Dear Catholic Right:
As your “Fortnight for Freedom” approaches you’ve been using a lot of metaphors to emphasize the seriousness of your fight. Tell me if I miss any:
-You’re Sir Thomas More, putting your collective neck on the line for your collective conscience.
-You’re the poor Mexican peasants of the Cristero uprising, courageously standing against the anti-clerical policies of the atheist Plutarco Elías Calles’ Revolutionary government, which banned priests from wearing clerical garb in public, imprisoned priests for criticizing the government, and even limited the number of priests that could serve in certain parts of the country.
-In a less specifically Catholic vein, you’re also Martin Luther King, Jr.
Does that cover it?
Here’s one metaphor I haven’t seen you make, but that I think is at least as appropriate:
You’re the Spanish right wing in the 1930s, led by Francisco Franco, fighting against the popularly elected Second Spanish Republic.
Hear me out, Catholic Right!
This doesn’t imply that your complaint is illegitimate—like Calles’ government in Mexico, the Spanish Republic instituted nasty anti-clerical laws and fostered an ugly anti-Catholicism that led to mob violence against the Church and its properties.
Nor does it diminish your courage. Many priests in 1930s Spain faced horrific fates in what came to be known as the “red terror,” and hundreds of right wing Spaniards from the time have been recognized as martyrs by the Church.
What’s more, the politics of the Spanish Civil War dovetail with your complaints about President Obama’s socialism, since the Republic was defended in large part by communists from the International Brigades.
But the Franco analogy is especially apt because you’re so confident of victory. As brave as Thomas More was, he didn’t succeed in turning England back into a Catholic country. And while the cristeros were able to gain some concessions from the Mexican government, their victory was partial, at best.
Franco, on the other hand, defeated the anti-clerical communists and instituted a government whose laws were based on “natural law,” where abortion and contraception were illegal, and the only legally-recognized marriages were those that fit the Catholic Church’s definition. That’s what you want, right?
The analogy is perfect!
So perfect, in fact, that it surprises me none of you have thought of it. Pope Benedict XVI even laid the groundwork—in a 2010 trip to Spain, he compared contemporary secularism with the red terror of the 1930s, saying, “But it is also true that laicism, a strong and aggressive secularism was born in Spain, as we saw in the 1930s.” He tied the lead-up to the Spanish Civil War to the secularism he saw spreading in Europe, but (cue ominous tones) couldn’t the same thing be said about America today?
So why not Franco?
I can think of a couple of objections:
First, you might argue that, whereas Franco came to power through a military coup and bloody civil war, you want to use democratic means to achieve your ends. Okay. But then Henry VIII is probably not the best comparison to Barack Obama, is he?
And you might say that it’s a bit hyperbolic to compare Franco’s falangist troops with your peace-loving priests and churchgoing voters. But then, again, I don’t see Barack Obama commanding federales to torture or kill anyone, and that hasn’t stopped your cristero comparison.
No, I think the real problem is that no one has made an inspiring, uplifting movie about the generalissimo in a while. Franco has no Man for All Seasons or For Greater Glory.
But that hardly seems fair. Call up Mel Gibson, get him on it. Silk screen some Franco t-shirts and hand them out at your upcoming “religious freedom” rallies. Let the whole world know what you’re fighting for.