Friday, December 2, 2016

Blocked by a Cardinal: The Napier Interview

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban South Africa has blocked me on Twitter. This is in one sense strange, as to my knowledge I have never publicly mentioned Cardinal Napier on this blog nor have I interacted with his Twitter account in any way. To be honest, until yesterday I couldn't have even told you that Cardinal Napier was based in Durban.

But it isn't strange in another sense in that many Catholic Twitter users have reported that they have also been blocked by Napier without any understanding of why he may have done so. I can only assume that he, or more likely someone in his office, gets a list from someone else in the blocking business - Antonio Spadaro or Thomas Rosica or whomever - of "problematic" Catholics, and simply inputs them. Why anyone, let alone a cardinal would bother doing this is beyond me.

And the blocking thing may not be merely ideological. This tweet is poignant:
I've been blocked, but because the show must go on, I decided that this wouldn't stop me from doing an interview with the Cardinal, conducted, appropriately enough on Twitter.

The interview was conducted yesterday via tweets. Everything was "on the record" and the discussion was frank but cordial.
Mahound's Paradise: Good morning, Your Eminence. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions about the contemporary Church. 
Cardinal Napier: 
MP: Before discussing current issues, I thought I'd ask if you could give readers a sense of who you are, how and when you entered the priesthood and so on and so forth. 
MP: Thank you, Your Eminence. You were appointed Cardinal by Saint John Paul II in 2001. Did you know the late Pope well? 
MP: Do you have any stories or funny anecdotes or anything? 
MP: Thank you. If I may switch gears for the moment. The current Church is obviously confronting many challenges around the world. Are there any challenges or problems that you think are particularly pressing for the African Church? 
MP: Or to flip the question. Are there any lessons for the rest of the Catholic world that might be learned from the African experience? 
MP: The release of the Apostolic Letter Amoris Laetitia has clearly been one of the most important events of the current pontificate. What is your opinion on its significance? 
MP: If it's not too presumptuous to ask, I think it fair to say that you were previously considered somewhat of a "conservative" within the cardinalate. Recently, however, you seem to have lined up with the "liberal" faction by defending the Pope's refusal to answer the "dubia" submitted by a group of other cardinals. Should others read anything into this or is all of it just silly gossip? 
MP: Thank you. Moving on to politics. Brexit, thumbs up or thumbs down? 
MP: Interesting. And the recent American elections. Same old same old or fascism triumphant? 
MP: Thank you, Your Eminence. Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to ask about this blocking thing. It's not because I'm white, is it? 
MP: I understand. No worries. Hey, what about that movie Zulu with Michael Caine. Did you find it as inspiring as I did? 100 men against 50,000 and all that? 
MP: My mother's just fine, thank you. But I do need to follow up: How many other accounts have you blocked? 
MP: That's incredible. I didn't know that was even possible. So, once the algorithm is written, you just press "run" and let it go? Sweet. 
MP: Did Salt and Light give you the program or did you have to purchase it from them? 
MP: Ha! That's what many of my friends also think of him. By the way, who are you voting for at the next conclave?
MP: Come on, even though it's early, you must have some ideas. 
MP: Wow, I didn't even know he was in the running. Do you mind if I make that a "scoop" on my blog? 
MP: Thanks! And I'll make sure to link back to you. 
MP: You're welcome. But back to Amoris Laetitia. Do you think it's an authentic part of the Magisteria? 
MP: You know what I mean. The Magisterium. So, what do you think? 
MP: Got it. Okay. Well, thank you, Your Eminence. This interview has been very productive, and I think it will be fascinating for my readers. So, now that we've hit it off so well, do you think you could unblock me? 
MP:  I'll take that as a "maybe."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

NOT A PARODY: OSU Student Terrorist Abdul Artan was Due to Make a Class Presentation on "Microagressions"

From Robby Soave on the "Hit and Run" blog at Reason Magazine:
Ohio State Knife Attacker Abdul Artan Was Taking a Class About Microaggressions 
His group project was due later this week.
Before he was shot dead while attempting to murder a bunch of people with a car and a butcher's knife, Ohio State University student Abdul Artan—a Pakistani immigrant who reportedly became radicalized after learning about injustices committed against fellow Muslims—was enrolled in a class called "Crossing Identity Boundaries." 
In fact, he had a group project on "microaggressions" due later this week. The assignment, worth 15 percent of his grade, required students to find a dozen examples of microaggressions on social media and explain which identity groups were the victims, according to the syllabus. 
The purpose of the class is to promote "intercultural leadership" and transform students into "actively engaged, socially just global citizen/leaders." It seems to go well beyond merely educating students, though—it actually requires them to become social justice activists. 
One of Artan's classmates who was part of his microaggressions group tweeted a screenshot of the assignment and the names of her group's members, which included Artan. None of these students responded to a request for comment. 
But I was able to confirm that the microaggressions assignment is indeed a component of the "Crossing Identity Boundaries" class. The course's instructor didn't respond to a request for comment, either. 
According to the syllabus, the point of the microaggressions project is to make students "recognize the role of social diversity" and "demonstrate an appreciation for other points of view and cultures." 
How awkward.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pope's "Mouthpiece" Spadaro Used Fake Sock-Puppet Account to Attack Four Cardinals

Almost two weeks ago I reported on the bizarre social media behavior of Antonio Spadaro, the Pope's "mouthpiece" and editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica. He had used Twitter in various ways to attack the "four cardinals" who had submitted the "dubia" to Pope Francis. This included using screenshots of the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings to equate the Pope's opponents with grotesque fictional villains.

Spadaro appeared to be conflicted about the appropriateness of his actions. He alternated between acting like a man with something to hide and flaunting his prowess at trolling. He deleted one tweet, which appeared to equate Cardinal Burke with a "witless worm," then put it back up with a jokey comment and additional jabs against his critics.

A small group of Catholic Twitter users and bloggers began to follow and report on Spadero's actions. My posts of a few weeks ago were one part of that.

Since then, virtually all of us have been blocked by Spadaro on Twitter.

A few days after the "witless worm" post/deletion/repost, Spadaro made another juvenile pop culture attack on Cardinal Burke et al. but this time it was in the form of a retweet:

In conformity with his past pattern, this tweet was also soon deleted.

Who was Habla Francisco? The name can be translated as "The Pope speaks" or "So says the Pope." The account holder's Twitter page showed that "Habla Francisco" had joined Twitter in September 2013 but had only made 3 tweets, all of which were retweeted by Spadaro. (They have all now since been deleted). "Habla Francisco" supposedly had 18 Followers but the account was "protected" such that no other information was publicly available.

You can guess where this is headed.

A few days ago, one of the Spadaro sleuths discovered that "Habla Francisco"'s account could be traced to Spadaro's own email address at La Civiltà Cattolica.

I cut off the identity of the person who posted the above, but this tweet and other similar communications were publicly shared on Twitter. The information revealed at the bottom was confirmed by multiple sources.

That's right, Antonio Spadaro, the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and one of the Pope's main point men in promoting Amoris Laetitia had been "retweeting" his own tweets from a sock-puppet Twitter account. These fake retweets were used to defend an Apostolic Letter and attack four cardinals of the Catholic Church.

Yesterday, Chris Ferrara claimed, only half-humorously, that the Pope's men were acting like Mafiosi.

I agree, but they're also acting like teenage girls.

Interestingly, Spadaro had previously styled himself as a sort of expert on the internet and social media. A few years ago he authored Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Age of the InternetThe cover shows God jump-starting an internet connection or linking social media users or something:

The book has two brief positive reviews. I wonder who wrote them?

According to the Amazon blurb:
The author suggests that since the Internet has changed, and is changing, the ways in which we think and act, it must also be changing the ways in which we think (of) Christianity and its theology. 
God help us.

The content, as might be expected from a contemporary Jesuit "theologian," is one part quasi-Marxist, one part quasi-new age and one large part not-so-quasi pop culture riff:
Spadaro also considers the hacker ethic in relation to Cybertheology.
Perhaps Spadaro should have considered creating a sock-puppet that wasn't so obviously linked to his professional email address.

There's actually more to this story. But for now at least I'm going to be cryptic about it. Suffice it to say (and I'm not joking around or trying to be overly dramatic here) if you try to go to the Mahound's Paradise Twitter page and find that it no longer exists, know that I wasn't the one who deleted it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NOT A PARODY: OSU "Diversity" Staffer Calls Butcher Knife Terrorist a Victim, Ends Post with #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName

Mark Your Calendars for the Divesity Conference

The Daily Caller is reporting that Stephanie Clemons Thompson, a staffer in Ohio State's Office of Diversity and Inclusion posted and then deleted a Facebook message expressing sympathy for Abdul Razak Ali Artan, yesterday's car/butcher knife Muslim terrorist. The Daily Caller was careful to note that they were not able to independently verify the authenticity of the post, but the screenshot appears authentic, and The Daily Caller has not retracted it.

I'm going to declare my true colors here, so to speak, and then drop the issue, since this blog isn't really about the topic. Here goes:

"Diversity" departments like this one are a joke, completely and utterly. They don't help black people or hispanic people or gay people or whomever else they are supposed to help. Nor do they aid the cause of "diversity" in any sense or however it is defined. Rather, they foster conformity. And they spread misinformation, ignorance, suspicion and even hatred.

Much of their purpose is to provide jobs for mediocre people such as Ms. Thomson who would have difficulty finding equivalent employment in any other area. Indeed, while there appear to be literally hundreds of staffers in the Byzantine OSU Office, they cannot even spell "diversity" correctly on their website's main page (see above).

I should note that while Ms. Thompson is black, mediocre people come in all colors.

There, I feel better now.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Muslim Car/Knife Attacker Had Complained About Islamophobia

The profile is from the 8-25-16 issue of The Lantern, a student newspaper at Ohio State University:
Kevin Stankiewicz / Oller Reporter 
"I just transferred from Columbus State. We had prayer rooms, like actual rooms where we could go to pray because Muslims have to pray five times a day. There's Fajr, which is early in the morning, at dawn. Then Ruhr during the daytime, then Asr in the evening, like right about now. and then Maghreb, which is like right at sunset and then Isha at night. I wanted to pray Asr. I mean, I'm new here. This is my first day. This place is huge, and I don't even know where to pray. I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I'm a Muslim, it's not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don't know what they're going to think, what's going to happen. But I don't blame them. It's the media that put that picture in their heads so they're just going to have it and it, it's going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and prayed. 
Abdul Razak Artan, Third-year in logistics management

BREAKING: OSU Attacker Identified as Somali Muslim Student

Update (2:26 CST): The attacker was first identified from the police dispatch as Ali Muhammad. But it now appears that his name is Abdul Razak Ali Artan. If we believe the police dispatch, then it's unclear whether he registered his car under a different name or whether he was driving someone else's car. 

Multiple sources including CBS Evening News are now reporting that the OSU attacker was Somali Muslim. According to the police dispatch, below, he was identified from the license plate of his car (the ID is at 5:25 to 6:15).

Muhammed drove his car into a group of students on the Ohio State University campus. He then jumped out of the car and started attacking with a butcher knife.

An officer in the area responded within a minute and shot Muhammed dead.

There are nine injuries - most minor, one critical, none life threatening.

BREAKING: Possible Terror Attack at Ohio State

UPDATE (11:58 CST): Confirmed at press conference: Man runs car over curb into pedestrians, jumps out with butcher knife and attacks. A police officer responds within one minute and shoots suspect dead. Suspect has not been identified. 9 injuries, most minor, one critical. Injuries due to being hit by car and/or cut.

UPDATE (10:50 CST): A student witness just reported that ALL the injuries were from someone running over a crowd of people with their car - a car that perhaps tried to ram Watts Hall. He claims that reports of gunshots are false. (It's possible that all gunshots came from the police.)

1. 10TV reports that it started with a car ramming Watts Hall, the Material Science and Engineering building at Ohio State University at 9:30 EST.

2. 10TV reports that one person ran out of the car with a knife/machete, and another ran out with a gun. This appears to be based on tweets from students in the area. However, these may have been based on rumor. There doesn't at this moment appear to be solid confirmation of a second suspect from any other sources.

3. Another witness, quoted by NBC4 Columbus reports hat one of his colleagues was slashed with a machete. 

4. Eight students have been taken to the hospital with injuries - four had gunshot wounds. One is in critical condition.

5. A suspect is apparently dead, presumably shot by police.

6. Police and SWAT teams are currently in place. They are looking for a second suspect.

7. 30 fire units on scene. 18 ambulances.

8. Two people have just been taken out of the parking garage in handcuffs.

9. 11:30 EST: Shelter In Place lifted?

Live Coverage here.