social injustices that these children will be born into.

Richard Booth | 3/5/2016 - 6:42pm

But, haven't you based your critique of Secretary Clinton on one factor alone? I sense inconsistency.

William Rydberg | 3/2/2016 - 11:31am

The thing about Populism is that when one asks the people, they tend to tell and it's not always comfortable for the rulers. In Canada, we have historically been ruled by our Elites, such being guaranteed by the Parliamentary System.
I have been told that since its foundation, the USA has also been ruled by its Elites. But it appears in my opinion, that fiat money and a lack of engagement by the Ruling Class is coming home to "roost". Should be an interesting Decade to come.
To an extent, this secular phenomenon has been echoed in the Church, especially in my opinion with the Way our Bishops preferred their public "reputations" over little kids. How everyone must uncritically "Love", but none need do Penance.
In my opinion, it's a failure of the ruling class. A failure of Catechetics. A failure of faith in the Trinity, both within the Secular and Church. Mainline Protestantism is registering this failure through precipitous decline in active membership.

Pray for all concerned, that the Trinity will have mercy on us all.

This may be our "Come to Jesus" moment - I do hope readers do not laugh, because I'm in earnest...

Just my opinion,

in Christ,

Blessed be the Holy Trinity

Anne Chapman | 3/2/2016 - 10:54am

Your father is not alone in feeling abandoned by the Republican party.

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