A lifelong Jewish Republican complains about Socially acceptable bigotry: A primer in discrimination against us GOPers. Meanwhile, an exhibition of anti-Catholic “art” at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton draws comment from NRO on the theme of They call it art: The last acceptable prejudice.
The pieces are more interesting for their facts than their analysis. The authors, respectable mainstream types, accept the post-60s liberal demand that all religious and moral commitments get equal respect. However, it is that very demand that leads inevitably to the Leftist double standards of which the authors complain, and that dominate so much of our national life. As a moral ultimate, tolerance of all basic commitments cannot in the nature of things apply to commitments—like Catholicism or the outlook of most Republicans—that don’t take post-60s liberal tolerance as part of their self-definition. The “equal respect” that liberals demand cannot equally respect its own denial. Anti-Catholic and anti-Republican animus is thus coded into moral standards that mainstream critics of such things themselves accept.
Of necessity, all social movements involve prejudgements, discriminations, and oppositions. It follows that a movement that demands the abolition of prejudice, discrimination and hatred can only reintroduce those things in new forms that it refuses to recognize, because to do so would be to destroy its reason for being. What we end up with is the utterly incoherent left/liberal outlook currently dominant throughout the West. It’s not a sufficient response to that outlook to ask that it be applied consistently. A principled alternative that explicitly recognizes the possibility of publicly binding substantive moral truth must be offered. It’s difficult to think of anything on offer but Catholicism that is sufficiently concrete, comprehensive and consistent with Western ways to serve. While such things are of secondary importance in deciding whether to accept a religion, they do play some role, and certainly should be taken into account in deciding what relation between Catholicism and public life makes sense today.