Health Care Reform and the Great Switch

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Personally, I thinks it’s fairly likely at this point, that one of the current “health care reform” bills will become law. However, though I come to this with characteristic lateness (increasing busy-ness seems to make topical blogging near impossible) I think it’s worth spending a moment on one of the fascinating contradictions which has gone mainly unremarked in the whole debate.

One of the primary arguments put forward by advocates of health care reform over the last 2-3 years has been, essentially, that health insurance companies are evil. People froth at the industry term of “medical losses” for when insurance companies pay out for medical expenses. (Something which, in fact, happens with over 80% of the monies collected in the form of insurance premiums.) Others rail against how the profit motive has destroyed health care and driven costs to astronomical levels — apparently oblivious to the fact that there are several major not-for-profit insurers, and they don’t provide care any more cheaply than for-profit ones. And yet, despite these and many other rhetorical assaults on the whole idea of health insurance as a commercial product, the centerpiece of the proposed health care reform bills was to legally require everyone in the US to purchase health care insurance, and then provide government subsidies for those who couldn’t afford the premiums. (Thus “shoveling” government money into the insurance industry in the same way in which Medicare Part-D, which all good progressives are now against, did with the pharmaceutical industry.)

Why in the world did a movement which had so long railed against private insurance suddenly decide to require and subsidize it, rather than pushing for the government or non-profit approaches to health provision which had so long appealed to it?

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34 Responses to Health Care Reform and the Great Switch

  • I think if that were the plan Democrats wouldn’t have pushed so hard to include a public option in the bill.

  • “Plan” is a strong word. I just think it’s exactly how the aftermath of passing such a bill would be likely to play out. (Though whether progressives would be successful in then passing price controls or conservatives would win with some other approach instead I have no idea.)

    Also, I’d note that while I think it’s pretty sure that price controls would result in a government take-over being necessary, many progressives seem to imagine that price controls are perfectly healthy for an industry.

    I’ll put it this way: I think that progressives demanding price controls would be the inevitable result of the current health care reform bill passing — and my opinion is that this would result in the insurance companies being effectively or actually nationalized before much longer after that.

  • I thought your post was about why progressives support subsidies for insurance companies (i.e. the motivations behind the policy, not its likely results).

  • I think I’d say that for most there’s a “deal with the devil” element of “we’ll play with private insurance if that’s the best way of getting everyone coverage now.” In that sense, mandating private insurance may seem like the metaphorical crap sandwich when you’re rather have single payer, but if it’s the only thing possible, it’s considered acceptable. However, I think that willingness to compromise with “capitalism” would vanish the moment that rates went up and rhetoric about “record profits” started flying.

    I would imagine that there are, however, a number among progressive policy wonks who’ve thought the thing though and see pretty clearly that the next step after this would be price controls and increasing amounts of regulations in regards to what policies cover until one incrementally reaches a point where insurance companies aren’t functionally private entities.

    But like I said in the post, I think for most rank and file progressives anything put forward by Democrats with the title of “health care reform” is considered acceptable at the moment, and there’s not a whole lot of thought put into the inconsistency of a reform bill which funnels customers to the very companies they’ve been denouncing for so long.

  • I don’t think they’ve pushed that hard for the public option. Certainly, the White House isn’t trying to push it now, even though there’s no real disadvantage at this point to including it. People like Yglesias have been fairly indifferent to the public option for months now.

    I’ve thought the idea Darwin outlines above was basically the official plan. First, mandate insurance. Then, when people complain about the costs, introduce regulations to reduce costs. As time goes on and regulations increase, this would result in de facto public control over health insurance. Certainly, health insurance companies have spent a fair amount lobbying against the proposal for precisely this reason. And I think the outlined scenario explains rather well why the wonks were so strongly in favor of the plan, even without the public option. I can’t imagine it was because of a newly found affection for insurance companies.

  • In terms of the effect of the bill, my understanding is that the plan no longer includes community rating, so insurance companies will be able to charge people more based on risk factors like age or medical history. True, they won’t be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, but the insurance mandate limits the cost increase that this would normally involve. Bringing lots of young healthy previously uninsured people into the pool will also put a downward pressure on premiums for people who already have insurance, which will help offset some of the new inefficiencies in the system, at least temporarily. Overall I’m not sure that passing the bill would result in huge premium increases for most people, at least in the short term.

  • Money, Money, and more Money. Why isn’t anyone looking at 2 of the biggest problems? 1. Doctors are specialized because the cost of medical school is on the rise and they have to pay it back eventually so no one goes into family or internal/ preventive care ( there is no money in it)
    2. adding more patients to a system that most doctors are specialized or even leaving the profession would make the price go up more.

    My solution would be to address the doctor crisis first then worry about who is not getting care…. Maybe we should work on Medical Education 1st then the patient problem … but what do I know…

  • BA,

    Well, my understanding was that the individual mandate enforcement mechanism is rather weak in the bill – which makes the skyrocketing premiums scenario much more likely. Also, even without higher profits, continued cost growth (which seems to be unavoidable as new and more expensive treatments are developed) would make additional regulation more likely (and popular).

  • My understanding was that the House bill required no more than the 2x difference between highest and lowest rates (due to age and health condition) and the Senate bill required no more than a 3x — thus a modified community rating of sorts.

    In this regard, I’d be taking MA and NY as pretty good proxies for how the bill would work out.

    If I’m wrong on this (and given the massive size and constantly shifting nature of the bills, I may be) I’d be less sure on the bills themselves driving up insurance costs. Though at John points out the guaranteed issue and very low fines for non participation might lead to a nasty case of selection bias costs.

  • DC, JH , and BA :
    You may speak about the insurance problem, but you are only modeling the cost factors based on the model of patient-insurance(risk). Yet you are not looking at a bigger problem:
    1. HITECH law will make more doctors retire earlier as they did when HIPAA was adopted. Less doctors more patients ( supply decrease and demand increases ) it will cost more.
    2. More people are going to have problems since less doctors are in preventative care fields so more people will get sick later since they will not see a GP or cannot since they will be packed with 40 million more people able to book an appointment.
    3. Doctors are not given any incentives to get into these fields since the average doctor leaves med school with 150k in debt… plus 100,000-500,000 premium for the docs own insurance ( yet no talk of a national physician cap on how much you can sue a doctor for)
    4. We are addressing the patient problem but how about law suits against complications (not accidents )

    5. there is more yet this blog nor the US is looking at these problems … the AMA and the insurance companies are not talking about it either since it is the biggest problem!!! Supply and demand folks !!!

  • I truly do not understand the wide spread opposition to health reform, especially from Catholics. The truth is we in this country have the most expensive and lowest quality (in terms of errors) healthcare system among the wealthy countries and a large number of our citizens are not covered. I know this is what you have heard over and over from progressives, but this makes it no less true. Real healthcare reform that covers our citizens regardless of their means has been supported by the USCCB and Pope Benedict, how can supporting it not be the Catholic approach?

    I hear about arguments over these bills and wonder what is going on. The goal here is to provide health care to our citizens. We can not do that unless we also find a way to reduce the costs we currently have. The only models anywhere in the world that do this have a significant government run component (call it socialized medicine, I’m ok with that). There is no example of the medical system we have in this country that reduces cost, covers more people and improves quality. To continue to do the same thing and expect different results has been described as the definition of insanity.

    As I’ve tried to express on other blogs, being Catholic does not involve bending the teachings of the Church to the conservative or liberal point of view. Rather it requires bending the conservative and liberal points of view to the ways of Christ.

  • Paul,

    These are all valid points, and thank you for expressing them in such a charitable and articulate manner. My opinion is that the health care reform bills in question are fiscally irresponsible and would on balance reduce the quality of health care received (as opposed to promised) in the U.S. I certainly agree with you that health care reform needs to happen, and I favor increasing access to health care – particularly for the chronically uninsured. I simply think the current bill is harmful to the common good, for a variety of reasons that would take a while to spell out in this comment thread.

  • Paul DuBois,
    I agree with you, but how can we fulfill a goal without looking at every angle. I want a first payer system, but that is not what will happen. I am afraid what will happen is that we will have a bigger mess if we do not take our time. I am glad we are talking about it but we need to face the facts we need too look at the whole system not just parts of the system. By concentrating only on the insurance problem we are not looking at the patient and doctor problems to the model. The how can you cover someone that will not be able to be seen likewise how can a doctor do his job if he is seeing a patient for less than 5 mins. we need to address the whole problem. The mistake is that we are hoping to throw money at the issue without address the problem. Much as with the bank bailouts… we throw money and it got fixed a little yet we still see bonuses for those who ran the system to the ground we needed to make conditions to the banks on how they could use the money we didn’t because we were not addressing the WHOLE problem. we need to do it right this time we need to address the whole problem not just insurance…. If not you will get a national policy at the sacrifice of even worse care we have now as we are ranked 37 of 40 industrialized countries for health care (http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html)

  • I find it remarkable that I know brilliant people who both claim it is likely to pass or that it is dead…at the same time.

    My understanding is that Pelosi won’t have the votes without the Stupak Amendment, that even with the S.A. she doesn’t have Cao, Wexler (FL), and Murtha, and that moderate Dems are scared about poll numbers and possible Scott Brown reduces.

    Perhaps I’m grasping at straws here because if this bill passes it will destroy a lot of progress in the pro-life movement the last five years.

  • Steve, I doubt if Pelosi has the votes in the House with or without the Stupak amendment. I also doubt if Reid can muster 50 votes in the Senate, with Biden as tie-breaker, to proceed with this via Reconciliation. I think Obamacare is dead and we are merely observing now the final twitching of the corpse.

  • I have to say, this is the one of the most paranoid takes on HCR I have read.

    First off, you claim without substantiation that the cost of health insurance would go up for most people. Where do you get this? And why do you ignore the CBO, which said otherwise, and has always been accepted as the honest broker here? You focus only on community rating – and yes, community rating alone would cause costs to skyrocket, and the risk pool to deteriorate. But this is not the proposal. The proposal is to twin some form of community rating with the individual mandate plus a number of promising delivery system reforms. Again, I defer to the costing of the CBO on this.

    As for why we support reform, it’s simple – this is the best we can get. Reform MUST be underpinned by community rating and the individual mandate. If that is a given, then insurance can be delivered pretty efficiently by the private sector -as in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands. Single payer gets you geater efficiency savings by economies of scale, and by eliminating the profit motive. But let me nuance that last point – inusrance company profits are actually not the leading cause of healthcare cost increases. The focus on profits is a moral point – these people are out to maxizmize shareholder value even if this means denying or dropping coverage from people who could conceivably die or go bankrupt.

  • MM,

    As I said, I’m partly basing my expectation that rates would go up on the experience of MA and NY, which have in fact seen pretty lousy results from similar measures. (Admittedly, MA has, if you look at things funny, some help from a mandate, but only because they took the idiotic step of passing community rating without a mandate earlier. Their rates remain some of the highest n the country.)

    Also, the CBO _did_ estimate that rates would increase — certainly for the House bill. I’d have to double check on the Senate one at this point, but the provisions aren’t that different.

  • [Y]ou claim without substantiation that the cost of health insurance would go up for most people. Where do you get this? And why do you ignore the CBO, which said otherwise

    Actually, I believe the CBO said that the average person’s premiums would go up, but that this would be offset by a greater amount of coverage.

  • I’m partly basing my expectation that rates would go up on the experience of MA and NY, which have in fact seen pretty lousy results from similar measures.

    I think the experience of NY and MA shows that passing community rating and guaranteed issue without a mandate is a bad idea (I’d note, btw, that if the Democrats really were interested in having insurers jack up rates to create popular sentiment for more regulation they probably wouldn’t be insisting on a mandate at all). On the other hand, there are places (e.g. Switzerland) that have community rating plus a mandate and haven’t seen health insurance costs spiral out of control.

  • Well, let me be clear, I don’t think that the Democrats want to come up with the scenario guaranteed to jack up rates as much as possible, I just think that price controls will be called for as the logical next step when insurance companies “abuse the chance they were given” by posting record profits after seeing an infusion of new enrollees.

    I’d be curious to read more about Switzerland’s experience. For the record, though, I don’t think that community rating, mandate and guaranteed issue will cause rates to spiral out of control indefinitely — I just think they’re likely to go up strongly for 2-5 years as the system adjusts to the new equalibrium. Then, all things being equal, rates would go back to increasing at something like their present rate.

    The issue is, insurance costs are already very high, and I strongly suspect that that average voter who basically supports the idea of HCR (admittedly, a rather diminished group by this point) imagines that this will cause an end to rate increases. So just a solid 10-20% rate increase over a year or two would be enough to cause another political “crisis”, which would be the one in which the obvious progressive move is to demand price controls and regulation of what insurance does and does not pay for (cost controls).

  • There’s a difference between “most people’s premiums will go up” and “the average premium will go up.” But in this case, both are true according to the CBO, though for very different reasons.

    Most people’s premiums will go up because there are a lot more healthy people than sick people under 65. If you cap premiums at three times the cheapest plan, the healthy masses will see premiums go up and the sick minority will see premiums go down. A mandate alone would actually reduce the average premium since (1) more healthy people will enter the system than sick people, and (2) economies of scale will drive down costs.

    But the government subsidies will drive up the average premium because people will be able to afford more expensive plans. The CBO says the net effect will be an increase in premiums.

    IMO, neither of those facts are reasons to oppose ObamaCare. If the relatively well off should pay higher premiums so that the less fortunate can be covered, I’m all for it. The question should be “Is there a better politically feasible alternative?” If Obama’s bill contained the Stupak Amendment and taxed employer-sponsored plans, I don’t think you can get a better bill. Sure, there are better theoretical plans (e.g., replacing insurance with HSA’s) but they’d require political will that doesn’t exist.

    Fear of government encroachment is legitimate. For the last 30 years or so, the government has shied away from price controls, opting instead to subsidize. I think larger subsidies and a public option are inevitable. But again, “Is there a better politically feasible alternative?”

  • Catholic Chump,

    Increased demand for medical services means more people will go into the medical profession. In the long run, it’ll even out.

    I agree that we need more doctors but the cost of med school isn’t the problem, at least not one of the major problems. Even med school students who don’t have to worry about debt want to go into the more lucrative areas. Who wouldn’t? I think the AMA’s artificial restrictions on supply is the bigger problem. Some are proud that Canadians come to the US for medical care. Meanwhile, Americans go to Jamaica for med school.

  • MM,

    On premiums:

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/107xx/doc10781/11-30-Premiums.pdf

    CBO and JCT estimate that the average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current law. About half of those enrollees would receive government subsidies that would reduce their costs well below the premiums that would be charged for such policies under current law.

    CBO estimates were the small group and large group business coverage would be flat to very, very slightly down, but since those people are covered already they’re going to notice little difference.

    The people who will actually being mandated to go buy themselves coverage, meanwhile, will see a noticable rate increase.

    Thanks for giving me the motivation to go look up the details, as obviously it’s been a few months.

  • Given all the moving parts in this legislation, I have to wonder if any of the projections are worth a pitcher of warm spit.

  • @ Art Deco

    Indeed, the CBO report basically does the waving-hands motions saying that the projections are simply estimates. But the disclaimer basically is CYA.

    Also despite the claims to the contrary the CBO reports states that premiums go up for non-group plans, about 17% of the plans out there. Group plans stay the same or fluctuate very little.

    Given that virtually every projection for government spending has been wrong on the “too little” side, I’m skeptical.

  • This WSJ op-ed would seem to bolster Darwin’s point:

    Last month, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick landed a neutron bomb, proposing hard price controls across almost all Massachusetts health care… [A]verage Massachusetts insurance premiums are now the highest in the nation. Since 2006, they’ve climbed at an annual rate of 30% in the individual market. Small business costs have increased by 5.8%. Per capita health spending in Massachusetts is now 27% higher than the national average, and 15% higher even after adjusting for local wages and academic research grants. The growth rate is faster too.

  • Darwin,

    Why are individual group premiums rising? As the CBO takes great pains to show, this increase is completely explained by the fact that the quality of the package will get better, in terms of more comprehensive benefits. In fact, this improvement leads prices to rise by 30 percent. The fact that they only rise by 10-12 percent suggests some countervailing cost savings, coming from the insurance reforms and the individual mandate. And when we add in the subsidies, it looks better still. Almost 60 percent of people on the exchange will get subsidies, and these subsidies will reduce premiums by 56-59 percent. Bottom line: 30 percent better, 10-13 percent more expensive, and lowering premiums by 60 percent with subsidies. That’s not bad…

    And yes, it’s been months since I’ve looked into this too!

  • The fact that they only rise by 10-12 percent suggests some countervailing cost savings, coming from the insurance reforms and the individual mandate. And when we add in the subsidies, it looks better still. Almost 60 percent of people on the exchange will get subsidies, and these subsidies will reduce premiums by 56-59 percent. Bottom line: 30 percent better, 10-13 percent more expensive, and lowering premiums by 60 percent with subsidies. That’s not bad…

    If you start @ 7:26 and watch through the end, Curly provides a demonstration of the history of public policy on this issue since 1965.

  • MM,

    Well, if you assume that the people who currently have private insurance have been dying to get better coverage if only they can spend just 13% more instead of 30% more — and that those without coverage will be very excited to get coverage so long as it is 30% better than today and only costs 13% more — then clearly everyone will be very happy.

    Personally, I think people will see that as costs going up.

    Though it’s true that the subsidies are so generous that people may actually be thrilled until congress fails to actually make the Medicare cuts to pay for it all and the budget melts down.

    Also, I would tend to expect that things will not be as rosy as currently projected by the CBO, though perhaps your expectations deviate in the opposite direction. At this point, though, I suspect it’s a rather theoretical exercise, as I don’t think either of the bills will pass at this point. The window passed.

  • MI’s comments aren’t argumentative yet lacking any argument. No there not.

  • Q. I truly do not understand the wide spread opposition to health reform, especially from Catholics.-Paul DuBois

    A. The opposition comes from two sources; conscience and a clear understanding that “health reform,” whatever it is, is not the same as medical treatment.

  • Paul Dubois:

    Mark Steyn expresses it much better than I can:

    “President Ford liked to say: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Which is true enough. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work: for many of them the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

    We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chap’s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest; he’s got his, and to hell with everyone else. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.”

    Steyn notes that the European-style welfare state is careening off the cliff – and our leaders, instead of taking note and hitting the brakes, are running as fast as they can to follow the Euros into the abyss.

    Why is being opposed to burdening future generations with an incredible amount of debt un-Catholic? If the GOP had the sense God gave a goose, they would steal the Dems mantra and proclaim that they are opposed to nationalized healthcare “for the sake of the children.” And they would actually be right.

A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Apparently, when Michael Iafrate accuses this blog of promoting ‘Christo-fascism’, the following response (in its entirety) is inappropriate:

I’ll simply repeat my long-standing objection to your use of the term fascism:

http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/12/05/ole-timey-country-simple-christmas/#comment-27594

Michael is free, of course, to conduct his comment threads as he likes, but it seems self-evidently ridiculous (not to mention uncivil) to write a post calling people names, and then delete responses challenging that description.  This is a shame, as it makes it very easy to dismiss even his legitimate criticisms. In any case, here is a link to the post which originally drew Michael’s ire.

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153 Responses to A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

  • That is my reaction to your post also Catholic Anarchist.

  • Apparently Michael has now posted a (somewhat longer) response in the comments at Vox Nova, which I’ll reprint here:

    John Henry – I realize that you take issue with my application of the term “fascist” to the views of some of your co-bloggers. That’s fine and you have made your point. Further comments on this will be deleted.

    I find it truly funny, though, that while you were over here protesting my use of the word as it applies to your blog, your co-blogger Tito posted this.

    It’s truly great to have your blog as such a great example of what is wrong with u.s. Catholicism. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

    In response to Michael (as his moderation of comment threads over there makes conversation impossible in that forum), I’ll note that:

    1) I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    2) I would like to be able to state my points, rather than having them mis-characterized by Michael. It is not that I object to him calling people ‘fascists’. It’s that he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    3) It’s just lame to call people names, then delete the comments when they respond.

    4) I thought the timing of Tito’s post was amusing, but that’s not really relevant to his weird reaction to Don’s post.

  • It’s upsetting because it’s not possible to have a conversation with Michael, yet he seems to want to have one with us. (sorry for the third person if you’re reading this, Michael)

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them. Whether its different vocabularies or whether it’s because we are part of “the system” I cannot say.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

  • Because we all know that simply posting a piece of historical music is fascist…

  • I agree with your last paragraph, Zach.

  • Michael is liberal. And that is exactly what’s wrong with the Catholic Church in the US.

    I am Catholic. And as such I believe in what the Founding Fathers of these United States tried to do: create a Christian Constitutional Republic, NOT a secular atheist humanist national democracy that the Obamination of Desolation is turning this country into with the help of faux Catholics of the liberal pursuasion: Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Leahy, etc.

    I say again: the best anti-American liberal democrat so-called Catholic is the defeated, muzzled and emasculated one.

    And I truly mean that. I have no time for liberal heretics and apostates.

  • BTW, please call me fascist.

    Please!

    Please!

    Please!

    😀

  • I thought Michael wasn’t going to read this blog anymore.

  • It’s upsetting because it’s not possible to have a conversation with Michael…

    Zach – What a strange comment, considering the multiple conversations we have had for some time now, some via email.

  • Par for the course for MI. His anti-military bigotry is a regular staple at Vox Nova.

  • John Henry – I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    I haven’t refused anything. We’ve discussed this issue publicly before. I just don’t see much point in doing so again when the use of that term is not a central feature of the post whose comments I was moderating.

    …he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    You can link to my comments about fascism and call them “confused,” but it is more likely that you are the one who is confused. There is considerable debate about the use of the word fascism and folks on the right and the left use it in reference to one another. You shouldn’t be surprised at my usage, not should you find it confusing. I can send you some reading material to help you see where I cam coming from if it will make you less confused.

    Let me respond to a few more inaccuracies (ed: from other commenters):

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism.

    This is not true on multiple counts. First, if you think my understanding of the word “fascism” is “hyper-personalized,” perhaps you need to get out more. Second, I have restricted my use of the term “fascist” to one, maybe two, individuals on this blog. I certainly do not equate patriotism with fascism. If I did I’d have to condemn about 98% of the people I know as fascists. I have in fact blogged at VN about the positive characteristics of patriotism (delinked from the nation-state, of course, but this is patriotism nonetheless).

    For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup.

    If I don’t see anything “salvageable,” why do you think I have an interest in radical social movements in Appalachia? In the american peace tradition? Dorothy Day? Howard Zinn? The Berrigan brothers? WHy does it surprise you that I think american radicalism is the only form of patriotism worth a damn? The status quo in america is corrupt. If the american ideals you want to uphold so badly mean anything at all to you, you would have to be a radical in some sense because those ideals are not being realized. A patriotism that simply wants to preserve the status quo or some kind of “olden days” is worthless.

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them.

    I don’t know who the “we”/”us” are, but you are right that many americans (yes, even Christians) simply cannot understand the idolatrous nature american civil religiosity. It’s that pernicious dualism that we always end up talking about, Zach. It allows you (plural you) to hold two sets of religious allegiances at once. But we know what Jesus said about God and mammon.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

    Again, over the top nonsense. It’s overkill to say that I have a “passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.” It’s an overreaction to say such things when I clearly express deep love and affection for various things american. But such overreaction, such defensiveness, springs from a deep attachment (perhaps a religious attachment) to the idea of “america” that you can’t seem to bear any sort of real criticism without spinning off into “HE HATES EVERYTHING ABOUT AMERICA” jibberish.

    Par for the course for MI. His anti-military bigotry is a regular staple at Vox Nova.

    One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.

  • I had long had difficulty reading Vox Nova in general, and gave up entirely about a year ago. It was not so much that the posts got to me because of their generally liberal position. It was more the self-righteous tones that slowly began to accompany almost every post. I have not been back lately, but given the comments, I suspect it has not improved.

  • Jonathan,

    Nice pic for your icon!

    Who is it?

  • If you think Michael is liberal, you clearly don’t understand liberalism. Here’s a hint – the general tendency of this blog is in an ultra-liberal direction. That might not be the standard definition of the liberalism in the US, but it does represent “liberalism” as the old enemy of the Church.

  • “t was more the self-righteous tones that slowly began to accompany almost every post. I have not been back lately, but given the comments, I suspect it has not improved.”

    The irony!

  • Tito,

    George Mason – I appreciate the Federalist (then, anti-federalist) leanings of his writings. 🙂

    And thank you for proving my point, Henry.

    –Jonathan

  • Here is the irony, as indicated by that thread as elsewhere on this topic:

    michael not only doesn’t make an effort to understand the term “fascism,” but persists in applying it to his enemies. This is rather curious, especially when coming from one claiming the positions of the Left, broadly defined…..because fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined!

    The early theorists and political practitioners of fascism understood themselves to be of the Left, and several were socialist newspaper editors. So let’s leave behind the modern epithet, which has come to have no meaning whatsoever, and come to understand the many points of history one could highlight here, and which were highlighted in John Henry’s link.

    The two chief currents of modern, Western “conservative” thought are throne/altar/traditionalism and economic liberalism. Both of these strands would be toxic to the fascist operating at times when it was a serious, coherent system of thought and action. The fascist was nationalist (which can certainly be a part of “rightist” political thought, broadly defined), statist, and against traditionalism. (As we see in the split with the communists – socialism in one country v. socialism international).

    So if michael wishes to call someone a fascist today, he should look to the Left. And if he were in Britain, he could (properly) criticize the BNP, which draws quite a lot of their support from Labour voters and Labour areas.

  • …because fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined!

    Hilarious!

  • Hilarious!

    Historically accurate. Are you either capable or willing to discuss it like adults?

    I’ll start.

    Mussolini was the first political leader to implement the theories of fasces. The theories began with socialist newspaper editors about three decades before.

    These were its characteristics: corportism/statism, hyper-nationalism, hatred of democracy, egalitarianism, the values of enlightenment and modernism, collective organization, cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence.

    These were its chief inspirations: popular science, Marx, Sorel, and Nietzsche.

    I repeat: fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined. This was also how its early writers, and political leaders, understood themselves.

    Now: are you either capable or willing of not having a tantrum in your e-engagement? Are you either capable or willing of setting aside the name-calling, hatreds, and hostility, and actually engaging in definition, historical example, and socio-political context? If so, let’s do it.

  • I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t either – that’s why I linked to our previous discussion to provide context, rather than writing a lengthy comment about fascism in response to your post. But you’re the one, after all, who brought it up by saying this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’. As you deleted the comment linking to our previous discussion – and several others, none of which were offensive in any respect – the only conclusion I can draw is that what you’re really saying is that you want to be able to call people names, but you don’t want to go through the tedious exercise of actually explaining what you mean by those names or engaging in any sort of dialogue. That’s all well and good; as I said above, you’re free to play games with the comment approval button and carefully script the narrative in your combox. Don’t pretend that this is true, though:

    I haven’t refused anything.

    You certainly have: You both refused to publish comments responding to your accusation of fascism, and then refused to engage in a civil discussion about your use of the term. As to your comments about my alleged ‘confusion,’ they strike me as just another tiresome rhetorical device: you are quite happy to call someone a ‘fascist’ or ‘confused’, but curiously reluctant to engage in a conversation beyond the level of general insults. It is much, much easier, of course, to allege that someone is confused and offer to assist them, than to explain your definition of fascism or actually point out an error in theirs, but, then, the former approach is a bit of a cheap dodge isn’t it?

  • I admire yall for continuing to attempt to debate and comment at Vox Nova. I have almost completely moved it out of my blog rotation. I don’t mind reading opinions and perspectives different from mine, but condescension drips from many of the posts. I enjoy Kyle’s posts and RCM’s posts back when she contributed, but wading through the rest of it got to be too much of a chore. I’m sure there are other decent posters that I am leaving out. What cemented my decision to stop visiting regularly is the massive censorship of comments. It is their blog so they can do what they want, but the deletion of every third comment to preserve the “proper” dialog makes them look small and the threads unreadable.

  • Sam Rocha is the only Vox Nova author I read with any interest. The rest are basically leftist shills.

  • “One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.”

    Bigotry being a sin one would figure that this isn’t something to be boastful of…

  • Jenny

    Here is a clue; in most blogs, such moderation happens. The irony is that so many of my comments have been deleted on TAC and then lies said as to why. But hey, let’s not let the reality of the net get in the way of your false representation of facts.

  • Karlson, no lies have been ever told about any of your comments that have been deleted.

  • I don’t know how other blogs are run. Comments may be deleted daily, randomly, or accidentally. My concern as a reader and very occasional commenter is that the threads are readable and the flow of ideas is followable.

    I do know that on Vox Nova there is a cascade of deleted comments with annotations explaining why the comments were unworthy and deleted followed by other comments responding to the now deleted post. In my opinion, it makes the threads unreadable and, thus, not worth my time. And, after all, mine is the only opinion that matters when I decide which blogs to spend my time reading.

    You also nicely demonstrate my dislike of the overall tone at Vox Nova. I state my opinion about the choppy threads and you promptly call me a liar. I’m not sure what I falsely represented. Are comments not regularly deleted at Vox Nova in a very noticeable way?

  • Donald

    That is not true. Many have been, and people have seen it.

    Jenny

    As for comments being deleted, since it happens everywhere, I guess you can’t read the internet? Seriously, many places don’t even allow comments. The fact that some are deleted should be neither here nor there, but it is interesting that those who complain about it only do so for some examples of it, not the whole. Which goes to show it is not the deletion of the comment which is the issue.

  • Jenny,

    Don’t waste your time arguing with these frustrated tin-pot commissars. They’re all bark and no bite, which is why they will never having anything more than comment boxes to dominate.

  • Karlson, as far as I can tell three of your comments have been deleted. Here is what was said on those three instances:

    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/07 at 1:21pm
    Henry K.,

    You need to grow up. I deleted another uncharitable comment of yours.

    30 #
    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/06 at 4:16pm
    I’ve deleted two uncharitable comments.

    To be fair to Henry K. & MM, I was poking fun at MM’s SUV posting over at VN. If Henry K. would have taken the time to be prudent and read the entire sentence instead of stopping at “dissident”, he would have understood that I was joking about the SUV posting of MM. I wasn’t trying to be vicious as Henry K (& MM) were insinuating.

    Their perception of intended malice would have been justified if the intent was there. It wasn’t.

    Enough said.

    Donald R. McClarey
    2009/04/03 at 3:42pm
    I deleted your last comment Mr. Karlson. Your mischaracterization of what Mr. Petrik was saying crossed a line. I am also placing you in moderation for the time being.

  • I think the basic point is that authors have discretion over their comboxes. It’s a bad system, but it’s better than most of the alternatives. At the same time, bloggers should recognize that they open themselves to criticism if they act capriciously.

    Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling. I tend to have more of a laissez-faire attitude towards comments (I don’t think I’ve ever deleted any of Henry’s comments, for instance), but not everyone feels that way, and they are well within their rights, just as Jenny has every right as a reader to dislike the policy. Why Henry feels the need to behave so boorishly in response to her criticism I can’t say. Some VN threads are about as organic and authentic as a professional wrestling match, complete with pre-decided winners and losers based on what comments are allowed through. But that’s their call and its only some of the writers; Kyle, and Sam, and Brett, and even MM are generally fairly reasonable, particularly the first three.

    Joe – I think you are being uncharitable, and I don’t really understand why. The best response to condescension and contempt is rarely to respond in kind.

  • I’ve deleted one or two of his comments before as well – when they violate our rules of conduct, which to me aren’t for show.

    Why do they even bother coming here? Whatever truth may be present in their arguments is completely obscured beneath the mounds of hatred and contempt they hold for anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.

  • Donald

    There have been many instances, and Tito would write something, and it would be up before he deleted it. It has happened to many of us too. I would get emails from some people when he did it to them. It is quite common in here. But that is the last I will mention it. But I do find it interesting people wonder why there is a discussion of this when the whole post here is about VN and comments.

  • Regardless of what Henry says, I will choose not to get involved in mud-slinging.

    Unlike the other blog, we here allow all comments to be posted, as long as they follow the comments policy.

  • Michael, what I meant about the conversation bit was this: we talk back and forth, but we never really understand each other. And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means. I’d follow jonathanjones on this issue.

    On equating patriotism with fascism: I see this as the only possible explanation for your reading of Don’s comments, and your insistence on calling him a fascist. That post had nothing to do with fascism or anything religious but you insist on seeing something that is not there. Hence I think you have expanded the term to be essentially meaningless.

    I still think what I said about your understanding of American patriotism holds true, although I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American. It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Finally, the us/we refers to the contributors on this blog, as opposed to you. I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

  • Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling.

    How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

  • Zach –

    And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means.

    Well then say that. Don’t say that my view of fascism is “hyper-personalized” or “idiosyncratic.” You know well where I am coming from.

    …I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    This comment simply ignores reality. The world is not organized only by nation-states. Are native North Americans not able to be patriotic? They have no nation-state. Neither do Palestinians. I’ve blogged before about my love for the region that I come from. Has little to do with it being located within the boundaries of something called “america.” The nation-state system is an imposition.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American.

    What?

    It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And what is the “original thing” called “america” that I am supposed to love? Where is it? What is it? How do I locate it? What you say in this comment is true with regard to persons, not with abstractions like nation-states.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Can you list for me these ideals that are “american-only”? Why are you opposing “american” and “Latin American”?

    I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

    We can say these sorts of things all we like. But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

  • Michael is patriotic he consistently spells America will a small “a”, ie, america.

  • But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

    This strikes me as a remarkably poorly thought out set of statements.

    First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive. Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog. Perhaps in your own mind any post which mentions soldiers or the military in anything other than a negative fashion is “celebrating killing in the name of the nation-state”, but others can’t really be resonsible for what goes on in your own mind, only for what they actually write.

    More fascinating by far is your assertion: The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship.

    Why are we to believe this to be true?

    I would hope that you, at least, would agree with all of us here that it is the duty of Christians, if necessary, to die the death of a martyr rather than to deny our faith in Jesus Christ. So certainly, in some cases, people die for Him whom they worship. But it is also reasonable to expect a parent to be willing to die to save his or her children. Does that mean that parents worship children? Christ tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Does that mean we worship our friends? Police, firemen and other rescue workers must risk, at times, losing their lives in defense of residents in their communities they don’t even know. Does that mean that they worship all residents in their communities?

    And do you really want, as a pacifist, to hold up “the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ” as a positive good? To the extent that killing sometimes necessary to preserve that which is worth preserving, perhaps there are some situations where this might be necessary. And it is true that most of us here would probably defend the justice of the Crusades, which as I recall you consider to be “Christo-fascist”. But why even bring this up as a criteria for belief? One assumes that as a good pacifist you would explicitly not be willing to kill for the Church (whatever that may be taken to mean), so why suggest that being willing to kill in defense of something is proof of what one worships, since by that criteria you worship nothing?

  • How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that commenting in response to accusations he made in his post was somehow inappropriate. Seriously, Michael, “I don’t want to ‘put up with’ responding to people I insult in my posts,” is your response?

  • So……no dispute about the meaning and history of fascism, a movement of the Left that Stalin successfully rebranded as “right wing” (which to him, as with Trotsky, it was) ? If there is no dispute, then perhaps those bloggers on the Left that wish to use the term for their name calling will correct their error.

  • First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive.

    Not at all. americans mindlessly celebrate all sorts of things.

    Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog.

    You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s a ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that he considered responding in the comments to accusations he made in his post, was somehow an inappropriate topic of conversation.

    It’s not a “lie.” I deleted your comment due to its content and immediately told you why it was deleted and that it was not going to be a topic of conversation. You posted at least two more comments, identical to that one, and I deleted them.

  • You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    He blogs with me, not for me. And yes, I read Donald’s posts with interest — and apparently with much better reading comprehension than you do. I am unaware of any of Donald’s posts in which he celebrated killing in the name of the nation state.

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    No, I’m pointing out that your statement was totally incoherant. If you think that it holds any meaning which is reasonable, you are certainly welcome to explicate it. However, responding simply by saying that others are “twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious” conveys nothing other than “I still think I’m right, but I’m unable to explain why, so I think I’ll try to issue some self-satisfied taunts.”

  • You call it “reading comprehension.” I call it rationalization.

  • I’m unclear about what you think I’m “lying” about.

  • It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    Zach nails it. For me, the greatest evidence of Western decadence is its absolute self-hatred, which is not found in other cultures, no matter how imperialist or gory their pasts (ie. Japan). The self-loathing leftist can see no good in American civilization. An extremely secular leftist (ie. Dawkins) can see no good in Western civilization and its traditional Christian faith at all – Christianity is nothing but sickness, oppression, sexism, etc. Michael I. is a Catholic (and I certainly do not doubt his belief in God), so he can not condemn Western Civilization as a whole. Instead, he directs his self-loathing at American Christianity, American culture, “imperialism” and so on. Those of us on the right honor our heritage while recognizing America has certainly fallen short many times of the ideals Americans profess to hold dear; it does not mean those ideals are ignorable any more than the ideals of Christianity are ignorable because Christians frequently fail to live up to them.

    Michael I. is to be pitied and prayed for: a man who hates his own country and his own heritage and finds the majority of his countrymen and women contemptible instead of basically decent human beings who err is not a man I envy. He, like other leftists, mistakes his self-righteous, sick self-loathing for virtue. It is not.

    Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60’s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.

  • So “rationalization” is understanding what people actually write, rather than imputing to them all sorts of things they don’t actually write because you despise them. Got it…

    I must say, Michael, that I’m really glad that I already knew several pacifists — in person and online — before I ran across you. While I do not agree with pacifism, when it is held sincerely it is an idealistic and noble view. I never would have imagined, prior to running into your corner of the blogsphere, that it could we warped into a ideology entirely characterized by hate.

  • Donald: BTW, here’s an example of the small-minded, “killer” Americans we are apparently supposed to loathe.

    I moved this weekend into my first home; a condo I absolutely love. The cable guy came today. I had never set up cable before and was warned that if the cable man said he’d be here at 9:30 a.m. it would probably be 9:30 p.m. when he’d show up. The cable man called at 9 a.m., said he’d be here at 9:30 and – was here at exactly 9:30. I chatted with him and found he was an Army vet, a sergeant and Iraq War vet who had to leave the service because of hearing loss. He is now an independent contractor who is going to school part-time. He shrugged when I complimented him on his promptness; “You have to be on time in the Army,” he said. “I’m still finding civilian life to be – sorry – sort of undisciplined and lax.” He told me his MOS and said during most of his time in Iraq, he had helped build schools. I gave the gentleman a decent tip and thanked him for his service.

    That’s the sort of bloodthirsty jingoistic redneck the whole world is afraid of? My latest brief encounter with one of our vets confirmed my opinion that they are the salt of the earth and the most decent of men.

  • Donna – Parroting the “he hates everything about america” nonsense. I addressed this above. Being critical — being ultra-critical — does not equal “hating” america. Please, for your own sake, think a little bit.

    Darwin – You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

  • To clarify, for perhaps the 100th time, my “hatred” of the u.s. military is precisely because of what it does to persons — both the persons who enlist and the persons the soldiers end up massacring.

  • That has been my experience with most veterans also Donna. As to the Catholic Anarchist, I will once more repeat Sir Walter Scott:

    “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    “This is my own, my native land!”
    Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
    As home his footsteps he hath turned,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

  • You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

    Actually, FWIW, I don’t think you hate the US particularly — I meant more generally that your thinking seems primarily defined by who you despise. Yes, you talk every so often about solidarity with the poor and the suffering, but the poor and suffering are curiously absent from your writing. Occasionally, you write about someone you admire, but it’s almost always in the context of the person despising the same people and institutions you despise. Thus, you’ve written about your admiration for Martin Luther King, yet your post on his birthday was simply a little known quote from him about how the US was the greatest source of violence and oppression in the world at the time and a warning that you would delete any comments from people daring to say anything positive about the US in relation to MLK. Or you admire Howard Zinn, but all one ever hears about him is that he denounced the same people you denounce. (Is that the sum total of his achievement? Denouncing?)

    By contrast, Don’s series of posts on military chaplains which seems to so raise you indignation focuses on people that Don admires: priests who displayed extreme personal bravery, not in pursuit of ‘killing in the name of the nation state’, not to carry a gun, but to go unarmed into the thick of battle to tend to the wounded and dying and provide last rites. Now, I suppose one can agree or disagree with the claim that these men are admirable for carrying the cross rather than the sword, and going at extreme risk to themselves to bring the sacraments to those “in the valley of death”, but it is at the very least very clear what Don admires, and that it is a positive action, not the mere denouncing of someone else’s action.

    When I say that your seem oddly centered on hate as someone who is supposedly a pacifist, I simply mean that your ideology seems entirely focused on what your reject (and typically reject in terms that demean and dehumanize the people you dislike “Christo-fascist”, “death-dealing”, “death-worshiping”, “baby-worshiping”, etc.) and to only reference positive action in the most vague terms. Perhaps it’s only a function of your online persona and you present a much more balanced approach in person. But whatever the reason, it does the causes you endorse a great disservice in your interactions online with all but those who already agree with you in the strongest terms and share your disdain for all others.

    my “hatred” of the u.s. military is precisely because of what it does to persons — both the persons who enlist and the persons the soldiers end up massacring.

    I think people would see that as more credible if you seemed to have any concern about the people who would end up being massacred if soldiers weren’t there to protect them. If the once concern is expressed with no acknowledgment that the other ever exists, it starts to look far more like ideology (and a callous one at that) than any concern for people.

  • DC, that last comment of yours is a very good description of MI’s blogging style.

    I’m fascinated by the AC/VN feud in theory (I’d love to get the history behind it), but I’m utterly bored by it in practice. The feud brings out the worst in both camps. The thing is, every site has trolls, and if a site has too many of them it dies on the vine. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    But as Catholic sites, AC and VN have a greater obligation to promote charity and particularly to avoid feuds with Catholics who are not spreading heresy. I have seen misrepresentations and rudeness, but I don’t remember seeing a flat-out heresy. Heresies should be condemned and corrected, because they’re deceptive, but bad behaviour can be deleted or left to stand on its own, because it testifies to its own sinfulness.

  • Donna,

    “Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60’s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.”

    What can I say but that this made my day?

    🙂

  • Let me also add this: I’m a little more politically libertarian because of folks such as yourself and others here. I used to have a sort of disdain, and then a sort of indifference, towards the Constitution. Not anymore.

    I think we’re helping each other find the right amount of libertarianism, not too little, and not too much.

  • I agree with Pinky. Perhaps the AC/VN feud would be best served not by a serious of posts which snipe at the symptoms of the disagreement, but by actually engaging in a debate on the core issue seemingly in dispute: what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    That, or put Tito & MI in a cage fight. Either one would work to settle the feud 😉

    P.S. I don’t actually think they should fight, and I don’t condone violence. Just in case that was unclear.

  • For the record, the dispute is not between MI and I.

    Plus due to my reversion to my faith, I prefer to go to a third party and resolve this like Christians. Though I have no dispute with the good MI.

    But I appreciate the humor and sadly six years ago I would have accepted the offer. Probably a chess board inside the cage match and the first to win nine 1/2 games takes the title!

  • Tito:

    I will take a chess match over a cage match any day! Chess is excellent. That is all. 🙂

  • Michael Denton has a good question and it deserves a good answer. What is the proper response of a Catholic to American life today? Maybe we can do a series where we all answer this question. It would be interesting.

    If I had to answer in one word, that word would be: pray

  • MRD,

    I used to play a lot of chess.

    I even taught a neighbor and his two sisters how to play chess. They ended up being US Chess amateur champions and where I stopped playing competitively after high school.

    🙂

  • what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    The same atitude that all patriots should have. Love for the nation and working to correct defects in the republic. Of course, the problem then is that people will differ on what the defects are, and the remedies needed to correct the perceived defects. However, thus it has ever been. That is why we have elections and why we debate issues that are in contention.

    In regard to a feud between Vox Nova and The American Catholic, I think it is more appropriate to say that bad blood exists between a few members of that blog and some of the members of this blog. Most of the members of Vox Nova I have no problem with.

  • I agree that the ‘feud’ idea is overblown. Michael wrote a post in which he said that this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’; I responded to the post with the comment above and another comment, both of which Michael deleted, neither of which was in the least uncivil. I thought deleting comments in response to such a serious charge was a breach of blog etiquette and basic civility, so I wrote this post. After publishing this post, I noticed Michael had written a response, which I responded to in the comments here. None of the other writers here are responsible for my response, although (unsurprisingly) many of have expressed agreement in the comments that Michael conducts himself poorly.

    I do not impute Michael’s incivility to any of the other contributors at VN, all of whom are far, far more charitable and committed to dialogue than he is, and most of whom are scrupulously fair in both their comments about others and their comment moderation. Admittedly I used the title ‘Vox Nova’ in the post; I had originally planned to use his name rather than the blog’s (I probably should have in retrospect), but my intention was to minimize the effect on Michael’s Google footprint, as he is a grad student and at some point will be looking for a job. Also, it is the VN comment policy which forms part of the background of my complaint. In any case, as Don says, the ‘feud,’ such as it is, is between individuals rather than blogs – and a minority of the individuals at that.

    Also, at the risk of outing myself as a militaristic ‘fascist,’ let me just say that chess boxing is awesome.

  • Joe: glad to have made your day:-) While I am no fan of the nanny state, I find extreme libertarians distasteful too – and not just because of their pro-abort stance. I just worry more about the nanny staters because there are far more of them and they actually hold power. You could probably fit all the hard-core Ayn Rand fans in the US into a couple of football stadiums and have seats left over.

    Michael I.: Sorry if I misread you. However, you have in the past characterized your ideological opponents as “Christo-fascists”, war-lovers, flag-worshippers and what not, so the mischaracterizations and oversimplifications do not come from one side alone. Surely you can understand how labeling normal expressions of patriotism idolatry might just make a reader get the notion you hate your native land. I agree with Pinky that DC wrote an excellent post about how you come across online. You might be a heck of a nice guy in person for all I know, but all I know of you is your online persona, which is relentlessly negative and abrasive and guaranteed to raise hackles.

    Can I ask you if there anything about the US that you love or admire? I don’t mean the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall or the Grand Canyon or the NYC skyline. Do you find any of its institutions or any aspects of its history worthy of admiration? Because if you’ve ever said anything positive about the US, I’ve missed it.

  • Tito, once you stop going around calling me pro-choice and an “alleged” Catholic, THEN you can truthfully say that you have no dispute with me.

    Darwin, well and good. But then say that I am all critique and say nothing “positive,” which is s fair enough criticism for sure. Don’t be lazy and just tar me as “hateful.”

    Donna, as an anarchist you would expect that I do not have much if anything positive to say about american institutions. The positive parts of u.s. history are precisely the parts when the people themselves point out new ways of relating, new paths to justice, etc. As I am something of a personalist, what I find “positive” about america is precisely the PEOPLE. Despite our bloody and unjust history, some people are able to break out and prefigure another way. This is what I love about America. (capitalization was intentional there!)

  • MI,

    You voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States. How can you not be pro-abortion?

  • Tito,

    As far as I know, Michael did not vote for Obama; also, even if he did, the act of voting for Obama does not make someone pro-abortion.

  • Tito,

    I have a number of problems with Michael’s ideology and behavior (shared with many who have spoken thus far). That said, I think comments like your last one are both unhelpful and illogical. It does not follow that one must be pro-abortion to vote for a pro-abort candidate. If that’s the case, then anyone who voted for Bush are against abortion except in case of rape, incest, and life of the mother. That’s simply not true. A vote like that is a calculation that we make. As wrong headed and unacceptible that position is, it’s far better than what the other side holds.

    I imagine you must feel some of the frustration some of us feel when hearing some Catholics pontificate on morality and public policy while they seem to weigh everything from an arbitrary minimum wage law to farm subsidies higher than abortion, but that’s really another issue.

    Bottom line, shortcuts in reasoning and arguing like that are just as invalid and uncharitable as those we see from the other side. Just sayin’.

  • John Henry,

    He stated as much while he was in Canada and submitted an early vote for Obama. He has never denied this.

    John Henry and Rick Lugari,

    If MI says he is a Catholic and is well aware of the position of the Church as well as the Fifth Commandment then he is a pro-abortionist.

    I try to live a simple life as a child. The teachings of Jesus are without nuance nor gray areas. If you guys continue to obfuscate the Truth in order to have your precious dialogue with deviants and dissidents that will never change their mind because they feel intellectually superior to God’s children as well as to you, then so be it.

    As for me, I will have a clean conscious because I live as best as I can possible live by God’s commandments.

    You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mat 5:48)

    “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (cf. Mat 18:3)

  • Just to be clear.

    Michael Iafrate has voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America

    If you guys have a problem with that because it touches on your delicate sensitivities as being “illogical” and “unhelpful” then I guess it’s a free country and you guys can deal with your tortured conscious to the best of your abilities.

    Just sayin’.

  • Tito

    How can you have a pure conscience if you purposefully misrepresent someone else, who has told you several times they are not what you claim?

    Should I call everyone who voted for GW Bush pro-torture? Pro-unjust war? Obviously neither is the case. Some people who voted for him might have been but the fact is a vote does not represent that one agrees with everything said and believed by the one who receives the vote.

    Thou shalt not give false witness is a big one, Tito. Look into it.

  • You know, Henry, after sifting through the quantity of verbiage some folk produce on that subject, I am not sure I mind being called ‘pro-torture’; I am inclined to suggest to officers of the Central Intelligence Agency that they cease waterboarding in favor of recordings of the readings of the collected thoughts of Mark P. Shea.

  • I’ll make a pre-emptive move, and request no further torture discussions in the comments of this post; I don’t have time to moderate a torture thread today. Other than that, fire away.

  • In response to Michael Denton’s question, I thought the whole point of this site was to discuss what it means to be a Catholic in contemporary America. VN, on the other hand, is about being a Catholic progressive, so there are bound to be disagreements.

    On another subject, I just found out about chess-boxing a week ago, following a link on the Wikipedia article about biathlon. It’s kind of freaky to see it mentioned here. Maybe there’s a groundswell.

  • Pinky, you’re right about the purpose of this site. It could be argued that the goal of this post is to make a point about the conditions necessary for the type of conversations Michael D. requests; dialogue is impossible when comments directly responsive to the post are deleted. Alternatively, it could be argued that this type of meta-discussion about Michael’s self-admitted lack of constructive commentary – and unwillingness even to publish dissenting comments – does not advance that purpose.

    Obviously, my goal was the former – if Michael is going to call people fascists, I believe he should allow them to respond as long as they do so civilly – but I appreciate your and Michael D.’s suggestion that this is unhelpful (although Michael D.’s views on this seem to have evolved – no one’s written more about Michael I. than him and this observation remains true as ever).

  • John Henry:

    I was referring less to the post and more to the overall discussion, both in this combox and in general in the “ac/vn feud.” Obviously you can point out that an opponent is being unfair by deleting comments.

    I’m not sure why you think my views have evolved, or which views you refer to.

    I’m kind of flattered that you think I’ve written more on Michael I than anyone else. Although that probably was true at one point, I don’t know if it’s true anymore, especially if you consider comboxes (though your link brought back some memories). My last post on him was a joke post imploring him to become a Saints fan when they played the Patriots. If you’re right, perhaps I’m an expert in Michael I., which at least would make me an expert in something. 🙂

  • It’s a good point, Michael.

    Thanks for taking a break from riveting cases on 18th century English contract law to lend your expertise. 😉

  • My first year in law school I wouldn’t have had the strength to blog, even if blogs had been with us at that time. I was very happy when that particular academic year ended. Second year was much better and Third Year was easier than my undergrad years.

  • Ha. Yeah, in retrospect it’s probably not a coincidence that I started blogging 3L year – and haven’t posted nearly as much since.

  • To say my blogging during my 1L has been sporadic would be rather generous. I do it randomly, though usually when I have something worth writing I’m too busy and when I have the time there’s nothing worthwhile for blogging.

  • OK, I plead ignorance.

    What does 3L and 1L mean?

  • 1L = First year law student. 3L = Third year law student.

    Lawyers and law students are overly fond of using expressions no one else understands. And, in fact, on occasion the Supreme Court has been known to conjure up entirely new meanings for words on the spot.

  • Aw, shucks, its not just lawyers. We here in the CoC spent part of today updating the POR and reconciling differences between ladders and the MSP/MPP. 😉

  • DC,

    I’ll bite, could you explain those acronyms?

    John Henry,

    Thanks for the explanation!

  • No one can out-gibberish attorneys. I spent my morning at 341 meetings, and in the afternoon worked on a complex and tedious forcible entry and detainer.

  • Center of Competence (there’s for humility)
    Plan Of Record
    ladders = a tool for recording orders that a customer will place but hasn’t placed yet
    Master Sales Plan
    Maser Procurement Plan

    Though actually, I’m not sure that helps that much…

  • Darwin:

    I think it actually made it worse once you explained, which is exactly how I feel in all my law classes, so it was a pretty good comparison! 😉

  • Tito – Yes it’s great to see that you have no dispute with me. If it is your goal to become like a child, consider yourself wildly successful!

  • Donna – I did think of one american institution that I respect: Gibson Guitars.

    In all seriousness, one more point about your last comment. You are concerned about the way I characterize “normal” expressions of patriotism. But this is precisely what is up for discussion: what is “normal” and why do we judge it to be so? If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

  • Center of Competence (there’s for humility)

    Wow, that is humble! In my world, all our Centers are of Excellence.

  • “No one can out-gibberish attorneys.”

    Having worked in both worlds, I can say with confidence that lawyer-speak has nothing on corporate-speak when it comes to gibberish.

  • “If the agency determined that the petitioner is an adopted person, if the department of health informed the agency either that the file of releases does not contain a release or releases filed by one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents that authorize the release of identifying information to him and does not contain a release or releases filed by any biological sibling that authorizes the release of specified information to him or that the file of releases contains at least one such release but a withdrawal of release has been filed that negates each such release, if the agency did not inform the court that it had determined that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on the petitioner’s original birth record were deceased, and if the court did not determine that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on that record were deceased, the judge shall order that the petition remain pending until withdrawn by the petitioner and order the department of health to note its pendency in the file of releases according to the surname of the petitioner as set forth in his original birth record; shall inform the petitioner that he is an adopted person and, if known, of the county in which the adoption proceedings occurred; shall inform the petitioner that information regarding his name by birth and the identity of his biological parents and biological siblings may not be released at that time because the file of releases at that time does not contain an effective release that authorizes the release of any such information to him; and shall inform the petitioner that, upon the subsequent filing of a release by or the death of either of his biological parents, or the subsequent filing of a release by any of his biological siblings, the petition will be acted upon within thirty days of the filing in accordance with division (E) of this section.”

    Res ipsa loquitur. 🙂

  • That may well be the case, Jay. Probably because lawyers rely on Latin terms a lot and while those may seem gibberish to many, they have a precise and relevant meaning. Corporate speak is sometimes just legitimate shortcuts, but often times it’s just silly euphemisms.

  • MI,

    Your kind words keep me warm at night.

  • If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    This doesn’t strike me as gelling with what mainstream Germans wrote during the 30s and 40s. Many if not most people were entirely aware that the National Socialists were ulta-nationalistic — it’s just that at first many people didn’t think that was a big problem, and as it became a big problem people weren’t sure how to get off the bus and hoped that if they kept their heads down it would all be okay.

    The claim that a country could become primarily fascist and almost no one would notice is a lot harder to credit. Perhaps more credible would be the claim that the US has become dangerously imperialistic. You could draw a parallel and claim that the US now is like the Brittain was in the 1800s, exerting domination over many and yet generally convinced that it was doing the world a favor by doing so. But the fascism claim just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Fascism was not a subtle ideology, it’s not the sort of thing most people would miss. And it involves more than people putting out the stars and stripes three days a year and putting yellow ribbon or flag magnets on their cars.

  • Holy smokes! I have been missing out — big time! I don’t even know where to begin. I am already tired, though; unless we are really going to have cage/chess matches. If that is the case, then, sign me up for the cage!

    Pax et bonum,

    Sam

  • If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    I don’t think there’s much evidence for that view. Ordinary Germans were well aware that Hitler was an ultra-nationalist. To take an illustrative example, In ‘Salt of the Earth,’ then-Cardinal Ratzinger describes how his father (a small-town rural constable) would frequently denounce Hitler and his nationalism throughout the late 1930’s in private, and took a different and even more rural job so as to be as far removed from the Nazi’s as possible. If the analogous small town Sheriff in the middle of Idaho knows about it, so does everyone else. Now, many Germans did not expect Hitler to act on his ultra-nationalistic rhetoric in the way he did, but they certainly weren’t unaware of his ultra-nationalism. It wasn’t Hitler’s ideology that caught them by surprise, it was his actions – and it was similarly his actions that caught most of the European leadership by surpise even though they were also familiar with his ideology. People seemed to think “surely, he can’t be that crazy…” But he was.

  • Sam R.,

    Lucha libre AND chess in a cage match!

  • John,

    I’m sure many people were saying that about then candidate Obama, he can’t be THAT liberal.

  • John Henry,

    Some sheriff’s in small town Idaho would take a man like Hitler out to the woods and come back alone. 😉

  • Lucha libre sounds wonderful. I’ll begin looking ofr a mask and spandex.

    A small caveat here, as many of you know (because you raised some formidable objections at times) VN has staked-out very strong objection to liberalism. Given that record, it might not be a fruitful dialectic to try to engage.

    But let’s get back to lucha libre and killing Hitler!

    —Sam

  • Any chance you could elaborate on that a little bit Sam? “Liberalism,” I’m afraid, is a term with a number of different meanings. I think Alan Wolfe’s argument that individual autonomy is the foundational principle of liberalism is the most useful starting point; but that idea can be cashed out in so many different ways (for instance, anarchism could be considered a natural offshoot of liberalism using that principle, so, too, MM’s insistence that the state is the best instrument to meet the needs of the individual). I guess what I’m asking is what definition of liberalism are you using,and why does that definition rule out a ‘fruitful dialectic’. In my experience, different temperments and differing levels of willingness to consider opposing points of view are the chief obstacles to discussion; when people are open to communicating – actually willing to do it – then different dialectics can be explored easily enough in the course of the conversation.

    Additionally, it seems to me you are implicitly assuming that there is some sort of serious difference between all of the contributors of VN and all the contributors of AC, rather than differences between individual contributors. So I guess your comment sounds to me like 1) All VN people are against X (which we haven’t defined); 2) All AC people are for X (which, again, we haven’t defined and likely isn’t true); and 3) X has such an important impact on our intellectual outlooks or dialectics that conversation is impossible. So I guess I’ll start with: what do you mean by X?

  • Meanwhile, certain people from VN simulatenously accuse TAC of being “fascist” and “liberal” – and I don’t think they do so on the basis of Jonah Goldberg’s thesis. It’s just the smear of the moment.

    Don’t support Obamacare = nihilism, individualism, liberalism
    Support the troops = nationalism, quasi-fascism and fascism

    Ironically, most fascists historically would have probably supported Obamacare, all other things being equal, while many radical individualists and liberals have opposed wars. In further irony, few people have been more critical of liberalism in history than fascists.

    But why would inconvenient truths such as those stand in the way of a good smear? Idiots in this country call the tea party people FASCIST for wanting smaller government, lower taxes, and states rights! That isn’t just a lie – its an Orwellian, Big Brother style lie, a lie so absurd and obscene that it threatens to shatter your mind apart at the very notion that a person could even utter it.

  • I hadn’t thought of that. Minion and Iafrate need to get their talking points aligned.

  • Joe is exactly right on fascism. It was a statist movement of the Left (which is how the theorists of fascism understood themselves, and why there could be easy alliances, as well as fierce battles, with socialists and Communists – they competed for the same constituencies).

    I again repeat my call for michael to engage the substance of this point. And if he won’t or can’t, fine – but drop the epithet.

    Concerning liberalism: Its almost impossible to reduce liberalism to a single theoretical position. And I seriously doubt, now that the Enlightenment bottle has been popped, that an anthropocentric, rather than a theological, view of human affairs as it concerns human potential will fade from the debates of the cousins of right and left liberalism (freedom v. equality). All Western political parties are knee deep in liberalism, and perhaps necessarily so insofar as they value democractic processes. (And so, for example, although I am firmly of the traditionalist Right and oppose liberalism ala Jim Kalb, it cannot be escaped because I participate in the polis).

  • Though, to be fair, the Church was competing for the same constituencies as well.

    That’s the one thing I don’t like about the “liberal fascism” thesis – it seems to be based in an idea that individualism ought to be a perfectly adequate alternative to communism and fascism, to various forms of “collectivism.” The individualist-collectivist dichotomy is as false as our modern Democrat-Republican dichotomy.

    The truth is that both communism and fascism recognize the same things that the Church and classical political theory recognize as well.

    So we have to be careful with this. All of these schools of thought recognize the reality of class tension and class warfare, and seek to deal with it in their own ways.

  • Well I seem to have gotten into some trouble for being too breezy. Here is what I mean by ‘X’:

    Henry and I (and perhaps others) have written several posts against liberalism. I even titled on of them “Don’t forget, liberalism is bad.” Since we did that, and since many of the contributors of VN mostly agree outright or are friendly to that view, then, it would be hard to stick the label ‘liberalism’—especially to myself or Henry—without being equally as careful.

    I always think of myself politically as something like a leftist conservative or a postmodern theocrat. Sounds really slippery, but my writing explains it better—but not exhaustively, to be sure. I won’t cite it here because, frankly, I don’t get so wound up in com boxes, for the most part. (Unless, I am happen to be in a tizzy with Mr. hargrave over abortion, ha! Cheers, Joe!)

    I came here mostly because I heard there were chances to wrestle. Maybe I just got my hopes up. What happened to lucha libre? Should I give on VN and AC in spandex and glittery masks?

    Peace,

    Sam

  • While its true that the Church made its peace with the umbrella term “statism,” I don’t think its accurate to state that the Church was competing with them in a socio-political sense (both Communism and Fascism were “modernist” and mostly secular….). But you are right to caution that all three had disdain for classical liberalism, and that a dualist political dichotomy misses a lot.

    Goldberg’s book made him more libertarian, and I think that’s part of the point that should be highlighted when one delves into the history. Those on the Left should drop “fascist,” because it is a term of Leftist DNA. In the Western democracies and quasi-democracies from which the term came (I’m thinking of, for example, the Hapsburgs and those admiring the Papal States, and three cheers for them), the Fascists were strongly opposed to the two chief currents of what came to be developed as of the “Right” : throne and altar, and economic liberalism (even as those two things don’t go together very well.)

  • Jonathan

    Except you are wrong— hence Franco.

  • And, we don’t have go talk about Franco. We can go with Joseph de Maistre (and I am a fan of his thought, even if I see the dangers of it). Isaiah Berlin has discussed Maistre’s relationship with Facism (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=3510) — and while I think he is wrong in his interpretation of Maistre, he is right in saying how Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists. This highlights how Facism WAS a thing of the right and adapted the problematic aspects of the right (and I say this as one who is of the right).

    Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!

  • Bring a more substantive argument, Henry.

    From my prior definition of fascism, a short analysis of Franco:

    -corportism/statism, ok, check
    -hyper-nationalism, check
    -hatred of democracy, sure, check
    -egalitarianism, no
    -the values of enlightenment and modernism, no
    -collective organization and cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence, fine, check

    So in this quick analysis, two of the five most important characteristics of fascism are missing (and the violence point should be put in the context of horrific Communist violence). It could be argued that from the 1920, when Mussolini as the heir to Sorel began to fade and the socialists fought more fiercely amongst themselves, that fascism moved to the (nationalist, traditionalist) “Right.” But this is an awkward argument, because Franco did not claim socialist/fascist theorists as intellectual predecessors, and because he only retained some of the characterists of how fascists developed and understood themselves in the (strongly modernist) first few decades of fascist organizations.

  • “Except you are wrong–hence Franco.”

    That begs the question of whether Franco was, in fact, a fascist. His distrust of the truly fascist Falange, and his sidelining of that movement after the Civil War argues otherwise. Yes, the JONS existed as a part of Franco’s postwar government, but not in the way its founders envisioned. He fused the Falange with the Carlists, for pete’s sake–talk about oil and water.

    Franco was an authoritarian monarchist with the prejudices and bedrock worldview of the 19th Century Spanish Catholicism that formed him. His political thought went no further than that, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.

  • Dale

    Whether or not he was Facist is not the question, really. Look carefully what Jonathan suggested: that the Facists didn’t like “crown and altar.” But they did work with Franco, who wanted to restore “crown and altar.” Indeed, the “crown and altar” types like Maistre (through others like Schmitt) have indeed had an influence on Maistre and shows the association of Facism with the right.

  • “have indeed had an influence on Facism” even

  • Franco despised politicians, whatever their political orientation. He often said that politics and politicians were destroying Spain. (Looking at the history of Spain during the 19th and early 20th centuries I think Franco had a point.) Franco used the Falange as he used the Carlists, instruments for his purposes, but nothing more. Franco, as Dale stated, was an old style Spanish monarchist. He viewed himself as a caretaker for a monarchy that would eventually be restored, although he had no illusions about monarchs as individuals. I think as a political philosophy Franco despised Fascism almost as much as he despised Communism. It was no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that when Franco sent off the Azul Division to fight on the Russian Front, he made sure it was led by regular officers but that the ranks were packed with volunteers from the Falange.

  • Nazi and Fascist support for Franco no more makes Franco a true fascist than Soviet support for any number of parties – including the Democratic Party – makes them communist.

    That is just geopolitics – you support the party within a country that is most likely to be sympathetic to your aims. So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.

    In fact, Franco did not enter the Axis and strove to keep Spain out of the war.

    Most importantly, though, the Church supported Franco and Salazar, because they protected the Church against the far greater threat of communism and left-anarchism.

    Oh, and one more thing: Johnathan, Franco was not a corporatist. The economic ideas of the Falange were discarded by the 1950s and Franco implemented the policies of the IMF and World Bank, which in that context actually produced a Spanish economic miracle, and saw Spain’s position in the world economy rise to 9th place.

    Franco, like Pinochet, combined the full laissez-faire agenda with a military regime. And under these conditions, I might also add, the worlds greatest and most successful workers’ cooperative, the Mondragon, came into existence.

  • Joe

    Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise. Notice, again, I didn’t call Franco a Facist — I said he presented a problem to Jonathan’s claims about Facists.

    And again, I have shown where one can find the common ground if one wants to look.

  • Henry,

    I responded to that. I said,

    “So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.”

    I made it clear that this was simply an anti-Bolshevik alliance. Their association with Franco only says one thing: that they were united in their opposition to Bolshevism. That’s all it was ever about.

    If you look at the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel song, there’s a part about their comrades shot by “the red front and reactionaries” – by reactionaries, they mean precisely the throne and altar types. Hitler rails against them in Mein Kampf. And Franco and Salazar both understood this.

    So, again, it is wrong to mistake a purely political alliance for ideological agreement. The enemy of my enemy is my friend – that’s how things work in politics.

  • Joe

    The Facists gave support to Franco. So they did support the crown and altar types. And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.

    You really need to read Mussolini, who said “fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary…” Seriously, I don’t think you have looked at him at all.

  • Hence, Mussolini: “Fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary when many liberals of today were prone before the triumphant beast (Democracy), has not today any impediment against declaring itself illiberal and anti-liberal…” (Gerarchia, March 1923)

  • Henry,

    Here we go again, with your monumental arrogance and historical ignorance.

    I specifically acknowledged the historical fact of fascist/nazi support for “crown and altar types” – I didn’t deny it.

    What I disagreed with was the significance you place on that. You are trying to say it has ideological significance – I’m saying it was anti-Bolshevik alliance. No, Hitler and Mussolini did not want a Bolshevik Spain in their rear in the event of a war against the Soviet Union, for which Hitler had been planning for many years. That has nothing to do with their ideological attitude towards “throne and altar.” Do you understand nothing about geopolitics?

    “And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.”

    Oh really? What did you study? Bring up specific examples before you accuse others of not knowing history. I’ve read the Doctrine of Fascism and Mein Kampf. Maybe you have too – but logic has never been your strong point, so it doesn’t matter what you read if you don’t understand the meaning behind it.

    Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.

    Vis a vis liberalism and communism, fascism may well have been “reactionary”; compared to throne-and-altar ideology, it was radically progressive, which is EXACTLY WHY Franco and Salazar rejected fascism, which is why far-right parties in other European countries were always split between fascist and reactionary wings.

    Finally, what does Fascism’s opposition to liberalism have to do with anything? I’ve acknowledged a hundred times that fascism was a mortal enemy of liberalism – but that alone doesn’t suffice to make it “reactionary.” Fascism combines progressive and reactionary ideas, just like, I might add, the Catholic Church and distributism do.

  • From the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary, for it anticipates the solution of certain universal problems which have been raised elsewhere, in the political field by the splitting up of parties, the usurpation of power by parliaments, the irresponsibility of assemblies; in the economic field by the increasingly numerous and important functions discharged by trade unions and trade associations with their disputes and ententes, affecting both capital and labor; in the ethical field by the need felt for order, discipline, obedience to the moral dictates of patriotism.”

    Oh, but what does Mussolini, the founder of fascism, know next to Professor Karlson, against whom no one’s opinions or thoughts can stand!

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong?

  • Joe

    You didn’t prove me wrong at all. Of course I quote Mussolini and you didn’t even recognize it. The fact that it comes out of the right and develops into something new doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from the right. The fact that you take another quote doesn’t make mine wrong. It is not either-or.

  • Joe, fair enough. Henry, the socialist-laden founders of fascism understood themselves to be of that which they were, the modernist and progressive Left. Details tomorrow, busy today.

  • Henry,

    Are you serious? You’re either the most illiterate, or most dishonest person I have ever encountered on these forums.

    With regard to the Mussolini quote you say I “didn’t even recognize”, I actually said:

    “Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.”

    So I did recognize it. Illiteracy, or dishonesty?

    Secondly, I DID PROVE YOU WRONG. Mussolini’s words:

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    How many times do you need to read it? How illiterate or dishonest can you be? YOUR quote only has Mussolini saying that fascists will CALL themselves “reactionaries” – when that is what the politics of the moment call for. In the ACTUAL DOCTRINE, the actual founding document of Italian fascism (not to mention Mein Kampf), it is clearly established that fascism is a revolutionary ideology.

    Just give it up, Henry. You’re out of your element, you know nothing about this history or these ideas, this isn’t your theology class or whatever it is you teach. Stick with what you know and stop trying to pretend that you know more than Johnathan or I about political theory.

  • From the Appendix of the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” In spite of the theories of conservation and renovation, of tradition and progress expounded by the right and the left, we do not cling desperately to the past as to a last board of salvation: yet we do not dash headlong into the seductive mists of the future. (Breve preludio, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 14). `negation, eternal immobility, mean damnation. I am all for motion. I am, one who marches on (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, Lot Jon, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 203).”

    This is yet more proof that fascism is neither right nor left, doctrinaire reactionary or progressive. It is as Mussolini always maintained, unique and original, combining what it wants in its own way.

  • Joe

    Yes, I know nothing about history and the connection between the right with facism which is why I have highlighted some major examples (who you ignore). You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest. It is clear, you really think you know much. But I would recommend to you as I did what I recommended to Jonathan: read Isaiah Berlin on Maistre and his relationship to Facism. You can go to many other sources if you want, but Berlin is one I know Jonathan respects — which is why I pointed him out. Seriously, this IS something I know.

  • Stanley Payne is the foremost historian of fascism. He “defines” fascism by noting common features among the varieties.

    “Stanley G. Payne’s Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including:[13]

    the creation of an authoritarian state
    a regulated, state-integrated economic sector
    fascist symbolism
    anti-liberalism
    anti-communism
    anti-conservatism.
    As the common aim of all fascist movements he sees elimination of the autonomy, or in some cases the existence of, large-scale capitalism.”

  • Henry,

    “You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest.”

    That passage comes directly out of the Doctrine of Fascism, which is the summary of Italian fascism written by the man who invented it. That statement is actual in accordance with the rest of that work, it is a perfect summation of it.

    How can you even speak of me “ignoring” things when you systematically and deliberately ignore those facts which falsify your hypothesis? Your quotes only establish one thing: that Mussolini was willing to say what needed to be said. In the Doctrine, where isn’t talking about rhetorical strategy but the philosophical foundations of fascism, he says something else. It is YOU who is ignoring context so that you can pretend to look like you know something.

    What Isaiah Berlin had to say about Maistre has nothing to do with whether or not fascist support for Franco implies, suggests, or proves an ideological connection between them (which is the only claim of yours I took issue with) – if that was Berlin’s argument, then he was as wrong as you are.

    The differences between falangism, fascism, and Nazism were all clearly understood and articulated by the proponents of each school.

    There’s only one group that lumps them all together for one reason: leftist revolutionaries, because all of these groupings are hostile to them, so it is to their advantage to have everyone believe that they are indistinguishable and the same.

  • Oh, and by the way, I provided more than one quote – did you miss the second one, or did you forget how to count?

    I could provide more quotes from The Doctrine, from Mein Kampf, from Mosley’s writings, probably even from Lincoln freaking Rockwell to dispel this silly argument.

    Look how Mosley’s BUF copied the Horst Wessel song:

    “Against vested powers, Red Front, and massed ranks of reaction,
    We lead the fight for freedom and for bread!”

    How much more clear can it get? Fascism is neither reactionary or progressive, left or right – it is what it needs to be in the moment to secure the loyalty of the masses.

  • Henry,

    This is not your field. It is Joe’s field. A good tactic in these situations is, “Stop digging.”

  • DC

    LOL. There has been no “digging.” What there has been, however, is Joe really showing himself without the background — which really is necessary for any proper hermeneutic so as not to proof text. I’ve suggested a few sources to look into for the background — because, well, surprise surprise, I’ve actually studied the matter. And his ignorance of why theology engages this issue and studies it ALSO demonstrates his lack of understanding in the area.

    But I will leave it at that. I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics. I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. Strange and only two ways one can do that.

  • Henry,

    You’ve made a complete fool of yourself here, and using the word “hermeneutic” can’t save you.

    I only challenged one claim you made – that fascist support for Franco implied, suggested or proved an ideological linkage between fascism and “throne and altar ideology.”

    In case you don’t remember, this was your claim:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    It was this claim that I proceeded to show was completely wrong, based on extensive quotations from the founding document of fascism, which you apparently have never read. In fact its pretty obvious to me that you are relying on second – maybe third hand – sources to inform your view of fascism. (Way to spell “FASCISTS” by the way – I guess you fail spelling!)

    I do want to address your Orwellian claims, though, not because I think you’ll benefit but because your toxic lies should not go unanswered.

    “I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head.”

    You’re a liar. You quoted one source to support your claim that Mussolini was a reactionary (and provided a link to a lecture that one has to pay to read – though that lecture has nothing to do with the specific point you made that I was challenging).

    The one source you quoted, I directly addressed, multiple times. So that’s lie number one shot down.

    Next:

    “He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.”

    You gave absolutely no context for your Mussolini quote about fascists being willing to “call itself” reactionary; I gave you two full paragraphs from Mussolini’s fascist manifesto that directly demonstrate the opposite, and I could produce more upon request.

    If you’re going to use isolated quotes from second-hand sources, what gives you the right to make these absurd claims about me for giving you full quotes from the original source? You didn’t offer us any “hermeneutics” – you lazily offered up one quote and didn’t even try to construct a rational argument using facts and historical context to support it, as I did, talking about the geopolitical situation leading up to WWII.

    So, you’ve lied, and failed again. That’s two lies.

    ” I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. ”

    And now we come to lie number three. First of all, I’ve said repeatedly that fascism combined reactionary and progressive ideas. Obviously that means there is some connection to “the right.”

    What I denied and rejected was one simple thing – that fascist support for Franco at all suggested, implied, or proved a concrete ideological relationship, as you asserted. I gave you the context for that support, an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. I pointed out – something you didn’t deny – that Franco and Salazar explicitly rejected fascism as modernist, that many right wing parties split over the issue of fascism being a neo-pagan technocracy opposed to traditional religion, economics, and social values.

    In your ineptitude, or your malicious, hateful lying, you ignored all of that. I think its really more your gross incompetence than malice, but there’s got to be some of that as well.

    Fascism is not “ex nihilo” – Mussolini even explicitly declares that no ideology is completely original or unique, every one is constructed on the basis of old ideas. At the same time there is a new and original way in which fascism blends existing ideas – which is why Mussolini said that fascism is revolutionary, not reactionary.

    So, once again, you’re wrong. And in a pathetic and ridiculous attempt to save face rather than owning up to your mistakes, you resort to the most bizzare and easily debunked lies. You really ought to be completely ashamed of yourself.

  • Oh, and then there was this dubious claim:

    “Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!”

    How do you know that? Where was the “hermeneutics” on that one? The Doctrine of Fascism (you know, Fascism with an “S”), only mentions “the right” once; and when it does show up it is in “scare quotes”, you know, “like these”, to indicate that one can take it or leave it.

    It’s obvious from an actual reading of the document, especially when Mussolini twice rejects reaction as the basis of fascism, that fascism is only considered to be a “right” ideology from the standpoint of communism and liberalism, which everyone knows are “left.”

    Nowhere in that document does Mussolini identify in some sort of positive and consistent way with “the right.”

    Here is what he says:

    “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State. ”

    So, not only is “right” in scare quotes, there is also a total rejection of individualism, an embrace of collectivism and of the State – all positions that many people who self-identify as “rightists” absolutely reject. So maybe there is a legitimate dispute as to what is the true legacy of “the right”, but in any case, it is clear that Mussolini mostly uninterested in establishing fascism as “right wing”, especially in the CONTEXT of the OTHER QUOTES I provided.

    BUT

    There’s one more quote, since you’re so cracked up on the idea that fascism is related to Maistre, that I should have included before – good thing I saw it now! If this doesn’t clear the air, I don’t know what will.

    ” The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    One more time:

    “History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    Followed by:

    “Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes.”

    Right! Which is exactly what Franco believed too, I guess. Oh wait…

  • And while we’re on the topic of Maistre and Berlin, you might want to check out this book review.

    http://www.mmisi.org/ma/43_02/craiutu.pdf

    “A Modern Maistre is therefore useful in debunking the uncritically accepted myth of Maistre as a precursor of fascism, even if it remains true that, secularized and transformed by the scoundrels who claimed to be his heirs, Maistre’s teachings proved dangerous. After demonstrating that Maistre was not a decisionist a la Carl Schmitt, Bradley observes that“traditionalism and fascism were in manyways antithetical” and correctly identifies the huge gap between the traditionalist Right and the radical, fascist Right in thetwentieth century. Those who defended monarchy and tradition in early nineteenth-century France were not modern in the proper sense of the word because they lacked the brutality of the moderns, their infatuation with innovation, and their passion for remaking the old world according to an entirely rational scheme. “Fascism,”writes Bradley, “affirms the new, the modern (al-though in a grotesquely distorted form), not traditional custom.”

    Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Berlin was just plain wrong about something. Johnathan may respect him, and others might – I must say that I’ve never particularly cared for his style.

  • It looks like Joe has not read what Henry said, and Joe is arguing against a strawman.

  • Henry,

    I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.

    Um, no. You produced a single Mussolini quote, which even so didn’t make your case very well, and then doggedly insisted that it proved your point despite more wide-ranging discussion and quoting from Mussolini from Joe.

    Certainly, fascism did not spring up ex nihilo, nothing does. But your claim that it is more an outgrowth of the right than the left only works in a sense that would allow one to reduce everything to a product of the right, in that the “right” represents the influences that came before while the “left” represents their more modern manifestations. At which point you claim would be true, but trivially so.

    But I did get a major laugh out of “because he fails hermeneutics”. The way that word gets butchered in the Catholic blogsphere is pretty sad, but this newly invented playground usage is one of the funniest yet. I think this ranks up there close to the fellow who showed up and told Joe, “You fail ontologically.”

  • Interloper,

    I challenge you to back that up. Or are you just someone Henry ran and cried to so you decided to show up to give him a pat on the back?

    I read and quoted what Henry said several times:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    The “suggestion”, made by someone else, was entirely right in the context of fascism’s rise – the Doctrine and Mein Kampf make that abundantly clear.

    The fact that professor Karlson introduces that is supposed to somehow contradict the claim is explained by other factors: an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. (Have you all forgotten that the USSR was supporting the communists in Spain?) It does not “say otherwise.”

    Mussolini’s direct disavowal of Maistre and the work of other students of his thought also throws a lot of doubt on his other claim: “Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists.” Though granted, that’s not Henry’s argument, but Isaiah Berlin’s – and its an argument that’s flawed at best. If its to be used, it probably best be left to someone who knows what they are talking about, i.e., not Henry.

    So, “Interloper”, whoever you are, are you game? Can you see now that I do read what Professor Karlson has to say, and that I have valid reasons for disagreeing? Or are you part of a mindless, thoughtless cheering squadron summoned up for moral support? (at least mine gives reasons for their understanding of events!)

  • What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent. It has contradictory elements. Are you suggesting that you folks are entirely consistent in your views and positions? Please. The contradictions of american conservatism are well known and most of you exhibit all of them. The fascist ones among you are likewise inconsistent and contradictory.

    For the fellow who suggested MM and I get out “talking points” together, let me point out that MM have never agreed on everything. I disagree with him on a lot of things.

  • Alright, back to the topic at hand.

    Why do I make my statements about fascism?

    Let us look at this document, highlighted by the outstanding British conservative M. Oakeshott:

    http://www.constitution.org/tyr/mussolini.htm

    This is a progressive, modernist, socialist-style document through and through.

    “Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State.”

    “There is no concept of the State which is not fundamentally a concept of life: philosophy or intuition, a system of ideas which develops logically or is gathered up into a vision or into a faith, but which is always, at least virtually, an organic conception of the world.”

    Ect. ect. ect., and lots more where this came from.

    Fascism from Italy (where it was born and bred by socialists) was the first systematic leftist (and nationalist, these two terms used to go hand in hand) opposition to the imperialistic Moscow-centric communism.

    Joe and Dale and others have adequately handeled the Franco question. If one wishes to make the charge of Franco, they must accept the use this word as a descriptive term as something done very awkwardly.

    So many other points as well. Where does the name Benito come from for the political founder of fascism? Benito Jaurez, the revolutionary. Benito, like his father, was a fanatical socialist who adapted his internationalism to an Italian populace.

    The one reference I would recommend off the top of my head is the chapter “From Marxism to Fascist Statism” in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s “Leftism Revisited.”

    E.v.K-L was a true European conservative who hated all revolutionaries (making him an awkward fit for American conservatives and their economic liberalism). He knew his fascism, which destroyed homelands, and provides a wealth of information about these leftist movements from a perspective we can hardly imagine. (If you have JSTOR access, look him up there too.)

    Anyway, there’s a lot to say on this topic – particularly about how ideologues like michael continue to fall into the Stalinist trick (literally, this was a Stalinist trick) of labeling revolutionary and modernist movements of the Left that they hated because it took away from their own power as “right-wing.” Fascism WAS “right-wing” to Stalin because it was nationalist (and again, nationalism was for several decades until the end of the Second World War a vital part of the Western Left broadly defined), but only the ignorant would persist in applying “fascist” to those of the center-right today. It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

  • “What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent.”

    Is this how you try to rationalize calling everything you don’t like “fascist”? By making it an essentially vague and useless term?

    Aside from the fact that I disagree with you about fascism’s consistency, it is simply a fact that one of the things the fascists were explicit about – Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, et. al. – was their hatred of liberalism, which they equated with individualism, the antithesis of their own ideology, which was collectivist.

    Given that history, no, a person really can’t be a true liberal and a true fascist at the same time. In the mind of an uneducated person led astray by a duplicitous manipulator, perhaps – a person, say who uses political terms as swear words to try and discredit opponents instead of historically defined categories.

  • michael,

    Once again your comment makes no sense outside of the evidently overwhelming desire to berate and name-call your “opponents.”

    Fascism was a coherent, systematic, and well thought out political philosophy (particularly in Italy, the fascist country that was greatly admired by American leftists and self-styled progressives for many years) and governing guide – until Hitler betrayed Stalin.

    That all of this has gone down the memory hole, particularly in light of the Communist rebranding of the term, should not excuse ignorance. Find a new epithet – it would be shocking should you lack creativity on that front.

  • I mean, what “thone and altar” movement comes up with this lightning bolt thing for a symbol?
    buf

  • This video of Mosley repeating that British fascists were revolutionaries might help too:

  • Joe – We all know that the explicit statements of a political movement should not be considered the be-all and end-all of the views that it held. The “explicit statements” of republican “pro-lifers” or of “anti-war” democrats should be proof enough of that.

    Fascism, likewise, has always had contradictory elements.

  • Even if that’s true, movement that calls itself revolutionary, takes power, and proves through its policies that it is carrying out a social revolution, is probably revolutionary too. Just because it isn’t an egalitarian or proletarian revolution doesn’t mean it isn’t a revolution.

    At any rate the argument that the fascists, especially Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, are primarily “of the right” (if by “right” we mean reactionary and/or traditional) is an argument that doesn’t hold water.

    Nor do I fully agree with Johnathan in saying that they are “of the left.” Nor do I agree with you that they are “contradictory” – at least not in the sense of a logical contradiction.

    If you mean there are antagonistic elements, sure. Antagonism and contradiction are two different things, a distinction that is lost on a lot of people.

    I generally think people should be allowed to define themselves, that unless there is some glaring and obvious logical contradiction, which there isn’t in these cases.

  • Jonathan,

    It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

    I’m wondering if I can poke at this a bit in a spirit of inquiry. Would you say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the center right in Western liberal nation-states today? Maybe I’m thinking in a heavily American context, but I’m not sure where one would find much throne and altar left to support.

    Traditionalism is certainly a stream of thinking on the right, but it seems to me that it’s cultural/moral/religious traditionalism more broadly defined, encompassing everything from people who still believe that marriage has as an essential element the rearing of children to those who want to see explicit acknowledgment of religion in the public square to agricultural/craftsman traditionalists to any number of other tradition-oriented concerns. But is anyone serious really running around seeking the return of confessional states or monarchies?

    Franky, the few “monarchists” I know are distinctly un-traditional in their approach to politics and culture. It seems more a result of having read too much Fantasy at a formative age than any real rooting in tradition.

  • Darwin, I was writing in the context of Western nation-states since the French Revolution, which I consider the beginning of modern politics. I will address the point more fully on Monday.

  • Darwin,

    To address your points more specifically, and let us generalize crudely:

    I would not say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the modern center-right of Western states. These states are liberal through and through, left-liberal (equality) and right-liberal (freedom) always in tension. These center-right parties and voters have little resemblance to the “Old Right” (following Sen. Taft, who was “leftist” on some questions such as public housing but hated Wilsonianism and advocated for an epistemological modesty in approaching policy).

    These liberal arguments were in direct opposition to fascism (but note that “progressive” arguments were not!). To flesh out the definition of fascism already stated above, and again recommending von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

    Fascism was 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 was 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 and Rousseau’s protean “general will,” Nietzschean will-to-power — all of which overturned the older liberalism of Locke, the Enlightenment, and the American Founders.

    Your points about traditionalism are well and good, but also inconsiderate of the context of the times when fascism was ascendant (Nietzsche and Georges Sorel plus modernist, progressive state planning – roughly the first three decades of the 20th Century). In addition to Western liberalism (mostly “classical”), the other “rightist” opposition was throne and altar traditionalism. One need not claim it is now a big part of the “right” (I don’t, even as I also lament the Palin-style populism) to recognize that such traditionalism WAS a big influence in the West, and still survives on the right in Europe. Less so in America, certainly, but then again we are a revolutionary country founded upon abstracted principles, not blood and soil.

    So two strands of the “right” were chief enemies of fascism, the socialist-laden, modernist, authoritarian theory of governance and political practice that ran roughshod over throne and altar and was defeated by Western liberalism.

  • Thanks, Jonathan. I see what you’re saying now. I think I’d been slipping on the term “modern” and forgetting that when we talk fascism we are (in the real world) talking primarily about the ’20s through the ’40s.

  • Pingback: Blog Comment Policy and Conflict « The American Catholic

Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.

Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine.  Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.

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40 Responses to Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

  • I love that clip. It shows why Ronald Reagan will always be “The Great Communicator”. Clear, factual, and with his own depth of Philosophical belief. Unlike most politicians, what Reagan said, he believed.

    After watching the “Bipartisan Healthcare Summit” I was truly astounded at how poor Obama is at communicating without a pre-prepared speech and a teleprompter. The man is rude, cuts people off, stutters and stammers, and has trouble forming thoughts about his beliefs.

    Basically, to anyone who watched the BHS (no, not Barack Has to Stutter) this was a wake up call–Barry isn’t a good speaker, he is a good reader.

  • Is this a real or a parody post? If the latter, well the joke’s on me then…

    But assuming it isn’t – I assume you realize that Reagan was making all kinds of outlandish claims about Medicare, including that it tell doctors where they had to live? I think history had proved him a tint bit wrong – so much so that the party that now idolizes his memory is fighting tooth and nail against “cuts” in this very same Medicare..

    Oh, and as superior as single payer is (and Medicare is single payer by the way), the Obama bill retains the current system of privaet insurers. There is nothing “socialistic” about it. Of course, it attempts to regulate private insurers, including (by the way) how they must deal with abortion – something no Republican has ever supported.

  • MM,

    He was talking about the slow descent to socialism, or does this escape you?

    As for abortion, no matter your hollow arguments, you still voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America.

  • You need to study more on what Reagan actually predicted pertaining to Medicare. Also, tell me why his acolytes currently are its biggest defenders? Also, please tell me what abortion protections were put into the Republican-sponsored Medicare Advantage expansion? And please tell me what exactly is “socialist” in the HCR bill?

    Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”. Of course, I could also point out to your that your own ideology is almost identical to the liberalism opposed by the Vatican for quite a long time.

  • Awesome Post!

    Reagan also signed the UN declaration against torture and his DOJ successfully tried and convicted a Texas sheriff for waterboarding prisoners, so I guess that he solved those current debates as well!

  • Oh No! But I just realized that Ronald Reagan might disagree with Friedrich von Hayek on this question, who wrote, in his Road to Serfdom, that “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    And now I don’t know WHAT to think!?!

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency, and pushed for a very ambitious arms control deal! The modern GOP would denounce him a “lib-uh-ral socialist”!

  • Here is the text of the speech:

    http://www.elephantowners.com/?page_id=68

    Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare. The government as an insurer has driven up the costs of medicine for all.

    Oh and Tony, the most pro-abortion President in our history isn’t a slogan, but a reality. You supported him and now you aren’t even going to get health care. He is also producing a political reaction which is going to sweep the Democrats from power in November in Congress and across the country. As a Republican I would like to thank you. Obama is the best thing that has happened to the GOP since Jimmy Carter!

  • “Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare.”

    As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    The point of all this, of course, is that it’s rather silly to think that the policy positions of American politicians–Republican or Democrat–should have any bearing on arguments (rather than sloganeering) about what is actually beneficial to the commonweal.

  • However plausible Reagan’s predictions may have been at the time, they have not been borne out by subsequent events. It’s been 45 years since Medicare was enacted, and it hasn’t led to a total government takeover of medicine. In fact, I think there’s a plausible argument to be made that Medicare is one of the main impediments to passing a universal health care plan today.

  • Instituting programs that we cannot pay for is not beneficial to the commonweal, but rather bankrupts the commonweal. As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009. Social Security took up 20% and Medicare and Medicaid 19%.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

    Medicare and Medicaid are going to explode in costs over the next two decades and there is no clue how to pay for them other than for the government to continue to borrow until—well, I guess until we can’t borrow anymore or our economy collapses under the debt burden.

  • I’m not sure how mandating that people purchase something from the private sector constitutes “socialism”?

  • And that’s not even to say it is a good idea. This is strictly speaking toward definition.

  • Wj,

    If you think that Hayek quote is amazing, check out this one (from the Constitution of Liberty):

    Once it becomes the recognized duty of the public to provide for the extreme needs of old age, unemployment, sickness, etc., irrespective of whether the individuals could and ought to have made provision themselves and particularly once help is assured to such an extent that it is apt to reduce individuals’ efforts, it seems an obvious corollary to compel them to insure (or otherwise provide) against those common hazards of life. The justification in this case is not that people should be coerced to do what is in their individual interest but that, by neglecting to make provision, they would become a charge to the public. Similarly, we require motorists to insure against third-party risks, not in their interest but in the interest of others who might be harmed by their action.

    Finally, once the state requires everybody to make provisions of a kind which only some had made before, it seems reasonable enough that the state should also assist in the development of appropriate institutions . . .

    Up to this point the justification for the whole apparatus of “social security” can probably be accepted by the most consistent defenders of liberty. Though many may think it unwise to go so far, it cannot be said that this would be in conflict with the principles we have stated . . . It is only when the proponents of “social security” go a step further that the crucial issues arise. Even at the beginning state of “social insurance” in Germany in the 1880’s, individuals were not merely required to make provision against those risks which, if they did not, the state would have to provide for, but were compelled to obtain this protection through a unitary organization run by the government.

  • Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown.

    Reagan was warning that eligibility for the programs would expand, not cost. That hasn’t happened.

  • “As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs….”

    Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!

  • Eric,

    The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

  • The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

    This strikes me as unlikely. What in the bill do you think will do away with private sector health care?

  • It’s not in the bill.

    But succeeding congresses will expand the bill to include a government option. Will ultimately be a single payer “option”.

    I probably should have said an incremental march towards the elimination of private health insurance.

  • Blackadder,

    Yes, that quote is amazing. I am always impressed by the clarity and nuance of Hayek’s thinking; if Republicans were more consistently Hayekian and Democrats were more consistently social democratic then we might have actual arguments about policy! We would also be living on another planet, of course.

  • Tito,

    Why do you think passing this bill now will make passing those bills in the future any more likely? Usually passing a bill on a subject makes it harder to revisit that subject legislatively, not easier.

  • BA,

    They would not necessarily pass more bills, but it can happen.

    They would also expand the power of said agencies that would squeeze the private sector more and more.

    Not to mention executive orders that can expand the powers of said agencies and restrict those of the private sector.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

  • Tito,

    Okay, but all that stuff could happen regardless of whether the current bill is passed. Why is this an argument against the current bill?

  • I ask because it seems that, in your mind, there are these two abstract entities–the “private sector” on the one hand, and “government” on the other–that are necessarily in opposition. But this over-simple characterization does not fit the *actual* way in which the health-care industry (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

  • BA,

    Because it is a slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    WJ,

    Please explain.

  • Can’t–going to bed; briefly, though, I understand your distinction to hold for small businesses, relatively local economies, etc. but not for huge corporate enterprises which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests; for such enterprises, any simple distinction like the one you draw seems inadequate for accounting for the facts on the ground.

  • “Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!”

    You are welcome. Without military force to back it up, the Constitution is just another piece of paper.

  • As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    Perhaps becuase the allocation of available resources to military expenditure fluctuates up and down in response to external conditions and is lower now than was the case in 1960.

  • which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests;

    The only monopolists in our economy are gas and electric companies and (to some extent) the postal service.

  • (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

    That’s just what we need, more crony capitalism.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

    Never mind.

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency,

    You could say that, if you’ve forgotten that legislation is enacted by Congress and that legislative initiative in matters of taxation and appropriation rests with the lower house of Congress, and that the lower house of Congress was controlled by the political opposition for all eight years he was in office.

  • Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”.

    Those are not slogans, those are characterizations (the latter quite accurate).

  • Tito: “we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”…slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    So, the government should not regulate anything that privaet insurers do? So you are fine with them covering abortion, I take it?

  • As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009.

    I’m reminded here of an old Lincoln quote:

    All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

  • Blackadder,

    You’re being much too reasonable to be taken seriously on this thread.

  • We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have in mind a scenario of what occurs given particular levels of American military spending?

  • “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”

    Considering how fearful Lincoln was during the Trent Affair of the possibility of British intervention, I doubt if he meant that statement literally. Additionally, in an age of ICBMs and the coming age of portable nukes by non-state terrorist groups, things have changed militarily a tad since Lincoln gave that speech.

  • Anyone who cannot see that Reagan was right about his beliefs needs to answer these questions:

    1. Did Medicare achieve the goals intended at the costs it promised? Further, is it almost broke now?

    2. Was Reagan right that Medicare was just a preemptive move to pass Socialized Healthcare?

    My answers for those questions are:

    1. No, it has exploded in size, cost, and is rife with Govt corruption and inefficiency.

    2. Obamacare anyone?

The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

There are some whom denigrate soldiers and policemen and the plan God has for them in Salvation.  I disagree completely and there are many examples of saints and popes who have honored the soldier and policeman in defense of justice and peace.

I found this quote by Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen‘s Wartime Prayer Book:

“The great French Lacordaire once said the vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissioned him to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but also because it called him to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.”

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105 Responses to The Vocation of a Soldier is Next in Dignity to the Priesthood

  • I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.

  • Thank you for your great service to our country.

  • The Church fathers had a radically different view. I think it was St. Basil who advised soliders to abstain from communion for a fixed period of time.

    And even today, the Church supports the conscience protections in the military – just as no Catholic medical practioner should be forced to engage in immoral acts, no Catholic soldier should be forced to fight an unjust war – and the Iraq war was patently unjust. Where the the Catholic military consciences? Where those people calling loudly for conscience protections in other areas? Silent.

  • Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”
    – Tertullian

    “If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.”
    – St. Clement of Alexandria

    “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
    – St. Cyprian

    “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
    – St. Athanasius

    “I am a soldier of Christ and it is not permissible for me to fight”
    – St. Martin of Tours

    “For certainly it is a greater work and much more marvelous to change the minds of opponents and to bring about a change of soul than to kill them…”
    – St. John Chrysostom

  • “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

    Saint Augustine to Count Boniface (418AD) Boniface was governor of the diocese of Africa and a Roman general.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102189.htm

  • The soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood? Well, so much for all the holy monks and nuns.

  • Henry,

    I guess you know better than the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

  • MM

    Notice how they idolize the makers of death, and follow through with the errors they claim is had in liberation theology.

  • Tito

    Well, I guess you think he knew better than St Basil the Great? It is interesting to see how you go about this. What about Servant of God Dorothy Day? Seriously, Fulton Sheen did good work, but I am sure what I say about him being able to make mistakes is how you would respond to St Basil. But the fact remains, the Christian tradition doesn’t raise soldiers to this status — but they have consistently called those who are holy virgins to this level of sanctity. Take that as you will.

  • Henry,

    Leaving all that aside, the point of this post is to show soldiers that God has a place in salvation for them.

    To many times do well-meaning Catholics denigrate solider and police officers for their vocations. Without them we would have anarchy.

    The hate that comes from those that put down soldiers is unwarranted and not Christian.

    “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

    – Holy Gospel of Saint John 15:18

  • Plus, if you want to go further, Sheen is quoting someone else — though it seems in affirmation, it does leave him room for correcting it as well. It is not his statement — and indeed, it seems to be a rhetorical flourish that is being quoted, which also suggests something of the value of this quote. Again, it is interesting to see how you use might for the sake of salvation, when Scripture consistently suggests otherwise. That says much.

  • “Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.”

    Pope Benedict April 16, 2008

    http://wcbstv.com/papalvisit/pope.benedict.speech.2.701076.html

  • Tito

    If you wanted to say “they too can be saved” and “we can honor the good they have done,” I would have no problem. Indeed, I did a post on that theme several years back: http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/12/for-veterans-monday/

    To suggest “they are like priests” and “they are saving us” is I would say dangerous — very dangerous.

  • Donald’s typically selective, and equivocal, quotes to the contrary, Pope Benedict has been consistent that true freedom is in Christ, not war. Pope Benedict recognizes, of course, the temporal realm, but he would not equivocate this to priesthood and soteriology.

  • Henry,

    Bishop Sheen was quoting the Abbe Lacordaire. Remember Bishop Sheen said “next in dignity”, not the next best thing. Next in dignity in the context of spiritually sacrificing themselves for justice.

    I also agree with your quotes in context, nuns and monks are next in spirituality. There is room for many in God’s Kingdom.

  • Donald wasn’t contradicting Papa Bene. He was showing that soldiers have a place in God’s kingdom through their vocations.

  • for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but thy right hand, and thy arm, and the light of thy countenance; for thou didst delight in them. (Psalms 44:3)

    1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine; and who make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. 4 For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, 5 every one comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” 6 An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the viper and the flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of asses, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. 7 For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.” (Isaiah 30:1 -7)

    1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! 2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster, he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. (Isaiah 31: 1-3)

  • Karlson, unlike you Pope Benedict understands that peace and freedom in this fallen world can often be had only through the lives of soldiers:

    “On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe. What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil. And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

    We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.”
    http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.2/ratzinger.htm

    I realize this is all very galling for a Leftist ideologue like yourself, but facts are stubborn things.

  • “A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””

    http://www.piusxiipope.info/papacy.htm

  • Henry,

    As much as I disagree with some of your perceptions and interpretations of Catholic teaching and its implementation, I see the fruitfulness of charitable dialogue and engagement on issues pertaining to the Church.

    Thank you for all your comments!

  • I argued in a paper that is currently under review for publication that the u.s. military is seen by many americans to be another type of priesthood. Tito, Donald, et al. make that view explicit when they place u.s. soldiers inside the hierarchy of the church. This combination of u.s. militarism and Catholicism is PRECISELY fascist.

  • At the root of this idolatry is a profound misunderstanding of the reality of Christian sacrifice. Tito, et al. substitute a secular, pagan, nationalistic understanding of sacrifice for the understanding we have of sacrifice as following the non-violent way of the cross.

  • Donald R. McClare-
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!

  • I’m always amazed that people who denigrate the military are oblivious to the fact that they only possess that right because someone somewhere gave their life in order to preserve our freedom of speech.

  • Truth be told – I have said in the past and live by it – I would gladly die for a person’s freedom of speech.. Sad to me that they usually do not rescipicate that feeling…

  • Michael,

    I am quoting both Servant of God Fulton Sheen and Lacordaire. Where have I said that soldiers are an institutional vocation?

    As to the second approved comment, review what I typed above.

    Please argue the substance of the posting and stop denigrating the writers of this website and anyone else that doesn’t fit into your bizarre construct of Catholicism.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

  • John – Good to hear. I like the distancing going on at this blog.

  • Soldiers and priests can be good, bad or mixed, usually mixed, depending upon the soldier or priest. What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true as even a cursory look at the history of the Church reveals.

  • “Donald R. McClarey
    Now that is classy. Would that I could come up with a response like that on the fly!”

    Thank you Foxfier! Coming from such an able combox warrior as yourself that is high praise!

  • John Henry,

    Take it up with the Abbe.

    I know he’s gone, just getting punchy this evening. It’s been a looong week.

  • What is clear however, is that Catholicism has recognized a role for both of them. There has been an attempt over the past few decades by some Catholics to contend that the profession of arms is dishonorable and contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. That is simply not true

    I agree, Donald. I think we can over-praise the military, and that doing so can have very real harms. At the same time, the denigration of soldiers that takes place in some quarters contradicts a great deal of the Christian Tradition.

    To be sure, I think there is an honorable place for pacificism also within that Christian tradition, but I don’t think either pacifists or soldiers have the right to excommunicate the other.

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

  • I don’t think Donald was excommunicating pacifists (at least not in this thread).

    Agreed.

  • Michael,

    It’s called constructive dialogue.

    Something of which you are incapable of.

  • After chaplains John Henry, my highest esteem goes to pacifists who have served as medics. This gentleman especially:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/desmond_doss_pacifist_medal_of_honor_recipient_dies_at_87/

  • Soldiers, firefighters and policemen put their lives at risk every day for other people. This is part of their job description. Putting your life at risk for another person only a daily basis is a noble thing. I think this is probably what Sheen meant. At the root of his comment is a simple understanding of self-sacrifice; there is no deep evil; there is no understanding of the soldier as priest; there is no militarism; there is no paganism. And I hope every person’s life’s work is placed in the hierarchy of the Church. Everything ought to be for God.

  • Henry,

    As I recall, a week or two ago, you wrote a post arguing against moral rigorism in regards to “cooperation with evil” by pointing to the example of St. George, who was a Roman soldier in close service to Emperor Diocletian. Now you’re arguing, from the example of St. Basil that the Church Fathers held soldiering to be immoral. Which is it?

    Is it, perhaps, that St. Basil was adhering to ideas regarding the purity required for receiving the Eucharist which would seem beyond Jansenist to us today? After all, he also held, if memory serves, that married couples should not receive the Eucharist after performing the marital act, for a similar period. If you want to hold the one as normative, would you similarly hold the other?

  • “I was given this book just before my 1st deployment to Iraq in 2003 (the initial surge). When I came back to the states I decided to finally get confirmed. The great bishop is and will always be an influence in my spirtuality.”

    Robert thank you for your service. Most Americans greatly appreciate it and honor you for it.

  • I’d say ‘next in dignity’ is taking it a bit far.

    I would assume that the logic behind the quote is that just as the consecrated life required the denial of self for the world of the Church, so the vocation of soldiering involves the risk of one’s life on behalf of the lives of others.

    In this sense, I can see how the vocation taken in its essentials would be seen as next in dignity to the consecrated life — and at the same time I don’t think that would necessarily be a claim that soldiers as individuals possess superior moral virtue. Indeed, clearly, soldiering is a vocation with rather extreme moral risks built into it. That said, however, it is singular in the sense in which soldiering involves potential sacrifice on behalf of others — which is why being a soldier is so frequently used as a metaphor both in the Scriptures and in the writings of the saints.

    It is, I must admit, a bit confusing to me how pacifists (if they are really serious about pacifism and believe soldiering to be thoroughly evil, as Michael seems to claim to do) fill this rhetorical and literary gap. Looking at the canon of literature, mythology and history, it seems a rather sparse shelf once one has rejected everything that involves violence.

  • Listening to a German woman speak about her experience as a ten-year old at the end of WWII, she told me that her family could hear the American guns and hoped they would reach their house before the Russian soldiers. She, as well as others, are grateful to the American soldiers for defeating Nazi Germany.

    We all owe our service people gratitude for their protection.

  • Darwin-
    Might one say that Priests offer their lives, and Soldiers offer their deaths?

  • Henry is right. Economic justice is prohibited because we live in a fallen world, but military action is not. Why?

    Is there such a thing as a just war? I think so, but the bar is set really really high. There must always be a presumption against war. As John Paul called for in Centesimus Annus, we must all say “never again war” and move on to different ways of solving conflicts, and by treating underlying issues of justice that often cause war.

    Or, as Benedict put it, nothing good ever comes from war. War is the ultimate last resort, the ultimate sign of failure. It is a time for mourning, not rejoicing. The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic. Consider again the quotes from the Church fathers from my earlier comment – these men knew what it was like to stand up against the pagan mindset.

  • Actually Tony Pope Benedict in his D-Day quotation I cited above said that a very good thing, liberation, came for the people of Europe from the victories of the Western Allies in World War ii, including his native Germany.

  • The kind of military glorifiction on display here should be offensive to all followers of Jesus the Christ. It embodies a pagan ethic.

    What military glorification? The quote from Fulton Sheen? For real?

    Come now, you can’t let the fact that a blog you don’t like prints something make you respond irrationally.

  • Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?

    Cathy – I have a simliar story. A good friend of mine told me recently of the liberation of his village from the Soviets by Germans in World War 2. He was just a child at the time, but he remembers the German soldiers re-opening their churches (shut down by the communists). The men were more than happy to join the German army and fight for their liberators against the Russians and Allies, as was their Christian duty.

  • DC

    Re-read my comments. Take care to read them and the context. And take care to do what they told you to do. Then you will see your comment (and Donald’s) are completely offbase.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of freedom and a force for liberation. In recent years, this essential truth has become the object of reflection for theologians, with a new kind of attention which is itself full of promise.

    Liberation is first and foremost liberation from the radical slavery of sin. Its end and its goal is the freedom of the children of God, which is the gift of grace. As a logical consequence, it calls for freedom from many different kinds of slavery in the cultural, economic, social, and political spheres, all of which derive ultimately from sin, and so often prevent people from living in a manner befitting their dignity. To discern clearly what is fundamental to this issue and what is a by-product of it, is an indispensable condition for any theological reflection on liberation.

    Faced with the urgency of certain problems, some are tempted to emphasize, unilaterally, the liberation from servitude of an earthly and temporal kind. They do so in such a way that they seem to put liberation from sin in second place, and so fail to give it the primary importance it is due. Thus, their very presentation of the problems is confused and ambiguous. Others, in an effort to learn more precisely what are the causes of the slavery which they want to end, make use of different concepts without sufficient critical caution. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to purify these borrowed concepts of an ideological inspiration which is compatible with Christian faith and the ethical requirements which flow from it.

  • You want a quote. How about this quote from a Roman Centurion found in the third edition of the Missale Romanum:

    “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

  • “Poison.”

    What does a hair band from the 80’s have to do with anything here?

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

  • WJ-
    you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?

  • “I’d say ‘next in dignity is taking it a bit far.”

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    “Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends.”

    My family has a close relative who just returned from Iraq and suffers terribly from PTSD. He left 4 years ago a vigorous young man, full of life. He returned a broken man … physically, mentally, and emotionally. No one intimately familiar with the physical, psychological, and emotional toll that war often (if not always) takes on those who fight it could EVER “glorify” war. There’s nothing glorious about it.

    But the soldiers themselves who fight those wars are due our honor and esteem, and I will place them very high among those worthy of such. It is no stretch to me, at all, to find the dignity of the vocation of those who sacrifice so much for so many … something for which there is no true recompense beyond recognizing and honoring said sacrifice … to be ranked among the highest of vocations.

  • At the risk of being despised by both sides of this lively debate, might I offer a philosophical point that appears overlooked? I hope the length of this comment does not deter all the fine minds on this stream.

    The question is this: What is the nature of a soldier?
    This seemingly simple question might appear simple to answer as well. But how this is answered reveals part of what appears to be, what MacIntyre once termed, a “conceptual incompensurability” between the two sides of the debate here.

    If we look to Archbishop Sheen, we could define soldier as one who is “commissioned by the spirit and intention of sacrifice to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace.”

    Now, this definition is, rightly, quite generic enabling its universal application. All of its elements (sacrifice, justice, field of battle, order and peace) are in no way simple and universally accepted elements, i.e., much of how these elements are understood will depend upon the cultural context that ‘thickens’ them. I’m not denying an ‘objectivity’ to them, but asserting that the objectivity is in excess of any one definition (which is why they are defined, thought, examined etc. over and over.)

    This generic and universal definition of ‘soldier’ is necessary to any ecclesial advocacy of its ‘vocational’ component. I think all would agree that were the Church to say “being a US soldier,” or “being a British soldier,” is next in dignity to the priesthood, something would clearly be amiss.

    But if this term soldier is generic and universal, then it is applicable in any number of ways. Didn’t Dorothy Day “defend justice and order” and was hers also not a “field of battle”? Doesn’t the nurse who sees her work as a Christian Calling also not “defend justice and order” on a “field of battle”? Doesn’t a teacher? A mother, father, grandparent?

    So, in this broad, universal sense of soldier, there ought to be nothing overtly offensive – for it describes every lay Christian in the Church Militant.

    If one is unhappy or unconvinced by this analogical use of ‘soldier’ and believes that these ecclesial voices (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) clearly intends a military application of the term (where ‘military’ means an association with the the armed forces of modern nation states), then, it appears to me, one faces the unhappy consequence of finding a way to defend the post’s interpretation of its three citation without exposing an a priori allegiance to a particular nation state’s military that the citations did not – indeed could not – intend.

    In other words, it seems that when the nature of the term ‘soldier’ and its use in the post’s citations are taken into consideration, one can endorse the idea only when the term ‘soldier’ is taken analogously to include the likes of all Christians whose vocation is intrinsically to “Defend justice and order on the field of battle called by the intention of sacrifice.”

    Sure, this may also include members of the armed forces who do look at their role as somehow serving God. But here we would have to include all members of all military machines, including those we in the West find unjust.

    At the risk of violating the Godwin principle, and because it makes the point quite clearly, this would have to include even the Nazi soldier who, firmly buying into the propaganda, is willing to sacrifice his life for the defense of justice and order. Denying this claim would require one to invoke the particularities of the Nazi context that are not intrinsically included in the universal sense of soldier. But refusing these particulars is precisely what allows one to endorse the term. So one runs into an inconsistency.

    If this last point is not conceded, then any endorsement of the citations in this post betray a form of American Exceptionalism which, clearly, the citations do not intend. One may very well admit to being an American Exceptionalist, but one ought not suggest that Sheen, JPII, or John XXIII were also.
    Consequently, in this case, the interpretations of these citations would be in error, inferring upon the words of these fine upstanding members of the Church (Sheen, JPII, John XXIII) meaning that they did not intend.

    One might argue that John XXIII is clearly speaking about the soldier of a military, since he himself is referring to his own experience as such. But it seems that in this case, his experience, which does indeed invoke his own personal particular experience with a military, is the concrete ground upon which his universal, more generic, endorsement of ‘being a soldier’ is founded. In other words, it is not the particularities of his military experience he is praising, but the way that it enabled him to understand the deeper meaning in all sacrifice for the good, which also shines in the works of lay people in general. Otherwise, John XXIII would have declared his own military a key part the definition of soldiering.

    And here is the conceptual incommensurability I spoke of: the objection to the use of soldier in this post may be directed to a particular thickening of the term within a given context (e.g., the current US military actions) while those defending it seem to be defending the universal idea of self-sacrifice for justice and order. The debate will go on and on if this is the case because there is no conceptual common ground.

    So underneath this debate is still a more concrete debate about the consistency of national interest with Christian teaching, really. Soldiers do not exist in the universal, generic sense; unless Christians are all strict Platonists, universals are not real even though they have, what Aquinas called, a ‘fundamentum in re’, a foundation in reality.

    So to sing the praises of soldiering, one must have in mind a particular soldier, upon a particular field of battle. This, it seems, redirects the whole discussion to these particularities rather than to the universal, generic truisms of the good of self-sacrifice for justice and order.

    For it seems we can all agree that the Christian laity, all of us soldiers for the Church militant, merit just as much dignity as the clergy, though in a different manner.

  • “you do realize that there’s a case for Iraq being a just war, and that such a determination is for the nation’s leaders, not folks who want to drag comboxes off topic?”

    Hitler determined his war was just. In fact, everyone on every side of a war believes there war is just. So we just listen to the leaders? No, that is not what the Church teaches.

  • And lest we forget, not all of those who fight the wars have the opportunity to return with physical, psychological, and emotional scars. Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

  • “Just curious about what this would mean for Christian soldiers in Iraq during the most recent war. Would it have been their Christian duty to country to fight against the armies that invaded in a pre-emptive war?”

    Yes. Because American’s invasion of Iraq did not fall under the criteria of a just war, the only Christian soldiers deserving praise (from Christians) for fighting in that war are any Iraqi Christians who were defending their homeland against the unjust invader. This is not to say that American Christian soldiers can be held subjectively culpable for participating in the war; only that their participation in what was in fact an unjust action should not be described as something it was not–i.e. virtuous, etc.

    In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.

  • Foxfier,

    Sadly, no. There is no plausible interpretation of Just War theory according to which the U.S. invasion of Iraq was just. I wish it wasn’t so. I supported the Iraq War on the basis of the facts as they were presented by “the nation’s leaders” at the outset of that war. Those facts have all been shown to be not facts at all, but distortions, half-truths, and lies. Indeed, *even if* one were to accept George Weigel’s cockamamie interpretation of JWT and how that theory applied to America in early 2003, that would *still* not be enough to warrant our calling the invasion just.

    By the way, our “nation’s leaders” don’t get to “determine” whether a war they begin is just or unjust, anymore than they get to determine whether a piece of legislation they enact is just or unjust.

    I’m sorry for dragging this off-topic. I was responding to Ryan Klassen’s question.

  • “In other words, American soldiers battling on behalf of the Ba’ath Party / Tikriti clan meets the criteria for a just war.”

    I think you must mean “Christian soldiers” in the sentence above.

  • Supposing that you do mean “Christian soldiers” in your response, I’d have to say that your formulation is unclear.

    “Battling on behalf of” is not precise enough of a descriptor, since one can easily imagine a Christian solider battling on behalf of Iraq during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which was of course unjust.

    Also, whether and to what extent any particular solider *identifies* his defense of Iraq with the defense of the Ba’ath Party is an empirical question, one which is elided in your formulation.

  • WJ-
    you make a ‘determination’ when you make a decision. As per Catholic Answers, “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

    WMDs? Mass-murder? Secret nuke program? Nerve gassing the swamp Arabs? Bah, why would soldier willing to fight against THAT be worthy of any respect.

  • Foxfier:

    The confusion of CA is that the evaluation of whether or not to engage a war is indeed in the hands of the leaders of the nation; but that is not what determines whether or not a war is just.

    Here is a statement from someone who has actual ecclesial authority: http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.org/nextpage.asp?m=2123

  • Brendan,

    I don’t think you will find both sides disagree with you — yes, the word soldier can have many implications and meanings, and that is an issue which I didn’t raise and you are right to do so.

    Nonetheless, I do think many people arguing against my views have only argued against something which I didn’t say (or believe), which is why I recommended my Veteran’s Day post. The context of my reply is with the glorification of military might as for the sake of liberation – something which is very dangerous indeed to hold to, as the Church has pointed out time and time again.

  • If you want to make it all a matter of ecclesiastical authority, Henry, it bears pointing out that while Catholic Answers is not an ecclesiastical authority, the Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton, OH likewise has no ecclesiastical authority over Roman Catholics, much less Roman Catholics at a national level.

  • Foxfier,

    I think you are confusing two distinct issues here. On the one hand, it is true that JWT gives political authorities the final responsibility for determining, in any given instance, whether a war they are about to embark *should* be embarked upon; on the other hand, in we are make any sense of what it means to “evaluate…conditions” and to make a “prudential judgment,” we have to allow for the possibility of *mis*evaluating this conditions and of making the *wrong* judgment. Otherwise whatever the political authorities decided was a just war *would be* a just war, and this is absurd.

  • Brendan,

    Very good point — though I think it’s fairly clear in the quotes that these are all refering to “soldier” in the military sense, it is clearly “soldier” as a universal, not the absolutizing of the cause of a single nation.

  • DC

    And while it is true he has no direct authority except over his flock, it is also clear that as a bishop, and a part of the Magisterium, he has far more authority than CA — CA when it gets beyond the realm of apologetics is sadly quite bad.

  • WJ,

    A question for you: You argue that because you think that just war teaching cannot possibly justify the Iraq War, that the only Christian soldiers fighting for a just cause in the war were any Iraqi Christian soldiers fighting for Hussein.

    However, is it not questionably whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime.

    Further, it’s important to recall that not only did many in the US believe that Iraq possessed WMD, but many in Iraq did as well. There were a number of cases where groups of Iraqi soldiers surrended and immediately begged for chemical warfare protective gear, because they believed that their own army was about to launch a chemical attack on the Americans, and many of the units in the regular army hadn’t been given any protective gear to keep them safe from any chemical weapons used by their own side.

    The situation since 2003 is even more complicated, since one of the primary tactics of the insurgency has been to attack Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi government. American soldiers in the last seven years have primarily been asked to fight alongside the Iraqi military against tribal and foreign fighters seeking to destablize the Iraqi government. In such a situation, would fighting with the Americans not be the just course?

    And indeed, statements from the Vatican and USCCB since the initial invasion have essentially supported this — though many “peace advocates” still seem to favor the idea of immediate pull out, apparently because the number of Iraqis who suffer as a result do not matter so long as it is clear the the US “loses”.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    You make two good points here, let me address them in turn:

    1: However, is it not questionabl[e] whether fighting to protect the Baathist dictatorship is itself just even if one posits that the US did not at that time have a just cause to topple the regime[?]

    Granted that Iraq was an unjust regime, does this make it unjust for soldiers to defend that regime against an unjust attack? This is a tricky question. My sense of JWT (and I am open to correction here) is that the Justness or Unjustness of each regime, as it handles its own internal affairs, is insufficient by itself for determining, in any particular case, whether a defense action taken on behalf of that regime falls under a Just War properly understood. My sense is that the tradition is *very*, perhaps *too* conservative here, so that one could determine that, even *granted* that Iraq was an unjust regime, still, according to JWT, that regime has a right to protect itself against a foreign unjust action. I wonder whether your own sense of JWT fits with this, and if it does not, I’d like to hear an alternate view.

    Second, even granted that the Iraqi defense was a Just one, I agree with you that it is very likely that many of the soldiers fighting in its cause did so in an unjust way, insofar as their aim was the continued propping up of the “Baathist dictatorship” rather than a defense of their nation, or homeland, or families. But I think that this question is an empirical one: surely many Iraqis fighting against the US were motivated by duty to country, by a sense of wanting to protect their families, etc.; and many others had the “intention” of supporting the “Baathists.”

    I suppose my final, hesitant, answer would be that the U.S. invasion of Iraq at least allowed for the *possibility* of a just resistance to that invasion, without being sufficient for it.

    2: I agree that the years following the unjust invasion complicate things significantly, and that any decision in this area has to take into account what would befall the Iraqis if the U.S. were to leave as precipitously as we arrived. And I am much less sure of what the correct course here would be.

  • I think Darwin’s last paragraph gets to the heart of the pathologies of our political discourse.

  • Something tells me that Just War Theory in the hands of some has degenerated into a sterile intellectual exercise completely removed from the dilemmas that actual policy makers face.

  • Henry,
    You are correct, of course, that the question of whether a war is just cannot be collapsed into the question of who decides. That is, just because those who are responsible for making the decision do so does not render their decision correct. But I don’t think that there was any “confusion” on that point in CA. This is the nature of a prudential calculus. The consequence of this is that the Church normally cannot speak authoritatively as to the calculus’s outcome, which is why a Catholics may often differ as to their assessments and normally cannot be assumed to non-compliant with Church teaching even if they take a view that differs from that of their bishop or even the Holy Father (which does not mean that the views of Church leaders should not be very seriously considered, of course). All that said, the job of individuals to make such prudential calculuses cannot be used as an excuse for rationalization. Just because the Church may not be in a position to authoritatively object to one’s calculus, does not mean that one’s calculus is somehow protected from culpable moral error.

  • Art Deco,

    As I understand it, theorizing about just war is important just because “actual policy makers” are usually motivated by many different things, precious few of which concern justice. Is bioethics a “sterile intellectual exercise” that is completely removed from the “dilemmas” that actual scientists must face?

  • FWIW, I think the justness or unjustness of the current invasion of Iraq hinges on whether the one a decade earlier was just. A logical thought process would go like this: Iraq unjustly invaded Kuwait. Kuwait was just resist and ask for assistance for other nations. The US was just in taking up that cause. The US, Kuwait and a host of other nations succeeded in driving Iraq out of Kuwait and would have been justified in seeing it through until Saddam’s regine was toppled.

    They didn’t do it, they instead agreed to a conditional cease fire and withdrawl. Saddam Hussein violated those terms almost immediately. Everything from flying fighters in the no-fly zone, to locking on and/or firing at coalition aircraft to not allowing UN inspectors do their job. Most instances were dealt with directly and in a very measured manner even though they were cause enough to resume full hostilities. Note that Saddam also used the situation to severely persecute many of his own people.

    Barring any change in Saddam’s attitude and actions or an outright regime change a continuation of the hostilities were imminent. After 9/11 those in charge made the call that Saddam’s belligerence needed to come to end.

    I’m not 100% sure what to think because like the rest here I don’t have *all* the facts, but I reject the notion that no person of good will and informed conscience could come to the conclusion that the war was just.

  • In retrospect, I want to take back my too-strong claim that *only* Christian Iraqi soldiers could be described as behaving “virtuously,” or “with Christian honor,” etc. in the Iraq War. In making this claim I was trying to show that because the U.S. did not fulfill the “jus ad bellum” criteria of Just War, an American solider’s participation *in* that war was different from an Iraqi solider’s–since at least the Iraqi solider *might* be engaging in an activity that fulfills “jus ad bellum” criteria.

    What I oversimplified, and, unfortunately, may have misrepresented, was the principle of the moral equality of combatants, according to which a soldier is responsible only for his “jus in bello” behavior. The reasoning goes that because individual soldiers cannot be expected to have the knowledge or power to inform the political “ad bellum” decision, their moral status *in* war derives from their behavior within the war. This principle is not uncontroversial, but it is unsettled enough that I need to at least affirm the possibility that American soldiers *may* be praised for their conduct in the Iraq War, even granted that that war was unjust.

    I don’t have a settled opinion on the moral equality of combatants principle; good arguments can be found on both sides.

  • WJ,

    I would say no. But those practical dilemmas are what prudential judgments are formed from, not only from the moral principles. And that’s were scientists and physicians may come to different conclusions. Even more so it seems in deciding if a war meets just criteria.

  • This refers to WJ’s 10:54 am comment.

  • Phillip,

    I agree with you that practical dilemmas are where prudential judgments are made. I was only responding to Art Deco’s assertion that, because this is so, *therefore* thinking hard about the structure of moral action is a “sterile intellectual exercise.” Just the opposite, it is a *necessary*, if insufficient, to make clear to political actors and to scientists just what these moral principles are, and why they are important.

    Now I simply *must* get back to my real writing.
    Thanks for the conversation.

  • …lest I give my wife the grounds for a just military action…:)

  • This is not meant to be an insult, but it seems to me that most of you don’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. There’s ideal musings, and then there’s actual experience. God’s gave me an experience that very few will ever have: that of being a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The so called ‘tip’ of the spear.

    It is quite possible to have ‘served’ in the military, and never come close to experiencing what I did. It is even possible to have gone to war in Iraq, and never to have come close to experiencing what I did. For what I experienced was the raw spirit of modern violence, and in particular, the culture that such a spirit forms.

    Those who belong to the officer corps, or to non-combat units, or even to combat units of a lesser sort, these soldiers do not tend to experience the essential spirit of modern warfare. They get whiffs, but they do not breathe and eat the stuff.

    I want to tell it to you straight, apart from the doctrines, apart from the philosophies and the ideals: Modern warfare is demonic, and these demons savage the souls of those at the heart of it. It endangers a person’s soul to enter certain parts of the U.S. military – those units with the most responsibility for directly killing in close-quarters.

    Ideally, yes, perhaps saints with swords could kill enemies in a just-war via double-effect. Maybe it has even happened throughout history. But I tell you this – modern war, today, with its machines and dehumanization and propaganda and materialistic-totalitarianism . . . this type of war distorts the souls of those who really engage it. The demonic danger is real, and it is overwhelming. I do not blame the military, I do not blame the soldiers. I blame the fallen world, and I blame Satan.

    If we think the world is fallen enough to require war, we should be able to see that the world is too fallen to wage war without being destroyed by the demons such violence unleashes. God help the young men we place into such hell!

  • Thank you, again, for sharing your experiences Nate. The personal testimony of one person is not always the best basis for formulating public policy, but it certainly is more valuable than most of the abstract theorizing that takes place on these topics (including my own abstract theorizing).

  • Thank you, John. I agree – my experience is just one of many, and we should listen to them all. Most soldiers who have seen the real face of war (and I’m not sure I can include myself among them) do not want to talk about it. I’ve been agonizing over this all morning, honestly. I do not mean to offend anyone with a different opinion than mine, and if my words are strong, it’s a reflection of the intensity of what I went through, and my empathy for those who might have to endure the same thing.

    Catholics often scrutinize where they send their kids to school, what books their kids read, what friends their kids make, and so forth. But when it comes to the military – a government run institution – I find that we become blind believers. If a secular college is a dangerous place for a young Catholic, how much more a secular military?

    One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ‘smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  • Nate,

    I appreciate your experiences and cannot relate to them. I don’t know if the modern battlefield involves more direct killing than the ancient. Can one begin to imagine the horrors of the Greek phalanx with the direct killing involved there. Siege warfare of the middle ages is also brought to mind. The Church was aware of these and still considered the place for a just war.
    Then there is the continued modern day demands on the police officer and the coarsening that can result from that. Yet police are still needed and their actions, when performed morally, are just.

  • One small nugget: ‘cursing like a sailor’ isn’t just a phrase. F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true. The constant cursing is probably the ’smallest’ thing I can think of, in terms of demonic influence, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    FWIW, that seems to be a fairly common thing among people our age (men in particular, but women as well) in situations where it’s not actively cracked down on. I’ve run into f**k-speak everywhere from archeology digs to forklift operators to sales teams — basically anywhere that “the management” doesn’t make it clear it’s not acceptable on business premises. We live in an uncivilized age. (Like just about all ages…)

    That said, I think you make an important practical point, which people would do very well to keep in mind at the same time they contemplate more abstract points. No matter how much the risk of self for others may bring an opportunity for saintliness and nobility to the calling, being a soldier is also going to mean seeing and being involved in horrible things, being far from home, being in fear, having at your hands the tools for intimidation and violence, and by turns being extremely bored — all things which provide ample opportunity for grave sin.

    While I think Sheens point has an essential validity, it’s clear that soldiering involves a host of temptations which young men far from home are often not good at resisting. While I continue to think that serving in the military is an honorable and necessary thing which Catholics should not universally shrink from (though clearly not everyon is not called to such a thing), one would be pretty foolish to think, “Oh, I better encourage my son to join the army. Clearly, he’ll never to be tempted to sin there.”

    And come to that, this is true (though in different ways) of other professions where personal sacrifice and helping others would seem to be central — as seen in alcoholism and other personal dysfunction rates for doctors, priests, policemen, etc.

  • I am generally quite sick of debates over issues that have absolutely no chance whatsoever of changing a mind or even getting one to bend a little. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this.

    I will say this: I oppose America’s foreign policy of the moment – and if the political sympathies and donations made by many of the actual troops themselves are any indication, so are the people who are being asked to die for it – but I also completely reject any attempt to denigrate American soldiers or patriotism in general as “fascist” or somehow immoral.

    So I am equally disgusted by two opposite viewpoints: 1) the view that to oppose the insane think-tank fantasies that have guided foreign policy is to somehow oppose the troops or be unpatriotic, and 2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

  • My view of soldiers and public attitudes towards them was summed up by Mr. Kipling:

    TOMMY

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  • Rick Lugari – Great comment. That’s exactly the way I look at it.

  • “F*ck was the word we used most often, about everything, in literally every other sentence. You might think I’m kidding about every other sentence, but it’s really true.”

    Well that was certainly also true when I was in the Army back in the Seventies. It was also true of the English Army that fought against Joan of Arc. Their favorite expression was G-dd-mn. Some things remain true across the centuries when it comes to the military experience. I do not swear and I did not when I was in the Army. The swearing bothered me to some extent, although quite a few of my profane colleagues became good friends with me. In spite of their profanity many of them were good-hearted and men of honor. In regard to swearing in civilian life, that has radically increased since the Sixties, certainly when it comes to public swearing.

  • Don would probably know for sure, but I believe that back in the day the English Army was so enamored with “G-dd-mn that their French opponents routinely referred to English soldiers as the “G-dd-mns.”

  • Quite right Mike.

  • WJ & Mike Petrik,

    How about a nifty pic to go with your icon?

  • Mike,

    I remember reading that.

  • On the use of the F-bomb, remember: this about a decade old.
    (F* rap.)

    Men in their twenties also greet each other with “f*ker.”

  • I seem to recall reading that it was the Ausies who made f*ck military standard usage in the Great War. At which time its use are noun, adjective, adverb and verb all rolled into one was still comparatively new.

    Though my grandfather who began his 30-year career in the navy in 1945 (and past whose lips I never heard a single profanity pass) always insisted that when he was in the Navy profanity was not nearly as pervasive as in modern WW2 dramas like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers — the which are in turn far more clean-cut in their language than the Mamet and Tarantino-esque speech patterns of many ordinary civilians my age.

  • I recommend “No Victory, No Peace” by Angelo Codevilla.

  • “Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul (my servant) shall be healed.”

    And unlike the woman taken in adultery, no follows on orders to soldier no more.

    Argument from silence.

    Anyone intimately familiar with the sacrifices the men and women of a nation’s military make – not for glory, but for love of country and countrymen – should not find fault with the sentiment expressed in Archbishop Sheen’s book.

    You can’t be serious. You can say this about any person or group of people who is willing to kill and die for what they believe. You could say it about “the terrorists.” Sacrifice does not equal Christianity. Sorry.

    It is telling that all of you agree with Sheen’s comment about soldiers being just below priests. How about sisters? Oh yeah, it fits in with your sexism.

    Many pay the ultimate sacrifice.

    Last I checked, Calvary was the ultimate sacrifice. NOT U.S. SOLDIERS.

    2) the view that to support the troops in any capacity is somehow “fascist.”

    Caricature.

  • While I’ve worked jobs where people cursed – from janitors to cadets to high school students – I’ve never encountered the level of cursing that I found in the Ranger regiment. It’s a small thing, however. More startling is the open display of pornography, the constant boasting and announcements of masturbation (“I gotta go jack off – you got some porn?”), the songs of not only killing children and nuns, but of raping women, and so on and so forth. I should re-iterate that this is the experience of a private in an elite special operations unit, not the experience of a desk clerk in a non-combat unit. I would also add upon Donald’s comment that this didn’t make us bad. I’m only pointing out the cultural current and demonic activity, which I associate with the mission: killing other human beings like ourselves.

  • I think there are probably countless volumes of untold stories of heroism, sacrifice and compassion demonstrated by our American soldiers, stories that stay within the confines of family, only to be briefly revealed at the death of an old soldier. One such story was recently related to me — the story of an 18-year-old sergeant, serving in Italy during World War II, who was machine-gunned by a German soldier. The young American was able to shoot back and, while both were lying wounded on the ground, an American patrol happened upon them. The young American insisted that the German not be killed, so instead of firing a fatal shot into the German, the American troops took both wounded men to a hospital to convalesce. These untold stories demonstrate the character of our soldiers, character that has been instilled in our young men by their families, communities, country, and belief in Christ. So what if that utilitarian Anglo-Saxon word is used in excess — our soldiers are not attending tea parties and picking daisies.

  • It’s so sad how someone like Nate can so passionate share his experiences, here, at Vox Nova, on his own website, on the Catholic Peace Fellowship site, etc., yet what he is saying just does not sink in for some people. Instead, he gets “Oh but Nate, yours is just one person’s experience.” These people will praise a complete stranger on this blog who happens to mention his “service”, praising his heroism, etc., without knowing a damn thing about him. When Nate continually shares from his heart his very personal experience and his judgment about the nightmarish dimensions of the military, he is usually brushed off. Another flag waving post follows on the next day.

    Some of us listen, Nate, and refuse to remain on the level of abstraction that some of the bloggers here do. They have an image of the u.s. military in mind, not reality.

  • “Some of us listen, Nate…”

    Don’t confuse listening and agreement, Michael.

  • Thanks, Michael. And thanks to all who have patiently listened to me. Thanks be to God for those who have gone further, and agreed with me. Cuz’ I know it ain’t easy! 🙂

    Also, I really encourage everyone to read Michael’s paper once it becomes available. It’s an in-depth theological examination of what every new military recruit will be forced to face: an anti-Christ culture. Granted, anti-Christ cultures do abound in America. I think we should just remember that the military is (at the least) no exception.

Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-First Note-Preservation of Type

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Continuing on with my series on the seven notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine.  We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post.  We will now take the remaining notes in numerical order.  This post will deal with the First Note-Preservation of Type.

In regard to Preservation of Type, Cardinal Newman takes pains to point out that the idea underlying the doctrine remains of the same type while the external manifestations of the idea may change greatly.  His illustration from Roman history conveys his point well:

On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small. The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own person.  Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor, and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, “an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.” On the other hand, when the dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and threw around him the forms of a court.

In other words in determining  whether there has been the preservation of type in a development of doctrine we must look at the substance and ignore the form.  For example, in the Middle Ages laymen would often receive communion once a year out of great reverence for the body of Christ.  Now we are encouraged to be frequent communicants.  However, the underlying reverence that the Church commands for the body and blood of Christ remains the same.

Cardinal Newman concludes:

An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, unity of type becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number or importance.

Newman on the First Note:

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Crossing Over

Saturday, February 27, AD 2010

There is only One World, but there is a big dividing line between those who are comfortable, happy, healthy, and safe, and those who are in pain, miserable, sick, and in danger. We cross the lines involuntarily at times- but we can also choose to cross over for periods of time from the happy place to the places of sorrow. This is being poor in spirit, this is compassion, this is prayer, this is where we love our neighbor as ourselves, where we love our enemies, where we develop our Christ-likeness. We cross over not because we have to, but because we choose to love.

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German Woman First To Write About Her Own Post-WW2 Suffering

Saturday, February 27, AD 2010

It has long been known that a huge number of German women suffered from a tidal wave of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers in the closing days of World War II. Some estimates have put the number of women raped at over two million. As described in recent works such as Beevor’s The Fall of Berlin 1945 and Merridale’s Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, this abuse was in some ways instituted (whether intentionally or not) by Soviet propaganda which emphasized to Russian soldiers that they must avenge the rape of Mother Russia, and inflict a humiliation on the German homeland which would assure it would never again attack them.

Regardless of the causes, this epidemic of abuse held an especially dark place in the German post-war experience. Although the abuse itself was well known, it was almost never discussed in the first person. No German woman had written about her experiences of abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers under her own name until this year. (A few anonymous books have been written, most famously A Woman in Berlin, and a very small number of studies based on interviews with survivors have been conducted, though due to unwillingness to talk about that time in Germany’s history, by the time people became willing to discuss the topic many of the original victims were already dead.)

Der Spiegel features an extended article about Gabriele Köpp, the first German woman to write a memoir under her own name about these experiences. Köpp is now 80. In 1945, she was just 15.

Köpp has now written a book about those 14 days and about the rapes, titled “Warum war ich bloss ein Mädchen?” (“Why Did I Have to Be a Girl?”). The book is an unprecedented document, because it is the first work of its kind written voluntarily by a woman who was raped in the final months of World War II, and who, years later, described the experiences and made them into the central theme of a book….

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5 Responses to German Woman First To Write About Her Own Post-WW2 Suffering

  • Wow. Very sensitive treatment of a topic that’s been largely unmentioned for sixty five years. That you for the article, as well.

  • The wholesale rape of German women by Soviet troops was the final obscene act in a war which had been waged without pity or decency by both sides on the Russian Front. I would note that not all Soviet units behaved like animals towards German women, but a high proportion did. In Soviet memoirs of the war, when the subject is touched upon, the writer will usually indicate that his unit did not engage in such conduct, but other units did. The front line combat units were usually the best disciplined when it came to leaving the civilian population alone, but the follow up rear units often seemed to be eager to commit atrocities. I have always thought there must be a special place in Hell for soldiers who mistreat women.

  • It’s my understanding that for women of a certain age, and of certain cultures, being raped was considered a fate worse than death, and victims were treated as “damaged goods”. This might be one reason Gabi’s mother was so cold toward her — she just didn’t want to think about or be reminded of what had happened to her daughter. Of course rape was a taboo subject even in our own country up until about the 1970s or so.

    The same attitude underlies the so-called “ethnic cleansing” rapes committed by Serbians against Bosnian Muslim women during the Balkan war of the 1990s. The Serbians knew that victims would be treated as defiled and unsuitable for marriage, especially if they got pregnant by their attackers; and any children born of such assaults would be treated as outcasts. The result would be fewer Bosnians in the future.

    Another frightening possibility that even Gabi does not mention is this: if she stopped having her periods afterward, she likely assumed (at least at first) that she was pregnant; and given the circumstances, I would imagine many of these victims may have attempted to abort themselves or find someone who would. I can only wonder what kind of trauma was involved there.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Don that there must be a special place in Hell for soldiers who abuse women and children like this.

  • It wasn’t only German women who were raped. My mother was a teenager in Hungary when the Russians came in. She had several harrowing close calls where by God’s grace she wasn’t raped,but the girls she was with were. And yes, there were women who handed girls over to the Russians, often to avoid the same fate themselves. As for Gabi’s mother, it is highly likely that she was also raped and she dealt with it by being cold with her daughter. The Russians also didn’t care who they raped. Beevor and others tell of Russian slave workers who were raped by their own soldiers after they were freed from their German captors. German Communists often complained that their women were also raped.

  • I am the daughter of a ‘Russian Baby’, a child born to a mother who was one such mentioned rapes. My grandmother was wandering the Baltic Sea with her 15 year old son and 8 year old daughter in 1945. When the Russians came upon them and started to ravage both her and her daughter they shot the boy who tried to come to thier aid. The men took thier turns with my Aunt and Grandmother, left my Uncle dead and then delighted in grinding thier dirty boots into her hand made linens. My Granny picked up what was left, her daughter and my mother growing inside her. They eventually came to Canada. My mother was barely tolerated, married young to an alcholic and bore 3 daughters. We are not tolerated, in fact we hardly exist. My Aunt, unable to heal her childhood trauma, bore a son who was tought to disrespect my family. He started violating my little body when I was 5. When my Aunt learned of the abuse when I turned 13 it was as if she was relieved someone else finally got it. I think she hates us and I have a hard time not feeling hard. I feel like I’m living her rape every day.

We'll Fight For Uncle Sam

Saturday, February 27, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  We’ll Fight For Uncle Sam sung to the tune Whiskey in the Jar.  A nice tribute to the Irish volunteers who were a mainstay of the Union Army of the Potomac.  The song is also celebratory of George Brinton McClellan who led the Army of the Potomac in 1861-62.  Little Mac was a good organizer and he made sure his men were well fed and clothed.  He took care of his men and they were fond of him as a result.  Unfortunately, although not a bad strategist, he was a lousy battlefield commander.  During the battles of the Seven Days, though McClellan outnumbered the Confederates under Lee, he allowed Lee to take the initiative and force him back from Richmond.  At Antietam, in spite of enjoying better than two to one odds,  McClellan’s uncoordinated attacks blew a prime opportunity for the Army of the Potomac to destroy Lee’s army.  As a battlefield commander McClellan was worse than having no commander at all.

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Son of Hamas Founder Converted to Christianity, Helped Israel

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef has a just written a book, Son of Hamas which is surely going to cause some controversy. Mosab, who now resides in California, writes about how starting in 1996 he became an informant for Israel, passing information about suicide bombers and terrorist attack to Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, from the innermost circles of Hamas.

He tracked down suicide bombers and their handlers from his father’s organisation, the Haaretz newspaper said.

Information supplied by him led to the arrests of some of the most- wanted men by Israeli forces, including Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader tipped as a potential president, who was convicted of masterminding terrorist attacks, along with one of Hamas’s top bombmakers, Abdullah Barghouti, who is no relation of the jailed Fatah chief.

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10 Responses to Son of Hamas Founder Converted to Christianity, Helped Israel

  • A wonderful story Darwin. He of course will now be a marked man by Hamas, unless the influence of his father can protect him.

  • Now who could doubt a French communist paper? No Karlson, although it is an article of faith of the Israel hating Left, the Mossad did not create Hamas.

  • I’m not entirely clear what your point is, Henry. Yes, there are persistent rumors that Mossad initially gave some covert support to Hamas in hopes that they would weaken other Palestinian nationalist organizations. However, even if one accepts that as entirely correct, it doesn’t change the fact that Hamas is in fact run by Palestinian nationalists and religious radicals, and that it is in no way controlled by Israel or doing what Israel wants at this point. This is like when people point to the fact that the US supported Islamist insurgents against the Soviets in Afghanistan back in the 80s and then make the irrational leap from there to suggesting that Al Qaeda is in some sense US controlled or doing what the US wants.

    If anything, it’s a good example of why governments should be very leery of helping nationalist insurgent movements in hopes of some pragmatic gain. But I’m not clear what bearing it’s supposed to have on the story of Mosab Yousef, either his work against terrorism or his conversion to Christianity.

  • Let’s look at this clearly:

    The son himself is more or less admitting the family work with Hamas is all as informants for Israeli intelligence. That it has been suggested, with good evidence, that his father was indeed doing that from the beginning, and we see him saying he was doing it, there is a good case that the whole Hamas was indeed just that. And if we see that is the formation, then it is not hard to see further actions, even now, are in line with the Mossad and at their orders. Something is fishy with his story (as with many other “former Hamas” who then create all kinds of legends about Palestinians which are false).

  • No, Henry, that’s not looking at it clearly, that’s looking at it nonsensically.

    If there’s serious evidence which seems credible to those in Gaza that Sheikh Yousef works for Israel, why does he continue to be revered by Palestinian nationalists and elected to the Palestinian Parliament, even as he’s imprisoned by the Israelis?

    He in no way says that his whole family are informants for Israel, in fact he says the _opposite_. Where are you getting that?

    I mean, seriously, what are you trying to suggest here? That Israel is fighting a proxy war against itself through Hamas just to keep the Palestinians in Gaza down and have an excuse to cause trouble? And that in the process, the totally innocent populace, which would on its own have no interest in such a movement unless provoked by the evil Israelis, were in the process duped into elected Hamas as their dominant political party in Gaza? Surely that’s not where you’re going. That makes about as much sense as the old Protocol Of The Elders of Zion narratives, and probably springs from roughly the same instincts.

    Seeing defectors from violent and despotic regimes join the other side is hardly unusual. There was, for instance, a steady trickle of defections (some of them fairly high level) from the communist bloc countries to various Western nations throughout the height of the Cold War. And exactly what “legends about Palestinians which are false” are being spread here?

    I get that you have a strong dislike of Israel, but don’t lead that into accepting every crack-pot theory you run into on the “internets”. That way lies madness (or at least extreme conversational tedium.)

  • Lovely case of the apple not only falling far from the tree, but being an entirely different type of fruit.

    Hope the guy has a CC license.

  • I think that the historical record is pretty clear that the geo-politics of the U.S. and also that of Israel- was from the 50’s well into the 80’s, that the threat to the status quo was found in Arab/Persian secular nationalist movements- this led to many decisions to support in mostly covert ways- the Islamist movements- which they hoped would be ultimately controllable much like the conservative but radical House of Saud- just keep a lid on the people redirecting them from concerns over foreign dominance in the economy and so forth. Fromkin’s treatise on the history from after WWI – A Peace to End all Peace- is necessary reading.

    Of course, I don’t find too many on the Right here in America willing to accept the fact that the causes of many of America and Israel’s current problems of security are found in the geopolitics of the past decades- just as not many are fond of looking squarely at the question of just what are America’s “interests” that have defined our collective governmental and corporate behavior towards other nations and lands over the past decades. I am a Catholic and an idealist- I don’t accept the philosophical premises of Pragmatism or Real Politick- so I took Pope John Paul II’s advice and looked at the root causes of Middle Eastern terrorism and Palestinian violence, and found many unsavory partnerships, historical patterns of imperialism/neo-imperialism, and flaws all around. The choice to try to quell, disrupt or destroy nationalist movements across the Middle East- before the Islamists were dominant- similar to the way the U.K. decided to deal with the Irish Catholics by way of overwhelming force and dehumanization- these approaches led to more rage and temptation to violence- that much is certain in my mind.

    If one wants to box in the Left as America haters, then I would return the favor and declare that the Right is the group of ideologues that loves America but could care less for the rest of the world. Of course, since I am not a Leftist ideologue I don’t believe that either statement above is true- but the true Left and Right believers seem to really believe that all criticisms coming from the Left or Right are always wrong- never right- and that approach to things is decidedly one-sided, ideological, and definitely contrary to the life and teaching example of our Magisterium/Holy See on matters related to global politics. I want to be defined by my love of Truth, not by my hatred to one or another ideological group that will soon change, fade or die off.

    For the record- I don’t support or condone Hamas terror attacks, I don’t support Israel’s rejection of Palestinian rights to a true independent nation, I don’t support the huge flow of American tax money and political clout to support Israel’s rejection of the Palestinian case according to international law and UN resolutions- as well the Holy See and Holy Land Hierarchical positions on such. I do support the positions of the Holy Land’s Catholic Hierarchy- and I reject the idea that American Catholics know better than Palestinian Catholics, the situation dealing with Muslims and Israelis in Israel/Palestine. I spent 3 months living with Palestinian Catholics to research some of this at the ground level. Not many who have actually spent time with the people and the clergy there in the Holy Land come away from the experience and fall all over themselves praising the U.S. and Israeli policies- quite the contrary- so either the palestinian Catholics are excellent brain-washers, or the facts on the ground just scream the truth which only a brute could ignore.

  • I’m not clear that it is the case that conservatives reject the notion that the problems in today’s Middle East are to a great extent the result of the machinations of the Western powers after the Great War and WW2. It’s fairly obvious that the fact that the Allies helped bring European ideas of ethnic and cultural nationalism to the Middle East in order to undermine Turkey, and in the process ended up promising multiple groups the same territory, would result in nationalist strife. Indeed, both Israelis and Palestinians can rightly feel aggrieved in that the European powers had at various time promised both Arabs and Jews control over the entire region.

    However, I think what conservatives (rightly) reject is that the fact that the Middle East was infected with ideas of ethnic nationalism and then forced into a highly compromised set of borders somehow means that the behavior of nationalistic groups in the region is somehow justified.

    At this point, it’s been a very, very long time since the ’48 and ’67. I think the best and most Catholic outcomes would be either:

    – For the West Bank and Gaza strip to cease thinking of themselves as temporary camps until they’re able to return to lands within Israel’s current borders, and instead focus on building a stable and peaceful country where they are now

    – Even better, for people to get past that nationalistic idea that each ethnic/cultural group should have its own exclusive state. Israel has, at least, made more progress in this area than any other country in the region, in that it has had throughout its history Arab Muslim and Druze members of the Knesset. While I would see it as better if Israel was simply a “state” rather than a “Jewish state”, it is by far the freest and most egalitarian country in the region to live in — so long as one isn’t bent on blowing up its citizens.

Family Guy Actor Sides With Palinth

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

Patrick Warburton, who the true geeks among us will remember as The Tick, sides with Palin over the FamilyGuy attack onTrig episode:

Cast member Patrick Warburton told TV critics Wednesday he objected to the joke.

“I know it’s satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me too,” Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other primetime show, CBS’s sitcom “Rules of Engagement,” which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On “Family Guy” Warburton does the voice of the wheelchair-bound police officer, Joe.)

“I know that you have to be an equal-opportunity offender, but there are some things that I just don’t think are funny.”

Shhh. Wait. It gets better:

“Look, I have fun. I like Seth [MacFarlane, the show’s creator]. He’s got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times,” Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by WaPo Team TV’s “Family Guy” bureau chief Emily Yahr. […]

“A show like that … is going to offend everybody at one point or another,” the actor said.
“My mother actually believes my soul’s in peril for being on the show,” he added.

Hold up, for the Post felt it needed to make sure readers knew Warburton was being sarcastic with that last line:

Note to Ms. Palin — he was making a joke.

Phew. And I thought he was being serious.

Warburton is a Catholic, and he and his wife have four kids.

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9 Responses to Family Guy Actor Sides With Palinth

  • He may be The Tick to geeks, but to us dorks he’s Puddy!

  • I’m a dork. The episode where Puddy gets religion jumps to mind.

  • If we’re going to play this game, I suppose I should note that Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who played the girl on the Family Guy episode (and who herself has Downs Syndrome) thinks Palin was the one who was out of line.

  • “My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”

    Yeah, she’s a real sweetheart BA.

  • Ms.Friedman seems to be doing the part of the house “low life African-American” for the Family Guy IMHO.

  • Marv,
    I see you haven’t changed. Still wrong about pretty much everything, including contributors and commenters on this site. How very sad for you.

  • Oh, my goodness!

    That last comment actually interrupted the finishing touches on a homily that has to be delivered in 25 minutes!

    Judge much, Marv? “Her children are heavily involved in sex and drugs”? Scandalize much, either, for that matter?

    what do you know of what Chelsea Clinton has or has not done (not that it matters)? the one thing everyone knows about Chelsea Clinton is that she hasn’t given birth to a child. We know *nothing* else. (not that I care to, but there it is.)

    And it would not be inappropriate to moderate that little puppy out of the conversation.

    I’ll pray for y’all at Mass.

  • In all honesty, haven’t had a chance to read the comments re Pat Buchanan. I’m not singling you out, Marv, really. I’m singling the comment out.

    Re Sarah Palin and her motherhood, well…she ain’t Catholic. Is she a good role model for young women? I like much of what she does in public. MILF? Perhaps the carnal man might think so. But I choose to TRY not to think of ANYONE in that way, so as not to degrade either her or myself. Seems like she gets an awful lot of bad commentary based on the gifts god gave her. it isn’t like she spent millions on plastic surgery to look the way she does.

    Lastly, “judge not” in the context of Scripture doesn’t mean that we should never call anything wrong because we all sin. Right and wrong are OBJECTIVE. Just because I smoke crack doesn’t mean I can’t call someone else wrong for doing it; it just means I recognize that I am wrong too. And your comments really do verge on being awfully ad hominem (what difference does my opinion about Sarah Palin’s politics OR body have to do with the correctness of her criticism of Seth Macfarlane (the correct answer is, “none”)?

    We’d all be much more effective debaters if we stuck to the facts, and those conjectures and opinions supportable by facts. Whether Sarah Palin is pretty or not has no bearing, does it?

  • Marv, one of the joys of being a blog contributor is being able to pick and choose who I allow to comment on my threads. I have deleted your comments and you are now banned from commenting on my threads. Have a nice life.

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The Knife and the Baby

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

In the pro-life cause there are many ways to serve:  volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, speaker’s bureau, education, political action, the list could go on at considerable length.   One of the toughest tasks for pro-lifers is bearing witness to the sacredness of innocent human life outside of an abortion clinic.  The pro-life protestors are usually subject to verbal attack and sometimes physical assault.  It takes brave people to volunteer for such duty.

On November 24, Sarah Winandy and Leah Winandy, mother and daughter, were standing outside of the abortion clinic in Duluth, Minnesota, calling itself the Duluth Building for women.  Part of the Pro-Life Ministry of Duluth, they were passing out pamphlets and protesting abortion. 

Mechelle Hall, a pregnant woman, walked towards Leah Winandy.  Hall pulled out a knife and waved it at Leah, and said, “Don’t come near me.”  Leah told her, “Please don’t kill your baby.  Fear God.”  She approached Hall, “Look and listen to your ultrasound.”  Hall came towards Leah and held the knife to her throat.  Leah was unhurt and Mechelle Hall was arrested.  Here is a video report on the incident.

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Dominican Nuns Taught Oprah to Pray the Rosary

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

Following up on the post of the orthodox, devout, and faithful Dominican nuns making an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show comes a sweet story of how they presented Oprah with a rosary and taught her the prayers for this sacramental:

Oprah Winfrey was surprised after her recent show featuring the Dominican Sisters of Mary when the sisters in the studio said they had a present for her. “No one ever gives me a present,” the television star said. Then, as Sr. Teresa Benedicta related in a talk before a packed gathering at The Bean of Ave Maria Tuesday night, “the sisters gave Oprah a rosary, and taught her how to pray it. She seemed really interested.”

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is one of the fastest-growing orders of women religious in the United States. Founded 12 years ago, it now has 98 women and has run out of space at its mother house in Michigan, Sr. Teresa Benedicta said.

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This was my heart, my choice and my health

Thursday, February 25, AD 2010

In this post I mentioned that the Premier of Newfoundland, Danny Williams, came to the US for heart surgery.  As the video above indicates, Williams is also an ardent support of Canadian Government Health Care, at least for everyone but himself.

Williams is unrepentant for not standing in line with other Canadians awaiting heart treatment.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a “minimally invasive” surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

“This was my heart, my choice and my health,” Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

“I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.”

Some people might say that Williams is a hypocrite.  If he is a hypocrite he is not alone.  Members of Congress, in all their votes on Obamacare, have made certain they will keep their current health care and not be subjected to it.  Members of Congress who vote for Obamacare are thereby implicitly saying:  “Obamacare, it’s good enough for the peasants.”

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11 Responses to This was my heart, my choice and my health

  • Dennis Broyles made the wry remark that the only way to abolish differentials in service is to abolish money. I think what differentiates the Democratic Caucus from their opponents is that the latter accept service differentials which result from social stratification which result from impersonal processes like the market. The latter wish to replace this with service differentials driven largely by politically-determined criteria, i.e. by people like themselves.

  • I think this “above it all” attitude is indicative of the prevailing mindset of most government “servants” today. Capitalism for me – socialism for thee.

    Art is on to something there. The money flows in our “capitalist” economy largely flow one way – UP. Those at the top then get to decide how “we’re” going to fix things.

    http://tinyurl.com/ylbla49

    A perfect case in point is the famous (or should I say notorious) hedge fund short seller Jim Chanos or George Soros who make a living (more like a killing) off bets that companies, countries will fail then say “we” have to fix this financial system. That’s like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire brigade. The politicians are largely little more than sock puppets for these oligarchs.

  • You want congressmen to receive ObamaCare subsidies? Don’t you think they’re already getting enough?

  • I want Congress Critters restrainedradical who supported a single payer system to have to live under such a system with no option for medical treatment from a free market system when they do not wish to stand in line with the common herd.

  • A single payer system hasn’t been proposed. You also don’t seem to understand why he chose treatment here and not in Canada. It had nothing to do with standing in line.

  • Actaully MZ that is what the man you voted for said he was in favor of during the campaign. A lot of very gullible people believed him. In Congress the liberals in the Democrat party pushed for a single payer system, but lacked the votes to pass it.

    Williams claimed the heart surgery was not available in Canada:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100202/national/nl_premier_surgery

    He lied.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/williamss-heart-surgery-choice-was-based-on-ignorance/article1480937/

    His real reason is that the Newfoundland Health Care System is in crisis.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nlvotes2007/story/2007/09/27/hospital-williams.html

    Risk his precious hide on Newfoundland government medicine? Not on your life!

  • Deleted your last comment MZ. Go be snarky elsewhere.

  • Please change the name of your blog to “An American Catholic”.

    You should not use “The American Catholic” unless your posts reflect the actual position of the Church. Yours do not.

    There is at least one false statement in your commentary, but I ascribe that to a failure to read carefully. He said the particular surgery he wanted was not available in his province, not in Canada.

    He consulted a graduate of a Newfoundland med school practicing in New Jersey, who sent him all the way to Florida for the surgery. Now the doctor in New Jersey is a renowned cardiac surgeon, so why did he send the premier to Florida? Could it be because the particular technique the premier wanted was uncommon, and the Florida surgeon did a lot of it?

    He could have gotten the normal operation in his own province, or from his consultant in New Jersey, but he wanted a more complicated procedure that left a much smaller and less obvious scar.

    Would your insurance pay for that? I doubt mine would, and I have very good insurance.

    IOW, a very rich man got what he wanted. And I’ll bet he got a discounted price. If you wanted that same surgery you might have to pay more. After all, he had bargaining leverage, do you?

    In Canada, if you need that condition, a leaking valve, treated, you get it treated, just not the way he did. In they US, if you need that condition treated, you get it treated, if you can pay for it. Otherwise, die vermin!

    And in the US you will most likely get the treatment preferred in Canada, not the one you can buy in Florida. Unless you can pay for it yourself, that is.

    The Catholic church is big on social justice, and universal health care. If you are not you can claim the perspective of a Catholic, but not “The” Catholic perspective.

  • You confuse socialism with social justice, just as you confuse government medicine with universal health care. Danny Williams came to the US because he preferred the treatment available to him here to what he could receive for “free”, forgetting the taxes paid for it, in Canada. He had that option because he is rich. Other Canadians not as wealthy are beginning to flock to private clinics which are on the rise in Canada.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/06/30/canada-sees-boom-private-health-care-business/

  • “In they US, if you need that condition treated, you get it treated, if you can pay for it. Otherwise, die vermin!”

    That is a lie. Everyone in the US receives treatment regardless of ability to pay. Most of the poor are covered by Medicaid. Those who are not still receive treatment.

Lila Rose and Worse Than Murder Inc.

Wednesday, February 24, AD 2010

Hattip to Ed Morrisey at Hot Air.  The intrepid Lila Rose and her colleagues at Live Action expose another Planned Parenthood, I have designated that organization as Worse Than Murder Inc., abortion clinic which has a failure of understanding that a 14 year old who has been impregnated by a 31 year old has been the victim of serious crime, a felony in almost all states, and that Worse Than Murder Inc, is required to report the crime to the authorities. 

New undercover footage shows staff at a Milwaukee, WI Planned Parenthood abortion clinic counseling a purportedly 14-year-old statutory rape victim not to tell anyone about her 31-year-old boyfriend and coaching her how to obtain an abortion without her parents’ consent. The new video, ninth in a series from Live Action documenting similar behavior in 5 other states, comes amid recent controversy about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with state laws regarding minors and abortion.

 
In the video, after hearing the girl is 14 and her boyfriend is “much older,” the counselor says whether or not the situation will be reported by clinic workers “depends on the person you’re disclosing that information to.” When the girl says that her boyfriend is 31, the counselor tells her, “You don’t have to say anything” about the statutory rape and instructs her, “Just give them the information that’s needed.” The counselor also confirms that the 31-year-old “boyfriend” will be paying for the abortion.

 

 
In Wisconsin, sex between an adult and a minor under age 16 is a felony, and health care professionals are required to report such cases to law enforcement immediately. The law specifically includes abortion providers in this requirement.

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7 Responses to Lila Rose and Worse Than Murder Inc.

  • “It is quite enough that the deception should be pardoned, without its being made an object of laudation, especially among the heirs of the new covenant.” – St. Augustine

  • I doubt if Saint Augustine would apply that statement to the exposure of such evil restrainedradical.

  • By the way Joe addressed the topic that restrainedradical raised.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/01/my-problem-with-lila-rose/

    Anyone wishing to adress the issue of the use of deception when fighting against manifest evil, please comment on that thread. On this thread the focus is on Worse Than Murder, Inc.

  • I know that this question of when it is ok to lie or “deceive” is morally acceptable has been ran through when Joe H. brought it up before- but it is one that must be put through the washer of our collective good consciences. Personally, I put these journalistic exposes on par with police undercover work- it is not so much about the ends justifying the means, but it is like acting- acting could be considered “lying”, but it is in the art form that humanity is examined in ways most people would never see or be able to imagine- the Truth comes through the process of persons playing certain roles that are fictional or based upon real-life persons. In a journalistic or police scenario, the Act is one where some of the players are aware of their roles and others are not- this makes for the challenge of deception- but I think of the world as a grand stage, and we are called to act upon our best intentions and good consciences no matter the circumstances- like standing up to peer pressure, being consistent in the face of opposition or persecution. For adults to claim that they were set-up by agents acting in ways that were deceptive, I’m not sure I would buy into that excuse.

    I don’t want to succumb to ‘ends justifying the means’ moral reasoning here but I can’t quite place the right principle that would absolutely defend journalistic and police undercover work- in my gut I sense it is justified, but my mind needs help from others to sort out the intellectual back-up for something very nearly self-evident in my own heart’s thinking. The only fine-tuning I would make is to say that one should never twist or take out-of-context the words of someone who is being exposed for their bad actions. There must be absolute integrity on everyone’s part on this aspect of any undercover investigation.

  • Sorry- I was commenting before you posted that last one- obviously- didn’t mean to take things off-track

  • No problem Tim. You make some good points. All further commenters or contributors, please address issues of deception against manifest evil under Joe’s post.

  • Pingback: Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood « The American Catholic

Iota Unum

Tuesday, February 23, AD 2010

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Iota Unum, written by the late Romano Amerio who passed away in 1997, is a magisterial study of change in the Catholic Church in the last century.  Amerio took his title from Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:18 that begins this post.  Amerio began the work in 1935 and published it in 1985.  Born on June 22, 1905 in Lugano, Switzerland, Amerio was a Roman Catholic theologian as well as a philologist and philosopher.  He served as a peritus (theological expert) at Vatican II and was an advisor to Cardinal Guiseppe Siri.

Intensely critical of most of the changes implemented after Vactican II, Amerio essentially became a non-person in Vatican circles after the publication of Iota Unum.  A review prepared for L’osservatore Romano, for example, in 1985 was not published.  The pontificate of Pope Benedict ushered in a change of view as to Iota Unum.  A good overview of Iota Unum and its reception, written by Father Richard Whinder, is here.  Sandro Magister has a fine article here on Iota Unum.  Here is an earlier article from 2007 by Sandro Magister when the silence about Iota Unum at the Vatican was broken.  (Hattip to Father Z.  I was unaware of the book Iota Unum until I read this post by him.)

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2 Responses to Iota Unum