“This is a renewal of a long-dormant slander against Catholics in America…”

Writer Ed Morrissey adds his voice to the chorus of critics taking issue—sometimes passionately—with Jamie Stiehm’s recent essay in U.S. News & World Report:

Unfortunately, this is a renewal of a long-dormant slander against Catholics in America. When immigration shifted into high gear in the mid-19th century, especially from Catholic areas of Europe (led by the Irish migration after the Potato Famine), a political movement called the Know-Nothings arose to argue that Catholics should be denied civil rights. Otherwise, the argument went, the Pope would end up ruling America, since Catholics’ ultimate allegiance lay with their religion.

Steihm almost explicitly reaches back to the days of Thomas Nast in arguing that “[m]ore than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse, and institutions.” Amusingly, she provides no proof of this either, and is apparently ignorant of the fact that Catholics tend to split their vote between Democrats and Republicans and liberal and conservative policies, while the other denominations she cites are usually much more in one camp or the other.

Finally, as anyone who follows the Supreme Court knows, the Catholics on the court routinely split on ideological dogma rather than on religious doctrine. If there is a Catholic conspiracy on the Supreme Court, it would be so incompetent as to merit very little concern.

Know-Nothingism is certainly the right term for Stiehm’s essay, exposing her irrational hatred as well as her inability to perform even cursory research. If this appeared on a writer’s blog, it would mean little except for the exposure of the writer’s own bigotry and incompetence. For some reason, though, US News and World Report, known for decades as a legitimate news magazine with a reputation for intelligent commentary, chose to publish this. How did this end up under its banner? Did no editor bother to check the assumptions made by Stiehm about the stay, or notice the blatant and ill-informed Know-Nothingism?

Good question.  Read the rest. 


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