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If you want to understand what happened to the Covington Catholic boys at the Lincoln Memorial — and why things like this will continue to happen — you should read the late cultural critic and theorist Rene Girard.
I’m not the first one to say this. Bishop Robert Barron has long been a reader of Girard, and the other day interpreted the event at the Lincoln Memorial in terms of Girard’s theory about the scapegoating mechanism. Barron wrote, explaining this theory:
Speaking - Tensions - Group - People - Scapegoat
Roughly speaking, it unfolds as follows. When tensions arise in a group (as they inevitably do), people commence to cast about for a scapegoat, for someone or some group to blame. Deeply attractive, even addictive, the scapegoating move rapidly attracts a crowd, which in short order becomes a mob. In their common hatred of the victim, the blamers feel an ersatz sense of togetherness. Filled with the excitement born of self-righteousness, the mob then endeavors to isolate and finally eliminate the scapegoat, convinced that this will restore order to their roiled society. At the risk of succumbing to the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy, nowhere is the Girardian more evident than in the Germany of the 1930s. Hitler ingeniously exploited the scapegoating mechanism to bring his country together—obviously in a profoundly wicked way.
In his 2001 book I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Girard, who was one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, explains his anthropological interpretation of the Bible — the Hebrew Bible, and the Gospels — and why they have the power to reveal and defeat the cycle of murderous violence that is deeply embedded in human nature.
Fall - Lightning - Girard - Concern - Victims
In I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Girard writes about how the “concern for victims” is what sets Judaism and Christianity apart from all other archaic religions. This concern for victims has...
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