Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Know Nothings

I've noted in this space on a number of occasions that most of the racial bigotry in this country today is found lurking on the ideological left. This may seem counterintuitive, given the rhetoric of equality with which the left often lectures us, but examples of liberal attitudes that belie the rhetoric aren't hard to find. Nor is it at all difficult to document the claim that most contemporary anti-semitism and anti-Christian bigotry is on the left as well.

An example of the latter comes in the pages of a mainstream journal of opinion, U.S. News and World Report. U.S. News last week published a column by a woman named Jamie Stiehm which was noteworthy for its explicit anti-Catholic animus. The provocation which induced Stiehm's choler was the decision by Catholic Supreme Court jurist Sonia Sotomayor to grant a temporary stay to an organization of nuns who objected to being forced by Obamacare to provide contraception to anyone covered by their insurance.

Here are a few excerpts from Steihm's rant which sounds, mutatis mutandis, like something lifted right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion:
The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let's be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.
How, exactly, Sotomayor "put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence" Stiehm doesn't bother to tell us, but never mind. There's a conspiracy afoot to bring religious beliefs into the public square and Catholics, don't you know, are the main conspirators. Sotomayor is a Catholic, Stiehm's reasoning seems to run, so what she did must have been an attempt to impose religion on the non-religious, or something:
Sotomayor's blow brings us to confront an uncomfortable reality. More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. Especially if "you" are female. This is not true of all Catholics – just look at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. But right now, the climate is so cold when it comes to defending our settled legal ground that Sotomayor's stay is tantamount to selling out the sisterhood. And sisterhood is not as powerful as it used to be, ladies.

Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I've noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can't know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women's rights and liberties.
Ms Stiehm holds an odd view of the separation of church and state. She apparently thinks that no belief one holds should be acted upon in the public arena if the provenience of that belief happens to be in any way religious. This view automatically disqualifies anyone who takes his or her religious beliefs seriously from holding any position of public power. The liberal Ms Stiehm is tacitly doing what liberals have long decried - she's seeking to impose a religious test for suitability for public office:
We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.

The seemingly innocent Little Sisters were likely not acting alone in their trouble-making. Their big brothers, the meddlesome American Roman Catholic Archbishops are bound to be involved. They seek and wield tremendous power and influence in the political sphere. Big city mayors know their penchant for control all too well. Their principal target for years on end has been squelching women and girls – even when they should have focused on their own men and boys.
Imagine. Prelates having influence over their flock. What a scandal. Of course, there's nothing wrong with Democratic aldermen or union bosses wielding tremendous power in our cities, but if the leaders of the Church wield influence they're being "meddlesome." And, in Ms Stiehm's universe, everyone knows that the Church has been squelching women and girls for years. Just how they've been doing this and what this has to do with a liberal female Supreme Court Justice granting a temporary stay to an organization of female nuns, other than providing a pretext for a gratuitous insinuation of clerical pederasty, is a bit of a mystery.

It's also a mystery as to which "archbishops" she's talking about. Perhaps she meant "bishops" rather than "archbishops." One might think she should know the difference, but bigots can't be bothered with details like accuracy.
In one stroke with ominous implications, there's no such thing as Catholic justice or mercy for women on the Supreme Court, not even from a woman. The rock of Rome refuses to budge on women's reproductive rights and the Supreme Court is getting good and ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, which became the law of the land 40 years ago.
This is absurd given how limited Sotomayor's stay actually was, but worse than the absurdity is the contempt that seeps through in almost every paragraph, contempt for both the Catholic Church and for anyone who would object to the left's imposition of its values on the rest of society. It's more than ironic that Steihm is comfortable with secularists imposing their values on the rest of us, but she's driven to outrage that people, motivated by their moral understanding, would seek to resist.

It should be remembered that this essay was approved by Stiehm's editors and others at U.S. News who apparently think it's okay to say such things about Christians in general and Catholics in particular. Would this article have ever seen the light of day, indeed, would it ever have been written, were it about blacks, gays, or Muslims? Of course not, but in liberal precincts a writer is celebrated for having the "courage" to express her disdain for Catholics.

In the 1850s there was a political organization which promoted views about Catholics that were of a piece with those Ms Stiehm seems to hold. The group was called, appropriately enough, the "Know Nothings." Ms Stiehm could be an honorary member.