Separating the wheat from the chaff in the Great Torture Debate …

There’s a new blog in town — “The Coalition for Clarity” — founded by Red Cardigan (And Sometimes Tea), with inspiration from Mark Shea; you can review their founding principles here.

Who could be a part of the Coalition for Clarity? — That’s a good question, particularly when reviewing various attempts at “clarity” from the vast array of prominent Catholics who have weighed in on the subject.

Consider the following candidates …

Catholic Answers

Catholic Answers is one of the largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States, founded by Karl Keating and host to such leading lights as Catholic author and radio host Patrick Madrid and Mark Brumley (CEO of Catholic publishing giant Ignatius Press).

A keyword search for torture on their website turns up precious little. Their most extensive treatment of the issue appears to be a formal response by Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S. on the subject of The Church and Torture (This Rock Fall 2006) — reprising his arguments in Living Tradition (“Torture and Corporal Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I – The Witness of Scripture” | Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium), Harrison concluded that “in spite of initial appearances, we should not read article 80 of John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor as being intended to settle the whole question with a condemnation of all severe and intentional infliction of pain as intrinsically evil.”

Deal Hudson

Last year, Deal Hudson (former editor of Crisis magazine and founder of InsideCatholic.com) proposed the question:Is Torture One of the Church’s Non-Negotiables?? — Deal to my knowledge remains ambivalent (or perhaps reflective) on the question.

Jimmy Akin

  • In June 2004, Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin examined the Catechism‘s statements on torture and ventured the following:
    The Catechism‘s discussion of torture (CCC 2298) focuses significantly on the motive that is being pursued in different acts of torture. If it means us to understand that having a particular motive is necessary for an act to count as torture then it might turn out that some acts commonly described as torture are in fact not torture–just as some acts commonly described as stealing are not actually the sin of stealing, such as taking food to feed one’s family during a time of starvation when the person who initially had the food has plenty. The same might turn out to be true of torture (i.e., not everything that looks like torture would be the sin of torture).

    For example, the Catechism’s list of motives for torture does not mention the use of physical pressure to obtain information needed to save innocent lives. It thus might turn out that it is not torture to twist a terrorist’s arm behind him and demand that he tell you where he planted a bomb so that it can be defused and innocents can be saved. Certainly the kind of things that Jack Bauer may do on 24 are very different morally from the kinds of things that happened in Soviet prisons.

    I would be disinclined to go the route of saying that torture is not always wrong. I think that the Church is pretty clearly indicating in its recent documents that it wants the word “torture” used in such a way that torture is always wrong. However, I don’t think that the Magisterium has yet thoroughly worked out all the kinds of “hard case” situations one can imagine and whether they count as torture.

    Different churchmen would probably answer the hard case questions differently, some reflexibly shying away from any use of significant physical or psychological pressure, and others holding that the need to prevent an imminent terrorist attack trumps any right a terrorist might otherwise have not to have pain inflicted on him, so that applying physical pressure in such cases might not count as the sin of torture.

  • In October 2006, Jimmy Akin expressed his “doubts about torture” and asserted that “[having] briefly chatted with Mark about the matter, my impression is that his position is within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought on this, though his is not the only position within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought.”
  • Finally, in November 2006, Jimmy embarked on a thoughtful three-part exploration of the subject (See: Part I: “Defining Torture: An Initial Exploration” | Part II: Proposing a Definition | Part III: One more Thought — he arrived at the tentative conclusion that torture amounted to “the infliction of a disproportionate amount of pain”, which subsequently led to the (tentative?) conclusions that — with respect to one particular method of coercion — “waterboarding is torture if it is being used to get a person to confess to a crime”; “it is torture if it is being used to get information out of a terrorist that could be gotten through traditional, less painful interrogation means,” and “I would not say that it is torture if it is being used in a ticking time bomb scenario and there is no other, less painful way to save lives.”

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus

Responding to articles by Alan Dershowitz and Andrew C. McCarthy favoring “controlled, highly regulated, and responsibly accountable conditions” in which torture would be permitted, Fr. Neuhaus insisted on the necessity of “drawing the line against torture” (First Things October 2004):

There is a temptation to place terrorists beyond the pale of humanity. But every human being, no matter how radically he has debased himself, is a child of God, created in His image and likeness. …

The usual instance cited by proponents of legalized torture is that of the “ticking time bomb.” The scenario is that we have in custody a fourteen-year-old girl who, we have reason to believe, knows where a nuclear bomb is planted in the heart of a city, a bomb timed to explode within hours. Surely, it is argued, in such a circumstance torture is justified in order to get information that will save many thousands of lives. No, it isn’t. Leave aside the counter-arguments that maybe she does not know, or that information exacted by torture is unreliable. When it comes to defining circumstances justifying torture or to the regulating of torture, the course is slippery and steeply sloped. We dare not trust ourselves to torture.

Torture as defined in international agreements to which the U.S. is party—outrages against human dignity, humiliation, degradation, mutilation, the threat of death—is never morally permissible. Admittedly, a measure of coercion, both physical and mental, is inevitably involved in most interrogation. The very fact of being in custody and under threat of punishment is a form of coercion. The task is to draw as bright a line as possible between such coercion and torture, and to forbid the latter absolutely. The uncompromisable principle is that it is always wrong to do evil in order that good may result. This principle is taught in numerous foundational texts of our civilization and is magisterially elaborated in the 1993 encyclical of John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor. We cannot ask God’s blessing upon a course of action that entails the deliberate doing of evil.

It’s unclear whether “The Coalition for Clarity” is a distinctly Catholic organization. If not, they might take the following candidates into consideration:

Victor Davis Hanson

Back in December 2005, the military historian and former classics professor wrote in favor of the McCain amendment prohibiting the inhumane treatment of prisoners (“The Truth About Torture”). Though expressing concern about “castigating our misdemeanors, while mostly ignoring the felonies of real barbarians” and “that once we try to quantify precisely what constitutes torture, we could, in the ensuing utopian debate, define anything from sleep deprivation to loud noise as unacceptable. Indeed, we might achieve the unintended effect of only creating disdain for our moral pretensions from incarcerated terrorists”, he ultimately concluded support of the amendment was a risk worth taking:

… because it is a public reaffirmation of our country’s ideals. The United States can win this global war without employing torture. That we will not resort to what comes so naturally to Islamic terrorists also defines the nobility of our cause, reminding us that we need not and will not become anything like our enemies.

Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuk

In the flagship publication of the neoconservative movement, Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuk of the American Enterprise Institute argued for One Code to Rule Them All (Weekly Standard October 3, 2005) — expressing skepticism towards “the Pentagon’s ‘just-trust-us’ mentality” and insisting that “Congress owes it to America, our allies, and our soldiers to set clear standards for the treatment of detainees” by strict adherence to the regulations of the Army Field Manual as a uniform standard for interrogations.

Michael Ledeen

Foreign policy specialist and prominent neoconservative Michael Ledeen MIGHT qualify, depending on who you ask. On one hand, if you believe the spin of Mark Shea, Ledeen once argued that “your son should commit cold blooded murder of surrendering prisoners in order to keep the quota of captured prisoners down. He’ll make an excellent murderer and war criminal and do his nation proud”. On the other, Ledeen himself came out rather forcefully against detainee abuse in 2004:

Maybe the temperature of the rhetoric has cooled enough for us to address the most important aspect of the debacle: Torture and abuse are not only wrong and disgusting. They are stupid and counterproductive. A person under torture will provide whatever statements he believes will end the pain. Therefore, the “information” he provides is fundamentally unreliable. He is not responding to questions; 99 percent of the time, he’s just trying to figure out what he has to say in order to end his suffering. All those who approved these methods should be fired, above all because they are incompetent to collect intelligence.

Torture, and the belief in its efficacy, are the way our enemies think. And remember that our enemies, the tyrants of the 20th century, and the jihadis we are fighting now, are the representatives of failed cultures. Our greatness derives from the superiority of our culture, and we should, as the sports metaphor goes, stick with what got us here.

John Derbyshire

To my knowledge, National Review contributor John Derbyshire was among the first conservatives to speak out against torture in November 2001: “I’ll go along with some clever manipulation of a suspect’s hopes and fears: But rubber truncheons? Electrodes? Pliers? Razor blades? Blocks of ice? Not in my name, no. Am I an absolutist on this? Yes, I am.”

* * *

Responding to Mark Shea’s enthusiastic plug for the CfC, one poor sap remarked:

“Torture is intrinsically evil.” Not hard to agree with.

The more difficult question is, what is torture?

(In other words, here we go again …)

29 Responses to Separating the wheat from the chaff in the Great Torture Debate …

  • Personally, I have always favored translating all the torture debates held on Saint Blog’s into Arabic. You then have them voice read, with different voice actors and actresses for all the different contributors and commenters over the years, and recordings made. Then, whenever a terrorist comes into the hands of the authorities, you have this piped into their cells non-stop. After a few days of hearing this, I suspect all but the most hardened terrorists would be begging to talk!

  • Good to hear. While I wish that we were all opposed to torture (and abortion, etc.), I am glad that at least we’re willing to have debates about the moral legitimacy of torture. It’s not a practice that we’ve yet happily embraced as a society, so I hope that, in time, we may, as a society, come to a clear vision of it.

  • If I’m not mistaken, veterans of WWII have said many times that they were told in no uncertain terms NEVER to torture Nazi POWs, and that in their experience, torture didn’t work anyway in terms of gathering actionable intelligence. I also remember reading somewhere (pardon the vagueness of this recollection) that the most effective Nazi interrogator of all never used torture or physical pain of any kind — his tactic was to appear friendly and sympathetic.

    I take it that the notion of justifying, or looking the other way at, torture of terrorist suspects, didn’t come from within the U.S. military — this was NOT something soldiers were begging to be allowed to do because it was going to “help” them out in the field — just the opposite.

    It seems to me that things which are sinful but touted as the only “solutions” to desperate, intractable problems (e.g. abortion, contraception, euthanasia, torture) almost always end up not “solving” the problem they were supposed to solve, or creating new, even worse problems. Sin not only makes you stupid and puts you in danger of damnation, it isn’t even practical in the long run!

  • I’m against torture, and I tend to see waterboarding as torture. *But*… if any debate about torture is going to go anywhere, it *has* to include discussion on the nature of torture… what the essence of torture is. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many other opponents of torture are opposed to having that discussion, as Christopher alludes to at the end of the post.

  • Chris

    The problem is simple: definitions are never all-inclusive, and people who want a “definition” do so for the sake of finding a way to use the letter as against the spirit. I have no problem with people trying to make working definitions, when people know that is what is going on — but the people who insist on a “real definition” do so ignoring the limitations of definitions. The question of definition ends up being a way to side-swipe the whole issue and to divert attention away from practical issues and solutions.

    To confirm this, look to the way people try to play fast and loose with definitions in other issues, like religion!

  • Chris to further point out what I mean, consider the issues people rightfully have with those who think the Christian faith is merely what can be discerned and put down in propositions. Think about the attempt to classify Christ in propositions and to think that is the end of theological knowledge. They are wrong — and what is useful in one day ends up being incomplete and imperfect. Propositions in the end never truly hit the mark — they might aim for it, but never actually get it complete. We have seen this in Christology– look to St Cyril of Alexandria’s Christological propositions and how some people assumed they were “definitive definitions.” What happened? They opposed Chalcedon and therefore showed they didn’t understand the limits of definitions and propositions.

    So again, while I think one can make working, practical definitions, one must always do so with the addition of: this is imperfect and incomplete, and we must work with the spirit behind the proposition itself, not just rely upon the dead letter (for as St Paul says, it is the letter which kills).

  • Henry,

    While someone may focus on definitions in order to divert attention, it’s also possible that they are serious about attempting a thorough moral analysis of a particular human act. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we ought to presume the latter.

    We use precise definitions in numerous other instances of intrinsic evil… abortion, adultery, etc. I see no reason why we can’t have the same degree of clarity on this issue.

    I agree that we need to start with a working definition… we need to start somewhere, after all. But we can proceed to refine that definition as our analysis unfolds.

  • Chris

    We have evidence – Mark Shea and others have given working definitions. Kyle Cupp on Vox Nova has done so as well. Indeed, I have seen many people give them — all to have people use it to say “so, waterboarding doesn’t count because of X.” So indeed, for some at least, it is a way to try to trap people into accepting something like waterboarding.

    But I think we both agree; a working definition is fine — so long as all the caveats are put in place. And with it, all definitions, even improvements, would be seen as working definitions. If we follow with that light, they can help, but again, I have seen people already give such — which is why the “they don’t give a definition” statement isn’t true. People do give it, but what is wanted is “the” definition.

  • In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons? Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.

    You know, efforts to claim certain forms of torture are not really torture are very similar to efforts claiming that abortion is not murder – it’s all about trying to draw an arbitrary line where you cease to respect human life and dignity. It’s the right wing equivalent of Catholic for a Free Choice, and is similarly corrupted by the evils of consequentialism.

    As for the argumenst above, Harrison’s is incredibly weak. And Akin is invokling a purely consequentialist argument – torture is OK in particular circumstances (ticking bomb scenario) when the very definition of an instrinsically evil act precludes such recourse to circumstances.

    Instead of this legion of neocons and their Catholic fellow travelers, why do you not simply report what the Church says about torture? See the article in the recent America magazine by Stephen Colecchi. See the Catechism, the Compendium on Social Doctrine, Gaudium Et Spes, Veritatis Spledour, the USCCB document, and the statements of Pope Benedict (that torture cannot be considered under any circumstances) on this issue. It’s not that complicated.

  • I think Michael’s definition which Mark offers is a great working definition, actually.

  • Elaine, in regard to World War II, the Americans and the Brits would usually give captured enemy agents the option of revealing everything they knew and cooperating with them or of being summarily executed since enemy agents were not covered by the Geneva Convention. Most of the captured agents chose to cooperate.

  • In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons?

    Huh? What’s your objection to mentioning “neocons” who oppose torture? Given how readily you make common cause with, and defend, all sorts of political causes that you supposedly DISagree with, you can hardly fail to understand why it is that people who really do agree with each other (on opposing torture) would work together in that cause.

  • in regard to World War II, the Americans and the Brits would usually give captured enemy agents the option of revealing everything they knew and cooperating with them or of being summarily executed since enemy agents were not covered by the Geneva Convention.

    It may be well past time to shut down Guantanemo type programs and return to that approach.

  • [Morning’s Minion]: “In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons? Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.”

    Well, I suppose it might be to have readers compare and contrast the statements on the subject made by one set of speaker and the other. (I believe it well within your capability to do that).

    [Morning’s Minion]: “Instead of this legion of neocons…”

    That some sources might fall within your derogatory category of ‘neocons’ (which seems to be written with just as much a derisive sneer as you adopt when referring to ‘Calvinists’) certainly wouldn’t preclude my respect when they take a stance against torture.

    (Thank you for your reference to the America article by Stephen Colecchi. I’ve an interest in reading it — unfortunately, I’m not a subscriber).

    Chris [Burgwald] — I think that Michael’s definition is a useful working definition as well. I do take issue with those who define torture so as to wholly exclude mental coercion and/or confine it only to that which would result in bodily harm. On the other hand, there are those who would say that coercion itself is gravely immoral, which would certainly call into question those who constantly lobby on behalf of the Army Field Manual. (Kyle Kupp — I appreciate your discussion of “coercion” here).

    As for the Coalition of Clarity, I think that any attempt at arriving at clarify would necessarily involve some reflection and discussion on the identification of what constitutes torture. Definitions being the basic tools of thought.

    Readers of my prior posts on this subject know that one concern of mine would be that there has been a tendency from some bloggers to readily apply the brand of ‘Rubber Hose Right’ — and a range of other euphamisms — with wild abandon to practically anybody who questions their reasoning or methodology or approach to the topic. Strangely enough, in lashing out at conservatives he has applied these labels specifically to some of the ‘neocons’ cited above who have taken a stance against torture.

    Also, Mark’s post to which Henry drew attention flatly and vigorously denies Fr. Richard Neuhaus’ conviction that “as bright a line as possible between such coercion and torture, and to forbid the latter absolutely”:

    It is the common notion that there is some bright line difference between torture and techniques that are “not quite” torture and that the job of the morally serious person is to find it.

    This is simply an illusion. There is no bright line between torture and not-quite-torture.

    I think this kind of attitude from a leading Catholic apologist would be an impediment to the seeking of “clarity” on the subject.

  • The point of Mark’s comment, and in which he is quite correct, is that positivistic propositionalism tries to establish this idea that “torture is easy to define, so it is easy to make a line which separate the two.” But as was commented upon in this thread, this is false, and indeed, is the kind of reasoning which is used to support abortion, trying to tell pro-lifers to offer a consistent definition of a person(something which is just as difficult to define as torture!)

  • I really don’t see why this is so difficult. A few years ago this question came up in my Ethics class and not so surprisingly, I suppose, most people were in favor of waterboarding except for people, who by their comments in class participation, were unmistakably liberal. But from the language in the class “managing sleep”, “intense interrogation”, “mere drowning simulations” rather than what I’d call sleep deprivation, torture, and waterboarding respectively, seriously wrung a bell — “death with dignity”, “mercy killing”, “the right to die.” Or why not, “pregnancy termination”, “reproductive rights”, and other such euphemisms – even if you don’t find torture to be intrinsically evil or waterboarding to be torture – it should, at the very least, give you pause at the way these euphemistic marketing slogans are used to sell such things without the slightest moral examination.

    So, in one sense, I’m glad there can be a discussion. On the other hand, I am not even sure why – it seems so obvious to me.

  • If you can’t figure out what is torture and what is not, then that leaves you without any ability to make a counterargument when someone says, “Practice X is in a gray area, but doesn’t fall on the ‘torture’ side of the line.”

  • Zippy would have been a great candidate for the Coalition. I sure miss him!

  • While I think there are inherent risks, I’ve always thought it was important to define the terms of the debate for two reasons:

    1) This is an area where we need to make concrete, practical decisions as a matter of public policy, such as “X is permitted, for so long, and at such intensity.” “Y is not permitted”. If torture opponents refuse to provide clear definitions or make arguments about specific practices, that cedes the ground to torture supporters to define the terms of the debate.

    2) If you want to be taken seriously, there isn’t that much value in condemnations at a high level of abstraction on this issue. In my experience, many of the people who say ‘we can’t define it,’ often appear to be more interested in self-affirmation and blanket condemnations, than actually engaging in the difficult task of debating an issue in a way that might affect public policy. Debate requires making distinctions and arguments in an effort to convince opponents or the undecided; that takes effort. True, it’s much easier to pound the table louder and refuse to respond to requests for clarification on the premise that it won’t do any good anyway. But that’s hardly the way to win over anyone who is undecided or conflicted on this issue. Defining the terms may be a risk, but I think it’s a risk worth taking.

  • JH

    Once again, Mark and other HAVE gone in to discuss and make definitions. The fault is the accusation that they and others against torture have not. what has happened, however, is the sophistry which comes in response, which does as I said happens– legalistic attempts to find a loophole out of calling a preferred practice of the day as not torture. That is the problem: it would be fine if there WERE an honest interest in creating a working definition of torture; it is another when it is all about finding a way to excuse things recognized as torture to no longer be torture! And that is why people, in the end say, we have debated the definition enough — because people are not interested in the spirit but the letter, and are incapable of understanding the problem of positivistic definitions. As I said — think this through with the attempt to define “person” historically and how no working definition has ever been satisfactory. Pro-abortion supporters jump up and down with all the loopholes caused by this in the exact same manner. Both pro-aborts and pro-torturers are looking for loopholes via definition to ignore the path of virtue.

  • One source that is frequently cited by opponents of torture is the Army Field Manual. While this has eliminated waterboarding, it does nonetheless seem to pose problems for those who propose it as a model of interrogation. For example, reading the manual it allows that a prisoner should receive a minimum of 4 hours of sleep a day during interrogation. But the ability to reduce sleep to this minimum is sleep deprivation. It also talks about preventing excesses of heat and cold in cells. But banning an excess allows for some manipulation of the environment. Holding that sleep deprivation and manipulation of the physical environment of the prisoner’s cell is considered torture by many. Yet from the same Field Manual that is cited as definitive by these same people allows for these techniques.

    Source:

    http://www.army.mil/institution/armypublicaffairs/pdf/fm2-22-3.pdf

  • Truth-in-advertising would demand that they name it Coalition for Calumny because that is precisely what Shea-inspired anti-torture polemics amount to.

  • While I oppose torture, as a Catholic, I find some of the protestations here of the Vox Nova quartet (where are M.Z. and Michael on this?) to be a bit overstated.

    I have a big problem equivocating torture and abortion. While I wouldn’t place the quantitative aspect of these problems at the highest level of consideration, it is worth remembering that torture (lets narrow it down to people in U.S. detention centers) affects a few hundred people, while millions upon millions of innocent children are destroyed every year by abortion.

    That isn’t irrelevant.

    By the way, I searched for the phrase “positivistic propositionalism” and couldn’t find it anywhere. What does it mean? I’m not being snarky; I would really like to know.

  • I am always fascinated by these discussions. It always seems that we end up with two opposing camps pointing fingers at each other with shouts of “Heretic!”; having carried a weapon for our country, I see these things a little differently.

    In the original post, reference was made to a 2004 article by Father Richard John Neuhaus (may he rest in peace), in which he stated, “The uncompromisable principle is that it is always wrong to do evil in order that good may result.” Sounds good. But it needs qualification. Really, Deacon? Well, yes! Let me explain.

    Killing another human being is always *objectively* evil. Thus, one may adopt, as a religious principle, an absolute refusal to either kill, or to facilitate killing in any way (military conscientious objection takes this form).

    But, in reality (crudely stated), “some people just need killin’.” And we all know that. As bad as it sounds, there are certain circumstances in which even innocent people might have to die in order to prevent a greater evil (e.g., shooting down a hijacked airliner to prevent it being crashed into a populated area). Certainly, a police officer using deadly force in the performance of his duty would be exempted from the the prohibition against killing.

    And who gets to decide? Who has to make the judgment as to whether a particular person or group of people “needs killin'”? The person charged by civil authority with making that determination does! And no matter how we bloviate, pontificate, and Monday-morning-quarterback, that judgment still has to be made on case-by-case basis, in the moment, by an individual.

    I believe it’s the same with “torture. While we can objectively define it, there is always going to be an area of subjective judgment that will have to be exercised in the moment. There are certain absolutes: one cannot push one prisoner out of a helicopter aloft, for example, and then turn to the remaining prisoners and tell them that they have to talk, or they’ll be next. One cannot do that; murder is evil no matter what (that is what makes it murder, see?). But that is clearly different from putting someone under duress (through their environment, or by depriving them of sleep, or even by creating a sensation of drowning). All of these things can be, just as clearly, distinguished from cutting off fingers or toes, applying live electrodes to genitalia, or suspending someone over a pit of sharpened stakes.

    So…it’s fine to theoretically discuss the virtues of various courses and choices; but at the end of the day, we have to do a good job of teaching people in positions of authority sound principles of morality. Absolutes too narrowly described are almost dangerous, because they either leave people optionless, or they cause these moral actors to just reject the total package of rules we impose because they don’t meet the “reality check” or the “common sense” test. And I wonder if that wouldn’t be the worst of all possible outcomes…

  • *sings* Same song, seven hundred and fifty-three thousandth verse– little bit louder and a little bit worse.

    I gave up trying to have any sort of discussion when it became clear that Mr. Karlson’s mode of persuasive arguing– ie, reading my mind and informing me of why I believe something– was about all I could hope for.

    Amusingly, they’re the exact same tactics that get used against me when I argue against abortion….

    Side note– the torture in the pictured woodcut isn’t waterboarding; it’s probably the water cure or the tormento de toca (both popularly misidentified as the simulated drowning of water boarding– even if one agrees that water boarding is torture, these are three different forms that all happen to involve water)

  • Morning’s Minion said: Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.

    Really? “Utterly nothing in common”? Vatican II teaches that Catholicism has things in common even with Hindu idolatry — but neoconservative political philosophy and Catholicism haven’t a single thing in common?

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