The pale green, heart-shaped leaves of Phytoterrorist garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) insinuate themselves among the grass-like leaves of star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) in the patchy urban forest at the edge of the upper forty of Chelsea-by-the-Sea. Googling Star of Bethlehem, a member of the lily family, we were delighted to learn that its "flower essence" is a major ingredient of Bach's Rescue Remedy®, "an all natural form of healing that can reduce everyday stress" and is "effective in virtually any situation that causes stress or anxiety."
"Like so many others on the left, Obama rejects 'stereotypes' when they are stereotypes he doesn't like but blithely throws around his own stereotypes about 'a typical white person' or 'bitter' gun-toting, religious and racist working class people," writes Thomas Sowell. Not to mention stereotypes about a spiritual and "racist" middleclass person like ourselves, as we blogged back in December of 2006. Sowell continues:
Like so much that Obama has said and done over the years, this is standard stuff on the far left, where guns and religion are regarded as signs of psychological dysfunction -- and where opinions different from those of the left are ascribed to emotions ("bitter" in this case), rather than to arguments that need to be answered.
In politics, the clearer a statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by a "clarification," when people react adversely to what was plainly said.
When the delicate-looking flowers of garlic mustard first bloomed in our garden, "we mistook this Lucrezia Borgia of the plant world for 'a lovely intruder,'" we wrote a couple of years back in our post "Phytoterrorism in our own backyard," noting that "scientists have discovered the devious methods used by the weedy garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, AKA Alliaria officinalis) to invade and destroy our native hardwood forests."
Ironically, something similar can be said of Pope Benedict XVI's statements among those who would willfully misunderstand the Holy Father for their own political purposes. Benedetto is known for the intellectual rigor and precision of his thought and speech, yet, to borrow Sowell's phraseology, the clearer a papal statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by demands for an "apology" when people react hysterically to what was plainly said. Muslim street riots in response to perceived slights in Papa Ratzi's Regensberg speech are the most obvious example, but the will to misunderstanding runs deep and dark in the human psyche, as The Anchoress explicates in her tour de force "The Reality of Pope Benedict" at Pajamas Media this morning:
Then, preaching to his fellow cardinals just before the conclave, Ratzinger further annoyed many of the chatterers by warning against “building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."
Not much liking that, Notre Dame’s Fr. Richard McBrien sniffed: “If Cardinal Ratzinger were really campaigning for pope, he would have given a far more conciliatory homily . . . He’s too much of a polarizing figure.”
In fact, Benedict is less “polarizing” than simply consistent in his faith and his philosophy; having experienced a life with which few of his critics could ever identify, he dares to stand for more than “whatever . . .”
Now back to you, Thomas Sowell:
It is understandable that young people are so strongly attracted to Obama. Youth is another name for inexperience -- and experience is what is most needed when dealing with skillful and charismatic demagogues.
Those of us old enough to have seen the type again and again over the years can no longer find them exciting. Instead, they are as tedious as they are dangerous.
But even as throngs of dazzled wet-behind-the-ears Americans succumb to the razzle-dazzle display of Dr. Obama's Magical Mystery Tour, others are drawn to a brighter light in the Eastern sky -- The pope will have been in the air four out of a total of about 10 hours of the flight from Rome to DC as we blog -- as "Young Catholics from across the country are flocking to Washington and New York to see Pope Benedict XVI on his first U.S. visit as pope," reports PBS:
Many of those tickets will go to young people, as Pope Benedict XVI is using this visit to reach out to young Catholics, according to Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl.
"One of the things he said early on was the church is always young. It's always there for young people. I think young people see that in this pope. They hear in his message words of hope, words of challenge," Wuerl told the Pittsburgh newspaper.
Back to The Anchoress for the final word:
In the current age, which would prefer God to fit into its plans rather than the reverse, Benedict is preaching a radical message that he knows many -- blessed with free will and beholden to the age -- will reject. Far from displaying an “enforcer” mentality, the pope accepts that rejection with pragmatism and ultimately with trust. “The Church,” he said as Joseph Ratzinger, “will become small, and will to a great extent have to start over again. But after a time of testing, an internalized and simplified Church will radiate great power and influence; for the population of an entirely planned and controlled world are going to be inexpressibly lonely … and they will then discover the little community of believers as something quite new. As a hope that is there for them, as the answer they have secretly always been asking for.”
Be sure to read the whole thing. Do it for the children.
As if making my point for me, Newsweek has two pieces on Benedict . . . The first piece, by George Weigel, I recommend to you because although it glows for Benedict, it also gives you an excellent sense of how deeply this pope may affect our age. The second, by Lisa Miller, is your basic predictable condescension about how Benedict does not “connect” with Catholics.