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tv   20th Century Catholic Politicians  CSPAN  April 6, 2019 9:12pm-9:31pm EDT

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soon. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] inyou can watch lectures history every weekend on american history tv. we take you inside college classrooms to learn about topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. that is saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern on c-span3. john mcgreevy, professor at the university of notre dame talks about 20th century catholic politics and politicians. he compares the challenges faced by our smith and john kennedy and they each ran for president. the currentesses sexual abuse scandal in the catholic church. interview was recorded at the annual american historical association meeting.
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steve: john mcgreevy, from the university of notre dame, gore but which cannot i figured to go, "catholicism and american freedom," what is the premise behind it and what did you learn? prof. mcgreevy: i want to learn how american ideas of freedom intersected with the catholic global tradition. i learned there were moments of conflict and moments of overlap. in the 19th century, there was conflict over slavery. not many catholics were abolitionists. lots of overlap in efforts to reform the economy. there was overlap in the 50's on ideas about americanization. the intention of issues of sexuality, divorce, a lot of cordial issues -- cultural issues. steve: more than 90 years ago, al smith ran for president. the first catholic on the ticket. why was that significant? prof. mcgreevy: he was an immigrant kid from new york city, irish and german descent. never got beyond eighth-grade. against herbert hoover.
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by then i think 20's, the catholics are about 25% of the population. they have faced considerable discrimination in the 19 century. even the 1920's with the ku klux klan. being on the ticket was a marker that the catholics were making it in national life.the fact that he lost so significantly was a marker that to run for president as a catholic was a disadvantage. he lost significantly in the south, which at that time, was entirely democratic. steve: they have a dinner in his name every year. by the archdiocese of new york. what was he like as a person? prof. mcgreevy: charming. immigrant. thick new york accent. that was controversial in the 1928 campaign, which had the first discussions on radio of american politics. he became bitter as an old man. he was better that franklin sophisticatedh,
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became thought of as the leader of the democratic party and the of the common you see him shift ideologically. roosevelt. at he works against what he was doing as a pretty liberal democratic governor of new york and tothere was a sour risk -- and to his career in the 1930's. he became the governor of new york and became quite successful, implementing social welfare programs and reforms around child labor and that sort of thing. that made him an icon for a lot of american catholics. steve: why were catholics scored? scorned?face -- water they face racism?
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prof. mcgreevy: there was a lot of talk about whether they would open the president or the pope. it seems odd to us now, but that was a powerful fear in the 19th century. it was one of the great global issues of the 19th century. by the 1920's, some of that fear has persisted. the south, which is the evangelical protestant region. that was next up with smith as an immigrant, someone who did not support prohibition, and a catholic. those things combined to make smith seemed a dangerous for her. -- before her. -- foreigner. most people were ready to accept that. steve: 32 years after his defeat, john kennedy becomes the democratic party nominee. what did he face in terms of anti-catholic bigotry? prof. mcgreevy: it's a different story by 1960.
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kennedy and his generation of politician served in the war. it was hard to assail their patriotism. people like pat brown in california and other catholic political figures who become prominent in the 1950's and 60's. that's taken off the table a little bit. you can see the catholics can be patriotic. even kennedy faced questioning about controversial issues such tocontraception, eight parochial schools, divorce laws, are you going to obey the pope or you to obey the constitution? he famously gives a speech in houston in 1960 where he says, i am absolutely going to obey the acted asion and not--i an american, not as a catholic. some catholics thought he went too far. he made a point of saying my religious life is entirely separate from a political life. something that we would say to martin luther king
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jr. or other people in the 1960's whose religious life very much informed their politics. some people thought he went too far. in retrospect, he handled it well because he reassured enough white protestants to support him. he had overwhelming support from the catholic community. steve: how significant was that speech in houston to baptist ministers? prof. mcgreevy: a big deal. at least in the media at the time, they took it. the speech was early in the campaign and it really made it difficult for richard nixon, who was his opponent, to talk about catholicism. and wanted to in some ways and some of his advisers were doing it behind the scenes. steve: some of famously said, it was the pope by what about, it was pa. yeah, his dad. his dad was a famous strong-willed irish catholic and an ambassador to england. it's a good joke because people were worried that joseph kennedy, his dad, had too much influence over his son.
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steve: today, the catholic church is dealing with another crisis and that is the abuse by priests that dates back 70 years. how is the church dealing with that? prof. mcgreevy: i think it's not been successful so far. it's the biggest crisis in history of united states catholicism. steve: in history? prof. mcgreevy: absolutely. ofquestion braided in terms disillusionment and the struggle to figure out what the right message is and terms of dealing with the problem of sexual abuse and all of the trauma that causes young people and all of those who are abused. in a certain sense, it has been going on 50 years, but the public scandal has been going on since 2002, although there's some famous early cases we can now trace back to the 1980's and 90's. the frustration is that it has been since 2002 and it seems not to have been resolved. the good news is that it does seem like there are very few new
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cases since 2002, that is what we are seeing right now. we're still seeing uncovering of more evidence of coverups before 2002. my own view is it -- everything has to be opened up. steve: the pope, have you view his role? prof. mcgreevy: i'm so pathetic. he's an 18 year -- 82-year-old argentinian mail. we have to keep that in mind. -- male. we have to keep that in mind. this is not a person who things about gender and sex issues the way a 25 american -- 25-year-old american would. he's done it pretty good. he's willing to admit when he makes mistakes. it will be interesting to see what happens in february at this global meeting. it's not just an american issue. it's a huge issue in australia, germany and ireland and chile. it will be interesting to see how far they can go to developing global policies
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around sexual abuse. my own sense is that in the u.s., the policies around sexual abuse by priests are pretty well set and maybe working. 2002, but we haven't had our clear punishments and policies around bishops to cover up sexual abuse. steve: you teach at a catholic institution, so when you are talking to students 18,19,20, 21 years-old, they are more progressive than previous generations. do you talk about this? prof. mcgreevy: yes. it's a good makes. we have students on all points of the political spectrum. we're proud of that. , a hear a disillusionment sense of what this institution is. if the only thing you do about catholicism was the headlines of the new york times over the last year, and most of which were on sexual abuse, it might not be the institution you join.
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i'm a catholic. i worry about that in the future of the institution. i think it's much better than that. this problem is significant, severe and has to be grappled with. steve: but they go back to the issue of catholic church and politics. to you say that catholics work with one party over another? prof. mcgreevy: catholics were clearly associated with the democratic party from the 19th century through the 1950's. the data we have tells us they started to shift toward -- especially more affluent toward the republican party in the 50's. eisenhower was popular with catholics. kennedy stop that. kennedy was unbelievably popular with all. all. we believe he got 80% of the catholic vote, which is a huge number. then, cap obstructing tour
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the republican party, maybe it is 55-45 now. but you know catholics, a huge percentage of the church, very democratic. steve: do you remember his assassination? prof. mcgreevy: i was two days old. steve: what was the church going through when you look back at that? prof. mcgreevy: it's hard to learned a lot about kennedy's personal life over the last 50 years and i think our culture is generally less empathetic to heroes and people who are perceived as leaders. kennedy was a hero for american catholics. the country was in trauma after his assassination. nothing like this have happened since lincoln in 1865. he was so young and charismatic and his life was in front of him. it did hold a particular poignancy for catholics. he was their hero.
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he was not an ordinary catholic. they were not a normal catholic family. they were about, went to harvard, sophisticated. they were a catholic family. subconsciously show -- so. it was a great pride. to have him killed like that was a great trauma. do remember ito because they were in school that their nuns were crying, they ditched classes for four days, it was obviously a national crisis. prof. mcgreevy: a crisis, genetic and overwhelming. steve: who were the catholic -- who are the catholic leaders today? prof. mcgreevy: interesting question. the political sphere, there are quite a few. nancy pelosi, joe biden, a lot of figures. ocasio-cortez is a self identified catholic and talks about how catholicism shapes or politics.
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i sense of data that catholics are about 30% of congress. at the high number because the catholic population is 20%. steve: and a majority on the supreme court. prof. mcgreevy: yeah, amazing. if you said 30 years ago, catholics had a majority on the supreme court, no one would believe that. that's an interesting story about a conservative catholic culture. propelledlly catholics to the forefront. that's a great story. very interesting. in terms of politics, those are leaders. young politics, there are catholics scattered all over american life. corporate leadership, media theership, universities, president of stanford that just stepped down, john hennessy, was a catholic. they are deeply embedded in american life.
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it's an immigrant church in a way it hasn't been since the early 20th century is that catholics run the gamut of american life. they are some of the poorest some ofts as well as the most powerful people in the country. steve: in terms of research, teaching this to your students. anything stands out any particular stories or individuals or anything that intrigued you are surprised you? prof. mcgreevy: when you teach to students, identity and for 10 years, i haven't had as much teaching as i would like, i think some of the students don't expect, there is a woman a boat the day, -- dorothy day, a great catholic medical of the mid-20th century. they strongly antiabortion. very opposed -- very strongly antiabortion, against the waters, lived in poverty.
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to tell her story is to start a university students in 2019 because she seems so anomalous. steve: tell her story. anf. mcgreevy: she was american student who was a radical. a socialist in the early 20th century, lived in greenwich village, and then converted to catholicism and stunned all of her friends. she had an abortion before she converted to catholicism. she looked back on that with regret. that was a part of her life then. then she devoted 50 years to building the catholic worker a radical movement attempting to live a life of poverty and remind the people around us how unequal in many ways our society is. that's a story that is striking. in terms of culture, flannery we used to read short stories with her. those are deeply catholic stories.
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leaders across american life now. that's one of the most interesting things with stunning catholicism. steve: clearly you find it interesting. prof. mcgreevy: i'll yeah. an amazingtorian is occupation. i'm so lucky to be in this business of writing and teaching. the history of catholicism in particular, my own fascination is with catholicism as a global institution and how you compare the american experience to others. steve: john mcgrady, from the university of notre dame, we thank you for your time. prof. mcgreevy: what a pleasure. thank you. >> watch the american story unfold on "american history tv," sunday at 4 p.m. eastern on onel america," looking back nato's ten-year anniversary. at 9 p.m., "rocket girls," the history of nasa's jpl laborator y.
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universitycarolina professor benjamin francis fallon talks about the spanish speaking vote in the 20th century. he describes a group with distinct interests and voting patterns and outlines how the national democratic and republican parties have courted various hispanic constituencies. this 15 minute interview was recorded at the annual american historical association meeting. >> professor benjamin francis fallon studies and teaches this. let's talk about the hispanic vote. is it a monolithic group? >> no, definitely not. the history of the hispanic vote is one of steadily trying to add different people, people that saw themselves quite the family -- differently in national origin terms, for example, mexican-americans, puerto ricans, cubans, the whole project if you will isne


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