Monday, January 31, 2011

John Allen Moves the Center to the Right: Timothy Dolan Not An Extremist

Here's an example of that process of redefining the center, always ever more to the right, as the pendulum swings rightward in various areas: John Allen defines the new head of the U.S. Bishops' Conference Timothy Dolan as not in any sense an extremist.

But, ummm, yes, it is extreme to ally oneself with Bully Bill Donohue (and see also here). Whom Allen's own paper, the National Catholic Reporter, has labeled Billy the Bully.  And about whose obnoxious crusade defending "Catholic values," which Archbishop Dolan endorses, Joe Feuerherd writes:

The Catholic community’s response to this frequently subtle bigotry [against Catholics] is a buffoonish bully, a carnival barker posing as a defender of the faith. Such behavior might make for good television (which prefers heat to light) but it does nothing to help the church. In fact, it does considerable harm because it plays to the worst stereotypes of triumphalism, homophobia, misogyny and intolerance the church long since abandoned.

And it's decidedly extremist not only to sign and promote, but to help organize, a politically motivated conference of people of faith--all allied to a single political party--whose primary objective was to produce a document continuing the culture war against gay and lesbian human beings.  For the political gain of the party they serve.

I'm speaking about the Manhattan Declaration, of course, a project dear to the heart of Archbishop Dolan, which places him in the company (once again) of Bully Bill Donohue, along with Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, Michael Youssef (Islam is not a true religion, Episcopalians are no longer Christian), Chuck Colson (go build your mosque somewhere else), Tony Perkins (no my Family Research Council is not a hate group), Maggie Gallagher, Ken Hutcherson, Harry Jackson, and, well, you can do the googling for yourself, and discover the names and what these luminaries of the far right stand for.

What these far-right luminaries stand for, with whom Archbishop Timothy Dolan proudly stands, via the Manhattan Declaration.  "Not extremist" is hardly the first phrase that leaps to most folks' minds, when they hear names like Ann Coulter, Bill Donohue, or Bill O'Reilly, and when they read that list of other signatories and promoters of the Manhattan Declaration.

Redefining the Catholic center, so that more and more extreme positions of the right begin to relabeled as centrist, has been John Allen's journalistic game for some time now.  And so it's not surprising to see him leap to the assistance of Timothy Dolan, as the new leader of the U.S. Bishops' Conference seeks to play the same game with the official voice of the U.S. Catholic church.

Which, under his leadership, is now being identified with some of the most extremist voices of the religious right and the single party they serve.

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