The McCarthyism of the Canadian left
Pat Martin is the NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre. Last week he told reporters that members of the Catholic lay order, Opus Dei, "give me the creeps".
I'm sure that's true. Martin doesn't like Christians in general, even when they're doing social services in his own decrepit downtown, a downtown that has got more decrepit under his watch as MP. Martin would rather have urban decay than development, if the developers are Christian. Here's his own hometown paper calling him out as "irrational" for his anti-Christian outburst earlier this year.
But Martin went further this time. In response to news that fifteen or so MPs and staff had a meeting in the Parliamentary restaurant with the Canadian vicar of Opus Dei, Martin didn't just call conservative Catholics creepy, he expressed his objection that any MP would invite such people to soil the sacred precincts of Parliament Hill. Martin "certainly wouldn't attend anything associated with them," he said. Here's a video of Martin's comments:
As you can see from the rest of that segment, Martin wasn't the only one who expressed his distaste for Catholics -- so did Gilles Duceppe of the xenophobic Bloc Quebecois, the party that gave us Jacques Parizeau and his "money and the ethnic vote" gibe against the Jews. Plus ca change.
Look, we know that Martin and Duceppe don't like Christians. No surprise there. But there is a new aggression to their comments. They don't just disagree with Christians. They don't just shun Christians themselves. They believe that Christians should be kept out of the public square altogether. That is, they are aggrieved that anyone would truck with them. And to effect a Christian-free government, these new McCarthyists of the left believe that Christians in public life have to be named, outed and denounced.
Here's Duceppe in Question Period:
Mr. Speaker, Ottawa's bishop stated yesterday that an sizeable pro-life caucus is working behind the scenes within the government. The Prime Minister, who controls everything, must know about this caucus. He must also know that Kara Johnson, who was president of the National Council of the Conservative Party, is a member of Opus Dei, and that Nicole Charbonneau Barron, who will again be a candidate for his party in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, is also a member of Opus Dei, and that a conservative member invited his colleagues to dine with Opus Dei leaders.
Will the Prime Minister admit that his policy is influenced by the fundamentalist religious right?
Now look at that. Johnson and Barron are not cabinet ministers, or MPs, or Senators, or government employees or appointees. This isn't a question about the government. It's not an attempt to hold the government to account. It's an attempt to embarrass and harass a couple of party volunteers. Two members of Opus Dei have been found in a party of 100,000 members and as many donors. Scandal!
And here's a partial transcript of the scrum outside of Question Period (if anyone has a video, please let me know):
Question: Isn’t it a little McCarthyite though to stand up there and say these people are in this group, these people are in these groups?
Gilles Duceppe: No, I think this is basically McCarthyism certainly on the other side of the Chamber. McCarthy was you can’t say something because you can’t prove that you don’t have a card of the Communist Party and prove that you don’t have. But the fact is and what I want to prove is that there’s the fundamentalist religious right is acting within that party and in a modern society religion and the state and politics should be separated.
Question: So do you think that people if there in a group like Opus Dei can’t be involved in politics?
Gilles Duceppe: I mean not as a group. Individually certainly but not as a group.
Question: But there is no – like (inaudible) apart.
Gilles Duceppe: They have – well, they have people in place. One was member of the national executive. Another one is a candidate. One of their member, the vice-chairman of the House invited someone of Opus Dei yesterday. The Bishop of Ottawa said that there’s a pro-life caucus acting behind the curtains within that party. So a lot of things that prove that something’s going on.
So what do we have here?
1. The obvious: that anti-Christian bigotry remains an acceptable form of intolerance in Canadian politics.
2. This bigotry has infected the parties of the left.
3. The mainstream media, and indeed the rest of the political establishment, ignores this bigotry (and in many cases approves of it).
4. Like Marci McDonald's book on Christians, Duceppe's comments are ridiculous on the face of them: to ascribe government policy to two party volunteers without any government office. I doubt that either woman blacklisted by Duceppe have spoken to Harper in a year.
5. Like McDonald's book, Duceppe's comments are error-ridden: he says that a Conservative (MP Andrew Scheer) invited "his colleagues" to dine with Opus Dei "leaders". In fact, Scheer sent an e-mail to all of Parliament Hill -- including to Duceppe himself. And it wasn't Opus Dei leaders, but rather one man, Msgr. Fred Dolan.
6. How terrifying is Msgr. Dolan? Who was attracted to his diabolical meeting? Well, Mario Silva, for one. Who's he? Oh, just a Liberal MP. A gay Liberal MP. That just proves how deep the Christian conspiracy is though, doesn't it -- it even has left-wing gay activists as part of their master plan!
But the real point is this: anti-Christian bigotry has metastasized from quiet prejudices into full-blown witch-hunts. McDonald's hateful book was a catalyst, but as Martin's comments earlier this year (and Duceppe's comments in the Toronto Star in 2008) show, the hatred was already out there.
(By the way, look at Duceppe's comments in that Star article. The atheist Marxist Duceppe is actually giving his political opinions about what Catholic rituals are "questionable" or not. Could you imagine him inspecting an Orthodox Jew or Sikh this way?)
Back to my list:
7. Do Duceppe and Martin meet the definition of "bigot"? I think so; here's the dictionary definition: "one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". Yeah, the shoe fits.
8. Will Canada's self-appointed anti-hate squads pounce on Martin and Duceppe? The Canadian Human Rights Commission? Of course not: they're part of the anti-Christian persecution themselves, having prosecuted Fr. Alphonse de Valk, Rev. Stephen Boissoin, the Christian Heritage Party, etc. I'm surprised they haven't gone after Msgr. Dolan yet.
9. How about the Canadian Jewish Congress? Pause for laughter.
10. Look at Duceppe's bizarre answer about McCarthyism: "McCarthy was you can’t say something because you can’t prove that you don’t have a card of the Communist Party and prove that you don’t have." We've all heard Duceppe enough to know that his English, while accented, is excellent. He is making the usual Marxist argument: censorship is only censorship if it's applied against the left. Witch-hunts against conservatives, by definition, aren't witch hunts.
11. But he saved the worst for last: he says that Opus Dei should not be allowed to participate in our democracy. He fudged it a bit; saying they ought not to participate "as a group". But that makes no sense: Opus Dei, as a group, is not involved in any political party. It is a lay organization -- it's not a group of priests. It's just a group of Catholics who have a particular belief. The very people he named in Parliament were participating as individuals -- it's ridiculous to claim they were Opus Dei candidates, for example. But they were precisely the ones Duceppe was damning.
12. One more point about the media. Duceppe's attack was either inspired by or coordinated with Le Devoir's Helene Buzzetti, who has written several breathless reports about Opus Dei in recent days. You need a subscription to read the full text, but here are some of her gems (my translation, helped by Google): Opus Dei "arouses suspicions"; it is "controversial"; it engages in "secrecy"; and my favourite: "it urges its members to pursue graduates studies and then mingle with the elite". (How suspicious! Sounds like the Jews, really!) Don't you love it when journalists put their own editorial opinions in as facts, merely by stating them without attribution? They "arouse suspicions", you know!
This same Helene Buzzetti, I might point out, is the same reporter who actually asked Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon if he thought any "member of B'nai Brith" (good code word!) should be barred from being appointed to the NGO called Rights and Democracy, because R&D dealt with Israel. It's no surprise that someone who doesn't like Jews much wouldn't like conservative Catholics much. And it's no surprise that, since Buzzetti's question about blackballing Jews passed without comment that her hyperventilation about Opus Dei passes, not without comment, but with encouragement.
David Warren's piece in the Ottawa Citizen is, as usual, essential reading. Let me end by quoting him at length:
The notion that, simply because people are Christian, they should be "exposed" and hounded out of public life, or dragged before human rights tribunals, is becoming a commonplace of "progressive" thinking...
In Ottawa this week, a "scandal" has been alleged because the member of Parliament for Regina-Qu'Appelle (a Catholic!) arranged a lunch with colleagues (not all of them Catholic) to meet the Canadian vicar of the Catholic lay organization Opus Dei. Neither the organization nor the lunch was in any way secret, unprecedented, nor otherwise abnormal, and yet it was presented in Le Devoir with the gravity of the Spanish Inquisition.
This is an example of the sort of thing that promises to become, in the shadow of McDonald's much-touted book, a "meme" of agenda-driven, liberal journalism: "outing" those who quite openly practice the Christian religion and advocate for its long-received views as if they were subversives.
How do you feel about people being blacklisted because they're Catholic? How do you feel about MPs calling different religions "creepy"? How about a leader of a party declaring certain private religious rituals "questionable"? How about the condemnation of even inviting such people to lunch?
If your answer is anything different than it would be if Marci McDonald and Pat Martin and Gilles Duceppe were counting Jews or Sikhs or Muslims, then shame on you.
So I guess that means shame on the bulk of the MSM which welcomed McDonald's book, and has stayed silent in the face of the Duceppe/Martin comments (credit to the CBC's Evan Solomon for being the sole voice, other than Deborah Gyapong's, to object.)
I'm going to try to shorten and organize this rambling post and work it into a proper Op-Ed. Feel free to leave any advice in the comments section.