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Juan Williams Disses Cardinal Mahoney and Hispanic Catholics?

Reported by Priscilla - May 2, 2010 -

“Opinion” at Fox News seems to be heavily tilted towards conservative Christianity. Various Fox pundits proclaim their Christianity while whining about how the Hollywood and the librul media diss Christianity. Some of the opinion has seeped into Fox news News, as shown by coverage of what the Christian right saw as the dissing of Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins. In addition to promoting a conservative evangelical point of view, Fox also would seem to be appealing to a conservative Roman Catholic audience – as shown by its employment, as a contributor, of Legionary of Christ Father Jonathan Morris, whose dissolute founder, Marcel Maciel, has been "excoriated" by the Pope as having built a "system of power built on silence, deceit and obedience." During the health care debate, Morris validated the Republican right’s talking point about abortion being publicly funded – a concern echoed by Catholic bishops. But he doesn’t seem to be on board with the right’s position on immigration – a position which runs counter to that of the Catholic bishops. Thus, it was interesting to see Father Morris being aggressively challenged, on the Arizona immigration law, by Juan Williams who was subbing on “The Factor.” Williams seemed to have a problem with Los Angeles Catholic Cardinal Mahoney which is really interesting given that Mahoney officiated at the ceremony where Rupert Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Gregory. Go figure.

Channeling the journalistic machismo of Bill O’Reilly, Williams immediately told Morris that he “would be tough on him.” He described the Arizona law and cited how critics, like Mahoney, say that it would open the door to racial profiling. He then cited concerns about violence in Border States and asked what Jesus would do about illegal immigration. This was followed by a rather, in my mind, cynical question about whether this was “about keeping Hispanics in the pews because the Catholic Church is worried that fewer and fewer people are going to church.” (One assumes that if a librul reporter framed such a question to an evangelical pastor, there would be hell to pay!) Doing more O’Reilly channeling, Williams talked over Morris when he was trying to say that this wasn’t a religious issue but one in which reason should prevail. Williams (loudly) said “that’s immoral, that’s wrong.” Morris tried to continue but Williams kept interrupting. When Morris said that we can’t do whatever we want, Williams said “wait a minute, wait a minute” and asked, after Morris cited “just laws,” why you can’t put somebody in jail for breaking the law. He added that “we’re not doing whatever we want” because “we're detaining them and hopefully deporting them.” When Morris attempted to talk about vicious anti-immigrant sentiment, Williams cited a Zogby poll in which 64% of Catholics want enforcement of laws and immigrants sent home. (Williams didn’t note that the Zogby poll was drawn from an online panel. He also didn’t note a later PPRI poll which shows Catholic support for immigration reform.) When Morris said that he also wants enforcement, Williams said “Well, I don't hear that from you. I hear — what I hear from you is you're representing a Hispanic Latino point of view, not the heart and soul of most Catholics.” When Morris commented that illegals are coming here to work and those who employ them should be fined, Williams agreed but then, again, impugned Mahoney’s motives: “But let me just say it doesn't help when you get Roger Mahoney, who comes from Los Angeles, and 70 percent of his archdiocese is made up of Latinos. So that's why I asked you the political question.”

The not so subtle smearing of Mahoney continued with Williams statement that Mahoney was “talking about Nazis and says, you know, communists, this is the kind of thing people reporting on each other.” (Is Williams this concerned about Rush and the teabaggers comparison of the Obama administration to Nazi Germany?) When Morris addressed the ethical and moral aspects of profiling, Williams (who as an African American should be aware of this fine American tradition) did not respond directly; but, rather asked what was “ethical and moral about a rancher being shot in his own backyard by some of these illegal immigrants.” (There haven’t even been any arrests in this case, let alone a guilty verdict). He slammed Mahoney again: “Why doesn't Archbishop Mahony start talking to the Obama administration, the federal government in these kind of overheated rhetorical terms that he uses.” (“overheated” rhetoric – never hear that on Fox “news.”) When Morris said that the bishops have been lobbying for immigration reform, Williams wanted to know “where are they now?”

Comment: If you want to talk manipulation of religion for "political" purposes, look no further than the 2004 presidential election season during which Karl Rove worked closely with the religious right to get Bush elected. Look no further than the eight years of the Bush administration which pandered to the religious right in order to maintain their support. While Fox “opinion” supported Franklin Graham’s anti-Islamic hate speech, Juan Williams attacks a Catholic Cardinal who is advocating for the ethical treatment of immigrants. But it’s not surprising given that Fox’s political orientation and audience would seem to be in agreement with the Arizona xenophobes. It’s strange that Williams didn’t address the profiling issue with Morris as, in an interview with Ann Coulter, he spoke against it. But then Coulter isn’t a Catholic priest, employed by Fox, who isn’t towing the Fox right wing line. Will Morris, for his sin of defending brown Catholics, be taken to the Murdoch woodshed – or confessional at Fox News, America's Non Hispanic Catholic newsroom!

Correction: I had stated that the Legionaries could be dissolved. This is incorrect as the AP article does indicate that the investigation into the Legionaries, which could have resulted in the dissolution of the order, has been completed and that the Vatican's mission is now "reforming" the order.