Catholic League shows image of famous Jewish comedian in flames. On Yom HaShoah.

No, I’m not kidding.  The Catholic League announced today a “Campaign Against Jon Stewart,” in which they will pressure advertisers on the Daily Show to withdraw their support in light of some comments and images on the show that they didn’t like.  (For the record, Stewart was talking about the curiously different reaction on Fox News to the “War on Christmas” vs. the “War on Women,” and the image shows up at 12:15 in this episode.)

Now, obviously, the League’s boycott is not going anywhere, so this story would normally be unworthy of discussion.  But what stands out is the League’s choice to depict Jon Stewart – who is Jewish, and who often loudly self-identifies as such – in flames.

That’s just a very, very bad choice.  It’s especially bad when you realize that today, the day on which the Catholic League made this announcement, is Yom HaShoah, the international day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust.  Which, in case you had forgotten, featured many Jews literally going up in flames.

Maybe the League didn’t realize that today was Yom HaShoah.  Or maybe they didn’t care.  Either way, the image is offensive and embarrassing to the League, and they should remove it.  It’s far worse than anything that showed up on the Daily Show.


25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. What is it with Catholic groups and fire imagery?

    This was posted yesterday at Left in Lowell.

    I’m willing to give benefit of the doubt that they didn’t know about Yom HaShoah (I didn’t either.), but for an institution that has survived 2000 years the institutional church seems awfully touchy lately.

  2. "It’s far worse than anything that showed up on the Daily Show."

    This statement is a matter of opinion.

  3. Catholic League

    “The Catholic League” is really a one man organization that has consistently fudged its numbers. Its members are anywhere from 150-300k tops, it makes only $2.1 mil a year and it has a 13 member staff, most of them friends and family of the President Bill Donohue. He has also appeared on Jon’s show and the Colbert Report and is obviously comfortable with their shows when the attention is on him. He is also a frequent guest of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity who both favor birth control and have criticized the church for protecting pedophiles on numerous occasion. His organization is hypocritical and speaks for very few Catholics.

    Also there is a sad legacy of anti-semitism on the part of traditionalist Catholics, one of the reason that in spite of my love for the Latin Mass I distance myself from that label. A lot of traditionalist Catholics (look at Mel Gibson) still reject Vatican II teachings that disavow the view that the Jews are Christ killers destined for hall, Donohue to his credit distanced himself from Gibson (a former member and donor), but he definitely comes from the old school that thinks the changes that modernized the Church, and the changes that will modernize the Church in years to come, are dire threats from the bowels of Satan.

    Speaking of war on women, the Church is ludicrously launching a war on nuns, some of the best and most vocal advocates of the Catholic faith in practice, which seems counter intuitive as vocations across the board decline but within female religious institutions are actually on the slight rise. “God is the Bigger Elvis” is a fantastic documentary on the selflessness of nuns and how nuns are females empowered to serve God rather than man and the needs of men. Unfortunately some men within the Church are still trying to constrict their mission and narrow it, which is a step in the wrong direction.

  4. Vagina mangers?

    I strongly dislike conservative Catholicism, but I doubt the Catholic League was thiinking about the Shoah. Stewart wasn’t representing Jews when he offended was particularly offensive with vagina mangers, there’s no reason to think of this as aimed at Jews.

    Is it okay It’s okay to offend some Catholics by mixing one of Catholicism’s more important symbols with a vagina (not particularly funny IMO), but not okay to picture Jon Stewart in hell because it might be misconstrued as having to do with the holocaust?

    I’m not offended by either picture, but Stewart started it and I doubt that the douchebag in question was thinking holocaust.

  5. Hmm

    My first thought is, it’s a stretch. They probably weren’t aware.

    My second thought is, if they want to be the CATHOLIC League, they ought to be aware of other religious holidays.

  6. The Catholic League is

    a right-wing Catholic organization that bills itself as a sort of anti-defamation league for Roman Catholics. They have little interest in other religious holidays. They aren’t particularly sensitive to other religions or Judaism. Donohoe was a vocal supporter of The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic story of the last days of Jesus. Donohoe, however, is an anti-semite:

    Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

  7. Vagina Manger

  8. Faith in action

    I’m glad to see religion lifting our political process to a higher level, reminding us of what’s really important.

  9. Well, and then there is a must watch video of three minutes of silence. STOP trivializing hatred, please.

    Whether people are rounded up for being Japanese, denied healthcare and spousal privileges by DOMA because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, stripped of their children due to their poverty, excluded because of their nationality (on and on) the demons of holocaust are in waiting.

    • Child Welfare

      There were a lot of people in CHINS shirts yesterday at the State House. Were you among them, amberpaw? Either way, do you know why they were there? Did you mean that you think people are being “stripped of their children due to poverty.”? Here, today?

  10. Well, the Catholic League hasn’t exactly been hip to Jewish sensibilities in the past:

    Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, OK? And I’m not afraid to say it. That’s why they hate this movie [Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ]. It’s about Jesus Christ, and it’s about truth. It’s about the messiah. Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common.

    William Donohue, 2004

    He doubled down in 2007. Why change now?

    I for one am going to get on the phone with my people in Hollywood and make sure that the cabal gets the campaign against the campaign against John Stewart up and running as soon as possible.

    • Please dont TedF

      The beast called Donahue only grows stronger when fed media attention, if Hollywood is truly Babylon he is its whore

      • Don't worry

        Hah! In case there was any confusion, I don’t have any people in Hollywood, there is no campaign against the campaign against John Stewart, and probably most importantly, there is no cabal.

  11. This is a non-issue that's worth

    talking about for what it exposes about liberal chauvinism. I’m non-religious and I love Jon Stewart, but the vagina manger was over the line.

    Religious or not, we all have sacred (as opposed to profane) symbols. (This is a sociological concept). Martin Luther King is one of mine.

    The game here is who has more of a right to indignation over perceived slights. The Holocaust was a real and horrific event, but it’s being talked about here for its scaredness, as a symbol that shouldn’t be profaned. Donohoe is an right-wing asshole and an anti-semite, but a lot of mainstream Christians, not just right-wing Catholics, would be offended by the vagina manger. It is sacred to many people. It shouldn’t be surprising when someone goes over the top.

    This is not the finest hour of liberals. (NOTE: I’m not saying Donohoe or Fox News ever had a finest hour).

    • Gotta agree with Mark

      It was over the top, that said I respect that Jon makes fun of all faiths including his own.

    • No, I think you're wrong.

      Let’s assume for the sake of argument that you’re right: that the “vagina manger” – obviously intended as a joke, though we can argue about whether it was successful – was offensive. I’m pretty confident that depicting an actual, living person, who is Jewish, going up in flames, with no humorous intent, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, is worse. Particularly when that depiction comes from a person who, as TedF accurately points out upthread, does not have the most distinguished record when it comes to sensitive commentary regarding Jews.

    • Humor

      The difference here is the *intent* behind the us of the two images.

      Stewart is a comedian and entertainer. The “vagina manger” was intended to be funny. Like much humor, it is “funny” (to some) in that it relied on sexual imagery, utilized the shock value of profaning usually sacred imagery, and fairly subtly highlighted hypocrisy (conservatives reluctance to use the term the “War on Women” despite the ease with which the “War on Christmas” rolls of their tongues. The reality that debates over the placement of a manager in a public space is central to the “War on Christmas” is what makes the joke both funny and a little profound. Whether you found it funny or not (I did), the intent was clearly *not* anti-Christian .

      Donohoe’s use of the Hell imagery was not humor. It was used as part of a coordinated attack on Stewart. The suggestion of the photo is that Stewart will be condemned for his profane joke. Given the 2000+ year history of anti-antisemitism and Christianity, it’s not surprising that concerns would subsequently arise about the Catholic League’s attacks on Stewart.

      • For the record, I pointed out that

        Donohue was an anti-semite before TedF, and maybe Donohue’s intention was anti-semitic here. I have my doubts since most of us goyim are completely unaware of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

        Stewart reminds me of someone who uses wit to make fun of a big, dumb jerk and then gets punched in the face. All of a sudden the Stewartish guy’s friends start complaining about how uncivilized the big, dumb guy is. What a jerk! Can you believe him?

        The Holocaust was certainly much worse the vagina manger joke, but I’m not sure picturing Jon Stewart in what I presume are the flames of hell on Holocaust Remembrance Day is. Maybe it is, but do we really want to get into victimology here? What value is there in arguing who has more right to be more offended? What’s the benefit?

        Humor is no excuse when it comes to satire. Stewart wasn’t just trying to make people laugh. He has a rhetorical and political aim (and one I happened to agree with); his jokes are criticism. It wasn’t like he was telling an “A guy walked into a bar” joke that went horribly wrong. I’m a fan of Stewart, and my guess is that he was trying to skirt the edge of offensiveness and ended up falling in.

        • I, for one, thought Stewart's riff was hilarious.

          More importantly, I think he was very successfull in his obvious satirical intent, which was to provoke public discussion (this thread being an example) of the appropriateness of displaying a manger in a “pubic space” (get it?).

    • This round of offense is just a manifestation of christian privilege.

      Remember when Sikhs were offended at the Jay Leno show’s use of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in a bit about Romney’s wealth? That was an ok bit, and by the same standards this one was ok too.

      • So what do you think of the offense taken,

        and I mean “taken,” from Donohue’s Stewart in flames on Holocaust Remembrance Day offense? I’m not referring to David’s post, but the meme itself, which is goes beyond BMG.

        We liberals pride ourselves on being rational, occasionally expecting others to be as rational, yet all of a sudden we are matching Christian sensitivity with Holocaust sensitivity. What’s up with that? Since when did our side start to compete in the sacred cow rodeo?

        • That wasn't a 'bit' now what it?

          Comparing comedy to a threat kind of misses the point, doesn’t it? There is a category difference here, yes?

          • I don't see why the difference

            is significant. Rush Limbaugh frequently says offensive under the aegis of humor. He’s not funny and he’s disingenuous when he claims to be satirical, but why does satire get a free pass?

            Here’s what I said above,

            Humor is no excuse when it comes to satire. Stewart wasn’t just trying to make people laugh. He has a rhetorical and political aim (and one I happened to agree with); his jokes are criticism. It wasn’t like he was telling an “A guy walked into a bar” joke that went horribly wrong.

            . Donohue didn’t threaten to kill Stewart’s family. He threatened to boycott. That’s okay if you’re funny?

            I’m not trying to defend Donohue. I couldn’t care less about what pisses him off. I’m completely opposed to his mission. I do think that allowing people to hold some things sacred is okay and that there is some difference between poking fun at something and being sacreligious. I felt the same way about the Danish cartoons about Mohammed. I have no problem with freedom of speech, but there’s something duplicitous about us poking religious people with a stick, getting a rise out of them, and then taking offense–the same kind of offense–at their response.

            • Limbaugh isn't a comedian.

              He can claim what he wants to, but he simply doesn’t function in that context.

              Comedy has always enjoyed more cultural latitude. Satire has always enjoyed more cultural latitude. This is historical and current. It is axiomatic. Does that mean the attempt at humor is always a satisfactory justification? No. But the humorous/satirical context is absolutely a more permissive context.

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