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Muslims, Catholics and 'hurt feelings'

September 14, 2012|By Michael McGough
  • Protesters with Al Qaeda flags stand outside the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain. The embassy compound was placed under added security in light of protests against the "Innocence of Muslims" film.
Protesters with Al Qaeda flags stand outside the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain.… (STR / EPA )

Bill Donohue, the scourge of anti-Catholicism real and mostly imagined, has weighed in on the controversy over a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo about the vile anti-Muslim film "Innocence of Muslims." Not surprisingly, Donohue, the head of the Catholic League (not an arm of the church), took a line similar to Mitt Romney’s.

Donohue wrote:

"It is hardly surprising to learn that many young Muslim men in the Middle East react like barbarians when insulted by a movie, but it is rather incredible to learn of the way the Obama administration initially reacted to the release of the anti-Muslim film. The U.S. Embassy's statement sounded more like something penned by Oprah than American diplomats. It said it 'condemns efforts to offend individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.'"

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Donohue's sneering italicization of the word "feelings" is consistent with his previous incarnation as a figure in the National Assn. of Scholars. That group opposed campus speech codes it saw as inhibiting free speech in the name of protecting the sensitivities of women and minorities. But the mockery of hurt feelings is an awkward fit with Donohue's current gig, which essentially is to complain about Catholics' hurt feelings.

In fact, in the same statement in which he likens the embassy’s statement to the effusions of Oprah, Donohue complains that "Hollywood specializes in trashing Catholic 'feelings' yet we hear nothing about it from President Obama." But why should we, if hurt feelings are nothing to get upset about?

Apparently Muslims  -- like minorities on American campuses -- are supposed to have thick skins, but if Catholics are offended, it's an outrage.

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Obviously, the fulminations of the Catholic League can't be compared to acts of violence such as the storming of the embassy in Cairo (or the killing of four Americans in Libya). They are more like the complaints about the "Innocence of Muslims” from nonviolent followers of Islam, whose grievance against the film is a lot more legitimate than some of Donohue’s gripes. (Among the Catholic League's examples of "anti-Catholicism" was a "Simpsons" episode in which Bart asked Marge: "Can we go Catholic so we can get Communion wafers and booze?" and his mother replied: "No, no one is going Catholic. Three children is enough, thank you." Hate speech!)

If Muslims are to be told to stop their whining, why isn't the same message in order when Catholics play the hurt-feelings card? Maybe both groups are entitled to a little love from Oprah -- and the State Department.


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