Home / General / I think Rod Dreher may have self-radicalized on the internet

I think Rod Dreher may have self-radicalized on the internet


Rod is upset with the Pope again. But this time, it’s not for suggesting maybe we should treat gay people a little more like human beings. The Pope’s error is taking the wrong parts of the Bible–those that seem to call for a course of action Dreher deems unwise– seriously. Dreher’s disdain for the prospect of even a modest increase in the Muslim population in the realm of historic Christendom is so intense he simply can’t make heads or tails of what Pope Francis could possibly even mean. Rod reads a report of some recent comments from Pope Francis on the refugee crisis:

Pope Francis has encouraged Europeans to welcome refugees, calling authentic hospitality “our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.”

And responds with utter befuddlement:

What on earth is he talking about? It may be right for Europeans to welcome refugees — I don’t agree, but it’s a debatable point over whether or not charity requires Europeans to take that risk– but to say that welcoming over a million Muslims into Europe is “our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism” is at best absurd propaganda. Who can possibly believe this? The same people who believe that “diversity is our strength”?

An explanation of why the Pope’s statement is obviously wrong is not forthcoming, as he shifts gears to garden-variety scaremongering and angry denunciations of commenters.

I wouldn’t claim to know precisely what Pope Francis meant in the passage in question, but taken at face value it straightforward enough. Here are some statements that range from ‘obviously correct’ to ‘plausible’:

1. There are already around 20 million Muslims residing in the EU, a number far larger than the total population of Syrian refugees.
2. Insofar as terrorism is a serious threat in Europe, it’s largely through people already residing there.
3. Radicals who wish to recruit their fellow Muslims to the terrorist cause find that a widespread perception of hostility and bigotry to Muslims in European countries helps their cause.
4. Turning away refugees in desperate need because of their religion and/or country of origin makes Europeans look like anti-Muslim bigots to their existing Muslim populations.

Now, I have no idea if this strategic wager is correct; I don’t have the kind of detailed knowledge of patterns of radicalization that would allow me to have an opinion worth a damn. But it’s entirely plausible, and it’s clearly not ‘at best absurd propaganda.’ It’s remarkable that Rod is so committed to avoiding a path that Pope Francis, correctly, recognizes as required by basic decency in general and basic Christian decency in particular that he can’t even consider the possibility that such a path might also be a practical as well as compassionate and decent.

The kicker:

The more things like this happen, the more sense Trump’s idea to halt Muslim immigration for the time being makes. What a crazy year when Donald J. Trump makes more sense on anything than a Pope.

As you let that sink in, keep in mind two things. First, this statement is written by a man who has spent much of the last several years trying very hard to convince anyone who’ll listen that it’s contemporary liberals who’ve become an unprecedented threat to religious freedom. Second, as recently as just a few months ago Dreher routinely expressed horror and dismay at the rise of Trump, and what that rise meant for conservatism, and how evangelical acquiescence to Trumpism was evidence of a deep sickness in American Christianity and the Conservative movement. Watching Dreher, predictably, come home, it occurs to me that perhaps Trumpism is best understood not so much a betrayal or failure of politicized evangelicalism, but a return to its 1970’s roots.

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