Who are we, really, as Americans?

Politics is no longer about arguments over policies and prudence, but about transgressors and the anointed righteous who must render judgment against such irredeemable sinners.

Law enforcement officers scuffle with supporters of President Donald Trump attempting to breach security barriers at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6, 2021, during a protest against Congress certifying the 2020 presidential election. (CNS photo/Jim Urquhart, Reuters)

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), made the following remark as part of a longer statement about the violence in the United States Capitol: “I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans.”

With all due respect: who are we, really, as Americans?

Are we the Americans who demonstrate peacefully against injustices, real or perceived? Or the Americans who riot and vandalize cities such as Portland, Oregon—just 90 minutes up the road from where I live—for weeks and months on end?

Are we the Americans who tire of technocrats and experts issuing constant decrees about “pauses” and “freezes”? Or the Americans who shame and attack those who think such measures (and the virtue-signaling religion of perpetual mask wearers) should be questioned with facts and reason?

Are we the Americans who think Donald J. Trump is the savior of America, the last great hope for Christianity and freedom? Or are we the Americans who think Trump is the new Hitler and a racist demon whose tweets and hair should be condemned to everlasting (but clean-burning) fires?

Or are we the Americans who think both sides are short-circuiting zombies who cannot see the forest of reality for the trees of ideology?

Are we the Americans who think every white person is a racist who must atone until death for sins committed by the very non-action of not publicly baring their bigoted hearts? Or are we the Americans who insist racism is completely dead and gone, and that anyone who thinks racism exists in some form or fashion is a Marxist tool?

Or are we Americans who think that humans, being what they are, will always struggle with the sin of racism, not to mention every other sin and human ill that has been been around since The Garden?

I will not try to speculate here or try to make clear sense of the many (and often contradictory) reports coming out of the nation’s capital city. I will simply repeat what I wrote earlier today on Twitter:

The only consistent, principled stance is to denounce all riots and condemn all violent protests, regardless of ideological origins and goals. Period. I’ve written against the riots/protests of the past year and I stand against the current lawlessness and violence in DC.

Back in June, when the riots and conflicts in Seattle began to escalate rapidly, I told a good friend that I could see it spreading quickly to other cities. I put forward the opinion that Portland could well become the worst of the lot. He wasn’t sure, but never having lived in the Northwest admitted that he wasn’t a good judge of the situation. I didn’t want to be right, but I was, even though I’ve been rather surprised by what has transpired in Portland and how much Stygian gloom has been revealed in the process.

On the other hand, Seattle and Portland have long sought to be seen as free-wheeling, progressive, and cutting-edge cities that thrive on giving the middle finger to order, goodness, and the permanent things. The politics involved, as notable as they are, are mostly symptoms of a nihilistic culture enthralled with shaping an identity divorced from commonsense, natural law, and traditional beliefs about, well, nearly everything.

People here take pride in being open-minded. But, as Chesterton famously wrote, “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” Upon what, exactly, is this sort of culture founded? What roots nourish it? From what soil does it spring? And to what end? To pick up Chesterton’s metaphor: “Where’s the beef”? (And, no, tofu isn’t going to cut it.)

The same questions extend to the entire country. 2020 demonstrated that certainties are few and far between, even while the rigid nature of ideological arrogance has become a most certain part of everyone’s life. 2021 will likely see much more of the same, if only because 2020 was not a change from pre-2020 years, but a year-long ripping off of the scab underneath of which was a festering and feverish illness that could no longer be covered by pop culture clichés, political promises, and streaming bread-and-circuses.

In a June 4, 2020 essay titled “America in the Aftermath of George Floyd: Between Paganism and Christianity”, the political philosopher Joshua Mitchell wrote:

If Christianity is receding, then we will likely see the return to the pagan understanding that peoples are the proper objects of cathartic rage. That is a sobering truth, which defenders of secularism deny. The real alternatives might not be Christianity or secularism, but rather revelation or paganism. Should we return to paganism, one people will seek to cleanse themselves of stain by venting their cathartic rage on another people. The war between the gods of the nations would resume in full.

One of Mitchell’s main points, which he fleshes out in provocative and often brilliant fashion in American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time (Encounter Books, 2020) is that we “are living in the midst of an American Awakening, without God and without forgiveness.” Politics is no longer about arguments over policies and prudence, but about transgressors and the anointed righteous who must render judgment against such irredeemable sinners.

Put another way, in broad terms, the current crisis in America is deeply spiritual and essentially theological. A robustly Christian nation would understand that we each, as individuals, will eventually have to answer to God, Creator and righteous Judge of all—and would seek to act accordingly. But a neo-pagan world is intent on judging and destroying whole groups of people, cleansing the whole polis of those who cannot and must not be heard, understood, or accepted in any way. As Mitchell sums up:

Americans today are torn between these two distinctly different understandings of what justice entails: pagan blood payment between peoples, which treats persons as mere proxies; or liberal justice, whose foundation is, finally, the Christian understanding of persons.

So, again: who are we, really, as Americans?

(Note: I originally identified Dr. Joshua Mitchell as Catholic. That is not correct; he is Protestant.)

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About Carl E. Olson 1150 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.


  1. Well, I’d say Americans are a mixed bag but what I’d like to know is who were the people in the Capitol wearing furs, face paint and buffalo horns? That was truly bizarre.
    Whoever was responsible for vandalizing public property today should make restitution. It was an embarrassment.

    • the commie blm antifa riots were mostly peaceful, the fentanyl black riots were a profound public health intervention, the chinese flu takes voluntary unpaid leave at commie riots and commie mass gatherings, no restitution was needed, cities gave them blocks to destroy.
      You people would apologize after you’ve been half beaten to death.

      • You’re right! The double-standard is striking, and more striking is that it is being overlooked. I want no violence…. but the real culprit here if far from Donald Trump.. I’m at least the right showed some muscle. It’s about time. Enemy no.1 is the media. Take good care!

      • “The BLM Antifa riots are mostly peaceful?”

        You belong on CNN and MSNBC!

        And who were the rioters at the capital? It is a higher probability that they were antifa than they were actual Trump supporters.

    • Do you remember your history lesson regarding the Boston Tea Party
      Just before the Revolution? The stamp act deniers dressed as indigenous Indians threw British tea shipment into the harbor in protest.
      Supposedly Ben Franklin was not in agreement with that radical act and paid back the shipper for their loss.
      Could be a recreation of that moment in time …

  2. A thoughtful piece as usual Mr. Olson. But it seems too prone towards playing the rhetorical middle of “extremists on both sides” sort of condemnations when there are day and night differences between rioters intent on destroying private property and raping women who might merely be white or a business proprietor, and those rioters spontaneously breaking a few windows to access “the people’s house” reflecting a cultural rage that senses not merely the usurping of democracy but its obliteration.
    You’re a man of honor, but the narrative of the media and political establishment tonight rants about this day as an assault on Constitution and the American Way. How insane and how evil. America has been on a rapid decline from a Constitutional republic since Dred Scott, a decline that accelerated ever since the post-Coolidge administration and today it is especially hypocritical for this nation that abuses that Constitution to authorize the extermination of 61.6 million of its preborn citizens to act horrified about some broken windows in the Capital building.
    And the culture war has so infected the Church, in a leftist sense, I don’t even desire to listen to what any bishop has to say any more given the reality that ninety percent of the time, it seems, they are buffoonish. I only listen and study them whenever one of them writes an intelligent book.

    • Thanks, Edward. But, of course, my piece wasn’t mostly about today, even though it uses that as a jumping off point. In fact, perhaps most striking to me today were the numerous and angry damnations of Trump and other GOP leaders for their incitement of those who broke into the Capitol building–with those damnations coming from those who would say nary a word about what was happening for endless days and nights in Seattle, Portland, etc. Still, the actions today were more serious in many ways than you indicate. A woman was killed, for instance. As for extremists on both sides, I’m not so much equating actions as trying to point out the nature of ideology, regardless of where it comes from. Trump, contra the MSM and the elites, did many good things. But Christians who are acting as though Trump is some sort of noble Constantine are not doing favors for anyone, no matter how sincere their motives.

      • Your write that “Back in June, when the riots and conflicts in Seattle began to escalate rapidly, I told a good friend that I could see it spreading quickly to other cities.”

        As for the trigger event in Seattle, I recall the first morning of the now world-renowned CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupation Protest)….cruising down the highway, I tapped into the radio in time to hear our illustrious Seattle mayor…it’s like a “block party”, she said, and then did an imitation of Nevil Chamberlain’s 1938 appeasement at Munich: “we’ve already given you free education!” (referring to the new entitlement of free junior college tuition, recently extracted from Seattle taxpayers for all graduates of Seattle public schools).

        A block party and appeasement. Might different pivotal actions at ground zero NOT have ignited the summer range-fire of our national discontent? But there’s a certain orientation that wallows in wishful thinking, redefinition, non-binary indecision and indecisive action.

        Ship collisions are avoided by the maxim: “attention to detail, gentlemen, a collision at sea can ruin your whole day.” And as with Navy ships, so also with the ship of state, and so also with the Barque of Peter.

      • Just for the record, I think we can all be much clearer about the events in DC if we realize that we are in the midst of an attempted recreation of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. For that matter, the spirit of revolution that has been inflicted upon our culture as punishment for the sin of apostasy, abortion most specifically, goes back to the “great” nihilistic of the last century and earlier, the kickoff of the French Revolution in particular.

        What we saw last week was modeled after the Reichstag fire and will be used as the basis for the imposition of severe totalitarian measures, far beyond the social restrictions imposed because of the batflu. In particular, what we saw last week was instigated by the same thugs that blew up Seattle and Portland, joined in by a number of overzealous patriots that were fed up with being cancelled, and otherwise resisted by Trump supporters. All the rest is propaganda.

    • I echo some of your thoughts and some of Mr Olson’s. One thing that stood out to me from the media commentary and photos was the obvious hypocrisy in describing these loony overzealous wall-climbers and “breech”-ers in such hyper-condemning, dangerous terms, while as you both have noted, people doing actual violence to others, destroying property, setting fires, terrorizing citizens all summer were called “mostly peaceful” and justified. In the photos, these “breech”-ers were carrying flags, taking photos, climbing stuff….

    • I’m from California the Central Valley where our Bishop’s come from other 3rd Countries and only a few Priest are from California. Most of the original settlers came here to farm, work, raise a Christian family and love there Country. Before the LBJ era you could not live in a better State or Country. In the early 1970’s 80% of our Counties population took care of the 20% of our needy populations. The Church’s took care of their own parish needs. In the first time in California history our population went down in 2020. Due to decades of America citizen abortions, our WWII Veteran generation drying off and the migration to other States. In the early 1970’s California Public School system K-16 was in the top five of the Nations education system, today 46th out of all the States in the Union. In 1988 California’s voters in to our Constitution that English would be spoken and again in 1998 in our Public School system. This was never followed up with any of our Officials or even our A.G.’s. Because on illegal 3’d World Countries moving into our State that couldn’t not read or write their own language. Our Public School system started lower test scores so no child would get left behind. We only have few American Collages left in California now and our k-12 Public school have left American History and Civics for the left wing Collages to teach. Our Arch Bishop’s, Bishop’s and Government has caused our once wonderful State into Socialisms in a matter of a few decades. California, now is in the position along with New York population to take down the American taxpayer. In my long career, I was a farm boy, Veteran, Director and V.P. of a 500 Company, a County Supervisors and now a Administrative Mgr. at our very large Parish. I have been on all sides of the American Dream.

    • Where’s the outrage from Bishop Gomez for how the Congress has usurped the Constitution ? Where’s his outrage on the sacrifice of The Innocents from Abortion? Where is the outrage of a Catholic president elect who hasn’t been condemned and excommunicated from the Catholic Church for his anti-Catholic support of abortion, same sex marriage, infanticide, and euthanasia. Where’s the outrage that people feel they must demonstrate and riot in the capital because our Shepard’s have let them down and starve the people of the Eucharist? What does Bishop Gomez expect? Does he expect a different outcome when the Bishops continue to suppress the mass and the Eucharist from the faithful? People feel they have no voice, our Shepard have capitulated with evil. I hope our Bishop’s conference hear this because most people feel betrayed by our Bishops. These speeches that skirt these issues are irrelevant until such time that the Bishops return to God and the people wearing ashes and atoning for the lack of true Catholicism in leadership. We need brave, moral, Eucharist centered leadership and we need the Mass with truth, then the Bishop will be able to reclaim their true apostleship as Christ ordered and passed on. Thank you Mr. Baker for your comment it needed a few more questions.

      • You are spot on! The silence of our bishops, save Bishop Strickland and a few others, is a scourge to the Body of Christ!

        “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.” -St. John Chrysostom.

        I am so thankful for the faithful priests in my diocese, particularly Fr. Rossi and Fr. Miller. So many priests are paralyzed by fear- fear of offending money-contributing parishioners, fear of retaliation or correction by the bishop, or fear of public shame in the media. Lord help us!

  3. “ A woman was killed, for instance.”

    But not, as I understand it, by protesters.

    May she rest In peace and may her family and friends be comforted.

    • Hey, why so myopic?

      Beyond the original thirteen colonies/states, and doubling the size of the U.S. back then, was the Louisiana Purchase, bought (not stolen) from Napoleon for $15 million, a whopping 2 cents/acre. And, then there’s the tragic history of broken promises (reservations) with Native Americans. As for the Spanish, well, the whole thing turned on an obscure victory by General Fremont in the San Francisco area. Later, the marginal Gadsden Purchase was gotten for $10 million in 1854, not quite stolen. As for the Spanish…who was here first before their own late arrival in the 16th century?

      Commenting on all such things, probably including displacement of the mastodons, an authority on St. Augustine summarizes the saints thoughts: “Our only real excuse for what we do is that there has been an infinite series of plunders, of iniquities behind ours.”

    • Which the Spanish in turn took from the Indians & which the descendants of the Spanish & Indians are currently resettling. And so it goes…

      • As we know, the so-called “indigenous” people of North America were, in fact, descendants of Asians who crossed the land bridge. From whom did they take the land? The land was never theirs to begin with–they were displaced…as were any number of other civilizations throughout history, all over the globe…yet no one is weeping for them.

  4. Gomez and his fellow bishops more than likely voted for Biden. I’ll tell Gomez, Bergoglio, Gregory and every other bishop what America is: We are a nation that has legalized the murder of SIXTY-FIVE MILLION human persons. That’s who we are. Proud of your country? I’m not.

  5. Our culture ‘white-washes’ many of the minor and real issues; let’s just plod on forward the way the crowd tells us.

    This is not a surprise even if Donald Trump were not President; all my life people were saying, “someone should do something about ‘this’.”

    There was much division when the country was formed, but the fathers were not looking for what they could get out of the country or its forthcoming coffers, but what they could do for the cause of freedom. The citizens now want direct and indirect benefits. Remember what JFK said in his inaugural address?

  6. Carl,
    I completely understand and agree with your assessment and thoughts on the tragedy of what happened in our nation’s capital yesterday. I too am asking myself, “who are we, really, as Americans?” Tragically, we no one thing for certain. We are no longer a Christian nation.

  7. Thanks Carl. Great piece. I think it can be distilled even further. There is a lack of genuine virtue on both ends of the spectrum (both figuratively and literally).

    I think there is a lack of understanding of true justice (Thomistically speaking) on both sides. There is the physical injustice on the left with abortion, attacking buildings, etc. However, the right has seemed to forget about our duty to one another (commutative justice) and to the state/common good (legal justice). The golden mean seems to be discarded as each side drifts farther from the middle. For example, its not just to simply lock the country down. Similarly, its not genuine justice to simply refuse to wear masks and engage in detraction or calumny against elected officials. Prudence must be employed in each of those situations to know when and how to proceed – when to comply and when to resist; when to agree and when (and more importantly how) to disagree.

    Finally, I would comment that, as an attorney, I am not impressed by the argument of some that since most of the people on the capitol steps were peaceful that they do not share legal or moral blame with ultimate outcomes. As adults, if we see violence or mischief, we need to run the other way and get out of there. We don’t simply hang around and watch the hooligans. If someone happens to get hurt or worse during unlawful trespass, the whole group is implicated.

    • Yes, but did they see violence…and when? The reports are still coming and it does not seem as if everyone would have been seeing the same things. Would people peacefully gathered in one area have necessarily seen people “breech”-ing the capital? Just climbing a wall, while dumb, isn’t likely to cause alarm. I’m assuming many people did leave as soon as they realized there was an escalating danger.

      • I’ve seen video of protesters yelling at people not to break a window at the Capitol, and booing the person who’s doing it.

    • Does anyone need to ask the protesters how many business losses, job income loss and lockdown restrictions they have gone through up to this moment in mostly Democrat urban areas ?
      They have see a taste of socialism and big government getting shoved
      Onto their backs by the lame Congress who fold like a cheap suit when confronted with doing their job to represent the American people first.

    • Michael: Thanks for your comment. Nice to see some sober, thoughtful response rather than the bifurcations, false dilemmas, and shouting that characterizes most of the discussion here. Reasonable people can disagree on a lot of these problems. You don’t persuade people by shouting at them; you harden their positions. A little more Jesus and a little less Limbaugh would be welcome on both sides, including the right. I’m in general, though not complete, agreement with most of what I read here. I’d like to see the positions generally advocated on this website prevail. (But, not all of them, and some of them I can’t decide about.) Your tone was greatly appreciated.

  8. Thank you, Mr. Olson, for providing insight into America’s devolution into desperation, chaos and violence.

    I too have been amused at the Democrats’ shock and horror at the prospect of violence in D.C., whereas for months they justified it — or even incited it — in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and elsewhere, so long as it was properly motivated.

    And Mr. Mitchell’s distinction between revelation and paganism certainly helps explain the rictus of hatred that is so distorting the face of the illiberal left.

    • What “about-ism” isn’t the right response.

      What happened yesterday was a true scandal and tragedy (someone died). Full stop.

      Assaulting the country’s seat of democracy has no justification or excuse.

      • That is not “What about-ism.” Brineyman didn’t say anything to justify breaking into the Capitol building, or the shooting of an unarmed protester. The protesters should not have broken into the Capitol.

        He was pointing out that the people who for months did not speak out against violent protests, gathered money to pay for bailing those who were arrested out of jail. Flagrant hypocrisy.

        Some Republican Senators introduced a bill this past July:

        ” Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—

        (1) the rising tide of vandalism, mob violence, and the mob mentality that feeds it—including its cruel and intolerant “cancel culture”—should be condemned by all Americans;

        (2) peaceful demonstrations and mob violence are different in kind;

        (3) physical assault and property destruction are not forms of political speech but violent crimes whose perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law; and

        (4) the innocent law enforcement officers, public officials, and private citizens who suffer the mob’s violence and endure its scorn while protecting our communities from them deserve the thanks and appreciation of every American.” https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-resolution/645/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22sres+645%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=2

        It was referrred to the Judiciary committee, where it died. The Democrats had no problem with violent protests then.

  9. Great piece. I often wonder if the best response for most clerics, in the first 48 hours of such tragedies and scandals, might be nothing.

  10. The American system seems to focus so much on the presidency. Other democracies (I.e. constitutional monarchies like UK, Canada and Australia et al) are much more relaxed about their leadership and their elections since the PM is not head of state and can be replaced by the party or have the government fall via confidence vote at almost anytime. It seems the US system creates a cycle of desperate all or nothing politics and ceaseless campaigning. God save the Queen! 😉

    I do like Americans though and pray for you and your country.

    • Thank you for your prayers, Andrew.
      I’ve begun to think a parliament wouldn’t be a bad idea if it would save us this ridiculous & now violent circus every four years. And the UK ballots as I understand them are an improvement on our current ballot options.
      Best wishes to the Queen. I’ve always admired her. I hope God saves her & our nation also.

      • Keep in mind that in the 1940s this Presidential system helped, along with the Soviet Union’s bogus, “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” to save the Mother of Parliaments. It was not the other way around. Nor, has it ever been.

    • Term limits for Congress would help a lot. I think the Founding Fathers of America didn’t intend for political office to be steady employment for 40 years!

      • I’m not in favor of making the lobbyists the only people in D.C. or state capitols that know what they are doing. That’ll be the result of automatically kicking legislatures out just as they really start to understand what is going on. We have “term limits” on elected officials. We just call them elections.

  11. A good indictment of the hypocrisy of the hypocrite, reducing the savage turmoil to the reality of our sinfulness. For needed emotional sanity during our collective distress a bit of humor,”Trump a racist demon whose tweets and hair should be condemned”. His hair? Maybe you’re right, what do I know. His hair was indeed demonized, everything about Donald Trump was demonized for four years. Nothing wonderful that he accomplished was acknowledged, even the vaccines. American Awakening Joshua Mitchell gives the foundation for the Woke, sans God sans forgiveness aimless endless protest. Historically these are the cultural climes for the real despot to emerge. Trump until his speech had a future that likely went forever. Portlandia down the road from you, is like Buffalo about 90 miles down the road from me. Prof Paul Kurtz [dec.] State U Buffalo called the Father of Humanism, pres of the International Academy of Humanism wrote the manifesto that produced godless forgiveless Portlandia rioters. Bad ideas travel quickly in academia. Many of those rioters, the more strident were students, some professors. V Davis Hanson, prof, senior fellow Hoover Inst gave his take on the Capital rioters. Trump supporters who have themselves been consistently demonized, ridiculed, threatened with black listing by Dems, frequently attacked by Antifa, feeling collectively refused by the courts, by their own party leaders over verifiable complaints of widespread election fraud, pent up with ongoing lockdowns, loss of income exploded. Who are we then? A Nation that is the mirror of “A neo-pagan world intent on judging and destroying whole groups of people, cleansing the whole polis”. Only “the Christian understanding of persons” can save us. At this stage it seems only God. Although there remains a nucleus of “persons”, largely within the Trump camp. What we need is leadership. The USCCB can fulfill the spiritual role in tandem with a political good leader if only its members return to the redeeming fire of the Gospel.

    • Fr. Morello,

      I do wonder what has happened to the authentic Gospel message. It seems we only get history lessons from the pulpit these days – no concrete instruction on developing virtue, the interior life, or mental prayer. Without those things, I fear the Gospel will fall on the barren earth and be taken away by the birds…

      It feels like I’m speaking to a wall when I talk to people about virtue…but when the (vast?) majority of people don’t even believe in an immaterial soul, there is no wonder they don’t understand virtue. There is simply no place to seat it in their worldview…

      The comment about the Catholic understanding of the human person is spot on. Only then can the Gospel and sanctity begin to take root!

      • Our faith has deflated through the centuries largely from ‘great minds’ not content with the simplicity of obedience to their Creator, strained to modify the pristine nature of divine revelation in Christ conveyed by the Apostles. To adopt current phraseology systemic mitigation of the truth to suit their love of the world. That primarily beginning with the idea that salvation outside the Church, a truth although a narrowly achieved truth without faith in Christ and a sacramental life is more expansive due to a benevolent God. As if Man is capable of redefining God as revealed in Christ. Watering down of the Gospels and a sense of false comfort led to decreased missionary effort, and priests not preaching the hard necessary truth from the pulpit. Too many happy things to chortle about to cheer up the faithful. Faith is a fire, and unless we continuously fuel it with sacrificial effort, intense prayer, a dialogue of love we become insipid social workers. You’re fortunate Michael to apprehend this. Stand fast in the faith and realize the remaining faithful are given an indispensable mission of witness to the truth of Christ.

      • Michael, people believe what the hear and read. It’s no great surprise that people have stopped listening to God’s word as relevant and know little if anything about virtue. The Church in the long past had Sheppard who taught the ultimate with moral courage but not many anymore. They have swallowed the cup of poison offered by progressives in exchange for their apostleship to Jesus and have run from their duties as prescribed by Jesus. Where are the Shepard’s as the wolves tear and devour the sheep? Only a remnant remain.

  12. 2 points. 1. The woman shot. You mean the unarmed woman who shouldn’t have been in the capitol but also shouldn’t have been shot, that woman? 2. Trump’s not Constantine, but of the 2 candidates, who is defending religious and who is going to eviscerate it?

    • Thank you, Carl.

      To Mr. Yakkir, I would respectfully observe that I voted for President Trump twice—in spite of my grave concerns about his manifest character flaws— because he was right about abortion and religious liberty. By his recent reprehensible conduct, however, he has enabled the Democrats to gain control of the US Senate and has greatly empowered a new administration that will actively support abortion and seek to eviscerate religious liberty in the name of woke progressiveness.

      • Tom, from what I’ve read, many of the people who voted for the Democrats in the Georgia re-run election did so because they were angry that Senator McConnell did not bring to a vote an increase in the payments to Americans from $600 to $2000. The President had made it clear he wanted the $2000 payments, so you seem to be blaming the wrong person.

        Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill gave billions of dollars to foreign countries for things like promoting the presence of women in the Afghani security forces.

        • Leslie,
          Thanks very much for your comment (and all the insightful comments you have posted with respect to this article). The $2,000 payment issue may have been a deciding factor for some GA voters, as you suggest.
          I would just respectfully note, however, that I am hardly alone in blaming Trump for the GA Senate losses. See, for example, the editorial in today’s WSJ (“Trump Loses the Senate”).
          Also, re the $2,000 payment issue, I’m not sure that McConnell had the votes in his own caucus to get that passed. Plus, recall that Trump never raised this point while Steve Mnuchin, his own Administration representative, was working diligently in a very difficult negotiation who get to a final deal that could get Congressional approval. To raise it for the first time after the deal was done and passed at the last minute before enhanced unemployment benefits were to expire (parroting Nancy Pelosi of all people) was another sad example, in my opinion, of his very poor leadership.

          • “Also, re the $2,000 payment issue, I’m not sure that McConnell had the votes in his own caucus to get that passed.”

            But he wouldn’t have needed very many to get it passed, given that it was probable that all of the Democrats would have voted for it, and it would not have taken many Republicans to make a majority.

            If I were in Congress, I would have insisted that the money to pay for the $2000 should have been offset by cuts to rest of the budget. Those omnibus spending bills are an absolute disgrace – 6000 or so pages handed out an hour or two before the vote.

    • Like the pony hidden in a barn full of manure, of recent events there’s got to be a lesson in here about rhetoric and rumors. (Of course, why teach legitimate rhetoric–part of the Trivium [rhetoric, grammar, logic]–when prime-time counterfeit slogans and selective camera shots can fill the vacuum?)

      A side note on Constantine and the power of rumors: part of his history is that he executed his own wife and his son. What! Why? Well, his wife reported (rumored!)that the son had been incestuous with her. Constantine had a fit and killed his son. Then, the story goes, he discovered that his wife made the whole thing up (perhaps in an effort to upstage the son for hereditary power?). Constantine then took out the wife.

      For four years Trump has been falsely rumored, and now for the next four years the wheel turns, perhaps falsely, perhaps not. The moral? Rhetoric (mere words) is power, for good or ill.

      • “For four years Trump has been falsely rumored”, meaning relentless false reporting by the media, continued attempts to remove him without basis by the Dem Party [and doughty Emmy winner governor Andrew Cuomo threatening to “deck” him] and somehow withstood it all accomplishing great things. Prof Victor Davis Hanson senior fellow Hoover Inst said some time back the relentless attacks against him may have a silent effect, like an undetectable fissure on an egg that eventually cracks open.

  13. Thank you for the article. It strikes me that the accompanying legend ( whether the legend is true or not) is but a snapshot A snapshot of who we are as Americans. As time is that ever moving stream, how to we grow, adapt our thinking and behaviors today, after yesterday. How we define what happened of course is the basis for our actions today and tomorrow. insurrection? The people in the snapshot photo are not really identifiable are they? Or their loyalties?

  14. Carl:

    Fine piece of writing and thinking from you, as usual.

    But I really don’t see why we should be wringing our hands over the break-in at the Capitol. Who knows, at this point or ever, will know whether the perpetrators were disguised antifas or Trumpers? Does it really matter?

    What really is upon us is the crisis of the regime — the US constitutional regime, deeply flawed from its inception. We came very close to this crisis in 1973-74, but Nixon, unlike Trump, fell on his sword.

    Of course, there are going to be third-rate break-ins and violence in the streets (just as there were in 1973-74), because people’s gut tells them we are playing for keeps.

    Through whatever comes, Catholics need to be reminded that this regime’s foundation and ethos have been profoundly anti-Catholic for 244 years.

    God bless America!

  15. ANTIFA…that’s the only word you need remember.

    And don’t be surprised to learn that this entire election fraud wasn’t orchestrated by the Clinton’s and the Obama’s. You can take that to the bank.

    • Perhaps it wasn’t orchestrated by the Clintons and the Obamas – they’re too smart to get too close to it – but you can be damn sure that they supported it 110%.

    • We as Americans prevail. All my years I see in America our folks who work hard, love their families. never get down for long, always amaze ourselves and the world, when we are fed up with it as Americans we change it, we love our outdoors, our weather, our children, our faiths and our God, our livelihood, our God given right to life, babies crying, children playing dogs barking, cats sleeping, Tibet’s streaming, snow falling, sun shining, rain splashing, streams bubbling, roads meandering, skies prevailing, seniors snoozing, workmen working, women smiling, children laughing, puppies playing, fish jumping, horses running, clouds forming, raindrops falling and a billion million trillion other things that an astonishing country withheld from man’s view provides to a world to see and know that a unchallenged, magnificent creator blessed all to perceive and know He cares, He loves and He doesn’t stop. Do we as Americans need to understand anything else?

  16. Agreed. At bottom, the problems we face are essentially theological. May God help us. The question stands and could be a beginning of a robust conversation. I think I’ll take up the question, “Who are we, really, as Americans?” in an essay and would encourage others to do the same.

    • Who are we as a nation? One way to characterize the good ole USA is on the basis that since Roe vs Wade 60,000,000 million plus babies have been aborted. At one time we were a Christain nation, now, more or less, we are a Secular nation and for the most part we just don’t care about aborted babies, whether Catholic or not.

    • Interesting. Before anyone writes the essay, we need to list what being American means. Unfortunately, there most likely will be many different answers. Would really like to see the “original” definition of what it meant to be an American.

  17. Let’s take a look at the conspiracy-driven white supremacy extremist and rightist narrative floated nowadays. They picture themselves as “patriots” and the other, being not like themselves as “marxists.” In their view, the assault on democracy at the Capitol was a battle between patriots and marxists. Upon closer examination, the patriots are actually those who would rather have a white dictatorship than let a multicolored democracy flourish. So, who is an American? The two perspectives are here, those who only view Americans as white and those who see Americans as multicolored.

  18. The more basic question is, “who are we as Roman Catholics”. After all, it was single issue Catholic voters that put Trump into office.

  19. Americans have, over the past few months, proven themselves to be a bunch of rabid animals willingly whipping themselves into a violent frenzy. No one person can be blamed for this, it’s part and parcel of America’s lack of a Christian foundation.

  20. Correct, it’s theological. And there has never been a more sinister declared govt of the United States, former slavery notwithstanding. This is a new slavery, the New Puritans, who will set about punishing anyone who infringes on absolute power just as soon as they can manage it and have succeeded in sufficiently morally intimidating the public; constant accusation of not being nice, abusing the Christian faith which established our perception of good versus bad conduct. The New Puritans emphasise the sentimental. Opposition is ESSENTIAL.

  21. Mr. Olson raises one of the biggest questions of our time, a question a great many would just as soon sweep under the rug.

    Couldn’t resist cutting & pasting this from a lecture about patriotism I gave at an Orthodox church a few years back:
    “Professor [C.S.] Lewis thinks that Britain is too big and abstract to be a proper object of patriotic devotion. What does it mean, then, the fact that “Britain” is notably smaller than the state of Oregon?

    Going further, we note that America is over twice the size of the European Union and
    Roman Empire. What, then, holds America together?

    This may be an exercise in question-begging. “We” Americans believe abortion is a woman’s right to choose … and also that it is murder, “we” speak a variety of different languages and increasingly share fewer and fewer common festivals, not of course counting the Superbowl.

    Some of us are Protestant, others are Orthodox, still others Roman Catholic, and still others are Jewish. Still others worship Shiva, or Ganesha, or Allah. Some are atheists, some are transhumanists, some are spiritual but not religious, and some of “us” even literally worship Satan.”

    • Insofar as ‘Great’ Britain that title was applicable into the eighties after Lewis’ Death 63. The African colonies Tanzania, Zambia then were still in process of independence, Canada independent 1982, Hong Kong later and of course British political and cultural influence in Australia, New Zealand. So Lewis from Belfast N Ireland had a different sense than British influence and Great Britain as limited to the British Isles. What kept a sense of perhaps not territorial hegemony rather cultural cohesion [we really can’t exclude the USA considering the closest of ties]. Britain possessed in my estimate the world’s most highly developed culture and historical legacy [I recall a big black limousine pulling up as I strolled on the Isle of Wight window lowered elegant lady asking directions my response I’m not from here her’s with a smile Oh, he’s a colonial!]. What keeps us together in my barely lettered estimate is the sense of revolutionary Liberty of the founders, a belief in God given freedom, the inherent rights to live without immoderate restriction, to believe in a saving God, corrupted by a Catholic Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion defining liberty sans principals Planned Parenthood E PA v Casey. The title insofar as ‘Great’ Britain was applicable into the eighties after Lewis’ death 63. The African colonies Tanzania, Zambia were in process of independence, Canada independent 1982, Hong Kong later and of course British political and cultural influence in Australia, New Zealand so Lewis from Belfast N Ireland had a different sense than British influence and Great Britain as isolated to the British Isles. What kept a sense of perhaps not hegemony rather cultural cohesion [we really can’t exclude the USA considering the closest of ties]. Britain possessed in my estimate the world’s most highly developed culture and historical legacy [I recall a big black limousine pulling up as I strolled on the Isle of Wight window lowered elegant lady asking directions my response I’m not from here her’s with a smile Oh, he’s a colonial!]. What keeps us together in my barely lettered estimate is the sense of revolutionary Liberty of the founders, a belief in God given freedom to live without immoderate restriction, to believe in a saving God corrupted by a Catholic Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion defining liberty sans principals Planned Parenthood E PA v Casey. Likely the intellectual catalyst that divided more conservative Christians and Mid Westerners from urban now unfortunately hardened hostile uncompromising Marxist socialists. Result of the election ignited the spark, the volatility of the speech, yes even Trump’s admittedly narcissistic but not wholly untrue speech, march, the attack on a Capital that is perceived as betraying that most valued premise of God given freedom. We’re in for a fight, or the cowardly decision to lay down and enjoy the remaining moments of just peace until that is wrenched away from us. Our challenge is in response to the question, where does justice lie, in the keeping up of political decorum, or in the quest for the true and the good. Our failure as a Nation with the election of a moral turncoat will end in the suffering and hopefully the redemption of those of us who have failed God and country.

  22. The quality of the comments here show your readership, Mr. Olson. Conspiratorial, afraid, and easily deluded… I can praise to a measure the desire to “decry all forms of violence” but if we ignore the causes of this violence (willful delusion, lying, and a perpetual state of victimhood ginned up by our ‘social conservative’ leaders) decrying it won’t do much in the way of soul-searching. The fact that the older commentators here have such a tonal disconnect and can no longer believe what’s in front of their faces bodes ill for writers across the catholic news-sphere… or maybe bodes well! This site does gleefully publish fear-mongering think-pieces at a regular clip (one fond example, to paraphrase: “officials say Muslim terrorists were not responsible for Notre Dame’s fire. But what if they were?”). Continuing to stoke such intense resentment will only continue to create psychotic zealots willing to die over the internet articles they read. Food for thought!

  23. Sorry, Mr. Olson the factual shoe tracks and dots are quite connected in broad daylight along with many vivid pictures of the horror. Lets start with the “leader” who tried everything to undermine the VERIFIED democratic election of Joe Biden. That single attempt was the catalyst to launch Trump’s conspiracy and the main reason for the Capitol criminal incursion. He “won by a landslide”. Almost all of my Republican Congress jettisoned their souls to support a blatant lie that the election was a fraud and STOLEN! Incredibly, more than 60% of Republican voters favor Trump.

    He incited his exploding crowd of supporters using incendiary language. “President Trump has called Democrats “evil” and argued they are “too dangerous to govern.” He has denounced Barack Obama’s presidency and demonized former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, inspiring chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies.” “Fight like hell for our democracy”. He told the rioters were about to walk down to the Capitol, “I will be with you”. Instead, he cowered in the WH when he knew that he could appear at the Capital and stop the rioting. One rioter asked where was DJT?

    But, we can’t overlook Trump’s “private lawyer” Rudy Giuliani, America’s mayor, now morphed into America’s nightmare. Although he didn’t throw furniture at the Capitol, he did perform a “masterful” command of the law was displayed during almost all of his 62 cases all thrown out for lack of evidence. Perhaps, even more disturbing is that the new president may not be fully equipped for the transition because Trump’s un-American blocking of critical intelligence data. Moreover, we may have witnessed the demise of our Republican party.

    • You write as though I’ve expressed some allegiance to Trump and the GOP. Frankly, I have little to no use for politicians. I’ve been around long enough and have seen enough. I’m with Chesterton when it comes to politicians.

      That said, everything you say about Trump inciting people (some of which is dubious or misconstrued) can be documented countless times over with Dems, progressives, etc. Historically, of course, they have had plenty to do with slavery, eugenics, abortion, and racism. Read some history.

    • Please seek help, morganb. These tirades and rantings are just a repeating broken record at this point. Your thinking is deeply disconnected from reality, and your comments routinely demonstrate a disconcerting absence of any self-awareness and self-reflection. You don’t realize that you are the very caricature that you accuse others of being. Quite sad.

  24. I read and re-read this excellent article and Jack Gist’s follow up. What a great observation at the heart of the piece, that a neo-pagan society is a terribly intolerant place. It’s worth re-quoting the last paragraph:

    “A robustly Christian nation would understand that we each, as individuals, will eventually have to answer to God, Creator and righteous Judge of all—and would seek to act accordingly. But a neo-pagan world is intent on judging and destroying whole groups of people, cleansing the whole polis of those who cannot and must not be heard, understood, or accepted in any way.”

  25. “liberal justice, whose foundation is, finally, the Christian understanding of persons.”

    This is the deep problem. Liberal justices is not based on Christian understanding of the person, but on a false assumption that the only arbiter of truth is individual will.
    Secularists and libralism naturally lead relativism and atheism.

    That is the problem. Any body have a good solution?

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