Prof. Kmiec accuses ‘right wing’ Catholic bloggers of character assassination

Professor Douglas Kmiec
Professor Douglas Kmiec


In his first lengthy article explaining his position after the election of President Barack Obama, Professor Douglas Kmiec is accusing “right wing Catholic bloggers" of distorting his position, attacking him personally, and potentially poisoning the relationship between the Holy See and the future administration of President Barack Obama.

In the article entitled “A Tangled Web. The Election & the Blogosphere,” written for Commonweal magazine, Professor Kmiec explains that “as the author of a book whose title asked Can a Catholic Support Him? –and whose contents answered with an enthusiastic ‘Yes, we can!’- I have felt the animosity of those with an insatiable desire for political payback.”

“I’ve been subjected to unrelenting personal attacks launched from right-wing Catholic keyboards-blogs (and bloggers) so coarse and uncivil they make the insults of talk radio sound like actual journalism,” writes the law professor.

 “Further –he argues- the lack of civility that rules the right-wing Catholic blogosphere has infected mainstream Catholic journalism as well. In a syndicated assessment of the 2008 election, one usually thoughtful conservative columnist employed the following descriptions of Catholic Obama supporters: ‘decadent,’ ‘tribal,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘certainly stupid,’ ‘mindless,’ and in need of basic ‘adult education.’ And those were all in a single paragraph! Such highly concentrated rhetorical venom is not calculated to invite discussion.”

“My online tormentors,” Kmiec continues, “like to claim that their beef with me is my alleged abandonment of the prolife cause or willful misstatement of church teaching. Neither charge is true. I remain unabashedly prolife and I have never consciously misstated the doctrine of the church.”

“This essay,” Professor Kmiec further explains, “is not about abortion, but at least this much must be said: blog lies to the contrary, there is no real legislative interest in FOCA. The attempt to use FOCA to drive a wedge between the church and the incoming administration is unjustified”. He then warns the U.S. bishops: “the bishops, having stated clearly their opposition to FOCA-and rightly so-should not allow the right wing to obscure what Obama shares with the church: concern for the poor; support for the average family; a commitment to ending an unjust war; and respect for our environment.”

“Unless the sore losers of November 4 manage to poison the well, the Holy See and the Obama administration should be working more closely together in service to others than any administration in modern memory,” he opines.

Going back to his criticism of Catholic bloggers, Kmiec writes that “the scurrilous remarks of conservative bloggers missed the point, which was that I and millions of others who voted for Obama did so not despite our Catholic faith but because of it.”

“A hate-filled blogosphere,” argues Kmiec, after defending the sincerity of Obama’s religious beliefs, “feeds a politics of odium, misleading people of faith and good will, diminishing and at times obliterating our ability to know one another.

“Sadly, neighbor-love is not what has overwhelmed my in-box since my Obama endorsement. Instead, right-wing blogs and their readers have launched missiles of hate, delivering ad hominem invective of an astonishing vehemence and crassness.”

Professor Kmiec later laments in his essay that “to be remade by a hateful blogosphere has its price, I’ve learned. I worry that such invitations to speak at Catholic colleges, and the fruitful exchanges these invitations make possible, will be fewer.”

“One member –he says- of the U.S. hierarchy whom I greatly admire has renounced our past association, writing, ‘We are not friends, professor,’ and answering my invocation of Christian brotherhood with a curt retort: ‘I do see you as a brother in Christ –a brother who is serving an evil end.’ The greatest personal price I have paid is the loss of old-and the preemption of new-friendships.”

Kmiec also confesses that when America Magazine’s blogger Michael Sean Winters speculated that the Obama administration might name him as ambassador to the Holy See, he was “flattered” and started seriously thinking about the possibility.

But he claims that “neither God nor the president-elect had an opportunity to answer before the blogs were recycling their various calumnies, and adding now an anonymous voice allegedly saying ‘it would never happen.’”

Kmiec doesn’t reserve blame to “right wing” Catholic bloggers alone. In his essay, he says a role were played by “unfortunate remarks,” like the ones of Archbishop Raymond Burke calling the Democratic Party “the party of death,” and of Cardinal Francis Stafford at The Catholic University of America “describing some of the policies of the president-elect as ‘aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic.’”

But he returns to his accusations against “right-wing Catholic bloggers,” saying they are “acting as a thinly disguised political front for the GOP" and "remain fixated on the goal of precipitating an unnecessary war between the Holy See and America’s next administration. It is dismaying to see a few American prelates and their ‘anonymous’ Vatican commentators acting as witting or unwitting coconspirators in this divisive action.”

Nevertheless, Professor Kmiec takes solace in the fact that “blogs have not closed the mind of the new president and, like Lincoln, he bears ‘malice toward none’ and manifests ‘charity for all’.”

“Even spinning a pervasive web of falsehood, the right-wing Catholic blogosphere is no match for the self-evident truth of that golden rule-nor would its bloggers want to be, were they to indulge a microsecond of charitable thought before hitting the send button,” he concludes.

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