Mein Kulturkampf


I post a juxtaposition of AP photos that struck me as amusing (given my belief that John Edwards is one of the phoniest faux populists ever to get his name in the papers), conveniently brushing over the ramped-up-by-24-hour-TV culture clash of the hour, and the very first commenter pounces all over it. Thus spake the ever-dependable "Ready to Hurl":

    Who should fire angry "Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League" for the following statements?
    “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity, in
general, and Catholicism, in particular. It’s not a secret, okay? I’m
not afraid to say it."…

Gee, I don’t know. Who pays him? Why do you ask me? For that matter, why do I care when a couple of li’l blogger gals spout the stuff they learned as college sophomores about the mean ol’ Catholic Church? (Talk about your simple faith. Miss Marcotte actually seems to believe Catholics tithe.)

Birds gotta fly; fish gotta swim. That’s what they do.

For awhile, I saved press releases from a group that paid a staffer to be righteously offended at every slight or perceived slight aimed at us Catholics. I was going to do a column about it. I was going to say that I had never previously knowingly belonged to a perpetually aggrieved group, and didn’t want anyone to presume to be indignant on my demographic’s behalf; that I saw identity politics generally as harmful; that I wished such folks would get over it. And so forth.

But I didn’t get around to it, and eventually the releases quit coming — from both the "Catholic League" and something called "Your Catholic Voice." So I forgot about it.

Maybe, if we just ignore Mr. Donohue and Misses Marcotte and McEwen, they’ll all just go away, too. But they probably won’t — and certainly not as long as anyone is willing to pay them to be the way they are.

23 thoughts on “Mein Kulturkampf

  1. Mary Rosh

    RTH, here is a piece of information that appeared in the New York Times today (via Gleen Greenwald – an influencial and widely read blogger):
    Last summer, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, hired Patrick J. Hynes, a conservative blogger and political consultant, to be his campaign’s blog liaison. Mr. Hynes quickly ran afoul of fellow bloggers by initially concealing his relationship to the McCain campaign while he was writing critically about other Republicans.
    He then came under fire for declaring that the United States was a “Christian nation” in a book and television appearances that predated his work for Mr. McCain. Last November, while employed by Mr. McCain’s campaign, Mr. Hynes posted on his personal blog a picture of Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, and invited readers to submit nicknames, some of which were anti-Semitic.
    In an interview, Mr. Hynes said the Internet was a place where overheated language and vicious personal attacks were often tolerated, even encouraged. But, he said, “I would caution against holding candidates responsible for what their bloggers and blog consultants have said in the past.”
    “The blogosphere is a conversation; it’s not reportage,” Mr. Hynes said. “We’re all trying to figure out, what does this mean for the convergence of all these media? It’s a Pandora’s box and no one knows where it’s going to end up.”
    Mr. Hynes remained on the McCain campaign staff and maintained his personal blog.
    Nevertheless, in Warthen’s view, Senator Edwards will continue to be a faux-populist whose campaign is infected by uncivil bigots, while McCain will continue to be a straight-talking maverick and the epitome of civility.
    Once Warthen gets in idea into his head, it stays there. It doesn’t matter what contrary facts come out, or are pointed out to him, because I guess finding out facts are beneath him – it’s trivial work carried on only by DFH bloggers. Warthen’s role is to regale us with the brilliance of his commentary, not to dirty his hands finding out whether or not what he is saying is true.

  2. bud

    The only thing that matters to Brad is a politician’s undying support for the Stay-the-Course (in Iraq) religion. It’s a shame when someone becomes so blinded by ideological purety.

  3. bill

    “I post a juxtaposition of AP photos that struck me as amusing (given my belief that John Edwards is one of the phoniest faux populists ever to get his name in the papers), conveniently brushing over the ramped-up-by-24-hour-TV culture clash of the hour, and the very first commenter pounces all over it.”
    Hey,Bartender,sounds more like a calculated attempt to piss off the regulars,and you got exactly what you wanted-more hits on this pop-up-ridden video paper machine.$$$$$$$$$

  4. Brad Warthen

    Sorry about the pop-ups, bill. They bug me, too.

    Mary, read what I said. I don’t care WHAT Sen. Edwards does about his bloggers. They do what they do.

    The purpose of my post was to express disgust with this distraction. Coverage of what Mr. Edwards was in Charleston for — to talk about his health care proposal — was unavailable when I wrote that, which is why I had to link to his daily schedule in order for you to see what he was there for. I’m very grateful to see this morning that The State‘s Aaron Sheinin actually reported the story straight. The national media did not — they were obsessed with the daily Kulturkampf non-issue. That’s not journalism. That’s nothing but a sick form of entertainment that contributes in no way to the national conversation, but merely feeds the worst kinds of partisan/ideological wheel-spinning that you see far too often in the comment threads of this blog. And THAT, bill, was my point in posting about it.

    And yes, RTH — Edwards is a phony, and McCain is not. He is what he is. I’ll write more about that later. I have to write a Sunday column right now. For now, I’ll just say this: I’ve been following politics, with direct access to state and national candidates, for close to 30 years now. It’s a cliche to say politicians are phony. More often than not, that label is completely unfair. But it fits Edwards, possibly better than it fits anyone else than I can think of at this moment. That’s a carefully considered perspective, not just a casual epithet.

    I have three anecdotes to support that assessment. I’ll share them when I have time. If I forget, remind me. For that matter, it would probably make a decent column.

    See you later.

  5. bud

    Brad, do you really think you can get away with calling the pragmatic John Edwards a phony while at the same time defending John McCain as a straight shooter. Fact is, the straight-talk express has morphed into the double-talk railroad. Here’s a good web site that shows just what a phony McCain really is.

  6. Randy Ewart

    What those women wrote about Catholicism and Christianity in general was dispicable and extreme. This wasn’t posting an image of a prophet. This wasn’t heatedly taking issue with a position. This was cruel disparagement of the faith of others and it reflects their hateful ideology.
    Edwards has proven to be an incredible phony for taking the role of a principled leader then buckling to political pressure the minute he’s tested.
    If these women had smeared homosexuals or African-Americans, I’m sure liberals would be storming campaign headquarters demanding action. I’m sure the principled John Edwards would have done more than simply express his disagreement with their views while giving them a “fair shake”.
    I was an eager Edwards supporter in 2004. I am equally eager to vote against and to voice my ardent disapproval of Edwards in 2008.
    This disappointment extends to Brad because of his position. If Bauer’s judgement and behavior is newsworthy then the judgement of Edwards, a PRESIDENTIAL candidate, is more than a mere “distraction”.

  7. Mary Rosh

    Randy, Senator Edwards didn’t buck to political pressure; what he did was the opposite of buckling to political pressure. This was nothing but a ginned-up faux controversy, wherein a bunch of screaming howler monkeys feigned outrage in order to perpetrate a political hit job. They enlisted the Perpetually Outraged Bigot and Child Molester Enabler Donohue, who is the author of gems such as this:
    As for the alleged abuse, it’s time to ask some tough questions. First, there is a huge difference between being groped and being raped, so which was it Mr. Foley? Second, why didn’t you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn’t allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?”
    Fortunately, numerous bloggers are familiar with this Modus Operandi on the part of conservatives, so they moved into action, pushing information about the lack of bona fides of the complainers, giving Senator Edwards the support he needed to stand up to the storm of faux outrage.
    Standing up to your enemies and supporting your friends isn’t “buckling”.

  8. Herb Brasher

    Brad, don’t forget it hasn’t been too long ago that the Catholic church said there was no salvation outside of the Roman fold. People forget the pre-Vatican II days, but am I not right that it was John XXIII that first talked about us Protestants as the “separated brethren.” That being said, I have the greatest respect for many Catholic brothers and sisters. As long as our faith is in Christ, and not primarily in a church, our faith is genuine.
    And it hasn’t been too long ago that Protestants and Catholics had separate bathrooms in some schools in Germany. And if you’re a Protestant, you can still be on the receiving end of some nasty discrimination in some parts of Bavaria. I guess the evil is not always “someplace else.”

  9. Herb Brasher

    Now that I wrote that, I guess it doesn’t make that much sense. What I’m trying to explain is why Protestants have traditionally been nervous about the pope. We need to get over it, sure. But you guys need to understand what led up to it. Neither side has been very welcoming to the other sometimes.

  10. Lee

    To John Edwards, being phony is pragmatic.
    The fact that he is building a 20,000+ sq ft house shows a profound lack of judgement on several levels.

  11. Randy Ewart

    “Friends” Mary? You suggest Donohue is the representative for one side, ALL Catholics, versus JE’s “friends”, the liberals who THREATENED him not to fire these women or face their wrath!?
    This is a matter of integrity in the face of pressure from “friends”. Edwards had a choice, either bend to the will of liberals whose support he needs in the primaries or defend standards of decency and the respect of others. His defense of these women is little better than the defense by conservatives of the skinny blonde hate-mongering conservative woman who disparaged the 911 widows (I have forgotten her name don’t care to look it up ).
    Herb, 50 year old Catholics would have little memory of pre-Vatican Catholic views or practices. In our Catechism, other Christians are accepted as “brothers in the Lord”. We are relatively close to the other liturgical churches; Lutheran, Episcopal, and Methodist – an Episcopal Bishop has been to our mass a few times. We also revere Jews as God’s original chosen people. The only anxiety I have encountered is between some Baptists and Catholics.

  12. Herb Brasher

    Randy, the dean of the diocese of Friedrichshafen, Germany, a warm charismatic Christian, often spoke to the YMCA youth group I helped lead. He said to a pastor friend of mine (about 1980) “es gibt keine alleinseligmachende Kirche” [there is no such thing as a church that is the only source of salvation]. But the truth was, he was in the minority in the leadership of his Church. True, the scene is changing, as the churches of Europe face secularism together–but there is a reason for Protestant wariness.

  13. Herb Brasher

    And please don’t take my comments as negative toward Catholics, because I have a whole bunch of friends (well–I lost track of a lot of them when I came here–a person can only have a few friends at any given time, I think) who are. I’m just trying to suggest why some Protestants are uneasy at times about the Pope, which was a point Brad brought up. Of course, they hype about JFK making the pope the next president was, at the time, deliberate right-wing partisan attack, and had nothing to do with reality.

  14. Herb Brasher

    Brad, whenever you see this, please zap my last 3 previous comments on the Catholic church. There is no reason to write anything on the Web that might be easily misinterpreted, and thus contribute toward further unnecessary polarization among Christians, and I apologize. I should wake up before I write stuff.

  15. Randy Ewart

    Herb, I didn’t take your comments as anti-Catholic. You make valid points about the division between Catholics and Protestants. Yes, the Catholic position is that the Church is the body and Jesus as the head, meaning ONE church. Leaders of the different denominations lead us in prayer for unity all the time.
    My point is despite this, Catholic dogma codifies deep respect for the faith of other Christians.
    BTW, I see nothing wrong with taking a stance that may be polarizing, even IF you had. This is a blog after all and we’re sharing beliefs. The issue at hand is civility and the posts on this thread has been quite civil, I believe.

  16. Herb Brasher

    Thanks Randy; I’m just a bit nervous about who all reads this! Being in ministry, I have to be careful–maybe I’m paranoid, I don’t know. Some things are for public consumption, but others are best discussed around the Stammtisch.

  17. Brad Warthen

    I think of it in terms of the latter sense. That would be more or less the literal translation. I suppose the first sense refers more to its connotation, and the editors of that dictionary have decided that meaning has come to predominate over the more direct use.

    Anyway, I came here to say that I just worked out for the first time in a while, and the TV was on FoxNews, and get this — they’re promoing yet more stirring of the pot on this blogger nonissue. By that paragon of the Enlightenment Bill O’Reilly, no less:

    Campaign Controversy! Is Sen. John Edwards on a collision course with Catholics because of blasphemous blogs by campaign staffers?

    I thought that was over with. I thought all that could be said had been said. Edwards hires some kids with virulently anti-Catholic views, and a guy who justifies his existence being offended takes umbrage. So? That’s what people like that do.

    Ditto with O’Reilly. It’s been announced today that "Six countries
    reached a tentative agreement Tuesday on initial steps toward North Korea’s nuclear disarmament," and this is what O’Reilly wants to talk about.

    As I say, it’s a subject made for 24-hour-news and partisan nutballs, that adds nothing of value to the national conversation. In fact, it does great harm.

  18. Ready to Hurl

    Meanwhile that paragon of “straight talk” flops further towards the loony wingnut theocrats.
    From Think Progress
    Yet, on February 23, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker for the most prominent creationism advocacy group in the country. The Discovery Institute, a religious right think-tank, is well-known for its strong opposition to evolutionary biology and its advocacy for “intelligent design.” The institute’s main financial backer, savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, spent 20 years on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, “a theocratic outfit that advocates the replacement of American civil law with biblical law.”
    McCain has an ambiguous record on whether he supports intelligent design in the science curriculum. In 2005, he said it should be taught:
    Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?
    McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don’t think is – or one belief on how people and the world was created – I think there’s nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.
    Daily Star: Does it belong in science?
    McCain: There’s enough scientists that believe it does. I’m not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented.


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