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Playing the Victim

This report caught my eye:

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich screened his Catholic documentary “Nine Days That Changed the World” Monday night in Washington Hall and urged the audience to carry the film’s lessons into an increasingly secular nation. “Nine Days That Changed the World,” produced and narrated by the former speaker and his wife, Callista, chronicles Pope John Paul II’s historic first visit to Poland in June 1979 and the subsequent beginnings of the solidarity movement that overthrew the Polish Communists in 1990… At the end of the screening, the Gingriches greeted audience members and posed for photos with members of the College Republicans.

“It’s easier to be an atheist in America than a Christian,” Callista – a lifelong Catholic – told The Observer after the screening. Callista said there are many parallels between Poland under its communist regime and America today. “You see people that want to take down crosses or cover crosses. You see opposition to school prayer,” she said.

Oh good grief. I’m the last person to defend some of the stupidities of excessive separation-of-church-and-state symbolism, but just pause for a moment to take a look at the photograph below.

I took it in the churchyard of St. Stanislaw Kostka, Warsaw, during the final months of communist rule (in September, 1988, to be precise). Four years earlier, its parish priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, a fierce anti-communist and Solidarity supporter, had been beaten up and murdered by three secret policemen.

The heroic Fr. Popieluszko was very far from being the only martyr for his faith in the more than four decades of Communist dictatorship in Poland. To make the sort of comparisons that Mrs. Gingrich has apparently been making is to insult their memory.


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