Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.

Obama the new Bush?

12-13-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I figured it would eventually happen: one day Barack Obama would wake up and realize he was George Bush. Or maybe more like Luke Skywalker finding out Darth Vader was his father. More specifically, that the same miserable options that George Bush had to choose from to deal with terrorism are the same miserable options that Barack Obama has to choose from. History indeed has its own historical ironies in the fire.

Despite the fact that President Obama did his darnest to follow a different path than his predecessor and proffer to us a different worldview, that all seem to collapse after the San Bernardino killings. These two killers bring into real clear hyper-pixelated, HD clarity the face of terrorism. No, terrorism of the kind we are dealing with is not caused by lack of education or poverty. Both these killers were educated, financially stable and lived in a nice neighborhood. No, terrorism is not caused by climate change. Despite the fact that California is in a drought period, water still flows from the tap and no accompanying famine has hit the state, their cupboards were filled. No, terrorism was not instigated because Americans are hostile to Muslims. This killer's workmates gave him and his wife a baby shower a few months earlier. But that act of friendliness didn't stop the duo from killing 14 of his coworkers. No, terrorism is not caused by easy availability of guns and bullets. The killers had plenty of explosive devices ready to do the job sans guns.

Right now it has to be hard to be Barack Obama. Pray for him. I do.

If all the justifications, explanations and rationales for terrorism are now shown to be inadequate if not just plain wrong what might be the cause? Could it be that it has something to do with religion, specifically Islam? Could we be dealing with a theological problem at heart? Could it be that the question of the nature of God, really still matters?

When it comes to talk about the religious causes of terrorism, President Obama and many other politicians and pundits become very, very, very, extremely uncomfortable. So much so that any hint that the discussion might go in that direction, the President with lighting speed remind us all that all Muslims are not to blame and this is just a minority of fanatics we are dealing with. Yes, Mr. President we know that all Muslims are not to blame. Americans are sophisticated enough and rub elbows daily with people of all kinds to know better than to condemn an entire group of people. Still the US Attorney General let us all know that her "greatest worry" is anti-Muslim rhetoric that might lead to violence against the overwhelmingly peaceful Muslim community. Strange how after the killings at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado she did not say that she worried even a little bit about anti-Prolife rhetoric that might lead to violence against the overwhelmingly peaceful Prolife community.

The facts are that since 9/11 almost no anti-Muslim violence has erupted in the US. Yet for some reason the President and others seem to have a very low opinion about their fellow citizens. And so we are lectured non-stop to be nice and say nice things about Muslims lest we hurt someone's feelings. Which is what I probably am doing in this writing.

The San Bernardino killings represent the worst kind of terrorism because they were at least in part homegrown spawn. The two who committed these shootings were neighbors, friends and coworkers with many others. They were treated with neighborliness as community members. But because they did what they did so unsuspectingly and deceitfully they have made it much worse for all other Muslims. Now will we become more distrustful of our Muslim neighbors and coworkers? Will our first thought not be "are these potential terrorists"? That is a road we don't want to go down.

But that is the sad and frightening legacy of the failure to deal decisively with the problem of terrorism. My advice to the President is to deal with the problem swiftly, effectively and with whatever force is needed. Failure to do so will pull our communities apart, create a state of permanent suspicion and make life very miserable for the very people and religion the President is trying to protect.

For a long time the President has resisted what he saw as the Dark Side of the Bush era policies. Now ironically they are the only cards left in his hand. Will he play or fold?

Mr. President embrace your new identity and as you so oft say, "be on the right side of history"! And be assured of my prayers. May the Force be with you.

Love, Fr. John B.