As we approach the time when Cardinal George presides over a Lifetime Racial Justice Achievement award honoring the inestimable tolerance of Fr. Michael Pfleger who shouted to a terrified white store owner of a legally operating business establishment: “Come out or we’ll snuff you out! Come out or we’ll drag you out like the rat you are!” I write here in deferential recognition that the prelate has so rightly accused me of utilizing hate speech against him.
He enclosed one such example of hate speech against him—this blog’s column of March 17.
Yes, I admit: he caught me red-handed spewing hate.
As repentance, let me cite four examples in my article which spewed out vile hate against him.
First Example of Hate Speech. I Wrote He’s Bald.
By far the one word that has infuriated his supporters…even some ex-friends of mine…was that I called Cardinal George “bald.” A man I have known for many years said this to me on the phone:
“Listen, you can criticize him when he is wrong on the issues—but for God’s sake stay on the issues! Don’t go after his personal appearance!”
I asked: What do you mean?Then his voice sank to a tone of utter repulsion. “For example, you called him BALD!”
That derogatory, hate-filled, venom-spouting reference was, I confess, not only wrong, it defamed him, is a diatribe of bitter aversion. Also it may well incite violence or prejudicial action against him.
We hear of violence being meted out against bald men every day.
Thus this First Correction: He is curly-haired, in fact, hirsute…hair tucked around his ears and lopping over his collar. Look at his picture and you can see how I defamed him.
Second Example of Hate Speech. I Wrote He’s Short.
Second, I mentioned that he is short. Another example of hate speech. Men have been twisted in their lives, recoiling from the opprobrium of being called short. For this I am heartily sorry.
“What a snide reference!” a woman wrote to me via email. “I know what you’re trying to say, you Satan spawn. Trying to say his stature in all ways is limited—what an insult!”
She has a telling point. When Napoleon Bonaparte heard fellow officers snuffling laughter behind their cupped hands about him in their quarters, his life was poisoned…leading him to stage the coup d’etat that declared him First Counsel of France, propitiating wars that shook the entire continent.
Not satisfied with being a dinky First Counsel, recurring memory of the venomous insult forced Bonaparte to declare himself Emperor of all France…even to the extent of snarling and snatching the crown from the outstretched hands of an aghast Pope Pius VII, and placing it squarely on his own head as courtiers applauded wildly. Rebuffed, the Pontiff retook his place in the cathedral pew, downcast, and watching Bonaparte’s curled lip, nudged his Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, Albertus Cardinal Traglia, OSB and whispered:
“From now on—no cracks about his size! GET ME?”
Thus the Second Correction: Everyone knows the Cardinal is rangy, statuesque, towering over his associates. In fact in his Portage Park neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, it was said of him as a boy that “he was sprouting up into the air like a spurt of green corn in the midst of a good corn year. And so he grew.”
Third Example of Hate Speech. I Wrote: Occupied by Studies, He Didn’t Do Much Manual or Physical Labor.
Then I wrote that as he spent life as a student from early on, going to pre-divinity school at age 14 at St. Henry’s school in Belleville, Illinois, from there to undergrad college at the University of Ottawa, then teaching at the Oblate Seminary at Pass Christian, Mississippi, following which he taught philosophy at Tulane University and then Creighton, then studying for his master’s in theology at Catholic U, studying for his doctorate in American philosophy at Tulane while he taught there, later studying for his master’s in theology at the University of Ottawa and finally securing a Ph.D in theology from the Pontifical Urban University.
“Viper!” a man said to me. “You set him up this way before you said he doesn’t have experience doing hard work for a living--`never worked a day in his life’ `cept for studying, God strike you dead.”
Third correction: That guy may be right. I haven’t felt quite all that tip-top since I wrote that.
Final Example of Hate Speech. I Wrote: Not Having Done Much Physical, Grinding Labor, his Hands are…well…Soft.
“How cruel!” a woman said. “How CRUEL you can be! How unutterably C-R-U-E-L!”
Madam, I said, what do you mean? How can saying a man has soft hands be cruel?
“Don’t you understand? You mocking his having had polio as a boy!”
Lady, I said, I have soft hands, too! And I didn’t have polio as a boy! I don’t shovel snow around our place in winter or cut the grass in the summer…but have--.
“…Mexicans do it!” she said. “They cut your grass, trim your hedges! You LOOK like you would! Where’s the social justice in THAT?”
So the Fourth and Final Correction. I accused him of having what I have..soft hands--mine made soft by avoiding hard labor, writing this tirades that are the epitome of …HATE CRIMES!
Now having gotten that off my chest, I wonder if there’s still time to get in to the Racial Justice Lifetime Achievement Award to Fr. Pfleger…the close friend of Minister Louis Farrakhan who has called Judaism a “gutter religion” and who has hailed Adolf Hitler as “a great, very great man” ,,,the event presided over by…
…That hirsuit, tall, rangy, calloused-handed prelate I have so greatly wronged by my hate speech.
*: St. John Baptist de la Salle [1651-1719]. The prep school that Richie Daley went to was De La Salle—named after the founder of the Christian Brothers. John was born of a noble family and was destined from an early age for the Church. He was tonsured at 11, studied at Saint-Sulpice and was ordained priest in 1678. With the help of a layman and the financial resources of his own family, he opened two schools for destitute boys in a society where there were few such schools or opportunities for them. Later he opened four schools, finding funds to pay teachers by giving up his inheritance, selling all his goods.
The schools prospered and soon parish priests were sending him their young men for training before returning them to their villages. His mission of education spread to Paris and St. Denis. Then the king of England, then in exile in France, asked him to start yet another school for 50 young men who sorely needed education and training. One characteristic of his Order is that no member of it can ever be ordained a priest and no priest can join the Order.
For a time his critics insisted that he discriminate against the poor by training them simply for the manual arts and not the intellectual life. De La Salle wanted both. The dissention extended to his own Order with men vying for and against a liberal education versus pure manual training. It was not resolved during De La Salle’s lifetime although now it is centered largely around liberal arts.
He wrote valuable manuals on education, The Conduct of Christian Schools and Manual for Sundays. He was canonized in 1900 and his Order of Christian Brothers have spread throughout the world.