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George’s Klan analogy wrong on all counts

Updated: February 3, 2012 8:05AM

Hitler and the Klan: two evils whose names should not be invoked unless specifically referring to Adolf or the white nationalist hate group.

Countless are the numbers of celebrities, legislators, and talking heads who have gotten themselves in trouble for comparing someone to Hitler — Hank Williams Jr. kinda-sorta comparing President Obama to Hitler last October springs to mind.

Now, Cardinal Francis George has compared gay rights activists to the Klan. Let’s start with who George imagines these shadowy “gay liberation people” might be. By using the term “the gay liberation movement” — one I had not heard before — during a recent TV interview, George brought to mind groups like the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Animal Liberation Front, which, coincidentally, appear on lists of recognized American terrorist organizations along with the Klan.

The “gay liberation movement” is no organized band of radical gay freedom fighters but, rather, the general term for the struggle for equal gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) rights.

Interesting side note: there was a “radical” group called the Gay Liberation Front in the late 60s and early 70s formed in reaction to the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village. They held dances to raise funds to create gay-friendly public spaces and their actions seem less radical than those of temperance movement darling Carrie Nation, whose early 1900s “Hatchetations” involved violently destroying bars and their supplies of liquor.

Also coincidentally, that anti-alcohol activism eventually led to a dry movement so strong that the Klan ended up marching in front of the White House in support of Prohibition.

That brings us back around to the same Klan that had a hand in torpedoing the 1928 presidential candidacy of Democratic New York Governor Al Smith because it was feared that a Catholic president would take direct orders from the Pope.

So, yes, there’s a history of anti-Catholic Klan activities. And how does that relate to the millions of Americans — heterosexual and other — who want our GLBT friends, family members and business associates to have the same rights as straight people? It doesn’t. Under no circumstances should any clear-thinker ever equate a person’s sexual orientation with their support or opposition of any religion.

Anyone who has been to the Pride Parade can attest to the potential for unruliness. But if the St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers had set a time that would inconvenience a church’s mass, no one would have jumped to the ridiculous conclusion that “the Irish rights people” were seeking to “stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.”

Those last words were by George’s, used in a press release in which he re-affirmed his belief that the “Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other [anti-Catholic] groups.”

George expressed an opinion that reinforces one of the many reasons Catholics leave the church. One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic — like me — and if they didn’t run away screaming because of the Church’s stance on abortion, birth control, divorce or the inadequate prosecution of priests who have sexually abused children, it’s because of its attitudes toward women and sexual orientation.

My GLBT friends and readers would do best to ignore this latest slight by considering its source. As for everyone else, remember this golden rule: unless you’re actually talking about Hitler or the Klan, do yourself and everyone else a favor by leaving them out of all comparisons, metaphors, and similes.

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