Holy Bill Donohue! Batman
Given Obama’s ideology, perhaps it would make more sense for him to swear on Das Kapital.
[hyuk,hyuk,hyuk] For those of you who are not familiar with Donohue’s ouevre [and why should you be?] this latest statement is classic Donohue.
We already know that Donohue is no Obama fan, from this little gem occasioned by the New York gallery opening of Andres Serrano, creator of an artwork entitled “Piss Christ”:
But now, I think it’s about time more Americans get to know Bill Donohue, because he’s a pretty spectacular symptom of What’s Gone Wrong With America?. See, Bill, is the worst kind of exploitative con man.
And I know this guy well, not personally—but he’s as familiar to me as the back of my hand. He’s a paunchy, 60-something white Irish guy with scoliosis from a lifetime of carrying around a collossal chip on his freckly white shoulder.
I went to Catholic school with guys like Holy Bill, hell I had a few in my family, and they don’t get better with age—just louder and more embarrassing. No matter what level of education they achieve, they believe that there is something noble about being an ignorant, openly bigoted, hard-drinking big mouth. They also believe that their bigotry is justified because they’ve been the [real or imagined] target of bigots, themselves.
And the worst of them are what we, in the ‘hood, used to call “career Catholics”—the alpha dogs of Knights of Columbus, whose home turf is the intersection between parish politics and precinct party politics.
The difference between Donohue and the others is that he figured out a way to take his game to the next level. He stepped into the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States leadership when the Catholic League was a fusty little jesuitical lay organization, of about 20K not-very-assertive activists dedicated to fighting a perceived anti-Catholic bias in 1970s American culture.
Donohue took over in 1993 and hit all the hot buttons to turn the Catholic League into a much larger, much wealthier, national political power to be reckoned with, mostly thanks to Donohue’s tendency to be an industrious publicity hound and the Catholic Church’s propensity for getting into serious trouble. Donohue took on the role of being America’s “Defender of” and “Apologist for” pedophile priests. Because! hey, what’s more anti-Catholic than saying a priest molested you? Also, too, according to Donohue’s Blame the Victims campaign this isn’t really a “priest” problem, or a “pedophile” problem—it’s a “gay” problem. SNAP!
And it’s been a pretty good gig for Bill, lots of TV appearances, a contributor spot with Fox News, an adjunct scholar post at the Heritage Foundation, and, at last count, Donohue was pulling down $400K a year just for running the Catholic League.
The Catholic League, under Bill Donohue, is chiefly a combative force. It runs “education” campaigns, issues condemnations, initiates boycotts and protests, defends priests against accusations of child sexual abuse, fights proposed legislation and threatens legal action against what it sees as bigotry against Catholics, irreverence against religious figures, and attacks on Catholic dogma.
All that, while stressing that “it does not speak authoritatively for the Church as a whole.” But, since it does speak “authoritatively” at every turn, one might reasonably ask “who does the Catholic League speak for?” Even Catholics are asking that question, lately. The Archdiocese of New York has made it clear that the Catholic League is nothing to do with them, despite sharing office space in the archdiocesan building and getting the occasional shout-out from the occasional bishop.
Not all lay Catholics are happy to be represented by the outspoken Donohue, either. Most recently, Commonweal, an independent magazine for Catholics, cautioned Church hierarchy that allowing Donohue to be their surrogate to the media might not be a great idea:
It is true that most (though not all) of the more vocal U.S. bishops try to avoid sounding overtly partisan when they speak to political issues. Donohue has no such compunctions. Which is just one reason the bishops ought to be concerned about allowing him to position himself as their surrogate in the media.
We’ve been over this before, and whenever Donohue comes in for criticism, someone will surely say, “I think there’s a real need for what he does, but….” By “what he does” I believe such people mean the “antidefamation” work of the Catholic League — protesting insults to and attacks on the Catholic faith and people. I actually would not agree, but let’s set that aside. Is that, in fact, what Donohue does? Is it the principal work of the Catholic League? I don’t think so. Yes, Donohue occasionally finds a legitimate insult to get worked up about. But for the most part, he is a public figure who engages in conservative Catholic identity politics for fun and profit.
The Catholic League, on paper, is, like most non-profit organizations, supposed to be non-partisan and, indeed, Catholic League literature stresses that position.
So, one might ask, why is Donohue publishing a statement like: “Given Obama’s ideology, perhaps it would make more sense for him to swear on Das Kapital” in the Catholic League’s official journal? How does such a statement jibe with Bill Donohue’s Defender of the Faith role? The short answer is “it doesn’t.”
The Catholic League has been shanghaied by an egotistic huckster who knows how to keep the cameras and the donations rolling. It has become a one-man shop that, rather than defending the rich diversity, history and contributions of American Catholics, represents nothing more than the bigoted ramblings of a bitter old man who, far from “defending” Catholics brings shame on them every time he opens his mouth.
In the Catholic League, Donohue has a ready-made cover to command a national audience for his personal bigotry, all under the guise of “defending the faith.”
Donohue has a forum to do revolting things like defending Father Benedict Groeschel, who blamed the child victims of pedophile priests for their rapes.
Or calling the victims of the Catholic Church’s pedophile priests “professional victims,” and ”a pitiful bunch of malcontents.”
Or taking out full-page ads in the New York Times defending pedophile priests, calling AIDS a “self-inflicted wound” and claiming that if homosexuals followed the teachings of the Church they would not “self-destruct.”
One of Donohue’s latest targets is an outfit called SNAP - - The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an independent group who have been providing support for alleged victims of priest abuse, since 1988.
The Catholic Church has come up with a new legal maneuver—asking a court to force SNAP to turn over 20 years worth of email correspondence between the group and victims, journalists and whistle-blowers—that would fully absorb their staff and severely handicap SNAP’s ability to continue their work.
Other victim support groups have been similarly challenged via Catholic Church lawsuits. Of course, the Church can’t comment, citing a judge’s order. But no such restrictions apply to the Holy Gadfly, Bill Donohue:
[Donohue] said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.” …
He said bishops were also rethinking their approach of paying large settlements to groups of victims. “The church has been too quick to write a check, and I think they’ve realized it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if we fought them one by one.
The “them” being victims of convicted abusive priests. Seems like Donohue’s main concern is defending the Catholic Church’s bottom line. Might be time for Catholics to retire this dinosaur in order to prevent Holy Bill from completely shredding their public image.
Earlier versions of this post contained supporting screen caps from a Twitter account that I now believe to be a “snark account” and not owned by this Bill Donohue [h/t Roaster commenter Yastreblyansky for helping me see the light]. I regret making a sloppy editorial mistake in source material but stand by my overall critique of Donohue. To make up for my mistake, I direct you to South Park’s Fantastic Easter Special [Season 11] in which Bill Donohue declares himself Pope. Evidently, the creators of South Park share my low opinion of Donohue.