Polemics & Exchanges

On Monolithic Catholics

I enjoyed reading Paul Gottfried’s review of my book The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing (“The Rest of the Story,” January), but I was puzzled by what he calls “the obvious counterarguments” to my position.  The most obvious, he claims, is that “Catholic Democrats . . . were instrumental in bringing about the changes he deplores.”  How is this a counterargument to what I say in the book?  Catholic reaction to urban renewal was not uniform.  In general, it differed according to class.  The most resistance to social engineering came from Catholics who were still living in the urban neighborhoods that were targeted for extinction.  The most support came from Catholics who had “arrived,” who had “made it” in a culture where making it meant moving to the suburbs.

In Boston, the dichotomy is expressed best by comparing Judge Arthur Garrity (the Catholic judge who was the author of the busing decision) to Ray Flynn and Louise Day Hicks (the Catholics who remained in the neighborhoods targeted for social engineering and fought it).  The fact that many Catholics went along with social engineering does not change the fact that ethnic Catholic neighborhoods were its primary target.  Nor does it change the fact that other ethnic...

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