Moral Equivalence


See here for the latest outrageous comments of Pastor Hagee. Such as that your daughter can get an abortion in public school. Sure, Hagee–and the late Jerry Falwell and the not late Pat Robertson et al.–are not the long-term pastors of John McCain or of any other notable Republican presidential hopeful of the past generation. And yes, they receive a round of condemnation when a particularly outrageous statement is made by one or another them–such as the notorious post-9/11 comments of Robertson and Falwell on the 700 Club:

Falwell: What we saw on Tuesday, terrible as it is, could be minuscule if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.
Robertson: That’s my feeling.

But within a few days or weeks or months, they’re back as more or less respectable fixtures of the public scene. When a Rudy Giuliani is endorsed by Robertson or a John McCain shows up at Liberty University to tug his forelock before Falwell, this is accepted as a normal part of GOP politics.
Hagee is a new figure on the scene, and so has received a certain amount of negative attention. But John McCain has been permitted to dissociate himself from certain Hagee views–about Catholicism, about Hurricane Katrina–without being belabored for failing to dissociate himself from the pastor himself. Is it crazier or nastier to consider the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon or to charge America with acts of terrorism? To say that New Orleans got its just deserts or to charge a federal government that let a group of poor black men die of syphilis as an experiment with infecting African Americans with AIDS? To say that America got what it deserved or that the chickens were coming home to roost? Far be it from me at this point to mount a full-throated defense of Jeremiah Wright. But is it utterly out of bounds to suggest that there might be a bit of a double standard lurking hereabouts?
Update: E.J. has the same thought.