Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to the Gay Community from Cardinal George: Gays = Klan

Just in time for Christmas, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, gives the gay community a special Christlike designation: we're like the Ku Klux Klan, George informs Fox news broadcasters.  The occasion for the remark?  Next year's gay pride parade in Chicago will pass in front of a Catholic church, and George thinks the parade will disrupt the church's Mass.  The parade organizers have now pushed the time of the parade back to accommodate the church.

Even when pressed by the Fox team (Fox!) about the extremism of the comparison, George defends it, saying, 

It is [a strong comparison], but you take a look at the rhetoric.  The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church.

What fascinates (and very definitely repels) me as I watch the video of George and the news team embedded in the preceding link is George's body language.  I've dealt with enough duplicitous and values-devoid CEO types, college presidents, and college board members to have developed the ability to read well a certain kind of insincere, double-speaking CEO affect, which doesn't want to look one directly in the eyes as it does its dirty work and delivers its blows.

George begins his slams with an eye-popping stare at the journalistic team, then slants his gaze away and mutters his slurs without engaging the eyes of his listeners directly.  He then concludes with a complicitous final look back at the broadcasters to see if he's made his point and perhaps enmeshed them in his argument--if he's actually talking to friends, after all.

The whole performance is sleazy in the extreme, and ill-befitting a major pastoral leader of a Christian church--let alone the former president of a national conference of Catholic bishops.  And the statement that gays have made the church the enemy is twisted in the extreme.

It seeks to claim a false victimization status for a group of men who have done everything in their power in recent years to target, demean, and victimize a marginalized community it now wants to regard--astonishingly!--as the enemy attacking them.  George's statement seeks to invert the reality of what has taken place with the Catholic church in its relationship to the gay community--namely, that the leaders of the Catholic church have, for their part and without any provocation from human beings simply seeking to live with dignity and self-respect, deliberately and callously treated their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as enemies and not as human beings worthy of human respect and human dignity.

After years of dishing out treatment that attacks and harms, it's with extreme ill-grace (and with a total lack of honesty) that George tries to depict the gay community as the attackers and himself and his brother bishops as the innocent victims of unwarranted attacks.  From people who, we're asked to imagine, are like the Ku Klux Klan.

Since we gays, don't you know, love to mount dirty attacks on vulnerable minority groups.  And we are wont to cloak our identities and shroud our motives in secrecy.  And to parade around in long white robes.  As we carry crosses.

Interestingly enough, the I'm-the-real-victim-meme that pops up in George's pre-Christmas krusade against his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters this year also suddenly appears in a recent papal remark.  As David Gibson notes at Commonweal, Pope Benedict has just dropped a remark that suggests he considers himself a victim akin to those suffering from HIV infection.  In the thread following his posting, Gibson elaborates on the point, noting that the papal remark "seems to channel a . . . reflex" similar to the one George is channeling with his but-I'm-the-real-victim remark about the gays.

It's all about me, you understand.

At Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner is reporting that the Catholic group Equally Blessed has denounced George's remarks as ones that demonize gay persons.  At America, Kevin Clarke has also started a thread discussing George's comments.

The word "evil" is perhaps a shopworn word in political discussions, but it's the most honest way in which I can describe what I have the impression I'm encountering when I listen to George and watch his face as he delivers his ugly blows.

Pure evil.  (And a merry Christmas to you, too, Cardinal George.)

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