October 12, 2006
Editor’s note: Reader letters follow the article.
Willaim Donohue on freedom of speech:
One of the most telling moments of Sunday night’s Justice Sunday rally and telecast came right after Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, bellowed, “We will be disobedient altar boys! We won’t be told to shut up and give it over to the secular left! Who are they to say that I don’t have a right to freedom of speech?”
Now, in this country, we are civilized. We don’t appreciate it when somebody sticks it to you in the name of freedom of speech, sir. We condemn it. But over there, they [Muslims] take the uncivilized approach. “
Before Pope John Paul II visited the United States in October 1995, the Catholic League launched a campaign to intimidate the press so as to avoid any critical reporting of the pope…. It is worth noting that the above petition objects to reporting protests by Catholic dissidents and believes that “Catholic tensions” with American culture should be offset by the good work done by those Catholics who themselves are restricted or dominated by the Vatican….The Catholic League claims that any criticism of the pope, the hierarchy, and the Vatican is bigotry. The league says it has attacked CBS’s 60 Minutes for a January 22, 1995, broadcast featuring the progressive Catholic group Call to Action. The league also attacked NBC Nightly News for referring to Catholics for a Free Choice and another Catholic group, Dignity…. The Catholic League has called upon a Los Angeles radio station to fire its talk show host Bill Press, a Roman Catholic, for remarks critical of the pope. It has also criticized FOX TV, Bravo, ABC, Newsday, and numerous others for critical comments about the pope or the Catholic church. Mumford writes that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel even dropped Ann Landers’ advice column because of the Catholic League.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued the following remarks today about an incident involving a DePaul University professor:
“Catholics have every right to expect that Catholic colleges and universities are free from bigotry of any kind. Unfortunately, a recent ugly incident by DePaul professor Norman G. Finkelstein has betrayed that trust. To be specific, an online column he wrote at indybay.org suggesting that Alan Dershowitz be assassinated, coupled with an obscene depiction of the Harvard professor, is cause for alarm.
“Finkelstein has every right to quarrel with Dershowitz’s proud defense of Israel’s right to exist, but when he compares him to a Nazi (this despicable charge is made twice), then elementary standards of civility have been shattered. Similarly, calling Dershowitz a ‘moral pervert’ who ‘missed the climactic scene of his little peep show’ is the language used by street propagandists, not academicians. Make no mistake about it, Finkelstein wrote this to illustrate the vicious cartoon he commissioned: Dershowitz is depicted masturbating in glee over dead Lebanese civilians. It doesn’t get much lower than this.
“There are plenty of arenas in and around Chicago where those who want to rant can go to express themselves, but a university is not such a venue: the university exists so that the truth may be pursued. That is what a liberal arts education is expected to provide, and it is nothing but a travesty when the rights afforded faculty members are abused in the way Finkelstein has done. This is doubly true when it happens on a Catholic campus.
“The time has come for responsible Catholic leaders to hold up a stop sign to this kind of ad hominem assault. Robust free speech should be welcomed on campus, but if it is to have pedagogical value, it must respect logic and standards of evidence. Character assassination of the kind Finkelstein engages in does not meet that test. He has abused his rights as a faculty member and he has defamed Catholic education.”
Subject: Bill Donohue
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 06:02:37 +0000
To whom it may concern (hopefully this will find its way to
I am writing concerning Bill Donohue’s article in regards to
Norman Finkelstein. Of course Norman Finkelstein is quite capable of
defending himself, but I write now because I have many
Mainly why Donohue has not adhered to the principles to which the
Catholic League upholds? If it is true that the Catholic League
advocates human rights, religious freedom and freedom of speech,
why has Donohue taken it upon himself to negatively influence Norman
Finkelstein’s position at DePaul? This seems
hypocritical does it not? If it is Truth that is sought, does not one need a
dissenting voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way for Truth?
Through selective quoting and the omission of context, Donohue
vilifies Finkelstein in his portrayal of Alan Dershowitz which is
fine, however if one is trying to be honest about facts then one
should present both sides of the argument, and in this Donohue
fails. Donohue chooses not to inform his audience that Alan
Dershowitz favours the use of torture against Palestinians,
advocates target assassinations, and has continually attacked
Norman Finkelstein’s character to the extent of implying Prof.
Finkelstein’s mother to be a Nazi Collaborator. I can see why
Donohue would side with Dershowitz and his Christ like ability to
He who is without sin should cast the first stone, and in this
light Donohue should have had his hands tied and tongue
silenced. After all he did take it upon himself to attempt to ruin another man’s
reputation, career, and livelihood. Absolute power corrupts and
it is evident that the actions taken by Donohue have revealed that
he should not be president of the Catholic League. If anything,
he should resign his post and learn more about the material he
teaches or has taught being the “good” Christian that he is.
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 20:42:51 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: RE: Catholic League nonsense
To begin with, the libelous Catholic League press release got the facts wrong in one of its few rational complaints. Donohue states that Finkelstein wrote an online column “at indybay.org suggesting that Alan Dershowitz be assassinated” and ultimately insinuates that Finkelstein doesn’t “respect logic and standards of evidence.” The article he refers to is called “Should Alan Dershowitz Target Himself for Assassination?” It was written on 8 August, 2006, complete with 55 footnotes. The version with footnotes has been online since 12 August, 2006. If the righteous gentleman from the Catholic League really cared about “truth” and “standards of evidence” all he had to do was perform a quick Google search prior to publishing his attack piece on 11 October, 2006, and he would’ve found the 55 source notes to the article that so upset his delicate sensibilities with its alleged lack of “pedagogical value.” These days, isn’t it only logical to Google a subject before making a potentially embarrassing public statement about it?
Speaking of “standards of evidence,” one may refer to sources cited in areas such as paragraph 3, where Alan Dershowitz’ proposals for scrapping international law in dealing with the “war on terrorism” are compared to arguments found in Nazi ideology, specifically in Hitler’s Commissar Order. Finkelstein’s documentation for this comparison includes Germany and the Second World War, vol. iv, The Attack on the Soviet Union (Oxford: 1998) and Anatomy of the SS State (New York: 1965). Dershowitz’s arguments are further compared to those found on the far right of the [US] political spectrum, citing examples such as Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. As for the humorous charge that Finkelstein is “suggesting that Alan Dershowitz be assassinated,” anyone who’s actually read the article would know that Finkelstein states that “the preponderance of humanity, this writer included, does not think this way.”
Donohue certainly doesn’t check his sources before copy/pasting from what reads like a rather humorous hasbara email into official Catholic League press releases.