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Becoming What You Hate

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As I mentioned on Monday, anti-religious bigotry has once again raised it’s ugly head in our judicial nomination process.  “Once again?” you may ask.  It was just a little more than a year ago that we heard from Dianne Feinstein and “the dogma.”  Well, now it is Kamala Harris and Maize Hirono:

Two Democratic senators are scrutinizing a federal judicial nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, drawing a stern rebuke from the Catholic organization.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher’s membership as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of his nomination by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

Said the host, “This is very troubling and a violation of Article VI of the Constitution.  Anti-Catholic bigotry pure and simple.”  Said Steve Cortes, “Would Hirono and Harris ask similar questions of an observant Muslim nominee, since that faith also believes in traditional marriage?”  In fighting what they consider bigotry, they have become bigots.

That is hardly an original insight, nor is it deeply insightful – it is simply human nature.  That which we become fixated upon, even in opposition, tends to consume us and we become like it.  Or as it has been put more pithily, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  As my mother had posted on our refrigerator door, “When arguing with a fool, make sure he is not similarly occupied.”  The irony in all this is rich beyond words.

But it also illustrates how faith builds wisdom.  Faith in the supernatural, that is to say a God/Creator enables perspective – the kind of perspective that avoids this sort of cognitive trap – a perspective that permits objective self-examination.  We are blind to ourselves and our mistakes unless we have some sort of cognitive mechanism that allows us to step outside of ourselves and take a decent look.

Once reported, there is no need to refute the kind of silliness we see from Senators Harris and Hirono.  So bigoted are they in their “fight against bigotry,” that they are self-defeating.  But we should take from them a desire to avoid the same trap.  That means we need to cling tighter to our faith and the perspective it provides.

Perhaps in their ugliness these Senators have provided us with a Christmas gift after all.

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