A rather disturbing event occurred in a Minnesota library last Sunday: Freshman Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler, while implying that the White House was involved in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
Didn’t hear about this? Well, how could you? After all, no major, mainstream media outlet other than Fox News and CNN thought it was newsworthy.
Maybe this afternoon's oppressive heat and humidity on the Hardball Plaza in DC were getting to Chris Matthews. I'm not sure how else to explain his complaint, to the effect that it is wrong of the Roman Catholic Church to apply its rules to politicians as it does to other adherents.
His remark came in the course of a debate on religion on this afternoon's edition of "Hardball" between Christopher Hitchens, author of the atheist polemic "God Is Not Great", and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics . . . Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.
This may come as a surprise to many religious Americans in the country: PBS this month is broadcasting a documentary presenting both sides of the controversial issue of the “separation of church and state.”
As many of you know, this has been an ongoing debate for decades as to when this term first appeared, and what the Founding Fathers’ intent truly was concerning government involvement in organized religion.
The documentary’s goals are described thusly at the PBS website (emphasis added throughout):
A battle of wits between two men named Christopher took place in Berkeley, California, on May 24. Unfortunately, one contestant came embarrassingly unequipped, so much so that by the end, he chose to not even respond.
Break out the cashews and your favorite libation, sports fans, because this debate between former New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, and the never at a loss for words Christopher Hitchens was one for the ages.
The following video is an edited compilation of key moments as prepared by our friend at Zombietime (h/t Allah). What follows is ZT’s transcript of this video. However, the reader is highly encouraged to view all of the videos of this event created for your viewing pleasure:
Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time", tore into Jerry Falwell on the May 18 edition of his show, saying, with a photo of Falwell in the background, such things as, “... death isn’t always sad." The worst comments from Maher came from his argument for turning homosexuality into a religion, with references to the Mass as gay oral sex and reception of Holy Communion as gay oral sex. Here is the clip. WARNING: the material is very offensive.
It might not be surprising for liberal blog commenters or talk-radio callers to denounce Rev. Jerry Falwell upon his death, but it's a little more surprising when it comes to a professed Christian who's religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Cathleen Falsani reflected on her first reaction about hearing Falwell was "relief" and compared him to gangster TV character Tony Soprano:
Knowing I didn't have a deadline to meet that day, my first thoughts were not of what to say or write.
In fact, my very first thought upon hearing of the Rev. Falwell's passing was: Good.
And I didn't mean "good" in a oh-good-he's-gone-home-to-be-with-the-Lord kind of way. I meant "good" as in "Ding-dong, the witch is dead."
CBS News producer/blogger Greg Kandra opened the e-mailbag today to relay to "Couric & Co." readers some negative reaction to the network's coverage of Rev. Jerry Falwell's death. In particular, Kandra quoted from a female Liberty University graduate and vascular surgeon who took issue with historian/guest pundit Douglas Brinkley's assessment of Falwell's views on women.
In an appearance on the May 15 "Evening News," Brinkley dismissed Falwell as a reactionary who (emphasis mine) was "opposed to some of the
progressive liberal high watermarks of the 1960s, and certainly he
wanted--his returning to family values was returning to women being in
the kitchen, in many ways."
Despite "The View’s" left wing slant, the co-hosts, as previously reported, are no fans of Al Sharpton. The ladies discussed the reverend’s latest gaffe implicitly insulting Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Joy Behar first mentioned the topic, quoting his inflammatory statement: "those of us who really believe in God will defeat Romney for the White House." Behar did note that Sharpton is now backtracking from the comment.
Guest co-host Marie Osmond, a Mormon, felt Romney’s response was "gracious," and even took a shot at Sharpton.
"Al didn't have a beautiful past himself, so I don’t think that he should necessarily make these statements, you know."
During a debate on atheism in New York City with Christopher Hitchens on Monday, the reliably inflammatory Al Sharpton said: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that.'"
"Sharpton Accused of Bigoted Remark" would be the equivalent of "Dog Bites Man" for a true "paper of record," but the Times rarely notices.
In atypical fashion, Luo devoted most of his space not to Romney's accusation or to calls for apologies from offended Mormons, but to Al Sharpton's (make that "civil rights activist" Sharpton, as Luo called him in a post on the Times' political blog) defense and rebuttal.
In going on Paula Zahn's CNN show this evening, was Al Sharpton's goal to quell the controversy surrounding his comments about Mormonism, or to inflame it? If the former, he failed miserably. If the latter, he succeeded admirably. Far from retracting his earlier allegation that Mormons aren't real believers, he repeated it, adding an allegation of racism for good measure.
Let's recall Sharpton's original statement, that in going on the Zahn show he presumably was seeking to explicate. Debating Christopher Hitchens recently, Sharpton said:
"And as for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway. So don't worry about that. That's a temporary, that's a temporary situation."