Donohue’s ‘I’m Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist and Support David Duke” Rant

Amie Newman

In his latest temper tantrum, William Donohue pens a parody of pro-life leaders endorsements of Senator Obama entitled, "I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist and Support David Duke." But the essay comes across as more alienating than anything else.

Ah, William Donohue. You’ve got to be impressed with a man who believes he owns the rights to and interpretation of the entire Catholic religion.

In his latest temper tantrum, a parody Donohue penned entitled, "I’m Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist and Support David Duke", he takes on Nicholas Cafardi’s recent essay outlining why he, as a Catholic, pro-life scholar is supporting Senator Obama. Cafardi joins pro-life scholar Doug Kmiec (denied communion because of his political decision) and a host of conservative writers and religious leaders who are asking for a new approach to abortion politics and urging Americans to do the same, going so far as to call single-issue voting "unbiblical."

Cafardi’s article, entitled, "I’m Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Abortion, and Support Obama", outlines why, from his perspective a vote for Senator McCain will not only do nothing to end abortion or embryonic stem-cell research (since McCain supports this as well) but in fact implicitly supports a host of anti-life positions including for an unjust war and the use of torture. According to Cafardi, "In 2003, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) said flatly that ‘reasons sufficient for unleashing a war against Iraq did not exist.’ McCain voted for it; Obama opposed it."

Donohue’s piece satirically compares support for politicians who support access to a full range of reproductive and sexual health care and education to politicians who support racist policies; and compares abortion to racism as a political issue. Leaving aside the irony of the fact that there still are many far right, ultra-conservative, pseudo-religious Americans who will never vote for Barack Obama because he is black, Donohue’s essay is riddled with contradictions. 

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Clearly, attempting to use fundamentalist religious interpretation for political leverage will never work. Donohue does not own the copyright to Catholicism and to promote the idea that Catholics who vote for Senator Obama are not practicing "real" Catholicism, promotes nothing but alientation.

Donohue’s claim that Catholics who vote for pro-choice candidates are mirror images of Catholics who vote for racist candidates would be absurd if it weren’t so wrong.  He seems to forget that there are a good many Catholics in this country – leaders and others – for whom abortion is not "intrinsically evil" but rather accepted as a private, medical decision made by the woman in whose body the life is growing. As well, there are Catholic leaders and followers who actually see single-issue voting as immoral, as this commenter on Donohue’s post so eloquently puts it:

If you are a single issue voter, then the discussion is pretty much done. If you want to consider how important ending the Iraq war is, improving our relationships with the rest of the world, returning to the leadership of the free world, and having a better economy so we can continue to support the Church and its Christian efforts, you have a little more thinking to do.

and "unbiblical" as Richard Cizik, evangelical leader says:

Party line voting is…unbiblical. It says you don’t think. If you’re simply voting on same sex marriage and abortion, you’re not thinking. What I’m saying is that a lot of evangelicals don’t think, sad to say.

Or, as Wilis Elliot, Baptist minister and teacher puts it:

…..Finally, I am deeply concerned about single-issue, anti-abortion voters. I consider them immoral. Given the multitude of complex problems the United States is facing, this presidential election may prove to be the most consequential since the Great Depression. Why would anyone let the abortion issue determine one’s vote? Bad religion, that’s why. The worship of "human life." Fetolatry, the idolatry of sacralizing the conceptus/embryo/fetus. Religion can be such good news. I hate to conclude with this instance of religion as bad news. But I must.

Donohue’s underlying premise, as satire or truth, only provides more ammunition for a culture war that we’re seeing relegated to the back burner this election cycle. The truth is that focusing on a single medical procedure that most Americans believe should be legal and accessible, if not minimally restricted, is not riling voters up the way Donohue and his ilk are desperate for. In the face of one of the worst economic landscapes this country has seen, embroiled in an unjust war sucking billions of dollars from taxpayers monthly, and struggling daily to provide health care to the masses, this country is desperate for relief not distracting political games. 

I wish William Donohue would write the "I’m Catholic and Staunchly Supportive of Your Right To Be Too!" essay this country really needs.

Topics and Tags:

Abortion, Bill Donohue, Religion

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