WASHINGTON – That religious bigotry is again on the march is no surprise. Actually, it’s hatred of the other person’s creed, or spleen against any creed.
The malady can take any form, even bigotry in the name of tolerance. At the University of Notre Dame, for example. Notre Dame is a Catholic university, one of a handful of large, traditional schools remaining.
Vice President Pence has been invited to give a commencement address there May 21. Pence, who is a Bible Christian, has spoken against same-sex marriage and against abortion, two positions in accord with Catholic teaching.
Some Notre Dame students, who might have been happier at such colleges as Brown or Middlebury, have begun a campaign to block Pence from speaking. They claim Pence is intolerant because of his social and religious views.
Questions: Isn’t the university’s invitation to Pence a matter of freedom of association? Aren’t Pence’s views a matter of freedom of speech? No? Stay tuned.
Much more deadly stuff is played out every day in this country, and around the world. Suburban Washington police just arrested a guy accused of spray-painting swastikas on a Jewish community center and a church, and sending out anti-Semitic fliers at a local community college.
At its heart, isn’t this man motivated by the same mindless hatred that prompts the fusillades of rockets sent by Palestinians into Israeli homes, injuring innocent families and children?
ISIS is claiming responsibility for the twin suicide bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday that killed at least 45 worshippers and injured 100 others.
Last Christmastime, 29 worshippers died in a bombing at the Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo, according to the Guardian.com. In February, 40 Christians fled a town in northern Sinai after the murder of seven people.
Fear – following President George W. Bush’s ordered invasion of Iraq – has emptied that country of Jews and many sects of Christians. An estimated million left for other sanctuary nations. The United Nations high commissioner for refugees said 36 percent of those who left were Iraqi Christians.
There has been a silent diaspora throughout the Middle East. The National Catholic Reporter said the population of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was 86 percent Christian in 1950. Now it’s 12 percent.
Prominent among those trapped by the war in Syria are Christians. The Pew Research Center said that only 1 percent of Syrians admitted as refugees to the U.S. in 2016 were Christians. The Christian population of Syria is estimated to be 10 percent.
Who knows how this mass suffering started? It could have been the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in 1919, the invasion of Iraq or the “liberation” of Libya, prompted by neoconservative meddlers here in Washington.
The agents of all of this destruction have a couple of things in common. First, they all knew they were right and everybody else was wrong: From the protesters at Notre Dame, to the vandals at the Jewish centers, to the killers of the Copts in Egypt to the Palestinians who launched the rockets at Israel. And second, they carry around a lot of hate.
Pope Francis plans to do the only thing he can do. He is going to risk his life by praying with suffering Catholics, Copts and Muslims in Cairo, a very dangerous place, on April 28 and 29.
Meanwhile, the neoconservatives are cranking up another war – maybe two – in Afghanistan and Syria, via CNN. Two network anchors Thursday and Friday denounced President Barack Obama for not bombing Syria without congressional approval. It’s alarming to watch CNN goad one of history’s least popular presidents into making war all on his own.