Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Meanwhile, Check Out The Latest Idiocy on Scarborough Country ...

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, was on MSNBC's Scarborough Country on Thursday, discussing the "Cathlolic take" on the Christmas Day tsunami.

Here's a piece of that amazing transcript:

SCARBOROUGH: Bill Donahue, you are the head of the Catholic League. What is the Catholic Church‘s take? I know, in the Middle Ages, disasters were often blamed on people straying from God‘s will. Is that the position of the church? Does the pope believe these people died because they were sinful people?

DONAHUE: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, Christianity, and particularly Roman Catholicism, is an inherently optimistic religion.

Just think about the symbolism of the cross. What does the cross mean? It means suffering, but it also means redemption. It means death, but it also means life. It means darkness, but it also means light. The fact of the matter is that what—we can‘t figure out exactly as mortal human beings what is exactly at work. Job certainly didn‘t understand it in the New (sic) Testament. Talk about Murphy‘s Law. Everything that could have gone wrong for that guy went wrong.

But what did it do to his faith? He kept his faith in God. There are strange things that happen. But we do one thing, that Catholicism in particular is a theology of suffering, as Cardinal O‘Connor once said. Cardinal O‘Connor once stunned the Jewish community by saying that the great gift of Judaism was the Holocaust. He didn‘t mean that to insult Jews.

What he was saying was this. There is no greater suffering than what Christ did. He died on the cross, but that‘s a source of optimism. That‘s a source of redemption. So, I think we have to look at this in a positive sense. In one strange sense, then, what‘s happening to these poor Asian people is their gift to the world. It makes us think about our mortality and about salvation and about redemption. That‘s what we should be thinking about.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bill, we need to take a quick break.

***

And that was it. Donahue made a separate and unrelated comment later in the show. Scarborough let Donahue's odd conclusion about the tsunami stand, without follow-up. He let Donahue's re-telling of Cardinal O'Connor's quote also stand.

For the record, the Catholic League (http://www.catholicleague.org) was created "to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened."

According to a fact sheet on the league's web site: "While it is true that Catholics as individuals have made progress in securing their rights, the degree of hostility exhibited against the Catholic Church is appalling. Quite simply, Catholic bashing has become a staple of American society."

Now, I'm not going to go Catholic-bashing. But let me ask you, JABBS readers: When someone like Donahue goes on national television not to defend Catholics but to spew beliefs that are at best questionable and, to many, offensive, doesn't that run counter to the league's stated mission?

***

As for Scarborough, what context should we use for his show? He is a former Republican congressman from Florida, and a frequent pundit on other MSNBC shows, but in his role on Scarborough Country, hosting panels and asking questions of his various guests, should he not be considered a journalist?

I wonder what Donahue would think if, say Howard Dean, while substitute hosting on CNBC's Topic (A) With Tina Brown, had turned the tables and allowed a guest to make anti-Catholic comments, then let those comments stand without further inquiry? I'm guessing Donahue would be incensed.

***

Donahue's comments aside, Catholic agencies have been as aggressive in their efforts to aid tsunami victims as agencies representing other religions or races.

According to Catholic News Service, Catholic Relief Services (http://www.catholicrelief.org), the U.S. bishops' agency for overseas aid and development, raised $17 million in the first nine days after launching its appeal to help tsunami victims, and another $9 million via its website. The money is being applied to the $25 million that CRS pledged to provide to countries most affected by the disaster.

It's too bad viewers of Scarborough Country -- seemingly interested in Scarborough's take on the news of the day -- had to listen to Donahue's spew instead.

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