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Chittister’s tears over the “country that once put principle over power” are not very persuasive. In her eyes, when was America ever noble or worth defending? During the Reagan military build-up? Under Nixon’s machinations, or the 50-year reign of J. Edgar Hoover as the nation’s top policeman? Was it during Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War, or JFK’s Bay of Pigs, or Truman’s atomic attacks, or FDR’s incarceration of Japanese-Americans, while firebombing German and Japanese cities? And until relatively recently, was not America racist, segregationist, and slave-holding?
Like all of humanity, America is sinful. Thanks, in part, to its higher religious impulses, it is also generous, magnanimous, and aspiring to goals of human equality and justice. For left-wing religionists like Chittister, humanity is noble, but America is uniquely sinful, in constant need of redemption from superior cultures.
The ostensibly chilling and vengeful U.S. response to 9/11 was, for Sister Joan Chittister, really just a continuation of America’s innately dark character. The U.S. is an extension of the same patriarchal authoritarianism that also oppresses her church, she no doubt believes. It is a very convoluted worldview and, on many levels, the very inverse of the Christianity that she presumably sincerely professes.