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Well, when it comes to the Edwards blogger flap, quite a lot.  It's been interesting to read through the aftermath of responses from all sides. Edwards' statement on his blog has assured some religious groups of his intolerance of religious intolerance, but not everyone on what I guess could be called the "non-religious left" is completely happy with it. And the most interesting reaction probably comes from folks on the religious left. More interesting, even than the initial reaction from the right.

It's even more interesting when compared with other statements made in the media, more recently, but without raising nearly as much controversy. Taking it all in has left me with more questions than answers rattling around in my brain.

On the our non-religious left (perhaps I should refer to them as "our left" and "our other left" and people can decide which is which), the response to Edwards' statement was one of disappointment.

Over on Gadflyer, in a post titled "Edwards' Missed Opportunity," offered the statement he thought Edwards should have made.

The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me. It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I'll tell you what I am never going to do, in this campaign or as president. I am never going to let a bunch of right-wing operatives bully me. If they think they can tell me who I can hire and who I should fire, they've got another thing coming. And frankly, the news media who got led by the nose into manufacturing this phony controversy should be ashamed of themselves.

Brownfemipower, in a post titled "The Coward Speaks," has a few questions after reading Edward's statement.

So, Amanda and Shakes have been properly disciplined–We all now know that blogs are spaces where we say things in order to not offend anybody–what does this all mean for blogs?

As readers–are we supposed to buy into the legitimacy of a speaker who has apologized for having an opinion? Are we never supposed to wonder if the blog we read–the blog that we read (supposedly) because it is more honest or more reliable or less biased by money from big corporations–is really any different than mainstream media?

Has the feminist blogosphere just been censored?

Here's another question. Has the non-religious left just been censored? Are we headed in that direction? Should the non-religious left — or at least any progressive bloggers who ever hope to work on a political campaign — censor themselves?

It depends on who you ask. And with the apparent end of the Edwards affair, the religious left is speaking up, and some seem just as disappointed Edwards' decision to "stand by" the bloggers in question as the religious right was upset over Edwards hiring them in the first place.

Democrats -- and Edwards in particular -- have embraced the language of faith and the imperative of competing with Republicans for the support of religious voters. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, even sits on the board of the leading organization of the religious left, Call to Renewal. But in private conversations and careful public statements today, religious Democrats said they felt sidelined by Edwards' decision to stand by his aides.

"We have gone so far to rebuild that coalition [between Democrats and religious Christians] and something like this sets it back," said Brian O'Dwyer, a New York lawyer and Irish-American leader who chairs the National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council, a Democratic Party group. O'Dwyer said Edwards should have fired the bloggers. "It's not only wrong morally – it's stupid politically."

O'Dwyer e-mailed a statement to reporters saying: "Senator Edwards is condoning bigotry by keeping the two bloggers on his staff. Playing to the cheap seats with anti-Catholic bigotry has no place in the Democratic Party."

(For my part, I fail to understand how a group comprising the overwhelming segment of the population, which has succeeded in shifting the agendas of both major parties, still manages to feel "sidelined.")

Over at the Faithful Democrats blog, Tom Donnelly noted that one of the leading figures in this controversy — Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights — has said some pretty outrageous things himself.

'Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism.'

And while the Faithful Democrat does wince at Donohue's statement, he seems more offended the post of Amanda's that's been quoted just about everywhere now.

"Not only is he an embarrassment who obviously doesn't hold himself to the same standards he holds for others, but his judgment of what counts as anti-Catholic is, to say the least, seriously suspect, and has a tendency towards, shall we say, ideological selectivity.

"Finally, as much as it pains me to say it, I think Donohue may have a point in this case. The blog posts mentioned in the story did speak of a deep-seated hostility to the Church as an institution.

It's worth noting, here, that where Amanda's "anti-religious bigotry" is criticized, Donohue's bigotry, while it doesn't go unmentioned, doesn't seem to warrant as strong a response. Not surprisingly, Donnelly of Faithful Democrats is dissatisfied with Edwards' statement. So, to whom does it fall to respond to Dohonue, and others like him, with equal force?

Not, apparently, the non-religious left. That is, unless they can temper their response appropriately. Faithful Progressive calls Edward's choice of bloggers a "rookie mistake."

Whatever else one feels about the Edwards Blogger flap, it's clear that his team has made a huge mistake in hiring a blogger who doesn't understand that the purpose of a campaign is to attract people to your side--not to stridently and profanely attack those with whom you disagree.

The post goes on to repeat a request from an open letter to liberal bloggers, circa. 2005.

So here's our advice, which I seriously doubt will be followed, but which I hope you will at least consider before you post some anti-religious screed on a blog or snark about people of faith of the left or right. Please remember that there are tens of millions of us black, white and brown Americans whose participation in the political system is largely inspired by our religious and moral values. Please remember that we have been involved in every struggle for justice, peace and civil rights this country has ever had and that many of those battles would not have been won without these efforts. Unlike some on the religious right, moderate and progressive people of faith do not seek to tell you how to live your own life. But we do demand respect, just as we attempt to give it to others who disagree with us.

Also quoted is a response to Bill Donohue, from Melissa's blogging partner.

I'm not anti-Catholic. I'm anti-ignorance and bigotry--which are what your ideas on gay people, abortion, and contraception are, Mr. Donahue. Ignorance and bigotry. And you can take them and shove them right up your ass.

And the critique of that response.

Some people just don't get it! Not even Donahue deserves that kind of a rant. It is verbal abuse--one step from making him wear panties on his head while dogs bark at him and tear at his skin. It hurts both Edwards and her partner. Many liberal bloggers still can't seem to realize what it means to be part of a team, a coalition of people with different values and interests. But that's exactly what a campaign is all about.

One might say that's what a movement is all about as well, but as I've noted before, the trend of the Democratic party and (to some degree) the progressive netroots seems to be moving towards asking certain members of that coalition — gays and lesbians, women, non-religious people — to pipe down, or at least be a little nicer to their "team members" co-religionists, no matter how nasty they are.

And a post today asks "Will Liberal Blogs Get the Real Point of the Edwards Blogger Flap?", and repeats an earlier suggestion.

I'd like to see blogs move away from offensive Howard Stern like comments about religion. Maybe some of the big blogs will now pledge to at least limit such profane nonsense from both their posts and comments? Is that really too much to ask for a constituency that is, in all likelihood, bigger than the Netroots? If that happens, this whole tawdry episode will have been worthwhile. I am satisfied but not thrilled with the response of Sen. Edwards to this episode, but only time will tell how the Netroots responds.

There are some things you can't say, or at least shouldn't say. Perhaps that has some foundation in the admonishment to "bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Fine. But, where, then is the forceful response to people like Donohue from the religious left?

When do religious progressive take on the religious right? When do religious progressives fight the religious right? It's a question Matt asks and answers rather pointedly, in a post that might get him crossed off the "short list" of a campaign or two.

So it's cool to Jesse Lava and Faithful Democrats to debate on the terrain set by anti-semites and homophobe?  Ok then.  Now I know that Faithful Democrats put a caveat in there about how Donahue isn't a nice guy, but that's really irrelevant.  This is very simple.  Donahue is using religion as cover for a political attack.  The only ethical response from anyone who actually opposes bigotry is 'Donahue should be ignored because of his record' or some variation thereof.  So until the self-described religious left decides to stop letting bigoted and extreme right-wingers talk for them, they are no different than the religious right they pretend to oppose.

The problem, or at least one problem, as I see it, comes from a disconnect on the issue of values that Faithful Progressive mentioned earlier. Different values and different issues generally end up yielding different goals, which raises the question of whether we're really on the same team or not.

Earlier, I noticed a post about the minimum wage over at God's Politics, titled "God Hates Inequality." Today the Christian Alliance for Progress blog features a post about the mission statement on the website of Barrack Obama's church in Chicago. Like the post on God's politics, it decries "America's economic mal-distribution" and declares that "God is ... not pleased." Those two posts stood out to me, because from what I can see, it would appear that their God only hates some inequality, and doesn't mind others, or is at least less concerned about them.

Wallis, in his call for racial and economic justice, stops short of advocating for gay & lesbian equality, or at least would rather not address it right now, placing it on the back burner alongside the choice issue. Obama's passion for economic justice and equality doesn't quite extend to gays and lesbians equality either. At best, he's willing to have been on the wrong side of history, if his beliefs turn out to be wrong. Wallis and Obama are, if not the best, at least the most prominent examples of the partial progressive; who's progressive on some issues but conservative on others, and would prefer not to focus on the latter. If we're to know them by their fruits, it seem that God doesn't entirely "hate inequality," nor is he "not pleased" with some types of injustice.

For a party that has bought the myth of the faith voter and a progressive netroots that's accepted the need to support candidates who aren't progressive on some issues, that means having to make a choice. Which issues are you going to prioritize, and which ones are you going to eliminate or at least back-burner? Which constituencies are you going to prioritize, and over which other constituencies? In other words, what matters and what doesn't? Who matters and who doesn't? Or, who matters more and who matters less. At least for now?

And as those smaller (lesser?) constituencies support and work alongside you on issues like economic justice, etc., when and how are the issues that concern them addressed? Where and when are they defended when attacked? Or, if they discomfort or conflict with the values of some larger constituencies, are they addressed at all? Are they defended at all? How do they defend themselves without also offending?

And how do you answer the Donohues of the world? Can you answer them effectively if, though more forcefully articulated and more extreme, they hold at least some of the same values as some of the people in your coalition? Or values close enough to their to make addressing them, countering them, or denouncing them both uncomfortable and politically untenable, if only in your own mind?

And where faith is concerned — where it's either , as Matt said, "religion as cover for a political attack" or to justify inequality and injustice for some of your constituencies — if in addressing it you must not "stridently and profanely attack" those who stridently and profanely attack members of your coalition, how do you answer them effectively, and in a way that can be heard above the din of their unrestrained invective?

How do you effectively address bigotry couched in religion, or bigotry disguised as religion, without being an "anti-religious bigot"? If it even is bigotry? Is it bigotry? It it belief, badly expressed?

How do you denounce it? Do you denounce it?

What do you say?

What can you say?

Crossposted from The   Republic of T.

Originally posted to TerranceDC on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:12 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Horse, I know (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Psyche, moiv, dannyinla, slksfca, Catrina, zashvil

    Is but a tattered corpse now. But I couldn't not ask a few questions. This is actually "part two." I posted part one yesterday. Part three is still rattling around in my brain.

    Terrance Heath
    Washington, DC

    by TerranceDC on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:12:04 PM PST

  •  I'm still trying to figure out... (0+ / 0-)

    why Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan had to apoogize.

    Politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently -- often for the same reason.

    by KnowVox on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:13:16 PM PST

    •  If I remember correctly (0+ / 0-)

      At least it was one of those "I apologize if I was misinterpreted" kinds of apologies.  

    •  Oh... maybe it was (0+ / 0-)

      the reference to the "hot, white sticky Holy Spirit" that led to the Virgin Mary's pregnancy - a phrase which, at the very least, offended Amanda's new boss.

    •  Some of their comments could be construed as (0+ / 0-)

      offensive at worst and inflammatory at best.(Which isn't to say that I don't disagree with the idea that the notion that the Catholic position on birth control and on homosexual relationships is archaic and wrong cuz I do) I am not an overly "religious" individual and I thought that some of it was over the top. Most of what they did seemed to focus on what they considered poor and archaic policy choices that are part and parcel of Catholic dogma. However, I imagine that having the value system of the religion you practice and believe in attacked, especially in the tone that was presented could be seen as offensive. A little more decorum and a little less hype would probably have made a little less exciting read but it would have generated a lot less controversy.

      I have mixed feelings on his idea to retain these individuals. The bad side is that inflammatory language often closes minds rather than opens them. The good side is that it tells me that while Edwards didn't like the tone of their rhetoric that he recognizes the value of individuals who aren't going to simper when it comes to being attacked.

  •  Jim Wallis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has always been very pro-life.

    Wallis... stops short of advocating for gay & lesbian equality, or at least would rather not address it right now, placing it on the back burner alongside the choice issue.

    Politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently -- often for the same reason.

    by KnowVox on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:19:32 PM PST

    •  I wish people would quit calling it pro life (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I feel pretty confident in saying there is not one single person on either side of the abortion issue that does not understand how valuable life can be. As I explained yesterday most of the people who are pro choice aren't pro choice because they LIKE abortions(I mean c'mon I have had FIVE kids so I think that pretty much establishes my creds on being pro life), they are pro choice because they recognize that pregnancies are not one size fits all and that the choice to bear the risk and carry a pregnancy to term has long term consequences. Pro choicers recognize that allowing the government to intervene in such a complex and diverse situiation could have disasterous consequences for at least some of the individuals. We aren't willing to sacrifice those individuals.

      It's time we start hitting back at this idea that believing that abortion should continue to be an option for women is somehow not pro life.  I know for a fact IO value life. All life, not just the life of an embryo while it is growing inside a uterus.

      •  I understand (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moiv, cwaltz

        I was using Wallis' own terminology. What it amounts to is criminalizing ANY pregnancy termination, regardless of the reason.

        Politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently -- often for the same reason.

        by KnowVox on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 02:02:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          How is it being pro life to force someone who has been the victim of incest or rape to carry a child to term or to force a woman who may have medical reasons to terminate a pregnancy to carry to term. It isn't pro life, it's pro fetus. Being pro life means also recognizing that we are also talking about a woman's life too not just the fetus she carries.

  •  Here's how. (0+ / 0-)

    Really good diary.  Check it out.  (Not mine.)

    Catholic Alliance

    Peace Now -- Defund the War

    by TomP on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:24:56 PM PST

    •  From the Cathoilic alliance. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Here's part of their statement:

      We call on both political parties and all presidential candidates to address the values and concerns of all Catholics in respectful and serious debate.  Donohue’s media hype and culture war rhetoric is less important than addressing poverty, abortion and war – issues at the heart of our Catholic tradition "

      "We also invite Catholic League president Bill Donohue to focus on promoting the values and message at the heart of the Catholic faith – the common good, and a concern for the least among us – and to address his own political hypocrisy.  In 2000, Mr. Donohue called out Gov. George W. Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University.  Gov. Bush later condemned the school's anti-Catholic views, and Mr. Donohue quickly accepted the renouncement.  Mr. Donohue rapidly accepted Mel Gibson’s apology for anti-Semitic remarks.  We ask him today to join us to renew focus Jesus’ message of the common good, social justice, and forgiveness, to drop his rhetoric of division and personal defamation. We invite him to join in debate about an authentic Catholic response to the real problems facing our nation and culture."

      Peace Now -- Defund the War

      by TomP on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:26:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is what they said about John Edwards (0+ / 0-)

        and the bloggers.

        Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good condemns these anti-Catholic remarks, all anti-Catholicism and all religious intolerance.  We accept Senator Edwards' assurances that he too was offended by comments made by recently-hired staffers and that religious intolerance has no place in his campaign.  Catholics comprise more than one quarter of the U.S. public, and neither John Edwards nor any other candidate can afford to take this constituency for granted. "

        "We hope this unfortunate incident will initiate a deeper conversation on the part of all presidential candidates regarding the broad range of issues and values of primary importance to the Catholic community, including the Iraq War, a concern for the poor, human life and dignity, the availability of health care, and a commitment to the common good.  

        Peace Now -- Defund the War

        by TomP on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:27:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Religious" vs. moral (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of the blockquotes really got to me.

    Faithful Progressive wrote:

    Please remember that there are tens of millions of us black, white and brown Americans whose participation in the political system is largely inspired by our religious and moral values

    Remove "religious and", and we will all agree: I think most people participate in politics because of their moral values.  This atheist certainly does.  But that addition of "religious" makes some very nasty and very common implications.

    Reminder: religion is not the source of morality, and non-religious people have moral values.  Religious people: Your genuine ethical/moral values, those I respect.  To the extent that your religious values match your moral values, I respect those too.  To the extent that they contradict your moral values, I disapprove of them.

    -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Execute!

    by neroden on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:42:16 PM PST

  •  The key is to make people see that these (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cwaltz, Catrina, TomP

    kinds of attacks are not about religion, and that there is a deeper issue involved. Donohue is not a religious leader -- I know of no religion, including catholicism that preaches what he is trying to sell. Donahue, and others like him, are lobbyists for hate. And that is what they should be called, instead of the epithets that many of us would rather use. I think the thing about blogging to remember is that its often too tempting to act as though we are having a small conversation among friends who all have the same sensitivities. In fact, though, the point of sites like this one (I think) is to try to go beyond the small circle and talk to the larger body politic. So I try to be a little careful.

  •  My take on Gay Bill Donohue, of the Catholic Lea (0+ / 0-)

    I will check out the gay thing on 3 conditions; one the buy the blue pill; two Republican cults will hold Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League while I ass fuck him; three then make Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League lick all shit off my dick;] reason it would look like our VP;]this sounds like fun, and that will tell If one great sexual experience will make you Gay; if not you religious cult Gay cure will not work either

    Republican IGNORANCE is excelled only by their STUPIDITY

    by roxnev on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:53:37 PM PST

  •  Well, the reaction of bloggers to religion in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moiv, cwaltz

    general, is really a reaction to the bigotry that has passed for religion over the past number of years. People like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson et al.

    The fault lies with those who are real Christians but remained silent in the face of these lunatics and their followers for way too long.

    As a Catholic I can say I was attracted to the Demcoratic Party because of the teachings of Jesus. And I wished so often that these bigots and hypocrites would be taken on and challenged as to their claims that they in any way could call themselves followers of a man who oppposed everything they represented and who would have been condemned as a liberal by them were here today.

    This controversy always needed to be be addressed, not with slams on religion, but with slams on the hypocrites who used religion and twisted to instill fear and divisiveness. They succeeded only because they were never challenged in a truthful and meaningful way.

    And last, religion is a private matter. Thanks to the hypocrites on the right, it has played far too much of a role in the politics of this country. That needs to stop until the day when anyone is prevented from living according to their beliefs as long as they do not harm anyone else.

    Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

    by Catrina on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 01:55:17 PM PST

  •  Check out today's Tucker (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Blond woman on Tucker's panel (from Huffington Post!) was tut-tutting at how much Catholic-bashing there is in liberal discussions.

    "A woman high in the Democratic echelon said to another, 'You know, Nancy Pelosi's Catholic, but she's great!'" "They would never say that about a Jew or  black person!" (I paraphrase only a bit, I can't ID the woman and Tucker's transcripts for today aren't up yet.}

    Again, they purposely miss the point about which Catholics are not beloved by liberals: it's not that someone is Catholic. It's when they are rightwing nutjobs like Bill Donahue. It's the priests who say they won't give Communion to Catholics who support/vote for John Kerry.

  •  Religious v. Sacroturf (0+ / 0-)

    The Catholic League is not part of the Catholic Church.

    Let me say it again.

    The Catholic League is not part of the Catholic Church.  It is a 501(c)(3) with a 2.5 million dollar budget, a winger board and a winger donor base.  Its job is to bully non-Catholics who criticize the Church or fail to show it every drop of love, without fail, that the League chooses to demand.  Period.  That's why it pays the rent, pays Donohue over 1/3 of a million dollars annually.

    This is not the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or the Ancient Order of Hibernians, or the local diocesan chancery office, or even Priests for Life.

    Donohue is a sacroturf winger media assassin.  Has he ever criticized Bob Jones' University's racism and anti-Catholicism?  No, of course not.  Are you kidding?  They are his people; liberal and moderate Catholics are not.  That's why you don't see moderates, even one or two, on the League's board.  Just like Karl Rove's pen is a winger tool, Donohue is a winger tool.

    Anyway, T, that's where I would start.

    Make Crablaw Maryland Weekly your source for Maryland news and commentary. (-1.88/-5.69)

    by tbrucegodfrey on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 03:41:29 PM PST

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