Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas

I pray and hope that your Advent is going well.

In the meantime, enjoy this little clip in reminiscing a much more simpler time.

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138 Responses to Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas

  • MI,

    You put another smile on my face.

    You’ve given me so much joy and laughter I only wish I could return you the favor.

    Do you want a Christmas grape or a Christmas hog?

  • Tito – Do you know why this blog post is offensive? Who do you think you might be offending?

  • I posted the following response to Michael at the link above, but he deleted it (ironically, given his objection to censorship in the linked post). I believe it’s the first time I’ve had a comment deleted. In any case, all ‘you’s’ and ‘you’res’ are addressed to Michael:

    If you’re unfamiliar with the red state guys (and it appears you are), you’ve completely misinterpreted their whole schtick:

    1) They are conservatives, making videos for conservatives (including rural conservatives);

    2) They make fun of liberals and/or fringe-ish elements of the right;

    3) They send-up themselves in a self-aware way to suggest that the liberal stereotype of stupid rural Americans is inaccurate. Now, their humor is certainly not to everyone’s taste, but you’ve completely missed the point if you think the video is intended to denigrate rather than amuse people who live in rural American (much less Appalachia, which isn’t even mentioned in the video).

    4) The video also makes fun of effete urban dwellers for their squeemishness at killing a pig, when they have no reservations about eating a ham sandwich.

    5) This: His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology. is basically a lie. I read your comments (although I did not delete them), and they provided no rationale for your objection other than an all-too-characteristic combative tone. I had no idea after reading them: a) Why you found the video offensive; or b) Why you couldn’t be bothered to articulate your grievance.

    6) I would submit there is a tension in the link above between Michael’s professed concern for charity and the content of the post. In any case, I wish Michael well. Michael is feel to free outraged; I am sorry he does – and I did not post the clip originally – but I think his outrage is based on a needlessly offensive misinterpretation.

  • 5) This: His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology. is basically a lie. I read your comments, and they provided no rationale for your objection other than an all-too-characteristic combative tone.

    I deleted your comment because you accused me of lying when I did no such thing. The sentence you quoted of mine is the truth. The fact that I did not provide a “rationale” to your liking is irrelevant. Tito was told the video was offensive and asked to apologize.

    I think his outrage is based on a needlessly offensive misinterpretation.

    This is a typical defensive reaction. “It’s all just a misinterpretation.”

  • Humor more subtle than “And then the Fascist Republican choked to death!” is wasted on the Catholic Anarchist.

  • I deleted your comment because you accused me of lying when I did no such thing. The sentence you quoted of mine is the truth. The fact that I did not provide a “rationale” to your liking is irrelevant. Tito was told the video was offensive and asked to apologize.

    Michael, your post says that:

    Unfortunately, he is not oblivious. His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology

    This strongly suggests that you provided some sort of explanation for why you were offended. But, as you concede, you provided no such explanation, and did not even to attempt engage Mr. Edwards charitably. I think your post is misleading and deceptive on that score.

    Moreover, context matters here. You have been known to take offense at everything from the 4th of July to Thanksgiving. Mr. Edwards was likely as ‘oblivious’ as I was to what you found offensive (violence against pigs was my guess), and you made no attempt to explain prior to posting your cry for a more charitable blogosphere. Implying, as your post does, that you attempted to address this civilly first but were met by derision, is simply inaccurate.

    This is a typical defensive reaction. “It’s all just a misinterpretation.”

    Well the good news is that anyone reading this thread can judge the matter for themselves. I certainly don’t understand the clip to be a mean-spirited polemic against people who live in rural America, and I think a review of some of the other Red State clips would provide context to confirm that view. But, as I said, I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to offer a different interpretation. I could be wrong. Either way, I think you’re post is somewhat misleading and it’s certainly uncharitable. To say this is not to say the clip brilliant or high art or anything else.

  • I don’t find the RSU guys terribly funny, but I confess to finding some humor in a twisted sort of way at the thought that the most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere is calling someone out on being uncharitable and offensive, then having the nerve to call for more “charity” in the blogosphere. Funnier is that he moderates to ensure opposing comments don’t get though, yet criticizes someone for deleting his objection.

  • most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere

    Priceless! May I quote you? May I put down that you you wrote this on the Second Monday of Advent?

  • This strongly suggests that you provided some sort of explanation for why you were offended.

    It “strongly suggests” no such thing. And I admit that I did not offer an explanation to Mr. Edwards. I thought he was smart enough to see why the video is offensive. I guess he’s not.

    But, as you concede, you provided no such explanation, and did not even to attempt engage Mr. Edwards charitably.

    You have no evidence that I did not engage him charitably. Why is it “uncharitable” for me to simply tell him that his video is offensive and that he owes his readers an apology? If anyone could be charged with lying, sir, it is you.

  • In other news, the Red Green Show is deeply offensive to rural Canadians and PBS is ordered to stop broadcasting it immediately less they offend our neighbors to the north. Shame on them for thinking that a show made about Canadians by Canadians is not inherently offensive to Canadians.

  • I saw the comment awaiting moderation and I thought it was a joke.

    As in, “this is so unfunny it’s offensive to my comedic sensibilities.”

    It honestly never dawned on me that anyone would actually find that offensive as in politically incorrect.

  • It really doesn’t make sense to you, Darwin and Joe, that “Appalachian humor” could be offensive? That’s really not surprising, considering its history. Read my post on Dick Cheney’s West Virginia incest joke.

  • Shame on them for thinking that a show made about Canadians by Canadians is not inherently offensive to Canadians.

    “Canadians” doesn’t mean anything. By your logic, some white Christian Canadians could make an insulting video about Muslim Canadians and you would defend it by saying it was a video “about Canadians by Canadians.” Makes no sense.

  • Perhaps the point only makes sense to those of us who watch radically conservative TV stations like PBS, Michael. The Red Green Show is a comedy sketch/sitcom produced by the Canadian broadcasting service which centers around a rural, small town in Canada. The humor mostly centers around rural/small town jokes, and schemes of the main character (a handyman named Red Green) to get projects finished quickly using junk, duct tape, and a minimum of actual work.

    Whether this makes it offensive to rural Canadians is not a topic I’d consider myself an expert on, but as I recall it’s the longest running comedy show in Canada, and it usually gets late night PBS slots here in the US as well.

    In other words: get a grip. While it’s true that there are negative stereotypes out there about Apalacia, not every piece of rural humor is a part of this phenomenon.

    And really, it’s a little hard to take a plea for civility and charity seriously, when it’s couched in “I hardly ever talk to these people because they’re all fascist, nationalist, militarists anyway” terms. If there’s one person in the Catholic blogsphere in little position to throw stones when it comes to falsely stereotyping others, it would be you.

  • Michael,

    I love you man.

    I deleted your comment because it had no explanation as to what you were offended by. No one, including John Henry nor Joe Hargrave nor Darwin deleted your comment, I did.

    If you read the tags to this post it is tagged as “humor”. If that didn’t give it away then I’m not sure how else to explain to you the humor done on the show.

    I thought conservatives poking fun at conservatives would be funny! Which I found it was funny. I just discovered the site last week and this was the only one that got me to chuckle enough to post it.

    Anyways I suggest you can offer up your suffering to God for all the poor rural folk!

    Tito

  • Michael,

    You need to check up on the definition of Calumny.

    Out of curiosity I just read your post and it falls well short of charity.

    I will be praying for your change of heart.

  • “most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere”

    Michael, I’ve said as much to you before.

  • Oh… my…

    It’s hard for me to comprehend just how this video clip is offensive, let alone how it singles out Appalachia. As one who has been graced to live in Texas for 28 years of my life, and being familiar with a variant rural Texas culture (my family hails from one of these rural towns near the Red River), I can assure you that this “podunk-ness” is not unique to Appalachia.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to find similar types of this rural culture in other states, such as LA, MS, AL, and GA. Then again, it shouldn’t be relegated to the south either. There are similar variants out here in the northwest as well. E. WA, ID, MT, and WY.

    To those of you whose state I have failed to mention with respect to rural culture, I apologize; I’m not as cosmopolitan as others.

  • Michael, I’ve said as much to you before.

    Well there you have it. I must be “hateful” then if you two experts think so.

  • MI,

    I don’t think the clip was malicious in intent.

    On the other hand, your characterization of this blog as “quasi-fascistic” is a little offensive to me.

  • I don’t think the clip was malicious in intent.

    That does not make it unoffensive. We can do and say things that are offensive and not “intend” to do so. When someone I know informed her relatives that she was pregnant and it became known to one particular relative that the father is black, the relative replied “I hope it was one of the smart ones.” When confronted about this comment she replied that she did not intend to be insulting or racist, but her comment was clearly both. Tito’s video is offensive to some people. He should apologize. The fact that he didn’t “intend” it to be offensive is irrelevant.

    On the other hand, your characterization of this blog as “quasi-fascistic” is a little offensive to me.

    Well, I didn’t “intend” it to be offensive. In fact, I said that the blog has quasi-fascist tendencies, and I was in fact referring to one of your contributors in particular. Fascism is a word with a meaning. Whether that word is applicable to the contributor in question can be debated. But my use of the word was not intended to be insulting. just a statement of what I perceive to be fact. The video under discussion, on the other hand, makes rural people the butt of a series of jokes. There is no comparison, in my opinion.

    John Henry – I’m not into caricatures and ridicule. You may consider criticism of persons to be simple caricature and ridicule, but careful, you might be asked to defend such charges. At which point you will retreat from the conversation.

  • It’s not my thing, because I don’t think of myself as being “Red State” in the way that the Red State Update guys are talking about, but I can’t help seeing this crusade of Michael’s as being a bit like going after Woodie Allen with the accusation that all his movies constitute drawing humor from negative stereotypes about New York Jews.

  • MI,

    I really don’t find the video offensive. It seems like people poking light-hearted fun at themselves. I don’t think the content is malicious.

    As for your comment, there’s no comparison. To me that video looks like rural people making light of some of their own tendencies.

    Your comment, on the other hand, was deliberately offensive, and it originally didn’t single out a person, (it reads: “I don’t typically refer to this particular blog in my posts, as it’s usually too easy a target what with its nationalistic and quasi-fascist tendencies.”) and the addition of the word “tendencies” doesn’t make it any better.

    So now we learn that you didn’t mean the blog, but a person, and that you don’t even think the “person in question” really is a fascist, or “quasi-fascist”, but only might be.

    You know what I call that? Dangerous, reckless, offensive, and hateful. You owe this entire blog an apology.

  • I mean, I guess it would be okay if, instead of calling a black person a n-word, you said they just had “n-word tendencies.”

  • Fascism is a word with a meaning.

  • Tito’s video is offensive to some people.

    It’s offensive only to those who choose to take offense.

    Life would be so much more fun if you were able to chill out about, well, anything.

  • Priceless! May I quote you? May I put down that you you wrote this on the Second Monday of Advent?

    Sure, but “Feast of St. Ambrose” has nicer ring to it than “Second Monday of Advent”. Just sayin’.

    Sincerely,
    Twit

    (No offense to twits. Or saints for that matter. Nor to Appalachians, Texas rednecks, blue collar grunts, corporate fat-cats, quasi-fascists, anarchists, and Amish witchdoctors on medical disability. Maybe a little offense to lawyers. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post, but I did just eat one for dinner.)

  • S.B. – Great life philosophy you have there: Chill out! Have fun!

    No thanks.

  • Michael:

    How is your “faith-filled” blogging different than it was two weeks ago?

  • Michael,
    Must be tough to view every suggestion as a philosophy.

  • Michael,

    I’d switch to decaf if I were you.

  • Oh for heaven’s sake. I clicked over here from Vox Nova, unable to imagine what terrible calumnies MI was referencing…wondering what I would encounter and..

    it’s the Red State Update Guys.

    Catch a clue, Michael.

    These guys are Middle Tennesseeans (from Murfreesboro, I think, right outside of Nashville) who created these characters – they are of that place, in that place, and people in the area love them. Real Live Southerners are not offended by RSU so you need not fret, okay?

    I mean…seriously?

  • Ellen – Being from the South does not mean that one’s jokes are automatically not offensive. I mean… seriously.

  • “Fascism is a word with meaning” – is that all you have to say for yourself?

    Fascism is a politically charged epithet that is commonly used to smear people without having to engage their ideas, a way of associating a person or an idea with the most vile regime of all time. You darned well know it too.

    You characterized this entire blog as “quasi-fascistic” in your post at VN for everyone to read. That is a slander. It was reckless, dangerous, offensive, and hateful.

    Why should anyone ever take anything you have to say seriously ever again, when you can’t admit you did something wrong and apologize for it?

  • “Why should anyone ever take anything you have to say seriously ever again?”

    In my first go-round with Michael, I referred to Matthew 18, that a person should be rebuked first in private, then with a few witnesses, then in front of the whole community. If the person refuses to change his behaviour, there’s probably no reason to take him seriously again.

  • Fascism is a politically charged epithet that is commonly used to smear people without having to engage their ideas, a way of associating a person or an idea with the most vile regime of all time. You darned well know it too.

    Yes, just so. And for michael to call for civility of discourse is a severe irony. He has been specifically called to task on the hatreds, demeaning behavior, inflamations, assignment of negative motives, ect. by a variety of folks from a variety of backgrounds and opinions. This includes one former blogger that was widely respected but understandably became dismayed by a bitter spirit of contention, one that drove several people away.

    It’s not proper to speculate about “real life,” but the e-persona is so lacking in charity and good faith as to not be viewed as anything more than an occasional, amusing distraction.

  • [Reflexive accusations that other members of the conversation are racists removed as needlessly uncharitable, inflammatory and, of course, false.]

    Joe – Yes, that is all I have to say regarding my use of the term “fascism” other than this: if you think it refers only to one regime, you need a better reading of history.

  • But usually when the humor is at someone else’s expense, it should be questioned.

    Says michael in the VN thread. But if these guys are poking gentle fun at anybody, it’s at themselves, not someone else. Of course, given that he, in years of writing, has never shown the slightest capability for wit (let alone that of the self-deprecating kind), it might be chalked up to simple unfamiliarity with the very concept.

  • racists

    Well, of course – we’ve disagreed at various points. It’s a shame the e-persona is incapable of dialogue better than that sort of junk, as michael seems like a bright guy with interesting things to say. Maybe at some point he’ll actually take to heart the many criticisms from many different corners.

  • MI,

    So you won’t apologize for your reckless, dangerous, offensive, hateful comment? You’re content to wallow in hypocrisy?

    You brazenly labeled this blog “quasi-fascistic” for your audience. That is the issue. Your pathetic evasions will not be addressed.

  • [Reflexive accusations that other members of the conversation are racists removed as needlessly uncharitable, inflammatory and, of course, false.]

    I’m shocked, shocked, to hear that on the Second Tuesday of Advent!

  • From redneck humor to accusations of racism. Brilliant troll, there MI. Brilliant!

    Now, back to redneck humor… I saw this on the wall at Babe’s some time ago (BTW, their food is excellent!):

    M R farmers
    M R not
    O S A R, C M M T pockets
    L I B! M R farmers

  • Big Tex – Like you said, it’s not just in the Appalachian south. I’ve seen plenty of rural culture across New England. Rednecks are rednecks, God bless’em.

  • Joe – I do not apologize for saying that this blog has “quasi-fascist tendencies.” Let me explain. You are no doubt aware of the contributors I am referring to. (As much as I disagree with some of your views, for example, I would not characterize you as a fascist.) I characterize said contributors’ views as “fascist” not to be mean or insulting or sensationalistic, but because their views clearly resemble the characteristics of the historical political tendency of fascism, broadly understood. That is, I am not simply looking to compare said contributors to Hitler or whatever other narrow understanding of “fascism” you might have. And since said contributors write for this blog, the latter can rightly be said to have “quasi-fascist tendencies.”

    I hope I am being clear. I find it really strange that you and others here feel free to invoke the various totalitarianisms of history, e.g. communism, Nazism, fascism, etc. when it suits you (such as when you all post about Hugo Chavez) but when those on the left do so, we are simply being “insulting” and “hateful.” If we cannot use a political term like “fascist” without getting bent out of shape, then we risk allowing fascism to continue to appear in new forms, even “american Catholic” forms.

  • because their views clearly resemble the characteristics of the historical political tendency of fascism

    This basically constitutes saying, in long form, “I said the blog was fascist because I think it’s fascist”. You’ve gone no where in regards to actually listing out views espoused by contributors which you actually consider to be fascist. One hates to speculate, but I can’t help wondering if this is basically because to you “fascist” basically means “supported the Iraq war” or “considers the military to be something other than wholly evil.”

    A basic definition of fascism (which, as you admit, is a word with a meaning) would be:

    Fascism is a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system, and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum.

    Fascists advocate the creation of a single-party state, with the belief that the majority is unsuited to govern itself through democracy and by reaffirming the benefits of inequality. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement. Fascism opposes class conflict, blames capitalism and liberal democracies for its creation and communists for exploiting the concept. Fascism fashioned itself as the “Complete opposite of Marxian socialism…” by rejecting the economic and material conception of history, the fundamental belief of fascism being that human beings are motivated by glory and heroism rather than economic motives, in contrast to the worldview of capitalism and socialism.

    In the economic sphere, many fascist leaders have claimed to support a “Third Way” in economic policy, which they believed superior to both the rampant individualism of unrestrained capitalism and the severe control of state socialism.

    [I would actually quibble with elements of this, but I think it certainly passes the "commonly accepted" test.]

    So, the question would be: Who on this blog, in Michael’s opinion, thinks that capitalism and democracy are the cause of communism, supports the creation of a single party state, supports centralized direction of industry (rather than free market policies), and thinks that people are given a sense of meaning through the state’s pursuit of militarism and glory.

    Fascism is, indeed, a word with a meaning. The question is, does Michael know that meaning, or does he just get a wonderfully “grad school bad boy” feeling when he throws the word around.

  • If I had to guess (and I don’t, but i will anyway), I’d say Michael would cite various contributors support for the war in Iraq and perhaps Don’s posts on military chaplains as evidence of a fascistic tendency. I don’t share that view for a number of reasons, not least of which is that even patriotism/nationalism is not necessarily fascist, and saying someone is a fascist when they’re ardently opposed to most of what fascism stands for (i.e. rejecting centralization of industry, the single party state, and the idea that glory is the sum bonnum of human ambition) is a misuse of the term. One could as easily call Michael a fascist because he supports the centralization of the health care industry if meeting one condition is sufficient to earn the label. But Michael is entitled to make that argument, however implausible I or others find it.

    The real problem to me is that Michael doesn’t make the argument. He generally calls people names, writes obtuse one-liners, and then refuses to engage in a civil conversation. It’s the laziness that bothers me the most. It shows a lack of good faith and a refusal to treat others as people rather than objects to be derided. I’ve read Michael write about civility and charity any number of times; I hope one of these days he tries to put it into practice on-line. To take a recent example, if he’s going to write a post about the absence of charity in the blogosphere, he would do well not to casually insult people with unspecified charges of quasi-fascism in the second paragraph of the post.

  • Darwin – You might continue reading your Wikipedia article where it goes on to discuss the variety of understandings of fascism, rather than relying on its first paragraph for a rigid definition. Although I realize how many right wing Catholics are obsessed with clear black and white doctrines, as a tendency rather than a clear doctrine, fascism takes a variety of forms. It is debatable, for example, that fascism was/is anti-capitalist. Michael Parenti for example demonstrates how Italian fascism and Nazism were both pro-capitalist and undermined workers movements.

    I think Parenti as well as Chris Hedges (who draws on Umberto Eco) make a strong case for the continued existence of fascist tendencies in the united states and they do a good job of identifying characteristics of american fascism, many of which are present at various times on this blog.

    But to use your Wikipedia article as an example and starting point, I think many of the characteristics it lists are right: nationalism, authoritarianism, expansionist imperialism (including obsessive and unquestioning defense of america’s expansionist history), social darwinism (although some here would not admit it, such a worldview is embedded in their arguments), machismo and rigid gender roles (usually linked with militarism), racism, etc.

    To these we could add some of Eco’s identified characteristics, such as the complete rejection of “modernism” or the critical spirit, fear of difference (including sexual difference — anything that is not stereotypically “male”), the view that life is “permanent warfare” (or in John Milbank’s words, an ontology of violence), “contempt for the weak,” obsession with heroism, etc.

    Some of these characteristics are clearly present as well in some of your contributors’ take on Catholicism. Such a syncretism could rightly be called, in Dorothee Solle’s words, “Christo-fascism.”

  • One hates to speculate, but I can’t help wondering if this is basically because to you “fascist” basically means “supported the Iraq war” or “considers the military to be something other than wholly evil.”

    So no, the first speculation of yours has nothing to do with my claims about this blog. Neither does the second really, but I do think there are contributors here who are undeniably militaristic, although they would defend themselves through supposed “traditional” Catholic teaching, or by claiming that they simply do not “consider the military to be . . . wholly evil.”

  • Are you going to register a formal complaint again? I think you should, if for no other reason than it made me laugh out loud when I read it the first time.

  • The discussion of fascism reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, where a newly arrived (to 1980s Spain) U.S. Navy officer is talking to his cousin and a young man mumbles “facha” at him as he walks by:

    - What does facha mean?

    – It’s slang for ”fascist.”

    – Fascist?

    – Don’t worry, they call everyone that. Comb your hair, wear a tie, you’re a facha. A military uniform? Definitely facha.

    – So, facha is something good, then. If it referred to the political movement
    Mussolini led, I’d be offended. Men wearing this uniform died ridding Europe of fascism.

    Then, later:

    - They obviously didn’t mean facha in the positive sense.

  • Michael,

    Though you throw a few names around in an attempt to make it sound as if you are well read on the topic, your basic sequence of conversation has come around to this:

    1) Fascism is a word with a definition, and some people on this blog fit it.

    2) (when confronted with an example of the common usage of the term fascism) Actually, fascism is a word with lots of definitions, some of which surely fit some of you, because I don’t like you.

    Weak.

    Your reading of political theory and 20th century history is about as informed as your ability to understand the writing or worldviews of people you don’t like. Frankly, this “oh yeah, you’re a fascist” attempt is about as lame as similar attempts by those on the right to label everything they don’t like as “socialist” or “communist”. And, indeed, seems to stem from a similarly dualistic understanding of modern political paradigms.

  • As Darwin notes above, Michael, retreating to a higher level of generality doesn’t help you out much here. If you’re using a definition of fascism other than the commonly accepted one, then the burden’s on you to specify that when you make the charge. Which you did not do. Otherwise, you will be (rightly) understood to be using the common definition, and should either apologize or edit the post. You’re attempting to dance around that now by name-dropping and insisting it’s only silly conservatives who bother to pay attention to the meaning of words, but that’s not particularly helpful when you’re also insisting that you have an alternative definition in mind.

    As to the alternative definitions you’ve suggested, it seems to me that as fascism is removed to the level of generality you’re describing, it loses its descriptive usefulness and becomes just another lazy way of saying ‘people I don’t like’. Which, after all, is basically what comes across in the post.

  • I think there’s one other thing at work here. There’s a tendency among bloggers to take their rivalries overly seriously. I’ve been reading about the blogger at Little Green Footballs having denounced conservatism recently. Certain bloggers are counter-denouncing him, and each other. The feud affects almost no one, but it seems big within a small community.

    The fact that this current AC/VN dustup took place under an “Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas” clip should be an indicator of how silly it is in the grand scheme.

  • Yeah, Pinky, it is silly. But the same could be said for most hobbies besides blogging. Personally, I enjoy the give-and-take. I bear Michael no malice, and wish nothing but the best for him (if not all of his arguments and casual assertions of fascism).

    I read the LGF formal denouncement and had a similar reaction to yours; everyone there seemed to treat the happenings on that blog as a life-and-death event. The author there clearly intended to provoke people, and he did.

    But this thread is a recreational activity for all involved; no one has their job or political future tied up in this. Hopefully, we can take this type of conversation a little less seriously than highly trafficked political blogs where people have careers and serious matters at stake. Michael called us (or some of us) fascists. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t feel bad about challenging the assertion.

  • I should add, incidentally, that:

    a) I make no demand for (and to be honest have no interest in) “an apology” from Michael. While such an apology might carry great value according to the principle of scarcity, I really don’t see how one blogger calling another group of bloggers a name is the sort of thing one needs to demand an apology for. I just think it’s foolish when people misuse words self-indulgently.

    b) I must admit to being mildly amused that Michael name drops Umberto Eco at me, in that Eco is an author that I’m very much familiar with — though I’ve primary ready Eco’s work on semiotics, aesthetics, and his fiction (in other words, what he’s known for) and must confess I’m unaware of his being a major expert on fascism. It would certainly be interesting to see what Eco has to say on the topic, as his writing is always interesting. But it’s not as if history or political theory is his main line.

    If I’ve gone far off the deep end here and failed to account for all sorts of wonderfully broad definitions of fascism — I know we have among our contributors and regular readers at least one PhD and one MA in political science, who I am sure are qualified to set both Michael and me straight in regards to any transgressions we may have made.

  • Darwin, you did not present us with “the” common definition of fascism. You presented us with the first paragraph of a Wikipedia entry. And then you accuse me of not being “well read” on the topic?

    John Henry – You have made two claims: 1) that I adhere to an “alternative” definition of fascism, and that 2) I have retreated to a level of generality that makes my understanding of fascism meaningless. I am not sure how I can be guilty of both.

    I’m also puzzled by the fact that you charged me with throwing around a word without defining it. When I defined it, referring to specific thinkers and characteristics, you still claim that I have simply come up with “just another lazy way of saying ‘people I don’t like'” without engaging what I have said in any sense.

    It’s almost as if you are thinking to yourself “Well, Iafrate, yes, many of us here at The American Fascist Catholic do believe many of the things you call ‘fascism,’ but since your definition of fascism like your understanding of many other political terms (imagine that coming from someone with contrarian political views!) is not the ‘common’ definition, we can dismiss you as simply ‘not liking us.’ Your criticism is therefore invalid.”

    If you wish to adhere to a definition of “fascism” that protects the concept from actual critical use, that is fine. I’ve gotten specific about the destructive characteristics that your blog demonstrates. Many people would call it “fascism” or at least “quasi-fascism.” Agree or don’t, but many of the bloggers here are guilty of the specific things I have listed.

    Pinky, you are right about the silliness of the discussion. The serious issue that I blogged about is the demeaning character of the post above. The “fascist” comment (the term I actually used was “quasi-fascist tendencies”) was a peripheral comment in my post. In blowing up about the comment (a comment that I have made many times before), it has become a convenient way for Tito and the other bloggers here to avoid dealing with the fact that this is an insulting, demeaning post. It’s a shame that they will not retract it and apologize. Their excuse-making, had it been in reference to black people, would be scandalous. Since it is in reference to simple poor, white, “ignorant” rural folks, they say “get a grip.”

    Makes me wonder if any of these fools have actually encountered any real rural people, or if Sarah “one-of-us-folks” Palin is the closest that they have ever gotten.

  • Citing Eco on fascism is the mark of a poseur. His definition is so ridiculously broad (rejection of modernism, fear of difference, etc.) that it could apply to lots of things that have no connection whatsoever to the historical danger of actual fascism. Thus, in practice — as we see here — Eco’s definition is usually just an excuse to use the term “fascism” to say nothing more intelligent than “I don’t like you.”

  • Michael,

    I didn’t quote the Wikipedia entry because I considered it to be in some sense to be definitive, but because in this case (as is often the case with encyclopedia entries) it was fairly representative of the consensus view on the topic.

    Further, you actually made no effort to describe how people on this blog had expressed fascist or “quasi-fascist” views, rather you listed off a number of rather vague characteristics which you proclaimed to be fascist, and then asserted in bald fashion that these views are “clearly present” in the writing of some of our contributors.

    And frankly, some of your alleged characteristics of fascism simply don’t make any sense if one knows anything about the history of actual fascist regimes. For instance, you list “the complete rejection of ‘modernism’ or the critical spirit” — well, critical spirit, yes, obviously. Fascism freqently involves the embrace of an all encompassing statist and cultural unity. However, fascism certainly did not reject modernity — indeed, it was one of the primary claims of fascist regimes that liberal democracy was an outmoded and corrupt system, and that fascism’s centralization, strength and unity would bring about _true_ modernity rather that dissolute aimlessness.

    In the end, while this has been, at least, an amusing diversion, it would seem that we’ve reached the point of a certain futility.

    As for your continuing indignation about the Red State Update video: It would seem the point of contention is that you for some reason consider yourself in a position to define the interests and feelings of those in Appelacia, and then in fact expand that to be a blanket advocacy for “rural people” (as if this were some unified group). I’m not clear why you consider yourself a sort of cultural rural values czar, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why other should accept your authority in this regard. If a couple guys from Tennessee want to create humor about a group which they consider themselves to belong to, you’re welcome to unamused, but I’m unclear how you get to issue cultural and moral fatwas against them, just as you don’t get to tell us Hispanics whether George Lopez is funny, or tell Jews whether Woody Allen is funny. If this was Saturday Night Live doing hick jokes, you might have a bit of a case. But it’s hard to go after people making insider jokes about their own cultural group and insist that they’re being insensitive.

  • MI,

    So the presence of one or two people here who have tendencies you believe are “quasi-fascistic” is justification for you to smear the entire blog with a political swear word? At best the allegation of fascism is a serious charge that ought to be backed up with serious evidence. I don’t know how you would react if someone here said that Vox Nova had “communist tendencies” – maybe you wouldn’t care, but I would say you were in the right if you did.

    Using the word communist or fascist to describe a political leader is one issue; using it to smear fellow Catholics in the blogosphere is another.

    Because you can’t admit your own faults, because you are so blind and egregious in your hypocrisy, your credibility when pointing out the faults of others is absolutely zero. No one here is listening to you, and in fact, everyone is inclined by their healthy instincts to pretty much think or do the opposite of what you are peddling.

    Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.

    Unless of course you own up to your mistake, in which case, all of us here will be eager to forgive and forget, including me.

  • Also, good point, Darwin, about fascism.

    Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, and certain factions of the far-right in other countries from Croatia to Czechoslovakia were careful to distinguish themselves from fascism.

    This I discovered while researching Christopher Hitchen’s fraudulent claims that fascism was a Catholic movement. Traditional right-wing Catholics viewed fascism as a modernist, neo-pagan ideology. Mussolini was a secularist and a socialist when he developed the doctrine of fascism, and only “converted” to Catholicism after the fascist coup for political reasons.

    This is all old news. Authoritarianism and fascism have always been distinguished in political theory. And I may as well note that while the Church condemned Hitler and Mussolini in different documents and in different ways, it never condemned Franco or Salazar, and, as far as I know, gave those regimes her blessing. Given what the Iberian leftists were doing to the clergy in the name of the glorious revolution, not to mention lay Catholics, it isn’t surprising. Whatever the flaws of the Franco regime, rule by the communist and anarchist vermin that opposed him would have been several degrees worse. I would say the same, by the way, about the right-wing contras who raped and murdered nuns in Latin America. Sandinista rule seems preferable to that.

    Of course, to communists and others on the far-left, anything to the right of center may as well be “fascist.” Marxists make no distinction between Franco and Hitler – both were fascists. Why? Because both violently opposed communism. One is either, ultimately, when the pretensions of liberal democracy are swept aside, either a communist or a fascist in this worldview, modernist or traditionalist, Catholic or pagan, syndicalist (as in Spain/Portugal) or corporatist (Italy).

    Back to the issue at hand – no one on this blog is fascist. Authoritarian, maybe – nationalist, perhaps, though I don’t think simple patriotism is “nationalism” and certainly not fascism. The Church has never made a condemnation of, and in fact has made a virtue of, a healthy patriotism, distinguishing it from nationalism and imperialism.

    That is to say, I don’t believe anyone here has crossed the line.

  • Oh come on folks, this is funny! The way I see it, it’s reminding people that the “old timey country simple Christmas” of yesteryear, which many of us might idealize or be nostalgic about, wasn’t all that great… how many of us would want to go back to slaughtering our own hogs?

  • I think it’s also in the tradition of tall tale nostalgia like the Four Yorkshiremen (“There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.” “Cardboard box?” “Aye.” “You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank.”).

    There are a lot of possible reactions to that sort of comedy, but to be offended on behalf of Yorkshiremen is to fail to understand what the sketch is.

  • I’m unclear how you get to issue cultural and moral fatwas against them, just as you don’t get to tell us Hispanics whether George Lopez is funny, or tell Jews whether Woody Allen is funny.

    Nor, despite his repeated attempts to speak on behalf of all the minorities of the world, does michael get to tell blacks whether they have the right to enjoy Chris Rock.

  • Man, I hope michael never finds out about Hee Haw, what with its farmer’s daughter jokes and self-deprecating humor galore. My grandparents — who had a small farm in Arkansas — loved that show. I’m sure they would have been even more amused to know that some leftist poseur was offended on their behalf.

  • Joe, I think that’s a good quick summation. Similiar to Darwin’s correct point: And frankly, some of your alleged characteristics of fascism simply don’t make any sense if one knows anything about the history of actual fascist regimes.

    It’s always curious how many folks on the left throw around the term as a catch-all meaning “those I don’t like”…..because fascism as a historical movement tended to understand itself to be a big part of the movements of the left! In Italy and Germany especially the Fascist parties, including very much the Nazi Party, competed for support with the Communists, one reason why the groups became blood enemies. After Trotsky was exiled, the Fascists and the Communists were both “modern” (and no one has a good quick definition of what that meant/means), nationalist, and strongly statist. The difference was socialism in one country vs. socialism international (controlled by Moscow). That was the argument.

    Fascism and communism were strongly opposed to the two main currents of early 20th Century European “conservatism” (and here we must generalize awkwardly about conservatism, which arose, with roots in Burke after the Second World War as an organized movement to large-scale industralization, corporatism, and Wilsonianism in foreign policy): throne and altar monarchy, and the right-liberalism of British-based economic thought.

    “Fascist”, in other words, is not of the “right” – and we see this even today in a party I think most would agree could be fairly labeled “fascist” – the BNP. Their economics are far “left” and their hyper-nationalism belongs neither to the right or the left broadly defined, but draws from both the Conservatives and Labour as a political movement needing votes, as their appeals cut across various anxieties such as economic displacement and cultural change.

    Context is king. michael, once again, if you want to throw around heated terms, you should bring the details and examples.

  • “Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.”

    Hee hee! Joe, I want that printed on my coffee mug at work.

  • “Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.”

    That actually sums up how I feel about the law on bad days!

  • Elaine, you’re right: it’s funny. More redneck humor to amuse us fascist folks:

    Hee Haw
    Jeff Foxworthy
    Larry the Cable Guy

  • And of course, there’s Southern Culture on the Skids for our listening pleasure. I believe Camel Walk was getting some air play on the radio back in the 90’s. It was an ode to Little Debbie snacks.

    Say, you don’t think there’s anyway I could get that quarter from underneath your pointy boot, do ya? All I want is just one more oatmeal pie.

  • I was going to post this last night, but our power has been out all night and all morning.

    Darwin, I’m not trying to impress anyone with the names I “dropped.” I hardly think Chris Hedges or Michael Parenti would be impressive names to any of you. I was asked to describe what I meant by fascism and I did so, giving credit to some people that I have read on the topic. Of course I am not as well read on fascism as your buddies with Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s in political science. I don’t claim to know as much as them. My field is theology. I look forward to their comments, though I figure if their political/ethical commitments are the same as yours, they will be looking to use their knowledge to obscure actual existing fascism rather than illuminate i. But we’ll see I suppose.

  • For instance, you list “the complete rejection of ‘modernism’ or the critical spirit” — well, critical spirit, yes, obviously. Fascism freqently involves the embrace of an all encompassing statist and cultural unity. However, fascism certainly did not reject modernity — indeed, it was one of the primary claims of fascist regimes that liberal democracy was an outmoded and corrupt system, and that fascism’s centralization, strength and unity would bring about _true_ modernity rather that dissolute aimlessness.

    You mean there might be — gasp! — contradictions in the characteristics of fascism when it comes to modernity?? You mean, like american right-wing conservatism, saying it is suspicious of or opposed to modernity, yet falling for it all along?! No way! (Indeed, yet another parallel.)

    No one here is listening to you…

    Right. I can’t tell whose responses to me are longer – yours or Darwin’s.

    Man, I hope michael never finds out about Hee Haw, what with its farmer’s daughter jokes and self-deprecating humor galore. My grandparents — who had a small farm in Arkansas — loved that show. I’m sure they would have been even more amused to know that some leftist poseur was offended on their behalf.

    The fact that some rural folks find such things funny does not mean it is not offensive or wrong. The fact that some black people find various black comedians funny does not mean that other black people should not be offended by it. And in either case, you do not have the right to tell those who are offended to “get over it.”

    And Darwin – Could you at least learn to spell the words APPALACHIA and APPALACHIAN? Can you do that for us, at least, when you make fun of us?

  • The “name dropping” and “poseur” charges are yet another example of how uncharitable you folks are.

  • I don’t think fascism neatly fits into either left or right molds, to be honest. Economically it has always been rather conventional and centrist – which is yet another reason why Franco, Salazar, and even Pinochet do not qualify as “fascist.”

    But I want to look at some of MI’s claims about fascism and this blog in particular.

    “nationalism”

    One can be a nationalist without being a fascist. What are pro-war Democrats in the final instance? Why is it that the right is accused of imperialism and nationalism when Democrats have embroiled us in more international wars? Bosnia and Serbia were “peace keeping missions”, right? And Vietnam was what again?

    “authoritarianism”

    Again, one can be authoritarian without being a fascist – though I don’t think anyone here is, and I find it rather odd that a blog that is also routinely accused of “liberalism” and “individualism”, two things hated by fascists, is also accused of being authoritarian.

    “expansionist imperialism (including obsessive and unquestioning defense of america’s expansionist history)”

    The part before the parentheses is so broad it could be extended around anyone who supported the Iraq War. While I believe it was a neo-con power grab, I recognize that plenty of people believe there were legitimate reasons for the war. Bottom line: no one on this blog endorses imperialism, we simply disagree as to whether or not certain wars can be classified as imperialist. Big difference.

    And again, Democrats are just as, if not more so, imperialistic than Republicans.

    “social darwinism (although some here would not admit it, such a worldview is embedded in their arguments)”

    Whose? I completely disagree. Even our most right-wing contributors believe in Christian charity, which has no place in a Social Darwinist worldview in which the weak necessarily perish by the will of the strong.

    Again, what we have are disputes over application of a principle – some here believe that the poor are better helped by private charity and actually harmed by government intervention. I disagree with that notion (much of the time, anyway), but I recognize its validity and I don’t believe it is anti-Catholic, let alone Social Darwinist.

    “machismo and rigid gender roles (usually linked with militarism)”

    Which I am sure the Church as a whole could be accused of – after all, if you oppose abortion, you necessarily hate and want to oppress women in the far-left view of the world. Do you think Eco and Parenti view opposition to abortion as anything other than “machismo” and an attempt to establish “rigid gender roles”?

    Be careful who you cite, fellow Catholic, for views about what constitutes fascism. Adherence to the basic teachings of the Church on birth control and abortion may make you a possible latent fascist, a “repressed” angry male who hates women and wants to force them to breed.

    “racism, etc.”

    No one here is a racist.

    “To these we could add some of Eco’s identified characteristics, such as the complete rejection of “modernism” or the critical spirit”

    As if everyone on the left were completely embracing of “the critical spirit” – what IS the “critical spirit” anyway? Please. Anyone told to submit to authority whines that their “critical spirit” is being silenced.

    As for “modernism”, I think we’ve already shown that fascism is a modernist movement rejected by right-wing authoritarians precisely for that reason. Franco and Salazar, for instance, wanted the Church to play a much greater role in society than Hitler or Mussolini ever did. Hitler especially suppressed the Church, not only in Germany but in all of the occupied countries, and in the “Table Talk” conversations discusses his future plans to completely destroy the Church. Fascism elevates the state above the Church, and tolerates the Church only insofar as she is subordinate to the state – THAT ALONE might suffice to establish fascism’s modernist character. It doesn’t go as far as communism, recognizing the existing religion as a more expedient tool than creating a new one around Marx and Lenin, but it goes far enough. On the other side of the coin, the Iberian dictators gave the Church a great deal of autonomous control over many aspects of social life. This is a massive difference, and relevant because I am fairly certain that if anyone here were going to embrace authoritarianism, it wouldn’t be of the fascist variety.

    “fear of difference (including sexual difference — anything that is not stereotypically “male”)”

    Or perhaps arrogantly reading “sexism” into every defense of tradition… maybe that’s a characteristic of the totalitarian communist left that makes up these lists?

    I won’t go on. The point is, no one here holds to all or even most of the objectionable things on this list, and the Church herself holds to some of them, such as “rigidly” defined gender roles (“rigid” in the eyes of leftists, that is).

    “Some of these characteristics are clearly present as well in some of your contributors’ take on Catholicism. Such a syncretism could rightly be called, in Dorothee Solle’s words, “Christo-fascism.””

    Do you have any evidence of this?

    I think every contributor here has or would sign the Manhattan Declaration, for instance, which declares that we as Christians will put our adherence to basic Christian principles before our allegiance to the state or obedience to the dictates of Caesar.

    What fascist would do such a thing? Fascism elevates the state above the Church, above religion, above any sort of independent spirituality. That is precisely why right-wing Catholics rejected it in favor of their own authoritarian projects.

  • I also have to add, with that Declaration in mind, that the notion that anyone here is fascist is even more ridiculous.

    Everyone here is strongly, if not fanatically, pro-life. What could be more incompatible with fascism, which declares that there are no natural rights, that individuals exist only to serve and glorify the state?

    In a fascist state, such as Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, or what Mosley proposed for Britain, eugenics would be a key policy, weeding out “the weak” through genetic engineering, racial purity laws, state organized breeding (the “Strength through Joy camps”), etc. Abortion would necessarily play a role in this, as would the systematic elimination of the mentally ill or even the less-than-bright.

    To even remotely suggest that anyone on this blog would sign off on policies such as these is not only insulting but stupid. But that is precisely what one does when one bandies about the word “fascist” or “quasi-fascist.” No worldview could be more opposed to fascism than Catholicism, even “right-wing” Catholicism.

  • Everyone here is strongly, if not fanatically, pro-life. What could be more incompatible with fascism, which declares that there are no natural rights, that individuals exist only to serve and glorify the state?

    No, most of the contributors here are strongly, if not fanatically, ANTI-ABORTION. Not “pro-life.” In fact, with the exception of abortion, some contributors here are profoundly anti-life.

    You are right, Joe, that non-fascists exhibit some of the characteristics I listed. This is true for just about every political category though.

    The fact is, the more characteristics from that list that one has, the more he or she begins to look like a fascist. Some of your fellow contributors would be wise to consider that.

    You going to approve my other comments above or what?

  • And Joe, FYI, the Manhattan Declaration is a complete joke.

  • BA,

    Barcelona.

    That was a pretty decent film at the time.

    MI,

    So Santa Claus is a facha also?

  • Of course I am not as well read on fascism as your buddies with Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s in political science. I don’t claim to know as much as them. My field is theology.

    Boy, you could have fooled me.

  • Paul,

    Darwin is like Einstein who was a clerk but did physics as a side hobby.

    Darwin does law and theology as a side hobby!

  • MI,

    It’s not my post, so I don’t tinker with the comments.

    Why is the Manhattan Declaration a joke? Have you read it? Why don’t you cite for me the amusing passages. But before you do, let me know that you understand the point – that fascists demand total subordination to the state, while the Catholics on this blog, I think any fair-minded person would argue, would reject fascist demands to comply with eugenics and mass murder.

  • And by the way, putting “nationalism” on a list of characteristics that makes up fascism is about is interesting as putting “concern with poverty” on a list of characteristics that makes up communism.

    It’s true, but meaningless. What is relevant are those aspects of fascism that cannot be absent without ceasing to be fascism. I would argue that the total subordination of the Church to the state, on pain of repression, banishment or destruction is a characteristic of fascism that a) is necessary and essential to fascism (and communism, when and where it allows the Church to exist at all) and b) would be rejected by anyone on this blog.

    That’s to name only one, of course. I’ll say again – no one on this blog is even remotely fascist.

  • This seems like a good opportunity to present my definition of fascism, which I cobbled together from various other writers after reviewing some documents for my dissertation and reading Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism (a term coined by the socialist H.G. Wells, who called for a liberal fascism in a speech to the Young Liberals at Oxford):

    Fascism is the cult of state organized unity, and it was a movement of centralized planning, group identification, and willing obedience to a charismatic leader. This movement is collectivist and authoritarian – large, intrusive, and modernist, a rallying point to or a substitute for commonality, an organism that should nearly always respond when people “hurt.” Fascism should be understood as a supercharged nationalistic statism, finding its theoretical wellsprings in Hegelian historicism, Rousseau’s protean “general will,” Nietzschean will-to-power, Darwinian evolution, and a smattering of the Social Gospel thrown in for good measure—all of which overturned the older liberalism of Locke, the Enlightenment, and the American Founders. It is committed to an ever-expanding state, without any limits in principle. Fascism is a collectivist doctrine, worshipful towards the centralized state, socialist in economics, hostile to both tradition and capitalism — in short, a left-wing ideology opposed in almost every respect to classical liberal conservative individualism. Fascism was a religion, and the animating dogma of the faith was that all citizens must be together. It is belief in the primacy of the state as a historical actor: everything in the state, nothing outside the state. All the statist and collectivism -isms were reactionary in that they sought to repackage tribal values under the guise of modern concepts. Hitlerism was socialism for one race. Bolshevism was socialism for one class. Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the ‘problem’ and therefore defined as the enemy. Fascism has a grave moral defect: it fails to recognize the individual as the key social unit. Right economic reasoning begins not with the nation but with human action, and right social policy begins with the recognition that society is made up of individuals with souls. Fascism, on the other hand, by ignoring the individual soul, is socialism’s close cousin because it exults in the idolatry of the state. Contemporary progressivism is a political religion with its roots in German state theory, sharing a close family resemblance to fascism. Among the anatomical and genetic similarities: cult of unity, sacralization of politics, philosophical pragmatism, corporatism, relativism, Romanticism, hero-worship, collectivism. Here, corporations are a “partner” with governments, NGOs, the U.N., and other massive multinationals. The profit motive is “good” for efficiency and rewarding talent, but beyond that, there is a desire for order and predictability and planning. This mindset informs the entire class of transnational progressives, the shock troops of what H. G. Wells hoped would lead to his liberal-fascist “world brain.” They want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities, and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. This is the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board, so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort — the Nazis called it the Gleichschaltung — are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along.

    I fail to see how any blogger here would approach this definition. And the term really needs to be out to pasture as an epithet.

  • Boy, you could have fooled me.

    Proving my point about lack of charity. Happy Advent.

    Why is the Manhattan Declaration a joke? Have you read it?

    Yes I have read it. The conservative tools who wrote it finally found an enemy who inspired them to finally get the balls to say “Jesus is Lord and we will stand up to the state!” And that enemy is gay people. They fancy themselves having written a new Barmen Declaration, which is totally hilarious. But it’s not even Christian.

    …let me know that you understand the point – that fascists demand total subordination to the state, while the Catholics on this blog, I think any fair-minded person would argue, would reject fascist demands to comply with eugenics and mass murder.

    You are summoning hypothetical issues in order to argue that the people on the blog are not fascists? Your point? I do think folks from your blog have justified mass murder, in fact.

    I would argue that the total subordination of the Church to the state, on pain of repression, banishment or destruction is a characteristic of fascism that a) is necessary and essential to fascism (and communism, when and where it allows the Church to exist at all) and b) would be rejected by anyone on this blog.

    Subordination of the church to the state does seem to me to be part of fascism, and I think that that idea would be rejected out loud by all of your contributors, but what would take place in practice? Clearly some of your contributors are Catholic in name only, or are Catholic with regard to the pelvic issues, while the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is their real religion. The church, then, is by default and willingly subordinate to the state for these people.

  • Michael I.,

    You’re grasping at straws now about being “anti-abortion” and “hating gays”.

    You really need to think twice and pray before you post your diatribes online.

    Now why is it you fled to Canada for again?

  • Clearly some of your contributors are Catholic in name only, or are Catholic with regard to the pelvic issues, while the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is their real religion.

    And here we have it.

    michael, your “ability” to read hearts, minds, and motives, especially when combined with the frequent name-calling, disdainful tone, and holier than thou posture, is one big reason why you have been called to task so often by such a wide variety of folks, and why one person I know we both highly respected wrote that you will be responsible for the hearts you harden.

    This sort of dialogue demonstrated above really is a destructive witness, and regardless of how much it might feel good in your mind to “stand up for the truth,” or whatever, your e-interactions do a lot more harm than good.

  • I don’t call people names jonathan.

    …why one person I know we both highly respected wrote that you will be responsible for the hearts you harden.

    I don’t know who you are talking about, but regardless, I am not responsible for people’s hardness of heart. And if they do not have ears to hear, that is not my responsibility either. But I do have a responsibility to call it like I see it, so I will continue to do that here at this blog with quasi-fascist tendencies. (If only it had more Christian tendencies!)

  • Michael I.,

    I deleted your last calumny.

    Keep up your uncharitable behavior and you’re back in the doghouse.

  • “I don’t call people names”

    “The conservative tools who wrote it…”

  • Well, we’re past the point of productivity. Good evening all. Feel free to email my handle at gmail if so inclined.

  • MI,

    First of all, the Declaration goes to great trouble to make it clear that it does NOT regard gay people as “the enemy.” It’s language could not have been any more clear, or any more respectful given what the Church and Scripture clearly teach about homosexuality. The reason this has become an issue is connected with the third major concern of the Declaration – religious freedom, which is something all Christians ought to stand up for, even those who wrongly disregard the immorality of homosexual behavior.

    Secondly, it is not clear to me at all that some of our contributors are “Catholic in name only.” Whatever faults some of us may have, the only person I would have accused of consistently and deliberately putting the interests of the American state ahead of Catholic teaching doesn’t even post here anymore.

    As for some of our contributors, it seems to me that any notion of support for, or calling attention to, some of the good things America has done over the past 230 years is enough to get them denounced by you and others as “nationalists.” I’m sorry, Michael, but patriotism is not a sin. The Catechism makes clear that love of one’s country is part of the virtue of gratitude, that we have a duty to defend our country and obey it’s laws (provided of course they do not conflict with God’s). I haven’t seen anyone currently here cross the line from patriotism into nationalism. Accusing Oscar Romero of hiding guns for communist revolutionaries might reflect poor and hasty judgment, but a fascist it does not make.

    I WILL say that I wish SOME of our contributors DID take a more critical approach to American history and foreign policy, but to call them fascist or even “quasi-fascist” because they don’t share the Howard Zinn view of American history or the Noam Chomsky view of foreign policy – if that’s what you think is accurate, I don’t know – is a malicious slander.

    That’s the point here. Your accusation of “fascism” is a serious charge. If you only meant it as a political swear word then it demonstrates your recklessness. And if you meant it as something more without providing evidence, then it demonstrates your laziness and hatred.

  • Michael,

    So since you’re pretty sure you don’t know as much about fascism as those with advanced degrees in political science, it might be time to point out that Joe Hargrave has an MA in the field (unless my memory serves me far wrong) and Paul Zummo holds a PhD in it.

    I apologize if my spelling offends you — while I’ve come far in improving it since I was young it’s not as good as I’d like, especialy when I’m writing late at night and trying to work on an RCIA presentation at the same time as following a blog thread. You can at least rest assured that my spelling errors (unlike some you may be familiar with) are always unintentional.

    Catching up on what I’ve missed over the last while, though, it looks to me as if the main issue is that you have very little ability to understand the views of those with whom you have political disagreements. Given that you seem to think about others through stereotypes, one can hardly be surprised if this thinking is often far off from the truth. It’s an unfortunate handicap, as it becomes impossible to think much about anything outside of one’s own head if one isn’t able to make some sort of attempt to understand other people’s worldviews from the inside. Perhaps this is something which has persisted from your right wing downs down until the present time?

  • I don’t call people names.

    Michael J. Iafrate Says:

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 A.D. at 12:45 pm
    Ignatius left the military, you twit.

    In fairness though, he was just calling it as he sees it. And since Michael is the model of charity and right-thinking I must yield to his word.

    Regards,
    Twit

  • Michael I.,

    Again with the calumny.

    Your last warning.

  • Darwin – I’ve said this before, many times. I know the views you people hold very very well, because I used to share them.

  • Darwin – Having an advanced degree in political science does not make one’s political commitments crystal clear or ethical, I’m afraid.

  • Michael I.,

    You crossed the line of calumny into vicious slander and hate.

    I’m no longer approving your comments on this thread.

    You’ll have to hope that my colleagues approve your comments not directed towards me.

    Oh, and I still wish you a good Advent and Merry Christmas no matter how vile you are towards me.

  • Tito – You are a coward and nothing but.

  • I made an exception of approving Michael Iafrate’s last comment to show what I have to personally deal with when he does say something.

    I, as well as some of the others here at TAC, generally don’t approve of his comments since they remain mostly nonconstructive as well as embarrassing to himself.

    So from time to time we’ll let one of his comments to pass through so you are aware why his comments don’t generally get approved.

  • It also helps to give us a laugh.

  • Interesting thing about Woody Guthrie: when WWII started he wrote anti-war songs, but once Germany invaded the Soviet Union he switched to writing anti-fascist/pro-war songs (such as the one Michael links to). The irony of this whole discussion is that fascism has the negative connotations that it does precisely because America fought a war against it.

  • Darwin – Having an advanced degree in political science does not make one’s political commitments crystal clear or ethical, I’m afraid.

    I didn’t assert it was. But you suggested that those with degrees in political science might have a better understanding of fascism both in its common definition and in its many forms that your own, since it’s not your field. It would seem that the experts in the field that we have here all agree with those of us telling you that your accusations of fascism don’t fit at all with what fascism actually is. So by your own admission, it may simply be that you don’t know what you’re talking about in this instance.

    It’s okay. In certain cultural environments it’s easy to get into using the phrase “fascist” inexactly, or even ignorantly.

  • Darwin – I’ve said this before, many times. I know the views you people hold very very well, because I used to share them.

    Actually, if anything, that probably results in your knowing _less_ about the views of conservatives than if you’d never so described yourself. It is, generally speaking, far to easy to assume that because one once claimed alliegance to a set of beliefs that one therefore knows all there is to know about them, and the many defects of those who hold them.

    Would you say that people who were Catholic until high school and were vocal atheists by the time they are in grad school are generally people who can be relied upon to know the views Catholics hold “very very well”? Probably not.

    Similarly, I don’t see it necessarily holds that someone who went from being a Rush Limbaugh fan in high school to being an anarchist and “radical” in college is someone who can be counted on to have a mature or developed understanding of either conservatism or how conservatives tend to view the world.

    Further, your claim would rely on our assuming that we are suffering from false consciousness so incredibly deep that even when you characterize our beliefs as being radically different than we know them to be, that you somehow are right and we are wrong about what we think. Surely you can see how this would be a rather hard sell.

  • You have made two claims: 1) that I adhere to an “alternative” definition of fascism, and that 2) I have retreated to a level of generality that makes my understanding of fascism meaningless. I am not sure how I can be guilty of both.

    Well, we’re well past the point of diminishing marginal returns at this point, but I thought I might as well clarify this. You proposed an exceptionally abstract definition of fascism that does not comport with its common usage, as pointed out by, well, everyone else on the thread. This more abstract definition, stripped of most of the historical characteristics of fascism, renders the term much less meaningful. So, you both 1) used an alternative definition; and 2) that definition makes the term much less meaningful. It’s a bit of a bait-and-switch. You’re using the fascist tag with all of the unpleasant and horrifying historical baggage that comes along with it, but then trying to retreat to a higher level of abstraction when it’s pointed out that most of the elements of fascism (i.e. centralization of industry, the single party state, and glory as the sum bonnum of human ambition) simply don’t apply to the people you’re trying to label fascists.

  • Surely you can see how this would be a rather hard sell.

    Again, if you don’t buy what I’m “selling,” that is no responsibility of mine.

    You proposed an exceptionally abstract definition of fascism that does not comport with its common usage, as pointed out by, well, everyone else on the thread.

    It does not surprise me that “well, everyone else on this thread” disagrees with my use of the term “fascist” to describe them.

  • Joe – I’d be curious to know which of your former contributors you consider a fascist.

  • I think Joe was a little unclear and discussed people who post comments and contributors in the same paragraph (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Joe). I don’t think we even have any ‘former contributors’. Unlike, say…

    It does not surprise me that ‘well, everyone else on this thread’ disagrees with my use of the term ‘fascist to describe them.

    Well, if you’re calling everyone on this thread a fascist, I’m not surprised either. You’re definition must be even broader and less useful than I’d previously thought. But the point wasn’t that they were disagreeing with you about whether they were fascists. They were disagreeing with your definition of fascism, regardless of whether you were applying it to them or not. For instance, I didn’t understand you to be calling me a fascist; I still thought (and think) you were using the term incorrectly. As you’ve conceded your lack of expertise in this area, I’m not sure what else there is to say.

  • Obviously I am not calling everyone in this thread a fascist. But I am not surprised that folks like yourself and Joe, considering your political commitments, would take issue with my use of the term to describe your comrades.

  • Again, if you don’t buy what I’m “selling,” that is no responsibility of mine.

    It depends on your objective. If you write words because you hope to convince anyone else in the world that what you are saying is true, then presentation matters; the ability to construct an argument matters; and the willingness not to attack other people using terms that you don’t understand matters as well. If, on the other hand, you simply write in order to ventilate your (obviously inexhaustible) supply of rage, then have at it.

  • S.B. – Just because folks at “The American Catholic” blog aren’t convinced by what I write on their blog does not mean I have not convinced anyone else in my life of anything. I am not worried about you folks.

  • As goofy as Michael’s use of the term “fascist” may be, it is easy enough to comprehend: any person who is not an anarchist has fascist tendencies. Now you have it.

  • You might be on to something Mike.

  • Of course reason and evidence can play no role in our assessment of who is fascist – only our “political commitments.”

    It sounds like you have pre-decided to reject our arguments, as well as being “not worried” about us – so what exactly are you doing here?

    Are you just bored or something? VN not getting enough traffic to generate an interesting conversation so you thought you’d huff and puff over here and try to blow the house down?

    I’ll say it one more time. No one here is a fascist. In fact everyone here has been accused of “liberalism” and “individualism” so many times by your own comrades that to now bring up the charge of fascism seems even more ridiculous.

    If anything, as a sort of Christian Democrat/Red Tory I’M more authoritarian Tito, Don, Darwin or any of other conservative contributors, and you’ve already conceded that I’m not a fascist. I don’t know the point at which you stop calling people fascists – when they’ve totally rejected it’s economic program, it’s social program, it’s cultural program?

    Btw, John Henry, I was referring to a person who used to leave comments, not posts, here. I don’t want to name names.

  • Pure laissez faire ideology of capital can be summed up as:

    Ownership: Private
    Contraol: Private

    Fascism:

    Ownership: Private
    Control: State

    Communism:

    Ownership: State
    Control: State

    I know of no state that has ever been 100% laissez faire. Almost everyone would agree the state should have some say in some instances regarding the control and use of capital (and in some cases the ownership). Most often the arguments are about how, where, when, and how much. And there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting some control by the state. I would argue, depending on what and how, it can be a mark of a just state as much as a mark of an unjust one.

    To the degree one desires private ownership of capital coupled with control from the state, the closer they come to the economical model of fascism.

    To the degree someone desires state ownership and control of capital they are communist.

    As someone pointed out above, it’s pretty funny hearing people being referred to as being infected by extreme liberal individualism in one breath and a fascist in another. However, assuming that model above a reasonably accurate way of viewing these things, one would one be inclined to consider a comparison between what many here advocate and what many over at another blog advocate and question who really have the fascist tendencies.

  • Joe,

    We cross posted and I saw you brought up the irony of the liberal > fascist thing. I was recalling it being said much earlier in the conversation, perhaps it was you who mentioned it earlier too. I was just too lazy to look it up to give credit. ;)

  • Phillip,

    Yes, he does supply an ample amount of comic relief. I especially enjoyed reading his rant on how evil Thanksgiving is.

  • It sounds like you have pre-decided to reject our arguments, as well as being “not worried” about us – so what exactly are you doing here?

    I came here to point out to Tito that his post is offensive. You are the ones who derailed the conversation by focusing on a peripheral comment in my post in which I referred to this blog’s “quasi-fascist tendencies.” I’m defending my use of that term to describe some of your contributors because you are the one’s “huffing and puffing” about it.

    BTW, Joe, I think I know which commenter you mean now. You’re right — I haven’t seen him haunting your blog for some time now. Maybe he is in the hospital recovering from a fight he got into? And you are right — the guy is a total fascist.

  • You pointed it out about 100 posts ago. You’re still here arguing with people whose views you supposedly don’t care about – why?

  • I came here to point out to Tito that his post is offensive.

    A claim that you’ve still never managed to back up with anything resembling an argument.

  • S.B. – If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    Joe – Fantastic point! And since you people are still not interested in retracting a hurtful post and insist upon defending its appropriateness, it is clear to me that you deliberately choose to remain in dis-communion with your fellow humans. Hope you remember that before approaching the altar of God this weekend. See ya later!

  • We don’t think it was hurtful. We communicated that to you. I don’t see the problem.

    I mean, what are you saying here – that I ought to go to confession and say,

    “Bless me father, I have sinned – Michael Iafrate, the Catholic Anarchist, claimed that a post on the blog that I write for was offensive to rural poor people, and I failed to agree with him”

    ?

    Is that it?

  • Joe H.,

    Don’t forget to confess all the carbon dioxide you emitted from your person and lifestyle while you’re at it and ask for the intercession of Blessed Albert Gore of Tennessee.

  • If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    If a fellow contributor posted something here which one of us actually thought was offensive, I don’t have any doubt that people would point it out. There’s a fairly diverse group of writers here and there seems to have been little fear of criticizing each other thus far.

    it is clear to me that you deliberately choose to remain in dis-communion with your fellow humans. Hope you remember that before approaching the altar of God this weekend.

    I guess I’m a bit confused by this. You were convinced that the video was offensive and others thought you were massively mis-interpreting the video. Who exactly does this put us in “dis-communion” with? You? The people you are convinced the video mocks (despite the fact we don’t think it mocks them)?

    I’ll admit, the idea that disagreeing with you on whether a humor video by and about rural red-staters is offensive somehow puts us in “dis-communion” in such a way as we should worry about when approaching the Eucharist strikes me as a bit odd — given that you’ve just spent several dozen comments calling your fellow Catholics fascists, and indeed have gone so far on occasion as to inform me that you do not belong to the same faith that I do.

    Is it the altar of Michael which we’re in discommunion with?

  • Its not the altar of Michael, but his version of Catholicism. I’ve come across it more and more of late in classes I’ve taken.

    Sadly, it really is a different faith.

  • I agree there are different faiths at work here. Very different. Different Gods. Different Christs. Different Spirits.

  • If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    No, but that’s because the offensiveness would be obvious rather than completely of your own invention.

  • This, after MI and Professor Karlson railed against me for suggesting that certain people ought to leave the Church instead of trying to revolutionize it.

    I was called anti-Catholic, reckless, irresponsible, etc. And I didn’t even suggest they believed in a different Christ!

    I wonder if any of MI’s fellow Vox Novers will consider his comments here in the same way. Probably not.

  • I AM still curious why this example of redneck humor is offensive. Is Jeff Foxworthy equally offensive? What about Hee Haw? Beverly Hillbillies? Dukes of Hazard?

  • Joe – I’m not sure what is so controversial about the claim that many of us worship different Christs. I am accused of worshiping a “false” “politicized” Christ constantly by many of the folks here. How is that any different? And I never said you or anyone else ought to leave the Church.

  • Well let me say right now that anyone who says you worship a false Christ is probably wrong, and out of line.

    It may be that you selectively interpret Christ from one side, as some here might do from another. But a person would have to go as far as Hitler’s “Aryan Jesus” before I started accusing them of worshiping a different Christ, and I am fairly certain that no one here or at VN goes that far.

    But I will say that it probably follows from the worship of different Gods that there should be membership in different Churches.

  • Don’t you think there’s a major distinction between saying that someone has an incorrect understanding of Christ, or an incorrect understanding of the Church, and saying “we do not belong to the same Church” or “we do not worship the same God” or “we do not follow the same Christ”?

    One can use the turn of phrase loosely to mean that people have radically different understandings of Christ, but — given that what we actually mean is that there is one Christ, and people have understandings of Him which are, to varying degrees, correct — it seems to me that saying “we don’t worship the same Christ” seems like going down the road of, “I am a follower of Apollos”, “I of Paul”, “I of Michael.”

    And again, even if you do choose to go around talking about how we worship a different Christ than you do, it seems very odd to get all snippy after that an say that you hope we realize we’re approaching the altar in dis-communion. When you accuse others of not worshipping the same God, and not belonging to the same Church, the “how dare you be in dis-communion with me over YouTube” line of persuasion seems a little hollow.

    Myself, I certainly think that we belong to the same Church, receive the same Body of Christ and worship the same God — even though I do think that it is wrong (and suggests a somewhat mistaken understanding of Christ) when one dissents with Church teaching, as at times you have flirted with.

  • I didn’t say anything about us not belonging to the same Church. We obviously belong to the same Church.

  • If “we don’t worship the same Christ”, but we obviously belong to the same Church holds, then there’s definitely a problem regarding the understanding what the Church really is. It’s not a mere association like the Lions Club where membership is a thing of its own.

  • If “we don’t worship the same Christ”, but we obviously belong to the same Church holds, then there’s definitely a problem regarding the understanding what the Church really is.

    I would agree with that. We probably have very different ideas about what the Church really is, even though institutionally we belong to the same Church.

    Again, why is it controversial to point this out?

  • THE GLORIOUS WAYS OF GOD
    II Corinthians 4:11, 14, “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”
    “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” (II Corinthians 4:18). How blessed to have grace to do this!
    There is no hope, no consolation in the things that are seen, the things we experience in this present world. They all remind us that we lie in the midst of death, and that “this life is nothing but a continual death.”
    But how different all these things become if we regard the things that are not seen, the things eternal! Then we look at the fact of Jesus, our Lord, in whose cross and resurrection we behold God’s way out of death into the glory of eternal life! And then all our present suffering and death are but ways of God unto that exceeding and eternal weight of glory!” Then “we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (II Corinthians 4:16).
    For added comfort, read: II Corinthians 5:1-8.
    14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, KJV).

    26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS (Luke 1:26-31, KJV).

    B. Mary was an example of holiness and virtue.

    She was highly favored.
    She was blessed among women.
    C. Mary was an example of faith in God.
    1 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38, KJV).
    14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:14, KJV).
    D. Mary was an example of a suffering saint.
    19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart (Luke 2:19, KJV)).
    25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

    26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
    27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:25-27, KJV).
    E. Mary was saved by Grace through faith in her son and God’s Son.
    46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
    47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:46-47, KJV).
    44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44, KJV).

    CONCLUSION:
    Mary is an example of faith and humility.
    Mary is an example of obedience.
    Mary is an example of holiness
    Mary is an example of perseverance
    JUDGING JESUS – Who He Really Is
    John 19:1-16 :
    By Rev Dr Gordon Moyes
    In our study of John’s Gospel, the last three weeks have seen us discuss different aspects of Pilate’s judgement of Jesus including his questions about truth in the light of the untrue accusations against him, and the way Pilate bowed to the pressure of the crowd. Tonight we consider Pilate judging Jesus. Jesus was brought to face judgement seven times. Before Annas and members of the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Caiaphas, Governor Pilate, King Herod, Pilate for a second time, and finally when Pilate brought Jesus before the people and pronounced to them that he found no basis for judging Jesus, the people rejected messiah and passed judgement on him. And Pilate, bowing to political pressure from the high priests and the will of the people, sentenced Jesus, a man whom he had just pronounced unworthy of death or any punishment, to death by crucifixion. There is new evidence concerning Pontius Pilate. The Australian historian Paul Barnett writes, “For an otherwise obscure governor of a minor province, with a small military command, Pontius Pilate is remarkably well attested in ancient sources”.
    1. EVIDENCE CONCERNING PILATE.
    Recently some coins Pilate had minted in 29 to 31AD have been found. They bear Roman religious symbols that the Jews despised. This caused a conflict between Pilate and the Jews. In 1961 two archaeologists excavating the Mediterranean port of Caesarea uncovered a two-by-three foot marble plaque with an inscription in Latin: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans.” Here was historical proof of the existence of Pilate.
    Pilate is mentioned in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, but also by Josephus the Jewish historian. Philo, the Greek-speaking philosopher in Egypt who describes “his venality, his violence, his thefts, his assaults, his abusive behaviour, his frequent executions of untried prisoners, and his endless savage ferocity.” Cornelius Tactitus, the greatest Roman historian said Pilate was a cruel and anti-Semitic governor. He provoked the Jews, defied their religious sensitivities and flouted the Roman convention of not causing trouble among conquered people. Pilate was head of the Province’s judicial system and taxation collection, paying funds for provincial needs, and forwarding the rest to Rome.
    Twice Pilate’s Jewish subjects exerted pressure upon him by threatening to complain to Rome about him. Philo says the Jews reported Pilate to Emperor Tiberius, who warned Pilate when Pilate violently squashed a demonstration at Mt Gerazim executing the ringleaders. Pilate was suspended and recalled to Rome in 37AD. He suicided in 39AD. Pilate was vacillating and uncertain due to the time of the trial of Jesus. Emperor Tiberias instituted a soft policy towards the Jews, following a period of anti-Semitism under his prefect Sejanus whom he executed. A decree went out from the Emperor that Governors should treat the Jews with fairness. Pilate’s behaviour towards the Jews changed dramatically. He now bent over backwards to appease them. The Sanhedrin knew that, and threatened Pilate “If you let this Jesus man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” John 19:16
    2. GOVERNOR PILATE’S JUDGEMENT.
    During Passover, Jewish patriotism was at fever pitch. The governor was alert to suppress any sign of rebellion. Of the “many things” of which Jesus was accused before Pilate Mark 15:3 three are named: Lk 23:2 perverting the nation by exciting the crowds; forbidding giving of tribute to Caesar; claiming to be king. This accusation appears in all four gospels. Each repeats the word at least four times (John twelve times) in recounting Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. John says the accusers avowed their own exclusive loyalty to Caesar. John 19:12,15 The gospels depict Pilate as perplexed, uncertain, and anxious to shift the decision to others. He sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, Luke 23:6-13 who was visiting Jerusalem, but Herod had no jurisdiction there. Pilate then seeks to release Jesus instead of Barabbas, but is overruled by the clamour of the mob stirred up by the priests.
    So Pilate washes his hands, disclaiming any responsibility for Jesus death. Matt. 27:24 Pilate appeased the Jews to save his own hide. Three non-Christian writers mention Pilate’s role in the death of Jesus. The Roman historian Tacitus states Pilate had Jesus executed. The Jewish historian Josephus, adds Pilate did so upon Jesus’ being accused by prominent Jews of stirring up rebellion, although Jesus not involved in any political activity. But this was why the Romans executed him. Luke reported Luke 23:12 that after Jesus’ trial Pilate and Herod Antipas became friends. Only recently Herod too had executed someone very similar to Jesus, John the Baptist, whose teachings were so popular.
    2. THE FACE-OFF BETWEEN PILATE AND JESUS.
    The judgement area of the palace of the Roman Governor Pilate has been excavated and is known as Lithostrotos, or Gabbatha, the place of judgement. On the raised platform or bema stood the large judgement seat from which Roman justice was dispensed. Pilate was fetched from his slumbers as the first roosters crowed at the dawn of what was to be forever known as “Good Friday”. That night, Jesus was dragged through a series of illegal trials by the Jewish religious system. Annas, the godfather of an ecclesiastical dynasty, examined him in his house. Jesus was then dragged next door and before the current High Priest, the crafty Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas. His burial box for his bones, with his name upon it, was discovered four years ago. After being abused, Jesus was roughly taken to the chamber of The Sanhedrin, where a hastily assembled group, met illegally in a pre-dawn assembly. Caiaphas declared that it was essential for the sake of the nation that Jesus be put to death immediately. They did not need a fair trial. What they needed was a verdict! The Sanhedrin had no power to execute Jesus. So they sought the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate to grant execution quickly. They wanted the end before the people were aware what was happening. Jesus was dragged, still bound, from the Sanhedrin past the Temple area to the Tower of Antonia in the first light before sunrise. Pilate examined Jesus. He then sent Jesus back to the Jews declaring he could find no fault in Jesus, nothing worthy of death. But the Jews sent him back.
    They threatened that if Pilate did not find Jesus guilty and sentence Him to death, then the High Priests and Sanhedrin would themselves report Pilate to Rome as being indifferent to the threat of Roman security in the region. Pilate tried to release Jesus, as part of an amnesty granting a prisoner release each Passover. But the Jews would have no part of that. They would rather have a patriot, Jesus Barabbas, arrested for offences against the Romans, released instead of Jesus. Pilate’s wife urged him to release Jesus, as she dreamed of trouble if anything was done to Jesus. But faced with the blackmail of the scheming priests, he dismissed his wife’s fears and handed Jesus over to be crucified. The Governor had shown he wanted peace at any price. There on the Lithostrotos, the viceregal Pilate, clothed in his leather, purple robe and brass, faced his prisoner, whose hands were bound, his head and face bloodied, wearing only a seamless, homespun robe.
    Their eyes were steady for they each knew Pilate would deny justice rather than be questioned by his superiors from Rome. Truth, justice, integrity were being sacrificed for expediency and Pilate’s personal safety. Pilate asked: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Does this question come from you or have others told you about me?” Pilate replied: “Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people and chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done?”. Jesus said: “My Kingdom does not belong to this world; if My Kingdom belonged to this world, My followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my Kingdom does not belong here!”
    So Pilate asked him: “Are you a king then?”. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a King. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.” “And what is truth?” Pilate asked. Without waiting for an answer, he walked out to the Jews and washed his hands of the whole matter. John 18:33-38 Jesus response and Pilate’s question are as valid today as at anytime in human history. Truth was integral to the nature and purpose of Jesus “I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.” Pilate was concerned for his own skin not for truth.
    Jesus was a person of integrity. He advocated living a life of truth. So His followers are committed to truth. Further His task was to speak about the truth. “…this one purpose, to speak about the truth.” No one ever accused Jesus of speaking a lie. But this means more: it means not only speaking the truth but speaking about the truth. Like Jesus, we should witness to God whose very nature is truth and to Jesus who said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Further still, His followers would listen to truth. “Whoever belongs to the truth listens to Me.” Jesus claimed that those who belonged to truth would listen to His word, and those who sought truth would ultimately find Him. Those who live by the values of this world sneer at the necessity of truth. “And what is truth?” they ask with Pilate. Their characters are untouched by truth. Their tasks do not take truth into account. Neither do they listen to truth.
    Christian people must choose to live a life of truth like that of Jesus, rather than a life of expediency like that of Pilate. How many people do you know who say one thing but when the test is on, vacillate and go the other way? How many people in our nation cannot be relied upon to stand up for what they know to be true? When the tough times comes, many melt into the crowd. In church and politics, at work and among friends, choose to be like Jesus and listen to truth and speak truth, stand up for truth and witness bravely. Compromisers and appeasers surround us and fill places of importance like Pilate. Regardless of the personal cost, stand up with Jesus who is truth and integrity.
    In all fields of life, men and women of integrity are required. Men and women who will listen to truth, speak truth and stand up for truth. In a morally corrupt and compromising world, Christians must stand incorruptible and uncompromising. Once the Prophet Amos, picture God holding a plumbline to measure people against its perfect line, to see if he could find a man who was straight and true. Amos 7 Once Pilate was to judge Jesus, but ever since, people have seen that against the straight and true character of Jesus, Pilate was found wanting. Two men were at the Judgement seat that day. But only one was judged! Do you ever judge Jesus? They who spend their time judging Jesus, find themselves, judged by Him and are found wanting!
    Today’s gospel lesson.
    Jaoh 2: 13. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
    14. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.
    15. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
    16. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
    17. His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.”
    18. The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”
    19. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
    20. The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
    21. But he spoke of the temple of his body.
    22. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
    23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did;
    24. but Jesus did not trust himself to them,
    25. because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.

    What is in man that Jesus Knew?
    Pace and kindness,
    Fred

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