What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

My last post got a lot of traffic, along with generous heapings of love and hate. The love is always appreciated. As for the hate, when it doesn’t amuse me with its enraged ignorance, it makes me sad with its malicious presumption.

How anyone could come away from my post thinking that I believe conservative Catholics should “shut up” about public affronts to Christ is beyond me. Maybe I didn’t make clear that I think we should have a public prayer campaign for the conversion of people like Jon Stewart. Maybe some of you don’t understand how much such a gesture would rial up the left, far more so than some hysterical campaign for a public apology. But tunnel-vision is funny that way.

So, in order to avoid any confusion…

By all means, please keep pointing out and denouncing public attacks on the faith.

That is what I intend to do here on this blog, and what we are all called to do.

Pope Leo XIII writes in Sapientiae Christianae:

But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: “Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.”(12) To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. (14)

My point is that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing this. I believe that forced public apologies and complaining about double-standards are wrong ways. But does this mean that I think all conceivable public responses are wrong in themselves? Of course not. There are hundreds of ways to fight this battle. The enemy has many weak spots that can easily be exploited and taken advantage of. As I said, the left cannot triumph in a fair marketplace of ideas. That is why it promotes things like “the fairness doctrine”, an Orwellian name for legislation that would force radio stations to provide equal time for left and right-wing views. In the competitive model currently existing, which is the only fair model, no one wants to tune into left-wing bilge.

But there are both moral and rational limitations on what we ought to do in the face of such attacks. A moral limitation is something we shouldn’t do because it is wrong. A rational limitation is something we shouldn’t do because it won’t advance our cause, and perhaps even harm it. That’s how I feel about forced public apologies and complaining about double standards.

Speaking of which, I want to put out a general question to the readership:

Many of you seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with suggesting that Jon Stewart or the NY Times or some other left-wing media outlet make fun of Islam in the same way they mock Christianity. The point, you all tell me – and which I already knew – is to try and expose the hypocrisy and double-standards of these media outlets. The assumption, of course, is that they won’t mock Islam, either out of fear of retaliation or politically-correct sensibilities.

What if they did? What if Geller’s anti-Muslim ad actually appeared in the NY Times? Would it still be justifiable? Would it still be rational?

Even if I thought it was fine to publicly malign Islam, putting the moral objection aside, I would still object to it on the grounds that it semi-legitimizes the anti-Catholic smear. “If we can mock one backwards, anti-woman, medieval religion, why not another one?” That’s how this comes off. It cedes way too many premises and assumptions to our secular opponents.  It unwittingly puts Catholicism and Islam at the same moral and philosophical level. And we certainly don’t want that either.

Forgive me, as well, if I would like our public response to be mature and dignified, and not reeking of schoolyard tit-for-tat.

11 Responses to What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

  • Islam or any other false religion is fair game for criticism and by extension mockery. The Angelic Doctor had a few choice words on the topic:
    http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2012/aquinas-on-islam.html

  • I don’t know how you leap from criticism, which is legitimate, to mockery.

    Maybe I agree with you in principle, that it isn’t “wrong.” I certainly don’t think it is wise or prudent given today’s circumstances. The threat posed by secularism in this country is greater – far, far greater – than the threat posed by Islam. I don’t see what we gain from it. I can only see it hurting us.

    And please, mind you, that I am speaking of mockery. Criticism of Islam is entirely legitimate and I have no problem with that. I do not believe in bending and bowing to avoid offending them. But I do think there is a BIG difference between criticism and mockery, and that mockery is totally unnecessary and irrational at this point.

  • Bonchamps: “Forgive me, as well, if I would like our public response to be mature and dignified, and not reeking of schoolyard tit-for-tat.”
    The National Endowment for the Arts gave millions upon millions of Catholic tax dollars to individuals who put a crucifix in a bucket of piss and called it “PISS CHRIST” , told people that Jesus was having homosexual relations with His Apostles, scandalized anyone who was unlucky enough to see the play “CORPUS CHRISTI”, ants on the Body of the crucified Christ, the life sized statue of Jesus crucified in chocolate with visitors invited to eat from the cross, dung on the image of our Blessed Mother, as “natural’ and “fecundity”, Vagina Monologues, and Jon Stewart. Then there was the silly things, a naked girl covered her body in chocolate syrup and bean sprouts and called herself covered in sperm because she says she always wanted to do that, and with our money? I mean what does a bottle of chocolate syrup cost and a bag of bean sprouts? She wanted the attention her outrageous behavior bought at our expense. Bonchamps: it is guerrilla warfare, ambush and hide. These people are monsters doing monstrous things, and Catholic tax dollars are funding this. So, If I do not buy Kraft anymore, the sponsor does not fund Jon Stewart and he has no pay check. Bonchamps: When was the last time you saw a prayerful gathering in the media? Never, unless the participants were being arrested. How would I know when and who to boycott and for what? St. Clare with the Blessed Sacrament faced down the invading Saracens and to a man they fell down and fled. I have begged and pleaded for the Blessed Sacrament in procession in public, now, before it is too late as Obama has taken all public places to himself.

  • More important than cowardice as reason for consistent media disinterest in criticizing Islam is the fact that Holy Mother the Church is far more dangerous to their (liberal) agenda.

    To paraphrase the smartest Yankee philosopher: “It ain’t mockery if it’s true.”

    Howdy, Joe!

  • Mary De Voe,

    I just don’t understand how anything you said relates to anything I said.

  • To see how serious the threat of Islam is, I recommend Pat Buchanan’s books, Day of Reckoning and Suicide of a Superpower.

  • The point stands. Islam’s losses are not our gains, at least not in the context of this media-mockery dispute.

  • My strategy is to point out that Jon Stewart gets beaten in the ratings by reruns of Friends and Family Guy. The kind of person who’s impressed by Jon Stewart typically hates to be on the declining end of a trend that’s become passe.

    I agree with Bonchamps for the most part on this subject, although I think there’s nothing wrong with differing opinions on tactics. I can convey dismissive uber-coolness better than sincere piety (I don’t know why, but it’s true), so I can go after Stewart for being predictable and pathetic. To each his own.

    I think Bonchamps is a little off about the Conservative Catholic response to Islam, though. The chiding that he mentions isn’t directed at Islam; it’s directed at the media. The South Park guys did more than anyone to expose the sad state of the media. Did they insult Islam? No, although the reaction of some Islamists to the non-insult was also illuminating. But the people who looked the worst in that affair were Comedy Central.

  • “The chiding that he mentions isn’t directed at Islam; it’s directed at the media”

    It still amazes me how people can say this. It’s like saying “in order to shoot at the guy standing behind you, I’m going to unload a full magazine into your body.”

    There’s a difference between simply pointing out that the media won’t mock Islam, which is true, and actually demanding that it do so, or taunting it to do so, lest it be considered “hypocritical”, which in my view is neither wise nor moral. Again, I see dishonorable Alinskyism at work in such tactics. Maybe I’m a medievalist pining for the lost days of chivalry, but I don’t want to win any battles at the expense of our honor.

    I’m not saying its inherently sinful, but I do think it lowers us in dignity to such an extent that I would question what makes “my side” so much better than “their side.” I reject the school of morality I found when I read Trotsky’s “Their Morals and Ours”, which basically states that what (in his context) Bolshevik revolutionaries do is right if it is for the sake of the communist revolution while the same acts committed by someone else for a different and presumably less worthy goal would be wrong. Which isn’t, again, to say that context doesn’t matter either – some things CAN be more or less moral depending on the circumstances. Here I think it is a clear case of doing intentional harm to an innocent bystander in order to go for the jugular. It smells rotten, it smells un-Christlike, and so I reject it.

    I really have no special love for Islam myself. I think the Crusades were justified and that Islam is about as false a religion as they come. But even King Richard had respect for Saladin.

    And as for South Park, they insult everything. Like many in our generation, anything is justifiable as long as you call it “comedy.” They insult all religions on a regular basis. And one can, I suppose, admire their consistency. But the point wasn’t really about them: it was about Donohue’s reaction to their really disgusting and unrepeatable mockery of the Church. I distinctly recall him calling the creators of South Park “cowards” because (in his mistaken view) they wouldn’t mock Islam. He was taunting them, goading them to do it.

  • Bonchamps – I agree with the principles you’ve stated. I don’t support Alinskyite tactics, and I don’t want to see “my side” resort to them. We disagree on whether our side *has* resorted to them. I haven’t seen any evidence of it. I don’t think you can call Pamela Geller a voice of conservative Catholicism, seeing as she’s Jewish and runs the Atlas Shrugs website. I think it’s fair to note the media’s reactions to her and South Park’s stunts, but I wouldn’t want to see Catholics get caught up in a call to insult Islam the way Christianity has been insulted over the years.

  • ” I don’t think you can call Pamela Geller a voice of conservative Catholicism”

    I don’t. A voice of conservatism, though, and one that conservative Catholics may well listen to.

    Donohue, obviously, is a different story.

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