Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vs. St. Damien: The Deeper Issue

Sadly, what is happening in our country and culture is a politicization of race whereby progressives—ironically, in the name of “diversity”—judge people by the color of their skin.

Left: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks with the news media in July 2019. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz); right: A photo of Saint Damien of Molokai, taken in 1889, weeks before his death, by William Brigham. (Wikipedia)

Three days after the executive editor of the National Catholic Reporter called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “the future of the Catholic Church”—striking language given that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee called her “the future of our party”—the self-described “democratic socialist” congresswoman issued a highly troubling statement against St. Damien Molokai. Her Instagram statement was immediately criticized by Catholics, with the likes of Bishop Robert Barron rightly calling it “crazy and outrageous” and “ridiculous and insulting,” and with Michael Warren Davis responding eloquently at Crisis Magazine.

And yet, what Ocasio-Cortez said reflects some disconcerting deeper issues that go beyond her embarrassingly ignorant statement.

Ocasio-Cortez asked why there aren’t more statues honoring women at the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. To buttress her point, she chose a bad person to pick on: “Even when we select figures to tell the stories of colonized places, it is the colonizers and settlers whose stories are told—and virtually no one else,” she protested. “Check out Hawaii’s statue. It’s not Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii, the only Queen Regnant of Hawaii, who is immortalized and whose story is told. It is Father Damien.”

Her objection quickly turned into a diatribe:

This isn’t to litigate each and every individual statue, but to point out the patterns that have emerged among the totality of them in who we are taught to deify in our nation’s Capitol: virtually all men, all white, and mostly both. This is what patriarchy and white supremacist culture looks like! It’s not radical or crazy to understand the influence white supremacist culture has historically had in our overall culture and how it impacts the present day.

This was, directly or indirectly, highly uncharitable toward St. Damien, a non-native Hawaiian who traveled thousands of miles to give his life in service to lepers—to people no one else would go near. Damien thus remains a hero to Hawaiians, and certainly not an image of “white supremacist culture” or “patriarchy” or colonization. “We did not judge him by the color of his skin,” explains Dallas Carter, a native Hawaiian and catechist for the Honolulu diocese. “We judged him by the love that he had for our people.”

Therein is the inherently unfair flaw of Ocasio-Cortez’s assessment. She looked at Damien in a very limited and very negative light: a white male European who took a statue spot that could have been better given to a woman. Sadly, what is happening in our country and culture is a politicization of race whereby progressives—ironically, in the name of “diversity”—judge people by the color of their skin. Ethnicity or place of origin (or gender) is their starting point in so many evaluations. This is the polar opposite of the color-blind society that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and so many of us have long strived for. Rather than being ignored, race is underscored, and too often in a way that divides rather than unites. Our culture suddenly seems more rather than less racialized.

Ocasio-Cortez’s defenders will rush to parse her words about St. Damien and extend her a charity they would never extend to people they dislike on the conservative side. They will hasten to invoke the reply of her staff, which scrambled to cover for her: “Fr. Damien conducted acts of great good, and his is a story worth telling,” an Ocasio-Cortez staffer later told the Catholic News Agency. Nonetheless, “It is still worthy for us to examine from a US history perspective why a non-Hawaiian, non-American was chosen as the statue to represent Hawaii in the Capitol over other Hawaiian natives who conducted great acts of good, and why so few women and people of color are represented in Capitol statues at all.”

Again, note the lens: The focus of the congresswoman’s staff, even when defending her, is ethnicity and gender. The reality is the people of Hawaii chose Damien to represent Hawaii in Statuary Hall because of what he did for them, with no concern for his gender, race, or origin. It was his works, his kindness that mattered, not his complexion. But Ocasio-Cortez and her staff—and so many like them—do not think that way. Their priorities are such that the works and kindness are fall secondary to the identity.

Likewise regrettable, what Ocasio-Cortez offered was less a positive statement arguing for more women to be represented than a negative statement about the men represented. It was a negative statement based on negative stereotypes aggressively peddled by today’s cultural progressives.

Alas, from a Catholic perspective, this is not how we, in our universal Church, should look at one another. (This assumes, quite importantly, that Ocasio-Cortez is a practicing Catholic—which I honestly do not know. One of the only semi-acknowledgments we have of her faith is a short piece she wrote on criminal justice reform for America Magazine in June 2018.)

And yet, this disappointing statement comes just as Ocasio-Cortez was curiously hailed as “the future of the Catholic Church” by the executive editor of the National Catholic Reporter. In that article, Heidi Schlumpf marveled at a speech that Ocasio-Cortez gave on the House floor: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning speech on the House floor last week has been called ‘a comeback for the ages,’ ‘the most important feminist speech in a generation’ and ‘a lesson in sexism and decency.’ I just call it ‘truth.’”

Schlumpf continued: “As I listened to her 10-minute address on the House floor, I was struck by how often it referenced Catholic values. Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly railed against the ‘dehumanizing’ of others and instead called for treating people with dignity and respect. These are themes often repeated by Pope Francis, who has specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying ‘it is possible to kill someone with the tongue.’”

Francis indeed has repeatedly said just that.

Schlumpf’s appraisal really struck me. It did so because I’ve long been struck by how the progressive left, in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity,” is so quick to dehumanize and cast aside others—and not treat them with dignity and respect—if they come from a certain era or place and have a different skin color. Hence, a European missionary to native peoples is reflexively assumed to be a “colonizer” of ill-will. Look no further than the horrific treatment—the stereotypical assumptions and aspersions—of Saint Junipero Serra throughout California right now.

As for St. Damien, perhaps the best excuse we could make for Ocasio-Cortez is to assume she’s ignorant of him. (Such would not speak well for a person who’s “the future of the Catholic Church.”) To her, “Father Damien” (she may not be aware of his canonization) was assumed to be less deserving right out of the gate because he was a male Christian missionary from Western Europe and not a “native.” St. Damien, in short, found himself disrespected if not dehumanized, not treated with dignity and respect. What Ocasio-Cortez did was reflective of the progressive left’s intolerance and bigotry—yes, bigotry—toward a certain type of person from a certain time and era to whom it tends to ascribe bad motives. It stems from nasty preconceived notions, and sadly, such attitudes are learned and rife among progressives in our universities.

Again, what Heidi Schlumpf said of Pope Francis is fitting, though (ironically) not in her application to Ocasio-Cortez: “Pope Francis … has specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying ‘it is possible to kill someone with the tongue.’”

What has been done to St. Junipero Serra (to be clear, not by Ocasio-Cortez but others) is precisely the murder of a reputation and good name by the tongue, by gossip, by disrespectful language. Let’s hope it doesn’t now spread to St. Damien Molokai.

Unfortunately, one thing painfully evident in the statue craze is how quickly the mob turns. It started with Confederate generals and Jefferson Davis but soon ended up targeting Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, and (good grief) even Frederick Douglass. Among Catholics, the mob soon came for Columbus, Saint Louis, Saint Serra, and even the Blessed Mother and Jesus himself. And when there’s no resistance or push back, the other side gets sloppy and reckless with its words and actions. You never know where this leads.

Don’t be surprised to find a statue of St. Damien splashed with red paint soon.


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About Dr. Paul Kengor 50 Articles
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His books include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, and, most recently, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.

41 Comments

    • Thank you AOC!
      You have brought to the public’s attention what a truly loving selfless man Father Damien was. He proved how much he cared for those helpless ones. He built a church, hospital, houses. He taught them how to grow their food. He loved them by action and deed. He did not just mouth platitudes.

      Your pettiness has made known a Saint that most of the world did not know. The good of knowing about Father is a plus that helps everyone.

      Leprosy is still a disease that must be treated. His conduct towards them showed the world that there is always those in need. Saint Mother Teresa followed in the foot steps of Saint Demian. Who will be next.

  1. When I read her comment about St Damien I could only think of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin in the old SNL Point Counterpoint skit. For younger readers, look it up on YouTube. “…perhaps the best excuse we could make for Ocasio-Cortez is to assume she’s ignorant of him.”

  2. “Push back” needs to come from Church leadership. Instead of pious mouthings about that day’s readings, it might be more practical to instruct priests that their congregations need to understand why voting to put these people on the radical left into even deeper levels of power would not only be a bad idea, but a sin. That they disparage the Blessed Mother and Jesus and do violence to churches by burning them, tells us much about what this group believes. It is not good.In fact it is dangerous and violent. As for the bartender who advocates for throwing away Saint Damien, in favor of Queen Lili, I would like to know WHAT if anything of substance did the Queen do besides sit on her throne as a figurehead?? Was it as self-sacrificing as bringing dignity to the throw-aways of Hawaiian society, it’s lepers? And to the degree to get leprosy herself, as Damien did? Its doubtful she did anything of such value. Personally I like my heroes with a brain and a heart. Other anatomical features do not figure in my list of requirements as they seem to with AOC. .

    • Miss Ocasio-Cortez, whether out of ignorance, malice, or whatever seems in effect to be playing St. Damien and Princess, later Queen Liliʻuokalani off against each other, when in fact, as Michael Warren Davis notes in his 3 August article online at Crisis, she was his “great admirer” and practical supporter, as he further notes not only naming “Father Damien to the Royal Order of Kalakaua” as “soon as she returned to the capital of Honolulu” after her first time visiting the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai in September 1881, but after succeeding her brother to the throne, also becoming “a champion of lepers in her own right”.

      Hilde Eynikel’s biography of him, translated into English in 1999, is a good source for more information, though the 1999 film based on it gives a good impression of her support, too.

      I would not be surprised if there are various painted or sculpted depictions of them together – though, if so, there’s always room for more.

    • Ah, the old argument that the church needs to be an activist political agitator, just like AOC. Just on the other side. Sorry, the church is above politics. I do not understand why there is this weird demand for our bishops and priests to just become another shouter in the political shouting match. Perhaps it is because we have so many loud mouth fake Catholics with websites and youtube channels, whose only responsibility is to rile up mobs of twitter followers. These people want the church to become another political activist group. They have no adherence to the truth, just to taking an extremist side on things.

      By the way, as to church burnings, have you noticed that after one favorite youtube pope puts up a video about how the church is under attack in Florida, they find out later it was a mentally ill man who decided to go off his meds? So, no, this is not a concerted attack on the church. And people need not feel afraid. But the youtube pope would be out of business if he cannot get people to be afraid. When a tiny fire was lit at a church in Weymouth, MA, last week, it merely scorched the door. No serious damage at all. But your youtube pope went back and found a picture from 2005, that showed the church entirely engulfed in flame and smoke. Turns out they had an electrical fire in 2005, where the church was really damaged. So rather than show the small burn marks on the door in 2020, the outraged, youtube pope faked a picture from 15 years ago to get his gullible followers all riled up. Its a dirty shame that people are being misled by this crazy conspiracy crowd.

      • Among the problems is that so many bishops and priests – and cardinals – have throughout so much of the world been either shouters in the political shouting match or insidious quiet workers as activist (church-)political agitators on much the same side as Miss Ocasio-Cortez over the past sixty to seventy years at least (revisit, e.g., the 1955 Dutch Catechism, and the behavior of that St. Damien biographer (!) Cardinal Danneels with respect to the victim of 13 years of incestuous same-sex pedophile abuse by his colleague, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe).

        What I notice about a lot of instances of church vandalisms, fires, disruptions of services, even the murder of Father Jacques Hamel, for whose cause for beatification Pope Francis waived the mandatory five-year waiting period in April 2017, is how incuriously, even obscurely, the details including the possibly multiple motives of the suspects are frequently reported.

  3. Well if Ms. Cortez is the future of the Democratic Party and the future of the Catholic Church then maybe she is the future President-Pope. Sounds laughable but there was an unemployed veteran/artist that became a King and High Priest in a highly technologically advanced Christian nation just a few years ago; He and his friends had their own special social distancing salute, really cool marketing graphics and huge “In-crowd” appeal.

  4. If AOC is the future of the Catholic Church,then it’s in deep, deep trouble. She’s an avowed socialist. But then, take a look at our current Pope. As for her being the leader, standard bearer of the Democratic Party that would be it’s demise. She does not stand for anything that our Constitution declares. The world we are living in has been turned upside down…..and not in a good way.

  5. These people who insist on parsing society into various subgroups are not speaking for the Catholic Church or according to Catholic principles. Catholic means universal, and we emphasize what is universal: our shared humanity, our shared dignity, our shared creation in the image and likeness of God. When we begin to say ‘some people are more equal than others,’ and hurry to put labels on ourselves (self-hyphenating Americans, take note) we are simply making life easier for the people who will one day come knocking in the middle of the night to round up their enemies. What did the Nazis do as a first step toward massive genocide? They put people on lists; they made legal definitions of who is a Jew, who is a fully functioning human being and who is somehow ‘defective,’ who is for us and who is against us. And the moment they had enough power – whether political power of the power of ruthless thugs – they started hunting down the people on their lists.

    All those people eager to be ‘more equal’ by self-identifying as gay or self-identifying as this or that race or gender are saying, ‘I don’t identify as simply HUMAN, I identify as a quality of my personal self, which puts me above the masses of ordinary people and gives me special privileges.’ When that quality becomes anathema to some ruling elite or group of thugs, those people will easily be identified as sub-human and destroyed. Read history; the lesson is there: label and destroy the people who are destabilizing society and making the majority uncomfortable.

    As a Catholic, I insist on the HUMANITY of each person I see. Only when we insist on the truth, that all HUMANS have value, that every HUMAN life matters, are we safe. The minute we say that our lives matter more than others’, we put ourselves in the position of being exterminated when the tide turns against today’s self-proclaimed elites. When a society swings to one extreme or another, it inevitably ends up trying to find a happy medium where the majority of people can live in peace, and that often means eliminating minorities who have assumed power over the majority in one way or another (economic power, political power, even the raw power of a small army with guns and tanks over a much larger general population). Right now, these thugs in the minority are having their day, but one way or another – possibly even by violence on the scale of Hitler’s Germany – they will be eliminated or cast aside so society can go back to a peaceful moderation for the majority. When people set themselves up as untouchable elites whose privileges destabilize the life of the majority of people, there is always and inevitably a revolution or purge by the majority.

    This madness will pass, but it may take a civil war or totalitarian regime or decades of subjugation of the masses before Americans have anything like a free and civil society again. Fascist elites imposing their narrative on the masses never ends well, and that’s what’s happening in the US today with gender and racial politics and thuggery.

  6. Cortez, Biden, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc. are reflecting the teaching of the Catholic church……”we are all God’s children and EVERYBODY goes to heaven when they die”. Scripture says differently. EVERYONE who does not acknowledge that the only way to heaven is by faith and trust in the only TRUE Lord, Mediator and Savior Jesus Christ.

    It’s one of the oldest trick and statement by satan..”Did God really say….?” Yes, if you read scripture that is exactly what he said. The lie of the Catholic church is that man (the creature) overrides what God(the Creator) says.

    • “reflecting the teaching of the Catholic church……”we are all God’s children and EVERYBODY goes to heaven when they die””

      That is not the teaching of the Catholic Church; far otherwise. It would probably help if you read something other than Jack Chick and Loraine Boettner. Like, say, the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      “1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification592 or immediately,593-or immediate and everlasting damnation.594”
      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P2L.HTM

    • This poor, wounded, raging person must have had a terrible experience of life. She is against everything good, pure and healthy. Yes, the Church has messed up, time and time again but I trust the Church over this pathetic woman.

      • Hey Brian,

        “I never said you stole money”

        Please interpret that statement.

        Could you interpret the entire bible alone? Who put the Bible you read together and when? I imagine you belong to one of over 33,000 denominations in the world, right?

        The thing you probably hate about the Catholic Church is what it does not represent and the church members are fallible and sinful but Jesus’ Catholic Church is holy and the gates of hell will never prevail against it!

        Interestingly, during exorcisms, the devil and his demons hate holy water, our blessed mother and his catholic saint or priest. If the Catholic Church is “the whore of Babylon” like you believe it is, then the father of lies should laugh at holy water and priests and remain in the possessed person forever but it is not the case, so please pray over what I’ve said and let the Holy Spirit guide you!

        I’ll be praying for you

        Merlin

  7. With all respect to my friend, Dr. Kengor, we know where this sort of thing always leads: Becket’s tomb. There is no principle that stops it short of that.

    I would also find it worthwhile for someone to ask Heidi Schlumpf if it isn’t Christ as always supposed to be “the future of the Catholic Church.”

  8. “Gosh young lady, didn’t someone say, ‘I have a dream…children… live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character’.” ??

  9. lj ,
    I’ve read a little about Hawaii’s history & Queen Lili’uokalani & truthfully I’m surprised she wasn’t first selected for a statue to represent that state.
    I deeply admire Fr. Damien & he’s certainly a holy & worthy candidate for that honor, but he was Belgian so I do sort of see the point there.

    Queen Lili’uokalani from what I’ve read was a sincere Christian ruler & someone also
    worthy to be honored by Hawaii.
    Hawaii’s history & our landgrab of those islands is a sad tale.

    • I agree. While the timing of this action is unfortunate, I think the point was, whether chosen by Hawaiians or not, this statue is another example of White Europeans being chosen and placed in states of recognition.
      She’s not attacking Catholicism, she was pointing out the fact that those represented in that Capitol hall, are political leaders, albeit, choosing Fr. Damien was a poor example considering the backlash. That being said, why isn’t the statue of the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani.
      So much for separation of church and state.

  10. Damien inspires. Countless men and women of goodwill keep serving the stigmatized and the ostracized in different parts of the world.

  11. Judging by the color of ones skin is part of the master plan, as it creates division, which is a key part of the Marxist agenda to take over this country. Anti-religion is also part of the agenda.

  12. Prof. Anthony Esolen has a new piece about this topic. The email message from The Catholic Thing has a blunt synopsis:

    Anthony Esolen: To say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the future of the Church is stupid. She is not the future of anything that has a future, because she is stupid.

    SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2020

  13. Thanks Dr.Kengor, nice article connecting NCR, Pope Francis, AOC. Let’s not miss the point, what is the deeper issue here? Heidi Schlumpf, and the National “Catholic” Reporter, NCR, know well that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, is pro-abortion, pro-gender ideology, pro-LGBT “rights”, and anti-Israel-Western Civilization, and anti-Catholic; they share a lot it. So, why NCR said AOC is a model of a Catholic? By saying it, the intention of the of the NCR and Heidi Schlumpf, is using AOC’s “dehumanization” of the person — connecting it with ambiguous similar messages of Pope Francis– to oppose Social Justice, “ institutional racism” against Family and Life values inside the Catholic Church. As if they were so important that even all the good made by Christian civilization along the history of humanity is nothing if a so called “institutional racism” fabricated by the left persist as measured by statues of Saints.

    National “Catholic” Reporter pretend that the core values of the Catholic Church are not anymore Life and Family as image of God but whether or not people are “dehumanized”, as if terminating the life of the unborn, teaching children that man can marry another man, and “he” can be a “she”, and vice-verse, were not perverse dehumanization. Let’s not be fooled, Heidi Schlumpf and National “Catholic” Reporter would want us to discuss the stupidities of AOC rather than unacceptable anticatholic advances of LGBT ideology in the Vatican that they and others similar actually support the most as new “normal” in Church and society. Such is the case of the new Vatican’s sex education program http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/?lang=en elaborated by Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia, who ordered a mural for his cathedral Church in Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy, depicting “ homoerotic themes, transgender persons, prostitutes, drug dealers …” including himself in such mural. But as incredible and insulting as it is, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Paglia head of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. He should resign for it. https://onepeterfive.com/blasphemous-disgusting-demonic-archbishop-paglias-homoerotic-mural/

    • Has the Executive Editor of the National Catholic Reporter been fired yet ? If not ,why not ? Some of the comments above, including from Terence McManus underestimate dangerously what a massive danger AOC poses, not only to unborn babies, but to the Catholic Church in the US and throughout the world. Please don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

      • I do not underestimate the danger which she poses, nor do I underestimate that posed by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, among others.

        But – the woman is an idiot, she proves that every time she opens her mouth, as do Biden and Pelosi, and that should be pointed out – frequently.

        Our faith has fallen to the point that many non-catholics look upon these 3 and others as examples of our faith.

        Professor Esolen puts it quite nicely – and bluntly.

  14. I think there is a bit of an unfair assessment happening here. It is perfectly possible to acknowledge the great work he undertook and still criticise the choice. Throughout history there are countless great, kind people. Very few get honoured in this sort of way, with statues etc. She is quite clear that her criticism is one example in a pattern rather than specifically targeted.

    It seems totally valid the kind work of this Belgian man whilst thinking that other great people who actually represent the indigenous population would be a better alternative. Better representing the people seems like a fair goal.

    It is only tied to race and gender because almost all of history is celebrated as the history of great white men, so it has to be to offset that starting bias. Do people think that we shouldn’t celebrate individuals like Queen Lili’uokalani? The majority of great historical figures wont be celebrated with statues, so it seems valid to want the ones that are to represent the range and diversity of America, rather than a small cross-section

    • There are some of us who don’t look at statues, or people, and check them off against some mental tally sheet to make sure that they feature “range” and “diversity.” When we see a statue of someone like St. Damien we thank God that He has given us such great saints.

      “It is only tied to race and gender because almost all of history is celebrated as the history of great white men, so it has to be to offset that starting bias.”

      No, actually, it doesn’t. And I’m a little tired of the rather silly argument that only people who are featured in history books (generally political history) were important. Most women weren’t in history books because politics was not the realm in which they were most involved. So what? They were still important. Don’t denigrate women by denying that.

      “Do people think that we shouldn’t celebrate individuals like Queen Lili’uokalani?”

      I see nobody who has said so (and in any even I’m not sure what you mean by “like Queen Lili-uokalani”). She just doesn’t happen to have been chosen by Hawaii as one of their two contributions to the hall of statues. The elected representatives of the people of Hawaii decided on St. Damien. What right do you have to override their decision? And, by the way, at the same time a statue of King Kamehameha I was given. Last time I looked, King Kamehameha wasn’t a “great white man.”

      https://www.hawaiicatholicherald.com/2020/08/04/the-story-of-the-statue-how-father-damiens-capitol-sculpture-came-to-be/

      If you wanted to argue that the statue of St. Damien should be replaced by a different one of him that isn’t hideously modern, I’d be agreeing with that.

    • Dougla, you raise points worth further consideration and ‘homework’ – and Leslie, you nicely take some of them a step further.

      “Very few get honoured in this sort of way” – a very specific sort of way, in the National Statuary Hall Collection, as Leslie points out and Miss Ocasio-Cortez herself accented: statues chosen two each by each of the states. (In terms of being “honoured in this sort of way” more broadly, there is a statue of Queen Lili’uokalani outside the Hawaii State Capitol as well as the duplicate cast of that of St. Damien.) I have not yet done my homework on exactly how that choosing has been done since 1864, when Justin Morell’s suggestion became law, but, indeed, the question is, who has the right to override the decision made by the “elected representatives of the people of Hawaii” in 1967 – at the end of a discussion and process reported in the interesting article by Anna Weaver which Leslie links to have begun not long after Hawaii became a state in 1959? Might Miss Ocasio-Cortez while representing the State of New York perhaps nonetheless intend an implicit federal-government attack on state sovereignty as recognized by the 1864 law? Or is she instead engaged in implicit lobbying of the Hawaiian legislature?

      In any case, is it not quite clear that some kind of ‘specific targeting’ must have gone into choosing “one example”, and St. Damien as that example? She could, for example, have reflected on the 2015 decision by the representatives of the people of North Carolina to replace the 1932 statue of Charles Brantley Aycock with one of the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham. Instead, she curiously chose someone not a native born or naturalized resident of Hawaii – that is, an immigrant – as depicted by a woman born to Venezuelan parents in Paris who studied and worked in the U.S. – that is, another immigrant.

      When, in the introductory “Message” to the latest, March 2020 edition of the official National Statuary Hall Collection booklet available free online, Mrs. Pelosi speaks of having “dedicated statues of civil rights advocates Rosa Parks and Chief Standing Bear, and […] abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth” standing “alongside Presidents Washington and Jefferson”, it is not clear to me just what she means, as George Washington is the only one of those five who is a part of the 100 statues in this specific Collection. But, it seems pretty clear that the other four – or any others – would need to be substituted for a statue already there by one of the states.

  15. What Alexandria Ocasio Cortez doesn’t know would fill many volumes. Queen Lili’uokalani visited St. Damien and gave him one of Hawaii’s highest honors. The other statue for Hawaii in Statuary Hall is Kamehameha I, the king who united the islands. The statue of St. Damien was made by Marisol Escobar, who was of Venezuelan heritage.
    It’s such a shame that we have to go through this race/sex/heritage rigamarole.

  16. IMO you grant her a gravitas which she does not merit in any way shape or form – The woman is an idiot, which she makes more obvious with every word she utters.

  17. This article is only indicative of the author’s advancing age, his conservative bias, his Catholic bias, his crotchety nature, and his very great lack of appreciation for the evil times we have slid into, and he cannot acknowledge the brave awesomeness of young Senator Ocasio-Cortez.

    So you do not want a wonderful Catholic saint taken out of Washington DC. Of course not! No doubt he was wonderful. Robert Louis Stevenson and folks everywhere wouldn’t have lied about that.

    He was also voted “The Greatest Belgian” in BELGIUM, and he is buried in BELGIUM (all but the remains of his right hand). He never immigrated to Hawaii, he volunteered to go on a church mission for some years. Scholars have pointed out that the contributions of many other wonderful native people (who DID dare to go near) have not been focused on. The lepers were literally told “he will be your father,” no choice of religion. And he was terrific, a BELGIAN hero. But I do not think he would have voted to put himself in the US Capitol representing Hawaii.

    How about moving his statue to the Belgian Embassy where they would probably be ecstatic, and putting the famous Queen in the Capitol. Wait a minute, I’m posting on a Catholic website, that idea won’t fly.

    Once the Catholic Church makes the Indian Paramahansa Yogananda a saint I’ll take notice of their new broad-mindedness.

    COLUMBUS??? Has the author STILL not figured out what a rat he was? Seriously?

    • “his Catholic bias,”

      And on a Catholic website. How very odd.

      “his very great lack of appreciation for the evil times we have slid into”

      Believe me, he, and we, know that the times are evil. Abortion, contraception, homosexual perversion, the denial of reality that is the “trans” movement, the attempts to destroy the family (even more than it has already been destroyed) under the pretence that it has something to do with the value of black lives… However, Ocasio-Cortez supports all those evils, and thus is an extremely bad Catholic, if she can claim to be one at all.

      “the brave awesomeness of young Senator Ocasio-Cortez.”

      I am hoping very much that you are being ironic, because if not it is quite frightening that you are out walking around loose. Even at the level of plain fact, with no opinion attached, she is not a Senator, for one thing; she’s a Representative.

      “How about moving his statue to the Belgian Embassy where they would probably be ecstatic, and putting the famous Queen in the Capitol. Wait a minute, I’m posting on a Catholic website, that idea won’t fly.”

      How about acknowledging that it was the people of Hawaii who chose to put St. Damien’s statue in the Hall of Statues, as was their right; and acknowledging that both Ocasio-Cortez and you are treating the people of Hawaii with contempt because you don’t like their decision. And why should Queen Liliuokalani’s statue be put there? Because she was a queen? King Kamehameha’s statue is already there. Got a prejudice against non-royal people, have you, as well as against Catholics?

      “Once the Catholic Church makes the Indian Paramahansa Yogananda a saint I’ll take notice of their new broad-mindedness. ”

      The Church doesn’t “make people” saints, she recognizes people who are saints. And that wouldn’t include a fraud and head of a silly cult like Paramahansa Yogananda

      “COLUMBUS??? Has the author STILL not figured out what a rat he was? Seriously?”

      The author hasn’t figured out something that isn’t true, and your method of argument is so puerile as to be both contemptible and risible.

    • His Wikipedia article notes that in 1889 St. “Damien was laid to rest under the same pandanus tree where he first slept upon his arrival on Moloka’i.” His biographer, Hilde Eynikel, notes that in 1873 his bishop, in presenting him to the community who insisted he stay, said he would sleep under it until he could send him wood to build himself a house, and adds that it is the worst sort of tree to rest under, but for the Hawaiians the symbol of a stranger who takes up residence in Hawaii, elsewhere captioning a photo of the tree as the symbol of the immigrant Damien who became a Hawaiian.

      His Wikipedia article also notes, “In January 1936, at the request of King Leopold III of Belgium and the Belgian government, Damien’s body was returned to his native land in Belgium.” But Hilde Eynikel supplies the details that he expressly wanted to be buried under the pandan tree, and that the Hawaiian Holy Name Society protested, and the lepers pleaded, unsuccessfully, that his body be allowed to remain in his chosen resting place. In making him a Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kalākaua in 1881, after her first visit to him and his community, Crown Princess Lili’uokalani said she was aware that his work and self-sacrifice resulted exclusively from his desire to help his unhappy neighbors and that he sought his reward and inspiration only from the Holy Father and Lord of us all, but urged him to accept the honor as witness to her appreciation of work, and called herself his friend.

  18. Yes, it’s Representative Ocasio-Cortez. Thanks to the poster for the correction.

    I would strongly encourage folks to look up all these historical figures (both past and present ones) instead of taking anyone’s opinion on the internet.

    If my language above was very harsh I apologize. My boyfriend is Catholic and I love him and respect him. I just don’t understand the author of the article. No one looking up the Saint in question would ever put red paint on his statue, so I see no need to worry at all. I’m fine with his statue being anywhere, but I do think about separation of church and state.

    • Maya, I got to thinking about your writing, “Scholars have pointed out that the contributions of many other wonderful native people (who DID dare to go near) have not been focused on”, and wanted to ask you – and any other readers – for any ‘recommended reading suggestions’ you might like to make – I expect I’m not the only one who would welcome on- or offline suggestions, scholarly – or popular (like the Anna Weaver article Leslie linked).

      My edition of Hilde Eynikel’s biography is stronger on its mini-biography list than on indexing – but that list gives me the impression she is one of the scholars who is also accenting “many other wonderful native people (who DID dare to go near)”. Her biography is both long and easy to look things up in, and I have never read it right through from cover to cover, but I’ve started to do so, now.

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