Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If you think I get wound up about Catholic dissidents ...

... then watch this eight-minute rant about the term "Taliban Catholic" from Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com:

I got the video from Richard over at Linen on the Hedgerow, who in turn got it from Christine at A Catholic View. Also, I met Mary O'Regan at The Path Less Taken through Richard's blog; I sometimes suspect that one day all Catholic bloggers will be linked within six degrees of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.

I'm not a big fan of Voris; he's a little too snarky to be truly funny. I don't ordinarily raise a big stink about it, because to do so pays the term more attention than it deserves. Like my mom used to say to me about name-calling bullies: "Don't let them know it upsets you, because that'll make it all the worse." But he is right (not just right-wing): "Taliban Catholic" does an injustice not only to those of us who defend Catholic orthodoxy but also to those people who have been victimized by the real Taliban.

If these people were to call us "fundamentalists", or "extremists", or "right-wingers", the labels would still be inaccurate and inapposite but would at least not call into question our basic goodness. Only two explanations are possible for putting "Taliban" in front of "Catholic": 1) The person has been hiding under a rock for the last ten years or so and believes the Taliban is simply a hard-line Islamic sect; or, 2) The person is fully aware of the Taliban's terrorist activities, and is deliberately accusing us of being not just wrong but actively evil.

What I'd like to do is get this rant broken down into an .mp3 file and rig up the offices of the Fishwrap, Commonweal and America so that their Muzak systems play it 24/7 for a whole month. Then, after that, the offices of Marquette, Georgetown, Seattle U, Gonzaga, Creighton ... MUHUWAHAHA!

Oops ... sorry for the "evil overlord" laugh.


  1. John Allen was the one that coined that term.

    I squarely blame him for it. Talk about irresponsible journalism.

  2. You're right, Tito, and frankly I expect better of Allen, who normally is much better at striking a balanced note.

  3. Anthony,

    If you actually read Allen on the phrase, you'll find that he does not intend it to apply only to right-ish Catholics who "defend Catholic orthodoxy." Rather, he uses it to apply to Catholics, left and right alike, who approach their positions on the faith in a certain (destructive) way.

    I can't believe that any person, in good faith, can honestly object to a distinction between those who defend Orthodoxy in a loving way and those who defend it with a vehemence and degree of viciousness that it should make you wonder whether the "defender" has any kind of prayer life at all. My own theory -- not that anyone should care -- is that this latter group tends to treat Catholicism as an ideology rather than a faith.

    So at that point, the only objection, really, is to how bad the term Taliban is. Is it over the top? Sure. But is it worth getting worked up about? Probably not.

  4. Christopher, that's as may be, but it's still spun out of Allen's control and become a stick the liberals use to beat the orthodox with. And it still very much misses Voris' (and my) point: The use of "Taliban" in this context goes beyond offensiveness into obscenity; it's like Rush Limbaugh calling feminists "femi-nazis". I object strenuously to use of any label that implies the person so pigeonholed is not only wrong-headed but evil to boot.

  5. As someone who was present at the conference where Allen coined the term, I would like to chime in and say that he used the terms as an opposite to Catholic Lite or cafeteria catholic. The logical opposite of one who is heterodox is one who is orthodox. Therefore, in the manner in which he used it then and the way it is used today by heterodox catholics today implies that the term applies to those catholics who are ardently orthodox.

  6. So is the Pope the "Mohammad Omar" of the "Taliban Catholic"?