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March 03, 2003

Over at Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds, accused of being anti-church, defends himself.

JESSE WALKER IS ACCUSING ME of "smearing" the Catholic church. I think that Jesse's post is somewhat unfair, for reasons I've answered in the comments. But just because Jesse's post seems unfair to me doesn't mean that the issue is. The question is, why do I think that the Church is displaying antisemitism here?

Basically, it's because it seems that the Church sides against Israel, and with Arab terrorists and dictators, at every opportunity. Now there could be other explanations for that, I guess. I posited a couple over in the comments to this post of Tacitus's, but here they are again:

If you want to be charitable, you can argue that they're pandering because they (1) want to distinguish Christians in Arab countries from Jews; and (2) think that, long-term, Jerusalem is likely to be in Arab hands. I'm skeptical, though. I think a lot of them probably *are* antisemites. The Vatican has been too consistently anti-Israel to explain it other ways.

Note that these alternative theories, which Tacitus thinks are more persuasive explanations than antisemitism, don't make the Church look better, really: they merely suggest that it's willing to sacrifice moral principle for the sake of expediency rather than for the sake of prejudice. Is that better? Not much, if at all.

Alisa says that we have to understand the Catholic church as a European institution run by Europeans, though I'm not so sure that gets rid of the anti-semitism charge. Perhaps -- as another comment in the Tacitus thread suggests -- it's enough to say that the Church isn't any more anti-semitic than the rest of Europe, though that's not much of a defense, these days.

But what really set people off was this picture. And, Walker's rather misleading characterization notwithstanding (he puts it this way: "A cardinal has been photographed with Yasser Arafat. Got that? A church leader posed with a political opponent of a state run by Jews, therefore his church is anti-Semitic."), it's not just a picture. It's a picture of Cardinal Etchegaray, representative of the Church in full Church regalia, holding up joined hands with Arafat, terrorist murderer, at a press photo opportunity.

Now here's my question: Is it even imaginable that he would do the same thing with Ariel Sharon, elected leader of a democratic country? [more]