Friday, February 3, 2017

Alt-Right Bête Noire Milo Yiannopoulos is an Aquinas-quoting Catholic

Alt-Right Bête Noire Milo Yiannopoulos is an Aquinas-quoting Catholic

Recent post by Artur Rosman wherein he demonstrates the nuclear option--or maybe napalm option is more accurate/appropriate--in Catholic Studies.

So the familiar term "bad Catholic"?  Rosman blows up what that mean and to whom that might apply.  Hence "nuclear/napalm".  Rosman is willing to advance that uncomfortable, wince-inducing argument that many intuit but often aren't willing to recognize.

Source: Jason Abbruzzese on Mashable from 2015.

Milo Yiannopoulos functions in a realm far apart from this blog.  Quite frankly I have avoided this sort of politicized-celebrity-event topic, and now with Rosman's post I can continue doing so.  M.Y. has made his fame--getting banned from Twitter in the process--infuriating the Left with incendiary right-wing statements.  A scheduled talk at the University of California-Berkeley sparked actual riots.  Citing Philip Jenkins' unswervingly solid scholarship, Rosman notes that the Left and the Right have spurned each other in the escalation of street-violence.  Via Jenkins, Rosman reminds us that the Right's gun-rights fixation has come as a response to actual armed violence by the Left during the late 1960s (so the Che Guevara shirts really aren't a joke, are they?).  Rosman doesn't mention this but Sarah Silverman's recent outburst indicates that Rosman and Jenkins are not basing this argument on thin air.

So...guns!  Hey, great post already.

Then Rosman springs his trap.  Rosman emphasizes Yiannopoulos' frankly-admitted Catholicism undergirding his more outlandish statements/views.  His stump speech--which he has also delivered at UC-Santa Barbara (not exactly a conservative den of iniquity) and Cal State-Poly (also not to be mistaken for FU-Steubenville)--includes several positive references to the Roman Catholic church generally and his own personal Catholicism specifically.  M.Y. credits the Church for defending gays more than any other institution--even as it condemns their sexual activities.  Citing Aquinas and Augustine he advances an anti-utopian argument limiting over-legislating morality.  We cannot and should not, Yiannapoulos via the Doctors (of the Church), argues use human laws to outlaw everything condemned by the natural law.  That is pointless and impractical. So taking innocent life and prostitution are clearly wrong, but we neither want nor need micro-managing laws for every instance thereof.   He then basically brags that his public persona would be far worse if he were an atheist. "Imagine how bad I would be without God?"

Rosman perceives (correctly, I think) this as a conscientious paraphrase of Evelyn Waugh and Walker Percy, two twentieth-century converts and novelists.  Neither of them shied away from identifying themselves as "bad Catholics," in that they recognized their own personal shortcomings (and Waugh, at least, had many!) relative to the Church's broader witness.  Thus Rosman:

I don’t know enough about Milo Yiannopoulos to pass judgment on him. From what little I know he’s quite a cyberbully who’s been banned from Twitter. But then the line of theology he expounds above is mostly OK (how’s that for lukewarm to cold?).


I’m not afraid to out mostly reviled figures, such as prominent philosopher and sometime Nazi, Martin Heidegger, as being Catholic. Heck, it’s going to happen anyway since the Catholic imagination is public and no sin (or virtue) remains hidden privately only in God’s view, as it might for the Protestant imagination. There’s no hiding it, so here it is…

Since Yiannapoulos' politics are so far Right as to be alt-Right, Rosman recognizes that Aquinas, et al. described the proper order:  God first, then the world.

The pope seems to have a better handle on being (pardon the pun) CATHOLIC FIRSTin his message to President Trump, but who am I to judge? (remember the original context of the statement?).

Read it all here--but readers beware, Rosman pushes buttons.  Read, but do not do so naively or so literally that you miss the broader brush-strokes of his argument.  As Rosman himself writes, "Just when you thought you knew how the world runs and where you stand, there’s this guy."  Indeed.

Source: Company of Heroes 2010

Rosman's Patheos blog here.

Rosman's Twitter and Google+, too.  

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