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Washington Post Conservative Claims That Honoring the Pope is Hating America


During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and throughout the George W. Bush administration, Republicans became very adept at portraying any American with dissenting opinions as not being a patriot and hating America. The election of Barack Obama did little to change the Republican tactic and there has been no dearth of ways Republicans claim opposition to their policies and agendas is hating America. It was not enough to claim ending billions in subsidies to the highly-profitable oil industry was un-American, or President Obama pledging to hold BP accountable for devastating the Gulf coast was un-American, or that seeking new clean and renewable energy sources was unpatriotic and un-American. Now that Pope Francis is coming to America and expected to continue his crusade to combat climate change when he addresses Congress, conservatives have declared that any American who dares honor the Pope for his humanitarian efforts cannot possibly love America.

That ridiculous idea that no American can possibly honor the Pope for speaking out about climate change and still love America is from an epic climate denier and conservative columnist George Will, but he is not alone by any means. Will wrote about the Pope’s impending visit to Congress on Friday and his calls for action on climate change. The “noted conservative” accused the Pontiff of “embracing ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill. He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.” More simply put and typical of Republicans; Americans who honor the Pope and reject Republicans’ devotion to the fossil fuel industry really hate America.

As reported here, last week the marketing director of the Heartland Institute, Gene Koprowski, attempted to sully the Pope and a billion-plus Catholics around the world by claiming the Pope’s climate change encyclical was motivated by “pagan remnants of nature worship reasserting themselves in the Catholic Church.” This claim that the Pope is “Paganizing” the Vatican, although bizarre and frankly hilarious, is exactly what to expect from a Koch organization.

The same Koch surrogates asserted three years ago that any human being who accepts the reality of climate science, and journalists who report climate facts accurately, are comparable to “mass murderers and madmen like Charles Manson, the Unabomber, and Osama Bin Laden!” So apparently by extension the Pope, too, is a “mass murderer and a madman” for appealing to the world’s nations to address climate change. It also means that any Americans honoring the Pope’s humanitarianism not only hate America, they must be like mass murderers and madmen as well because they do not buy into Koch Republicans’ lies and denial that anthropogenic climate change exists.

Thus far, Republicans have rejected nearly everything about this Pope. But what has Republicans in a rage, and conservatives claiming if an American honors the Pope they must hate America, is best summed up in the closing of the Pope’s “encyclical on the environment and climate change.” Pope Francis ends the encyclical by supplicating his god to please “Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.

Obviously, the Pope was not only “preaching like Jesus,” he was addressing everything the various conservative and evangelical movements stand for and made an impassioned entreaty to god to “enlighten them.” If one follows the conservatives’ mindset and logic, they are making a robust statement that any American who fails to embrace all things Koch Republican certainly hates America. Very few semi-aware Americans would disagree that those who hold power and wealth, the Republicans’ masters, and their poor stupid and racist supporters could not care less about the weak, the environment, or the common good; that is what decent civilized human beings care about.

The Pope may have support from other nations, President Obama, and some Americans in his crusade to address the looming environmental catastrophe, but he will face fierce resistance from fossil fuel industry Republicans. This resistance, and continued climate denial, is despite the fact that the fossil fuel industry has known for over four decades that their products were destroying the environment. A just-released investigation reveals that ExxonMobil executives were warned of their precious fossil fuels’ role in creating devastating changes to the Earth’s climate in the 1970s; thirty years before the rest of the world was informed and started paying attention. Subsequently, the oil industry responded forty years ago exactly how the Koch brothers have ordered Republicans to respond today; by devising devious strategies and legislation to block climate solutions. And now they are executing a well-planned assault on the Pope and his understanding of climate science by portraying him as a Pagan and his followers as un-American.

No sane human being believes anything George Will says, but Republicans and their base are not sane and heed carefully conservatives like George Will, “Misinformer of the Year” for 2014, despite his irrational ramblings against climate science and now the Pope. One leading climatologist, Michael Mann, said that “George Will is known for grossly misstating the science of climate change,” and his own  newspaper “overtly contradicted his lies and misstatements” about climate science in its news pages.

Will even offered his “proof“  that the Pope’s calls for action on climate change are founded on “woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies.” Will wrote that the Pope is a fool for saying that “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does. The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.”

So here is a 21st Century science denier citing a piece of fiction from the 1850s as proof that Americans  honoring the Pope’s appeal, based on real 21st Century science,  to the rich and powerful to help save the climate is proof they hate America. George Will is patently wrong and the Pope is correct; anthropogenic climate change damage  is irreversible and it has been a well-documented fact since at least 2009.

In a paper published by a group of highly-regarded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists, they reported that there already is “Irreversible climate change because of carbon dioxide emissions.” The paper also concluded that “the climate change that is taking place now because of increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.” If the Pope, 97-percent of climate scientists, and Americans living the devastation of climate change were to somehow be successful and stop emissions today, the climate might revert to “normal” in 3015.

Sadly, too many conservative Americans struggling to comprehend the difference between an apple and a garden rake due to brain disorders accept the Republican, fossil fuel industry, and Koch belief tanks sophistry about climate change. They are willingly condemning their children, grandchildren, and countless future generations to “irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the ‘dust bowl’ era and inexorable sea level rise.” It is also sad that those same low-intellect conservative supporters will reject the Pope’s message just to show Republicans that they do not hate America and give the Koch brothers exactly what they want; no action on climate change and more animus toward a Pope simply because he is not a fossil fuel acolyte.

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