Smorgasbord Bill and Friends At It Again (The Catholic Right, Twenty-second in a Series).
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 06:53:13 PM EST
"Why do you see the speck of chaff that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how can you tell your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck of chaff that is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck of chaff that is in your brother's eye."
                                              --Luke 6:37-42

How can a man who claims that, "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular" (among other such gems), ever pass as the guardian of religious tolerance?  More to the point: how can a lazy mainstream media not call such a man on his intolerance and hypocrisy?

I am an unrepentant Liberal.  And because that is so, I don't use loaded, demagogic terms such as "Christo-fascists." And while it might feel good to say it, its use does little else but to self-marginalize liberals and Liberalism.

With that in mind, I took it upon myself to read some of the statements that got the likes of the Catholic League's Bill Donohue and Kathryn Jean Lopez all riled up. As a Catholic, I did not like Amanda Marcotte's gratuitous swipe at the Incarnation. Besides being insulting, it is just dumb politics to mock another's beliefs, customs and traditions if they are not imposed upon others. Donohue was correct in condemning this statement. As the saying goes, even a broken watch tells the correct time twice a day.

But with that said, a broken watch is still wrong for the rest of the day. It is the height of hypocrisy for him to complain about and blame Edwards for the writings of his staff before they joined his campaign.  Minus the expletives deleted, the Catholic League's public face frequently uses language that that is far more hateful than that employed by either of Edwards' bloggers. More importantly, it is hate speech apparently calculated to affect the outcomes of elections.

One of Donohue's recent statements on the Edwards matter caught my attention. On the February 7, 2007 edition of Tucker Carlson's MSNBC cable show this exchange took place:

CARLSON: How prevalent do you think anti-Christian -- 'cause it strikes me as not just anti-Catholic, but anti-evangelical, anti-Orthodox Christianity in general. How prevalent is this stuff in the kind of fervid blogosphere?
DONOHUE: If you take a look at some of the stuff on the blogoshpere that's said about Christians in general, Catholics in particular, it's absolutely mind-boggling. Muslims are given more respect. Look --

Neither Donohue nor Carlson gets it--or pretend not to: the issue is not the orthodox faith of certain Christians and Catholics. Instead, angers arise among many on the Left because folks such as William Donohue, Michelle Malkin and Thomas Monaghan seem so intent on legislating their particular orthodoxies upon the rest of us.

As a Catholic, I believe that ultra-orthodox members of my faith don't see the Catholic forest for the trees. Yet, if they want to go off and have a Latin Mass for themselves, that is fine with me. But when they wish to force the majority of Catholics to follow the faith in their particular narrow fashion that is when I must speak out. And when those factions foist their particular recipes for salvation upon an unwilling majority, then the issue goes beyond being an interdenominational matter, but one that violates the freedom of religion. Unfortunately, that desire to impose the strictest formula for salvation seems to be the common link among too many ultra-orthodoxies, whether it Evangelical Protestants, radical Islam or even Roman Catholics. And that passion is further fueled when it appears that orthodoxy is being cynically used to further a very secular far-Right economic agenda. Being a Heritage Foundation adjunct scholar, Donohue has ties to hardcore supply-side economic conservatives.

But in recent days, Donohue's question of timing has been raised. And that is a valid subject for a sleeping media that seems more intent on reporting Donohue's splashy pronouncements than looking at any political motives may be behind them. At least to this observer, it is looking more and more as if Donohue's statements of outrage are timed to affect the outcomes of elections.

Donohue does very little without calculation. As I noted in Part Fourteen of my series on the Catholic Right, Donohue has previously coordinated with political Religious Right allies to attack a Democratic political candidate. Last time it was Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) during his successful 2006 U.S. Senate bid:

But those on the Catholic Right who value mammon over a more consistent and effective Catholicism--and one that respects the cherished American institution of --Value Pluralism--see it as their mission to prevent a Casey victory. And to that end, they will obfuscate, spin and make highly attenuated claims.

In Catholic League news releases from September 19 and  October 27, 2006 William Donohue attacked Democratic US Senate candidate Bob Casey, Jr. The crux of the September 19, 2006 release was that while Casey, who personally opposes abortion, took campaign contributions from which is clearly pro-choice. Virtually on cue, the Thomas Monaghan-inspired 527, Fidelis, followed with its own press release just our days later repeating the same line of attack as the Catholic League. In the October 27th release Donohue's screed was elevated when he roared, "Casey Is A Fraud on Abortion."

On October 19, 2006 Fidelis' Joseph Cella issued a similar release.

And why did Bill Donohue challenge Bob Casey, Jr.'s pro-life credentials? Did he suddenly become pro-choice? No. According to Donohue, Casey's sin was `...that if elected he would focus more on health care and jobs than abortion. With regard to abortion, he said he wants "to see more of an emphasis on what brings people together rather than what tears people apart." He also said that being pro-life means, "I support initiatives which would reduce the number of abortions."

Interesting enough, on February 7, 2007--the day after the League's press release on the subject--Fidelis also circulated a press release that repeated the same lines of attacks as those of the Catholic League's release, including going after Marcotte's line about the Church opposing birth control in order to "...bear more tithing Catholics."

Similarly on February 8, 2007 both Fidelis and the Catholic League issued press releases blasting Edwards for sticking by both bloggers. Although using different styles, both releases covered the same salient points.

It is worth noting that Fidelis's Burch and Cella both have very close ties to Pizza-man Tom Monaghan, who in turn, sits on Presidential candidate U.S. Senator Sam Brownback's (R-Ks.) Exploratory Committee.  Monaghan also sits on the Catholic League's Board of Advisors.

Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that at the same time Edwards released his health proposal, one that Paul Krugman described as "smart" and "serious," further saying, "It addresses both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system"(i) that theseeconomic royalists of the Catholic Right chose to attack. And while Donohue and the League may well have violated IRS rules and regulations for 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations by engaging in political campaign activity--that is a call the IRS will have to make. One hint that his actions were meant to be political in nature was his assertion that the Edwards' Campaign was "in disarray"--a statement that does not go the bloggers in question, but of rather questioning his competence to govern.

And that is why Donohue's behavior must be scrutinized. As the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good duly noted, "In 2000, Mr. Donohue called out Gov. George W. Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University. Gov. Bush later condemned the school's anti-Catholic views, and Mr. Donohue quickly accepted the renouncement. Mr. Donohue rapidly accepted Mel Gibson's apology for anti-Semitic remarks." If Donohue and his Catholic Right friends keep attacking Edwards instead of quickly accepting his apology-as they did with Candidate George W. Bush in 2000, then that suggests political motive. If Donohue and friends never or even mildly attack GOP Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani for his pro-choice, pro-gay rights positions, then that too suggests political motive. And if both Catholic League and Fidelis both to appear to levy coordinated attacks upon Giuliani if he is in a tight primary race with U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, then that should pretty much seal the deal.

In their February 9, 2007 press release Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good invited "...Catholic League president Bill Donohue to focus on promoting the values and message at the heart of the Catholic faith - the common good, and a concern for the least among us - and to address his own political hypocrisy." The group also asked him " drop his rhetoric of division and personal defamation. We invite him to join in debate about an authentic Catholic response to the real problems facing our nation and culture." In other words, they just wanted him to do the Christian thing by and remove the beam from his eye before trying to remove the same obstruction from the eyes of others.

As noble as the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good request is, it may not work to change Bill's immediate game plan. But it does accomplish something important: it let's those on the Catholic Right know that Donohue has co-religionists who are sick and tired of his shenanigans; that there are others within Catholicism who also can make use of the press and can smell his hypocrisy a mile away.

Perhaps someday they too will get the mainstream press's attention.

(i) Premium service, subscription required.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank Cocozzelli :  Part One  Part Two  Part Three   Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one

If you want to see the double standard Donohue and the Catholic employs to treat candidate he supports or opposes, just look at the league's press releases for the first quarter of Election Year 2000.

This is at the height of the Bush-Bob Jones University affair. Any objective reader can see how Donohue pounded both Vice-President Gore and Senator John McCain--both of whom were opponents of the Religious Right while going easy on their darling, George W. Bush.

Obviously, Bill Donohue is lined up at the Smorgasbord of issues, picking and choosing those causes that advance the interests of economic royalists and then cloaking them in the garb of Catholicism.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 07:03:19 PM EST

Bill Donohue doesn't speak for me, but you do. Unfortunately, the press prefers Donohue's bombastic style. I didn't like Amanda's remarks about the Immaculate Conception either, but I don't read Pandagon very much.

Have you read the Women's Wear Daily article about Donohue from February 2? Interestingly enough, he's been divorced for the last 10 years. You are also right about the economic royalists issue. The Catholic League's board features the likes of Kate O'Beirne, Dinesh D'Souza, and L. Brent Bozell.


by khughes1963 on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 09:58:51 PM EST

pastordan is also on the case.

by Carlos on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 07:15:18 PM EST
I enjoyed your piece on the subject too.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 07:27:14 PM EST

at .  Stoller is looking for good information about him also include khughs information about his divorce.  That is pretty amazing.

by strayroots on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:54:10 AM EST
Is Donohue getting divorced?

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 08:48:16 AM EST
by khughs talked about a Womans Wear Daily article on Donahue where they said he had been divorced for over 10 years.

by strayroots on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:59:48 AM EST

In the article, it mentions Donohue has been divorced for the past 10 years, and according to him, he's being careful not to give fodder to his critics and has avoided sex since his divorce.

I also think he would be well able to afford an annulment if he should ever choose to get one.


by khughes1963 on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:11:52 PM EST


by khughes1963 on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:12:51 PM EST

Interesting stuff. I wonder if he takes communion.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 01:17:09 PM EST
My understanding is that the divorce itself wouldn't prevent Donohue from receiving Communion, but that if he remarried without obtaining a Catholic annulment, he couldn't receive Communion. Being Catholic didn't prevent me from representing people in divorces when I was still in practice, and sometimes I think that it is the best thing for people to divorce. I think the Church isn't being very realistic about divorce and remarriage, and it tends to make for a lot of hypocrisy. I recall that Newt Gingrich, when he married for the third time to his former Congressional aide Callista Bisek, was able to obtain Catholic annulments of his previous marriages to wife number one, Jackie, and wife number two, Marianne.

I am refraining from speculation as to the reason why he and his former wife divorced, but I wonder....


by khughes1963 on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 05:52:00 PM EST

Check out David Neiwert's interesting takes on Donohue and Mel Gibson at Orcinus. David references your articles on Donohue. Great job!


by khughes1963 on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 11:40:24 PM EST

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