Rush: To my mind, you are the country’s foremost Catholic advocate, but you obviously go way beyond. You’re obviously focused on civil liberties as a whole, with an emphasis on religious freedom.
Donohue: I started off teaching in Spanish Harlem and I went on to get my Ph.D. in Sociology from NYU and then went on to be a college professor in Pittsburgh. I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation and two books on the ACLU. I’m the guy who gave Bush 41 everything he used against “the Little Duke” [Michael Dukakis] back in ’88.
Donohue: It was the Little Duke who made the ACLU an issue when he said he was a card-carrying member. I was at The Heritage Foundation then. The ACLU book [The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union] got me there. I wrote another book about the ACLU [The Twilight of Liberty: The Legacy of the ACLU], and now I’m writing books about the Catholic Church. I’ve taught political science and Constitutional law, the latter as a result of tracking the ACLU. I don’t address the ACLU as much anymore because I didn’t want to turn this into Bill Donohue’s anti-ACLU crusade. Quite frankly it has been eclipsed by so many other governmental and cultural forces.
Rush: I don’t think there’s an advocate who does it better, and you do it in a way that’s not overtly devout or religious.
Donohue: Well, you’ve got to have a sense of humor. I’m Irish. I come from a blue-collar background. My father left me when I was a child. I was raised by my grandparents who were born in Ireland, didn’t have any education. My mother was a nurse. I got taught by the Marxists at NYU and The New School for Social Research, but it didn’t have any effect on me because I had common sense. I’m fed up with the left in terms of their hypocrisy. I think that’s what drove me. I started as a Democrat. I became Republican, but I’ve been happily independent over 20 years. I’m proud to be a conservative. I’m a former Bradley Resident Scholar at The Heritage Foundation. But I am not a Republican, I am not a Democrat, and I want to keep that clean so that I can go where the action is.
Rush: Now, you may laugh at the question, but I need to ask it. Are you a devout Catholic? Whatever the Church’s teachings are, you support them? You’re not in business to establish your own point of view on the religion.
Donohue: There’s no question I am a devout Catholic. The Catholic League is not a debating society. We’re here to defend the right of the Church to say whatever it wants in the public arena and people are free to agree or disagree. As John Paul II said, “We’re not here to impose anything. We’re here to propose.” Might I have a few teachings that I might wrestle with? Well, yes, which I’m not going to make public because it’s not about Bill Donohue. It’s about me saying we have this indispensable moral voice and it needs an airing and a respectful hearing instead of catcalls. We don’t have our own views. We don’t have our own teachings. Whatever the teachings are of the Catholic Church, we’re simply saying, “Give it a respectful hearing and then we go our way.”