Rod Dreher’s cognitive dissonance on matters of race, and the role of implicit whiteness in the BenOp things he so admires, takes a hilarious turn in his recent column “Poverty as Culture”. Dreher is responding to Jesuit priest Paddy Gilger’s critique of Dreher’s BenOp position as being implicitly white. (Gilger is a classic Christian universalist promoter of pathological altruism — that is, unconditionally promoting and assisting non-white refugees, etc.)
Dreher’s feathers get rather ruffled from Gilger’s piece and he responds with:
There is nothing in my blog post or in Father Gilger’s response to it that mentions race… It is perfectly fair to critique the class elements in my claims, but you will not find race there because I don’t talk about race. I live in a mixed-race neighborhood now. I would much rather live in a stable middle-class neighborhood that was predominantly black, Latino, Asian, or any non-white minority than filled with white people who were violent, racist, and chaotic (of which there are plenty in my part of the world). Again: this is about culture. [Emphasis by Dreher – LM]
We then get a Big But:
It’s impossible not to admire the commitment of a priest who lives among and serves the poor like this. But he is a priest, an unmarried man who does not have to raise children. I don’t mean that in an ad hominem sense. I’m simply saying that a mother and father who are responsible for bringing up children will understandably not want their kids to grow up in a neighborhood that is violent, chaotic, and dysfunctional. Ta-Nehisi Coates grew up on the rough streets of West Baltimore, where he was bullied. Now that he’s rich and famous, and has a wife and a child, do you think he lives in West Baltimore? Of course not! Why should he? It is a normal thing to prefer living in a safe neighborhood to one that isn’t.
Back in 2005, we bought a house in a gentrifying neighborhood. Our next-door neighbors were an older working-class Latino couple who had been there since the 1980s. They would tell us stories about how bad things were back then, when the neighborhood was drug-infested and violent. You couldn’t go sit on your front porch at night, they said, because you had to fear stray bullets. Those were good people who were great neighbors. And they were the kind of people man of us would regard as poor.
Rod really goes out on a limb when he expresses an even Bigger But:
Father Gilger’s experience of the poor as “a call to work for justice” can be read as a call to order the world in which the poor live so that it is easier for them to be good.
But does it require that all Christians must welcome all the poor into their neighborhoods, regardless of the newcomers’ willingness to live by the standards of the neighborhood? I don’t understand how it does. I’m thinking of a friend of mine, a devout Christian, who, in a spirit of mercy and compassion, invited a known child molester (a relative) to live with his family. Only much later, after the child molester died, did my friend discover that his own daughter had been molested by this man in their house. Now, this is an extreme case, but would anyone argue that this man had a Christian obligation to open his home to the child molester, knowing that he (the man) had children?
Again, that’s an extreme case. But you see the principle.
Yes, Rod, we see the principle.
And why in God’s name are we bringing in waves of low-IQ, high-fertility, third world immigrants at a rate that no amount of patient, case-by-case, Christian outreach will ever come close to outpacing?
Demographically, critical mass is being reached. The social capital that whites have built in white countries is rapidly being taxed and depleted Cloward-Piven style.
But keep telling yourself that race has absolutely nothing to do with the dynamic.