Catholics targets of PC policeBy Jim Trageser
This article was originally published in the November 30, 1997 edition of the North County Times.
Thank God I mean, thank the non-gender-specific, nonsectarian deity who/which may or may not exist for political correctness.
Oh, sure, the zeal of some of the enthusiasm-enhanced members of the PC movement may make for sentences like that above, but what a small price to pay for the elimination of bigotry.
Transgendered individuals, people of color, wymyn, the differently abled all are now afforded more respect as a result of the inclusive philosophy of the PC movement.
In fact, every individual is made to feel more welcome, no matter their background or life situation.
Well, except Catholics, of course. I mean, let's not get carried away with this whole tolerance thing. You know you can't trust those damned papists.
After all, they're not like us: They want to impose their values on society never catch us doing that.
Satire? Maybe. But not much.
In this age of political correctness, when the most damaging epithet than can be hurled is to accuse someone of "intolerance," the P.C. police themselves still endorse some forms of bigotry.
Anti-papism, for instance, is enjoying a remarkable renaissance, 37 years after American Catholics thought JFK had buried it forever.
We now have a whole TV show dedicated to bashing Catholics. Can you imagine the outcry if gays, blacks or feminists were portrayed with the negative stereotypes proudly paraded each week in "Nothing Sacred" on ABC? The whole premise of the show is that the only good Catholic is a dissenting Catholic. Why not bring back "The Jeffersons" with Andrew Dice Clay playing the lead in blackface?
And the first week of October, on the legal drama "Michael Hayes," the antagonist was a mean old priest who wouldn't violate his sacred vows to keep a confession confidential. A lawyer is compelled to keep private any and all admissions of guilt from a client, but let a papist ... er, priest ... do so, and, well, it's those hateful old white male authoritarians again, you know?
Even Mother Teresa, who forswore personal pleasure to do the dirty work none of the rest of us wanted, found herself posthumously pilloried for her Catholic faith. Safe in their comfortable, middle-class homes, the P.C. police sat down at their thousand-dollar computer terminals to pound out letters to the editor excoriating a woman who truly gave of herself. Why? She believed in her church's teachings on birth control. (And, of course, the implicit message in all that outrage against her views was that we need fewer strong women speaking out on controversial topics. Put that in your feminist pipe and smoke it.)
Of course, the P.C. folks are hardly alone in their anti-Catholic bigotry that streak is as deeply embedded in American culture (if less violently) as anti-Semitism is in European life. Much of the anti-immigrant fervor in this nation is a thinly veiled cover for anti-Catholic bigotry as is true of the pro-choice movement. The rhetoric of both is just too mean-spirited to cover up the underlying animus.
Interestingly, both right and left are more than willing to temporarily suspend their anti-Catholic bigotry for short-term political gain, using the Church's moral stature for their own purposes.
Witness the eager embrace conservatives gave Vatican pronouncements against Communism and abortion. Or the uncomfortable silence of the usually vicious critics on the left when the Church speaks out against the death penalty or in favor of immigrant rights.
But when the Church takes a stand unpopular to either side, the spiritedness of the attacks betrays the publicly repressed sentiment: prejudice.
The Church has no business interfering in civic life, we're told (unless it's on one of the above pre-approved topics). It should stop trying to impose its values on others (again, see exceptions above).
No other group in American life has its very right to participate in public life challenged, the legitimacy of its existence questioned. No other group is told to just shut up and keep its views to itself.
And that just doesn't seem very tolerant.
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