The boy who cried anti-Catholicism

By Eric Naing

Two bloggers, Amanda Marcotte of the blog Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister, were hired by the John Edwards campaign in an attempt to reach out to liberal voters. But after William Donohue of the conservative Catholic League called the two bloggers “anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots,” a media firestorm erupted forcing the two to resign.

The problem is that Donohue is using this trumped-up blogger controversy to take potshots at a Democratic candidate while hiding behind his charges of anti-Catholicism. Even worse, the media consistently rewards this behavior. Despite his own outrageous and controversial views, Donohue has become a regular fixture on political talk shows and is often portrayed as “The” voice of Catholicism.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Jerome Corsi of the infamous Swift Boat Veterans For Truth attacked John Kerry’s Catholicism by saying, “So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that’s probably about it.” When asked about the blatantly anti-Catholic remarks, Donohue dismissed them as quips and later stated in 2006 that he forgave Corsi.

This is a stark contrast to the fire and brimstone that Donohue brought down upon Marcotte and McEwan. The difference is that Corsi was on Donohue’s side while the bloggers were not. William Donohue is a right-wing political agent who cares more about politics than his religion. As long as you are a Republican, Donohue will let you say as many anti-Catholic things as you please.

The further irony of Donohue calling the two bloggers “vulgar, trash-talking bigots” is that those words perfectly describe Donohue himself. The liberal watchdog group Media Matters has collected several of Donohue’s most outrageous comments and they run the gamut from being anti-Muslim to homophobic to anti-Semitic.

On MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, Donohue discussed what he called “the gay death style” and was outraged that the gay community apparently “has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done.” Donohue also said that “People don’t trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty.”

His anti-Semitism is most telling though. Aging using MSNBC as a soapbox, Donohue said in 2004 that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.” Following the release of The Passion of the Christ, Donohue vehemently defended the movie’s director Mel Gibson and denied any charges of anti-Semitism. Later, when Gibson proved to be quite literally a raving anti-Semite, Donohue defended Gibson’s comments saying, “There’s a lot of people who have made comments which are bigoted who are not necessarily bigots,” and “What kind of blood do they want out of this man?”

As a fan of both blogs, I know that Marcotte and McEwan often say controversial things, especially when it comes to religion. It seems as though the Edwards campaign did not know exactly what they were getting into. If Marcotte and McEwan were on Edwards’ payroll, then it is perfectly legitimate to hold the Edwards campaign accountable for what they write. The issue is that the man making all the accusations has no credibility himself. Aside from his own bigoted remarks, Donohue throws charges of anti-Catholicism around as if they were confetti. This is a man who once called a commercial in which a person holds a bowl of onion dip while waiting in line for communion one of the “Ten worse anti-Catholic atrocities of 2001.”

So-called Catholics who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Donohue has a right to say all the bigoted and blatantly political things he wants, but we do not have to listen. News outlets such as MSNBC need to stop giving him a platform on national television and to stop treating him and the Catholic League as if they spoke for all Catholics.