In a pointed speech this weekend, the bishop of San Diego attacked U.S. President Donald Trump, telling his audience of social justice warriors that they must disrupt Trump’s efforts to fulfill his campaign promises.
In a 20-minute address to the U.S. regional meeting of the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bishop Robert McElroy said that “President Trump was the candidate of disruption. He was the disrupter.”
“Well, now we must all become disrupters,” he said.
Acknowledging that the United States is living “a pivotal moment as a people and a nation” in which “bitter divisions cleave our country and pollute our actual dialogue,” the bishop urged his hearers to resist the temptation to unite under the president and rather to oppose him at every turn.
“We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families,” McElroy said. “We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies, rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God.”
“We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children,” he said.
The crowd of nearly 700 “community organizers and social justice ‘protagonistas’” interrupted the bishop’s address nearly two dozen times with cheers and applause.
Further along in his speech, the bishop seemed to suggest that alternative media such as Breitbart are guilty of poisoning public discourse with a different version of key news stories, which he labelled as “dishonest.”
“Now we’ve come to a time when alternate facts compete with real facts, and whole industries have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns,” said McElroy.
Betraying his own economic biases, the bishop endeavored to pit a free market economy against human dignity, as if a centrally controlled economy were somehow more respectful of the dignity of individuals than an economy where creativity and personal economic initiative are encouraged.
McElroy said that “the fundamental political question of our age” was whether American economic structures will receive greater freedom or be directed in a way “to safeguard the dignity of the human person and the common good of our nation.”
In his groundbreaking encyclical letter on economic life, Centesimus Annus, Saint John Paul II offered a radically different view of the relationship between economic freedom and human dignity. He wrote that one of the key factors behind the fall of the Soviet Union was the inefficiency of its economic system, which was “a consequence of the violation of the human rights to private initiative, to ownership of property and to freedom in the economic sector.”
Asking whether the free market system ought to be proposed to countries trying to rebuild their economy and society, John Paul famously answered:
“If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative.”
Bishop McElroy seems to see things differently.
“Let all the world know that this economy kills,” the bishop said amidst cheers, urging his hearers to agitate for an increase in the minimum wage to “at least $15 an hour.”
Curiously, it was researchers from the University of California San Diego who found in 2014 that low-skilled workers were the most adversely affected by minimum wage increases, despite the fact that this was the group that such legislation sought to help.
Hikes in the minimum wage have other effects besides just giving low-income workers a raise, the study found, and minimum wage increases in the late 2000s resulted in the loss of some 1.4 million American jobs.
Sometimes soft slogans—as appealing as they are—must yield to hard economics.
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