And look where he ended up: Yesterday, we discussed Andrew Rosenthal’s use of the pleasing term “bigot.” See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/29/12.
Later, we were reading the Q-and-A from Candidate Kennedy’s famous speech about church and state in September 1960. Kennedy spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. The gathering included a number of ministers who didn’t seem especially friendly to the idea that a Catholic president would avoid serving the Pope.
Some of the questioning didn’t seem real friendly; to read the transcript or watch the tape, just click here. We were struck by this statement by Kennedy as the session was ending:
KENNEDY (9/12/60): Let me just—I guess our time is coming to an end, but I believe in it. Let me say, finally, that I am delighted to come here today. I don't want anyone to think because they interrogate me on this very important question, that I regard that as unfair questions or unreasonable or somebody who is concerned about the matter is prejudiced or bigoted. I think this fight for religious freedom is basic in the establishment of the American system, and therefore any candidate for the office, I think, should submit himself to the questions of any reasonable man.Were some of these ministers “bigots?” It’s always possible. But that is a very important term in modern American history. (You might even call it a “sacred” term.) Candidate Kennedy made it a point—he wouldn’t throw B-bombs around.
My only objection would be—my only limit to that would be that if somebody said regardless of Senator Kennedy's position, regardless of how much evidence he's given that what he says he means, I still wouldn't vote for him because he is a member of that church, I would consider that unreasonable. What I consider to be reasonable, and an exercise of free will and free choice, is to ask the candidate to state his views as broadly as possible, investigate his record to see what whether he states he believes and then to make an independent rational judgment, as to whether he could be entrusted with this highly important position. So I want you to know that I'm grateful to you for inviting me tonight. I'm sure that I have made no converts to my church. But I do hope—I do hope that at least my view, which I believe to be the view of my fellow Catholics, who hold office, I hope that it may be of some value in at least assisting you to make a careful judgment. Thank you.
Many state legislators in New Hampshire oppose marriage equality. Does that make them bigots? Yesterday, Rosenthal sprayed the term around in the promiscuous way he favors. He forgot to say that President Obama opposes equality too.
We’re old enough to recall the time when that term referred to the kinds for people who chased children through the streets with dogs, then went off and murdered their parents. Today, it’s a casual throw-away term, directed at those we dislike.