If they could just go to church and keep their superstitions to themselves, no one would give a second thought to what Catholics did behind closed doors (or, as the Pope says, what happens to altar boys in the rectory stays in the rectory).
It’s only when they whip themselves into a self-righteous lather and begin pontificating about the moral decline of their fellow sinners that they become insufferable. They are, for the most part, unbearable anyway, but as long as they are quiet, they can be ignored.
The latest manufactured outrage du jour involves the (apparently) polarizing decision of Notre Dame to have Obama deliver a commencement address. Oh the humanity! Who has ever heard of a head of state speaking to graduates? Especially a very popular, newly elected head of state? Naturally, the parochial bluebirds have their feathers in a fury over this crass development. Predictably, we are obliged to listen to them frantically whistle their righteous indignation. Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter (he also worked with the rehabilitated Charles Colson, easily one of the ten biggest douche bags on the planet during the ’70s) who gave us such gems as “Axis of Evil” for his boss, and “mushroom cloud” for Condi Rice and who remains on record as endorsing virtually everything the worst president of all time managed to fuck up during his tenure, now seems to fancy himself as national scold, a job the “liberal” Washington Post inexplicably pays him to perform. It didn’t take him too long to weigh in on the ways in which it is inconsistent with the Catholic church’s teachings to have Obama soil the sacred grounds that gave us Touchdown Jesus (check it out, here). Gerson, more than any other current hypocrite, exemplifies the (literal) weekend warrior mentality of so many religious bullies: get thee to church, speak loudly and often about your own spirituality, and ceaselessly bemoan the lack of same in our slack and unenlightened society.
But today, Kathleen Parker (one of the many conservative voices the Washington Post feels obliged to promote, along with the aforementioned Gerson, and including–but not limited to–Charles Krauthammer, George Will and William Kristol), serves up a false equivalent with the obtusity with which only religious right wingers can consistently produce. Her (obviously intended to be provocatively titled) piece today “The Principle at Stake at Notre Dame” gets quickly to the illogical and intelligence-insulting talking points: It has always seemed to me (she sniffs) that the truest form of feminism, as in the earliest days of suffrage, would be to hold abhorrent the state-sanctioned destruction of women’s unique life-bearing gifts.
Wow. You have to giver Parker credit here. This is a statement of such intellectual dishonesty and hysterically over-the-top demagoguery even George Will might hesitate before typing it. So let’s see: the overarching goal of feminism, which is to ensure that women have equal rights in a democracy, is somehow inconsistent with the notion that a woman should be free to do whatever she wishes with her own body? That is old, hackneyed boilerplate and has been roundly denounced (in social circles as well as with womens’ votes). But Parker attempts to turn the tables and assert that if you are not pro-life, you are therefore advocating state-sanctioned destruction of women’s unique life bearing gifts. Really? So, it is not a matter of personal choice (the kind of issue libertarians love and most Republicans consider their bread and butter, at least while campaigning and whenever Religion does not interfere), but in fact a decision that is anti-feminist? How does one grapple with logic this stridently sophomoric? By advocating the right of a woman to do what is in her own personal best interest, that woman is implicitly endorsing the destruction of women’s unique life bearing gifts? So no woman who has had an abortion has ever had a child? No woman who has ever had a child got an abortion? A woman who supports the right of another woman to have an abortion is not content with that silent affirmation but is in actuality intolerant of the other woman’s right to give birth?
Of course not. To understand this type of sophistry, one has only to consider the repugant (yet hilarious) position religious folks take in denouncing gay marriage. They are not against the gays, per se, they are for heterosexual marriage. And by abiding legal unions for homosexuals, the institution of marriage is being weakened, and perverted! See how this works? (And, ironically, notice the typically Republican victim formulation in both scenarios: recognizing a woman’s right to choose is not simply a personal decision the pro-lifers disagree with, despite their disagreement being distinctly un-American, it is a threat to women who cherish all unborn babies and an outrage to the sanctity of women’s unique life bearing gifts. By supporting the (very American) right of gay couples to wed, this is not merely a forward-looking and controversial idea that only repressed and fearful religious types can’t comprehend, it’s an act of hostility toward the sacred and holy institution of marriage which, of course, was created and championed when God himself, feminist that he was, created a woman for Adam’s pleasure, before this same woman ate the apple and fucked everything up for humanity for eternity.)
Isn’t it curious how these deeply devout Catholics find it within themselves to protest, on principle, owing to Obama’s “stance” on abortion? Leave aside the fact that he does not personally seem to be especially in “favor” of it; he has said a great deal more, publically, about wanting to reduce abortions than anything approximating an official encouragement of the practice. Certainly, his standing as a happily married husband and father should be a model for the finger-pointing faithful, and the institution they endorse, as window dressing, which is currently in such shambles (and not because of the recent advent of gay couples legally wedding). Cliche alert! How often are the most obstreperous politicians clamoring about marriage (specifically) and our degenerated national values (generally) the ones who are working on their second or third marriages? (Hint number one: Quite often. Hint number two: Newt Gingrich.)
Naturally, it would give these squeaky wheels’ stances a modicum of credibility if they also protested, say, torture. Or the tax cuts from the last eight years that made the wealthiest percentile sickeningly more wealthy, in direct proportion to the middle-class (not to mention the working poor and impoverished), whose pieces of the pie dissipated under Bush’s watch. Nope, when it comes to taking stands on principle, the hairshirt only comes out of the ecclesiastical closet when the issue is conveniently the most politicized and easy-to-grandstand. Only then do Catholics (in particular) and “Christians” (in general) boldly stand up to be counted. Abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research (the latter being arguably the most recklessly ignorant and arrogant stance) are the holy-roller trinity that functions as the foundation upon which these dimwitted disciples stake their claim. These, naturally, are the same imbeciles who vocally endorse the death penalty, gun “rights” (including assault weapons, the NRA being the second only to God as a voice of authority, which makes it delightfully appropriate that the actor noted for playing Moses was the spokesperson of that pitiful organization), and have said little or anything about Iraq, Guantanamo, Katrina or any of the other outrages that any so-called “Christian” should instinctively become apoplectic over.
Why not throw a pig roast in Mecca? Parker asks, upping the ante and comparing the concept of a sitting president giving a commencement address at a Catholic university (that invited him in the first place) with an intentionally demeaning and hostile religious provocation. Because, you see, these poor “Christians” are really the persecuted ones in our politically correct, Socialist state. For all the innocent students know, their souls will be damned to eternal hellfire just for hearing Obama speak; and after all, they only want to graduate! This is truly the level of discourse the defenders of the faith are attaining, which, now that I think of it, suddenly makes me understand the popularity of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren.
This has been well articulated by better writers than me ranging from Christopher Hitchens to Thomas Frank to Matt Taibbi, but it is always worth reiterating: the sheep who bray the loudest also live and vote, by their words and deeds, with a political party that is not only inconsistent, but antithetical, to the very words Jesus Christ allegedly uttered. And even if He didn’t utter them, they are attributed to him in the book they read and revere as The Word Of God. Simply put, His life is the basis on which these people view the moral impetus that gives their earthly lives ultimate meaning, therefore in even the most cursory analysis, these followers of Christ are willfully (if ignorantly) shirking the very teachings of their Holy Father. Fortunately, the illimitable hypocrisy of the contemporary “Christian” has never been an undue cause for instrospection, or concern.
At least if these folks had taken to the streets and protested the Iraq War, or the unforgivable incompetence that compounded the folks suffering after Katrina, or if they were online right now forming “bible study groups” to discuss the ongoing revelations about the institutional torture their earthly savior (Bush) sanctioned, maybe there would be some sane ground for them to stand upon. At least then it would be possible to declare their reactionary, blinkered positions as consistent (morally, spiritually). As it stands they see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, unless it is what they are told to do by the very human servants who have their own best interests in mind as they beat their blackened, hate-mongering hearts.