Friday, March 17, 2017

Today is St. Patrick's Day...

...and a bittersweet one for me: it will be the first without my mother. I'll still make corned beef and cabbage, of course, but without the comfort in knowing that I could call her at any time for last-minute advice. Often in a panic, I would ask her, "Is this the corned beef and cabbage hotline?" Today I'm on my own, but I think my mom prepared me well: "Just boil the **** out of it!" (Actually, she almost never swore.)

But the subject of this post is actually an apology of sorts to my readers. On Wednesday I wrote about the Dutch election and -- in a moment of weakness -- wondered if Muslim immigrants did, in fact, want to impose Sharia law on everyone else.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.

How could I forget, just a few days before St. Patrick's Day, that holiest of holy days, that Irish Catholics were accused of something similar in my own lifetime?

Remember John F. Kennedy, the only Irish Catholic president? According to Wikipedia (my emphasis):

Kennedy needed Johnson's strength in the South to win what was considered likely to be the closest election since 1916. Major issues included how to get the economy moving again, Kennedy's Roman Catholicism, Cuba, and whether the Soviet space and missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S. To address fears that his being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960: "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me." Kennedy questioned rhetorically whether one-quarter of Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship just because they were Catholic, and once stated that: "No one asked me my religion [serving the Navy] in the South Pacific."

And before Kennedy there was Al Smith (above):

The fact that Smith was Catholic and the descendant of Catholic immigrants was instrumental in his loss of the election of 1928. Historical hostilities between Protestants and Catholics had been carried by national groups to the United States by immigrants, and centuries of Protestant domination allowed myths and superstitions about Catholicism to flourish. Long established Protestants had viewed the waves of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Italy and eastern Europe since the mid-19th century with suspicion. In addition, many Protestants carried old fears related to extravagant claims of one religion against the other dating from the European national wars of religion. They feared that Smith would answer to the Pope and not the US Constitution. 

Can you imagine anyone saying something like that about John Kerry, say, or Joe Biden? It's laughable. But that's almost the same thing as saying that Muslim Americans secretly want to impose Shariah Law on the rest of us.

You watch: in about ten or twenty years (or sooner) a Democrat named Ryan Khan or Conor Mohammed will run for president and some right-wing crank on AM radio will accuse him of having more loyalty to the Koran than the Constitution. And the rest of us will just roll our eyes because the candidate will probably be more interested in health care or tax reform or "getting tough" with the Chinese or the Russians or whomever is the current bogeyman.

So I apologize to all the Muslim readers of this blog (if there are any). Have a happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

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