|Bill Donohue's billboard in Times Square blaring the message 'Send modern-day Scrooges |
a message: Celebrate the Prince of Peace
You hear that? That's the sound of a pin dropping.
More precisely that's Bill Donohue, Irish American president of the The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, being unusually quiet (a condition he is not known for).
Perhaps 20 years of life spent generating apocalyptic outrage gets you down sometimes? How else to explain his relative silence whilst Pope Francis was tarred by a series of top tier conservative commentators last week as a Marxist, an anti-capitalist, and - in some outlier quarters - a gay enabler, whatever that means.
Perhaps it's endless war fatigue that's gotten to Donohue? Thanks to the right wing's non-stop Wars on Christmas, Christianity and Capitalism, it's becoming increasingly apparent just how small the circle of covered right-wing wagons has become.
Given his record, you'd think that Donohue's ears would be particularly attuned to erroneous claims made about the Holy Father - but apparently not. Apparently insults are not insults if they are being delivered by Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity.
'Catholic League has never, ever, ever been after anybody for criticizing the pope or priest or a bishop,' Donohue told NewsMax TV recently, eliciting guffaws. 'We get involved when you hit below the belt, when you start becoming insulting. He (Limbaugh) didn't like the pope's views on economics. Rush Limbaugh is entitled to that.'
Goodness that's a bracing new spirit of accommodation if I ever saw one. With Donohue suddenly reluctant to go to bat for him the Pope was left to take the unprecedented step of indirectly responding to Limbaugh himself.
'Marxist ideology is wrong,' said the Pope. 'But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.'
That must have caused the color-coded threat advisory beloved by the former Bush administration to tip over into the red zone. (Or it would have if former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hadn't ended it). In the lexicon of conservative catcalls, calling someone a Marxist is the lowest ball you can throw.
So you'd think, given the heated nature of the claims being made against the pontiff, that Donohue's patented outrage detector would have gone off, but… crickets.
Instead his organization was busy taking the bait laid by the American Atheists group in Times Square. 'Who Needs Christ During Christmas - Nobody,' blared the bumptious 40X40 digital billboard posted by the organization.
Finally Donohue was called to action. 'Send modern-day Scrooges a message: Celebrate the Prince of Peace,' Donohue's Times Square billboard blared back.
This, folks, is what philosophical and religious discourse seems to have come to in some quarters now. Adults playing whack-a-mole with Broadway advertising budgets.
According to the progressive Catholics United group, Donohue earns a salary of more than $400,000 per year cauterizing his critics. That's not chump change for doing God's work.
But with non stop alarms over the Wars on Christmas, Christianity and Capitalism, it's getting harder and harder to tell where religion ends and politics start.