Chris Matthews hosts “Hardball with Chris Matthews," on MSNBC. Matthews is also the host of the syndicated weekly news program “The Chris Matthews Show.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yesterday I was at Independence Hall in my hometown in Philadelphia. We had the Governor Rendell and a lot of Muslim leaders and Jewish leaders and Christian leaders trying to form something of a counterpoint to all this discussion. It was very wonderful to be there. It was a small group, unfortunately.
And it is sad that in this country we have to do those kinds of spectacles to remind people of the tolerance upon which this country was founded. And everyone who came to this country freely, came to this country for more freedom of religion, freedom personally, and freedom spiritually. That is the essence of this country. And now we have to remind ourselves of that in this terrible debate over this mosque, this Islamic center and, of course, this buffoonery down in Florida, which is what it is.
I’m a Catholic. I grew up in a Catholic family after the war. And so much of John F. Kennedy’s life, the dividing point is World War II. Before World War II anti-Catholicism was around. It was accepted in polite society. After the war it wasn’t. I was lucky to be born after the war. Jack Kennedy was in the war as were millions of Catholics fighting for this country. And I think this had so much to do with the end of [anti?] Catholicism as an accepted point of view because so many Catholics just dominated the military services and were the heroes of the war, as well as everyone else was. And so I think that changed a lot.
When he was a young man he came across some anti-Catholicism at Choate School with the headmaster, George St. John didn’t like Catholics, didn’t like Irish Catholics. He had some of the Yankee attitude. And some of you are aware of it. [Laughter] And he got through it. The Headmaster St. John used to talk about kids who were muckers. They were the bad kids. They weren’t the proper Choate kids. Jack Kennedy got even by forming a club called the Muckers. That was his early rebellion, which I absolutely love.
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