Sunday, April 24, 2005

That MoDo Mojo: Compares Ratzinger to Cheney, Thinks It's An Insult

Alright, I'm late in getting to the latest installment, but (surprise, surprise!) MoDo has decided, for a change of pace, to criticize a religious figure (as opposed to just criticizing someone for practicing religion). Her big brainstorm this column is that Dick Cheney selected himself, and so did Ratzinger (of course, Ratzinger did no such thing, but truth never gets in the way of a MoDo column).

Here's a gem from the column for you:
...just like the vice president, the new pope is a Jurassic archconservative who disdains the "if it feels good do it" culture and the revolutionary trends toward diversity and cultural openness since the 60's.
Christianity is 2,000 years old, Maureen, so 1960's nostalgia won't get you very far. For that matter, I'm quite opposed to the 'if it feels good do it' culture myself, as I suspect most Americans are. There's another word for that: relativism, the point of view that all points of view are valid. If Ratzinger sees that as the enemy, then he's already one up on the NY Times editorial board.

I can't resist a partial fisking, as this column is vintage Dowd:
The two leaders are a match - absolutists who view the world in stark terms of good and evil, eager to prolong a patriarchal society that prohibits gay marriage and slices up pro-choice U.S. Democratic candidates.

A patriarchal society is one that prohibits gay marriage - what an unusual definition! The world is made up, largely, of good and evil - if you need a refresher, Maureen, good = trying to democratize the Middle East, bad = beheading innocent victims in an attempt to install a true theocracy.

The two, from rural, conservative parts of their countries, want to turn back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr. Cheney wants to dismantle the New Deal and go back to 1937. Pope Benedict XVI wants to dismantle Vatican II and go back to 1397. As a scholar, his specialty was "patristics," the study of the key thinkers in the first eight centuries of the church.

Apropos of nothing, Maureen mentions the rural roots of Cheney and Ratzinger. Hey, Modo, I grew up in a town of 11,500, and I know the word 'apropos'! I should be in a freak show or something, eh? This paragraph is everything that's wrong with Dowd in a nutshell: patronizing, sloppy, senseless (exorcising New Age silliness? That's a bad thing?), and insufferably 'cute' (1397? Why 1397? No reason, of course, other than it's one digit off from 1937. Vatican II was six centuries after 1397).

They want to enlist Catholics in the conservative cause, turning confession boxes into ballot boxes with the threat that a vote for a liberal Democrat could lead to eternal damnation.

This is a flat-out lie; here are Ratzinger's exact words on the last election:

"A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote. "When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons," he said. In other words, if a Catholic thinks a candidate's positions on other issues outweigh the difference on abortion, a vote for that candidate would not be considered sinful.

Their gloomy world outlooks and bullying roles earned them the nicknames Dr. No and Cardinal No. One is called Washington's Darth Vader, the other the Vatican's Darth Vader. W.'s Doberman and John Paul's "God's Rottweiler," as the new pope was called, are both global enforcers with cult followings.

Now, seriously, folks, has anyone in the history of the planet ever referred to either Cheney or Ratzingers as Dr. or Cardinal No or Darth Vader before Dowd? Anyone, ever?

Cardinal Ratzinger did not shrink from advising American bishops in the last presidential election on bringing Catholic elected officials to heel. He warned that Catholics who deliberately voted for a candidate because of a pro-choice position were guilty of cooperating in evil, and unworthy to receive communion. Vote Democratic and lose your soul.

Maureen shows here that she does, in fact, know what Ratzinger said, which makes her earlier statement a deliberate falsehood, which she then repeats at the end of this paragraph. (Of course, Maureen very well may believe the only defining principle of the Democratic Party is to make abortions easier to get - I give the Party more credit than she does, apparently).

Moral absolutism is relative, after all. As Bruce Landesman, a philosophy professor at the University of Utah, pointed out in a letter to The Times: "Those who hold 'liberal' views are not relativists. They simply disagree with the conservatives about what is right and wrong."

No, Maureen, moral absolutism isn't relative; that's an oxymoron. As for Landesman's comment, would that that were true, but wasn't Dowd just celebrating 'If it feels good, do it'?
As I said before, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy - and so typical of Dowd, wanting to have her cake and eat it, too. Dowd is an embarrassment, and the Times must know it by now. This isn't even at the level of college newspaper editorials. What a waste.

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