The behavior of Sen. Al Franken in this exchange with a Catholic nominee for a judgeship is breathtakingly bigoted. Frighteningly so. Using the slanderous characterization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Franken called the religious liberty legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom a “hate group,” and compared it to Pol Pot and the KKK. The nominee, law professor Amy Barrett, once gave a lecture to a summer training program for young Christian lawyers. In the clip, Franken demagogues her as a careless dupe of the crypto-Kluckers.
It is outrageous, truly outrageous. You have to watch the whole thing to appreciate how low-down and unprofessional this inquisition is. Sen. Franken once said this about the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
“I thank you for your efforts to not only promote political engagement and protect civil liberties, but to further our national dialogue.”
The US Government once named CAIR an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a fraudulent scheme to fund the Islamist terrorist group Hamas. CAIR has concrete links to a number of truly nasty Islamists. As the Anti-Defamation League notes:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has distanced itself from CAIR over the years. In an April 2009 letter to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, the FBI explained that it suspended contact with CAIR because of evidence introduced during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, demonstrating that CAIR and its founders were part of a group set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to support Hamas. The trial ended with guilty verdicts on all charges against HLF and five of its officers, including a 65 year sentence for Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR’s Dallas chapter.
“Until we resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner,” the letter read. In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a review of the FBI’s interactions with CAIR to reaffirm the FBI policy prohibiting non-investigative cooperation with the group.
Now, imagine if Al Franken were up for a federal appointment, and he had to submit to a demagogic interrogation by a Republican jerk who was trying to turn him into an Islamist terror sympathizer. Or imagine that a Muslim law professor nominee for a federal judgeship had given a scholarly speech on sharia law and Western civil codes at a CAIR-sponsored conference. To attack her as an closet ISIS supporter would be outrageously offensive, and if it happened, the media would be all over it.
But this? Crickets.
In truth, these aren’t even legitimate comparisons. Alliance Defending Freedom, whose 2016 annual conference I attended, is a perfectly mainstream Christian organization. I don’t know all of their policy positions, or every case they’ve defended. Maybe I would agree with them, or maybe not. But they are on the right side of issues of central importance to religious liberty for Christians (and, by implication, others). I’ve spent time with ADF lawyers and staffers. These are deeply good people doing critically important work. It infuriates me to see a US senator smear them, and anyone associated with them.
This is McCarthyism. And Al Franken is not the only Democratic senator guilty of it. In the same hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein laid into Prof. Barrett over Barrett’s Catholic faith:
What on earth does that mean? Do Catholic judicial nominees who dissent from official church teaching have to put up with that kind of grilling? Would Sen. Feinstein subject an Orthodox Jew to that kind of questioning? I think we all know the answer to that.
A reader writes:
There’s a tidbit from the Feinstein/Durbin/Barrett kerfuffle that I think is highly illustrative of the problem that religious people have of being understood in our secularizing culture.
Feinstein’s office responded to a request National Review made for clarification; the response can be found in the update at the bottom of this post:
I was astounded by the quotes they chose to bolster their contention that “Professor Barrett has argued that a judge’s faith should affect how they approach certain cases.” The first one, for instance, is:
“Your legal career is but a means to an end, and . . . that end is building the kingdom of God. . . . [I]f you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”
It would appear that secular people in our society are increasingly unable (or unwilling) to see an individual’s commitment to Christian discipleship as anything other than a commitment to exert political power on behalf of their religion. If that is the case, then of course we cannot be anything other than a threat to them, because our faith–as expressed in statements like the above–means nothing more or less than a desire to impose our values on them.
I don’t know how familiar you are with “Critical Legal Theory” and its various outgrowths; but I certainly see its fingerprints here. If one does not see anything in the world but the raw exercise of power–if one insists that principles and doctrines and ideals (“the rule of law!”
“diversity and tolerance!”) are nothing but fine language used to dress up and disguise the will to power–then of course one will have no grasp of what religious people are all about. One will see them just as opposing players in the same ruthless game, fighting by the same tactics–including insincere but pretty-sounding slogans–towards the same single objective: bending society to their will.
(It must be admitted that religious hypocrites are of great help in buttressing this world-view, as there are far more of them to be found than confirmation bias strictly requires.)
As bad as Trump often is, can there be any doubt but that the Democrats and their ideological allies wish to impose a religious test for public life? No conservative Evangelical or orthodox Roman Catholic may participate.
Look at what the Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Catholic, had to endure on UK morning television. It’s quite extraordinary:
He carried it off unflappably, but it was shocking to me that a politician had to sit there and be harassed by journalists for his moral and religious beliefs about abortion and gay sex — even though he repeatedly said that there is a difference between what he holds to be true privately and what he would push for if he were the Conservative Party leader. In other words, Rees-Mogg failed to say what these journalists wanted him to say: that he is a Taliban papist.
If you don’t have time to watch the 12-minute inquisition, here’s a transcript.
Naturally the British media are stripping Rees-Mogg’s hide bare. From the Catholic Herald:
The Catholic MP was subject to vilification from a number of commentators.
Writing in the Guardian, Suzanne Moore called Rees-Mogg a “thoroughly modern, neoconservative bigot” adding that his Catholic views have “no place in public life”.
“As usual, Rees-Mogg’s religious faith is used to excuse his appalling bigotry, she said. “He is a Catholic and this kind of fundamentalism is always anti-women, but for some reason we are to respect it. I don’t. It has no place in public life.”
“Views that verge on fascistic are fine if dressed up in tweed with a knowledge of the classics thrown in. What a laugh!” she added.
In the Telegraph, Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman claimed that “anti-abortion” Rees-Mogg could “set the Tories back decades” with his views.
“Should he really be handed the leadership of a country whose majority views differ so entirely from his own?” she asked, adding: “That’s my business and yours.”
She hinted that if Rees-Mogg were ever to take the party leadership, it would represent the Tories returning to being the “nasty party”.
And look at this cartoon that appeared in the Times Of London:
The UK blogger Archbishop Cranmer writes:
Don’t you see? If you oppose same sex marriage, you’re a homophobic bigot. If you oppose abortion, you’re a misogynistic bigot. If you oppose uncontrolled immigration, you’re a racist bigot. If you’re concerned about what Muslims get taught in Wahhabi-funded mosques, you’re an Islamophobic bigot. If you support Brexit, you’re a xenophobic bigot.
Bigot, bigot, bigot…
It has become the cry of the secular sharia: the infallible law of the illiberal liberals who seek to crush all dissent and censor every utterance of Christian orthodoxy from the public sphere. It is designed to silence dissonance: there is simply no debate to be had if it might incite hate or hurt feelings. The only views which are worthy of broadcast airtime are those which don’t offend against the zeitgeist: the objective is to elevate sexual equality and human rights to suppress unaccommodating religious orthodoxy and oppress the recalcitrant religious conscience. “Socially conservative moral views are now teetering on the edge of criminality,” observed Charles Moore a few years ago. It has become unthinkable that a committed Christian (ie one of devout faith and orthodox morals) could ever again become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
And soon, no doubt, it will not be possible for one to be selected even as a Conservative Party candidate. All MPs and everyone in public life will be sifted by the emerging new Test Act and required to assent to the precepts of the new secular sharia, swearing fidelity to its immutable creed of sexual uniformity and gender equality. This is the new quasi-religious truth: heretics will not be tolerated. So, sadly, Jacob Rees-Mogg must ultimately go to the stake.
God bless him, along with all loyal and faithful Christian bigots everywhere.
They will say — they do say — that it won’t happen here, that Christians who say it is happening and that it will get worse are alarmists. And then when it does happen, they will say we deserve it, bigots that we are. The LGBT activist troll Zack Ford this week said that Bethany Shondark Mandel, an observant Orthodox Jew, doesn’t have the right to her beliefs. No, really, he said that:
You know what they’ll say? “Zack Ford is on the fringes.” “Zack Ford speaks for nobody but Think Progress.” Well, guess what: Think Progress and its parent organization, the Center For American Progress, are funded heavily by George Soros and are close to the Democratic Party establishment (John Podesta founded CAP). You watch Feinstein and Franken, and you realize that they are not so far from Zack Ford.