August 15, 2022

GO OUTSIDE, PROGRESSIVE WRITERS: In which Charles C.W. Cooke asks the (likely rhetorical) question, “Do America’s progressive writers know anybody who isn’t . . . a lunatic?”

Do America’s progressive writers know anybody who isn’t . . . a lunatic? I ask this because, in the course of my morning reading, I came across two widely shared pieces that, had they been presented to mixed company at the pitch stage, would ineluctably have yielded raised eyebrows, widespread confusion, and, eventually, a friendly “are you feeling all right?”

The first contribution is from the Atlantic. It’s called “How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol,” and it claims that those shadowy, ever-present “Christian nationalists” have started combining sacramental beads and “gun culture.” To underscore the idea, its artwork is in the form of an animated gif that replaces a Rosary’s beads with bullet holes. This claim is typical of the whole:

Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics. On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.

The conclusion:

The “battle beads” culture of spiritual warfare permits radical-traditional Catholics literally to demonize their political opponents and regard the use of armed force against them as sanctified. The sacramental rosary isn’t just a spiritual weapon but one that comes with physical ammunition.

As an example of the “I saw a few weird things online and fed them into my paranoia” genre, it’s an instant classic. As a reflection of real life in America, it is a disaster. I would say that the author needs to stop trawling the Internet and go out and meet some actual American Catholics, but, having looked him up, I learned that he lives in Canada. That, at least, provides him with an excuse. I’m not sure what the Atlantic‘s is.

The Atlantic has changed the headlines and artwork multiple times:

 

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