Friday, December 23, 2011

Dragging the Klan into the mix is nothing but foolish for Cardinal

Cardinal Francis George is correct in saying that the Ku Klux Klan has a history of being just as anti-Catholic as it has been anti-black.
Does anyone seriously believe ... 

In fact, if one goes back to the late 1910s and early 1920s when Klan chapters expanded beyond the Deep South and it almost became respectable to be a member, there were some people who joined because of their religious bigotry more than any hostilities felt toward black people.

THE REALITY WAS that some parts of the country had very few black people. The Catholics, however, were a foreign conspiracy that was taking over the world. Or so the nitwits of that era wanted to believe.

But the Cardinal made himself look like the nitwit earlier this week, and he had to go ahead and do it on television. People across the Chicago metropolitan area who happened to watch WFLD-TV’s evening newscast on Wednesday got to see and hear George when he compared the gay rights activists upset about a Catholic parish’s objections to the route for the 2012 gay pride parade to the Klan of old.

As George put it, the “Gay Liberation Movement” has the potential to “morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan” for daring to suggest that Catholic officials might be mistaken.

This makes the Cardinal sound as ridiculous as Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who got himself international attention for his wisecrack about how low approval ratings for Congress reflect badly upon its Republican members, saying, “if Josef Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat(ic) Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine.”

NAZI PROPAGANDA IMAGES for speaking the truth about Republican partisan political tactics? Just like thinking ill of the Catholic church. It all sounds like people who are way too touchy; perhaps because on a certain level they realize their side is wrong on a certain issue – but don’t want to admit it.

Of course, just as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives shot down an attempt to censure West for his over-the-top rhetoric, I suspect a lot of Catholics are going to be quick to jump on the bandwagon of support for the Cardinal.
... these people are comparable?

Which is a shame, because this is a case where everybody would be better off if this issue withered away – instead of being prolonged by defensive talk. Which all winds up being a defense of a ridiculous position.

Now the fact that the Catholic Diocese for Chicago is concerned about the gay pride parade next year isn’t new. Parade officials altered the route through north lakefront neighborhoods, and also wanted to start the event earlier.

THE END RESULT was the potential for the parade to pass by a Lakeview neighborhood Catholic church right as Sunday morning mass was starting. There may have been some parishioners who would get offended, but there also was the potential for an area traffic jam as a large-scale parade passes the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish (although church officials had hinted that many passengers might just skip church that morning in protest of the parade).

Which is why parade officials have agreed to alter the starting time. Now, it should pass the church a couple of hours after the Sunday morning mass is over. Which, to my mindset, makes it sound like the parade organizers are trying to be reasonable.

But the rhetoric we got from the Cardinal makes it seem that being reasonable isn’t good enough. They’re upset anybody challenged their opposition at all. And now, they want to resort to Klan analogies – hoping desperately that they will capture the support of the “middle” of our society.

Which I’m skeptical would happen, because the imagery of gay rights activists being aligned with the Klan is just too absurd to take literally. It’s even more ridiculous than the concept of a “World Series champion Chicago Cubs” team.

BESIDES, IT REMINDS me of the occasions when, as a reporter-type person, I have covered rallies involving the Klan. I have seen the robes and the hoods up-close, and I also have read their literature that attempts to make them out to be an organization promoting “American values.”

One thing I noticed is that the modern Klan, in stating who it does not want, has altered its rhetoric slightly. Catholics are no longer forbidden. Catholicism has become so mainstream in our society that many of its members now qualify as ordinary white people – in the Klan’s eyes.

Although I’m going to stop short of stating that George may well have given verbal comfort to real-life Klan members by making statements that indicate opposition to gay rights activists. I’m sure real Klan members don’t object to what he said.

But I do, and I’m sure there are many other people (both Catholic and non) who do object – particularly in these days leading up to the holiest of all holy days. The concept of bringing up the Klan at Christmas-time seems particularly venal.


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