A good friend of ours, a colleague, just retired. She's Irish. We've known her for about 15 years, but only learned last week that the reason she is deaf in one ear is that when she was quite young she was condemned, and that is precisely the right word, to one of the Magdalen Laundries, where she was severely beaten. Quite understandably this is not something she much likes talking about.
We are releasing a booklet today that I wrote, Myths of the Magdalene Laundries,
that debunks the conventional wisdom about these Catholic-run
facilities in Ireland. Based on the McAleese Report, the Irish
government study that was released in February, the booklet examines the
origins of the many myths that have surfaced about the laundries.
Virtually all the horror stories that
have been told—nuns cruelly torturing and sexually abusing “fallen”
women—are lies. Worse, Irish officials, such as the current prime
minister, Enda Kenny, continue to misinform the public, even in the face
of indisputable evidence.
I have of course not read this pamphlet, and will certainly not pay the five dollars Donohue is asking for it. Likewise I have not read the entire McAleese Report, which is something I had intended to do this summer, because that is the sort of beach reading that interests me. But I have read the report's Executive Summary. Here is a key passage:
Part IV of the Report also records the memories of the living and working conditions in the Magdalen Laundries as shared with the Committee by a number of women. Although identifying common patterns in these stories, the Committee did not make specific findings on this issue, in light of the small sample of women available.
From a historian's perspective (or that of a serious literary scholar, which is what I sporadically am when I am not saying bad words on the Internet), we just don't know very much about what went on inside the Magdalen Laundries. With only a few exceptions, it is but fairly recently that any woman who went through one of them ever spoke publicly -- or privately -- about them at all. For some obvious and interrelated reasons: trauma; shame (the prevailing assumption was that only whores were sent to them); and the overarching mid-century Irish Catholic culture of censorship (for evidence of the existence of which I refer you to the total corpus of 20th century Irish literature).
And adding to the relative paucity of eyewitness accounts, we have the general crap quality of official Irish recordkeeping in that period -- skim through the statistical breakdowns in the Executive Summary, if you don't know what I mean. Lots of records that should have been kept, weren't.
And frankly, brutally, speaking as someone who has done time in Bishop Street, if this was a universe where you just can't locate key memoranda from the Department of Justice from the 1920s that by any rational standard ought to be there, nobody much gave a damn about keeping records about you if you were a poor unwanted little girl from the countryside (the rural/city snobbery in Ireland is even now intense, and back then, it was even worse). This was a system designed to forget you. You were forgotten.
But what we do know about the Magdalen Laundries is that they were cruel.
Because the relatively few women who have spoken about what happened to them there are brave, have no reason to dissemble, and are heartbreakinglyeloquent.
Here is something from the Introduction to the McAleese Report:
But the large majority of women who engaged with the Committee and especially
those who had previously been in Industrial Schools spoke of the deep hurt they felt due to their loss of freedom, the fact that they were not informed why they were there, lack of information of when they would be allowed to leave, and denial of contact with the outside world, particularly family and friends.
And about these women,
most found themselves quite alone in what was, by today’s standards, a harsh and physically demanding work environment. The psychological impact on these girls was undoubtedly traumatic and lasting. In meeting some of them, and listening to their stories, the Committee was impressed by their quiet determination to find answers to the many questions concerning their lives both before and after entering a Magdalen Laundry.
Which brings us by commodious vicus of regurgitation back to Bill Donohue. Like I said, I haven't read his pamphlet, and won't, unless I get it for free. For him to be blathering about "indisputable evidence" is silly.
For him to be claiming that Taoiseach Enda Kenny should not be apologizing about the Magdalen Laundries is repulsive. As institutions they were at best authoritarian, rigid, and inhumane.
And, to take a step back -- is there an Irish person of a certain generation who doesn't have a story about physical abuse, or sexual abuse, at the hands of a Catholic authority figure? Seriously?
Perhaps there are worse monsters in the world than William Donohue.
At any rate, if any of these monsters are sporting a cassock, William Donohue will defend them.
I've not been to the American Spectator blog, the Spuncticle, in a long while. Likewise, I only sporadically take the healthful waters of the Gowanus Canal.
The online AS teems with the sort of bedbugs deemed insufficiently presentable to infest the National Review wankitories. John Derbyshire says things there, for instance, although, to be fair, this may be part of some federal workfare program that keeps the Derb from skulking around middle school playgrounds.
Less defensibly, the Spuncticle also employs Robert Stacy McCain, who is, basically, what you'd get if Snuffy Smith fucked Gollum.
Last week our pal Mr. EK pointed out why the RSMcC-ilk obsession with this cruel nonsense should make your skin crawl. A more recent McCain outbreak goes to show that if your skin is crawling, it's because he's under it, and he's itchy like ringworm.
But I didn't even want to get into that....
I was rather contemplating this emanation of someone yclept "Matt Purple," who is YouTube meltdown-worthy affronted by this NYTimes article demonstrating that the Teabagger outfits fronting like they're Ghandi actually kind of had it coming:
The piece alleges that certain groups applying for
tax-exempt status deserved to be scrutinized, and that may be true.
But it also ignores two weeks of developments in the scandal,
including that conservative applications were
blocked entirely for 27 months; that the scope of the audits
went far beyond 501(c)(4)s; that the harassment
wasn’t just carried out by the IRS, but also the Department of
Labor, the ATF, the FBI, and OSHA; and that several applications
inappropriately leaked by the IRS to left-wing news outlet
Sigh, so much bullshit, so little time. Let's just go with this --
That link takes you to this bit of happy horseshit at National Repube, wherein we learn about the Tortures of the Damned suffered by a founder of "True the Vote,"an organization
which seeks to prevent voter fraud and trains volunteers to work as
election monitors. It also registers voters, attempts to validate
voter-registration lists, and pursues fraud reports to push for
prosecution if illegal activity has occurred.
Someone who considers objective reality as a fungible commodity, as does this person, is likely to get investigated.
But then, while "Help help, I am being oppressed, all I wanted was to avoid taxes so that I could make sure that people I don't like can't vote" is not an especially pithy rejoinder, it's good enough for Fox News work, as the old cynical saying goes.
MAS. I guess I shouldn't tell tales out of school, but that butt plug goes all the way up to the brim of Snuffy's hat. Hence the toothless smile!
For all the "scandal" garbage... there is not in fact anything happening. The "scandals" are K-Tel Soft-Rock Hits of the '90s as reimagined by a Muzak engineer functionally incapacitated by Ouzo, Nyquil, that Iron & Wine shite, a Vitamin D deficiency, & Benadryl.
Experienced Wingnutologists cannot help but detect a depressing, pervasive "through the motions" lazy kind of crazy.
For example, scanning Townhall, Grima Hawkins is just not even trying: ever since Hurricane Katrina Townhall readers have been encouraged not to buy Kanye West records, and for some mysterious reason, this activism has not sent Mr. West to the poorhouse. Likewise, Mr. Springsteen is not asking for donations to his website, but is instead selling tickets to his concerts. Socialism!
We know that there are plenty of Islamists eager to murder Westerners,
even cut off our heads in broad daylight. No one doubts that they'd use
something more lethal than a rusty machete if given the opportunity. And
so the success or failure of Obama's grand strategic vision depends
entirely on what our enemies do next.
They might have RUSTY MACHETES? THIS MEANS WAR!
Why, with them Rusty Machetes, these fiends might even be capable of spilling warm Gerber down our bibs.
Time magazine found a picture of President Obama at his high school
prom back in 1979. Let me tell you how long ago that was. Back then,
Obama had to ask a girl for her phone number. He couldn’t illegally obtain it through the Justice Department.
It is not looking good for President Obama. Today, his teleprompter
took the Fifth. In fact, the White House has changed its slogan from
“Yes, we can” to “No, I can’t remember.”
The latest scandal in Washington, of course, is raising questions
about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the
Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a
A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal
might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to
audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.
White House officials continue
to insist that President Obama knew nothing about the IRS scandal until
we all heard about it in the news last week. They said because there
was an investigation under way, it would have been inappropriate to tell
him. And besides, Obama was too busy not knowing anything about
President Obama held a private meeting with top national security
journalists on Thursday afternoon following his national security policy
address at the National Defense University in Washington, POLITICO has
Present at the meeting were Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist; Gerald Seib, the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau chief; Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post; David Igantius, the Washington Post columnist; Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic correspondent and Bloomberg View columnist; and Joe Klein, the Time Magazine columnist.