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.

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