Leaders Leading With Leadership
A man named Salvatore J. Cordileone should not be confused with the Godfather of Mario Puzo’s fictional crime family. That would be Corleone. Mr. Cordileone is the leader of a different kind of mafia, the Archdiocese of San Franciso, where he is the Archbishop, the Vatican’s man-on-the-ground in the historically liberal Bay Area. As the leader of tens-of-thousands of obedient Catholics, Sal Cordileone instructs the faithful on how to live a proper life, including who to love and how to think.
Not everyone agrees with his doctrinal imperatives. But the folks who work at the four Catholic high schools under his control – in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties – don’t have any choice. If you want to work there, you follow Cordileone’s “handbook.” No, not the Bible. Cordileone’s handbook is more like an annotated guide to a moral life. In it, nearly 500 employees of the Church — teachers, administrators, etc. – are required to “affirm and believe” that “adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography, and homosexual relations” are “gravely evil.” So are contraception, abortion, and artificial insemination.
Got it? Masturbation is gravely evil. And if you’re doing it while watching gay porno, you might as well enlist with Islamic State, because you’re hellbound.
Archibishop Cordileone’s views may be out of step with modern thinking, but they’re perfectly aligned with Catholic dogma. In this sense, he’s a courageous leader. Maybe even a great leader. Right up there with Martin Luther King, another guy who didn’t let unpopular opinions stand in the way of defending the Truth.
Critics say that Catholic morality clauses are anachronistic, belligerently so-last-century and undeserving of a place in modern society, where, allegedly, everyone is born equal and free to formulate their own value systems. Critics say fellows like Sal Cordileone, who use their penis only for micturation, are a vanishing breed, anomalous weirdoes who are best ignored until they die and are remembered only when history books need a piquant example of backwardness.
This is wrong. Leaders, brave and principled leaders, aren’t vanishing. They’re proliferating. Every day, courageous ideologues step forth and speak their mind unafraid of the consequences, blithely oblivious to the catcalls and heckles hurled at them from the gravely evil.
Why, just this week, the Governor of Wisconsin, a man named Scott Walker, refused to give into the political pressure exerted by the Science Lobby. When asked if he believes in the Theory of Evolution, Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher and himself an evangelical Christian, told reporters, “I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” What they should be involved in, according to Walker’s record over the past four years, is union-busting and corporate welfare. Now, neither his position on labor or Darwin are necessarily popular with everyone, but you can’t please everybody when you’re the top dog.
Walker is often mentioned as a potential candidate for President of the United States, should you be looking for a leader of the free world who knows how to gracefully blend his science with his religion.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is no expert on evolution, either. But he does know a thing or two about leading less charismatic men into battle. He’s also someone who personally knows and deeply understands international leaders, including many heads of state. That’s why there’s a certain gravitas and noblesse about Dempsey. And that’s why he certainly must know things that we regular folk don’t. General Dempsey is sponsoring and essay contest – we wanted to enter, but you have to be enrolled at the National Defense University – as a “fitting tribute to the life and leadership” of the recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He was a man of “remarkable character and courage,” Dempsey asserted.
Now, say what you want about not letting women vote or drive or show their skin in public, and quibble if you must about the floggings and amputations handed out to those who criticize the State, but we can all agree that Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah’s reign was, well, one of the worst totalitarian regimes on the planet. And whether you like it or not, that takes tremendous leadership.
To constantly crush dissent, oppress religious minorities in your Wahhabi theocracy, and criminalize the expression of thoughts requires extraordinary dedication, stamina, and duplicitousness.
Think that’s easy? Let’s see if his reportedly senile successor can pull it off.