francis speaks truth and rush runs off at the mouth

Es­ti­mated reading time is 7 min­utes.

THERE ARE SOME OLD SAYING that are at­trib­uted to many cul­tures. I first heard it from an old man whose daily rounds in­cluded a stop at the news­stand where I worked in 1969. The old guy would buy a news­paper and some in­ex­pen­sive cigars and hang around the store. He told me an old Lithuanian, “Speak truth and run,” and said it was both ad­vice and warning.

That phrase has been re­made time and again, al­though al­ways re­taining its core truth. For in­stance, as re­cently as 1996, it popped up in a doc­u­men­tary film by Rick Gold­smith, Tell The Truth And Run: George Seldes And The Amer­ican Press. The movie looks at muck­raking jour­nalist George Seldes, a “noted for­eign cor­re­spon­dent who be­came Amer­i­ca’s most im­por­tant press critic.” 1

For the past few weeks, Pope Francis seems to have adopted “Speak truth and run” as his modus operandi. At the very least, he cer­tainly knows how to get under some folk’s skin. In fact, he seems al­most hell­bent on making enemies:

“Pope Francis at­tacked un­fet­tered cap­i­talism as ‘a new tyranny.’ He be­seeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing in­equality, in a doc­u­ment on Tuesday set­ting out a plat­form for his pa­pacy and calling for a re­newal of the Catholic Church. In it, Pope Francis went fur­ther than pre­vious com­ments crit­i­cizing the global eco­nomic system, at­tacking the ‘idol­atry of money.’ ” 

These words are Rush Lim­baugh’s ac­cu­rate en­cap­su­la­tion of some of the Pope’s words in his major ad­dress to the world this past Tuesday (No­vember 26, 2013).

Pope has gone beyond Catholicism

Rush was not pleased with the Papal con­cern for the down­trodden and those beaten up by laissez faire/free market capitalism—or, as some refer to it, vul­ture cap­i­talism. Lim­baugh rushed on:

“Up until this, I have to tell you, I was ad­miring the man. I thought he was going a little over­board on the ‘common man’ touch, and I thought there might have been a little bit of PR in­volved there. But nev­er­the­less, I was willing to cut him some slack.

I mean, if he wants to por­tray him­self as still from the streets of where he came from and is not any­thing spe­cial, not aris­to­cratic, if he wants to es­chew the phys­ical trap­pings of the Vat­ican, okay, cool, fine.

But this that I came across last night—I mean, it to­tally be­fud­dled me. If it weren’t for cap­i­talism, I don’t know where the Catholic Church would be. Now, as I men­tioned be­fore, I’m not Catholic. I ad­mire it pro­foundly, and I’ve been tempted a number of times to delve deeper into it. But the Pope here has now gone be­yond Catholi­cism here, and this is pure political. 

I have been nu­merous times to the Vat­ican. It wouldn’t exist without tons of money. But, re­gard­less, what this is . . . some­body has ei­ther written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope. Un­fet­tered capitalism—that doesn’t exist anywhere.” 

The pas­sages quoted above were taken from an ar­ticle ti­tled “Rush Lim­baugh At­tacks Pope for Acting Like Jesus” by ProgLegs for Daily Kos (De­cember 1, 2013). The writer fin­ishes up the ar­ticle by stating that “Now, as a caveat, I should say I per­son­ally don’t buy the nar­ra­tive that Pope Francis is Dennis Kucinich with a beanie. He still holds many views that I be­lieve are in­con­sis­tent with the words and ac­tions of Jesus Christ.”

Driving batty wingnuts battier

Now “un­fet­tered cap­i­talism” is es­sen­tially syn­ony­mous with free-market capitalism—that form of eco­nomic policy and ac­tivity that dom­i­nates the in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions of the world and every single trans-national/global cor­po­ra­tion in existence.

It is the “hands-off” poli­cies that have the neo-liberal, the Lib­er­tarian, and the sup­pos­edly con­ser­v­a­tive el­e­ments of the po­lit­ical spec­trum of America tickled pink. It is the policy that crushes unions, avoids paying any taxes, evis­cer­ates the working class, and shifts the wealth of the many into the hands of the few. 2

You know, the ide­ology which we can read about every single day of our lives in pa­pers such as The New York Times and The Wash­ington Post and other lib­eral (sic) jour­nals and The Wall Street Journal and pe­ri­od­i­cals of like ilk.

For more on the topic of Francis and the Amer­ican right, I sug­gest you click on over to Daily Kos and read “A Pro­gres­sive Pope is Dri­ving the Wingnuts Batty” by Vyan (No­vember 28, 2013). “As Pope Francis comes more and more out of the Pro­gres­sive Closet he be­gins to gain more and more push­back from the Rightwing who have long claimed that their un­re­pen­tant greed was Godly. Un­for­tu­nately it isn’t, and the Pope has been most clear on this.”

For the ma­jority of ra­ti­o­ci­nating human be­ings in the world, a hint of con­de­scen­sion let alone ac­tual con­dem­na­tion from his­to­ry’s highest paid talk-show host is high praise in­deed! The old saw about “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” holds true in all things po­lit­ical, es­pe­cially when dealing with demagoguery.

Making enemies of the right people

If there is one guar­an­teed way to at­tract at­ten­tion in an in­sti­tute of higher learning, make sure that everyone is aware of the fact that you—and no, not just you alone, al­though it may feel that way—are there be­cause you gen­uinely want . . . to learn. To ad­vance your knowl­edge. To ac­tu­ally un­der­stand things about the way the world works, whether it is his­tory or bi­ology or math or even French sym­bolist po­etry of the 19th century!

When I es­caped high school (“the horror, the horror”) and en­tered col­lege in 1969, I be­lieved that all that I had en­dured for the pre­vious ten years or so had come to an end. I was in col­lege, acad­emia! Lots of books and lec­tures and ques­tions asked and ques­tions an­swered and no more teenage cliques and so­cial pet­ti­ness and bul­lying (well, for me, being bul­lied), etc.

Alas, such was not the case—at least not at Wilkes Col­lege in Wilkes-Barre, Penn­syl­vania, in the early ’70s: real learning was a daily chore and the I’m-in-with-the-in-crowd at­ti­tude flour­ished, even if it did not dom­i­nate as it had in high school.

I was ag­gres­sively pur­suing a higher ed­u­ca­tion and was be­coming highly aroused politically—radically trans­formed might be accurate—by Vietnam and the openly cor­rupt Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion. Not yet having de­vel­oped the sense to keep me mouth shut, I in­stead spouted off to all comers.

Con­se­quently, I ended up a habitué with my own spot—a large round table in the far corner of the col­lege com­mons. This was a building on campus de­voted to coffee, soup and sand­wiches, and con­ver­sa­tion. My table be­came a haven for fellow stu­dents who agreed with me and needed someone to (an­grily) ar­tic­u­late their thoughts/feelings.

My table also at­tracted those who felt the op­po­site: stu­dents who were gung-ho about the war while safely en­sconced in col­lege with a 2-S stu­dent de­fer­ment. 3

One day, I had a rather vit­ri­olic ex­change with a campus leader of what would even­tu­ally be­come known as chick­en­hawks. Af­ter­wards, an older stu­dent (by older, I mean I was 18 and he was 32) who had sit qui­etly by as an ‘in­no­cent by­stander’ to the verbal vi­o­lence in­tro­duced him­self as one Jack Jarecki. He was a vet, re­cently re­turned from Nam and he asked if he could join my group.

I was floored and flat­tered: what would someone his age and with his ex­pe­ri­ence want with a someone who was still only a few year past being knee-high to a grasshopper? He said, “You have the ex­tra­or­di­nary ability to make en­e­mies of all the right people. It’s a rare trait and I hope you never lose it.” 4

You have the ability to make en­e­mies of the right people—it’s a rare trait. Click To Tweet


1   While the terms muck­raking and muck­raker sounds dirty, it is not: “The term muck­raker was used in the Pro­gres­sive Era to char­ac­terize reform-minded Amer­ican jour­nal­ists who at­tacked es­tab­lished in­sti­tu­tions and leaders as cor­rupt. They typ­i­cally had large au­di­ences in some pop­ular mag­a­zines. In the US, the modern term is in­ves­tiga­tive journalism—it has dif­ferent and more pe­jo­ra­tive con­no­ta­tions in British English—and in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists in the US today are often in­for­mally called muck­rakers.” (Wikipedia)

2   The odd idiom tickled pink is ap­par­ently of British origin and “isn’t the light stroking of the skin—it’s the fig­u­ra­tive sense of the word that means to give plea­sure or gratify. The tick­ling pink con­cept is of en­joy­ment great enough to make the re­cip­ient glow with plea­sure.” (The Phrase Finder)

3   We might con­sider coining a new phrase to de­scribe that state of being where an oth­er­wise el­i­gible piece of cannon fodder is end­lessly passed over—like a “Ch­eney Pass,” which gives the bearer a free pass from any ac­tivity in be­half of one’s country that could prove dan­gerous to the bear­er’s being.

4   Jack and I be­came chess-mates, drinking bud­dies (al­ways Jack Daniels), and budding-writer bud­dies. So, Jarecki, if you’re out there and reading this, con­tact me, man. I miss you!!!


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