Dec 272011

Via the Catholic League

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHF) includes luminaries as diverse as Albert Einstein and Shaquille O’Neal. It should not be dishonored by including bigots: Catholics will be outraged to learn that of the 50 nominees for the class of 2012, Thomas Nast made the cut. Nast is not only the most bigoted cartoonist in American history, the 19th-century artist consistently inflamed hatred against the Irish and Catholics alike.

Amazingly, the NJHF’s website omits any mention of Nast’s anti-Catholic legacy. No one is denying his many talents as a creative cartoonist, but to discuss his work without mentioning his virulent anti-Catholicism is on a par with discussing filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s contributions without citing her role in generating anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. Nast and Riefenstahl belong in a Bigots Hall of Shame, not in any honorary club.

Nast’s cartoons show a long and pernicious pattern of bigotry born of nativism [click here for a sampling]. He encouraged the mixing of racism and anti-Catholic bigotry in his depictions of the Irish as a race of inferior gorillas; he demonized the Church as a nefarious institution threatening America’s public schools; he depicted an attack on Fort Sumter by priests and bishops; he demonized bishops by portraying them as crocodiles with miters for jaws; and he also depicted them as emerging from slime while prowling towards children.

  7 Responses to “Honoring a Anti-Catholic bigot”

  1. You’re right Jeff! Those cartoons are just plain Nast y. 🙂

    Happy New Year

  2. Quite an interesting bit of info on Thomas Nast, which I never knew. Wasn’t he also responsible for our “Santa Claus” depiction, which is the Calvinist negation of the Christ Child?

    By the way, I respectfully suggest a little more research into the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl. To call her a Nazi stooge or sympathizer is to understand very little about her, or about the second world war.

  3. The exhibition seems to be yet another symptom of the poverty of classes in history. The ignorance displayed in such is amazing, were it not become common.

  4. look at our public ‘school system’ now…what a mess

  5. Look at the letter As in the miter/jester’s cap cartoon… (I had to zoom in a bit).

  6. I’ve seen a few of these before but all together they make quite an impression! What a nasty guy. Good cartoonist, though, and I suppose that should qualify him for the Hall of Fame. A lot of famous people were jerks. The question is, does their overall work survive their jerkiness, or is their jerkiness constitutive? Oooooo. Good philosophical term there. Was his nativism secondary to his work, or integral to it? That’s what I mean to say.

  7. Why was Thomas Nast anti-Catholic? He was a bigoted Protestant and a member of a family of radical socialists who had to leave Bavaria because his father’s socialist leanings put him at odds with the government. So, Nast got his bigotry from two poisoned stearms.

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