There’s a particular disdain that some progressives hold for Christianity as an institutional force. Christianity underpins much of Western civilization and its moral epicenter; radical progressives believe in a homogenous value of cultures and see Christianity therein as an anchor of unearned cultural superiority. The amalgamation of resentment and ideological warfare allows progressives to conflate Christianity as a piece of the “establishment” to be torn down by this generation of progressives; they must expunge the backwards remnants of a forgotten past and the bigots standing athwart the insatiable rotary of progress must roll onward or die the slow cultural death of a troglodyte.
In a news story that only the modern media could cover in such a pathetically underwhelming manner, Hillary Clinton surrogates exchanged emails, released by WikiLeaks earlier this month, discussing their disdain for Catholicism and conservative Catholics. The transcript, showing emails from Jennifer Palmieri, head of communications for the Clinton campaign, and John Halpin, from the bastion of tolerance that is the Center for American Progress, is featured below:
HALPIN: “Friggin’ [conservative Rupert] Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the [Supreme Court] and think tanks to the media and social groups. It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
PALMIERI: “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
HALPIN: “Excellent point. They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”
Progressives have become indefatigable apologists for the religion of Islam — in an age where Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant radicals drown homosexuals in steel cages — and have never had a problem blasting Christians for the supposed bigotry of suggesting that someone with female genitalia ought to use the women’s bathroom. I am not suggesting that ISIS is equivalent to moderate Islam, but there is a sincere frustration when the rubric used to demean germane Christian beliefs writes off those same beliefs in even moderate forms of Islam as “cultural differences.” It is precisely this rhetoric, used in these emails, that is the underpinning of progressives’ animus toward Christianity, and specifically, Catholicism.
It is quite OK, in their own compass, for progressives to peruse the lines of generalization in deeming conservative Catholics mere patricians seeking to find a “socially acceptable, politically conservative religion” without ceding the social capital associated with “their rich friends,” and find an excuse to endorse the “severely backwards gender relations” of the Church. However, we’re paternalistically told with a verbal pat on the head that while girls in some parts of the Islamic world can be married off as early as nine years of age, are forced to cover themselves and are often the victims of honor killings, we ought not ascribe that to anything more than a difference of culture and that we, as privileged leeches of a life of decrepit Western sociocultural laziness, could never understand. That the Catholic Church purports abortion as the taking of an innocent human life and only allows for male priests, on the other hand, are not only assaults on the equality of women, we’re told, but moreover a reflection of an institution forwarding a “backwards” agenda of demeaning females.
Many progressives are terrified of Catholicism’s “systematic thought” because it is a lineage of intellectual tradition virtually unmatched throughout history. The definitive theological musings of generations of scholastics, clergy and apologists has created the most academically voracious faith tradition in the history of the West. The late Antonin Scalia and William F. Buckley Jr., as well as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan were Catholic, and all represent much of the past and present animating forces of the modern conservative movement. A wariness of Catholicism is a perhaps, in this view, prudent fear for elitist progressives.
However, the wonderful thing is that mocking the fundamental motivations of the Catholic faith is something one can do without a reasonable concern for physical violence. Nonetheless, to test their working narrative we ought to ask whether Palmieri and Halpin would feel comfortable drawing pictures of Muhammad.