4 Responses to Whom The Gods Would Destroy They First Make Mad

Trouble with Real Catholic TV?

Thursday, August 19, AD 2010

[This is Tito Edwards, I have current updates on the status of RealCatholicTV here.]

According to CatholicCulture.com, “while thoroughly approving many of the fine videos made available through “RealCatholic TV” site,” caution is recommended to the viewer for two reasons:

An apparent animus against the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, contrary to the clear mind of the Church; and a tendency to over-simplify complex cultural, ecclesiastical and theological problems, leading sometimes to the assertion of mere opinion as the “real Catholic” position.

In a recent episode, Michael Voris lays out the “Real Catholic” position on “Jews and Judaism” — a rather complex theological topic, as most people are aware. According to Voris:

The Jews who accepted him became the Church. The Jews who rejected Him .. having voted themselves OUT of the covenant .. went off and started a man made religion. Rabbinical Judaism (today’s Jewish religion) is to authentic Judaism what Protestantism is to Catholicism.

Suffice to say Steven Kellmeyer has raised some questions about this simplified treatment.

What do our readers think?

(HT: Mark Shea).

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50 Responses to Trouble with Real Catholic TV?

  • I personally do not understand the warning.

    Mr Voris is presenting his opinion or rather conclusions after doing research on the matter of the Novus Ordo has found things that he does not like about it. Has found things that seem rather odd about its implementation, promulgation and its obvious short comings and what he believes to be the ramifications on the Church.

    Mr. Voris only has a limited amount of time in which to present his segments at least on his free site, if he does not engage in to long theological discussions is because, I believe he wants to keep short and simple, something which quite frankly we do not do enough when talking about the Faith.

    I find his approach refreshing, sure it may lack subtlety and refinement but sometimes you need a blunt instrument to get the job done, and boy Mr. Voris if anything is blunt.

  • I’m uncomfortable with them calling it “Real Catholic TV,” esp. since it’s obviously a slam against EWTN, for example, and there’s the whole issue of authorization of the Church to call themselves “Catholic.”

    That said, I don’t see why Voris’s explanation of the historical facts and his analysis of *Jewish theology* are relevant to *Catholic* theology. As I understand it, the Church tells us to recognize that Jews and Muslims also worship the God of Abraham, and to recognize that the Covenant is still in some theoretical way “intact.”

    Yet the Old Covenant never promised spiritual salvation; only worldly salvation. And the Old Covenant was based upon the Ark and Sacrifice. Sacrifice ended when the Temple was destroyed.

    I think Voris’s assessment is fairly accurate, since the Jews of today are not practicing sacrifice.

    It’s kind of like T. S. Eliot’s criticism of “free thinking Jews” that got him labeled “anti-Semitic.” He was criticizing liberal Jews for not following their own religion’s teachings, the way liberal Christians don’t follow the teachings of Christianity.

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  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris. Oh what a surprise!

  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris.

    Gee, how did I ever miss *that* parallel?

  • He has said nothing extreme or even wrong theologically or historically.

    what does not sit right emotionally with some should not be used as a pretext to tarnish others.

    I can see his points but as with all people, including this blog, i keep the critical filter on.

    lighten up!

  • To be a Christian one has to be baptised, implying a choice to be included in the community, while those who stood outside remained Jews. Those who did not become Christians do not therefore lose their rights as Jews under the old covenant, unless it is claimed that the advent of Christianity had abrograted the old covenant. Now it is an attribute of the Christian God that He cannot contradict Himself in the course of time, for that would imply that He is merely a contingent being unable to fully forsee the future. Given this, the promises that He made to Abraham and his descendants must logically retain their validity through all the vicissitudes of history including the rise of Christianity.

  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris.

    I refuse to believe this isn’t satire. Well played, sir. Well played.

  • Ivan, yes the promises made to Abraham and his seed remain valid… but not efficacious via the Old Covenant which has been superseded by the New Covenant sealed in the Blood of Our Lord.

    If anyone wishes to be saved, it will only happen by way of participation in some way in the New Covenant. Jews are not saved by Judaism or its sterile practices. Protestants and pagans are not saved by any practices of their sects.

    Jews, Protestants, and pagans may indeed be saved, but only by way of some form of participation in the salvific work of Christ and His Church, the only Ark of salvation.

  • “and a tendency to over-simplify complex cultural, ecclesiastical and theological problems,”

    Well, no s*** (Please no profanity – TAC Editors). I think that part of this problem is due to Voris–he really doesn’t, at times, seem to know what he is talking about–and at other times it’s due to the medium.

  • This is insulting. It’s Michael Voris S.T.B. Those letters give him authority.

    In all seriousness, the sooner his bishop hauls Voris into his office and tells Voris to stop it, the better. I honestly cringe every time I’m reminded of their existence. If you’re going to speak on behalf of the Church, you better be prudent and well-read/informed. Voris strikes me as neither.

  • The problem with the video on Judaism is that it ignores the biblical data–e.g., St. Paul in Romans–in favor of a hyper-simplified historical argument.

    And I was flat out agog at the video arguing the “only” appropriate form of government for Catholics was the “benevolent dictatorship” (his words) of a Catholic monarch. Then there was the argument that democratic government can’t work because the franchise cannot be limited to faithful Catholics alone.

    I know the Republic has its ailments, but I’m not interested in his cure.

  • I honestly cringe every time I’m reminded of their existence. If you’re going to speak on behalf of the Church, you better be prudent and well-read/informed. Voris strikes me as neither.

    Right. Voris is reckless and opinionated (which can be ok), but he’s not knowledgeable or particularly thoughtful. It’s a bad combination.

  • I stopped watching when Michael tried to convince us that Amazing Grace was an anti-Catholic hymn because it speaks of the unjustified as wretches. Last I checked, dying unjustified leads one to hell, a pretty wretched state.

    Christopher Burgwald S.T.D. 😉

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic and also quite heretical. To sing such a hymn in a Catholic Church (something which I have seen personally) is a slap of relativism.

    To Michael Denton,

    Why would he do that? To my knowledge he has said nothing untrue or wrong.

    To the rest of the posters,

    Look at Ivan’s response to this thread do you think that may be we not putting things simply enough for people like him? He believes that the Jews are saved by the old covenant for God’s sake.

    The reason many do not like Mr. Voris is simply his attitude and directness. Sure you can be nuance and call it “simplistic” but in reality the reason is being direct something we don’t do because we need to be nice.

    Well there is a time and place for nice, but we live in dire times when we need brave people to stand up for the Church to those inside of it. I for one I am very glad that at least one lay person is doing it and that is Mr. Voris.

  • Voris is right about 50% of the time.

    I actually agree with him 100% on the so-called “ordinary form.” That message needs to be heard more often. What is derided as an “oversimplification” is really the complaint of those who prefer to obfuscate with complexity matters that are really are quite simple, in order to conceal their true intent.

    As for the Jew video, since I don’t believe in thought-crimes, unless he is calling for Jews to be rounded up and killed, I don’t care. I don’t believe that the road to the Holocaust begins 10 years prior with a few anti-semitic remarks (if that is what they indeed are), and claims that it does are nothing but emotional attempts to control and stifle independent thought.

    Like others though, I thought his video calling for a Catholic dictatorship/monarchy was off the rails. It was elitist, politically ignorant, and embarrassing.

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic and also quite heretical.

    Well, the 3rd verse does say the Pope is the whore of Babylon, but I would imagine that is usually skipped when sung at mass.

    What on earth are you talking about?

  • This notion that Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic is just myth. At most it can be described as non-Catholic in origin. There is only one potentially offending passage, but it can easily be interpreted in keeping with orthodoxy. People really need to do some research before posting whatever hearsay they happened to have read. There is good reason that this hymn has been approved for Catholic hymnals. Now weather one likes it or not, that is another question entirely.

  • Do you really want to know what I think?

    I apologize in advance.

    The “animus” thing alleges Voris is 100% against the ordinary form, and is EVIL. That seems to be a false generalization. The “oversimplification” thing seems to say he’s too freaking stupid to understand the complexities or to agree with the “enlightened.”

    So, as it now seems acceptable: the lefty, professional catholic (much like his Obama-worshipping, liberal cousin) resorts to ad hominems, detractions, distractions, exaggerations, misdirections, etc. to stifle anyone so EVIL as to disagree with the TRUTH.

    I think Pope Mark is a jerk, anyhow. Voris isn’t here to defend himself.

    Again, I apologize!

  • I’m sorry did someone just accuse a “lefty, professional catholic (much like his Obama-worshipping liberal cousin)” of resorting to ad hominems?!?!?

    I’m not even sure who is being attacked here, but I do know what an ad hominem attack is. Yeesh.

  • Heh. Yes, well we know only terrible people who injure puppies for fun use ad hominems.

  • “Real” Catholic is real heresy.

  • Mr. Voris has issued an apology regarding the Catholic Government video. He never claimed to be perfect, and is doing what every responsible person should do, apologize when he’s wrong. Calling this extremely faithful man a heretic is so insulting it is beyond belief. He is doing what no one else seems to have the guts to do – say it like it is. For some reason people are intimidated by that, and calling him and his staff names seems to make them feel better. I just don’t get that.

  • With-A-Z,

    I concur wholeheartedly.

    Mr. Voris has above and beyond done more for the Catholic faith than many of us have done.

    He certainly represents many Catholics that obediently dealt with much of what the Spirit of Vatican II crowd brow-beated into us such as these cultural gems like: guitar masses, liturgical dancing, and many other blasphemies that are so still prevalent in the Catholic Church in America.

  • Here’s what I know about Amazing Grace, other than it is campy and has a very annoying, pitchy melody:
    Marcus Grodi has said that “Amazing Grace” perfectly sums up what he *used* to believe when he was a Calvinist.

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic only in the sense that some vanishingly few Catholics wish that the clergyman, John Newton who wrote that hymn after participating in the slave trade was a Catholic himself. Its pure jealousy, nothing else.

  • I have a Catholic friend who sounds like this when he talks about the Jews. Whenever he starts talking about Rabbinical Judaism (which is often) is a man-made religion and then went on to talk about how communism is entirely based on the Talmud, the Jews control everything, etc. So I ran a diagnostic test. I asked him what he thought about the Muslims. He said, “I have no problem with the other Semitic people.” In other words, some man-made religions are fine. It’s OK that they have a world wide religion based on half-truths spouted by a lunatic, but it’s not OK for Jews to believe in something based on books that the Roman Catholic church considers to be divinely inspired. I don’t know how this kind of thinking could not be identified as prejudice toward the Jews, if not full-blown antisemitism.

    Coincidentally, or not so, my friend has the same views as Voris on the Novus Ordo Mass.

  • “I don’t know how this kind of thinking could not be identified as prejudice toward the Jews, if not full-blown antisemitism.”

    Bingo. Anti-Semitism is a poison that harms not only the Jews, but those who harbor it.

  • Go, Michael go!

    Btw, I hope his next vid is a commentary on Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos.

  • Sorry about the grammatical errors. The second sentence should read as follows:

    Whenever he starts talking about Rabbinical Judaism–which is often–he first notes that it is a man-made religion, then he goes on to talk about how communism is entirely based on the Talmud, the Jews control everything, etc.

  • Mr. Voris has above and beyond done more for the Catholic faith than many of us have done

    That he has done much for the faith is undeniable. Whether what he has done has been for good or ill is not.

  • I think Voris means well, and I’m glad he manned up on the Catholic government post.

    The problem is, I think his format forces him into an “attack on all fronts” approach which is only going to lead to more gaffes in the future. Complex subjects don’t lend themselves to five minute video essays. The format he’s aping–O’Reilly’s “no-spin zone”–is more of a mini-fisk of 3 or so “news of the day” items. As opposed to, say, the division between Christianity and Judaism and the development of the two post-split. You’re throwing yourself into an elephant trap doing that sort of thing.

  • The problem is, I think his format forces him into an “attack on all fronts” approach which is only going to lead to more gaffes in the future.

    That’s probably a good point. You can only present so much at a time. You either have to get a different more extended format to talk about certain issues or just limit the issues you treat with the shorter format.

    A good example of this is the talk show hosts who write books. Nearly all of the major conservative hosts have written books, out of the ones which I’ve skimmed or read, they all read much more thoughtfully than most of the shows sound, especially to the unconvinced.

  • That he has done much for the faith is undeniable. Whether what he has done has been for good or ill is not.

    Hair-splitting, gnashing of teeth, etc.

    I am sooo glad I am not an *intellectual* that I get caught up in semantics to defend and indefensible position.

  • Well, Voris often takes indefensible positions; he is reckless and not well-versed in the Church’s theology. By constantly defending him, you are implicitly defending his (frequently irresponsible) approach.

  • I am sooo glad I am not an *intellectual* that I get caught up in semantics to defend and indefensible position.

    I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to be an intellectual, though I think intellectuals have much to contribute and I admire them. I hope at some point I can be properly considered one but I’m a long ways away from that.

  • My sarcasm fails again.

    You’ll get there.

    You are light years ahead of me when I was your age buddy!

  • Voris reminds me of me, a well-meaning yutz who knows about half what he thinks he does, and is terrified of moderating his views on anything because that’s what *they* do. I think Skellmeyer is closer to the truth than Voris, but as far as I know the Church hasn’t ever spoken definitively on the nature of the old covenant. We’re under the new one, and we know that it works, and that’s where our attention should be focused.

    Like Skellmeyer, I flinched at Voris’s frequent use of the word “Jew”, but I don’t think there was any anti-Semitism behind the video.

  • I will repeat what I said before: Michael Voris is a modern-day Elijah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah. Too many people both within and outside the Church have gotten so caught up in the nuances of minutiae that when bald Truth stares them in the face, they cannot recognize Him.

    Now as for Democracy, it is an abject failure. It was in the time of 1st Samuel chapter 8 when the “peepul” demanded to choose their own leader, and it is now – just look at whom we have: abortionist Obama! People in love with self-rule simply can’t accept that such is the case with democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. In the case of the United Soviet States of Amerika, that dinner is the corpses of murdered unborn babies.

    Furthermore, beyond that, Jesus Christ came to establish a Kingdom – a Monarchy – where NO ONE gets a vote EXCEPT the King of kings and Lord of lords. If one doesn’t like that, then one is free to leave the Church, the ONLY source of salvation. But we all know what that alternative is.

    As for Jews, they are still God’s Chosen People (and I just LOVE the State of Israel!), but they are still in rebellion exactly as St. Paul describes in Romans 9 through 11. There is NO equivalency between Rabinnical Judaism and Catholicism. In fact, there is only ONE Way to the Father, and that Way is NOT Judaism, Buddha or Hari Krishna.

    1st Corinthians 6:9-10 is still true regardless that almost 2000 years have passed since St. Paul penned these words:

    “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    And yes, the NIV for all its Protestant bias does translate the word “arsenokoit?s” correctly in verse 9.

    The Gospel is about saving souls from exile for an eternity in the fires of hell. It is NOT about filling up bellies or other social justice nonsense. What did Jesus say to the crowd who followed Him around to Capernaum after the feeding of the 5000? He said:

    “…I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…”

    It’s about time we jettison the liberal, Marxist trappings that have infected the Church since Vatican II. No, there’s nothing wrong with Vatican II or Novus Ordo. Rather, it’s about time we start recognizing that Jesus was NOT nice – He was truthful because He IS Truth and He confronted wickedness wherever it was, including whipping the money changers out of the Temple. Neither the religious hypocrites called Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes back then, nor the liberal Catholics of today can possibly tolerate that in spite of all their talk about tolerance and open mindedness.

    And one last thing: an open mind lets all the knowledge fall on out – thus do we have the problems that we have.

    There’s more like this here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/

  • Hey, did my post go thru? If yes, then ignore this. If not, then please post. Thanks!

    I will repeat what I said before: Michael Voris is a modern-day Elijah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah. Too many people both within and outside the Church have gotten so caught up in the nuances of minutiae that when bald Truth stares them in the face, they cannot recognize Him.

    Now as for Democracy, it is an abject failure. It was in the time of 1st Samuel chapter 8 when the “peepul” demanded to choose their own leader, and it is now – just look at whom we have: abortionist Obama! People in love with self-rule simply can’t accept that such is the case with democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. In the case of the United Soviet States of Amerika, that dinner is the corpses of murdered unborn babies.

    Furthermore, beyond that, Jesus Christ came to establish a Kingdom – a Monarchy – where NO ONE gets a vote EXCEPT the King of kings and Lord of lords. If one doesn’t like that, then one is free to leave the Church, the ONLY source of salvation. But we all know what that alternative is.

    As for Jews, they are still God’s Chosen People (and I just LOVE the State of Israel!), but they are still in rebellion exactly as St. Paul describes in Romans 9 through 11. There is NO equivalency between Rabinnical Judaism and Catholicism. In fact, there is only ONE Way to the Father, and that Way is NOT Judaism, Buddha or Hari Krishna.

    1st Corinthians 6:9-10 is still true regardless that almost 2000 years have passed since St. Paul penned these words:

    “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    And yes, the NIV for all its Protestant bias does translate the word “arsenokoit?s” correctly in verse 9.

    The Gospel is about saving souls from exile for an eternity in the fires of hell. It is NOT about filling up bellies or other social justice nonsense. What did Jesus say to the crowd who followed Him around to Capernaum after the feeding of the 5000? He said:

    “…I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…”

    It’s about time we jettison the liberal, Marxist trappings that have infected the Church since Vatican II. No, there’s nothing wrong with Vatican II or Novus Ordo. Rather, it’s about time we start recognizing that Jesus was NOT nice – He was truthful because He IS Truth and He confronted wickedness wherever it was, including whipping the money changers out of the Temple. Neither the religious hypocrites called Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes back then, nor the liberal Catholics of today can possibly tolerate that in spite of all their talk about tolerance and open mindedness.

    And one last thing: an open mind lets all the knowledge fall on out – thus do we have the problems that we have.

    There’s more like this here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/

  • Sheesh, now I’ve heard everything, that some Catholics think Amazing Grace is heretical. We better start looking at anyone saying or singing Kyrie Eleison because as we all know good Catholics only sing or pray in latin.

    We need to write the pope too as that ultra liberal bishop in Denver quotes the hymn in his column at the archdiocese’s website. http://www.archden.org/dcr/news.php?e=408&s=2&a=8581

  • Michael Voris caught my attention with his Catholic Monarchy episode, but then I saw his Vortex episode about the Marian dogmas. I now realize how deluded he and all those others are who support such false teachings, which are contrary to Scripture. I was somewhat disappointed, but it is the will of God that these things take place, that the prophecy might be fulfilled:

    1 Timothy 4, 1-3
    Now the Spirit expressly says that in the after times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies hypocritically, and having their conscience branded. They will forbid marriage, and will enjoin abstinence from foods, which God has created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by the faithful and by those who know the truth.

    2 Peter 2, 1-3
    But there were false prophets also among the people, just as among you there will be lying teachers who will bring in destructive sects. They even disown the Lord who bought them, thus bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their wanton conduct, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned. And out of greed they will with deceitful words use you for their gain. Their condemnation, passed of old, is not made void, and their destruction does not slumber.

    Thus we are warned:

    Colossians 2, 8
    See to it that no one deceives you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.

    It is time to send these dogmatics to the pound.

  • Here is the real problem with people who dont like Voris. “They want there(own)catholic church, not (the) Catholic Church.” If you want to see the truth on how many liberal clergy have abused the teachings of Vatican two, READ THE DOCUMENTS. Your eyes will be opened. I currently attend a parish where lectors change the wording in the missal from “brothers and sisters to sisters and brothers.” When confronted he said that is how he personaly thinks it should read. I have said something to our Priest and nothing has been done. We have a woman serving on the alter “alterserver” who vocaly supports legal abortion and assisted suicide, all the while telling everybody she can all about her feminist theology. When confronted I recieved the “judge not” response. Perhaps she is ignorent to the spiritual works of mercy. Meanwhile a faithful Catholic has been “fired” as an alterserver because he made a stink about all the liturgical abuses, I will admit “some” of his accusations were wrong, but the point is he was just trying to do what was right. These are the lay catholics AND clergy who dislike Voris. They just dont like being called out. Like I said they want there “own” Catholic Church. What these people are are protestants in catholic clothing, or better yet said wolves in sheeps clothing. God Bless

  • To our frien Mr. Henry.
    Perhaps you could shre with us all Mr. Voris theological failings.

  • Why is their website off-line?

    Anyone know?

  • Someone ought to post a warning about CatholicCulture and the neo-con modernists who run it.

  • I fear that Voris is setting himself and his fans up for a fall. I like most of his work, but it is presumptuous to name his venture “real Catholic TV.” In the relative authority vacuum we’ve endured post Vatican II, too many have been seduced into creating their own magisterium. I find the name “Real Catholic TV” reminiscent of the Traditionalist publication named “The Remnant.” Would they not be better served (and more in line with Traditionalism) to have named their publication “The Possibly Damned”?

    As a convert from Protestantism, I am very sensitive to the cult of the personality. Any time people are seduced into putting their faith in a person (even if unwittingly and even if supposedly a “supercatholic”), they will be swept away eventually.

  • RealCatholicTV has never bad-mouthed EWTN, in fact Mrs. von Hildebrand (one of many of their sources regarding the Mass) is a frequent guest speaker on EWTN with Father Groeshel.

    Further their “Obama’s Counterfeit Catholics” along with written documentation, and “Global Warming Unmasked: the Hidden Agenda” also including written documentation (both of which can be found on the internet) have been great.

    I study “Scripture”, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” and the Vatican web site. Voris and RealCatholicTV have been true to all. If he steps out of line (which he has not), I’ll be first in line to say so.

    Check out their written documentation on the above, and provide better documentation that he is wrong – if you can.

    The more that true Catholics who love the Church make abuses from within known, perhaps future abuses will be fewer and more limited.
    Catholic Culture may have been too sensitive and read things into the videos that were not really there. Listen carefully and read the documentation. The Canadian Priest in “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was great, and right on.

  • What Michael Voris said about the Jews in his Vortex video was true. RCTV also has a one hour video available on the same subject that covers more ground than the Vortex spot.

If Liberals Lose Big In This Fall's Election, The Professional Left Will Mock The Religious Faithful

Wednesday, August 18, AD 2010

This fall all of the hopes and dreams of those who have detested Middle American values stands in the balance. Those values are best exemplified in religious beliefs shared by many faith traditions. However, Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews are those to which the angry Professional Left, to use Robert Gibbs (President Obama’s Press Secretary’s) term, will most turn their anger.  Some may say this seems a little far-fetched, after all aren’t some of those people from the “Professional Left” religious themselves? Yes, some on the “Professional Left” are religious, but they often go to great pains to say they are not affiliated with any faith tradition. They often classify themselves as “spiritual.”

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, then Senator Obama made by his own admission his biggest gaffe. The future President, speaking in  San Francisco, called those middle Americans of western Pennsylvania, “bitter clingers.” In his own words, the future President described western Pennsylvania residents as hard working salt of the earth folks who clung to “their guns and religion,” presumably because they weren’t enlightened enough to understand the modern world.

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8 Responses to If Liberals Lose Big In This Fall's Election, The Professional Left Will Mock The Religious Faithful

  • “Our Lady of Mount Carmel”

    The True Story of “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Occurred in Puerto Rico between 1899 and 1909, and has been narrated by eyewitnesses.

    We can see The Terrible Situation of Poverty in Latin America at this time; The Initial Disbelief of the Bishop; The Miracle Flowering of Faith… go through the Miracle Mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    The fulfillment of 73 of over 76 of their Prophecies, are consistent with Her Messages in La Salette; Lourdes, Fatima and Garabandal.

    “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Prophesied for the “End of Time”, and your Message can be Announced by a Film Made by You.

    Thanks,
    Ricardo Fernández – Franciscan Mary

  • Please do not blame only the left, as your italicized section above strongly implies, for religion in tatters, especially the Catholic Church. The so called, good Catholic conservatives have their share too.

    I consider myself a conservative, for whatever that may matter and yes, the left is a particularly heinous lot, but they are not alone.

    Thank you.

  • Karl, the italicised words to which you refer link to an article which I wrote. Perhaps the prudent thing to do would be to read that article before you comment. Since you went out of your way to stick up for the left, perhaps you are an altruistic poster who defends conservatives from attacks on the many liberal blogs. That is only known to you, however, in retrospect, I would suggest you read the article to which you referred before you claim that I only indict the left. I would also suggest you read the italicised section referring to the Conservative Intelligentsia. I take them to task as well. Take care!

  • Is the “professional left” composed of those who oppose a Cross in the Mojave Desert? Or, those who stopped rebuilding of the Orthodox Church at Ground Zero? Or, those oppose “In God We Trust” on the money? Or, who oppose “Under God” in the pledge of Allegiance? Or, oppose private enterprise? Or, oppose equal opportunity? Or, oppose the free market? Or, oppose the right to life? Or, those who hate America? Or, . . .

    We need to pray for said professional left. That they come to a better mind/repent, confess, do penance, amend their lives, and through good works glorify Almighty God.

  • T Shaw, we certainly do need to pray for the Professional Left. I was immediately drawn to the term because if Robert Gibbs uses it and feels the White House’s policies aren’t liberal enough for some in the mainstream media (my guess is he was talking about the talking heads at MSNBC) than heaven help us all.

  • We’ll just have to keep our trust in God that he will draw good from evil, even if that means allowing for the far left to accede to power as a way of awakening Americans to the reality of the “Party of Death.”

  • Well okay, they will snicker and mock, oh my, not that!

    If anyone wants or has even a bit of expectation of being admired by the elite in this time that we live in, for fighting for the things we believe in, had better expect some kind of reaction. I will gladly take all the mocking, snickering etcetera, rather than alternatives that can be expected, when and if the left becomes stronger in the future. The fact that they are still making fun of us is better than then arrest and trial for holding illegal and irrational beliefs that we may come to expect.

    Recent history of Russia and Eastern Europe shows clearly the fate of traditional believers. There are lessons like this all over the planet.

    Secularism is one thing, arrests in the night is another thing all together. These things are not impossible here, however unlikely. It is uncanny how close the beliefs and values of our progressives are to those of that the left widely held, one hundred years ago in another part of our civilization.

  • This is a good article, thanks. However, just to pick on the title a bit, the Pro Left will bust our nuts whether they win or lose.

Electoral Tsunami Coming

Wednesday, August 18, AD 2010

Three recent polls indicate what a wipeout the Democrats are facing in November:

1.  The Republicans have a 12 point lead on the latest Rasmussen Congressional Generic ballot, the highest lead they have ever had in that poll:

Republican candidates have jumped out to a record-setting 12-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, August 15, 2010. This is the biggest lead the GOP has held in over a decade of Rasmussen Reports surveying.

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11 Responses to Electoral Tsunami Coming

  • If we had a third party alternative, you might be right. But let’s remember we’re talking about Republicans. They ride elephants, not white horses. They bumbled two wars, Katrina, and the economy in the living memory of everybody who’s out of diapers. I wouldn’t discount the Dem’s abiities to play politics when their survival instinct kicks in.

    This election looks a lot more like a hockey game between the Yankees and the Cowboys. Two fine traditions totally out of their element. A team of teenagers could have thrashed either one of them.

  • The Republicans are about as popular as used car salesmen Todd with most Americans. However, the Democrats have managed to remind Americans of what tends to happen since World War 2 when the Party of the Jackass is given complete power, and most Americans are shocked and angered by it. I have never seen signs clearer of an electoral avalanche. Compared to 1994 the prospects for the Democrats were positively rosy in the polls. The Republicans will win this election overwhelmingly because they are not the Democrats. How they fare in 2012 will depend on how they do and how the economy does.

  • Todd and all,

    Yes!! That ought to distract people from the economy/unemployment as they worsen; the wars the libs did not end; the gulf oil spill they made more devastating; the first victims of rationing of health care, . . .

    They had to pass the bill so they’d know what was in it.

    They stifle the economy and scare employers into not hiring. Then people give up looking for jobs, and are not counted in the unemployment rate. Problem solved!

    Mort Zuckerman (erstwhile Obama-zombie now awakened), “There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t work, that it is incapable of solving America’s problems. Americans are fed up with Washington, fed up with Wall Street, fed up with the necessary but ill-conceived stimulus program, fed up with the misdirected healthcare program, and with pretty much everything else. They are outraged and feel that the system is not a level playing field, but is tilted against them. The millions of unemployed feel abandoned by the president, by the Democratic Congress, and by the Republicans. The American people wanted change, and who could blame them? But now there is no change they can believe in.”

    “The devil is come unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation 12

  • They bumbled two wars, Katrina, and the economy in the living memory of everybody who’s out of diapers.

    Public perceptions are what they are. It should be noted, however, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency employs only about 6,500 people to cover the whole country. Absent the imposition of martial law, the legwork of order maintenance and relief will be the work of local agencies for the most part. Those in New Orleans and Louisiana have their deficiencies. It might also be noted that the salient event in New Orleans (which distinguishes it from Mississippi) was the failure of a piece of public works. Capital expenditures are undertaken over periods of decades (and in this case were joint ventures of federal and local authorities).

    With regard to ‘the economy’, the argument that the Federal Reserve was responsible for generating an asset bubble is a dubious one promoted by purveyors of Austrian economics. That is something most unusual for a Democratic partisan to be seconding. Of course, the President and Congress might have erected legislation prohibiting (or requiring exchange trading) of credit default swaps and derivatives (a project Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers torpedoed during the Clinton Administration), containing the use of leverage (which Robert Rubin was advocating more of while being paid $119 million as chief guru at Citigroup), or inducing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to improve their accounting and underwriting standards. Actually, Mr. Bush did recommend legislation with the last object (co-sponsored by John McCain). It ran aground when Barney Frank rallied the opposition. On the staff of Freddie Mac was his boy toy Herb Moses. In charge of these enterprises was (among others) Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, and James Johnson. Now in what context might one recognize those names???

  • Yet another sign of things to come: in Illinois, pollsters including Rasmussen and PPP place Republican Bill Brady anywhere from 9 to 13 points ahead of Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

    Moreover, despite heavy advertising in the Chicago media market by the Democratic Governors Association hammering Brady for his allegedly “extreme” pro life and other social/fiscal conservative views, when asked which candidate they believe has “extreme” views, more voters say Quinn does.

    The bottom line is that the DGA campaign is at the very least, failing to make any impression. I rather suspect it’s backfiring in Brady’s favor because — surprise, surprise! — not all women, even in Chicago and its suburbs, think abortion on demand and big government liberalism are great things.

    Of course the never-ending Blago saga (for non Illinois residents just joining us, he was found guilty of one count of lying to the feds yesterday, and the jury deadlocked on 23 — that’s right, 23 — other counts, which are likely to be retried) probably won’t help the Dems any either.

  • Oops, bad sentence structure there. I should have said “he was found guilty YESTERDAY of one count of lying to the feds.” Although Blago probably did lie to the feds and everyone else yesterday (and the day before and every day before that as well).

  • Art,
    Count me among those who hold the Fed accountable at least in part. Unlike some so-called Austrians, I think bubbles are inevitable precisely because markets don’t act perfectly. Markets act perfectly only in laboratories that assume perfect information and perfect rational behavior — two circumstances that never occur. Given this practical limitation, business cycles occur, and every expansion part of the cycle involves some type of bubble or other. Always. The Fed has nothing to do with that. But this time the Fed acted repeatedly and aggressively to prevent any organic contraction. Throughout the last decade the Fed dropped the discount rate at the moment it caught even a whiff of a contraction. I suppose part of this was hubris — the idea that they were skilled enough to manage the money supply to allow expansions to last forever. Pretty silly in retrospect. But I suspect part of it was driven, perhaps unconsciously, by foreign policy. The attack on 9/11 occurred at about the time an organic contraction was developing, and Fed members (being human beings and Americal patriots) did not want our enemies to think they caused it. As the War on Terror dragged on the Fed probably felt some (self-imposed) pressure to keep the economy humming. They allowed cheap money to flow and while this deferred the inevitable correction it permitted the bad behavior (stupid lending and borrowing) to continue much longer than a free market would have permitted since the market’s natural medicinal contraction was not allowed to occur to correct it. Indeed, the artificially-gotten profits just induced ever more bad behavior until the inevitable happened. By that time he Fed had reduced the rates to the point where a liquidity trap robbed it of any ability to continue its well-intended but misguided policy. As in most things in life — plenty of blame to go around — a little greed here, a little hubris there, add a touch of common error and pour on some good intentions and you have the human condition, I’m afraid.

  • If I understand correctly, the Federal Reserve gradually raised the discount rate during the period running from 2002 to 2006. This was insufficient to contain the asset bubbles.

    The rate of increase in consumer prices during the period running from 2001 to 2008 was modest, so I think your critique would be more appropriately applied to the administration and Congress, which damaged public finances with a discretionary tax cut.

  • I certainly hope things improve but political solutions are too transient in the context of a fickle electorate. As the attachment to traditional christian traditions wane, in an ever increasingly culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse society, as it is and for a long time shall be in America, predictability
    is likely an uncertain hope.

    Don, I pray that this country finds the cohesiveness to remain a country rather than devolving into chaos. I have become a stranger in the place I was born and raised. It is amazing, really, but very disconcerting as well.

  • Fair point, Art. I concede that my recollection of the discount rate history was incorrect. Certainly fiscal policy was poor. Bush granted Congress a free hand in spending (no vetos) in exchange for a free hand to prosecute the War on Terror. Whether one wants to blame the resulting fiscal mess on the rise in domestic spending or the discretionary tax cut depends on where you sit, but no question the behavior was irresponsible.

  • Whoa Nellie… check out this tidbit from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed today:

    “We’re screwed.”

    “Sneed hears rumbles that was the private reaction of Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine upon learning former Gov. Blago’s case was going to be retried … and was the reason Kaine kept a low media profile after the verdict. (Kaine was at an event in Iowa City when he learned about the verdict.)

    • The flip side: ”This simply isn’t true,” said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan. ”I’m not subject to every conversation . . . and the chairman wasn’t even made aware of the verdict until after he finished his event last night. He has not addressed the issue.”

    What?

    • Translation: Dems are already facing difficult races this November because of President Obama’s plummeting poll numbers and the nation’s economy. Top Dems had hoped a verdict — not a mistrial — would have been the end to the Blago debacle.”

Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail

Wednesday, August 18, AD 2010

I finally returned to internet connectivity this week, which has meant catching up on news & blogs I have neglected. Part of this “reconnecting” included denying a facebook friend request from someone I never heard of-only to find out that this someone was a fake online persona created in the Catholic Fascist’s attempt at satire. Having looked over all of the posts there, I was struck by how eerily similar the site was to another parody group blog-The Spirit of Vatican II.

Both blogs employed a host of satirical characters with enough resemblance to real life to make laugh (I think whoever thought of danmclockinload deserves a guest post on TAC) at first, both got roaring laughter from their own partisans-and neither blog was funny after a few days.

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16 Responses to Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail

  • Two other problems with Satire:
    1. Unless it’s obvious, it really confuses those of us with autistic-spectrum personalities. I’ve seen the “Spirit of Vatican II” blog before, and I thought it was sincere.

    2. Satire and parody are only good when a) they have some level of respect for their targets and b) they don’t take themselves too seriously.

  • The amazing thing about the CF blog for me is the sheer output. There are more posts there than there have been at AC since it started, *and* whoever is doing it is writing most of the comments.

  • I agree the output is impressive. It may be that others are assisting Mr. Iafrate. Certainly one of his erstwhile co-bloggers has penned excellent satire on occasion.

  • I think it functions rather like primal scream therapy for the Catholic Anarchist, which means it might have one useful function.

  • Maybe its a manic phase. Lithium anyone?

  • This was not meant to be a thread bashing Catholic Fascist and/or Vox Nova and/or Catholic Anarchist. If anything, the post was meant to discourage such bashing.

  • It’s projection and status posturing by a clever but tormented fellow.

    Much political satire is like that, but I think you need at least a few drops of real disdain and even hatred to do it in a religious context on a sustained basis.

  • Michael Denton,

    I appreciate your heroic efforts to be super charitable to one of the most nasty, unreasonable, uncharitable fellows these blogs have ever known.

    I do question how many times you are to turn your cheek before you finally dust off your feet per Mark 6:11.

    Frankly, if this is the “bashing” Iafrate gets for his behavior, he will have gotten less than a tap on the cheek. I don’t think you need to worry about it. He is putting himself out there to be criticized, ridiculed, and bashed – and he secretly loves it, because he does fancy himself a prophet. If people aren’t bashing him, then he doesn’t feel as if he’s doing his job anyway.

    I might say nothing about him at all for that reason, but false prophets should be denounced.

  • I personally don’t mind satire or even strong opinions strongly argued. To argue strongly back does not bother me either as one can walk away and have that Abita (which I had for the first time this weekend) with you opponent. That’s the hard part.

    Unfortunately, sometimes there are real problems with others. Pointing them out is also not off-limits either, even if jokingly, as long as one recognizes that also. Part of running with the big dogs.

    I think the author of Catholic Fascist is truly having some problems. Though I would be happy to be wrong.

  • Good satirical blogs (Iowahawk, Scrappleface) take aim at everything. The former in particular is still going strong because there’s a wide variety of topics to skewer. Plus I don’t think he writes more than a post a day. A satirical blog that takes aim at either just one blog or one type of subject matter isn’t going to last – partly for the reasons Michael mentions, but mainly because it just gets old that much faster,

  • The Spirit of Vatican II is satirical? You must be thinking of a different blog. Or a different meaning of satirical.
    It is very much a woman’s blog. Satirical perhaps in the sense that women think men are pretty dense.

  • In one of my first encounters with Michael, I found my self quoting Matthew 18:

    If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    I think it’s very difficult to make a quiet approach on the internet; maybe through email if the person’s address is known to you. Anyway, by this point, I don’t feel any obligation to respond to Michael’s postings, although I’d gladly help him change a flat tire. It’s not my job to rebuke him.

  • I should also note that his tantrum won’t be seen by more than a half-dozen people whom he hasn’t already alienated elsewhere. He may equal other sites in output, but he’s never going to get 1% of their hits. So he isn’t really scandalizing the faithful.

  • I don’t know. Certainly big boys can take the heat. For example a slam of TAC here:

    http://vox-nova.com/2010/08/18/somewhat-funny-somewhat-confusing/#comments

    This combined with comments at the Western Confucian that find that TAC as a greater threat to the common good than Vox Nova. Not that its clear that one ever found Vox Nova to be a threat to the common good here. The bizarre thought ironically comes from two people who claim they don’t read TAC.

    But again, being big boys, most here can take such comments.

  • Mark Shea is, apparently, not much of a fan of TAC, either:

    “I agree with you that the bellicose messianic Americanism at TAC is far more dangerous and deadly than the nose-pulling of CF. However, as I virtually never read TAC and as CF (being the New Hotness) was more prominent on my monitor, I wasn’t attempting a full review of TAC.”

    http://orientem.blogspot.com/2010/08/catholic-fascist-revisited.html#7946745129191366168

    Good thing Shea “virtually never read[s] TAC” or he might have to actually form an opinion based in fact rather than pulling things completely out of his ass like he usually does.

  • “The bizarre thought ironically comes from two people who claim they don’t read TAC.”

    Judging from Mark popping in on my Victory Over Japan post, I’d say he sneaks a peak every now and then. However, considering the way Mark has of scanning articles, based upon some of his posts, rather than reading articles to actually understand them, perhaps his statement is at least partially correct. 🙂

The Archbishop and the Concentration Camp

Tuesday, August 17, AD 2010

Retired Archbishop Philip. M. Hannan of New Orleans, still alive at the age of 97, discusses his service in the video above, made in 2007, with the 505th parachute infantry regiment of the 82nd Airborne in World War II.  Ordained at the North American College in Rome on December 8, 1939, he served with the 82nd Airborne as a chaplain from 1942-46, and was known as the Jumping Padre.  He was assigned to be the chaplain of the 505th Regiment with the rank of Captain shortly after the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  He had many adventures during his time with the 505th, but perhaps the most poignant was what happened to him on May 5th, 1945, in the final days of the War in Europe.

On May 5, 1945, the 505th overran a concentration camp near Wobbelin in Germany.  Captain Hannan and his assistant James Ospital hurried to the camp to see what they could do to help.  A scene of complete horror awaited them.  Corpses were sprawled everywhere.  Dying prisoners lay in filthy bunks crudely made out of branches.  All the prisoners looked like skeletons, both the dead and the living.  The camp reeked of the smells of a charnel house and a sewer.

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10 Responses to The Archbishop and the Concentration Camp

  • Now this is a story worth posting! Thanks!

  • Stories such as these keep me returning to The American Catholic daily. Thanks so much for this many other posts!

  • Thanks for the kind remarks. The Church has a great story to tell and I like to do what I can to tell a minute portion of it.

  • Thank you for writing this tribute to Archbishop Hannan. I did not know about this WWII experience. Archbishop in Combat Boots shares a similar title with the canonizable Father Emil Kapaun’s biography: Shepherd in Combat Boots. Interesting aside: I read in Michael Davies book on Pope John’s Council that the outspoken Hannan made a statement to the press during the Council to this effect — the best thing that could happen to Vatican II is that it ends.

  • “I read in Michael Davies book on Pope John’s Council that the outspoken Hannan made a statement to the press during the Council to this effect — the best thing that could happen to Vatican II is that it ends.”

    I could imagine him saying that. The main hallmark of the Archbishop’s career has been courage and an unclerical willingess to call a spade a bloody shovel.

  • Hannan has had his memoir recently published, I think. Probably worth the read.

    The citizens of Ludwigslust were forced to dig the graves. Also per Eisenhower’s standing order, all adult citizens of Ludwigslust were required to take a tour of the concentration camp.

    An interesting punishment but I wonder if there aren’t some moral problems with “forcing” and requiring the citizens to do it. Is there anything in just war doctrine about this kind of stuff that anybody has?

  • It would be interesting if we as casual bystanders to the grave atrocity of abortion would be forced to dig graves for our dead and tour the grounds of the abortion mills

  • I wonder why Ike is not posthumously, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, disinterred and properly dishonored for his “crimes and lack of sensitivity”?

    God help us.

  • MD,
    I think you are working “Just War”, just a bit too hard. Just war is primarily about the decision enter into or to accept combat and the limitations to be placed upon the subsequent use of force. I know you want to disapprove of a US General’s handling of an issue, but the corpses posed a public health risk, and that primarily to the German populace. Having permitted, even encouraged their government to inititiate a global war on humanity, the German population had seen their dreams of world conquest come to naught, and themselves abandoned to the control of their defeated government’s conquerers. The graves needed to be dug, the martial administrators were under no obligation to provide the labor force, or to pay for it.
    Eisenhower also ordered every Allied General officer (and all senior field grades who could be spared) in Europe to visit at least one concentration or death camp.
    this was necessary to ensure that once they started coming out of the woodwork, Holocaust Deniers like Mel Gibson’s father would be immediately and universally known for the psychopathic liars they are.

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Not So Fast…

Monday, August 16, AD 2010

A Panel of the 9th Circuit has surprisingly issued a wise decision, deciding to allow Proposition 8 to remain in place while the 9th Circuit considers its constitutionality.

This was undoubtedly the right decision. It makes no sense to force a state to marry people while knowing that a later decision could invalidate all those marriages.

One hopes that this is the beginning of a trend in reversing Judge Walker, whose rulings in this case can best be described as what happens when judicial activism meets the dictatorship of relativism.

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12 Responses to Not So Fast…

  • Judge Walker’s performance in this case would warrant impeachment if we were living in a just world. His bias in this case has been clear from the beginning and totally shameless.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/243693/most-egregious-performance-ever-federal-district-judge-ed-whelan

  • Was this actually surprising? Wasn’t everyone expecting a stay? I was half expecting Judge Walker to stay his own decision.

  • I was half expecting Judge Walker to stay his own decision.

    Sucka.

  • I was, but I was hoping Walker would be impartial enough to grant the stay himself. I hadn’t been paying attention to the trial, but I think Don is right: this is a really poor performance by a judge, and I sincerely hope Christians who handle abortion trials learn from Walker’s example of how not to behave.

  • Isn’t it awesome how the people of the state can decide the matter, but its really up to a judge or a panel of judges to decide what’s good for them.

  • I’m really curious about how the law schools will spin this. There was so much effort spent “debunking the myth” that Left-leaning judges are “activist.” Some decisions though have got to be hard to re-cast. This is probably one of them.

  • I’m really curious about how the law schools will spin this. There was so much effort spent “debunking the myth” that Left-leaning judges are “activist.”

    Actually, that’s not been my experience. The current spin (and I got it today in the opening class for Con Law II, which is about the Bill of Rights) is that all judges today are activist, not just liberals. Basically, when Scalia (their favorite target) or any conservative attacks activism, they’re being hypocrites and point to the gun rights decisions, among others.

  • when Scalia (their favorite target) or any conservative attacks activism, they’re being hypocrites and point to the gun rights decisions, among others.

    Judge A thinks the phrase “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, in a brief article which concerns that subject and the utility of the militia, refers to a personal right. Judge B fancies the phrase, “deny any person the equal protection of the laws” in an omnibus amendment granting freed slaves citizenship and cleaning up some other business from the civil war, requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to pairs of dudes no matter what the various elected officials and general referenda say. Both are equally ‘activist’ to your classmates in Con Law II. Emphasis on ‘con’.

  • Good Morning Mr. Denton,

    1st – I hope your law school years are good and fruitful. Good luck and God bless.

    2nd – The narratives keep ranging back to what the Constitution IS – the whole Originalist vs. Living Constitutionalist debate. Since you are in law school, I’ll remind you that the Constitution is whatever your prof says it is. Work with their narrative and your grades will reflect your wisdom. (That is something I often found hard to do and my grades reflected that pig-headedness.)

  • In my experience, liberals embrace judicial activism. I think that’s a much more intellectually honest position than claiming that originalists are equally activist.

  • In my experience, liberals embrace judicial activism. I think that’s a much more intellectually honest position

    The notion that the phrases “The Judicial power shall extend to all cases under this Constitution” and “deny any person the equal protection of the laws” give you a roving mandate to arbitrarily annul any social policy you care to can be called many things. “Intellectually honest” is not one of them.

  • RR,

    How about a gravatar pic for your handle?

Diversity: Individual vs. Collective Good

Monday, August 16, AD 2010

The Wake County Board of Education is considering significantly modifying one of the largest remaining efforts at school busing for diversity — in this case, economic diversity, given that busing for racial diversity has been overturned legally.

Opponents of the planned change charge that this represents a return to segregation, but reading about the motivations of those pushing to reduce busing suggest it’s more a question of individual versus collective good.

When Rosemarie Wilson moved her family to a wealthy suburb of Raleigh a couple of years ago, the biggest attraction was the prestige of the local public schools. Then she started talking to neighbors.

Don’t believe the hype, they warned. Many were considering private schools. All pointed to an unusual desegregation policy, begun in 2000, in which some children from wealthy neighborhoods were bused to schools in poorer areas, and vice versa, to create economically diverse classrooms.

“Children from the 450 houses in our subdivision were being bused all across the city,” said Ms. Wilson, for whom the final affront was a proposal by the Wake County Board of Education to send her two daughters to schools 17 miles from home.

Now, it’s possible to read all sorts of dark racist or classist motives into these kind of conflicts, but it strikes me that the real difficult here is in reconciling private and public goods.

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13 Responses to Diversity: Individual vs. Collective Good

  • I’m not joking, and anyone who wants to snicker may do so, but if this forced egalitarianism isn’t communism, I’m not sure what is.

    I hope this policy dies the death it deserves.

    And I truly feel sorry for the lower-income minority students who are shafted with these horrid government schools. They were sucked into dependency upon an inferior product.

    There are deep, structural flaws in the entire manner in which this country does education. Almost all of our leftists and at least half of our conservatives buy into what Charles Murray calls “educational romanticism”, or what I just call rampant egalitarianism.

    Though I regularly criticize the European way of doing things, I have to admit, Germany’s school system – and Japan’s – are much more sober and realistic models. Not everyone is entitled to a four-year college education, or the means by which to attain it. Instead students are placed on tracks that correspond to their actual abilities.

    Some think these models are too rigid. Indeed, I was so terrible at math as a grade school student that I might have been unjustly relegated to a lower track. So obviously I would want a flexible system that takes a students particular strengths and weakness into account instead of relying upon quantitative test scores to determine everything. But this is what we would get in a society comprised of private and home schools, I think.

    We would stop degree inflation and devaluation as well.

  • Tuition at private universities in Germany and Japan is comparable to state university tuition in the US. Public universities in Germany charge nominal tuition.

    I wouldn’t mind some form of voluntary busing. Abolish public school zoning and allow kids to go to any public school in the state. Schools can arrange bus service if there’s enough demand.

  • “Abolish public school zoning and allow kids to go to any public school in the state. Schools can arrange bus service if there’s enough demand.”

    1. The best schools in the state would quickly do a Titanic from the number of kids that would be attempting to go to them.

    2. Urban school systems would face shutting down at least 15% of the schools that no one in their right mind would want to attend. The teachers who teach in these schools would be quickly assigned to other schools. If they are poor teachers, I doubt that they wouuld improve simply due to a change of scenery.

    3. Parents of kids in the best urban schools would quickly place their kids in private schools if they were able.

    4. Support for school bond initiatives would quickly collapse around the state, except for good schools a great enoough distance away that they wouldn’t have to worry about “outsiders taking over our schools.”

  • From what I hear in my urban school system, which practices open enrollment (you can choose where to send your kids) and which has schools with widely different performances, the so-called “best” schools do not, actually, fill up quickly.

    Going to the neighborhood, close-to-home school is apparently a strong draw.

  • clarification: I don’t send my kids to the school district, I homeschool.

  • 1. The best schools in the state would quickly do a Titanic from the number of kids that would be attempting to go to them.

    Why not re-incorporate them as philanthropies governed by trustees elected by their alumni and allow them plenary authority to regulate their admissions?

    2. Urban school systems would face shutting down at least 15% of the schools that no one in their right mind would want to attend. The teachers who teach in these schools would be quickly assigned to other schools. If they are poor teachers, I doubt that they wouuld improve simply due to a change of scenery.

    Why not re-incorporate the other 85% of schools as philanthropies and allow them plenary authority to hire whom they please and fire whom they please?

    3. Parents of kids in the best urban schools would quickly place their kids in private schools if they were able.

    Schooling is a fee-for-service enterprise which producers will generate in response to demand, not a public good like bridges. Who needs a state agency as a supplier? Why not re-incorporate extant public schools as philanthropies and then have the sheriff’s department erect schools to teach (or lash in place) the incorrigibles no one else will chance?

    4. Support for school bond initiatives would quickly collapse around the state, except for good schools a great enoough distance away that they wouldn’t have to worry about “outsiders taking over our schools.”

    Why not re-incorporate the extant schools as philanthropies and have them borrow money on their own account?

    In response to concerns that public subsidies will generate the same economic and financial dynamic which obtained in medical care and higher education, why not prohibit these philanthropies from charging tuition? They can subsist on state vouchers, donations, and endowment income. If one is concerned about quality control, have the state board of regents hold mandatory examinations each year and have the secretary of state revoke the charters of schools at the bottom of the league tables.

    Sorry to be a grouch.

  • Arizona and other states have state wide open enrollment laws. Arizona’s law has weasel language that makes me wonder how effective it would be.

    “Arizona Open Enrollment Law.
    The State of Arizona requires that every school district must have an “Open Enrollment Policy.” Students are permitted to request enrollment in any school in the entire state regardless of geographic location. However, there are space limitations which can make transfer to some schools difficult. Each school district can adapt unique requirements, but parents do have options. Each individual school district can answer your specific questions and are required to accommodate requests if reasonably possible. An Enrollment Transfer Request is required.”

  • You are preaching to the choir Art as far as I am concerned.

  • Don, of course enrollment would be subject to seating capacity limitations.

  • Then what good does open enrollment across a state do if the best public schools are fully occupied? Unless some sort of lottery system was used, I would imagine that enrollment would consist overwhelmingly of students living close to the school and whose parents would have contacts with the administrators who would run the schools, not to mention members of the local school board.

  • A lottery would work. Implemented alongside charter schools, you’d have a publicly funded race to the top. It’s my understanding (perhaps erroneous) that open admissions + lottery + charter schools works in Arizona.

  • And if I may repeat myself, you are *assuming* that the “best” (by what measure?) public schools will fill up quickly. It is not necessarily so. Proximity appears to be a large draw to a school that for many parents will trump other concerns.

  • That’s a good point Bearing. Do people relocate to be within the geographical boundaries of a good school district or do they move to a location where there are good schools close by? It doesn’t sound like much of a distinction but there is. I can’t really see someone voluntarily moving to an area with poor performing schools thinking that they’ll just haul the 20 miles every day to a better district.

That's One Small Step for Wang

Monday, August 16, AD 2010

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  I hate to disagree with the Onion but they are off-base here.  Communist China has absolutely no difficulty in having people volunteer to be astronauts.  My guess is that one factor in enticing volunteers is the fine cuisine prepared for the astronauts as detailed here.  Astro could not be reached for comment.  Bon a petit Comrades!

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Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

The proposed mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, site of the September 11, 2001 attacks has brought a sweeping condemnation from both rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia. Now that President Barack Obama has weighed in the matter, seemingly supporting the effort, one can only imagine how this will be used in the fall elections. However, a rift has appeared to have been opened concerning the views of the rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia following the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker over same-sex marriage. Many of the conservative intelligentsia, along with the establishment wing of the Republican Party has either been silent or voiced the view that the wished the whole gay marriage issue would simply go away. This has led to bewilderment from some conservative voices.

The best Catholic tie in with the efforts to build a mosque on Ground Zero came from the famed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is Jewish. In his opposition to the mosque being built near Ground Zero, he correctly pointed out that Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.

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27 Responses to Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage

  • Which members of the conservative intelligentsia who aren’t also rank and file Republicans, have expressed opposition to the mosque?

  • There are plenty of natural law and non-religious arguments against homosexuality. It is not a natural co-equal with heterosexuality. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Men and woman are complementary, not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically.

    Homosexuals have significantly higher levels of: mental health problems, psychological disorders such as suicide and depression, sexual addiction and coercion, promiscuity, STDs, violence, and addictions of all kinds including alcoholism and drug abuse.

    Almost every society, primitive and complex, has had laws and taboos against homosexuality. This isn’t just a Christian thing. There will always be a visceral reaction to homosexuality because it goes to the very heart of the survival of our species.

    Where homosexuality occurs in the animal world, it is primarily a temporary condition, and when the opportunity presents itself, animals will copulate heterosexually.

    Two-parent heterosexual families, despite the exceptions, are proven over history, across cultures, as the better way for healthy child development. Healthy children produce healthy societies.

    It’s time, in my opinion, for a Constitutional amendment that establishes once and for all that marriage is between one man and one woman. Then we can put this issue to bed.

  • I was rather hoping you would offer some analysis as to WHY so many self-described conservatives are backing away from the defense of traditional marriage. I suppose it is because Americans of all stripes have internalized the notion that it is “mean” to express “intolerance” toward homosexuality. Genuine intolerance, however, including intolerance toward Catholics, remains quite socially acceptable.

  • discarding Western Civilization’s definition of marriage (2,000+ years) is simply a non starter.

    As pointed out above, it’s not just Western Civ’s definition, it has been humanity’s definition since recorded history, and likely pre-dates that as well. try more like 5,000+ years.

  • From what I can tell, those members of the conservative “intelligencia” who aren’t members of Fox & Friends or proprieters of talk radio shows have mostly remained in favor of religious freedom — as they should.

  • Try on this one, Bunky:

    “Rank and file liberal catholics and the liberal catholic intelligentsia united in outrage over tax cuts for the rich, not so with abortion.”

  • I was rather hoping you would offer some analysis as to WHY so many self-described conservatives are backing away from the defense of traditional marriage.

    I suspect you usually could not do this without making evaluations of their personal disposition and conduct, as in noting that some folk appear other-directed by default (Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher) or have been married four times (Theodore Olson), or make use of the self-description ‘conservative’ to obfuscate (Conor Friedersdorf).

    Someone on the payroll of The American Conservative or the Rockford Institute can likely also supply a dismissive commentary to the effect that those resisting this burlesque have neglected some deeper cultural deficiency which these resisters are too shallow to detect and about which we can do nothing in any case.

  • “Rank and file liberal catholics and the liberal catholic intelligentsia united in outrage over tax cuts for the rich, not so with abortion.”

    Fits alright.

  • Homosexuals have significantly higher levels of: mental health problems, psychological disorders such as suicide and depression, sexual addiction and coercion, promiscuity, STDs, violence, and addictions of all kinds including alcoholism and drug abuse.

    Same can be said of blacks. I don’t find that a convincing argument. If you’re going to oppose gay marriage on secular grounds, I think you have to rest on the procreation argument.

  • I’d postulate that people don’t feel as threatened by gay marriage as they are by Islam. Homosexuals never killed 3000 people in my backyard.

  • Tide turning towards Catholicism? Just today I read a credible report saying that in the last 10+ Catholic marriages have decreased. One point of view is that the religion is too strict and another is that it is not needed with modern thinking. I just had a conversation with a liberal who said life is a pendulum goes from one extreme to the other finding it’s way in the middle. I do not believe this that societies do go by the wayside, that they undo themselves, with no virtue to survive pop trends.

  • I don’t find that a convincing argument. If you’re going to oppose gay marriage on secular grounds, I think you have to rest on the procreation argument.

    Why don’t you try making the case FOR it? Start with an explanation of why male friendships which do not incorporate sodomy as part of their daily practice should received less recognition than those which do.

  • Art Deco, I don’t know why you want me to make the case for it but you asked so I’ll try.

    The closer the relationship, the greater the rights and responsibilities between them are. If we want to legally protect expectation interests, we will want to recognize intimately committed couples in ways that we don’t recognize mere friendships. We may also want to legally recognize friendships but that’s not at issue here.

  • RR,

    We have an association that is sterile and undertaken in a social matrix where sexual activity is treated as fun-n-games. Why should this be honored? Why is it deemed ‘closer’ than the fraternity that bound my father to the man who was his dearest friend for 48 of his 51 years? What are ‘expectation interests’? Why do you want to protect them?

    My question was rhetorical. The gay lobby wants this as a gesture of deference. The only reason to give it to them is that they will be put out by refusal. Lots of people do not get their way, and public policy is enough of a zero sum game that that is inevitable. For some, it is incorporated into their amour-propre to regard some clamoring constituencies as composed of those who are So Very Special. Then there’s the rest of thus, who are not so well represented in the appellate judiciary.

  • AD,

    We have an association that is sterile and undertaken in a social matrix where sexual activity is treated as fun-n-games. Why should this be honored?

    It shouldn’t.

    Why is it deemed ‘closer’ than the fraternity that bound my father to the man who was his dearest friend for 48 of his 51 years? What are ‘expectation interests’? Why do you want to protect them?

    I assume your father and his friend didn’t rely on each other for financial support. When people form an association with the mutual expectation that they take on certain duties, it would be unjust to allow one party to escape their duties at the expense of the other(s). It’s why we enforce contracts. If your father and his friend did have such an arrangement, it should be enforced.

  • I’d postulate that people don’t feel as threatened by gay marriage as they are by Islam. Homosexuals never killed 3000 people in my backyard.

    Neither have illegal immigrants, but that hasn’t stopped an upsurge in hostility and resentment towards them as a group.

  • Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.

    Nobody would object if those wanting to building the mosque volunteered to build it elsewhere. But who is the more honorable person? The Jew who welcomed the Carmelites or the Jew who told them to go somewhere else?

  • Neither have illegal immigrants, but that hasn’t stopped an upsurge in hostility and resentment towards them as a group.

    They ignored the law and act to frustrate lawfully constituted immigration policy. Can we have a wee bit o’ antagonism, pretty please?

  • I assume your father and his friend didn’t rely on each other for financial support.

    I cannot say if they borrowed money from each other or not. Ordinarily, working aged men are expected to be self-supporting if not disabled.

    When people form an association with the mutual expectation that they take on certain duties,

    Human relations are not commercial transactions and the law does not ordinarily enforce amorphous and unwritten ‘expectations’ that someone else is going to pay your rent.

    Right now, RR, I am pricing insurance policies. I was offered (unbidden) discount rates by the agent if I was in some sort of ‘committed relationship’ with some other dude. Uh, no, nothing like that Chez Deco, ever. I inquired about purchases for my sister. No discount offers there.

    Maybe sis and I can manufacture an ‘expectations interest’ and get you and Judge Walker to work on our problem.

  • And if it is written?

    Are you opposed to insurance discounts for spouses or for discounts for siblings?

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  • This article has a lot of interesting points. However, it rambles all over the place. The essay would have been easier to understand if it was broken up into three mini essays.

    There’s no intrinsic connection between the Cordoba Mosque, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. Why lament that some conservatives have an opinion on one topic but not the other? You might (rightfully) argue that the establishment of a mosque near Ground Zero does not carry even a tenth of the socio-moral import of same sex marriage. But the logical independence of the two questions renders party lockstep on the two issues irrelevant. Let the GOP/right/conservative rank and file make up their own minds about the relationship between these two variables.

    Gratuitous aside: I know that you and other faithful/orthodox Catholic bloggers must boost reparative therapy. To not do so would negatively impact one’s orthodox Catholic street cred. Still, one can be a faithful Catholic, live morally, and not support COURAGE. Indeed, I found the meetings emotionally intrusive and psychologically manipulative. I wish that the Catholic orthodox/conservative/right would think twice before lavishing praise on an organization and therapeutic model that at the very least has emotionally troubled some participants. Sing your praises only after attending a meeting or two.

  • Sorta Catholic, the beauty of writing an article for a blog or newspaper column is that you have the freedom to write it as you see fit. Perhaps, some would like shorter columns, while others may favor longer columns, the choice is up to the writer.

    As for Courage, the group’s spiritual mentor is Father Benedict Groeschel, his credentials are certainly good enough for me. Perhaps, the meeting you attended was not run properly. I can only tell you that the group is trying to impart the Church’s teachings in a world that has become enamored with self, and not with faith.

    As for orthodox-minded street cred, we aren’t trying to impress anyone only help spread the message of Christ through His Church. We have divergent opinions on a variety of topics, but yet we fall under the same umbrella of supporting the Church’s teachings. The longer you submit to the will of God, the more you realize the wisdom of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church. It really does make you a more content indiviudal, free from the whims of the modern world. Take care!

  • It is a shame that the likes of Beck, Coulter and Limbaugh would let their libertarian views get the best of them when it comes to SSM. Divorcing that from their preaching for conservative values is not the charitable thing to do when the eternal salvation of those who engage in homosexual acts is at stake. Frankly, by doing so, they are committing the grievous sin of omission. A priest in Texas recently made that point clear when he said that Catholics have a moral duty to oppose abortion and SSM.

  • By the way, one of my favorite journalists, WorldNetDaily’s founder Joseph Farah, hits the nail on the head of this issue in offering his take on why some conservatives are “capitulating” to the gay agenda pushers: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=192761

  • Hi Dave,

    A person that bases his or her judgement of an organization on the perceived reputation of a founder/leader/mentor in that organization commits the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”. Now, Fr. Groschel is an upstanding authority. I respect him as a religious leader even if I do not agree with many of his points. Even so, the absolute metric for any organization is its ideology/methodology. Perhaps you’ve provided a rigorous defense of reparative therapy elsewhere on your website. If so, point me there. Otherwise, an appeal to authority without prior analysis of an institution’s ideology or methodology is rather insubstantial.

    Appeals to authority or subjective statements such as “X is trying to impart the Church’s teachings […]” sometimes hide insufficient research. Also, “orthodoxy” (i.e. strict adherence to a religion’s dogma/doctrine) does not guarantee the success or failure of a particular therapy.

  • Hi SortaCatholic, I hope your day is going well. I must say that I find these sorts of exchanges very interesting. I don’t believe my “Appeal to Authority,” is some sort of man made or earthly authority. You see I have worked for the Church in a number of capacities. I have seen the good, bad and the ugly. There is some great people who work for the Church and some really inept ones. I have always felt with all of these inept folks, the Church would have to be who she says she is to have survived 2,000 years!

    Perhaps someone at Courage might come across this and answer some of your questions. I do know that God does help us and prayer does work, but rarely in the sort of miraculous way in which we would like it to happen. God sorts and sifts us. We all have our own sets of problems, blessings, gifts, talents and struggles. I have always found Christ’s words of seek and you shall find, knock and you will be heard to be very true (Matthew 7:7-11.) In addition, I have always found this Scripture reading from Hebrews about God showing us the way through trial and struggle very revealing in my own life (Hebrews 12:5-12.) Take care!

MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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One Response to MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Tattooed Vermin of the Apocalypse

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

 

In this series of posts I intend to give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We will start off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  The first of the Hamsters is the Tattooed Vermin.

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43 Responses to The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Tattooed Vermin of the Apocalypse

  • A beauty of a rant, Don. And how true!

  • The most ridiculous tattoo I’ve seen was at the wedding of a young co-worker several years ago. The bridesmaids wore halter top gowns with exposed backs and one of them had a big wolf head tattooed on her back. Apparently she was “into wolves” when she was 16 – 10 years later, she was no longer interested in them, but the souvenir of her adolescent tastes was still imprinted on her flesh. The juxtaposition of elegant satin dress with ugly tattoo was quite striking, and not in a good way. (As a friend of mine who is very “into” old films says, “Would Audrey Hepburn get a tattoo? Or Grace Kelly?”)

    It’s one thing for 16 year olds to imagine that their teenaged likes and dislikes are permanent (if tattoos had been popular when I was a teenybopper, I might still be walking around with my high school boyfriend’s name and a picture of the Osmond Brothers adorning my carcass.) It’s another thing to believe that when you are in your 20’s.

  • Ah well, perhaps I am taking this all too seriously.

    Actually, I think this is the truest statement in your post. 😉

  • There are other reasons to get tattoos– my mom has a shamrock over her heart, and my sister has two– a pair of tiny Jesus-feet, one on her shaking-hand, one on her first-foot-forward.

  • Et tu Foxfier?

  • Nah, I didn’t even want to get my ears pierced. (Sibling pressure is amazing– sis couldn’t until I did.)

  • Considering your nautical background I am somewhat surprised that you didn’t get tattooed while you were a member of Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club.

  • Celtic crosses– and most anything saint, Catholic or Celtic-related– were declared “gang related symbols” a week after I hit my first duty station.

  • Including Gothic script, and most Latin phrases.

  • Down under over here ;-), tatoos are a part of the indigenous culture. Certain tatoos on the face of men for example, used to indicate his rank and seniority in his tribe.. Women who were looked on as being wise, ahd their own style of ‘moko’, or tattoo, mainly on their chin area.
    Samoans also have tattoo as a definer of rank. Their culture goes a step further with full body tattoo, which is the ultimate indicator of manhood.
    Many of our football players, whether of Maori, Samoan or Pacific Island descent or of European descent have tats, mainly on arms, occassionly facial.

    The problem is that now, much of the tats are done as ‘body adornment’ and have no bearing to rank. Many of the gangs now adopt strong tats as sign of intimidation – trying to indicate how tough they are.

    Many of the older Maori and Samoans are annoyed and insulted at the way traditional tattoos have become so fashionable, and the significance of the art is dumbed down and demeans their culture.

    On another note from another time, I also had mates in the navy back in the 60’s and 70’s who had a variety of tats – some of the more interesting included a fox tail down the back, with the fox obviously hiding in the ‘fox hole’. 🙂

  • Quite a few American Indian tribes used tattoos in similar ways Don. Tattoos that are part and parcel of an entire culture I have no problem with. As for sailors and their tatoos, I believe the fashion started in the Royal Navy when it came into contact with Polynesia in the Eighteenth Century.

  • As a woman, I thank God that I didn’t ever get drunk, lose my mind, and get a tattoo. I really don’t get the fascination with them.

  • Enjoyed the rant, Don. As the survey numbers suggest, there are different generational perspectives on this, but there’s something to be said for the artistry of a well done rant. What fun is griping if you can’t do it with style?

  • I was just warming up John Henry for the one on body piercing!

  • When I was in the Navy, the Boiler Tech Chief advised that, if you wanted a tat, don’t get one until you have settled on the exact image. Once you have decided, sleep on it, look through the books again, and, if you you still can’t imagine a tat other than the one you settled on the day before, get it.

    I didn’t get ink until about three years after leaving the Navy. I was hiking the AT and took a hitch-hiking detour to West Point. There, in that boneyard, among those monuments to generals I had never heard of, was a simple Celtic cross. There was something so sublime that I took a picture. The image stuck with me and I kept returning to the picture over the next few months. During the summer, I found a parlor with the right creds and had the image inked on my upper-arm.

    Not all ink is pathetic, my friend.

  • Think of it like marriage…but with the “massively bad idea, poorly thought out and entered with no reasonable notion of what they were getting into” statistics going the opposite way.

  • “Not all ink is pathetic, my friend.”

    Get back to me in three decades G-Veg, assuming I am still around.

  • If I don’t get up off of my settled rump and exercise a bit… there will undoubtably be serious “sagging”… Not buxom blond sagging, but, still…

  • Best tat ever:
    one of my grandfather’s Army buddies.

    A little lawnmower on his arm.

    Each morning, he’d shave his face, then a strip of hair on his arm, behind the mower……

  • You might consider that there’s some selection bias going on in the tats you observe.

    Perhaps there are a large number of perfectly ordinary-looking people around you who have tattoos that you don’t get outraged by, because the tattoos are small and unobtrusive or concealed by everyday clothing.

  • “Perhaps there are a large number of perfectly ordinary-looking people around you who have tattoos that you don’t get outraged by, because the tattoos are small and unobtrusive or concealed by everyday clothing.”

    What I don’t know obviously can’t outrage me bearing. I wish all tattoos were like that, and that people didn’t inflict their body pictures for me and the world to be forced to observe.

  • There was a psych study back in the 80’s that showed that people with more than one tattoo had increased behavioral/psych problems. I don’t know if anyone ever reproduced their results. Don’t know if anyone even bothered to try.

  • What I don’t know obviously can’t outrage me bearing. I wish all tattoos were like that, and that people didn’t inflict their body pictures for me and the world to be forced to observe

    I guess that ties back to Don the Kiwi’s point about the tattoo culture down under…

  • Phillip-
    Sounds like a “no, duh” study– just because so many folks with behavioral problems get tattoos. Given that they’re illegal in some countries, and disapproved of by many religions here in the US, and that it can easily be boiled down to a form of self-damage… same thing as with major piercing, or scarification. Shoot, if you assume one in a hundred of the sample were in gangs, that would blow the stats out of the water! (Actually…I don’t know if gangs did tats in the 80s. I was frankly more interested in Sat morning cartoons at the time.)

  • Don’t remember the details of the study after 25 years, so your critiques may be valid. Just pointing out that if a person has more than one tattoo there is likely to be more psych problems. That would go along with Don’s observation that more of his clients having tattoos.

    I don’t know if its obvious either that having one tattoo is not so big an issue (the drunken sailor not repeating his mistake) but having more than one tatto is a problem. But working back to Don’s point, if more people are having tattoos these days, is that because more people are having psych problems, or has the image in society of the body and its use/dignity changed over the years? I might say the latter.

  • I agree– when my mom was a girl, she was allowed to wear jeans to do the morning chores…but only under her skirt. When she got to college, it was a big deal that she was wearing slacks and jeans and not a lot of skirts.

    Now, it’s odd for a girl to wear skirts all the time. (Odd as in comment-worthy, not odd as in freaky.)

  • As a member of a younger generation, I disagree. Tattoos are cool!

    Back when I had piercings, my parents made me take them out in church. Parents don’t seem to care about that anymore. I don’t mind either. The only thing that bothers me are the girls at Mass in what looks like underwear. I always tell them that they forgot to wear their pants again.

  • “Tattoos are cool!”

    That you have fallen to the blandishments of the tattooed vermin of the seven hamsters of the apocalypse surprises me not one whit restrainedradical!

    “Parents don’t seem to care about that anymore.”

    This parent certainly does! Piercings do function as a useful idiot detector however, present company excepted I am sure.

    Now you’ve got me curious restrainedradical. Do you have any kids, and if so, are they teenagers yet?

  • No surprise. Get back to me restrainedradical when and if you have kids and little restrainedradical is closing in on 14.

  • “…and little restrained radical is closing in on 14.”

    These days try ten.

  • I read somewhere that tattoos are popular with the young because it is a substitute for coming of age rituals that we no longer have or require our youth to attend…the pain associated with the process is part of this “ritual”…this actually makes some sense to me…my son’s first tattoo was self inflicted and must have been uber painful to boot – his second tat was a “mom” banner inside a heart….which made me go “awwww” even as I was freaked out that he was irrevocably marking his body …there are worse things I suppose and in his case those worse things came and broke both our hearts…so the tats in a way were prophecies of bad things coming down the road…hindsight is twenty twenty….sigh……

  • Okay, when do we get the second hamster?

  • The Pierced Vermin should slouch his way onto the blog in a week or two.

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  • I just read Pierced Vermin and had to return to read about the tattoos. I work as an RN with many younger nurses in a major metro hospital. Many of them have tattoos and most are covered by their clothing. Honestly, rarely do I see one that I think looks good or attractive. They get them on vacation in Vegas, Mexico. etc. I’m sure a few adult beverages were consumed before the decision was made. Some are creepy looking and randomly placed on ankles, rib cage (ouch), inside wrists and on and on. Also, I’ve cared for patients with tattoos on almost every inch of their skin. The themes were frightening and hellish. I felt like I should sprinkle a little holy water on them.

  • We live in a bizarre world Ruby, and it is getting more bizarre by the mmoment, and nurses and attorneys get to see more than their fair share.

  • Ruby – had I been Catholic at the time my son got his tats I would have sprinkled him with holy water if I had thought of it…His name is Janos…please pray for him….thanks…

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  • The thing I find odd is that, as fascinated as people are with tattoos, they’re equally contemptuous of any sort of temporary tattoo. Yet that seems like the perfect solution, especially in a society where everything else is temporary. Get “Ruby” painted on your chest with something that’ll wash off in 3 months, and you’ll probably be broken up with her by then anyway. Or keep adjusting the position of your dolphin tat as things sag.

    It’s just pretty weird that a society that accepts temporary marriage will call you a chicken if you don’t want your body art to be permanent.

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  • I have always had two reasons for not getting a tattoo: (1) I could not think of anything that I knew would be an absolutely permanent representation of who I was, save for signs of my faith which should have been lived, not just worn; and (2) I am a complete coward who loathes and fears needles.

    The degree to which Reason #1 is merely a rationalization of Reason #2 even I don’t know, so feel free to think your worst. 🙂

    But having married a woman who *did* find such permanent self-representations and chose to wear them as part of herself, I can say that there *are* those out there who adopt tattoos responsibly, meaningfully and unashamedly. My wife is a writer, and her largest tattoo (an upper-arm work which can be covered conveniently) comprises two quotes written in a spiral: “Be neat and orderly in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and creative in your work” (Flaubert), and “Listen to stories; it’s always polite, and sometimes it improves you” (The Ramayama). This permanent artwork is a vital touchstone of her memory and identity.

    As with all else, tattoos can be a symbol of something permanent and meaningful, or a record of one’s impulses and bad judgement; it takes knowing the person to know which, but judging by the mere appearance is not always the wisest course.

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On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

Saturday, August 14, AD 2010

One of the interesting (by which I mean dull, predictable and repetitive) aspects of the 24 hour news cycle is that all forms of media have incentives to magnify and actively seek out controversy. Not only does this increase ratings/page views/newspaper sales, it provides media outlets with something – anything in a slow news month – to talk about. I can’t help but feel that the recent outburst of commentary about the construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks is the type of story designed to increase media consumption and accomplish little else. The First Amendment is not in dispute here; freedom of religion is well established and protected by settled case law. Furthermore, the proposed mosque is to be constructed on private property, and there is no legal reason to challenge its construction. And so most of the discussion revolves (and frequently devolves) around taste and symbolism.

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44 Responses to On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

  • I take your point about media generated controversies, but I’m not sure I’d place the mosque controversies at least entirely in that category. I find the following aspects of this controversy to be very remarkable and worthy of reflection:

    1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.

    2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.

    3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.

    I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

  • I suppose, in turn, I take your point Kyle. There are important issues connected to the controversy (although points 1 and 3 strike me as rather fringish, self-marginalizing ideas). I think it is a matter for serious concern that so many voices on the right have picked this particular battle. At the same time, I do not see why it is a national, rather than a local, issue. There is no legal basis for challenging the mosque’s construction, and there is virtually no chance of that changing in the near future (barring a cataclysmic series of events). I am glad that liberals have stated these truths and criticized the over-heated rhetoric from the right, but I still see this more as a controversy-of-the-day, rather than a matter of significant national import.

  • John Henry,

    There are a lot of things I can say about your perspective, and few of them would be very flattering. I’ll limit myself to this: as a Catholic, you ought to have a better understanding and appreciation of the symbolic. To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    “there is little reason for anyone else aside from the families of the victims of 9/11 or residents of that area of New York to comment”

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much 🙂

    Kyle,

    “1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.”

    It has not. And someone ought to question the wisdom of the builders.

    Moreover, people have a right to make legal challenges if they like. It doesn’t mean they will succeed, and they may even be charged with the court cost if their case turns out to be frivolous.

    Finally, some suspect that the mosque is funded by a man with ties to terrorism.

    “2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.”

    No, I think it is more accurate to say that Islamic terrorists are being portrayed as consistent Muslims, while the “moderate” Muslim is being portrayed as inconsistent, given the clear teachings of the Koran on the relations between Muslims and infidels. You won’t find anything like that in the New Testament.

    “3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.”

    Yes, I don’t see the point in that. It isn’t a religion like others, to be sure, but in the West we tend to think of religion as something different (though not entirely unrelated) from politics, and from science, a legacy we can thank the Church for. These distinctions are what enabled Western society to advance far beyond others, I believe.

    Then again, I believe communism is a religion, just a secular one. Environmentalism is also fast becoming a religion, neo-pagan for some, secular for others.

    “challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation)”

    We are a Christian nation, if for no other reason than that the majority of Americans are Christians. If you mean in the substance of our policies, well they rest upon a Christian legacy anyway.

    In Lebanon, Islam “challenged the national narrative” of a Christian nation by repeatedly attempting to slaughter all of the Christians. Only God and the impenetrability of the mountains of Northern Lebanon saved them from that fate.

    Now I’m not saying that the Muslims who live here now either desire such a thing for the United States, or that they could do it if they did. I do wonder however how the picture will change if/when they become 20% of the population or more. This isn’t an observation limited to Islam either: ANY group with ANY ideas will seek to impose them more and more as their numbers grow. That’s just rational human political behavior, it is universal.

    Perhaps looking at Europe’s experience we would be wise to take certain precautions sooner, rather than later.

  • To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    Symbols can be important, but they can also be ambiguous or frivolous. I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism; just saying that this particular one wasn’t particularly fruitful given that there are very few repercussions for public policy.

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much

    This is silly, Joe. Saying that I don’t think a particular controversy is very valuable is hardly the same as saying I am upset that people are free to have it. I’m consistently on the side of freedom here – whether it be of religion or speech.

  • A commenter on a friend’s facebook page remarks that Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S. Teresamerica asserts that the sensitivity of the 9/11 families is grounds to refuse the building of the “ground zero” mosque. She’s not just questioning the wisdom of the building planners, but their legal right to build in that location. I can also point to the opposition the president has received in response to his statement that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as we all have. As for lawsuits: Exhibit A.

  • Cordova House: Why don’t we start a $100,000,000 fund to build a cathedral dedicated to St. Perfecto, a Spanish martyr murdered for the faith in Cordova during the 700 years the mass murderers held Spain?

    You geniuses will see how this plays out in November.

    Meanwhile, you will see a representative sample of 80% of US at 2PM on 11 September.

    You insensitive America-hating geniuses . . .

    Practicing their religion . . . flying large airplanes into tall buildings.

  • Regarding jihad, Adams states in his essay series,

    “…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”

    Confirming Adams’ assessment, the late Muslim scholar, Professor Majid Khadduri, wrote the following in his authoritative 1955 treatise on jihad, War and Peace in the Law of Islam :

    “Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared ‘some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ’. Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.”3

  • Kyle,

    Well, frankly, the cited examples all strike me as fairly marginal views. Your Facebook friend isn’t in favor of the First Amendment (and likely hasn’t really thought much about the history of Catholics in the United States); Teresaamerica is proposing manipulation of a city zoning requirement protecting landmarks to prevent the construction of the mosque, which is a rather startling example of using a facially neutral requirement for discriminatory purposes. As to lawsuits, they are unlikely to make it past summary judgment, if they even make it that far. As I said, there are important questions connected with this controversy, but for the most part these conversations involve issues more significant than – and distinct from – whether or not New York has another mosque.

    I should add, though, that I appreciate you taking the time to provide examples. It may be that I’m wrong about the significance of this particular controversy, or have chosen a poor example to illustrate the point I was trying to make.

  • T. Shaw – the purpose of this thread is not to debate the place of jihad within Islam; please try to provide comments that relate more directly to the topic of the post.

  • Right.

    “Taste”: I would use “sensitivity” or “sensibilities.” I know where your “head” is on this.

    Of course, the media actively magnified the immaterial, tragic events of 11 September 2001 (the boring History Channel mini-series they air each September need to cease and desist, too), so widows and other survivors have their evil bowels in an uproar over the religion of peace building a pacifist training camp two blocks away from where their little eichmann’s got it for liberating Kuwait from Saudi Arabian bases and supporting Israel.

  • “Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S.”

    This is one of the most laughable statements posted here in quite some time.

    All over the Muslim world, Muslims are denied the right to practice as they see fit. No whirling Dervishes if you are in Saudi Arabia. Want to wear a burqa in Turkey? Have fun in jail. Surely the hundreds of thousands of Muslims arrested each year on charges of “crimes against Islam” reveal the claim as absurd?

    And, with regards to Muslims not being able to practice in the US, what could your Facebook friend POSSIBLY mean by THAT allegation? Is she suggesting that opposing the building of a mosque at Ground Zero represents an absolute bar to the practicing of Islam in New York City or the United States as a whole? If so, she has lost her furry little mind.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees with opposing the building of Cordoba House at Ground Zero, we shouldn’t jump on the victimized bandwagon just yet. Lets face it, Cordoba House isn’t the first mosque to be built to praise Allah for a great victory… The Blue Mosque in Constantinople is.

  • John,

    “I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism”

    That wasn’t very clear originally. I thank you for the clarification.

    Kyle,

    Your link is just a link to people who want to stop the construction of one mosque. That is a far cry from arguing that “Muslims don’t have a right to practice their religion.”

    You know, we deny a lot of different religious groups the right to certain practices. We prosecute Christian “scientists” who refuse to give their children medicine when they are sick, for instance. So this idea of absolute religious freedom is as detached from history and reality as those who proclaim an absolute right to free speech. I don’t claim that there are grounds at the moment to deny certain aspects of Islam, but they could well arise at some point.

    My compromise would be this: today, right now, before 10% of our population is Muslim, we pass state or even federal constitutional amendments forever barring the implementation of Sharia law at any level. We make resolutions to avoid what has happened in Europe and some of the commonwealth countries, in which “culture” or “religion” has been used in courts of law to defend honor killers and rapists. We subject Islam to the same scrutiny that Christianity is subjected to in the public school system, and we stop these ridiculous charades in which children are forced to act like Muslims for a week as part of “cultural awareness.” It’s absurd.

  • G-Veg, I think your comment reflects a misunderstanding. Kyle’s FB friend was expressing their view of what should be rather than what is. Obviously, there are a lot of problems with his friend’s desired state of affairs and that (fortunately) is not currently the state of things in the U.S.

  • The constant invocation of Cordoba itself reeks of mealy-mouting of Catholics and the Christian faith in general. The legends of Al-Andalus and the alleged tolerance of Muslims for other religions have been amplified beyond caricature by Jews who couldn’t forgive Catholics for the expulsions and fabulists such as Borges and Fuentas who projected their fantasies onto a mideaval past. The strange thing is, Muslims themselves never cared for the comity of Cordoba, one can hardly find references to that aspect in their earlier writings; bin Laden wasn’t rueing for the Cordoba of fantastic memory. The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews, thus it is no surprise that Bloomberg is taken in. I look forward to the day when the very same boosters, complain when some Sheikh or other compares Jews to monkeys at Cordoba House.

  • Pauli’s link makes my point in an indirect way. What was the need for that anti-Catholic bigot Foxman to invoke the Auschwitz nuns to frighten off CAIR, when the salient comparison to the destruction of the WTC is in fact Pearl Harbour? It seems as though he wants us to forget that Catholic Poles in their hundreds of thousands perished in that camp. Is McGurn a Catholic? If so, he needs to stop drinking the ADL Kool-Aid.

  • I agree that symbolism is important. That’s why I think the efforts to stop the building project are so awful.

  • I wouldn’t try to stop them through the courts, but I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    There are a thousand and one good ways to foster better relations between Muslims who wish to disavow the violent teachings of the Koran, and Christians in the United States. This is not one of them.

  • Pingback: Religious Freedom vs. Theocratic Dictatorships « Vox Nova
  • I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    I agree. Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have. Why should they? They like their methods better. From passive aggressiveness all the way up to not-so-passive, that’s where they excel.

    In many ways I’m glad they are building this at ground zero to show their absolute smugness and insensitivity. It will further expose their nature.

  • Pauli,

    I think such generalizations are unfair, dangerous, and inaccurate when applied to a group of 1 billion people. A disturbing pattern is found in many long-running feuds/persecutions: 1) a group of individuals is lumped together on the basis of a distinguishing feature (whether it be race/religion/nationality/etc.) and identified as ‘the other’; 2) that group is then accused of having various negative characteristics to an unusual degree (e.g. greed, stupidity, or guilt for certain crimes); 3) these negative characteristics are then used as a pretext for denying rights to this group that other citizens enjoy. I am concerned about the implications of your comments.

  • I should have written “Muslim leaders” rather than merely “Muslims”. That’s my point. Islam doesn’t have one billion leaders. One billion people are not building a mosque. I can “generalize” about these leaders based on their past and present behavior. They don’t show the kind of sensitivity of the Holy Father in the link I posted.

    John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

  • John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

    My point was about language and the structure of your argument; to say language is similar is not to say the people are similar. Substitute Catholics/blacks/Israelis for Muslims in your comment above, and the similarities in language are quite striking. Btw, I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

  • I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

    Mmmmm, I see. That also provides a benefit that those subscribed to the comment thread get to see what you really think before your discretion kicks in and you self-censor. Maybe you should just write your comments down on scratch paper first and read them out loud to yourself. That’s what I do.

    Let me clarify my views further WRT the smugness and insensitivity of the Muslim leaders behind the building of the ground zero Mosque. I don’t think I would say the same about black leaders in general, Israeli leaders in general or Catholic leaders in general, and my proof for the third is in the link I provided earlier. This rules me out as a Klansman if there was any further question.

  • Pauli – you seem to be missing the point. I wasn’t saying that you feel similarly about Catholics/blacks/Israelis, etc. I was observing that your comment above about Muslims is very similar to the type of statements that the Klansmen of yore made about Catholics and Blacks, and radical Muslim groups today make about Israelis. You’ve said now that you were only speaking about ‘Muslim leaders,’ but I think, again, your statement still reflects a disturbing prejudice.

  • John Henry, here’s a question. Can you think of other comparable situations involving different religions other than Islam? Keep in mind that this project will be large costing millions of dollars. If I am prejudiced against Islam, then I have overlooked all the other times a different religion has done something comparable.

    Prejudice means to prejudge, to judge someone before you see any of there actions. For example, I see a black person and I think, “That person is probably a lazy bum, because blacks are lazy.” If I think this, then I am prejudiced. But what if I am able to observe a black person for several months and note many instances of laziness? Then I can state “He is lazy” without prejudice, can I not? This would only appear to be prejudice to a third person who didn’t know that I had many occasions to observe the laziness and who then made an assumption that the reason for my judgment was my own prejudice against blacks. This third person would himself be guilty of prejudging me.

    So give me some comparable situations throughout history to the ground zero mosque. Otherwise this word substitution exercise you are proposing smells like a red herring.

  • I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

    There are some disputes about the proportion of the population which is Muslim. (Robert Spencer offers that the most valid estimates appear to place that population at 3,000,000, or 1% of the whole). I do not think a minority that size ‘challenges national narratives’. (The appellate judiciary and the public interest bar have insisted on the adoption of enforced secularization, because that is the preferred policy in the social circles in which they run).

    Both you and John Henry might consider the possibility that past is not prologue, and that a muslim minority might eventually prove tragically incompatible with the general population, and that such an outcome is more likely if elite policy rewards rather than ignores (or penalizes) aggressive postures on the part of novel minorities.

  • The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04359b.htm

    “Owing to the peace which the Christians of Cordova then enjoyed, some knowledge of their condition has been preserved, among other things the name of their bishop, Joannes, also the fact that, at that period, the citizens of Cordova, Arabs, Christians, and Jews, enjoyed so high a degree of literary culture that the city was known as the New Athens. From all quarters came students eager to drink at its founts of knowledge. Among the men afterwards famous who studied at Cordova were the scholarly monk Gerbert, destined to sit on the Chair of Peter as Sylvester II (999-1003)”

    I suppose it’s possible Jews infiltrated the Catholic Encyclopedia’s editorial board.

  • Yeah, those silly martyrs didn’t know when they had it good!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyrs_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

  • restrainedcatholic, the article you linked to in its entirety, shows that Catholic scholars were not among those going gaga over Cordoba. The quote does not accurately convey the thrust of the article. By the sheer dance of things, there is bound to be a period when Christians and Jews enjoyed a measure of peace living among Muslims. This by itself is not sufficient to inspire the paens to Cordoba. Where for example is the equivalent Christian city? We know that there were Christian monarchs in the Iberian peninsula who were tolerant by the standards of that era. Yet no one is concerned to inflict their saga on us.

  • sorry I should have addressed the above to restrainedradical..

  • Donald, you should substitute the phrase “female African slaves” for “martyrs” in your sarcastic remark. How’s it sound then? Answer: very disturbing.

  • Let us assume that those financing Cordoba House are sincere in their desire to present the most tolerant face of Islam possible and that harkening back to an enlightened period of the Cordoban princes is meant to be a signal of the kind of tolerance they seek in America. Let us further accept the claim that the proximity to Ground Zero is meant to give voice to moderate and modern Islam – as an answer to the kind of religious extremism that brought the towers down and the world’s economic Goliath to his knees.

    It was surely possible to be a practicing Christian or Jew in Cordoba at various points. We have fairly modern examples to suggest that a calm, judicious application of the Koran and the Hadith to the interactions between religions leads to some degree of stability and freedom of worship. However, at its very best, this isn’t anything approximating Freedom of Religion. This is because Sharia law absolutely requires Theocracy. It presumes that Islam is right on a host of human interactions that allow for no deviation. However “tolerant” of other religious teachings an Islamic state seeks to be it cannot permit deviation on critical issues such as the nature of God, the duty of man to his family and to the community, and how work is organized. In even the most tolerant of Islamic states (indeed, I would argue that this is true of ALL theocratic states and that we are concentrating on Islamic states because they are the last of this old order), no Christian can be allowed to evangelize because, at its core, tolerant Islam nonetheless requires absolute adherence to basic Koranic doctrine as expressed through the Hadith. This is to say that the Spanish Caliphates may have been “tolerant” but only so long as the other faiths knew and stayed in their place. (This shouldn’t be surprising. There was a reason for the brutality and vindictiveness of the Spanish Inquisition and I doubt it was “payback” for six centuries of Islamic FAIR treatment.)

    Bringing my point back to Cordoba House: even IF those financing the project intend to signal the kind of “tolerance” that was supposedly exhibited under Muslim rule in Cordoba, that kind of “tolerance” is nothing akin to Freedom of Religion. Further, it “feels like” building a mosque so close to the place where the American economic model of a hundred years was destroyed is a sort of “victory dance” or, at least, a shrine to thank Allah for victory. My guess is that our ancestors felt the same way about the conversion of the Basilica at Constantinople into the Blue Mosque.

    If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    One final note: please do not interpret my writing to suggest that I believe that the engines of law ought to be brought to bear to prevent the building of the mosque. Indeed, even if it were called the “Usama Bin Laden Victory Mosque” and have individual shrines to the 911 “martyrs,” I would not want the state to act in an unconstitutional way. However, I take great exception to those who suggest that protesting the building of the mosque is un-American. Nothing is more democratic than to stand up for one’s views and to speak for oneself – not expecting the government to intervene

  • G-Veg: If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    Yeah, this is pretty much how Michael Medved phrased it today on his show. Either it’s a victory dance which means it’s horrible, or it’s an extremely poor and insensitive attempt at reconciliation.

  • Should you be glad that it’s named after a place that became exclusively Catholic?

  • Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Cordoba as a backhand compliment to Ferdinand and Isabelle; tell the hardhats its alright, they must get to work. Expedite the construction.

  • Good Morning restrainedradical,

    I’m not sure I follow you because I didn’t think we were talking about what I would do if I were going to sponsor a religious community in a place that would deeply offend. For this conversation, it is enough to articulate why I am offended and how the decision to build this mosque in a place where it appears to glory in misery is inappropriate.

    I’ll range farther though to say that I understand the impulse of the victor to raise monuments – to celebrate victory in a way that visits new injury on the defeated every time they are forced to accept and contemplate their impotency. It is a basic and base impulse. I mentioned the Blue Mosque as an example but there are many others such as the obelisk at the Vatican (doubly so if Wiki is right in noting that the obelisk was the center-point of the Circus Maximus).

    Monuments are built to channel human vision such as the Smithsonian and to inspire the way the Statue of Liberty does. They are built to control the divine (Stonehenge) or to refocus culture such as St. Petersburg. Sometimes they are merely the extension of man’s feeble attempt to control what happens after death (Pyramids at Giza). Often they are build to “immortalize” conquest such as Trafalgar Square and to put a face on a particular victory such as Admiral Nelson’s monument at Trafalgar. There are a lot of reasons to put mortar to stone and not all of them are base and mean.

    It is a fair question as to why those who seek to build Cordoba House at Ground Zero choose that location. The explanation given – that they seek to put a moderate face on Islam and to answer the extremism of September 11th with the understanding and tolerance of a thoroughly modern and moderate Islam – is difficult for many people to accept. I am one of them.

    I look at the speeches of its lead spokesman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and wonder how a man who believes that America invited the 911 attacks through its policies over the previous century can simultaneously believe that the building of a mosque on the site of those attacks would be perceived as other than a victory monument by extremists. The questions about funding further alarm me since our culture is accustomed to look with skepticism upon projects whose funding is hidden. I admit to looking with jaded eye on attempts to present the Koran and Hadith as purely religious – i.e. having no pre-requisite political, legal, and economic structure – strictures.

    Cast against this backdrop, calling the project “Cordoba House” and then withdrawing that name when confronted about its implications appears to me to be revealing. It suggests that the name choice was more illuminating about the hidden agenda of those building the center than they wished it to be.

    In many ways, the rise of Islam in the Americas presents a unique challenge to both Muslims and the broader society. Primary in the challenges is recasting the political, social, and economic structures inherent in the Koran and, particularly, in the Hadith as idealized analogies rather than divine order. Stated more simply, the Koran and the Hadith are incredibly specific as to how society as a whole, family life in particular, and the daily lives of individuals are to be organized. While it is true that the burqa and other such trappings of modern Islam are not ordained in the written word, it is fair to note that the vast majority of religious, economic, and political obligations are spelled out.

    In a modern, constitutionalist state such as the United States, there is an assumption that the duties of man to man and man to the broader society are limited by law maintained by virtually universal suffrage. The framework is set by the democratic institutions. The individual actions inside of that framework are set by our personal codes. Religion, in one sense, must accept the overall legal framework in order to be practiced freely. Stated differently, lest I be misunderstood to be saying that religion is subordinate to the State, the modern, diverse culture, the State guarantees a field of contest on which the worldviews can compete without being oppressed by organs of government. So long as those worldviews accept the framework, virtually any can operate freely (Scientology for example) without damaging the State.

    It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

  • G-Veg, similar things can be said of Judaism yet they developed doctrines that allow them to integrate into a pluralistic society. Christianity went through a similar transformation. Even if the Bible doesn’t command certain public policies, it became conventional wisdom that, for example, heresy should be a capital offense. Freedom of conscience didn’t hold as high a place as it does today.

    I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities that Islam can develop doctrines that can allow them to deemphasize teachings that prevent them from integrating. There will still be fundamentalists but they may become a tiny fringe minority with no mainstream support.

    We can aid in this process by supporting the moderates within Islam who are willing to abandon the more radical teachings.

  • It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

    Constitutional monarchy has functioned in Morocco for most the the last 50-odd years. Malaysia has always been a parliamentary state, if an illiberal one. There are several West African countries which have had elected governments for the last 20 to 35 years. The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions; outside of that, it is doubtful that muslim societies are more prone to tyranny than other societies at similar levels of economic development.

    A better statement of the question is whether a muslim minority can be amicably incorporated in a society where the judiciary, the social services apparat, the educational apparat, and much of the political class considers the vernacular society of the natives something which needs to be contained and leavened, and makes use of (often rude) immigrant populations in its battles with that vernacular society.

  • Bernard Lewis in his book The Jews in Islam writes,

    “The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their society in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam, and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.”

  • Art Deco,

    The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions.

    Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    My point is that an awful lot of this analysis passes over modern history as though it didn’t have any effect on how Islam first encountered representative systems of government.

  • Most of the Arab world was under colonial rule by Europe for a very brief period from shortly after World War I to shortly after World War II. The pathologies that afflict the Arab world are homegrown. It is representative institutions and the Western concept of human rights which are the legacy from Europe.

    In regard to Iran it is more accurate to say that we deposed a dictator, Mossadegh, and restored the Shah. The Shah was a squalid tyrant, but he gleams as positively enlightened compared to the rulers thrown up by the Shia Revolution.

  • Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    I keep having this argument with Maclin Horton’s troublesome blogging partner. I offer you the following inventory.

    European colonization in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia was limited to the Maghreb and to a small knock of Levantine territory (the Valley of Jezreel and a portion of the coastal plain running between Gaza and Haifa) difficult to see in an atlas of ordinary scale. In Morocco (and I believe in Tunisia as well), the French agricultural colonies were small (the total number of households being under 10,000), although a good deal of common land was enclosed and delivered to them. Demographically obtrusive colonization was found in Algeria (state supported and enforced) and in the Levant (as private and voluntary immigration financed by the Jewish National Fund, etc). I have seen some figures I do not quite trust that there was quite a bit of settlement in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as well.

    Egypt, the Sudan, Aden, the south Arabian sheikhdoms, the Trucial sheikhdoms, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Transjordan, and Iraq were all dependencies of Britain or France for periods ranging from 14 years to 72 years. Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria were dependencies of France for periods ranging from 26 years to 75 years. You had a rotating population of civil servants and soldiers and a foreign resident population there for business or missionary work (e.g. the founders of the American University of Beirut). There were, however, no colonists other than the aforementioned population of farmers. Morocco’s agricultural colonies were founded around 1928 and fully liquidated by about 1971.

    You may have noticed that Indonesia has had an elected government for the last 11 years, that elected administration has been modal in South Asia since 1947, and that elected governments are (at this point in time) rather more prevalent in Tropical and Southern Africa than they have been in the Arab world at any time in the last 50 years. The encounter between Europeans and natives was a good deal more durable, intrusive, and coercive in these loci than it ever was with regard to the Arab world.

    You may have noticed the United States had scant involvement in this enterprise of collecting overseas dependencies, and none at all in the Muslim world.

    You may also have noticed that the 9/11 crew were recruited not from Algeria (which did feel the French boot rather severely), but from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Egypt was a dependency of Britain in a juridically odd arrangement from 1881 to 1922; any complaints about this are not exactly topical. Neither the Hijaz nor the Nejd (united now as ‘Saudi Arabia’) was ever a dependency of any European power. Britain and Russia established some concessionary arrangements with Persia for a period of time (1907-25) in the early 20th century, but it was never a dependency of any European power.

    The four Arab countries which have had the most extensive experience with constitutional government (Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait) are all over the map as regards the duration and features of their encounter with Europe.

    As for the ‘legitimately elected government’ of Iran, parliamentary executives are generally dependent on the pleasure of the head of state, most especially when they have arbitrarily prorogued the country’s legislature (as Iran’s had been in 1953). Mohammed Mossadegh was no more entitled to rule by decree and disestablish the Persian monarchy (his ambitions) than was the Shah to run a royal dictatorship, but you win some and you lose some. Now, run down the list of states in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia which were sovereign for some time during the period running from 1953 to 1978 and identify those which had some measure of competitive electoral politics and public deliberation more often than not. That is a low bar that about 2/3 of the Latin American states could have met. The list will read as follows: Morocco, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya (perhaps), and Jordan (perhaps). That would be 6 or 8 of the 25 states of the region. It is just not fertile ground for parliamentary government, and a multi-ethnic state with a literacy rate of 8% is not promising material for a durable constitutional order in any case.

    I do not care what bilge Noam Chomsky or John Prados are pushing. The machinations of the CIA are not the reason competitive electoral politics has often been a transient state of affairs here there and the next place in this world (as it was prior to the CIA’s formation in 1947). The only good example of something resembling a democratic political order iced by the CIA would be Jacobo Arbenz’ government in Guatemala in 1954. Personally, I think Arbenz bears more resemblance to Juan Domingo Peron and Salvador Allende than he does to Latin America’s authentic constitutionalists, but it is difficult to find trustworthy histories of his life and times.

  • Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have.

    Clarification. I would like to take my second phrase back: “Never have,” which I wrote in ignorance. (Never say never, right?) It turns out that for a time, Muslim thinkers were at one time more reasonable and more at home with the use of reason. I learned that from this excellent piece interviewing Robert Reilly on his new book, the title of which is “Closing of the Muslim Mind”. It’s particularly germane to this discussion and sheds quite a bit of light on the B16/Regensberg thing as well.

    I believe my larger point stands, i.e., currently Muslims do not so much engage in apologetics as they do in a certain type of assertiveness about their beliefs, which is possibly a more useful word than aggressiveness for describing the particular tendency I wish to describe for purposes of this discussion.

Victory Over Japan

Saturday, August 14, AD 2010

Today marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the ending of the attempt of Japan to conquer East Asia and form a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.  In that attempt, Japanese forces murdered some three to ten million civilians.  This figure does not include civilian deaths caused from military operations which resulted from Japanese aggression or famines that ensued.  It is estimated that some 20,000,000 Chinese died as a result of Japan’s invasion.  Approximately a million Filipinos died during the military occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese.  The video above depicts the battle of Manila in which 100,000 Filipino civilians died.  During lulls in the fighting, Japanese troops would engage in orgies of rape and murder, with decapitation being a common method of killing.  Special targets were Red Cross workers, young women, children, nuns, priests, prisoners of war and hospital patients.

Victory by the US and its allies brought this Asian Holocaust to a stop.  Perhaps something else to recall on Catholic blogs each August.

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161 Responses to Victory Over Japan

  • Ends do not justify the means. The Church is very clear that the intentional killing of civilians is always unjust.

  • Now the Church is very clear. She has not been so clear in the past, as a cursory examination of the history of the Church would reveal. I find the August bomb follies a sickening ahistorical bout of Monday Morning quarterbacking by people who usually have not a clue about the actual historical record.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the end products of a ferocious and brutal war of conquest waged by the Empire of Japan. The August bomb follies focus on them and ignore the hecatombs of corpses produced by the Japanese. Every August I intend to remind people as much as possible about what brought about the atomic bombings, and why they were necessary.

  • Donald – I certainly agree with you. My Dad (US Army Platoon Sgt) was a “guest of the Emperor” (that means he was a Japanese POW) for almost 4 years. My Dad told me that when the atomic bombs were dropped, the POWs in the Japanese camps noticed a change in the behavior of the guards. This made my Dad nervous as there was a standing order to kill all POWs if the Americans landed on the Japanese mainland. The POWs were looking for signs of that and planned to go out with a fight. My Dad had several sticks of dynamite he had stolen from the copper mine he labored in, and he kept these wrapped in an oil cloth buried about 6 inches underneath where he laid his head at night. I am not kidding when an I say these POWs planned to not accept execution without a fight. My Dad talked to one of the guards and he said that there was a horrific bomb dropped by the Americans on two Japanese cities. He described to my Dad the results. My Dad was really scratching his head wondering what kind of bomb that could be. The guard told him it “even killed the little fishes in the streams for miles around the cities”. My Dad didn’t know of a bomb that could do the things this guard described. It was a bit of a mystery to the POWs, but they knew it was big, because of the marked change of behavior of the guards (they appeared less focused, more distracted, kind of stunned). My Dad believes that these two atomic bombs saved him, of course, but also many other people. I have never met a Japanese POW yet who didn’t agree with my Dad 100% on that . I know he is correct, and I laugh off the revisionists.

    I took my kids to see the Enola Gaye at the newer Smithsonian Museum near Dulles Airport. I pointed to the plane and explained to them that we would not be here, if it had not been for that very plane flying its famous mission. It was a great history lesson for them. I know some have felt displaying that plane was controversial – definitely not for our family! I didn’t know that that plane was displayed there until I got to the museum. Many things went through my head looking at it.

    In the video above of the Japanese signing the surrender papers, my Dad was on a ship heading home, with a lot of other POWs (American and British). He actually got to see from afar this surrender event as they passed by. My Dad said that a British Man of War ship lowered their flag in honor of the POWs on the transport ship. A British navy man and former POW told him that that was an unheard of honor at that time. My Dad and all the other POWs really appreciated their honor.

    I appreciate the videos above and discussion. It is important to remember history and learn all the lessons we can from it.

  • “The POWs were looking for signs of that and planned to go out with a fight. My Dad had several sticks of dynamite he had stolen from the copper mine he labored in, and he kept these wrapped in an oil cloth buried about 6 inches underneath where he laid his head at night.”

    Brian, I can’t even fathom the type of courage possessed by your Dad and his fellow prisoners. Starved, and no doubt beaten, they still planned to fight back. I stand in awe of them. You are correct that it was the intention of the Japanese to murder all POWs at the beginning of the invasion of the Home Islands. Of course captivity by the Japanese consisted of either murder or slow motion murder through starvation and beatings. Approximately 27.1% of all American POWs died in captivity, seven times the death rate of American POWs held by Germany. If the war had not been brought to a sudden halt, I have no doubt that you are correct and that your heroic father and his brave compatriots would have never survived their ordeal.

  • I find the August bomb follies a sickening ahistorical bout of Monday Morning quarterbacking by people who usually have not a clue about the actual historical record.

    Exactly. Ask a Filipino what Japanese occupation was like – one I met many years ago had an uncle who was shot dead in the street for failing to show the proper subservient attitude toward Japanese soldiers.

    The annual August self-castigation beloved by so many strikes me as just another example of Western self-hatred.

  • For the 1000th time: the U.S. was not targeting non-combatants with the atomic bombs. In fact, that would have been impossible given the fact that the line bewteen combatant and non-combatatnt was completely erased by the Imperial Japanese with their conscription of practically the entire adult population and training small children to roll under alllied tanks with explosives strapped to themselves.

    This is a salient fact calumnious jackasses like Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, and the pseudo-Catholic ignoramus Amen corner deliberately ignore.

  • Furthermore, if you search for a Catholic magisterial condemnation of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki you will search in vain.

  • “Every of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” CCC 2314

    L’Osservatore Romano in 1945 deplored the atomic bombing of Japan because of lack of protection for civilians. Bishop Fulton Sheen thought it was a horror. Eisenhower did not think it was necessary.

    Learning

  • “Eisenhower did not think it was necessary.”

    I assume Learning that you have been reading one of those idiotic cut and paste lists of quotations of famous Americans who supposedly opposed the bombings. Eisenhower first gave his opinion that the atomic bombings were unnecessary in 1963. At the time he said nothing. In 63 I think he also prefaced his remarks with the comment that he had been focused on the war in Europe and knew little about the situation in the Pacific war prior to the bombings. General Bradley in one of his letters mentions that he was the one who told Eisenhower about Hiroshima, remarking that it would knock Japan out of the war, and Eisenhower made no dissent to this observation.

    Bishop’s Sheen observation was made long after the war and after he knew how the wind was blowing in the Church. Bishop Sheen always tailored his thoughts to what the current policy of the Church was. The pre-Vatican II and post Vatican II Sheen could have had some interesting debates.

    “L’Osservatore Romano in 1945 deplored the atomic bombing of Japan because of lack of protection for civilians.”

    It also said that the bombings were a response to Axis aggression and Pope Pius XII when an American diplomat complained about the editorial said it was not authorized by him.

    An excellent resource for learning about what people actually said about the bombings at the time is Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiroshima-History-Robert-James-Maddox/dp/082621732X

  • “It is true – as Kuznick says – that Eisenhower claimed in 1963 to have opposed use of the A-bomb and to have forcefully argued his case to Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Kuznick does not however disclose (and Raimondo obviously has no idea) that independent evidence shows that Eisenhower’s recollection cannot be taken at face value. Parts of it are clearly false and the rest is unconfirmed. (The evidence is set out in Professor Maddox’s volume cited above, pp. 121-4, and in Barton J. Bernstein, “Ike and Hiroshima: Did He Oppose It?”, Journal of Strategic Studies, 10, 1987.) It is also true that Admiral William Leahy later condemned the use of the Bomb, but there is no reputable evidence that he did so at the time. One could go through a list of these military figures and say the same thing in each case. The chronology matters, and is the reason I carefully stated in my Guardian piece: “Contrary to popular myth, there is no documentary evidence that [Truman’s] military commanders advised him the bomb was unnecessary for Japan was about to surrender.” So far as I can tell from his conceptual chaos, Raimondo believes that almost all Truman’s commanders opposed the A-bomb decision. He’s wrong.”
    http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2007/08/still-more-on-h.html

    In regard to the August bomb follies, one of the things I find most irritating about it is the rank historical ignorance on display each year. People rely on the same recycled drek floating around the internet and never do any actual research or read any of the relevant books on the subject.

  • “Every of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” CCC 2314

    This CCC statement, taken form Gaudium et Spes #80, IS NOT a proof text to condemn the Hiroshinma and Nagasaki bombings. For one, it does not address the issue of the line between combatant and non-combatant being erased. Secondly, it could not do so without contradicting moral principles already recognized by the Church.

  • “I assume Learning that you have been reading one of those idiotic cut and paste lists of quotations….”

    Three quarters of blogging is other cutting and pasting other quotes. St. Paul did it a lot too back in his day.

    Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul V thought nukes were evil also. If they did not condemn America out right it may have been for prudence sake. I think you folks are just making excuses for a total war mentality. The USA is not the only purveyor of this evil idea but has surely participated in them from the march through Georgia to the Indian wars to Dresden. Consequentialism in action.

  • “Three quarters of blogging is other cutting and pasting other quotes.”

    Doing it unthinkingly is a stupid waste of time. You have no actual knowledge of the controversy regarding Eisenhower’s remarks but were merely parroting what you had read on some anti-Hiroshima bombing site.

    “Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul V thought nukes were evil also. If they did not condemn America out right it may have been for prudence sake.”

    Good of you to volunteer to read their minds. Nuclear weapons are no more good or evil than any other weapon at the disposal of man. The good or the ill is in the use of the weapon, why and how.

    “The USA is not the only purveyor of this evil idea but has surely participated in them from the march through Georgia to the Indian wars to Dresden.”

    Paleocon pontificating. Come back when you can actually argue a case with something more than ex cathedra statements from yourself.

  • [My Dad had several sticks of dynamite he had stolen from the copper mine he labored in, and he kept these wrapped in an oil cloth buried about 6 inches underneath where he laid his head at night.”]

    No doubt the shameless slandering revisionist “apologists” would castigate your father by waving the seventh commandment about and intoning “thou shalt not steal” while your father (who in my eyes is a hero) did what he needed to do in order to survive. And of course if he had shot a bomb laden child waddling towards him in Okinawa or elsewhere these same sorts would be calling him a “murderer.” I have no doubt based on what I have observed from these sorts over the years that they would do that -and my money is that if there was not a sizable Catholic population in Nagasaki these sorts would not give a damn about this issue. Their fallacious provincialism is evident to anyone with eyes to see and it stinks much worse than three week old moldy fruit. Not to mention the constant appeal to “consequentialism” is bunk, I am probably the only Catholic in recent years who has actually bothered to explain what that term (along with “proportionalism”) even means* and it is quite evident that these clowns do not know what they are talking about.

    Indeed so many of these sorts have no problem engaging in the most uncharitable, unethical, irrational, and unCatholic of behaviour towards those who do not tip the biretta, bow three times, and incense uncritically their pro-offered proof texts from various and sundry church sources, etc. That unquestionably involves objectively grave matter on their parts and when you further consider that (i) they are not coerced to do so and (ii) the knowledge of these people (even so-called “big time apologists”) is far from being even vincible most of the time but instead is what would be called “crass ignorance”**, this does not bode well for them. For essentially, most “apologists” who approach these things are arguably guilty of mortal sin. (Particularly those who ignorantly attempt to brand what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as “war crimes” via shoddy methodology and the sort of Monday morning quarterbacking that if they had a conscience on these matter should make them ashamed of themselves.)

    * http://rerum-novarum.blogspot.com/2008_10_05_archive.html#8806531154296846595

    ** http://rerum-novarum.blogspot.com/2009_08_02_archive.html#3846558720127615604

  • So basically, your position is that nothing can be labelled consequentialist or proportionalist thinking unless a particular decision is made only 100% purely on consequentialist/proportionalist grounds. If anything else factors in, even 0.000001%, it is no longer consequentialist/proportionalist. Just want to be clear.

  • Bishop’s Sheen observation was made long after the war and after he knew how the wind was blowing in the Church. Bishop Sheen always tailored his thoughts to what the current policy of the Church was.

    Oh?

    From The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 1, 1946:

    Use of Atom Bomb Assailed by Sheen

    Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen of Catholic University in a sermon on April 7 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York scored our use of the bomb on Hiroshima as an act contrary to the moral law and said, “We have invited retaliation for that particular form of violence.”

    Both obliteration bombing and use of the atomic bomb are immoral, Msgr. Sheen said, because “they do away with the moral distinction that must be made in every war—a distinction between civilians and the military.”

    After quoting the Pope’s warning against destructive use of atomic energy in an address made at the opening session of the Pontifical Academy of Science on Feb. 21, 1943, Msgr. Sheen said: “It is to be noted that the Holy Father not only knew about atomic energy and something of its power, but he also, exercising his office as Chief Shepherd of the Church, asked the nations of the world never to use it destructively. This counsel was not taken. This moral voice was unheeded.”

    Discussing arguments that use of the atomic bomb shortened the war and saved the lives of American fighting men, Msgr. Sheen declared: “That was precisely the argument Hitler used in bombing Holland.”

    Link.

  • Thank you JohnH. I was unaware of that statement by Bishop Sheen. What I had seen was written around 1961 by him. Do you have a link to the actual text of of the remarks of Bishop Sheen on April 7, 1946? I can find nothing on the internet except what you linked to.

  • Donald, I don’t have access to any full texts. His remarks about Hiroshima turn up twice in the NYT archives from 1946, if you search there. It appears he was pounding this point home starting around when the bombing took place.

    Also, if you look at the free archives of Time magazine online, you can see that condemnation of the atomic bombing of Japan was widespread.

    See here:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,934449-2,00.html

    and:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,792444,00.html

    It seems that there was a fairly immediate condemnation of the bomb from clergy across the spectrum of the Catholic and Protestant worlds. So to suggest that the stances of people like Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, etc as “a sickening ahistorical bout of Monday Morning quarterbacking” seems rather ahistorical in itself. Their condemnation of the bombing follows in the footsteps of Catholics who were giving voice to this same condemnation in the months following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • The Federal Council of Churches cited in the first linked time article was an uber liberal group and associated with the World Council of Churches. Its postition can hardly be taken as representatives of protestants in general in this country.

    The second citation from Time is actually pretty nuanced if you read carefully the reactions:

    ” In one Gallup poll, 85% approved the use of the bomb against Japanese cities; and of the 49% who were against using poison gas, most explained that this was through their fear of retaliation—a possibility which, in the case of the bomb, they strangely overlooked.

    The Osservatore Romano’s unauthorized outburst regretted that the creators of the bomb had not followed da Vinci’s example (with his plans for the submarine) and destroyed it, on the ground that mankind is too evil to be trusted with such power. Later, men “high in Vatican circles” spoke of “useless massacre,”deplored “the circumstances which have compelled” the use of the bomb. London’s Catholic Herald recalled Pope Pius’ “Christian distinction between legitimate and illegitimate weapons of war.”

    The 34 U.S. clergymen (including John Haynes Holmes and A. J. Muste) who sent a protest and appeal to President Truman, while vigorously condemning the way in which the bomb was used, seemed to imply that its use might have been excusable to “save ourselves in an extremity of desperation.” They were “grateful for the scientific achievement” behind the bomb and wanted to see its power reserved “for constructive civilian uses.”

    Bishop Oxnam and John Foster Dulles, after protesting the first use of the bomb and pleading that the U.S. “follow the ways of Christian statesmanship,” wrote warmly after the Japanese surrender of the American “capacity for self-restraint” and of the impressive “practical demonstration of the possibility of atomic energy bringing war to an end.”

    The Christian Century, after flatly calling the use of the bomb “an American atrocity,” explained that this was because the editor did not believe that the “impetuous” manner of using it was “a military necessity.” The writer went on to say that military necessities are “beyond moral condemnation,” and that whatever is necessary is mandatory.”

    Monday morning quarterbacking is precisely what most modern critics are engaged in. Most are almost completely ignorant of the historical record, fail to acknowledge that Truman’s failure to use the bomb would almost certainly have killed far more civilians, and frankly they could care less in any case. They are deeply unserious individuals who live in peace and security precisely by the hard decisions made by men like Truman.

  • They are deeply unserious individuals who live in peace and security precisely by the hard decisions made by men like Truman.

    Unserious individuals such as Pope Paul VI?

    If the consciousness of universal brotherhood truly penetrates into the hearts of men, will they still need to arm themselves to the point of becoming blind and fanatic killers of their brethren who in themselves are innocent, and of perpetrating, as a contribution to Peace, butchery of untold magnitude, as at Hiroshima on 6 August 1945?
    Pope Paul VI, January 1976

    Or maybe someone ignorant of the historical record like Pope John Paul II?

    I bow my head as I recall the memory of thousands of men, women and children who lost their lives in that one terrible moment, or who for long years carried in their bodies and minds those seeds of death which inexorably pursued their process of destruction. The final balance of the human suffering that began here has not been fully drawn up, nor has the total human cost been tallied, especially when one sees what nuclear war has done — and could still do — to our ideas, our attitudes and our civilization.
    —Pope John Paul II, Hiroshima, 1981

    And, of course, the Catechism:

    “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons—especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes.

    Thanks, but I think I’ll stay “unserious”.

  • John Paul II would not have likely lived to write those words but for the Allied war effort that destroyed the Nazi regime which was intent on exterminating most Poles. The first bomb would have been used on Berlin but for the Nazi surrender. The great tragedy of the attomic bomb program was that it could not have been completed earlier, say in 1943, and brought World War II to a rapid conclusion, sparing tens of millions of lives.

    You are of course at liberty JohnH to be just as unserious as you have a mind to be.

  • The great tragedy of the attomic bomb program was that it could not have been completed earlier, say in 1943

    The same year Venerable Pius XII warned of using atomic power in a destructive manner.

    Sorry, but your position on this matter is just not in the Catholic mindset. Defend it if you must, but don’t try and pretend it’s Catholic.

    and brought World War II to a rapid conclusion, sparing tens of millions of lives.

    As Sheen said:

    Discussing arguments that use of the atomic bomb shortened the war and saved the lives of American fighting men, Msgr. Sheen declared: “That was precisely the argument Hitler used in bombing Holland.”

  • Actually JohnH my viewpoint is completely Catholic on this issue, if one does not confuse Catholicism as something that came into being only in the last century.

    Sheen’s statement was idiotic, and morally repulsive. Hitler was fighting for world conquest and to set the stage for his extermination of the Jews of Europe and other “undesirable” races. The comparison was unworthy of both his intelligence and his office.

  • Sheen’s statement was idiotic, and morally repulsive. Hitler was fighting for world conquest and to set the stage for his extermination of the Jews of Europe and other “undesirable” races. The comparison was unworthy of both his intelligence and his office.

    I think Sheen’s point was that we should not stoop to the total warfare barbarism embraced by thugs such as Hitler.

    Actually JohnH my viewpoint is completely Catholic on this issue, if one does not confuse Catholicism as something that came into being only in the last century.

    Really? I’d really like to see how you can mount a defense of the 20th century atomic bomb using Catholic teaching from the previous centuries, when destruction on this scale was unimaginable.

  • JohnH, do you think it is permissible under Catholic teaching to punish the innocent and the guilty? A simple yes or no will suffice.

  • Donald, I think what you mean is “do you think it is permissible under Catholic teaching to punish the innocent as a means to accomplish good”. And the answer is no. That is a perversion of the principle of double effect.

  • Actually JohnH I meant what I said, but I will accept your answer. I often use this passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia to demonstrate how differently the Church used to view things:

    “Whereas excommunication is exclusively a censure, intended to lead a guilty person back to repentance, an interdict, like suspension, may be imposed either as a censure or as a vindictive punishment. In both cases there must have been a grave crime; if the penalty has been inflicted for an indefinite period and with a view to making the guilty one amend his evil ways it is imposed as a censure; if, however, it is imposed for a definite time, and no reparation is demanded of the individuals at fault, it is inflicted as a punishment. Consequently the interdicts still in vogue in virtue of the Constitution “Apostolicae Sedis” and the Council of Trent are censures; whilst the interdict recently (1909) placed by Pius X on the town of Adria for fifteen days was a punishment. Strictly speaking, only the particular personal interdict is in all cases a perfect censure, because it alone affects definite persons, while the other interdicts do not affect the individuals except indirectly and inasmuch as they form part of a body or belong to the interdicted territory or place. That is also the reason why only particular personal interdicts, including the prohibition to enter a church suppose a personal fault. In all other cases, on the contrary, although a fault has been committed, and it is intended to punish the guilty persons or make them amend, the interdict may affect and does affect some who are innocent, because it is not aimed directly at the individual but at a moral body, e.g. a chapter, a monastery, or all the inhabitants of a district or a town. If a chapter incur an interdict (Const. “Apost. Sedis”, interd., n. 1) for appealing to a future general council, the canons who did not vote for the forbidden resolution are, notwithstanding, obliged to observe the interdict. And the general local interdict suppressing all the Divine offices in a town will evidently fall on the innocent as well as the guilty. Such interdicts are therefore inflicted for the faults of moral bodies, of public authorities as such, of a whole population, and not for the faults of private individuals.”

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08073a.htm

    Now I assume that most modern Catholics would find this monstrous and I confess it gives me pause. Denying the sacraments to innocent parties simply because they are members of an erring group? I find that very hard to accept. However, such was taught by Mother Church for a very, very long time indeed. In regard to warfare, the same logic was used by popes time and time again in regard to sieges and other warfare measures that were entirely foreseeably going to have very adverse impact on innocent parties. The idea that it is intrinsically evil to deliberately harm the innocent is one that is embraced by the Catholc Church of today, but it was not so in the Catholic Church of yesteryear.

  • Placing a town under interdict (or even under seige) is not equivalent to the instant destruction of a city and its inhabitants.

    Can you try again?

  • “Placing a town under interdict”

    I agree JohnH, it is far worse. We are all going to die sooner or later, and bid farewell to this brief life. We depend upon the Church and her sacraments to escape damnation in the next life. The interdict deprived completely innocent people of these sacraments, the food of immortality.

    In regard to sieges, the whole tactic rested upon the fact that the garrison and the civilian inhabitants would starve. It was also known that plagues were much more likely when populations were packed together in besieged cities. A general, or the pope commanding the general, would have to be a complete idiot not to realize that sieges would lead to a civilian death toll.

  • They are deeply unserious individuals who live in peace and security precisely by the hard decisions made by men like Truman.

    I’m sure that when JP II was living in Communist Poland he thanked God nightly that Truman had nuked Hiroshima, thus providing him with such peace and security.

  • “I’m sure that when JP II was living in Communist Poland he thanked God nightly that Truman had nuked Hiroshima, thus providing him with such peace and security.”

    I am sure that John Paul II thought as little as he possibly could about the connection between the massive bombing raids that blasted apart German cities and civilians and the sparing of his life by the destruction of the Nazi regime at a hideous cost in the lives of innocent civilians. Probably he also thought as little as possible about the balance of terror between the US and the USSR which spared Europe a third world war.

  • I am sure that John Paul II thought as little as he possibly could about the connection between the massive bombing raids that blasted apart German cities and civilians and thereby spared his life.

    Maybe because there was no connection. JP II’s life wasn’t spared by those raids and neither were the lives of anyone else. On the other hand, hard decisions made by Truman did result in Poland being under Communist domination for the next several decades.

  • it is far worse… The interdict deprived completely innocent people of these sacraments, the food of immortality.

    I’m not sure if you understand what the interdict meant historically. Generally, even under interdict certain sacraments were available to the dying or those about to engage in battle.

    And if you can’t see the difference between a siege and a total destruction of a city, well… those are your moral blinkers, not mine.

  • Actually JohnH the interdict varied in severity. However, it was not uncommon for all sacraments to be denied, including the Last Rites.

    In regard to sieges, of course you reject it out of hand. It is inconvenient to your argument and you apparently have no response.

  • Btw, during the 1940s the population of Berlin was around three million. What Don appears to be contemplating is mass murder on a horrendous scale. That he tries to justify the position as Catholic based on an analogy to interdiction is bizarre.

  • Donald, Extreme Unction was denied at times, but usually not confession (even by Innocent III, who popularized the idea of the interdict).

    In regard to sieges, of course you reject it out of hand. It is inconvenient to your argument and you apparently have no response.

    Actually, I do have a response above. A siege of a town or city is not the same as total destruction of a town or city. I think that’s pretty clear.

  • Actually JohnH my viewpoint is completely Catholic on this issue, if one does not confuse Catholicism as something that came into being only in the last century.

    Don may have a point. I can’t find any Church statement from more than 100 years ago condemning the use of nuclear weapons. It’s almost like they didn’t exist back then or something.

    On the other hand, I find this dismissal of any statements from the last 100 years somewhat odd. Has Don become a Sedevacantist without telling anybody?

  • “Maybe because there was no connection. JP II’s life wasn’t spared by those raids and neither were the lives of anyone else. On the other hand, hard decisions made by Truman did result in Poland being under Communist domination for the next several decades.”

    BA, history is most definitely not your strong point. The degrading of the industrial war capacity of Germany was all important to the victory of the Allies. That you fail to acknowledge it, is not surprising.

    In regard to Poland, the Red Army was in charge. It would have taken nukes to get them out, probably a few on Moscow. Oops, that would have been morally inconvient wouldn’t it?

    In regard to the A-Bomb, that was the assumed target from the inception of the project. Take out Berlin, kill Hitler and the Nazi high command, and end the war. I think the tens of millions of people who died because this did not occur would agree with me that it was a great pity that it did not.

    In regard to the interdict argument, it strips away the idea that the Catholic Church has always regarded the innocent as having an all-embracing immunity.

  • “A siege of a town or city is not the same as total destruction of a town or city. I think that’s pretty clear.”

    More than a few sieges ended in the virtual destruction of the city or town. Is it the body count that is the difference, or is it a matter of intention between what was intended by besieging a medieval city and what was intended by bombing Hiroshima?

  • “Don may have a point. I can’t find any Church statement from more than 100 years ago condemning the use of nuclear weapons.”

    Please BA, you are not nearly as intentionally humorous as your namesake. The world looked quite a bit different to popes when they were secular rulers. Popes and church councils are now free to condemn actions in warfare that they would not have dreamed of condemning in the past when popes had the responsibility of conducting wars themselves. Perhaps this is all to the good and is part of God’s plan, or perhaps it is merely a blip in the long history of the Church. However, to deny the difference is to betray a stunning ignorance of Church history.

  • In regard to the interdict argument, it strips away the idea that the Catholic Church has always regarded the innocent as having an all-embracing immunity.

    Well, if you want to go down that road… Pope Innocent III, who popularized the interdict, also adopted rules at the Fourth Lateran Council that prohibited Jews from public office and compelled them to wear distinctive dress to set them apart from the general populace.

  • Quite true JohnH and other popes took an opposing view.

    In regard to the Interdict if there have ever been any popes who have condemned past uses of it by other popes, I am unaware of such statements.

  • Quite true JohnH and other popes took an opposing view.

    Can they be ignored? The other popes, I mean?

  • Can Innocent III be ignored? That most definitely is a problem for Catholics which is why such great emphasis is placed on ex cathedra statements. Of course popes since Vatican I have an unfair advantage over their predecessors in that they know the formula for making a papal pronouncement ex cathedra.

    My point in regard to the interdict was to distinguish it from the example that you chose. If part of Catholic teaching or praxis is to go down the memory hole it is handy to at least have popes who have lined up on opposing sides.

  • Out of curiosity, I took a look at the article on War from the old Catholic Encyclopedia (which Don cites as an example of how Catholics used to think before they were weenified). Here is an excerpt:

    In the prosecution of the war the killing or injuring of non-combatants (women, children, the aged and feeble, or even those capable of bearing arms but as a matter of fact not in any way participating in the war) is consequently barred, except where their simultaneous destruction is an unavoidable accident attending the attack upon the contending force. The wanton destruction of the property of such non-combatants, where it does not or will not minister maintenance or help to the state or its army, is likewise devoid of the requisite condition of necessity. In fact the wanton destruction of the property of the state or of combatants — i.e. where such destruction cannot make for their submission, reparation, or proportionate punishment — is beyond the pale of the just subject-matter of war. The burning of the Capitol and White House at Washington in 1814, and the devastation of Georgia, South Carolina, and the Valley of the Shenandoah during the American Civil War have not escaped criticism in this category. That “war is hell”, in the sense that it inevitably carries with it a maximum of human miseries, is true; in the sense that it justifies anything that makes for the suffering and punishment of a people at war, it cannot be ethically maintained.

    Perhaps if Don wanted to know what the Church used to think about war he could have looked at the article titled War, rather than the one titled Interdict.

  • My point in regard to the interdict was to distinguish it from the example that you chose. If part of Catholic teaching or praxis is to go down the memory hole it is handy to at least have popes who have lined up on opposing sides.

    Interesting. So you acknowledge that the Church’s position on issues may shift slightly over the ages (except in the 20th century, where the statements of the Popes on the use of nuclear weapons can be ignored starting with Pius XII).

    Why is it that the Church’s teaching on war should be heeded up until the very century with the greatest rise in wholesale destruction the world has seen? Shouldn’t the opposite be true?

    From your position, shouldn’t it have also been allowable for the Allies to operate concentration camps on the scale of the Nazi machine so long as the goal was the capitulation of the Axis powers?

  • Perhaps if Don wanted to know what the Church used to think about war he could have looked at the article titled War, rather than the one titled Interdict.

    I cannot see how your excerpt provides a definitive refutation of Mr. McClarey’s argument.

  • “So you acknowledge that the Church’s position on issues may shift slightly over the ages (except in the 20th century, where the statements of the Popes on the use of nuclear weapons can be ignored starting with Pius XII).”

    Actually that is precisely the opposite of my position. My position is that the whole panoply of Church teaching and praxis has to be taken into consideration on all issues. It doesn’t do to change Church teaching and then everyone is supposed to play a game of “Church teaching has always been this way and there has been no change in Church teaching.” If the Church is going to get in the habit of condemning the past for the purposes of the present, then our catechisms should all come with ring binders and perhaps our Bibles as well.

    In regard to the concentration camp comment, that shows an inability to distinguish a military operation from simple murder. It is the difference between a pope besieging Milan and a pope simply rounding up all Milanese in Rome and putting them to the sword.

  • “except where their simultaneous destruction is an unavoidable accident attending the attack upon the contending force.”

    I think the atomic bombings fit precisely into this passage.

  • In regard to Pius XII, the rules that he laid down for the use of nuclear weapons on September 30, 1954 strike me as common sense:

    1. Such use must be “imposed by an evident and extremely grave injustice;”

    2. Such injustice cannot be avoided without the use of nuclear weapons;

    3. One should pursue diplomatic solutions that avoid or limit the use of such weapons;

    4. There use must be indispensable to and in accordance with a nation’s defense needs;

    5. That same use would be immoral if the destruction caused by the nuclear weapons were to result in harm so widespread as to be uncontrollable by man.

    6. Unjustified uses should be severely punished as “crimes” under national and international law.

  • My position is that the whole panoply of Church teaching and praxis has to be taken into consideration on all issues.

    But you don’t follow your own position. The use of nuclear weapons cannot be treated as if it were the same as the use of a siege. It is a new weapon with vastly more destructive potential.

    It makes no sense whatsoever to insist on “the whole panoply of Church teaching and praxis” on war, and then, in the case of nuclear weapons, exclude Church documents and the writings of the Popes in the cases where the Popes or the Church has actual experience of what the capabilities of nuclear weapons are.

    It is a nonsensical argument you are putting forth.

  • “It is a new weapon with vastly more destructive potential.”

    One of degree and not of kind. The issue of civilian deaths in War is as old as War. It matters little to the person dying if they died from nuclear fire in Hiroshima in 45 or starved to death during a siege of a city by a Papal army during the Hussite Wars of the early 15th century.

    In regard to popes who have written about nuclear weapons Pius XII strikes me as the most sensible. I will leave to others to glean how he differs from the attitude of his successors. Of course Pius had been pope during World War II and had seen first hand that there are things much worse than War.

  • Don,

    You think it was an accident all those civilians were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

  • Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.
    Gaudium et Spes

    How much clearer can the Church be on this issue?

    Interesting citation at the link

    Even more interesting is that you chose to dismiss it based on a blurb from Tom Woods instead of addressing the voluminous quotes from the Magisterium.

  • It is the difference between a pope besieging Milan and a pope simply rounding up all Milanese in Rome and putting them to the sword.

    And what is the difference between a pope obliterating Milan with a nuke and rounding up all Milanese in Rome and putting them to the sword?

  • That gets us back to what is the difference between a siege in which most of the civilian population dies and the nuking of the same city in which most of the civilian population dies.

  • Donald, that statement has the moral clarity of a mud puddle.

    Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.
    Gaudium et Spes

    There. See?

  • Explain to me the moral difference JohnH between a military action that you can foresee is going to cause a great many civilian deaths, besieging a city for example, and the nuking of Hiroshima.

  • “Don,

    You think it was an accident all those civilians were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”

    BA you do understand that the Catholic Encyclopedia was not using the term “accident” as in the sense, for example, “BA was funny by accident.” ?

  • I’ll break it down:

    Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities

    A siege is aimed not at the destruction of a city, but the surrender. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was aimed at the obliteration of these cities.

    of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself.

    Extensive areas along with their population were targeted and destroyed by the bomb. Again, not the aim of a siege. What the bombing was was a “crime against God and man.”

    It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

    And it is this condemnation that you call “idiotic, and morally repulsive.” Perhaps you are a history buff, but I don’t see much evidence you’ve looked into moral theology.

  • BA you do understand that the Catholic Encyclopedia was not using the term “accident” as in the sense, for example, “BA was funny by accident.”

    Of course. To say that civilian deaths were an accident is to say that they weren’t killed on purpose. Is it your view that the civilians killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t killed on purpose?

  • Interesting citation at the link you gave JohnH from Thomas Woods, Jr.:

    “I, on the other hand, have never excused the Japanese internment, weaved apologias for mass murder, or casually called for nuclear attacks on civilian targets – all of which the mainstream of what laughingly passes for conservatism today does almost as a matter of routine. To the contrary, I join real conservatives and libertarians like Richard Weaver, Felix Morley (one of the founders of Human Events), Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and Pope Pius XII in condemning the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

    That doesn’t surprise me since Woods doesn’t think we should have been involved in World War II at all.

    http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/15048.html

  • Explain to me the moral difference JohnH between a military action that you can foresee is going to cause a great many civilian deaths, besieging a city for example, and the nuking of Hiroshima.

    In the one case the civilian deaths are not intended; in the other they are.

  • Donald, I fully recognize that I won’t convince you in this (internet arguments rarely win converts) but I do think you need to read history from something other than the perspective of an amateur military enthusiast. While every historical action has to be understood in the context of its time, to pretend that the controversy over the war crime of Hiroshima and Nagasaki arose recently is deeply ahistorical.

    Blackadder: In the one case the civilian deaths are not intended; in the other they are.

    Exactly.

  • “The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was aimed at the obliteration of these cities.”

    There we differ. The attacks were aimed at bringing about the surrender of Japan. They were no more aimed at the death of civilians than bombarding a city filled with civilians during a siege is intended to kill civilians. I can understand condemning both, or viewing both as morally licit parts of war, but I cannot understand saying one is morally licit and the other is morally unacceptable. It is too cute to say that the death of civilians is intended in Hiroshima and not in a bombardment incident to a siege. The foreseeability of death in the case of bombardment is clear.

    More pertinent to the World War II situation is the death of civilian populations in urban combat. As I indicated some 100,000 civilians died in the fighting in Manila. 100,000 civilians died in the fighting on Okinawa, just a few months before the conclusion of the war. What makes those deaths morally acceptable and the deaths of those at Hiroshima morally unacceptable? Why is taking Hiroshima by ground assault and having 100k plus die morally licit, while nuking the city and having 100k civilians die morally unacceptable? Based on prior experience, it was a simple enoough mathematical calculation to determine how many civilians would die if our troops had to fight their way through them.

    Truman was attempting to avoid American deaths and the deaths of civilians, not only in Japan but also in the lands ruled by Japan. Why is his action a crime against God and man while using conventional means and killing far more civilians not?

  • “except where their simultaneous destruction is an unavoidable accident attending the attack upon the contending force.”

    The term accident in that phrase BA is being used the same as the term incident. For example, besieging a city and causing civilian deaths would be placed into this category.

  • “Why can we not do evil to produce good?” is perhaps one of the oldest siren songs of Satan. I’m surprised you’re trotting it out again.

  • “Why is taking Hiroshima by ground assault and having 100k plus die morally licit, while nuking the city and having 100k civilians die morally unacceptable?”

    Why the false choice? Japan had no ability to strike the US. It had lost its Navy, couldn’t control its airspace.

    They were done.

    Just wars don’t stay Just forever.

  • ““Why can we not do evil to produce good?” is perhaps one of the oldest siren songs of Satan. I’m surprised you’re trotting it out again.”

    Lobbing an insult is easier than answering a query JohnH.

  • The attacks were aimed at bringing about the surrender of Japan. They were no more aimed at the death of civilians than bombarding a city filled with civilians during a siege is intended to kill civilians. I can understand condemning both, or viewing both as morally licit parts of war, but I cannot understand saying one is morally licit and the other is morally unacceptable.

    It’s a standard part of Catholic moral theology that one intends the means chosen to achieve a particular end. So if one’s aim is to bring about the surrender of Japan by killing a bunch of civilians then you intend the death of those civilians. Saying ‘hey, I only wanted Japan to surrender’ doesn’t change that fact.

    This is a fundamental feature of Catholic moral theology and has been so for a long long term (i.e. since long before the end of the Papal States). The fact that you reject the distinction is, I think, part of what JohnH was getting at when he said your view on the matter was not Catholic.

  • Wrong on all points Jacobus. Japan was not aboout to surrender, it still controlled most of East Asia, and still had an Army in the millions. The US was not about to simply say to those wonderful people who brought us Pearl Harbor: “Well, its been a delightful war, and after killing tens of millions of people, please keep your foreign conquests, your current government, and we’ll now go back to the US and celebrate No Victory Over Japan Day.” Part of the truly weird aspect of the August Bomb follies is the air of unreality in which they are conducted. The US was not about to stop until Japan capitulated, and it would truly have been a crime against God and Man if it had.

  • The term accident in that phrase BA is being used the same as the term incident. For example, besieging a city and causing civilian deaths would be placed into this category.

    Saying that the deaths are accidental is saying that they weren’t intended. That wasn’t the case for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • In regard to the military arena BA the distinction breaks down when the deaths of civilians are clearly foreseeable. Not taking that factor into the moral calculus is one of the reasons why I find the critique of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lacking. The same arguments raised against the bombings I think are just as forceful against the conventional means that would have been used in place of the bombings to cause Japan to capitulate. I can understand a pacifist condemning all of this. I cannot understand the fine lines drawn in this area where civilian deaths are completely predictable.

  • In regard to the military arena BA the distinction breaks down when the deaths of civilians are clearly foreseeable. Not taking that factor into the moral calculus is one of the reasons why I find the critique of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lacking.

    Catholic moral theology has always drawn a distinction between consequences of an action that are intended and those than are merely foreseen.

    I’m actually a bit surprised that you seem so unfamiliar with these ideas. It’s as if you said you didn’t see the difference between contraception and natural family planning or something.

  • Oh I understand the distinction BA, I just find it unconvincing when it comes to civilian deaths in wartime, particularly in regard to the decision that confronted Truman. Any of the conventional avenues open to him: blockade, conventional bombing or invasion were going to cause a huge number of civilian deaths and he knew it. He didn’t guess that they would, he knew it as surely as it possibly is to know any future event. Not dropping the bombs and letting one of these options force a capitulation strikes me as no less morally problematic than the bombings if the main element of concern is civilian deaths. This of course leaves aside the responsiblity of any President for the lives of the troops he sends into harm’s way. I think my question after Hiroshima and Nagaski if I had been a father of a son who died on Okinawa would have been: “My God, why did they send him into combat there if they had a weapon that could end the war in the pipeline?”

  • I rarely disagree with Don, but I do so in this case. I think too many folks are missing the point of the siege analogy — it is irrelevant. The Church may well have participated in or encouraged such actions. Perhaps. Christ never promised that the Church would not commit error, only that it would not teach error. Even if sieges or cities are analogous to dropping atomic bombs on cities, that doesn’t prove a thing. There is a difference between Church teaching developing in the sense of building on and refining past teachings (something that happens all the time) versus Church teaching changing in ways that render past teaching incorrect (something that cannot happen). Current Church teaching is in no way incompatable with that of prior centuries. Popes have lied, cheated and stolen. And they quite possibly encouraged or participated in sieges of cities. But the Magisterium has never *taught* that such sieges are morally acceptable, and this is an important point.
    The key to the moral analysis is whether the act (whether the dropping of an atomic bomb or a seige) is the intentional targeting of innocent civilians or whether instead it is the targeting of military assets accompanied by the inevitable but unintended consequence of civilian casualties. This probably requires a case by case analysis, but I’m afraid that the record overall supports the notion that Truman et al were targeting civilians in order to induce Japan to end the war and thereby save lives (including Japanese lives). It was an evil act with good intentions. I don’t at all fault Truman, and admit that I may have made the same decision, but I cannot intellectually endorse its morality.

  • Briefly to c matt:

    It is not necessary for there to be no admixture when it comes to the proper application of concepts such as consequentialism and proportionalism; however, what I noted has to be the overwhelming or highly predominant part of the equation. And none of those using this term on the issue in question that I have seen over the years bothers to do this.

    It is much too easy to lazily throw the terms around much the way many do with various other terms intended to ad-hominize the matter rather than deal with the matters as they were rather than how we wish they were. Between that and the general inability to properly understand the concept of double effect (something else I have written on and which none of the apologist sorts have manifested any real understanding of -the article on Catholic Answer’s website on this matter is downright embarrassing in its omissions) there are plenty of things glossed over in order to be faithful unquestioning followers of every statement of popes (regardless of whether the latter are even within their levels of competence in making judgments on such matters).

  • Don,

    You have done very well on this thread.

  • “Why is taking Hiroshima by ground assault and having 100k plus die morally licit, while nuking the city and having 100k civilians die morally unacceptable?”

    When are people going to stop with this myth that Japan’s population was civilian? Everyone over 17 was militarily conscripted and younger children were taught to use anything nailed down to children young enough to walk were used as bomb packs and trained to roll under tanks and blow them up. Or as Manchester noted in his biography of Douglas MacArthur:

    ###All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.”

    This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate –a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511)]###

    I cannot take seriously anyone who plays the silly clean divide of “military” and “civilian” in dealing with the Japanese wartime population and refuses to interact with this reality. But then again, that has been the reality for years for most (but fortunately not all!) of those on the side of looking for any reason to bash the United States for deciding that the lives of their people are of actual value (unlike the view that Imperial Japan had of their people) in the annual ivory tower revisionist-fest on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are exceptions to the rule on that side thankfully but not many.

    Again, as I said earlier on this thread, if not for a sizable Catholic population in Nagasaki, most Catholics would not give a damn about this issue; ergo their fallacious provincialism is revealed in spades every year when the slander-fest by those who deal in abstractions rather than realities. For anyone wondering why Catholic apologetics on the web has been slowly dying death of a thousand cuts for not a few years now, this is one of the key reasons why.

    Real problems are in the world and you have people every damn year regurgitating this garbage. If you had two sides that simply said “we disagree on this matter of interpretation” and left it at that, there would not be a problem. But the usual apologetics crowd and their unthinking followers always want to have SOME ox to gore on every issue even when one is not warranted. And any out-of-context or otherwise misinformed statement by a pope or person of presumed “high authority” that they need to try and play the “anathema sit” card, they will of course use because tools such as reason and logic are not considered important by many people anymore. Nor is the dialogual principle of approaching every issue with as much of a tabla rasa as possible and trying via that means to come to as objective a verdict as one can. But then again, I suppose I had far too many high hopes for the apologetics enterprise in my younger and (alas) more naive days.

    Again, for anyone wondering why Catholic apologetics on the web has been slowly dying death of a thousand cuts for not a few years now -and why some of us are beyond sick of the whole thing- this is one of the key reasons why. But enough from me, let the death rattle of apologetics continue!

  • One more thing since Mike Petrik made a reasonable posting that should not go unnoticed:

    “The key to the moral analysis is whether the act (whether the dropping of an atomic bomb or a seige) is the intentional targeting of innocent civilians or whether instead it is the targeting of military assets accompanied by the inevitable but unintended consequence of civilian casualties.”

    I did an indepth analysis of the military assets as well as various other ramifications on this matter five years ago today -see the weblog link above for the first of the Hiroshima threads. But that noted, you do sorta get the gist of it here -a couple of tweaks if I may:

    “The key to the moral analysis is whether the act (whether the dropping of an atomic bomb or a seige) is the intentional targeting of conscripts and other combatants or whether instead it is the targeting of military assets accompanied by the inevitable but unintended consequence of casualties of a conscripted, combatant, and (in some cases) civilian nature.”

    Hopefully those clarifications sharpen that point a bit and thank you for showing much more discerning-mindedness on this matter than most of those who are on your side of this issue Mike.

  • Shawn raises an interesting point in regard to civilians in Japan. According to the Japanese defensive plan Ketsu-Go, there were precious few civilians in Japan:

    “The defensive plan called for the use of the Civilian Volunteer Corps, a mobilization not of volunteers but of all boys and men 15 to 60 and all girls and women 17 to 40, except for those exempted as unfit. They were trained with hand grenades, swords, sickles, knives, fire hooks, and bamboo spears. These civilians, led by regular forces, were to make extensive use of night infiltration patrols armed with light weapons and demolitions.(43) Also, the Japanese had not prepared, and did not intend to prepare, any plan for the evacuation of civilians or for the declaration of open cities.(44) The southern third of Kyushu had a population of 2,400,000 within the 3,500 square miles included in the Prefectures of Kagoshima and Miyazaki.(45) The defensive plan was to actively defend the few selected beach areas at the beach, and then to mass reserves for an all-out counterattack if the invasion forces succeeded in winning a beachhead.(46)”

    http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/chap4.htm

    The Japanese slogan in 1945:

    “The sooner the Americans come, the better…One hundred million die proudly.” was not just for rhetorical effect. Based upon what the Americans had already seen in the Pacific, they could only interpret it literally.

  • Oh, for crying out loud. For the last time, there is no current out-of-the-blue “ivory tower revisionist-fest on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” From the very start prominent Catholics have condemned the bombings. Fr. Ronald Knox, Bishop Sheen, Blessed John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, etc are just the tip of the long list of Catholics who have condemned the bombings, starting in 1945 and continuing to this day.

    It’s far more revisionist to insist that the bombings are justified under Catholic teaching than the other way round.

    Shawn, if it really hurts your tender feelings so much to have Catholics explain that the Church doesn’t condone blowing up entire cities, perhaps you should steer clear of reading any Vatican documents at all.

  • [Shawn, if it really hurts your tender feelings so much to have Catholics explain that the Church doesn’t condone blowing up entire cities, perhaps you should steer clear of reading any Vatican documents at all.]

    I have probably read more Vatican documents than you have ever seen John. Unlike you though, I am also very familiar with the general norms of interpretation required to properly assess and thereby understand the levels of authority that different statements in different documents actually have. And I do not confuse personal opinions or pious gestures as being binding on others unlike people such as you and the lions share of the apologetics crowd.

    Monday morning quarterbacking is easy -particularly for those who do not have all the facts and yes John that includes the popes who on these matter are hardly within their spheres of competence. Does the pope tell you how to cook your eggs too?

    [It’s far more revisionist to insist that the bombings are justified under Catholic teaching than the other way round.]

    Hardly John, there has always been a divided assessment of this issue -so much so that when LaOsservator Romano ran an article condemning the bombings Pope Pius XII responded to an angry inquirer by playing the “it was not authorized by me” card.

    What IS involved in analyzing this matter is the application of certain moral and ethical principles that Catholics are SUPPOSED to concern themselves with. The rub of course is that there is no one-size fits all way to analyze the data in how they are to be applied. And that is the problem since apologists are by nature better at spitting out canned “arguments” on boilerplate issues rather than dealing with these kinds of more complicated assessments which have so many variables and which admit of differing (and mutually orthodox!) interpretations.

    Not that people like you care of course so let the slander-fest continue!

  • Shawn! Dude!

    My invitation for a face to face tete a tete with me and the Dominicans, where you get to explain your theories about the glories of nuclear mass murder to the flesh and blood people you denounce in cyberspace is still open, Big Man. I’d give anything to see that.

    I know. I know. The Dominicans are heretic wusses and you alone stand for the pure Faith. Still, a Real Man should be able to make his case even when faced with a mob of panty waists. Don’t you owe it to the purity of the faith to at least *try*?

  • Perhaps such a debate could be staged Mark before a mixed audience: Dominicans and veterans who call themselves Hiroshima survivors. The veterans cannot of course match the Dominicans in all likelihood in theological acumen, but they would have the advantage of having been preparing for the invasion of Japan and had skin in the game when Truman’s decision was made. Who knows, maybe the Dominicans might benefit from their insight and maybe the veterans might benefit from theirs. I know a former Army Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, ninety-one years old, Irish Catholic and a retired attorney, who would be willing to participate.

  • Mark Shea! The last time I visited your site, I had to reformat my hard disk. Ensure the safety of your site first, before dealing with things beyond your competence.

  • Ivan,

    Now, now, let’s be civil here.

  • Perhaps there could be a debate after between Shea and Akins on the definition of torture.

  • Hey Mark Shea, I’ll debate you if Shawn won’t. How about it Mark. I would be more than happy to fly up to Seatlle on my dime to lie bare your calumnious idiocy!!!!

  • Folks I understand the passions this issue stirs, but let’s keep personal insult out of the debate please.

  • Oh I understand the distinction BA, I just find it unconvincing when it comes to civilian deaths in wartime

    Well, okay, but you need to understand that in rejecting this distinction as applied to civilian deaths in wartime you are rejecting Catholic teaching on the matter.

  • I don’t think so BA, if by Catholic teaching you include the entire teaching and praxis of the Church. As I indicated above, the regulations promulgated by Pius XII as to the use of nuclear weapons make a lot of sense to me and I am rather surprised that they aren’t better known among Catholics. They at least provide some guidance as to when nuclear weapons may be used. If one merely states that nuclear weapons may never be used under any circumstances against a civilian population, then that puts us on a path to suicide when we are confronted, as we assuredly will be in the future, with a nuclear adversary, rather like the Soviet Union in the days of the Cold War, only less rational.

  • This article notes some of the current perils when Bishops decide to attempt to map our nuclear stragegy:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2535706/posts

    By and large I think Bishops are as useful in this arena as Generals and Admirals are in explaining the two natures of Christ.

  • By and large I think Bishops are as useful in this arena as Generals and Admirals are in explaining the two natures of Christ.

    It should be pointed out that the same objection is made whenever the bishops have something to say about sexuality or a woman’s right to choose abortion.

    All of our actions can either help us grow in virtue or lead us away. The bishops & the Church have not only the right but the obligation to speak forcefully about the areas in which people live their lives-both the bedroom and the battlefield. We cannot exclude them from one area without eventually excluding them from all.

  • I am reminded that a colleague of ours, Blackadder, had engaged Shawn McIlhenney of the blog Rerum Novarum on this very topic in 2008. The two had mutually agreed that the bombings would be justified IF:

    The bombings did not involve the intentional targeting of noncombatants; and
    The bombings saved lives, that is, any alternative course of action would have resulted in even greater loss of life.

    I think the case for the second point can be readily made (I cited some books in my post that do just that) — the expected casualties (military and civilian) of a ground invasion would have been far more dangerous, coupled with the Japanese slaughter of civilians in victim nations (“between a quarter million and 400,000 Asians, overwhelmingly noncombatants, were dying each month the war continued”). And a study of history also reveals that, no, Japan wasn’t about to capitulate and were actually preparing for the opposite. Operating on purely utilitarian / “consequentialist” grounds I can understand why Truman made the choice that he did.

    However, on the first point of contention, I agree with Mike Petrik’s summary:

    “The key to the moral analysis is whether the act [dropping an atomic bomb] is the intentional targeting of innocent civilians or whether instead it is the targeting of military assets accompanied by the inevitable but unintended consequence of civilian casualties.”

    Responding explicitly to Shawn (and implicitly to Don), Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong addresses the contention of a ‘conscripted’ / militarized populace by pointing out the considerable number off non-combatants ranging from medical personnel to Allied POW’s to Koreans conscripted into forced labor.

    Q: Shawn / Don — care to respond to this? — would you maintain that all these would be dispensed with as so much ‘collateral damage’, and that such would be justifiable from a Catholic standpoint?

  • “It should be pointed out that the same objection is made whenever the bishops have something to say about sexuality or a woman’s right to choose abortion.”

    Actually the chant is more in the nature of “Keep your rosaries off our ovaries!” A Bishop’s job in some areas is simple. Christ condemned fornication and adultery. Simply do thou likewise Bishop. In regard to abortion the Church has always condemned it, without any detailed knowledge for the vast amount of time in regard to embryology or fetal development. Do thou likewise Bishop. Nuclear strategy is a much more complictated area, and the Bishops in this country, as the National Review article I linked to indicates, have been very free with advice in an area in which they are bone ignorant.

  • Now that is an interesting question Christopher. Our POWS at the bomb sites were heartrending but for me do not enter into the moral calculus: They were military and called upon to give their lives if necessary for their country. We might as well give up now if we allow an enemy to dictate our tactics because they use our prisoners as human shields. The Japanese government had ordered the slaughter of all Allied POWS at the beginning of an invasion of the Home Islands, and had already killed almost a third of our prisoners through casual murder, beatings and starvation. In regard to the vast majority of Allied POWS, they only survived captivity because of the bomb.

    In regard to human shields conscripted into the Japanese Army, we cannot allow that to dictate our strategy. In the Korean War, the North Koreans would sometimes drive civilians before them in assaults upon our positions. That did not deter our troops from fighting back. Allow human shields to work as a tactic in wartime, and the worst of humanity will quickly be in charge.

    In regard to non-combatants, the best argument is of course children. It is true as Shawn indicates that the commanders of the Imperial Japanese Army planned to use very young children in military operations. This of course does not detract at all in regard to the clear innocence of the children. Their presence has always to me been the strongest argument against the bombings. However, then we get back to the awful realities of the historical situation. We have to weigh those kids against the kids who would die in future conventional operations, and the kids who were dying in China and other areas controlled by Japan each day that the war went on.

  • I don’t think so BA, if by Catholic teaching you include the entire teaching and praxis of the Church.

    Don, the moral distinction between intended and foreseen consequences, the impermissibility of targeting noncombatants, etc. are part of the teaching and praxis of the Church. If you deny this you’re really just admitting your ignorance on the subject.

    I remember hearing George Weigel get asked about the Hiroshima bombing once. He talked a bit about how the bombing probably saved lives, but said that there was really no way it could be squared with Catholic moral principles. Weigel is not some wussified liberal Catholic. But he is familiar with what the Church teaches in this area.

  • A Bishop’s job in some areas is simple. Christ condemned fornication and adultery. Simply do thou likewise Bishop.

    I believe he also had a few words about murder.

  • “I believe he also had a few words about murder.”

    Correct Michael, although He was remarkably free about giving advice to Caesar about the use of Caesar’s Legions even at a time when most of the Jews were crying out for the Romans to withdraw from Palestine.

  • Blackadder,

    I do not have the background to have too much critical engagement with this material and am not at this moment in a position to parse this line by line, but I do not think you have given a correct summary of Dr. Weigel’s position.

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/issuesID.410,seriesID.4/issues_detail.asp

  • Well BA, then you have a real problem about how the Popes, including John Paul II, could support nuclear deterrence all those years since it was well known that deterrence was based on a city busting strategy.

    “The production and the possession of armaments are a consequence of an ethical crisis that is disrupting society in all its political, social and economic dimensions. Peace, as I have already said several times, is the result of respect for ethical principles. True disarmament, that which will actually guarantee peace among peoples, will come about only with the resolution of this ethical crisis. To the extent that the efforts at arms reduction and then of total disarmament are not matched by parallel ethical renewal, they are doomed in advance to failure.

    The attempt must be made to put our world aright and to eliminate the spiritual confusion born from a narrow-minded search for interest or privilege or by the defense of ideological claims: this is a task of first priority if we wish to measure any progress in the struggle for disarmament. Otherwise we are condemned to remain at face-saving activities.…

    In current conditions “deterrence” based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable. Nonetheless in order to ensure peace, it is indispensable not to be satisfied with this minimum which is always susceptible to the real danger of explosion.”

    John Paul II’s address to the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1982. I will agree with you that ignorance is never in short supply in the area of ethics and warfare, but I think we would disagree as to just what this ignorance consists of.

  • That is a wonderful resource you linked to Art:

    “This is not to suggest that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, or is, easily justifiable under the moral criteria of the classic just war tradition. But the moral barrier had been breached long before August 6 and August 8, 1945. So-called strategic bombing, aimed at the destruction of civilian populations, had been going on for five years; none of it met the just war in bello criteria of proportionality and discrimination. Indeed, if one measures the violation of non-combatant immunity statistically, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, and other Japanese cities was a greater breach of the just war tradition than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    That the Germans had destroyed Rotterdam, the British, Hamburg, and the British and Americans, Dresden, does not “justify” the American destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But certain moral distinctions can and should be drawn between the bombing of cities for purposes of sheer terror (Rotterdam) or revenge (Dresden), and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, on the best available evidence, was undertaken with a legitimate strategic purpose in mind. That purpose was summarized succinctly by Truman biographer David McCullough: “If you want one explanation as to why Truman dropped the bomb: ‘Okinawa.’ It was done to stop the killing.”

    The greater legitimacy of an end does not, of course, justify any possible means. But recognizing the legitimacy of the end does enable us to enter imaginatively and even sympathetically into the moral struggle over means faced by a responsible political leader confronting a brace of bad choices.1

    It sometimes happens, these days, that a parallel is drawn between Auschwitz and Hiroshima, as two embodiments of the evil of the Second World War. But this seems wrong. What Harry Truman did in August 1945 was, strictly speaking, unjustifiable in classic moral terms. But it was understandable, and it was forgivable. What was done at Auschwitz was unjustifiable, maniacal, and, in this world’s terms, unforgivable. That is a considerable moral difference.

    At my parish church on the morning of August 6, 1995, we prayed God to grant “that no nuclear weapons will ever again be used.” It was a petition to which all could respond with a heartfelt, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Only by facing squarely the unavoidable moral dilemma confronted by President Truman will we gain a measure of the wisdom that might help us avoid similar dilemmas in the future. By reducing the decision to use atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to crudely political, even ideological, categories, the revisionists do a disservice not only to history but to the future, and to the cause of peace.”

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.1826/pub_detail.asp

  • I have probably read more Vatican documents than you have ever seen John.

    And apparently forgotten more as well.

    Does the pope tell you how to cook your eggs too?

    Very funny, but I think the popes and the Church insisting we don’t nuke a city full of civilian hardly constitutes a matter as flip as cooking eggs.

    there has always been a divided assessment of this issue

    Can you point out some thinkers who outlined a Catholic moral framework justifying the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? From around 1945-1950 or so?

  • He was remarkably free about giving advice to Caesar about the use of Caesar’s Legions even at a time when most of the Jews were crying out for the Romans to withdraw from Palestine.

    Huh? Your point being? I don’t think Jesus had to give line by line military strategy in accordance with just war principles to Caesar for the Church to have the duty given to it by Christ to develop through its tradition moral principles applicable to warfare in order to guide the faithful. Nuclear weapons violate those principles regardless of their strategic value and therefore constitute an sinful taking of life i.e. murder.

    Can you point out some thinkers who outlined a Catholic moral framework justifying the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? From around 1945-1950 or so?

    While I know of none that did so, it should be pointed that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who as patriotic an American as Catholicism has seen, was adamant in his condemnation of nuclear weapons. For a patriot like that to risk his popularity by condemning the bombings immediately after WWII says quite a lot.

  • Art,

    From the conclusion of the Weigel materials you link to:

    What Harry Truman did in August 1945 was, strictly speaking, unjustifiable in classic moral terms.

    Weigel’s position is as I said it was.

  • “Huh? Your point being?”

    I should think that it would have been obvious. Christ did not seek to micromanage the use of the Legions by Caesar and neither should modern day Bishops or Popes. Except for Pius XII, it would seem that the general attitude has been that the State should not use nuclear weapons. That squares oddly with the support that the same pontiffs gave to nuclear deterrence, but that is a side issue. This strikes me as a departure from the attitude towards the State envisaged by Christ and is a throwback to such great successes as the attempt of the Church to restrict the crossbow to use against Moslems. Bishops know little about military affairs, and when they meddle in them they tend to come a cropper due to their usual abysmal ignorance on the subject.

  • Don,

    A counterforce nuclear strategy is arguably consistent with Catholic moral principles (if you’d like I can point you to some of the debates on the issue). When JP II made the comments you quote in 1982, counterforce was the official policy of the United States, and was always one of several options ‘on the table’ when it came to U.S. nuclear strategy.

    I find it interesting that you are willing to cite JP II when you think he supports your position, but dismiss his comments about the Hiroshima bombing itself as being naive and morally repugnant. If the fact that JP II said something about the legitimacy of deterrence is supposed to make the entire history of Catholic thinking on the killing of noncombatants problematic, then how on earth could you ever say the Hiroshima bombing is consistent with it?

  • Don,
    I am largely in agreement with your last post, even if not perfectly so. While I think that Truman’s purpose (to stop the killing) was certainly good, even noble, it does not in the end save the means, which were not morally legitimate. I acknowledge Sean’s argument that the Japanese’ extraordinary conscription practices rendered the entire populace combatants, but ultimately cannot buy it. That said, I have no patience for the self-righteous hand-wringers who contrive a moral equivalency between Hiroshima and Auschwitz, bla bla bla. What contemptible nonsense. Truman’s guilt is more equivalent to that of the soldier who murders his comrade in response to the latter’s desperate pleas while he is dying in agony on the battlefield. Morally unacceptable to be sure, but quite understandable and forgivable. For a soldier to resist such pleas out of moral principle requires heroic moral courage. More men would resist out of cowardice or indifference than out of such courage. Similarly, for Truman to not use the bomb out of moral principle would have required similar uncommon fortitude. Few of us are in a position to criticize him. At most we can agree that he was morally wrong. Fine, that describes me on a daily basis. But the deed, while wrong, was simply not as monstrous as some critics make out.

    Michael,
    Your statement to the effect that nuclear weapons are ipso facto violations of Church teaching cannot be squared with the teaching of Pius XII as noted earlier by Don. In the end, acts of war must always be evaluated on a case by case basis. That includes sieges as well as the ownership and use of nuclear weapons. I admit that the factual circumstances under which such weapons could be morally justified may be far-fetched, but precision in thinking must admit the theoretical possibility.

  • Mr. Petrik:

    First of all, I find that while you state that you think the bombings were morally unjustifiable, you are willing to do so without all the calumnious self-righteous hand wringing ala Jimmy Akin and Mark Shea and many out there in the Catholic blogosphere. i find that refreshing.

    But I am curious as to why you don’t buy the argument that given Japan’s conscription of practically all teh adult population that it did not render the entire country of Japan a military base and therefore a legitimate military target.

    To follow your logic, we would have to conclude that killing a conscripted soldier to be unjustifiable.

    With this taken in conjunction with the fact that other alternatives would have killed, in a much more grusome and heinous manner, far more American and especially Japanese, to deem the atomic bombings immoral apriori is, at the very, very, very, very least inconclusive.

  • Greg,
    The answer to your question is simply that I do not regard Japan’s de jure conscription to be de facto. And I think substance and reality ought to govern. If Roosevelt had waved a magic wand and conscripted all Americans I’d come out the same way. Such a universal conscription would be morally objectionable in its own right, and allowing it to be used as a bootstraped warrant for carpet bombing or A-bombing entire cities doesn’t wash with me. But given the options confronted by Truman, I simply refuse to condemn the man and agree that the annual August self-castigation is grounded less in measured moral reasoning and more in some perverse admixture of individual self-righteousness and group self-hatred. Truman erred in my view, but was a far better man than many of his critics.

  • Mark,

    I’m actually a little surprised to see you venturing into the “danger” zone of this blog, especially after your recent assessment of TAC as “dangerous and deadly”:

    “I agree with you that the bellicose messianic Americanism at TAC is far more dangerous and deadly than the nose-pulling of CF. However, as I virtually never read TAC and as CF (being the New Hotness) was more prominent on my monitor, I wasn’t attempting a full review of TAC.”

    http://orientem.blogspot.com/2010/08/catholic-fascist-revisited.html#7946745129191366168

    It’s a good thing that you “virtually never read TAC” or you might have to actually face the fact that there is a wide diversity of opinion here among both contributors and commenters (a much wider diversity, in fact, than you’ll find at Vox Nova), and that, even among his close friends on this blog, Don’s views of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example, are most likely a minority of one. In addition, by “virtually never read[ing] TAC”, you avoid having to form an opinion about the blog based in fact rather than pulling an assessment completely out of your ass.

  • This made me laugh:

    you avoid having to form an opinion about the blog based in fact rather than pulling an assessment completely out of your ass

    Good times. 😉

  • ###[I have probably read more Vatican documents than you have ever seen John.]

    And apparently forgotten more as well.###

    In the words of that great western philosopher Steven Tyler “dream on” JohnH…

    ###[Does the pope tell you how to cook your eggs too?] Very funny,###

    Actually I was serious. There is a cult of the modern papacy among some that basically involves abdicating reason and logic and going along with statements by the popes on any subject whatsoever regardless of the particular competence that the pope may or may not have in touching on a given subject.

    #but I think the popes and the Church insisting we don’t nuke a city full of civilian hardly constitutes a matter as flip as cooking eggs.#

    Since you are obviously not one to want to deal with the reality and prefer to deal in the “city full of civilians” fantasy, I see little more that can be said to you on these things.

    #[there has always been a divided assessment of this issue]

    Can you point out some thinkers who outlined a Catholic moral framework justifying the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? From around 1945-1950 or so?#

    It does not matter whether I give you a list of names because the opinions and conclusions of anyone (regardless of their perceived “authority”) do not a valid argument make. Of course to realize that would be to approach things rationally using the natural tools given to us by God: hardly something that very many Catholics are prone to do unfortunately. (I hate to say it but on this matter Gladstone was right and Newman in arguing against him was representing a minority of Catholics in any age not just his own.) But all is not lost on this John.

    For I *can* point to more people of the sort that you request than you could point out to some Oneness Pentecostal heretic representatives amongst the Fathers and Doctors of the first three centuries who taught the dogmas of the first few ecumenical councils in the fourth and fifth centuries.

  • I *can* point to more people of the sort that you request than you could point out to some Oneness Pentecostal heretic representatives amongst the Fathers and Doctors of the first three centuries who taught the dogmas of the first few ecumenical councils in the fourth and fifth centuries.

    Okay then, do it.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Like “Blackadder” you are evidently someone who can (in both agreement as well as disagreement) discuss these matters ethically and in accordance with Catholic principles such as charity: something far too often in short supply on matters such as this. May your tribe increase!

    ~Shawn

  • Thanks, Shawn. I try, but certainly bat less than 1.000.

    In my view this debate shares certain things in common with the very sad Sister Margaret McBride scandal a couple of months ago, except conservatives and liberals line up differently and sometimes succumb to similar lack of charity. What Sister McBride did was not morally defensible (notwithstanding the various impassioned defenses made on her behalf, which were generally devoid of serious reasoning), but it certainly was understandable. Like Truman, she did a bad thing for a good reason. Like Truman that makes her neither evil nor a hero — just human. I do think that overall Sister McBride’s supporters were considerably more strident and unreasonable than Truman’s supporters. But the analogy is still interesting, at least to me.

    Don’t get me wrong — I do think that Truman’s is a harder case. The application of the principle of double effect is far easier in the McBride case for a number of reasons, including the one offered earlier regarding the definition if innocents/noncombatants. But in the end I fear that my conservative friends are so sympathetic with Truman’s motives and circumstances (as am I), that they cannot quite come to grips with the fact that he crossed the line. It doesn’t help when Truman’s critics so often seem so smugly self-congratulatory about their views. In such cases a person with healthy moral instincts can’t help but want to rise to Truman’s defense.

  • It does not matter whether I give you a list of names because the opinions and conclusions of anyone (regardless of their perceived “authority”) do not a valid argument make.

    Nonsense.

    You label those who condemn the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as irrational and incompetent. So show how they are irrational and incompetent. You say condemnation of the bombings is revisionist. So show how it is revisionist.

  • “I find it interesting that you are willing to cite JP II when you think he supports your position, but dismiss his comments about the Hiroshima bombing itself as being naive and morally repugnant. If the fact that JP II said something about the legitimacy of deterrence is supposed to make the entire history of Catholic thinking on the killing of noncombatants problematic, then how on earth could you ever say the Hiroshima bombing is consistent with it?”

    I cited it BA because I find support for nuclear deterrence, the Balance of Terror as it was rightly called, inconsistent with a condemnation of Hiroshima under the factual situation confronting Truman. If you would like to link to sources that attempt to square that particular circle, I will be happy to read them.

  • I cited it BA because I find support for nuclear deterrence, the Balance of Terror as it was rightly called, inconsistent with a condemnation of Hiroshima under the factual situation confronting Truman.

    Exactly.

    If every actual use of nuclear weapons is per-se immoral, then their possession is per-se immoral too. Even mere-deterrence presupposes a threat of use and the believability of said threat. But since the threat of Bad Action X is the equivalent of Bad Action X, in every form of Catholic morality, if every use of nuclear weapons is damnworthy, then nuclear deterrence is too.

    And John Paul II could not have said what he said before the UN.

    Antinomy.

    So the task then is … what use of nuclear weapons CAN be fit into what the Catechism says (keeping in mind that the answer cannot be “none”). Maybe Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not those uses, but then I’d strain to think what might be.

    Blackadder wrote:
    “A counterforce nuclear strategy is arguably consistent with Catholic moral principles (if you’d like I can point you to some of the debates on the issue). When JP II made the comments you quote in 1982, counterforce was the official policy of the United States, and was always one of several options ‘on the table’ when it came to U.S. nuclear strategy.”

    Clearly … though “counterforce” was, as you state, merely one option always on the US and Soviet table and, in mirror image, the US never has since repudiated “countervalue” attacks. What happened in 1982 IIRC was that Reagan made counterforce and the attempt to fight a limited nuclear war the official preferred public doctrine. (And also, relevantly to the context in which John Paul was speaking, countervalue use was all Britain, France and China even contemplated.)

    (The curious might find it funny that the moralists of the time, including not a few churchmen, thought counterforce was unconscionable. Their claim was basically “thinkability,” that planning military uses for such weapons made a nuclear war attractive, a la “Dr. Strangelove.” Their argument, and this is one reason not to listen to moralists with no taste for paradox or irony, really was that the more destructive and unlimited a nuclear war was, the better, since that meant nobody would ever launch.)

    Anyhoo … the distinction between counterforce and countervalue really shouldn’t be overstated though. According to everything written at the time, and as a high-school debater in the 80s I free-based this stuff, the “forces” to be counter”ed included many targets in or near urban areas (such as Washington, say) — command-and-control centers (the Pentagon, say), bomber bases (Andrews AFB, say), national leadership (the White House).

    Point being … if 80s counterforce passes muster, Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably would too. Particularly since those 1945 bombs were small and primitive compared to the weapons of the 1980s (which were themselves small compared to the weapons of the 50s and 60s).

  • Mr Petrik:

    The conscription of the civlian Japanese populace was most certainly de facto. Their fanaticism was another well documented fact.

  • if every use of nuclear weapons is damnworthy, then nuclear deterrence is too.

    I think the flaw here is in assuming that if Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t justified then no possible use of nuclear weapons could be justified.

    Look, it seems pretty clear that JP II 1) thought that the Hiroshima bombing was unjustified, and 2) that nuclear deterrence wasn’t inherently immoral. Are the two positions logically inconsistent? No, even Don has admitted he understands the distinction involved, he just doesn’t think the distinction matters morally. But the distinction Don rejects is a fundamental and ingrained part of Catholic moral theology. So it’s hardly surprising that the Pope accepts it.

  • I think the flaw here is in assuming that if Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t justified then no possible use of nuclear weapons could be justified.

    I wouldn’t say it’s the flaw or that I assume, but… yes, that is a necessary point.

    Obviously John Paul thought (1) and (2) both, but, since he wasn’t specifically asked then and we can’t ask him now to square that circle, we’re left to our own devices … I think those two thoughts cannot consistently be held.

    Given two incontrovertible facts — (1) those weapons were small by JP2-papacy-era standards; and (2) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not devoid of military targets* — I can’t think of any contemplated or reasonably likely use** of nuclear weapons, circa 1982, that would survive the criticisms the revisionists make about 1945. Since you’re knowledgeable enough about military strategy, Blackadder, to know the distinction between counterforce and countervalue, I doubt you can either.

    Also, though Donald can speak for himself, I didn’t read him as saying he “doesn’t think the distinction [between intended and foreseen effects] matters morally.” I read him more as saying “it has little or no applicability in the field of military action” (and I’d be with him 100% on that).
    ————————–
    * Even if one ignores the mass-conscription angle, which [full disclosure] I think is the dispositive point that clinches the discussion.

    ** Short of absurd scifi-nerd or seminar-room scenarios (like, in re interrogation, the ticking time bomb or castrating a terrorist’s child).

  • I can’t think of any contemplated or reasonably likely use** of nuclear weapons, circa 1982, that would survive the criticisms the revisionists make about 1945.

    Actually, I’ve just come up with the answer to my own challenge … there was much talk in the 80s about using nuclear weapons for high-altitude EMP attacks that could, theoretically, paralyze an entire country by frying all solid-state electronics.

    Of course, such an attack would be even less discriminate than any conventional military attack and would cause untold civilian deaths through such means as (first example off the top of my head, there are obviously many) the destruction of the electricity grid killing people on life support or those who need medical treatments that depend on electricity.

  • Victor, as always your arguments are cogent, and I thank you for the assist!

  • Mike Petrik: Mike, as always on the very few cases when we disagree you have made the strongest case for the opposing viewpoint and, as usual, done it with charity and respect for all involved. Bravo!

  • Victor,

    The fact that there are military objectives in a city would only matter morally if those military objectives – and only those military objectives – were targeted. That wasn’t the case for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Suppose, for example, that all the military objectives in Hiroshima were in the same place, but that there wasn’t a city there. Would we still dropped the bomb on there? Obviously not. Dropping the bomb on a city and killing lots of civilians wasn’t some unavoidable side effect of taking out a vital military target. It was an integral part of the whole plan.

  • Also, though Donald can speak for himself, I didn’t read him as saying he “doesn’t think the distinction [between intended and foreseen effects] matters morally.” I read him more as saying “it has little or no applicability in the field of military action”

    I assume he meant that it doesn’t apply morally. If the claim is that the fundamental nature of intentionality changes when there is a declaration of war, then I don’t think that makes sense.

  • The fact that there are military objectives in a city would only matter morally if those military objectives – and only those military objectives – were targeted. That wasn’t the case for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    But to the extent that this is true, this would be exactly why nuclear weapons can never be morally used, and thus never morally possessed. Nuclear weapons are simply incapable of being targeted with that kind of discrimination. They can be targeted in the sense of “aimed” (and rather accurately in this day and age), but once they land, they destroy everything within a certain radius according to their size and various accidental factors (altitude, terrain, weather, etc.)

    Suppose, for example, that all the military objectives in Hiroshima were in the same place, but that there wasn’t a city there. Would we still dropped the bomb on there? Obviously not.

    You know this counterfactual hypothetical … how?

    Keep in mind that there are few military facilities on earth, then or now (or maybe ever, if we speak of standing militaries and permanent facilities) that have no connection to civilian areas. And no city on earth, then or now or ever, that doesn’t have military targets.

    If the claim is that the fundamental nature of intentionality changes when there is a declaration of war

    Same caveat as above … that’s still not what Donald and I are saying. We’re not talking about changing the structure of human acts but saying one category within the structure (“foreseen but unintended”) is an empty set in a particular specific activity (“war”).

  • if those military objectives – and only those military objectives – were targeted.

    With regard to the specifics of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yes, military facilities were targeted — as best the technology of 1945 permitted (which is to say, by the lights of today and the imaginations of people thus shaped, very very poorly). The probably is simply that precision targeting, terrain mapping, inertial guidance and the rest of what we take for granted still lay decades in the future.

    Idle thought not strictly related: My mind often notes that as targeting technology has improved (always resisted by the “peacemakers” among us, natch), our ability to limit (not “eliminate”) civilian collateral damage has improved. But at the same time, our tolerance for collateral civilian deaths from bombardment has declined to essentially nil (see the complaints about Predator drones in Afghanistan/Pakistan — if ever there was a “targeted” bombardment, that is it). And simultaneous with that, essentially rigorist arguments about military targeting have gotten more popular. It’s as if our imaginations about war have come down with Lady Macbeth’s disease.

  • Victor,
    I cannot agree that the category of foreseen but not intended is an empty set in war. In general, we take great pains to minimize civilian casualties in war. When our bombs fell in Iraq we aimed only at military targets and in a manner that minimized risk to noncombatants. We did not “intend” for civilians to be hurt, but knew some casualties were inevitable. In WWII most bombing missions were actually conducted similarly, with pilots given specific military targets and actually briefed on the locations of schools and hospitals that should be avoided if at all possible. The carpet bombing that occurred at Dresden and other cities later in the war represented a departure from these norms. Churchill (a hero of mine) wanted to break the will of Germany to fight, and was angry at Germany’s indiscriminate targeting in London, so he pushed for the carpet bombing both in retaliation and in order to break German fighting spirit. He *wanted* civilian casualties. For similar reasons so did Truman, who had plenty of reasons to not only (i) be furious with the inhumane manner in which Japan had conducted the war from the very beginning but also (ii) anticipate much worse consequences for both sides in the event of an invasion or other options should Japan refuse to surrender.

    Finally, while it may be that the moral use of nuclear weapons might strike some as implausible, I continue to think it is an error to try to place nuclear weaponry in its own category. Each act of war must evaluated under its own facts and circumstances. There are all manner of nuclear weapons with a wide range of consequences. And one can hypothesize all kinds of facts and circumances.

    In the end, there is a profound difference between undertaking a military action whose intention is to harm civilians versus undertaking such an action that acknowledges the forseeable harm to civilians without such an intention. Truman’s supporters fall into one of three camps: (i) those who dismiss the above distinction and instead believe that the morality of the military act is judged only by its consequences; (ii) those who believe that the familes who lived and worked in H and N were not non-combatants and therfore licit targets; and (iii) and those who believe that the military and industrial sites within the H and N blast zones were the only targets and that the non-combatant casualties were collateral damage permitted under the principle of double effect. I have carefully considered each of these defenses and find them all deficient. I am not a consequentialist (at least in theory — I have no idea what I would have done had I been in Truman’s place); I do not find persuasive the notion that Japan’s idiosyncratic and extraordinary conscription practices rendered all women, children, etc. licit targets; and i believe the record supports Blackadder’s contention that the killing of civilians was was not just an unintended but foreseeable consequence, but was instead integral to the plan.

  • Actually I think the instructions on avoiding civilian targets applied primarily to Americans as they alone practiced daylight “precision” bombing. The English bombed at night and I suspect their targeting was far more indiscriminate as a result even when radar was available. Add to that that there was clearly the effort by the British as early as 1942 to demoralize the German population with their bombing and not solely to hit military targets.

    I also use the scare quotation marks as precision bombing, even when practiced as such, was minimally precise. The USAF identified precision as the bombs landing withing 1000 feet of the target. In 1944 by their own estimates (if I recall correctly) only about 7% of bombs landed within that 1000 feet. That leaves 93% scattered across what would usually have been populated cities.

    This of course does not render the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki moral. I think it does put in context what people accepted as “moral” or at least acceptable at that point in the war.

  • Phillip,
    Without question what people accepted as moral acts of war became more relaxed as their suffering increased, which is very understandable. The bombings of H and N were contemporaneously criticized only by a small minority. While I continue to believe these bombings were immoral, I simply cannot view them as monstrously so. Abortion is also gravely immoral. Always. So is murder. Yet, tough calls and horrible options do mitigate culpability — see the Sister McBride case and the example of a soldier killing his dying comrade in order to end his agony. Truman was not motivated by blood lust. The record is pretty clear that he just wanted to save lives. Although that noble end cannot justify the intentional targeting of non-combatants, it is essential to consider when rendering sober judgment on a man’s decision.

  • Agree with you. My point was that conventional bombing prior to H and N were in all likelihood objectively immoral also. At a minimum from how the British practiced it.

  • Agreed, Phillip.
    I am not so much concerned with precision as with target. The worse the anticipated precision the tougher to satisfy the prudential calculus, but no intrinsic evil problem unless the target is civilian. The conventional carpet bombing would appear to have been intrisically evil, whereas the conventional bombing of military targets (given the horrible imprecision and many anticipated civilian casualties) is subject to a prudential calculus, which it could also conceptually fail (but which is very difficult to morally assess with confidence).

  • With the exception again that as early as Feb ’42 the British did make an aim of their bombing the morale of civilians rather than specific targets. So I think again, at least as the British practiced it, conventional bombing was morally problematic.

  • I cannot agree that the category of foreseen but not intended is an empty set in war. In general, we take great pains to minimize civilian casualties in war.

    True, and we should.

    But given that, unique among human activities, war is — in se and not per accidens — a destructive activity that centers on intentional killing, the risk of killing “the wrong person” is always already baked in. The object of the act is always “killing” or maybe “doing deadly act X in order to kill” (the difference between these two is, I think, legerdemain). And whether the right person and the wrong person is mere chance.

    but no intrinsic evil problem unless the target is civilian.

    But in the actual 1945, or any actual use of nuclear weapons, there are no purely-civilian or purely-military targets, only mixed environments that we can be more or less prudent or careful about.

  • This of course does not render the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki moral. I think it does put in context what people accepted as “moral” or at least acceptable at that point in the war.

    This is the most brilliant thing ever written by an anti-bombing person, and the real reason I think for these Annual August Rites. There has been a sea change in attitudes about deadly risk in recent decades. We now believe, as wasn’t believed in the past, that it is possible (and therefore desireable) to end all risk to the innocent and/or to end all suffering.

  • Victor,

    If you look at the minutes of the Target Committee meeting where the initial list of targets for the bombing were drawn up, it states that “for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.” The minutes also cite Hiroshima as being a particularly good target because it “has the advantage of being such a size and with possible focusing from nearby mountains that a large fraction of the city may be destroyed.”

    Aside from that, it’s just not plausible that out of all the military targets in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were picked strictly because of their military features, particularly since the U.S. had already adopted a policy of city bombing using conventional forces. You would have done a lot more damage to Japanese military capacity by dropping the bomb on the assembled forces at Ky?sh?, or any of hundreds of other locations.

  • given that, unique among human activities, war is — in se and not per accidens — a destructive activity that centers on intentional killing, the risk of killing “the wrong person” is always already baked in.

    It’s true that whenever you try to kill one person there is always a chance you might accidentally kill someone else instead (or in addition to) the person you intend to kill. I’m not sure how this is supposed to vitiate the distinction between intended and foreseen consequences.

  • This of course does not render the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki moral. I think it does put in context what people accepted as “moral” or at least acceptable at that point in the war.

    And starting very early in the war, Pope Pius XII was warning that the increasingly common targeting of civilian areas was unacceptable and would lead to worse atrocities.

    From his Easter 1941 message:

    We feel obliged nonetheless to state that the ruthless struggle has at times assumed forms which can be described only as atrocious. May all belligerents, who also have human hearts moulded by mothers’ love, show some feeling of charity for the sufferings of civilian populations, for defenseless women and children, for the sick and aged, all of whom are often exposed to greater and more widespread perils of war than those faced by soldiers at the front!

    We beseech the belligerent powers to abstain until the very end from the use of still more homicidal instruments of warfare; for the introduction of such weapons inevitably results in their retaliatory use, often with greater violence by the enemy. If already We must lament the fact that the limits of legitimate warfare have been repeatedly exceeded, would not the more widespread use of increasingly barbarous offensive weapons soon transform war into unspeakable horror?

  • It’s pleasing to see all the respectful comments directed toward Mike Petrik from all sides. I have long thought that there are precious few people in the Catholic blogosphere as decent and bright as Mike.

  • Yes. Another reason why the bombing of H and N need to be taken in the context of what was for years acceptable and likely immoral behavior.

  • That was in response to JohnH

  • Thanks, RL. That was a very nice thing to say.

  • I’m not sure how this is supposed to vitiate the distinction between intended and foreseen consequences.

    Because the distinction in wartime practice between “killing a guilty person” and “killing an innocent person” is chance and thus not in the object of the act if the object of nearly every act of war (as I believe self-evidently the matter, St. Thomas notwithstanding) is “killing,” whether “dropping a bomb” or “thrusting a sword” or some otherwise-specified act of deadly force. Thus every “foreseen” death is also “intended.”

  • Blackadder … there’s no doubt that the US war planners of 1945 knew that attacking the 2nd Army HQ and the Mitsubishi shipyards entailed bombing the whole city (though that would’ve equally been the case had they decided to attack it with conventional bombs), and thought that killing civilians was, if not exactly desired as its own end, not anti-desired or shrunk from either.

    My point is always that this is merely an extreme (and unusually well-documented) case of what has, does and will go on in every war in human history — military planners not being deterred from legitimate operations by the known fact civilians will be killed in their due course (100-vs.-1,000 or Smith-vs.-Jones being morally indifferent in matters of intrinsic evil).

  • Because the distinction in wartime practice between “killing a guilty person” and “killing an innocent person” is chance and thus not in the object of the act if the object of nearly every act of war (as I believe self-evidently the matter, St. Thomas notwithstanding) is “killing,” whether “dropping a bomb” or “thrusting a sword” or some otherwise-specified act of deadly force.

    This is confused. Imagine you have a group of bank robbers who have taken hostages. If a sniper tries to shoot one of the robbers there is a good chance that he will miss and kill one of the hostages instead. It hardly follows that there is no difference between the sniper trying to kill the robber and trying to kill the hostages.

  • It hardly follows that there is no difference between the sniper trying to kill the robber and trying to kill the hostages.

    I didn’t say there was no difference between THOSE two options — “trying to kill the robber” and “trying to kill the civilians.” I merely note that, in fog-of-war situations, there is no “trying to kill soldiers” or “trying to destroy their support” without the moral certainty that some civilians will die.

  • Sorry … let me avoid the passive voice …

    in fog-of-war situations, there is no “trying to kill soldiers” or “trying to destroy their support” without the moral certainty that you will kill some civilians in due course.

  • in fog-of-war situations, there is no “trying to kill soldiers” or “trying to destroy their support” without the moral certainty that you will kill some civilians in due course.

    That’s right, but that doesn’t mean there is no difference between deaths that are intended and those that are merely foreseen.

  • I’m denying the distinction from the other end, i.e., everything that is foreseen is intended, if you are going to engage in acts of war, which all have “killing” as their object.

  • I’m denying the distinction from the other end, i.e., everything that is foreseen is intended

    Then you’re denying a fundamental part of Catholic thinking on the subject.

  • And it’s not a very plausible denial, even apart from its consonance with Catholic thought. It’s easy enough to translate the sniper example into a wartime situation, and if acts in wartime only have as their object “killing” full stop then there would be no difference between trying to kill the enemy and trying to kill one’s fellow solders.

  • Keep in mind, BA … I don’t deny it absolutely, just its relevance here, for perfectly sound common-sense reasons.

    Certainly it’s far more sound common-sense than trying, as St. Thomas does, to justify acts of war by defining their object in terms of its end (i.e., “does not will the death of the attacker, but only to render him harmless” … “BY KILLING HIM!!!” I wrote in frustration into the margins of my grad-school reading a decade-and-a-half ago. My opinion of legalistic application of JWD never survived.)

  • if acts in wartime only have as their object “killing” full stop then there would be no difference between trying to kill the enemy and trying to kill one’s fellow solders.

    Intrinsically? With respect to their object?

    Yes, there is no difference.

    That doesn’t mean there can’t be other differences.

  • Long but fun day taking my first born down to begin his freshman year at the University of Illinois. The thread seems to be going smoothly. I will respond to points as I think warranted tomorrow.

  • I protest at using the Philippines as justification for nuclear warfare. The Philippines has a no-nuclear policy. In fact, their Constitution forbids them from having or using nuclear weapons.

  • A luxury they enjoy Nathan as a result of sheltering under the US nuclear umbrella for 65 years. I doubt if they have a constitutional provision capable of preventing nuclear weapons striking the Philippines from unfriendly powers. Of course without the US the Philippines would still be a Japanese colony in any case.

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Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

Friday, August 13, AD 2010

Jefferson Davis was always a friend to Catholics.  In his youth as a boy he studied at the Saint Thomas School at the Saint Rose Dominican Priory in Washington County Kentucky.  While there Davis, the only Protestant student, expressed a desire to convert.  One of the priests there advised the boy to wait until he was older and then decide. Davis never converted, but his early exposure to Catholicism left him with a life long respect for the Faith.

When the aptly named anti-Catholic movement the Know-Nothings arose in the 1840s and 1850s, Davis fought against it, as did his great future adversary Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War, Pope Pius wrote to the archbishops of New Orleans and New York, praying that peace would be restored to America.  Davis took this opportunity to write to the Pope:

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27 Responses to Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

  • Thank you for this post.

    I am reading (again) Sears’ Gettysburg – slower this time. I had never thought of this possibility. Sears mentions that the South could have called for a Constititional Convention instead of firing on Fort Sumter. In that way, the North would have either negotiated or been the first to open fire on fellow Americans.

    Has anyone else seen that interesting concept?

  • I’m reading again (for the fourth time) Bruce Catton’s “The Coming Fury” and it seems clear that the clamor for secession overcame any voice of moderation after Lincoln’s election, which was seen as doom for the hopes of the south to have new territories come in as slave states (which would maintain a balance in Congress between slave/non-slave states).

    Even better than a constitutional convention (at which the south would not be able to prevail) it would have been better if South Carolina had let Ft. Sumter be… and if Lincoln had not insisted on calling up troops from the states for invasion of the south, Virginia, Tenessee, and N. Carolina would likely not have seceeded, and the common wisdom is that a confederacy of only deep south states would not have lived long.

    In short, there were alternatives to the revolution that was the civil war, but alas– firebreathing secessionists and firebreathing abolitionists would have none of it.

  • Secession would not have happened except in an atmosphere of crisis. If southern representatives and senators had remained in their seats in Congress, they could have blocked any legislation they feared with the help of Northen Democrats. They would have quickly realized that no, Lincoln wasn’t going to take away their slaves, put them in jail and have their slaves and carpet baggers from the North running things in their states. Secession was a completely over the top reaction to the election of Lincoln, and like many over the top reactions it ultimately brought about what was feared.

  • I’ve often been asked for citations of Davis’s correspondence with Pius IX (and wondered myself about how extensive it was). I’ve heard that he wore the brown Scapular and was ultimately given last rites by a Priest.

    In any case, thanks! I found this post because WordPress told me I was linked in it, but it must have been one of those transitory “Related Post” links.

    I’ll be linking this to my existing work on Davis!

  • Thanks, I knew you gents would be on top of this.

    I was always more interested in the military and armchair-general aspects. So many years out of school: the politics/causes give me brain-freeze.

    Once the guns started, it was a fight to the death – tragic.

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  • In Supremo Apostolatus
    Apostolic Letter of Pope Gregory XVI on the Slave Trade. Promulgated on December 3, 1839

    PLACED AT THE SUMMIT of the Apostolic power and, although lacking in merits, holding the place of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, being made Man through utmost Charity, deigned to die for the Redemption of the World, We have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. Assuredly, since there was spread abroad, first of all amongst the Christians, the light of the Gospel, these miserable people, who in such great numbers, and chiefly through the effects of wars, fell into very cruel slavery, experienced an alleviation of their lot. Inspired in fact by the Divine Spirit, the Apostles, it is true, exhorted the slaves themselves to obey their masters, according to the flesh, as though obeying Christ, and sincerely to accomplish the Will of God; but they ordered the masters to act well towards slaves, to give them what was just and equitable, and to abstain from menaces, knowing that the common Master both of themselves and of the slaves is in Heaven, and that with Him there is no distinction of persons.

    But as the law of the Gospel universally and earnestly enjoined a sincere charity towards all, and considering that Our Lord Jesus Christ had declared that He considered as done or refused to Himself everything kind and merciful done or refused to the small and needy, it naturally follows, not only that Christians should regard as their brothers their slaves and, above all, their Christian slaves, but that they should be more inclined to set free those who merited it; which it was the custom to do chiefly upon the occasion of the Easter Feast as Gregory of Nyssa tells us. There were not lacking Christians, who, moved by an ardent charity ‘cast themselves into bondage in order to redeem others,’ many instances of which our predecessor, Clement I, of very holy memory, declares to have come to his knowledge. In the process of time, the fog of pagan superstition being more completely dissipated and the manners of barbarous people having been softened, thanks to Faith operating by Charity, it at last comes about that, since several centuries, there are no more slaves in the greater number of Christian nations. But — We say with profound sorrow — there were to be found afterwards among the Faithful men who, shamefully blinded by the desire of sordid gain, in lonely and distant countries, did not hesitate to reduce to slavery Indians, negroes and other wretched peoples, or else, by instituting or developing the trade in those who had been made slaves by others, to favour their unworthy practice. Certainly many Roman Pontiffs of glorious memory, Our Predecessors, did not fail, according to the duties of their charge, to blame severely this way of acting as dangerous for the spiritual welfare of those engaged in the traffic and a shame to the Christian name; they foresaw that as a result of this, the infidel peoples would be more and more strengthened in their hatred of the true Religion.

    It is at these practices that are aimed the Letter Apostolic of Paul III, given on May 29, 1537, under the seal of the Fisherman, and addressed to the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, and afterwards another Letter, more detailed, addressed by Urban VIII on April 22, 1639 to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber of Portugal. In the latter are severely and particularly condemned those who should dare ‘to reduce to slavery the Indians of the Eastern and Southern Indies,’ to sell them, buy them, exchange them or give them, separate them from their wives and children, despoil them of their goods and properties, conduct or transport them into other regions, or deprive them of liberty in any way whatsoever, retain them in servitude, or lend counsel, succour, favour and co-operation to those so acting, under no matter what pretext or excuse, or who proclaim and teach that this way of acting is allowable and co-operate in any manner whatever in the practices indicated.

    Benedict XIV confirmed and renewed the penalties of the Popes above mentioned in a new Apostolic Letter addressed on December 20, 1741, to the Bishops of Brazil and some other regions, in which he stimulated, to the same end, the solicitude of the Governors themselves. Another of Our Predecessors, anterior to Benedict XIV, Pius II, as during his life the power of the Portuguese was extending itself over New Guinea, sent on October 7, 1462, to a Bishop who was leaving for that country, a Letter in which he not only gives the Bishop himself the means of exercising there the sacred ministry with more fruit, but on the same occasion, addresses grave warnings with regard to Christians who should reduce neophytes to slavery.

    In our time Pius VII, moved by the same religious and charitable spirit as his Predecessors, intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians. The penalties imposed and the care given by Our Predecessors contributed in no small measure, with the help of God, to protect the Indians and the other people mentioned against the cruelty of the invaders or the cupidity of Christian merchants, without however carrying success to such a point that the Holy See could rejoice over the complete success of its efforts in this direction; for the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

    We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.

    Note: This Apostolic Letter was read during the 4th Provincial Council of Baltimore, December 3, 1839.)

  • VETO MESSAGE.

    EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, February 28, 1861.
    Gentlemen of Congress: With sincere deference to the judgment of Congress, I have carefully considered the bill in relation to the slave trade, and to punish persons offending therein, but have not been able to approve it, and therefore do return it with a statement of my objections. The Constitution (section 7, article I.) provides that the importation of African negroes from any foreign country other than slave-holding States of the United States is hereby forbidden, and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. The rule herein given is emphatic, and distinctly directs the legislation which shall effectually prevent the importation of African negroes. The bill before me denounces as high misdemeanor the importation of African negroes or other persons of color, either to be sold as slaves or to be held to service or labor, affixing heavy, degrading penalties on the act, if done with such intent. To that extent it accords with the requirements of the Constitution, but in the sixth section of the bill provision is made for the transfer of persons who may have been illegally imported into the Confederate States to the custody of foreign States or societies, upon condition of deportation and future freedom, and if the proposition thus to surrender them shall not be accepted, it is then made the duty of the President to cause said negroes to be sold at public outcry to the highest bidder in any one of the States where such sale shall not be inconsistent with the laws thereof. This provision seems to me to be in opposition to the policy declared in the Constitution – the prohibition of the importation of African negroes – and in derogation of its mandate to legislate for the effectuation of that object. Wherefore the bill is returned to you for your further consideration, and, together with the objections, most respectfully submitted.

    JEFF’N DAVIS.

  • “In any case, thanks!”

    You are entirely welcome GodsGadfly!

  • Good grief, slavery was enshrined in the Confederate Constitution. You couldn’t become a member of the ‘Confederacy’ unless you endorsed and embraced slavery. No amout of neo-confederate embroidery will change those historical facts.

    “We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.”

    These words have meaning. You should read them.

  • Trevor, you calling me a neo-Confederate is rich. As the thread linked to below indicates, I have long been engaged in combox battles with neo-Confederates.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    I will assume that you are not a faithful reader of this blog, or you would not be confused on this point.

    In any of my posts dealing with historical topics, I try to be as accurate as possible and to give the subject his or her historical due. You brought up the slave trade and I cited a Davis veto on the subject that indicated, accurately, that the Confederate Constitution banned the international slave trade. I think you need to grind axes less and read more, lest you become a mirror-image of the neo-Confederates you oppose who are afraid to simply let the historical record be examined, warts and all.

  • Donald – Can you write an article addressing the following: Why do many blacks have Irish last names? Did Irish Catholics have plantations in the South and what happened to the Catholics in the South since it seems that they largely disappeared until recently? (recently re-appeared due to Catholic moving from the North)

  • Here is a discussion of the topic John.

    http://web.mac.com/jamesdwithrow/iWeb/Site/Blog/0C7FF890-B6D6-4BB1-82B6-A6273F647B88.html

    With all due respect to the fictional Scarlett O’Hara, Irish Catholics tended to be underrepresented among plantation owners in the antebellum South. I assume that most of the Irish names are from slaves adopting the names of Scot-Irish who owned them, not an uncommon occurrence, or through unions, in matrimony and out, between blacks and whites.

  • Thanks Donald – That makes more sense. Catholics in the South didn’t disappear, rather, they were never there. The names of black people can be explained by non-Catholic Scots-Irish.

  • Donald,

    The 1839 Apostolic Letter which was read at the 4th Provincial Council in Baltimore makes no distinction between domestic and international slave trading, it condems the practice in its totality.

    Yet Jefferson Davis’ veto twenty one years later doesn’t uphold a ban on all slave trading, only on international slave trading. Did it matter to the Catholic Church whether the slaves were traded from Ghana or Maryland when it issued the letter? Did Pope Gregory XVI have inernational politics or basic human rights on his mind when he wrote it?

    Perhaps you should read the letter again, this time to gain a fuller understanding what the Vatican was trying to convey, before continuing your defense of Jefferson Davis.

  • And perhaps you should try reading what I have written Trevor. In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis. You are the mirror image of the obsessed neo-Confederate.

  • Quoting Mr. Davis: ” . . .we desire none of our enemy’s possessions, but that we fight merely to resist the devastation of our country and the shedding of our best blood, and to force them to let us live in peace under the protection of our own institutions, and under our laws, which not only insure to every one the enjoyment of his temporal rights, but also the free exercise of his religion.”

    First, I admit to being a little biased since I am the descendant of people who were enslaved in these United States. But it seems to me that Mr. Davis is being a little bit dishonest here since he supported an institution which took possession of people’s bodies and treated human beings as cattle. Slavery, especially as practiced in the United States, was an ongoing assault against human dignity. How Mr. Davis could possibly claim that southern laws and mores “insure to everyone his temporal rights” is beyond me. This repesents a severe disconnect from the reality he was well acquainted with as a slaveowner. I strongly urge you to read some of the books detailing the internal slave trade before romanticizing the ante-bellum south. (I especially recommend “Slave Trading in the Old South” by Frederic Bancroft. Then, just to put a human face on the suffering, read “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northrup.) It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.

    Also the opposition to the international slave trade was a form of protectionism since it kept the prices of slaves in the U.S. high. Virginia plantations made fortunes in meeting the demands for slaves as new slave territories to the west opened up. Re-opening the African slave trade would have lowered the prices of slaves.

    The anti-slavery movement was laregely spearheaded, both here and in England, by Protestants and had an explicitly religious grounding. They absolutely refused to play footsie with this institution. To my mind it was Protetantism’s finest hour and certainly one of the jewels in the crown of the west. (I am not claiming that all Protestants opposed slavery, merely that the most agressive and active opponents of slavery were almost invariably Protestant; there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.) Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960’s.

    Finally, I can only presume that the Irish names which some African Americans have were taken from Scots-Irish since, with the exception of Louisiana and possibily Mobile, Alabama, there were very few Catholics in the South. Even today the American South is overwhelmingly Protestant altho the influx of Latino immigrants is changing this.

    By contrast, Africans in Latin America are largely Catholic, the religion of those who enslaved them. And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.

  • “It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.”

    No one here is attempting to do that Denise.

    “there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.”

    Actually Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator in Ireland, supported abolition in the British Empire and America. He served as the model for William Lloyd Garrison. Father Theobald Matthew, the famed temperance priest, was quite active in abolition in this country. You are correct in that no bishop publicly supported abolition in this country prior to the Civil War.

    “And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.”

    That is debatable depending upon the country in Latin America, and what part of the Anglosphere is being used for comparison. In any case in Latin America slavery had been abolished prior to our Civil War except I believe in Cuba and Brazil.

    “Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960?s.”

    I’d say de facto slavery still goes on in many Islamic countries.

  • ” In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis.”

    Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?

  • Trevor,

    It seems to me that Donald was just defending truth and making appropriate distinctions. Donald wrote a post about an exchange between Davis and Pio Nono. Best I can tell it is accurate in its account of facts and the little personal commentary is benign. For reason unknown except to you, you posted the Vatican letter condemning the slave trade with no commentary accompaning it. It is left to the reader to divine why you posted it. The observer would not find your cite relevant to the post unless you were somehow trying make the Pio/Davis exchange irrelevant to history.

    Unfortunately, the cudgel you chose wasn’t as relevant as you you hoped. One doesn’t have to defend the Confederacy, slavery, the slave trade, or Davis except to the truth. i.e. Hitler was a horrible human being and caused countless deaths and much more suffering. However, I know of no information that he liked to eat puppy dogs for dinner. Too accuse him of that just because he caused so much evil does not serve truth.

    Davis was president of the Confederate states. He supported the institution of slavery. He opposed reopening the international slave trade. He had a pleasant exchange with Pope Pius IX. It is what it is.

  • “Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?”

    I posted it Trevor to help show how complicated history tends to be and to give another factoid about Davis. As I have indicated clearly in the link that I posted above in this thread, which I doubt you have bothered to read, I have taken to task time and time again neo-Confederates who attempt to pretend that the Civil War was not all about slavery. Indeed I have noted several times that at the onset of the Civil War Davis said the Civil War was all about slavery.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/cornerstone-speech/

    Not all my posts have to mention that fact, since they are simply slivers of the lives of my subjects and not full blown bios usually, and normally deal with some particular incident or incidents.

    The usual criticisms of my Civil War posts on this blog have been that I am a Lincoln worshiper and a Yankee of the deepest blue, so having you come at me from the other angle is refreshing in addition to being hilarious.

    In regard to Judah P. Benjamin, ante-bellum Senator from Louisiana, and the Jewish member of the Confederate cabinet, married to a Catholic, he was a truly fascinating character and will, in the fullness of time, be the subject of a post. He once responded to Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio calling him a “Hebrew with Egyptian principles”, with this memorable riposte: “It is true that I am a Jew, and when my ancestors were receiving their Ten Commandments from the immediate Deity, amidst the thundering and lightnings of Mt. Sinai, the ancestors of my opponent were herding swine in the forests of Great Britain.” Thank you for the suggestion Trevor!

  • Donald, I’ve read your piece in regards to secession being avoidable if the Democratic party had kept its head in regards to Lincolns win at the polls [1860 Prest elect]. your argument has no basis what ever in this assumption ,for one the Democratic ticket was split asunder. with Stephen Douglas a proponent of popular sovereignty and John C. Breckinridge anti Douglas and anti Douglas’s creed.The contest pre war was the the rights of states. Davis seen the States as sovereign , the federal gov acting on their behalf. the question remains do sovereign states legally have the right to secede from a union of states?.

  • Tom, I have to disagree with your analysis in regards to the clamour for southern Independence or succession.The election of Abe Lincoln in itself was not the catalyst of the rebellion or revolution the problem was inherited by Lincoln, the decline of southern power in the senate, as you rightly pointed out was the basis for separation. As john C. Calhoun once said “The union is a partnership that sectional parity guarantees tranquillity for the nation”.The union changed that configuration by admitting free states whilst keep slave -holding states in check.

    As to Confederate forces firing on FT Sumter, this was exactly what Lincoln had engineered “they fired the first shot”.So much for his promise, where slavery existed so shall it remain unmolested the south had nothing to fear from a Rep adim. It was always in Lincoln’s eye,the horror of slavery although he was never an out and out abolitionist he truly hated slavery.

    As i have alluded to before the civil-war was not fought over slavery, but for Union. as for Va it could not let the Lincoln war machine use her native soil as a land bridge to attack the deep south. While the North fought for Union, The South fought for the Republic.

  • Noleybo, you are mistaken. Secession occurred in a state of crisis that was completely unfounded. Lincoln had pledged to do nothing in regard to slavery in the slave states. Acting with Northern Democrats, Southern representatives and senators could have bottled up any legislation they feared. Instead Secession led to the death of the Peculiar Institution and a fratricidal war that devastated the South. Rarely have a braver people been more poorly led by their leaders than the white Southerners in the Secession Winter of 1860-61.

  • Donald.I must again disagree with your understanding of the crisis as you call it in 1860 in regards to the election of Abe Lincoln.But before I discuss Lincoln and the crisis that you allude to as in 1860, let me draw your attention to compromise after compromise to prevent succession. Missouri 1820, Mexican cession 1850, Kansas Nebraska 1854, all attempts to settle disputes on sectional lines of course not to mention a last ditch effort to advert succession by Davis and other which is general known as The Crittenden Compromise, Lincoln ignored it, he showed utter contempt and disrespect for their efforts.Of course the expansion of slavery was on the table but it showed Lincoln in a true light he’d have no truck with slavery but still he should have had common courtesy to attend.The man was transparent,this pledge that the South had nothing to fear was a total lie. Slavery was safe where it remained was a hollow promise.The Harrison’s Landing[ Genl McClellan] letter proved Lincoln true intent in regards to the slave states when again he showed contempt for the author.

    You again mentioned if the Northern Democrats along with their Southern brethren could have thwarted any legislation proposed by the Lincoln Adim.I put it to you, if they could have agreed on a single candidate the Democrats would have won in 1860.The sectional differences ran deep with Stephen Douglas a fervent support of Popular Sovereignty, animus of Douglas and his policy torn asunder any conciliation between Northern and Southern Democrats.So to contend that a union of both could bottle up Lincoln’s policy is delusional and without recourse to historical accuracy on your part.

  • Noleybo in regard to Lincoln and the Secession Crisis of 1860-61, the only things he was unwilling to compromise on were slavery in the territories and the preservation of the Union. Lincoln even supported an amendment to enshrine slavery in the Constitution if that would mollify the South. The amendment passed Congress and was ratified by three states before it became a dead issue due to the ongoing war. That such an amendment passed the Congress without most Southern senators and representatives being present is a clear indication of how willing Northern Democrats and many Republicans were to allay the fears of the South. Northern Democrats would have been happy to join Southern members of Congress in bottling up Republican legislation. After four frustrating years Lincoln would probably have joined the long list of one term Presidents which was the norm after Andrew Jackson. The South had absolutely nothing to fear from Lincoln. Instead, Southern fireeaters stampeded more moderate colleagues in attempting to secede from the Union by portraying Lincoln as a mortal threat to slavery. Instead, it was the secessionists, by provoking a war they were bound to lose, who signed the death knell of slavery. God must have enjoyed the rich irony.

  • Donald, according to the judgement and interpretations of the Constitution handed down by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case 1857. That Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the national lands because that would violate the property rights of the Fifth Amendment.So the highest Judiciary in the land reaffirmed what Southerners always believed, that the Constitution guaranteed their property rights [Slaves ] in any territory.

    For Lincoln to support an amendment to the Constitution enshrining slavery is a nonsense because the the Dred Scott case had already stated that position. That slavery was protect by the Constitution.In fact Lincoln set about undermining the decision because according to the Reps and himself the analysis was erroneous. So what had Southerners to fear from Abe Lincoln?