No, Obama Is Not an Anti-Catholic Mexican Dictator

Now on our homepage: Bad History, in which Julia G. Young challenges comparisons of Barack Obama to Plutarco Elas Calles, the infamous anti-Catholic president of Mexico who in the 1920s waged a brutal campaign against the clergy while outlawing public worship.

The comparison between Plutarco Elas Calles and President Obama is erroneous and misleading. It is also ahistorical. Several Catholic leaders have framed the contraception mandate as an infringement on religious liberty--a slippery slope that could lead to wider religious restrictions, just like those in Mexico in the 1920s.But equating the anticlerical laws of 1920s Mexico with the contraception mandate today is nonsense. The Calles laws, as they were known, were so comprehensively oppressive that they would be completely unthinkable in contemporary America.

As Young notes, the inapt analogizing is fueled in part by actors and consultants associated with the film For Greater Glory, which stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria and depicts the uprising of militant Catholics (Cristeros) against the Calles government. Eduardo Verstegui, who plays Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, a Cristero beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI, warns that we ignore the similarities between Obama and Calles--not to mention a certain sixteenth-century monarch--at our own peril.I dont see any difference between Plutarco Elas Calles and President Obama or Henry VIII, Verstegui says in an interview. I almost see the same pattern repeat itself.Read all of Bad History right here.

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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