Letter to a Trump Supporter #3: Liberation Theology

This is the third in my series of “Letters to a Trump Supporter,” from correspondence with a family friend who supports Mr. Trump.

Continuing our conversation about Central and South America, he sent me a blog post accusing Tim Kaine of being a Marxist for his association with “liberation theology.”

If you haven’t heard of liberation theology before, you’re not alone. It’s a relic of the Cold War, when it was used to paint Latinos as a threat to the United States. It plays on the same fears as the rest of Mr. Trump’s nativism.

Below is my response.


Dear Mr. ——,

Liberation theology is a fascinating branch of Catholicism. I find a lot to admire in it for its service to the poor and its pursuit of social justice.

Its most famous proponent was probably Óscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador. Pope John Paul II gave him the official title of Servant of God, Pope Benedict XVI nominated him for beatification, and Pope Francis officially beatified him. So, far from opposing liberation theology, the last three Popes have been very supportive of liberation theologists like Romero.

Archbishop Romero was assassinated in 1980 by US-backed Salvadoran troops, one of many casualties of US-backed regimes in the Cold War. So, before we starting throwing around words like “Marxist,” we should be aware of where those attacks have led us in the past.

I think it is particularly disturbing to see Catholics criticizing Tim Kaine’s beliefs at a time when he is running against a campaign that Pope Francis has publicly declared is “not Christian,” to which Donald Trump replied by calling the Pope of the Catholic Church “disgraceful.”

It’s not surprising, therefore, that a long list of Catholic conservatives published an open letter in the National Review imploring their fellow Catholic voters to vote against Mr. Trump.

Nor is it surprising that Mr. Trump is alienating the fastest growing block of Catholic voters in the country, Latinos. This hostility to Latinos, after all, dates back to the Cold War, when it led to the deaths of Óscar Romero and his fellow Catholics.

Best regards,

A Rose by Any Other Name

by Norman Horowitz

As a television executive, I have realized the value of selling things with more or less “catchy” or previously used titles. There were programs called “Poltergeist: The Series,” “The New Sea Hunt,” and “American Werewolf in London: The Series.” Words used to describe movies and television content matter, and they matter a lot.

I was on a cable panel about 30 years ago when I suggested that the television series “Happy Days” lived in the consciousness of the American public and that everyone who watched television at that time knew what it was. Names of things mattered then as they do today. Television people and politicians have long understood this.

I just loved it when the White House apologized for the President’s description of the campaign against terrorism as a “crusade.” For an encore, they renamed the campaign “Operation Infinite Justice,” a name that seemed to some Muslims to promise what only Allah could deliver.   Continue reading “A Rose by Any Other Name”

The “Leverage” Meme Rears Its Ugly Head

This morning, I open the Washington Post opinion section to see this headline: “In Afghanistan, real leverage starts with more troops.” Coming as this does only a few weeks after we celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I will reprint part of a past post. I wish I didn’t have to repeat this message, but we fall into the same damn trap time and time again:

Sadly, it seems our government learned the wrong lesson when the Berlin Wall fell. Again, when it comes to American history, we have an uncanny ability to remember only what we want to.   Continue reading “The “Leverage” Meme Rears Its Ugly Head”