Gerson and Douthat Must-Reads

Michael Gerson: you may be tempted to dismiss it as hyperbole, but he makes a strong argument that, with his HHS mandate (which, his Press Secretary Jay Carney has confirmed, he will not subject to further review) a strong argument that Obama has declared war on all religion. Read it all, but if you haven’t time, at least absorb this:

Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists.

The implications of Obama’s choice will take years to sort through. The immediate impact can be measured on three men: Consider Catholicism’s most prominent academic leader, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. Jenkins took a serious risk in sponsoring Obama’s 2009 honorary degree and commencement address — which promised a “sensible” approach to the conscience clause. Jenkins now complains, “This is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the president had in mind when he spoke here.” Obama has made Jenkins — and other progressive Catholic allies — look easily duped.

Consider Catholicism’s highest-ranking elected official, Vice President Joe Biden. Biden had encouraged engagement with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on conscience rights. Now he will be remembered as the Catholic cover for the violation of Catholic conscience. Betrayal is always an inside job.

Consider Catholicism’s most prominent clerical leader, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan had pursued a policy of engagement with the administration. In November 2011, he met face-to-face with Obama, who was earnestly reassuring on conscience protections. On Jan. 20, during a less-cordial phone conversation, Obama informed Dolan that no substantial concession had been made. How can Dolan make the argument for engagement now?

[. . .] Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

Emphasis mine. Read it all and pass it around!

Meanwhile, Ross Douthat reviews the tag-team-tantrum acted out last week by our elites in the press and the government, as they bullied one non-profit entity for declaring an intention not to give less than $700,000 to another non-profit entity, here in America, where we’re supposed to be free.

But if you’ve followed the media frenzy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision — which it backpedaled from, with an apology, after a wave of frankly brutal coverage — to discontinue about $700,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist.

From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage’s tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had “politicized” the cause of women’s health. [. . .]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg just pledged $250,000 to Planned Parenthood; that’s obviously his right. Before Komen backtracked, the Yale School of Public Health said its invitation to Brinker to speak at commencement was “under careful review”; that’s certainly any school’s prerogative.

But reporters have different obligations. Even if some forms of partiality are inevitable, journalists betray their calling when they simply ignore self-evident truths about a story.

Three truths, in particular, should be obvious to everyone reporting on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy. First, that the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial, while the provision of abortion may be the most polarizing issue in the United States today. Second, that it’s no more “political” to disassociate oneself from the nation’s largest abortion provider than it is to associate with it in the first place. Third, that for every American who greeted Komen’s shift with “anger and outrage” (as Andrea Mitchell put it), there was probably an American who was relieved and gratified.

Indeed, that sense of relief was quantifiable: the day after the controversy broke, Komen reported that its daily donations had risen dramatically.

But of course, you wouldn’t know that from most of the media coverage. After all, the people making those donations don’t exist.

Emphasis mine, again. I have no particular feeling for the Komen foundation — I neither love nor hate it. But I despise bullies.

We have an extraordinarily interesting year before us.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Manny

    You Anchoress, I disagreed with you when you said a while back that a persecution was coming. Those may not have been your exact words (I don’t want to put words in your mouth) but I took along those lines. I have to admit, you may be right. Obama’s healthcare mandate is clearly an attempt to corral Catholics and try to squeeze out their values that don’t synch with the Liberal mindset. Not only was the decision horrid enough, but if you review the sequence of events one can only come to the conclusion that Obama went out of his way to castigate the Catholic Church. Here’s the sequence. About a month prior, he lies to Bishop Dolan’s face that the church will have a religious conscience exemption. Then he merely calls him to break the news and announces the decision within days of the most public/political event on the Catholic calendar, the pro-life march in DC. This was clearly a poke in the collective eye of Catholics.

    It cannot go without a political response. We Catholics must band together and vote against Obama in November. The Catholic vote must go decidedly against him. Otherwise, he will be enboldened and push every Liberal anti Catholic (and there are many out there) issues through.

    As to the Komen flip flop. I would not be surprised if the administration had a hand in it.

  • Manny

    I wish I had the ability edit once I post. I meant to say, “You know Anchoress…” as a start to my comment above.

  • Gail finke

    I posted that piece by Gerson on my Facebook page and an old college friend — a liberal Catholic journalist — said it was nothing but hyperbole and that “most” Catholics use contraception anyway so there is no problem. Yes, this is a reporter. Complete misunderstanding of 1) the first Amendment, 2) the powers of government, 3) the in-your-face way this was done right before the March for Life, etc., as noted above, and 4) Catholicism. Sigh.

    The Komen thing is just bizarre. Even the WSJ, which one woudl think would at least understand the issues involved, seemed puzzled by the whole thing.

    [Your friend is greatly helped by the fact that the press is not touching this story at all, except to frame it as a "contraception" issue rather than a constitutional one. The truth is few Catholics are actually hearing about it. We're in for very interesting times -admin]

  • Joseph

    I see a parallel between Susan G. Komen and the University of Notre Dame. Both opened up a Pandora’s box by dealing with the devil, if you’ll pardon the expression. Komen by giving money to Planned Parenthood in the first place, and Notre Dame by, not only inviting the most pro-abortion (yes, pro-abortion) president in American history to give the 2009 commencement address, but awarding him an honorary degree. For about a day or so, Komen had appeared to be doing the right thing, before reversing itself. Now it’s Father Jenkins and Notre Dame’s turn to do the right thing, by declaring Obama’s honorary degree null and void..

  • Amy

    So what is the penalty of not complying? Anyone ask Obama that question? I think the American people need to know.

    I would suspect he is baiting Americans, in order to create our own little Kosovos.

    [The penalty for not complying, for now, is a fine of $2,000 per employee. I read that the fines would be in the tens of millions for colleges, alone -admin]

  • Bruce Abbott

    I have a friend who maintains a facebook site; most (but not all) of her friends are liberal, as she is, and all were engaged in a discussion of the Komen/PP conflict. All but one were enraged about the funding cut. I entered a comment about the use of abortion for sex selection in places like India and China, and that, based on studies of live births with back-calculation to the historic male/female birth ratio, about 160 million little girls were missing. My comment sank like a stone; nobody would address it. My friend eventually sent me a note that she would respond at a later time, and that this discussion was one we should probably avoid in the future.

    We are now in a situation where ‘Roe v Wade’ has removed the whole question of abortion from the political sphere. It has succeeded where ‘Dred Scott’ failed, but Harry Blackmun’s and Roger Taney’s goals were the same. If you don’t believe me, look at the central contention of ‘Dred Scott’, that “[a black man] has no rights that a white man is bound to respect.” Now, replace ‘black man’ with ‘unborn child’, and ‘white man’ with “birth-mother’. There in one sentence is the essence of ‘Roe’. Just as in the relationship of a slave to his master, a fetus exists only at the sufferance of its mother, and can be killed on a whim.

    Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural speech, famously worried that God might not permit the Civil War to end, “until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword”. I tremble at the thought of what the Creator will demand in restitution for a billion unborn innocents destroyed…

  • Dan C

    Albert Mohler suggests, and I agree, that the pro-life movement suffers when it actually comes to action. This “half of America” number often quoted may be misleading, considering that pro-life legislation can’t past in two of America’s reddest states-Mississippi and South Dakota.

    The pro-life movement has been losing ground. The religious institutitons that back it have been losing ground. The culture wars have left their mark on our faiths and the bitter battles leave the Churches lonely, empty, suburban and largely wealthy. The pro-life movement is attachedvand supported by that. The pro-life memeber is likely to be a pro-Iraq war, libertarian. This indicates that the movement is getting smaller and weaker.

    To illustrate the weakness of the movement, not one Republican candidate is super-strong in fighting for pro-life issues. The issue that has worked for the candidates is opposition to gay marriage. Not abortion. And certainly not contraception.

    I think the pro-life movement has to recognize the truth of its state, change its tactics and start to actually change hearts and minds (instead of its conviction that changing legislation will “top-down” provide an instructive opportunity for the population), and return the pro-life movement to an aspect of one’s faith as a consequence of one’s love of God, not the central role of one’s faith.

    The movement needs to cease being used as a weapon to alienate others.

  • doc

    Gail, your “reporter” friend proved the point that I intended to make, that there are no news hounds left in the corporate media, just agenda-pushers. Investigative journalism takes place primarily on the net now. Oh, the corporate media will use their resources to dive through Sarah Palin’s garbage (or whoever the conservative enemy of the moment is), but that just proves that they’re tools of the Democrats.

    Permit me to translate what Dan C just wrote: The pro-life movement has been exceedingly effective, legislatively. Please stop. Oh, and Dan, Rick Santorum is “super pro-life”. All 4 of these guys are pro-life. The Democrats own abortion. Catholics should remember that in November.

  • Lawrence Cunningham

    Some years ago I donated to the Komen foundation to honor a young colleague who died from breast cancer. I stopped donating when they linked with Planned Parenthood. There are other ways to fight against breast cancer: my way is to support the Notre Dame Women’s basketball “Pink Zone” effort. Almost no overhead involved and the monies go directly to research and help for those suffering from the illness.

  • SKay

    doc-I appreciate your translation of Dan C’s transparent comments.

    Before the vote on the Mississippi pro life legislation, the pro life Governor explained that there was a problem with how it was worded. Also the Doctors in that state did not think there was enough protection for them in the wording of the bill. I understand that because I live in a state where lawyers will take a case to sue a ham sandwich it they think they can make a dime out of it.
    If the right bill is crafted–it would probably pass and hopefully go on to the Supreme Court. Of course if Obama is re-elected and the Democrats hold the Senate–than that path will probably be closed for a long time because he will probably have the opportunity to nominate another pro abortion activist judge-maybe two. The Democrats and the pro abortion left are counting on this.

  • Elaine S.

    “We are now in a situation where ‘Roe v Wade’ has removed the whole question of abortion from the political sphere. It has succeeded where ‘Dred Scott’ failed”
    I am a bit of a history buff, and I think there’s another parallel to be drawn here. Perhaps “Roe”, with its “trimester” framework, did, or attempted to do, for abortion what the Missouri Compromise (drawing a boundary line between free and slave states/territories) did for slavery — it APPEARED to settle the issue forever, but was bound to self-destruct eventually and only made the issue worse in the end. Thomas Jefferson said of the Missouri Compromise that it was “a fire bell in the night” and the possible “(death) knell of the union” — 40 years before the Civil War actually began.
    Now taking this parallel a bit further, here we are nearly 40 years after Roe and I think the issue is now reaching the point that slavery reached in the 1850s, when those who were “pro-choice” on the right to own slaves anywhere in the nation started getting more aggressive, with measures such as the Fugitive Slave Act and Kansas-Nebraska Act. In response, anti-slavery people became more galvanized as well. (“Dred Scott” actually occurred very late in the game, in 1857.) Then came Bleeding Kansas, border ruffians, the Senator Sumner beating incident and many other incidents great and small. Is that what we have to look forward to? I hope not…

  • conservativemama

    Why were so many people fooled by Obama? Is it a complete ignorance of history. All I need to know about the left is that they want nothing less than control over their fellow man. There is no God in that world, or at least no room for God. God is compartamentalized. He has to be in order for people to both claim to believe in him, to be Catholics, and then to work against the teachings of the Church.

    And the feminists, what can I say? The point has been made here, abortion is killing more females than males. And it’s happening in this country as well. When we decide to have designer babies, we will unleash unintended consequences that I fear.

    I knew Obama would be this bad. I know history. My parents fled Cuba in 1961. Why were so many fooled? That scares me.

  • ahem

    It’s not hyperbole. If you don’t realize that the Left is trying to take out the Christian church–the entire Christian church—you’re not awake. The only logical result of complying with this abomination is the death of the church. It’s another Obama body blow to the Bill of Rights.

  • Robert F

    The slippery slope that started with Roe vs. Wade has become a plummet into the abyss. The vocabulary of Christian virtues that once dominated public discourse has been almost completely expunged; replacing it is a reversion to the sophistry of the pagan and inhuman virtues of ancient Roman civilization. For all those who thought it couldn’t happen here, in the civilized, compassionate West, open your eyes and prepare yourself: the beast is running toward Jerusalem. Close is the time of the killing compassion.

  • doc

    How many Catholics would leave the Church before they vote Republican?

  • Elaine

    It is just so disappointing that the bishops were supporting Obama care and just didn’t see this coming especially with very liberal dems. Once they get our healthcare the seniors and the very young will suffer in addition to violation of religious conscience.