Duggan: The Icon and the Battle-Axe

31 March 2009  |  PAPERS & STUDIES

Joseph P. Duggan (IWP '07) is a frequent contributor of opinion pieces to The American Spectator.

Joesph P. Duggan earned an M.A. in Statecraft and World Politics from The Institute of World Politics in 2007.  Mr. Duggan is a frequent contributor of opinion pieces to The American Spectator in addition to Principal of the firm of Consultores Duggan y Landa.  Formerly, he was an official of the US Agency for International Development and a presidential speechwriter.  Here, he writes as a Catholic and an expert on Latin American affairs on a recent news item in Mexico.

MEXICO CITY -- Imagine an American Secretary of State one morning praying at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall and the next evening accepting a eugenics award named for Dr. Josef Mengele.

That is an apt analogy to the repugnant juxtaposition of gestures by Hillary Clinton during and following her brief visit to Mexico last week.

Color photographs and loud captions atop page one of the daily El Universal captured the Mexican public's sense of outraged bewilderment at Mrs. Clinton's visit March 26 to the Basilica of Guadalupe, Catholicism's second most visited shrine after St. Peter's in Rome. The Basilica rector, Monsignor Diego Monroy, stands with Mrs. Clinton and shows her the mestiza Madonna whose story is known to every Catholic schoolchild, an image believed to have been imposed miraculously on an Indian's cloak five centuries ago.

HILLARY CLINTON: Who painted it?

MONSIGNOR MONROY: God.

La Guadalupana is the archetypal icon of Latin American Catholicism. Catholics in the United States as well as in the Latin countries today invoke the Virgin of Guadalupe as the special patron of the pro-life movement.  

Was Hillary's public diplomacy fiasco a calculated insult addressed to something she regards as a superstition, or simply the unrehearsed utterance of a person so soulless that she cannot fathom believers' sense of mystery?

A clue to the answer came in the traveling diplomat's next stop after Mexico, Houston, where she accepted the Margaret Sanger Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation.

In Houston, Hillary lauded the very evils that pilgrims to Guadalupe pray to overcome: liberalized abortion laws and making United States taxpayers pay for abortions and abortion propaganda in "developing" countries.

The comparison of Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) and Josef Mengele (1911-1979) is not overdrawn. Even a cursory examination of her life's work and pronouncements shows Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, as one of the most strident and inhumane racists of the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s. In April 1932, for example, she wrote an article urging "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring." Eugenics was a fashionable social policy panacea at that time not only in Hitler's Germany, but also among powerful elites in the United States and other Western democracies.

Hillary Clinton provides the latest manifestation of what Arthur Schlesinger Sr. called "the deepest bias in the history of the American people" and "the only remaining acceptable prejudice" -- anti-Catholicism.

Secretary Clinton's words and actions in Mexico and Houston are elaborations of the disconcerting words of President Obama's Inaugural Address, his pledge to "restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its costs" and his gratuitous, unspecific slam against "worn out dogmas."

Nothing is more clear-cut than the chasm separating the Obama-Clinton ideology and programs from Christian faith and tradition and what Pope John Paul II, whose towering bronze image stands beside the Basilica here, called the Culture of Life.