Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal, minus the ad in the middle:
The WikiLeaks emails have revealed an anti-Catholic bias in the Clinton campaign that shocked and saddened me. I had mistakenly thought that particular brand of bigotry had faded away decades ago, with the election of John F. Kennedy.
WikiLeaks published a 2011 email exchange between Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri and John Halpin, of the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Clinton campaign chair Roger Podesta. Podesta is copied on the emails but apparently did not respond to this particular string entitled “Conservative Catholicism” (although he did participate in other troubling emails).
The leaked emails reflect a disdain for one-fourth of the population, a pivotal group of swing voters.
In the exchange, Halpin mocks Fox News Network Rupert Murdoch founder for raising his children Catholic: “... Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.”
“It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith,” Halpin continues. “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
Palmieri responds, “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they become evangelicals.”
Halpin replies, “Excellent point. They can throw around ‘Thomastic’ thought and ‘subsidarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”
Most bizarre, Halpin is Catholic. So is Palmieri. It’s like black rappers using the n-word. But a slur is still a slur, even when tinged with self-deprecation or self-loathing. Some things simply should not be said — by anyone. Like calling Catholics “backwards.”
Predictably, Halpin says that the emails were taken out of context: “my intention in this private note was not to insult Catholics or people of faith, but rather in an admittedly offhanded manner, to make a fleeting point about perceived hypocrisy and the flaunting of one’s faith by prominent conservative leaders.”
Palmieri says she does not recognize the emails and won’t parse each leak. Not exactly a denial. Or apology. Or even rationalization, as Halpin attempted.
The emails made me recall my grandmother describing how when she went to college in the ’20's, sororities were segregated by religion. She joined a Catholic one. She could not have joined the one I later chose. My grandmother would not be particularly surprised at the Wikileaks emails: they just confirm the prejudice to which she was accustomed.
By the time I went to college, the Catholic sororities had long since closed, at least on my campus, presumably because those sororities that had once excluded Catholics finally welcomed people of all faiths and races.
The current composition of the Supreme Court similarly reflects the integration of Catholics into the American melting pot.
A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic. That’s remarkable progress, given that not that long ago that there was one unofficial “Catholic seat” on the court (though from 1949-56 there was no Catholic justice on the court).
The changes that have occurred since JFK’s election are why Halpin’s and Palmieri’s emails struck many as such a throw-back to a less tolerant time. Perhaps I was naive to think that such attitudes had died off. Still, how discouraging to see its resurgence among the closest advisors to someone who may become president. To be sure, some biases fade slowly. That doesn’t explain or justify this bigotry’s resilience among those in Clinton’s inner circle.
The Clinton campaign spent weeks condemning allegedly anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric. Yet there has been no condemnation from Clinton or her campaign about Halpin’s and Palmieri’s viciousness. Indeed, as of this writing, Clinton has not said a word about these emails.
Instead, her campaign just whines about supposed Russian hackers.
No one has repudiated the authenticity of the emails; there’s been no suggestion that the Russians drafted the emails — just that they may have had some role in obtaining or disseminating them.
We didn’t need the Russians to tell us when President Barack Obama sneered at “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them.” The Halpin and Palmieri emails share that contempt for people of faith. There’s an ugly pattern here.
In addition to mocking Catholics, the emails reflect the disdain for evangelicals that we’ve come to expect from Democrats. It is still politically correct to mock evangelical Christians, whom liberals mischaracterize as bigots.
No evangelical sits on the Supreme Court. Do not look for Clinton to appoint one.
Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment condemned people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic” but not the Catholic-phobic or evangelicalaphobic: they get a pass from Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign slogan is “Stronger Together.” It drips with the ironic phoniness that we’ve come to expect from the Clintons.