A Jesuit looks at the State of the Union speech

A Jesuit looks at the State of the Union speech

Fr. James Schall, S.J., analyzes President Bush’s State of the Union speech. Even more illuminating, he provides an analysis of the media coverage as well. Coming from an orthodox and fairly politically conservative priest, it makes for interesting reading.

The President provides justification for this position on ending tyranny: “On September 11, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country.” I have some problem with this explanation. It implies that somehow this particular attack and those like it planned for the future can be analyzed in terms of political science theory about “failed” states rather than in terms of the zeal and stated goals of believers in a particular religion in their mission to carry out a world-wide conquest.

In other words the problem of terrorism is not directly related to a lack of democracy, but is part and parcel of the way a significant proportion of the adherents of Islam interpret their tradition and live it out. There is probably no more democratic nation than the US, but Foaming Bronze Age Fanatics were able to form terror cells and find succor from like-minded Americans here.

The third part of his analysis included the presence of Justice Samuel Alito in the chamber and focused on pro-life issues. In this section, he looks at the most powerful philosophical and forward-looking passages in the speech that were also most overlooked by the media since they didn’t deal in specific policy details.

“America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be compassionate, decent, hopeful society.” This is the sentence the New York Times–which had chosen oil for its front-page summary of the address–cited on the 20th page with the text. But it is a powerful sentence, one that again mirrors the notion that a nation is not just about laws and justice and productivity, but of compassion, decency, hope.

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