Who Are You? What Is Your Name? is a work of controlled fury. It opens with an account of the chaos triggered by President Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Then, rewinding all the way to the Declaration of Independence, Bartolo-Abela assiduously catalogues shameful injustices committed by the white ruling classes of America.
This is bleak stuff written in a clear, icy, factual style. America remains, at its core, a racist state, the author believes. In stark contrast is the compendium of papal pronouncements on the treatment of migrants and refugees, which serves the book’s overall purpose of examining the alt-right through the lens of Catholic social doctrine. The three most recent popes movingly proclaim and defend the universal brotherhood of man, leaving Catholics in little doubt about their own duties or the Church’s position.
Who Are You? What Is Your Name? is a memorable, oddly constructed, troubling book – and a perplexing one too. For instance, its survey of 2016 exit poll data for various sub-groups of the American electorate completely omits minority voting patterns. As it happens, the proportions of Hispanic and black voters who supported Trump were greater than those for Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in 2012, but this gets no mention.
And while there are some conciliatory moments towards the end, elsewhere the author seems ready to dismiss Trump voters, and indeed the whole of white America, as racists who don’t have a single wholesome instinct in their heads. It is as if she has peered into Hillary Clinton’s basket of so-called deplorables, thrown many more Americans in there, and then stuck a lid on it. I’m not sure what good or whose good this serves.
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