francis speaks truth and rush runs off at the mouth

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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