Has the title of this blog post got your attention? Good. Many of this blog’s regular readers and com-boxers could be classified as conservative Catholic, myself included (though I do my best to elude fixed categories). So I hope you will take this to heart, and maybe even take the debate outside the confines of this blog if you feel so moved.
I like Bill Donohue. I sympathize with him and his organization, The Catholic League. I share many of their sentiments, including outrage and disgust, whenever the media decides to take another whack at Christianity. So I certainly don’t critique Donohue or the CL from the left. Nor is my critique limited to Donohue and CL, but could extend to any number of Catholic and Protestant organizations as well.
With that said, here are two things that I wish they would all stop doing, and they are closely related.
1. Stop demanding that people “apologize” for their anti-Christian remarks.
As a young man trying to be a faithful Catholic, I am simply not the least bit interested in apologies from Bill Maher or Jon Stewart, the current target of Donohue’s organization. There are several reasons for this.
First, forced public apologies are the modus operandi of the hysterical and politically-correct left. The left demands forced apologies for every off-color comment made about race, gender, or sexual preference because its views on these topics, rooted as they are in egalitarianism and other constructed ideologies, can never triumph in a free and fair marketplace of ideas. People have to be forced to accept the leftist narrative about these topics as legitimate because most of that narrative is contrary not only to science and sound scholarship, but to everyday wisdom and common sense as experienced by the vast majority of people.
Catholicism does not need an Al Sharpton or a Sandra Fluke, because the truths of our faith, whether they pertain to philosophy or politics or every day morality, are just that: truths. They stand on their own, and do not need the forced legitimization that fascist and communist regimes violating every natural and divine law need.
Secondly, I have never been interested in insincere apologies from anyone in my personal life, so why would I want from from Jon Stewart? He’s not sorry for what he said or did on his program, and I gain nothing from seeing him pretend to care about the fact that he offended a God that he doesn’t believe in. I don’t want people like Stewart to watch their words. I want them to say exactly what they think. Let the goats separate themselves from the sheep. If Jon Stewart were to apologize on his own, without any threats, then it would mean something.
Third, I think the whole culture of the forced public apology that we see on both the right and the left leads to all kinds of absurd illusions about the stability of the American body politic. If this country is going to have another civil war, all the forced public apologies in the world won’t stop it. If it isn’t going to have one, then acting as if the public peace depends upon another forced public apology may make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2. Stop whining about “double-standards” like a bunch of radical feminists.
When the New York Times ran a full page ad viciously attacking the Church in a manner that any rational person would label an incitement to hatred and perhaps even violence, there were many conservative commentators who could only focus on one thing: getting in a similar shot at Islam. It became the obsession of the week for some people, with one public figure, Pamela Geller, even drafting an anti-Islam ad for the Times.
Bill Donohue complained in a similar manner when the television show South Park mocked the Church. All he could focus on was taunting the creators of the show to take a shot at Islam (which they actually would have done, had Comedy Central not censored their work out of fear). And so I’ve seen, over and over again, the first response to any attack on Christianity being “why aren’t you attacking Islam too?”
This is irrational behavior. Setting aside how I might feel about Islam as a religion, I must ask: what did America’s Muslims do to deserve this kind of treatment? Why wasn’t there a voice that said that it is wrong to incite hatred against anyone? Seeing Islam and Muslims themselves mocked and humiliated the way the Church has been isn’t something that is going to make me feel better. I don’t think it is going to make anyone feel better.
It has nothing to do with fear of terrorism either, but rather with the axiom we all learned in kindergarten (which is itself derived from Christianity): two wrongs don’t make a right. Not only that, but how absurd is it to – as I have sometimes seen – both demand an apology for remarks made against one’s own religion and insist that “fairness” requires that another religion be ridiculed?
There’s just a whiny quality to these demands as well. The obsession with the double-standard really infected our culture through feminism. Books and books have been written that solely concern themselves with the double-standards that society holds for men and women. Do double-standards exist? Yes. Can they sometimes be unfair? Yes. Can they be eliminated? No! Sometimes life is unfair.
Moreover, if you are a Christian, you ought to expect it to be unfair. It is time to get used to the fact that we live in a pagan society, not a Christian one. We see certain evidences of a past in which Christianity was the dominant cultural paradigm, and it may tempt us into thinking that we have more political and social weight than we really have.
This is the reality: “If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you… If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” — Jn. 15:18, 20
Compared to what Catholics have suffered in different times and places around the world, we have it pretty easy. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned, even outraged, when Christ is disrespected in public. But the two major response types I’ve covered here range from immature to immoral. How about instead of boycotting Jon Stewart, or demanding he apologize, or insisting that he take some shots at Islam, we pray for his conversion to the Catholic faith? Not only is that what God wants of us, not only is it what is objectively best for Jon Stewart, it will bring upon us the kind of hatred that makes us more worthy of Christ, the hatred of the world for His sake. What would 1 million prayers for the conversion of Jon Stewart result in? I’d like to find out.