If the New York Times Had Real Editors

Saturday, September 19, AD 2015

nyt invert


National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson cements his reputation as one of the more thought provoking writers on the net with this hilarious piece which takes apart a typical example of biased “reporting” from the New York Times:




MEMO FROM: Copy desk
TO: New York Times Foreign desk
RE: Diaa Hadid for AM international; mark-up attached
HEAD: Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem [ED: “As rocks pelt his car”? How exactly did the rocks go about doing this? Are these special angry Palestinian rocks that get up off the ground and hurl themselves at Jews? Unless we’re talking about The Rock, in which case he’s going by “Dwayne Johnson” these days, I don’t think a rock is capable of committing an act of violence on its own.]
BYLINE: Diaa Hadid
DATELINE: Ramallah, West Bank, 14 September 2015
COPY: A Jewish man died [ED: “was killed.”] early Monday morning after attackers pelted the road [ED: “pelted the road”? They were aiming at the pavement? Please clarify.] he was driving on with rocks as he was returning home from a dinner celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the Israeli authorities said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting to discuss rock-throwing, mostly [ED: “mostly”? Which other rock-throwers were discussed at the emergency meeting?] by Palestinian youths.
The man was identified in local news reports as Alexander Levlovich, 64. His death was reported as the police and Palestinian youths clashed [ED: Is it the case that the police and the Palestinian youths “clashed,” or is it the case that the police tried to stop violent crimes from being committed? Do the police “clash” with bank-robbers or muggers?] for a second day at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, amid tensions [Who is tense about this? Are Jews experiencing “tension” over being allowed to move about freely for the purposes of having dinner?] over increased visits by Jews for Rosh Hashana. The two-day holiday began at sundown on Sunday.
A statement from the Israeli police said the assailants were throwing stones [ED: At . . . ?] on Sunday night on a road that runs between a Palestinian and Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The police said the stone-throwing “led to a self-inflicted accident,” [ED: This is a quote, sure, albeit one without specific sourcing, but are we really going to pretend this was “self-inflicted”?] as the man lost control of the car [ED: “was driven off the road”] and smashed into a pole.
Palestinians scuffled [ED: At what point does a “scuffle” with “riot police” become, you know, rioting?] with the Israeli riot police after security forces blocked a road leading to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday.
Luba Samri, a police spokeswoman, said the rock-throwing appeared to have caused the accident but that “nothing is 100 percent sure.” The police, with a court’s permission, said no more details about the case could be published while an investigation was continuing.
On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu said he would call a special meeting after Rosh Hashana ends Tuesday evening to discuss “harsher punishments and strict enforcement” and other means to combat rock-throwing.
The government had already said, on Sept. 2, that it was considering harsher measures against Palestinian stone-throwers [ED: “harsher measures against Palestinian stone-throwers,” or against, as above, mostly Palestinian stone-throwers?], including more use of live ammunition and tougher minimum sentences.
Israeli security forces have increasingly grappled with rock-throwing, particularly along a highway in the occupied West Bank that is mostly used by Jewish settlers and on roads leading to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. [ED: Hmm: Jewish settlers, Jewish neighborhoods: Does a trend seem to suggest itself to you?]

[ED: Here at the end of the eighth paragraph in this story about a Jewish man being murdered for the crime of driving while Jewish, I’m wondering if we’re going to get a straightforward statement of the fact that this Jewish man was murdered for the crime of driving while Jewish.]


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5 Responses to If the New York Times Had Real Editors

  • A.M. Rosenthal was congenially disposed toward Israel, but the rest of the upper echelon there have long been indifferent, as are the large mass of Jewish politicians in this country, push comes to shove (see the Iran deal). The characters who’ve been pushing the line that wirepulling Jews have folded, spindled, and mutilated American foreign policy in the interests of Israel have had their ass handed to them in recent weeks.

  • Art Deco, rather than ‘indifferent’, I’d say that the Times— along with most of
    the mainstream media in this country– is actually hostile toward Israel.
    ‘Indifference’ implies passivity and a neutral attitude, and as we see in Mr. Willaimson’s
    NRO piece excerpted here, the Times’ so-called journalism is anything but

  • If the Israelis and the rocks would just sit down at the bargaining table and work this out, maybe the Palestinians wouldn’t keep getting caught up as innocent victims.

  • When rocks are outlawed, only Palestinians will have rocks.
    The Times story of the Jewish victim demonstrates what seems visceral bias on the part of the authors. We see this frequently in reports of violence involving firearms. “Fury will find its weapon” but many on the Left will find their bias. As gun-control has become an idée fixe among the people of the Left, so also has a degree of anti-Israel bias. The proper question to ask is not whence cometh the firearms or the rocks but whence cometh the violence.

Gingrich vs. the Abortion Extremists

Tuesday, September 4, AD 2012



Newt Gingrich was a very flawed candidate in the Republican primary race, but no one is better than he is at pointing out blatant media bias.  He did so on Sunday on Meet the Press, pointing out the extreme media bias on abortion.  Tom Friedman, who amazingly gets good money to write columns for the New York Times, then, hilariously, underlined by his pro-abort response that Gingrich’s criticism was completely on target:

DAVID GREGORY: Understanding, Mr. Speaker, the difference between Todd Akin talking about rape versus the abortion plank of the platform, I understand there is that distinction. Nevertheless, the question, social issues versus economic issues as being a big motivator for women, is a question.
NEWT GINGRICH: Let me just take a second to disagree with Carly [Fiorina]. I think Todd Akin was the choice of the people of Missouri. I think Todd Akin has publicly apologized, and the last poll shows he’s beating the Democratic senator. I think that we ought to go on from that. Karl Rove said some terrible things on Friday for which he has apologized, which should remind us, people make mistakes.
GREGORY: He was joking about if he shows up murdered somewhere–
GINGRICH: In the age of Gabby Giffords, it is not a joke to say that a member of Congress ought to get murdered. And I’m frankly fed up with the one-sided bias, OK? Let me give you two examples. Vice president of the United States goes to a black audience and says, ‘If the Republicans win, you will be in chains.’ How can Biden remain as vice president? Where’s the outrage over overt, deliberate racism? We talk about people saying things, they ought to get off tickets. How come Biden shouldn’t get off the ticket?
Second example: The Democratic Party plank on abortion is the most extreme plank in the United States. The president of the United States voted three times to protect the right of doctors to kill babies who came out of an abortion still alive. That plank says tax-paid abortion at any moment, meaning partial-birth abortion. That’s a 20 percent issue. The vast majority of women do not believe that taxpayers should pay to abort a child in the eighth or ninth month. Now why isn’t it shocking that the Democrats on the social issue of abortion have taken the most extreme position in this country, and they couldn’t defend that position for a day if it was made clear and vivid, as vivid as all the effort is made to paint Republicans.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I’m a Planned Parenthood Democrat on the issue of choice, and I think that that is where the country should be, that is where many, many women in this country are, and I am glad there are people running for the presidency who will defend that position. Period, paragraph, end it.
GREGORY: Newt, I guess the question too is whether you’re seeking, even in the Akin example, to seek an equivalency between that and, say, Biden, who was using language that Republicans have used about the regulatory shackles as opposed to making an overt racial–
GINGRICH: Biden was not talking to a black audience about regulatory shackles, OK? Let me go back to Tom’s point. So, you think it’s acceptable to have a party committed to tax-paid abortion in the eighth and ninth month? And you think that’s a sustainable position in the United States? If the news media spent as much time on the extremism of the Democrats as they spend trying to attack us, they would not be able to adopt that plank this week.
FRIEDMAN: I do believe that’s a defensible position, but I also believe I’m here as a journalist. I’ll let the Democratic Party defend it.

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8 Responses to Gingrich vs. the Abortion Extremists

  • These people are pure evil.

    There is no talking with them.

    I keep saying, “You will not be going to Heaven if you vote Democrat.”

  • “Friedman’s last statement is beyond parody.”

    -Amen to that Brother Don.

  • I watched a few minutes of that Meet the Press episode. Here’s the part I caught:

    MR. FRIEDMAN: I would have a lot more, you know, willingness to listen to some of the critiques if one speaker that was there in Tampa stood up said you know, we had a hand in this deficit.

    MR. BROKAW: Yeah.

    MR. FRIEDMAN: We had a president who for eight years, launched two wars, which is the first time in our history we did not pay for it with a tax increase but with a tax cut, passed a Medicare, you know, Drug Benefit Bill that we could not afford. We are in this situation, ladies and gentlemen, because we Republicans, and Democrats, okay, have– there was not an iota, history started the day Obama was elected.

    And here’s some quotes from the Ryan convention speech:

    President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account.

    [This presidency] began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct.

    In a clean break from the Obama years, and frankly from the years before this president, we will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less.

    My conclusion: either Friedman is a deliberate liar, or he’s passing himself off as an expert on TV when he doesn’t know anything about the subject matter.

  • I cannot watch Sunday morning lib-lie extraganzas.

    I’d need to buy a new TV every week, and I’d need to go to Confession every Monday.

  • I like how Friedman starts out bold “I’m a Planned Parenthood Democrat… Period. Paragraph. End it” but when challenged he retreats to a “I’m here as a journalist” defense.

  • “I like how Friedman starts out bold “I’m a Planned Parenthood Democrat… Period. Paragraph. End it” but when challenged he retreats to a “I’m here as a journalist” defense.”

    But this is the closest thing you get to honest journalism from the New York Times.

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  • Has no one noticed how they literally took God out of their platform? Literally!

The New York Times and the Hive Mind

Monday, August 27, AD 2012

8 Responses to The New York Times and the Hive Mind

  • The man possesses a minuscule grasp of the obvious.

    The so-called media is in the tank for the destructive liberal agenda and the leader of the choom gang.

  • This reminds me of panel that featured the PBS director and the head honcho of HBO among others. At one point they talked about the failure of Air America, the leftist version of right-wing radio. The HBO guy remarked that it failed because there was already left-wing media that was completely free: PBS and NPR. The PBS director promptly bleated out: “But we aren’t biased!” and the HBO director just said, “Yeah, keep telling yourself that.”

  • I am sure that in the hive mind of the New York Slimes, they consider themselves to be objective. Walter Duranty (no famine in Ukraine in the 1930s) and Herbert Mathews (late 1950s Fidel Castro apologist) are more than enough evidence that the Slimes has been biased for decades.

  • “… I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so…”

    -What planet is this boy on?

  • Don’t sell this story short. It’s a big deal. For a critique of the Times’ bias to be printed by the Times, that’s unusual. It also can become a point of reference for anyone arguing about media bias in general. But most importantly, I think the description of the dynamis of establishment bias was perfect. This article spells out exactly how it happens and exactly why it remains undiagnosable to those who do it. Good for Brisbane.

  • Well, duh! Sorry for the silly response, but the media in general have their causes and pet issues. Whichever side one falls on,politically, may drive whether they cease to view the media outlet or think its unbiased..that’s read, my bias is unbiased.

  • Ms. Abramson doth protest too much. The New York Times has endorsed the Democratic nominee for President 13 straight times. This November it will be 14.
    In 2006, the New York Times endorsed every single Democratic candidate for Congress in the tri-state area; no Republicans. That’s not “keeping the paper straight”.
    Abe Rosenthal did indeed, despite his progressive leanings, have some form of journalistic inegrity – so much that some thought he might have personally favored Ronald Reagan (maybe he just liked peace and prosperity). But nobody confuses A.M. Rosenthal with his late father. The paper – especially it’s opinion page – is becoming a predictible yawn that echoes what its base wants to hear. To those seeking actual intellectual enlightenment, look elsewhere. The Washington Post, while still a bit left of center, does a far better job of reflecting a range of public opinion.

  • It’s been thus since the 1920’s. the NYT motto is “All the news that’s fit to print with a pinkish tint.”

Ross Douthat Asks if Liberal Christianity Can be Saved and His Readers Answer No

Sunday, July 15, AD 2012



It is always amusing to read conservative Ross Douthat’s columns in The New York Times and read the visceral negative reaction of almost all his commenters.  The New York Times of course is Holy Writ for most liberals in this country, and their seeing a conservative opinion piece in it is simply beyond the pale for most of them.

Today , Douthat asked if liberal Christianity can be saved, noting that liberal denominations are going the way of the passenger pigeon, the Edsel and conservative Democrats:

IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.

As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.       

Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.       

This decline is the latest chapter in a story dating to the 1960s. The trends unleashed in that era — not only the sexual revolution, but also consumerism and materialism, multiculturalism and relativism — threw all of American Christianity into crisis, and ushered in decades of debate over how to keep the nation’s churches relevant and vital.       

Traditional believers, both Protestant and Catholic, have not necessarily thrived in this environment. The most successful Christian bodies have often been politically conservative but theologically shallow, preaching a gospel of health and wealth rather than the full New Testament message.       

But if conservative Christianity has often been compromised, liberal Christianity has simply collapsed. Practically every denomination — Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian — that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance. Within the Catholic Church, too, the most progressive-minded religious orders have often failed to generate the vocations necessary to sustain themselves.

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38 Responses to Ross Douthat Asks if Liberal Christianity Can be Saved and His Readers Answer No

  • Of course it cannot be saved because liberal Christianity does not exist. The Catholic Church continues to grow because it does not change in faith and morals. It is the church founded by Christ and Christ entrusted the Church to St. Peter and his successors. People are abandoning liberal Christian churches and joining the Catholic Church for that very reason.

  • Should liberal Christianity, whatever that is, be saved?

    I vote, “present.”

  • Liberal-ISM:

    I – Self – Me

  • PS, Rev Scotty McLennan just doesn’t get it, but he will one day.

  • “Why has the liberal voice been muted in liberal Christianity?” The question is: “Why has the voice of Christianity been muted in liberalism. The Sermon on the Mount is no longer allowed in the public square. The liberal Jesus Christ, God, the Father, God, the Holy Spirit is prohibited in the public school. Jesus could not give His Sermon on the Mount. The Lord, God cannot celebrate His Birthday at Christmas, because some “liberal”, “progressives” have disenfranchised the Lord, God, Jesus Christ, using HIs name to finagle their political ends. “Liberal” is an adjective to describe a person, not a group of individuals as the word “Christianity” does. As a “liberal” or “progrssive” I ought to be free to be a “liberal” or a “progressive” as I define liberalism, not as “a group of liberals” define me. When a “group of liberals” begin to redefine liberal Christianity, I, as an individual person, lose my liberty. Therefore, liberal Christianity is an artificial construct of persons who have been disenfranchised.

  • Mary wrote, “The Catholic Church continues to grow because it does not change in faith and morals.”

    What growth? First off, Catholicism is about finished in Europe and is in declining in America. Evangelical Christianity is cutting into Catholic numbers in Latin America, especially Mexico, and Islam is making greater strides in Africa at Catholicism’s expense.

    Vatican II a spawned a serious of disasters, wrote Catholic author Pat Buchanan.

    Here are some grim statistics he cited of Catholicism’s decline:

    Priests. While the number of priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000, between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to 45,000. By 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left, and more than half of these priests will be over 70.

    Ordinations. In 1965, 1,575 new priests were ordained in the United States. In 2002, the number was 450. In 1965, only 1 percent of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes.

    Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.

    Sisters. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.

    Religious Orders. For religious orders in America, the end is in sight. In 1965, 3,559 young men were studying to become Jesuit priests. In 2000, the figure was 389. With the Christian Brothers, the situation is even more dire. Their number has shrunk by two-thirds, with the number of seminarians falling 99 percent. In 1965, there were 912 seminarians in the Christian Brothers. In 2000, there were only seven. The number of young men studying to become Franciscan and Redemptorist priests fell from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000.

    Catholic schools. Almost half of all Catholic high schools in the United States have closed since 1965. The student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000. Parochial schools suffered an even greater decline. Some 4,000 have disappeared, and the number of pupils attending has fallen below 2 million – from 4.5 million.

    Though the number of U.S. Catholics has risen by 20 million since 1965, statistics show that the power of Catholic belief and devotion to the Faith are not nearly what they were.

    Catholic Marriage. Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments has soared from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002.

    Attendance at Mass. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend.

    Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.
    Google “decline of Catholicism” and you get 66,000 hits.

  • @ Joe Green: This is the pruning of the branches that St. Paul discusses in Romans 11. There will be growth in orthodoxy. But the dead liberal branches will have to be pruned first. That’s makes for some bad statistics when it comes to mere numbers, but it makes for a healthy Church in the long run.

  • @Paul. Too much pruning and you’re down to a dead stump.

  • True, Joe, but the Lord is doing the pruning and we should trust Him.

  • Actually Joe there are about 5000 more priests in the world today than there were in 1999. Ordination rates are climbing in Africa and Asia, and among orthodox dioceses around the world including in North America and Europe. The Church has ever been in flux and has usuallly had a shortage of priests particularly in the New World. The statistics for priestly ordinations in this country in the fifties were unusually high for a number of reasons, many World War II veterans becoming priests on the GI BIll for example, and do not reflect the normal trend in ordinations in this country. In the future priests in this country are going to be much more orthodox than their predecessors and that should lend itself to more ordinations. Orthodox orders of nuns and sisters are doing quite well in obtaining new postulants. Mr. Buchanan is as reliable as to the future of the Church as he is in regard to the history of World War II.


  • What is disconcerting is that Douthat is as ever Douthat. Whatever his is, amusing or trenchant he is not. He is for the most part drily discussing a social phenomenon familiar to anyone who has been paying attention the last forty years, and even contrives a shot at evangelicals in the course of it (in his typical fashion). The man writes like David Broder and gets 323 paroxysms in response. The people commenting would do well to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if there is not something wrong with them (were they the sort to do so).

  • The fate of the liberal churches springs from the fact that those who reject authority will never succeed in imposing their own authority on others

    The Reformers having challenged the authority of the Church, on the basis of scripture, it was only a matter of time before Semler, Ernesti, and others challenged the authority of scripture on the basis of reason and private judgement. Strauss and the Tübingen School inevitably followed.

    Why, after all, should the Thirty-Nine Articles or the Westminster Confession be of more authority than popes and councils?

  • @Joe Green – Here’s a link that speaks to the growth of the Catholic Church. We have to remember that the Catholic Church is universal. While Europe is in a state of decline that is not true for the remainder of the world. Women entering religious orders are delcling in the existing orders affiliated with the liberal LCWR but if you take a look at the religious orders that are orthodox they are booming. I agree with Paul, the Holy Spirit is doing some pruning. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-statistics-show-catholic-growth/

  • I think Joe agreen’s point is well taken. The concept of quality over quantity assumes that you have enough. The quality of a necessary product, whether it be wheat or priests, is important but there must be enough to feed the community.

    That having been said, it should be noted that the clergy accused of sexual abuse and non-criminal perversions peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s among priests who entered the seminary in the 1960s. Couple that reality with Christ’s divinity denying nuns, Transubstantiating denying Jesuits, and drunken Christian Brothers, and you have a virtual whirlpool of intellectually decaying, Baby-Boomer Catholic Religious, dragging themselves and their charges into hell.

    We simply have to be better off without them.

  • The fate of the liberal churches springs from the fact that those who reject authority will never succeed in imposing their own authority on others

    I will go out on a limb and suggest that there was a seminal tendency of people seeking agreeable low-pressure employment, intellectuals not satisfied with digesting and making small incremental additions to a body of theological understanding who want to be ‘innovative’, and addled bourgeois who have a taste for cloying lectures and hymn singing. What you get is the Episcopal Church.

  • “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Mt. 7:24-27

    Parts of the Church were being built upon sand in the Bernardin days, introducing the values of Man and not clinging to the values of God; now the rains have come, the streams are rising and the winds are blowing and beating against it. Those parts of the Church not built upon the Rock will, and have already begun to, fall with a crash.

    Let the tempest rage.

  • @Mary, not to be disrespectful, but you are in denial, and so is Don, cherry-picking a few “positive” stats. A macro view undeniably shows not only Catholicism in decline but Christianity as a whole. Even other religions are losing adherents as reason and science make greater strides. In the O.T. the “curse of the law” was disease, poverty and death. If Christ was the end of the law, then why do we still have disease, poverty and death? Religion, whatever one you choose, fails on all accounts.

    I understand why people cling to religion in such an abysmal world. They need something/anything to believe in. As a cradle Catholic, I, too, once believed. But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair. We not only live in a world that is demonstrably imperfect but terribly flawed in countless respects. A world in which the supreme creature — man — is the worst of the lot; made, we are told, “in the image of God,” yet prone to evil and doomed to suffer. At bottom, Man is vile, (anagrammically evil) stupid and unworthy and I cannot believe in a God who would his waste time trying to perfect such a pathetic creature. I’d rather live in a world of dogs, which are superior in every way but so-called “intelligence.”

  • Joe, your woe is me agnosticism is as tiresome as your inability to accept data that contradicts the pessimism that you wallow in as a pig does her filth. Peddle your bitter angst elsewhere.

  • Zummo dismisses me as an “ignorant ass” and you call me a “pig wallowing in filth.”
    Yes, Jesus was right about one thing: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

  • Yep Joe. Your fruits are bitterness and hopelessness and I have had enough of both. You are banned from this site.

  • Joe wrote, “But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.”

    Ezekiel 18:25-29 says:

    25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?


    We are getting precisely and exactly what we deserve.

  • Addendum: God did create life, but life is unfair not because of God, but because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. It is sin that has made life unfair, not God. Indeed, it is our sin that has done that. It may seem like a remarkable example of the transitive law of logic to say, “a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.” But it is flawed logic because it is missing that key point: man rebelled, so God, being a Gentleman, gives man up to what he wants (i.e., sin) and the consequences thereof (i.e., disease, injury and death). St. Paul makes this very point over and over again in his Epistles.

  • To paraphrase Chesterton:

    “It’s not that liberal Christianity has been tried and found lacking, it’s that it’s…well, actually, now that you think about it…um,…well….ok, forget I said that.”

  • I can understand your banning of Joe (it does get tiresome). You would think he has never heard of free will. And image and likeness does not mean exactly the same. Like our Creator, we are given free will. The similarities don’t go much beyond that.

    Yes, his syllogism sucks. It should be A) God created life, B) we mucked it up, C) we suck.

  • The pessimism of Joe Green is sad. God is love and He continually calls us to conversion. Let’s hope that God’s grace can permeate Joe’s heart.

  • Yeah, I get a little tired of despair, but I feel for Joe. When you get to his vantage point, you see a lot of stupidity and horrible behavior. But his mistake is in seeing that as the sum total of man, or his basic essence. Man is a “ruined god,” to crib a turn of phrase from a sci-fi writer whose name I forget (Anderson?).

    Whether that ruin is tragic or contemptible depends upon one’s perspective. I think it’s both, but Joe chooses only contempt, which is at the root of his error.

  • While Joe accuses others of cherry picking facts, he does the same thing.

    Fact, the number of Catholic Priests worldwide are on the increase.
    Fact, the number of Catholics worldwide are on the increase too.
    Fact, liberal elements of the Church are dying while orthodox elements are growing.

    These are simple facts easily verified with minimal research by those that want a balanced view.

    In response to Zummo Joe quoted a snippet from Matthew 7:16, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Unfortunately and typical to those of a liberal, agnostic or atheistic persuasion, his quote is totally out of context. To put it into context Joe needs to read

    Mt. 7:15-21 –

    “[15] Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. [21] Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
    kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    I think verse 15 describes Joe perfectly….his bitter views of mankind, the unfairness of God, the Church et al are certainly not good fruits. But Joe’s salvation is more important than arguing with him. He should read Mt. 7:21 above and take it seriously. Below is a link to a document that explains Catholic belief (doctrine) that outside the Church there is no Salvation (before other posters go bonkers please read the article). In this article it explains that unless one can claim ‘invincible ignorance’ of Catholic doctrine they cannot be saved outside the Church. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Joe can make this claim.

    We should all pray for his return to the faith.

  • Oooops, I forgot the link…here it is:


    Sorry about that.

  • My own reflection on humanity mirrors that of Stephen Vincent Benet in The Devil and Daniel Webster:

    “Then he turned to Jabez Stone and showed him as he was — an ordinary man who’d had hard luck and wanted to change it. And, because he’d wanted to change it, now he was going to be punished for all eternity. And yet there was good in Jabez Stone, and he showed that good. He was hard and mean, in some ways, but he was a man. There was sadness in being a man, but it was a proud thing too. And he showed what the pride of it was till you couldn’t help feeling it. Yes, even in hell, if a man was a man, you’d know it. And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it — it took a man to do that.”

    God became one of us, and gave His life for us. Two very salient facts for those who have only despair for Man.

  • That’s a good quote, Don.

    I was starting a little further back, though. Until you can get a glimpse of the idea that there was a Fall–that there is something still noble in us, despite our ruined visage, despite the nastiness we deck ourselves with–redemption doesn’t (yet) make sense.

  • It was in God’s mind to send His only begotten Son as Savior of manknd even before man sinned. It is God’s prerogative. The Fall removed our innocence but not our soul.

  • “But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.” “Life is unfair” because man sinned against God. God is the author of a perfect life. “God is unfair” is victim bashing.

  • Catholicism is booming in Africa. I’m having trouble finding a consistent data source, but there are something like 100 million more African Catholics now than there were forty years ago. It’s not just population growth, either: the percentage of Catholics in Africa is increasing as well. The number of African priests has increased 25% since 2000.

    It’s true that the evangelicals have expanded a lot at our expense in South America. And a lot of the faster-growing parts of Africa are largely Muslim. But Catholicism overall is trending upward.

    Once you get past the percentages game, you can see that Asia has the greatest potential for changing the absolute total of religious membership. The relationship between China and the Church is worth watching.

  • Oh, and back to the point of the original article: these aren’t watered-down religions that are booming. Evangelical Protestantism, Islam, and Catholicism tend to be pretty serious. Even the, say, Anglicanism that’s expanding in Africa tends to be highly devout and moral. Not that African Catholicism is perfect: I was reading recently about the treatment of women in Africa, even within Catholic countries. Shocking rates of rape. But back to the main picture, again, people are more attracted to more demanding religions.

  • Pinky wrote, “…people are more attracted to more demanding religions.” A religion that demand little gives little, and a religion that demands nothing gives nothing.

    God requires everything, even our lives. What He gave in return was His only begotten Son – His very self.

  • a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.”

    Job… the poster child for life/God being unfair. God may be unfair, but he is just.

  • Asians are no less materialistic than Westerners yet the churches here are overflowing. The relative decline in church attendance is in large part due to the lack of continuous enforcement over the young. Now given a choice most youngsters would rather prefer to stay in bed than attend Sunday mass. This is excused as an expression of free will, which is of course a sacred right in the West; the rest of the world does not suffer from this to the same extent.

    Mr Green if your questing is sincere then God owes you an explanation. He is the Father after all. By doing all that is right, you will find Him as affirmed in one of the Easter prayers.

  • Ivan I agree with you. Materialism is not the whole problem. Our liberal culture gives youth in the culture too much latitude …. and unfortunately it can take a long time to get over some of the mistakes we make when young.
    Now for us to expect that teens can decide whether or not they should go to Mass is only the tip of the iceberg. Some think 7 and 8 year olds can self identify as gay, or born in the wrong sexual identity, or ask the government abortion through the public school system without the parent’s knowledge. As these young people encounter the results of their own actions they become more conservative and wiser as they grow older. Until then parents should exercise their traditional perogatives.

    Many of the 22 year olds who voted for Obama in 2008, will be 26 for this election and will not make that mistake again.

The Courage of the New York Times

Wednesday, March 14, AD 2012


Recently the New York Times ran a Catholic bashing ad calling for Liberal Catholics to desert the Faith.  The ad was sponsored by the virulently anti-Catholic atheist group Freedom From Religion.  Go here to read a superb evisceration of the ad by Charles Lewis.

Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugged decided to submit an ad which made similar accusations, but against Islam instead of the Church.  The New York Times rejected the ad.

Bob Christie, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for the New York Times, just called me to advise me that they would be accepting my ad, but considering the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, now would not be a good time, as they did not want to enflame an already hot situation. They will be reconsidering it for publication in “a few months.” So I said to Mr. Christie, “Isn’t this the very point of the ad? If you feared the Catholics were going to attack the New York Times building, would you have run that ad?” Mr. Christie said, “I’m not here to discuss the anti-Catholic ad.” I said, “But I am, it’s the exact same ad.” He said, “No, it’s not.” I said, “I can’t believe you’re bowing to this Islamic barbarity and thuggery. I can’t believe this is the narrative. You’re not accepting my ad. You’re rejecting my ad. You can’t even say it.”

We used the same language as the anti-Catholic ad. The only difference is, ours was true and what we describe is true. The anti-Catholic ad was written by fallacious feminazis.

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22 Responses to The Courage of the New York Times

  • All the news that’s fit to print … er … spin … uh … omit.

  • What liberal, pray tell, actually DOES support free speech and actually HAS courage?

  • This is getting scary. Where is this going?

    When the Church faced these kinds of bigoted attacks in the 1920s, Catholics took to the streets. Do we have the courage to do more than talk?

  • I have my qualms about Pam Geller, but this was pure, unadulterated brilliance.

    Starting with the fawning treatment of the “mostly peaceful” Occupiers, the President’s embrace of Bill Maher’s sweet, sweet cash and now this, 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of the Double Standard.

    Good to have it out in the open.

  • “Catholics took to the streets. Do we have the courage to do more than talk?”

    The first step is to give the forces of anti-Catholic bigotry a thrashing this year at the polls that they, and the nation, will long remember.

  • They are so easily played.

    It’s censorship, too. They do not tolerate dissent.

    All the news that’s fit to print with a pinko yellow tint.

  • The Imam in the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz.
    ~The Sweet

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  • Ugh. Just read the original. Isn’t the “owner” of the blog here a lawyer? What are the definitions of libel? Is the original ad libelous? If not, it sure comes awfully darned close.

    That said, though, I must (while holding my nose) agree with one thing it says. At the end, it asks all liberal, lukewarm and “cafeteria” Catholics to exit. Fine with me. Vaya con Dios, and please, do come back if you want to actually observe the faith. Remember the Prodigal.

    I forget where I read it, but somebody of some import said that those who do not stand with Cardinal Dolan, et al., against this onslaught have already left the Church. They just don’t know it. It all comes down to actions vs. words. I could stand in the garage, go “vroom vroom” and expel smelly fumes but that does not make me a car.

    If you want to work on Saturdays and eat a McRib, help yourself. Just don’t call yourself an Orthodox Jew.

    If you want to throw back a shot or two of Jack Daniel’s and your wife & daughters can wear things other than a body-length shower curtain, fine. Just don’t call yourself a Muslim.

    If you want to artificially interrupt God’s gift of the creation of life for your own carnal needs, hey, more power to ya. Just don’t call yourself a Catholic.

    And, if you want to lie, twist, propagandize, oppress, attack, persecute, threaten and tyrannize, take your best shot. Just don’t call yourself an American, because that’s the last thing in the world you are. I’d suggest, too, that you go someplace else to do it – Americans are pretty patient but we do have our limits. Remember, there’s a Second Amendment right behind the First.

  • It is a group blog WK although I, for my sins no doubt, am an attorney. Nothing in the original ad would constitute libel in the legal sense, since it is basically a long rant based upon opinion. Additionally since the Church most definitely is a “public figure” it would be virtually impossible to prevail in a libel suit under current case law.

  • What liberal, pray tell, actually DOES support free speech and actually HAS courage?

    Prof. Robert David Johnson (a.k.a. “KC Johnson”).

    Prof. Harold Pollack is a fairly resonable fellow.

  • Never pick an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel. There was a story the other day about a toilet paper shortage in New Jersey. Seems to me that The New York Times could very well fill the gap.

  • “When the Church faced these kinds of bigoted attacks in the 1920s, Catholics took to the streets.”

    Unfortunately there would be a fair number taking to the streets to attack the Church:


  • It is a group blog WK although I, for my sins no doubt, am an attorney.

    Thanks for the chuckle and explanation. To my discredit I am not up to snuff on the basics of such things, and should probably reinforce my fundamental knowledge.

    Maybe when the next teenager departs for academia and I get half my house back . . .

  • What liberal, pray tell, actually DOES support free speech and actually HAS courage?

    Nat Hentoff.

  • DP:

    I’m not sure Nat H. is a real liberal.

    Can you cite any writing or statement where he either called a conservative woman a dirty name or defended those that did?

    AD: Clueless college professors don’t count.

  • eat a McRib

    I’m not so sure that counts as pork. In fact, I’m not sure what it is.

  • I wonder whether those dissing the ‘lack of courage’ of the NYT have considered that their response – not wanting to inflame an already tense situation – – most likely had to do with our young men and women who are “in harm’s way” in Afghanistan and, in smaller numbers, in some other countries overseas. There’s nothing whatever in their response that indicates that the concern was for themselves.

  • The New York Times Tade has never been shy about reporting alleged misdeeds by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in banner head lines. The fact that this might have inflamed jihadis in those country and lead to the death of American servicemen never bothered them in the slightest. The rejection of the ad was all about the cowardice of the New York Times personnel fearing for their own safety if they printed the ad, and also because it is not politically correct to give vent to anti-Islamic sentiment while anti-Catholic bigotry is virulent on the ever so tolerant Left.

  • Nat Hentoff is my favorite pro-life atheist, a contradiction in realities. Pro-life persons are conservative. It was lovely meeting him here again.

  • Yeah, the Times is desperately concerned about the safety of our servicemen overseas. That must be it. It doesn’t jibe with how they reported Abu Ghraib, but charity believeth all things, I suppose.


  • It’s our own fault. When are Catholics going to stop voting for Democrats? Yes, there is a connection between seeing this kind of anti-catholic bullying and politics. Do you think it’s coincidental this ad runs so closely following the contraception coverage controversy in the Obamacare law?
    No, it’s no coincidence…..and it will continue…. Wake up and stop voting for Democrats!

Ross Douthat’s Readers Prove his Point

Sunday, February 5, AD 2012

I can easily imagine from their comments how much it galls the typical readers of the New York Times to read opinion pieces by Ross Douthat.  Today he explains to his reader the extreme media bias on the issue of abortion.

Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press’s prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose.  

Go here to read the rest.    To pro-lifers this is very old news.  It is hysterically funny however to read the comments to his piece:

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9 Responses to Ross Douthat’s Readers Prove his Point

Douthat, Santorum and Tolerant Hate

Monday, January 9, AD 2012

The mocking of the Santorums for the manner in which they grieved over the death of their new-born son Gabriel Michael Santorum by Alan Colmes and Eugene Robinson has been explored in two previous posts here at TAC, and they may be read here and here.  Ross Douthat tackled the subject in the New York Times:

But if the attacks on the Santorums’ personal choices were incoherent (so incoherent, in fact, that both Colmes and Robinson soon backtracked), they were also entirely characteristic of our moment. This is the second consecutive election cycle in which a Republican politician has endured a bizarre obstetrics-related controversy; last time, we had the various conspiracy theories surrounding Sarah Palin’s pregnancy and her Down syndrome son.

In a sense, one could say that these kinds of invasive debates become inevitable once the traditional zone of privacy around public figures collapses. But it would be more accurate to say that the zone of privacy has collapsed precisely because of the deep moral divisions that these kinds of controversies reveal.

Privacy is a luxury of moral consensus. Nobody would have thought to politicize the premature birth and death of John F. Kennedy’s son Patrick, because abortion wasn’t a polarizing issue in the America of 1963. But if a white politician in the Jim Crow South had married a black woman, the relationship would inevitably have been seen as a political gesture as well a personal decision.

Today, we are less divided over race, but more divided over sex and reproduction. In a country that cannot agree whether fetuses are human beings, even questions like how to mourn and bury a miscarried child are inevitably freighted with ideological significance. Likewise, in a country where the majority of Down syndrome fetuses are aborted, the mere act of carrying a child with a genetic disorder to term — as both the Palins and the Santorums, whose daughter Bella has Trisomy 18, have done — feels like a political statement.

Go here to read the rest.  The column is a good restrained look at this issue.  What is truly interesting however, are the comments reacting to the column.  Almost uniformly, they are completely unsympathetic to Santorum and his family, and most say that his beliefs against gay marriage and abortion are so despicable that he is fair game for this type of criticism.  A random sample:

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5 Responses to Douthat, Santorum and Tolerant Hate

  • Many liberals are purely evil. We need to help them.

    In Christian charity, we need to work to bring them to virtue. We need to bring them the good news.

  • The militant homosexualists and abortionists have little fear of showing their true colours now. It may be a little late but war to the knife should be the order of the day when dealing these people. Trying to understand them, or to persuade them of the reasonableness of the Christian position is a pointless errand, as what enrages them is the mere existence of committed Christians. And when it comes in a package as attractive as Sarah Palin, it infuriates them even more, driving them into a fury like the sans culottes who paraded around with human heads on pikes.

  • they hate anything that recognizes the humanity of unborn children. pray for them.

  • I skipped through 155 comments on another site this morning about Mr Santorum. Their comment section was closed. I was amazed at the venom poured on the Santorums. At least one wrote as if they brought this up for political gain, seemed not to know it was in answer to a question on the campaign trail, upset his wife visibly. Others seemed to act as if the decision to accelerate the birth was an attemoted abortion, but ended in a premature delivery of an already dead baby. Not a fetus, bhy the way, but a baby. One OB GYN physician wrote that the drug given was perfectly normal. We all know the principle of double effect, we can do something to relieve a condition in the human body, even if it may result in death, whether the patient is a single man swith a specific medical condition or a mother with a difficult pregnancy. I know that dirty politics did not begin with the 24/7 news and the ingternet, blogs and social media. However the sickness is so much more evil today with hat 24/7 spread of hate, lies and one-sided attacks. The only cure is civilised discourse but I am off to drain the Atlantic before I tackle that one.

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MSNBC/NY Times Poll Alert: “Are Religious Rights Being Trampled on by Government?”

Thursday, December 29, AD 2011

Fr. Z says it best:

Perhaps other blogs will pick this up and help.

An article from the ultra-liberal New York Times (“Hell’s Bible”) is posted on the even more liberal MSNBC.

The article concerns the objections of the USCCB against pressure from the Obama Administration and/or states to force Catholic adoption agencies to allow homosexual “couples” to adopt.

You have to scroll down to the bottom of the MSNBC webpage to find the poll form.

Click here!

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5 Responses to MSNBC/NY Times Poll Alert: “Are Religious Rights Being Trampled on by Government?”

  • Chris Matthews of MSNBC has blatantly stated that he wants to see Obama re-elected. They are obviously using this survey to find chinks in their secular armor, and to defend Obama’s policies.

  • For roughly half a century, it has been the right of the Adoption Agency to determine who is fit to be a parent, why is it that the government feels that that right must be changed now? Why can’t we say that homosexuals aren’t fit to be parents?

    I agree that this is a complete intrusion of the rights of religion. Thanks for the heads-up on the poll (when I voted, roughly 18,300 voted and it was a 49-49-2 split).

  • Not a very good poll design– I tried a different browser after I voted and it would have let me vote again.

  • Interesting. I just voted @ 9:30pm Eastern Time and the poll results were:
    18,148 votes and 49-49-2 split.

  • Interestingly, the article states that the Lutheran Church in Missouri is going to go ahead with referrals to gay couples. I read that the Lutheran Church membership is dwindling, and they’re looking to expand their membership. Herbert W. Chilstrom is former presiding bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Chilstrom has written an open letter to the Bishops of Minnesota asking them to accept gay ‘marriage’ because gays are like blacks or something (his words).

    Changing doctrine to accommodate members is a short-term solution. The one thing that make the Catholic Church strong is it’s unity, catholicity, apostolicity, and holiness. The Lutheran church is making itself weaker, not stronger by bending God’s word to accommodate its membership.

    Back in 2001, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a noted psychiatrist had reported that homosexuals who really want to be cured, can become heterosexual using a variety of techniques.

    “Contrary to conventional wisdom,” Spitzer concluded, “some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation, and achieve good heterosexual functioning.” Spitzer looked at 200 homosexuals – 143 men and 57 women. To the researchers’ surprise, good heterosexual functioning was reportedly achieved by 67% of the men who had rarely or never felt any opposite-sex attraction before the change process.

    Here’s a link to Dr. Spitzer’s discussion of his work:


    Incidentally, Dr. Spitzer was the lead on getting homosexuality removed from the DSM in the 1980s because it supposedly couldn’t be cured. They gay community raised him on a pedestal then. Now they want him to go away.

Archbishop Chaput and the Media

Friday, August 26, AD 2011

One of the most irritating aspects of life for faithful American Catholics over the past several decades has been how quiet most of our bishops have been in the face of outrageous attacks on the Church.  Too many of our bishops have acted as if they had their spines surgically removed upon consecration.  Fortunately there have always been a handful who have been willing to speak out and suffer the media attacks that then ensue, along with the ambushes of heterodox Catholics frequently eager to lend a hand to anti-Catholics in their ceaseless war against the Church.  One of the more outspoken bishops is Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who has never been afraid to proclaim the truth, and to do so eloquently.  He is at it again over at First Things.

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32 Responses to Archbishop Chaput and the Media

  • “Some of the usual suspects on the Catholic Left are upset at the Archbishop for naming some of their cherished propaganda organs…”

    I think that’s true for some. I also think that for some on the Catholic Left the NY Times reflects their view of the Church or, perhaps more accurately, what they want the Church to become.

  • Well Phillip, over the years certainly some members of the Catholic Left have been far more faithful to the magisterium of the New York Times than they ever have to the magisterium of the Church!

  • “Some of the usual suspects on the Catholic Left are upset at the Archbishop for naming some of their cherished propaganda organs…”

    They’re also upset that the Archbishop didn’t call out their own fave Catholic publications – Commonweal, America, National Catholic Distorter – as good sources for Catholic commentary. Thing is, they’re not good sources for Catholic commentary, and the Archbishop knows this. The Distorter especially – a vanguard for all that is opposed to Catholic teaching.

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  • An excellent resource on this subject is the Get Religion blog, which examines coverage of all religions and religious traditions in the media and points out gaps or inaccuracies. In many stories, Get Religion says religion is present only as a “ghost” — an unnamed reference to people doing works of charity or attending rallies or “vigils” without mention of the fact that a religious motivation was behind it.

    From reading the mainstream media, you would think that thousands of people feed the hungry, travel to disaster zones, spend long hours at a sick or injured person’s bedside (doing what? PRAYING, maybe?), devote themselves to improving their communities, etc. for no apparent reason, other than, perhaps, some vague reference to their “values.”

  • “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith”

    and CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, Wash. Post, Boston Globe, etc, etc, etc

  • We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC, NPR, Washington Post, Boston Globe, for reliable news about ANYTHING.

  • I would include as unreliable the Catholic News Service, which if I mistake me not, is a service of the USCCB. It gave a favorable review to the homosexual movie Heartbreak Mountain. Another disservice of the bureaucracy of the USCCB.

  • “It gave a favorable review to the homosexual movie Heartbreak Mountain”

    I take it you are referring to BROKEBACK Mountain?

    Aside from the movie reviews, whose suitability can and often will be disputed, whether or not Catholic News Service is a “reliable” source of Church news depends on how you define “reliable.”

    In the Catholic press, there is always going to be a tension between the need to promote and adhere to Church teaching and the need to realistically report what is going on in the Catholic world whether or not it is agreeable to Church teaching. I have to admit that I am somewhat biased in favor of CNS due to the fact that I once worked for a diocesan newspaper that relied heavily on CNS news, and some of whose personnel personally knew people from CNS.

    If you rely solely on traditional/conservative leaning publications, you may get the impression that conservative/orthodox/traditional Catholicism is a lot more popular and widespread than it actually is. On the other hand, if you rely on left-leaning sites like National Catholic Reporter, you get the impression that the “spirit of Vatican II” crowd still reigns supreme, which is also not the case. There still needs to be a reasonably middle of the road source of Catholic news which doesn’t actively promote dissent but doesn’t ignore its real-world impact, or ignore the fact that the Church still has a long way to go in getting most of its members fully on board with its teachings.

    While I understand the disillusionment many people have with the mainstream media, and yes they do often get things wrong, still, I think it is VERY dangerous to dismiss them completely and insist on getting ALL your news only from sources that agree 100% with your political or religious leanings. Balance is the key here.

  • Wow Elaine,
    It almost sounds like you should be writing for Vox Nova. 😉
    Well put.

  • Nah, Brett, if Elaine were writing for Vox Nova she would have to say something truly absurd like mentioning Chaput in mouth disease, and I doubt if Elaine would ever say anything like that. Finally, I doubt if Elaine could make it past the Vox Nova entrance interview:


  • You’re right Don, I would not get past Rule #2. I certainly would flunk out by Rule #5 (“Paul Krugman is the living embodiment of Catholic social teaching.”)

  • Don’t worry Elaine. They let me write whatever I want and I don’t even know who Paul Krugman is!

    Also Don, no one at VN has ever forced me to say anything “truly absurd.” Elaine wouldn’t HAVE to say anything of the sort.

    All peace and good,

  • “Also Don, no one at VN has ever forced me to say anything “truly absurd.” ”

    That is good to know Brett. Judging from Minion’s posts I assumed there was some sort of requirement.

  • I’ve got to agree with Elaine — the Catholic News Service (and even the movie reviews, though I certainly don’t always agree with them) serves a useful purpose, and I’ve never found it to be an organ used for questioning or undercutting the faith.


    To not even know who Paul Krugman is, you’d have to be skimming MM’s posts pretty thinly. After all, in the very post linked to here MM chides Archbishop Chaput for not listening to Krugman more:

    Why does Chaput not mention any of this? Is he so insecure that he cannot handle criticism of the Church in the New York Times, and must instead run to those who use the Church for their political aims? Does he see no nuance and complexity? Is he not aware that he can learn far more about the economic mess from Paul Krugman in the New York Times than anybody on any alternative media source?

    I mean, I agree with those who knock people like Voris for bishop-bashing at the drop of a hat, but this is, if anything, worse.

    I will say, though, that I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, which are both fair and intellectually curious. (I just wish that you’d keep a separate blog like Kyle does, so that it isn’t necessary for those of us bullies who might be divisive pamphleteers of the verge of kicking off a new Reformation to wade through the main site to read your stuff.)

  • “Judging from Minion’s posts I assumed there was some sort of requirement.”

    “…I don’t even know who Paul Krugman is!”

    Brett is clearly not reading Minion’s paeans to Krugman.

  • The quoted bit from MM on Krugman hardly tells me anything beyond the fact that he writes about economics for the New York Times and that MM thinks he has some insight. Surely that is not enough for me to know whether he is “the living embodiment of Catholic social teaching,” or even if MM considers him to be such.

    Perhaps the very favorable recent posts linking to the Distributist Review should give certain people pause before they announce exactly whom the Vox Novans think accurately represents CST (or is Krugman a Distributist?) or that all Vox Novans must be of the same opinion on such matters.

  • Brett,

    VN is well known for being disobedient to the Magisterium and for attacking orthodox Catholics.

  • Tito,

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the current frequent posters on Vox Nova dissent from Catholic doctrine.

    That many of them do specialize in “friendly fire” towards other orthodox Catholics is arguably true, though.


    Well, unless the Distributist Review is not an alternative news source, it would seem that MM does believe Chaput could derive more benefit from reading Krugman than from reading the Distributist Review. (Actually, this is probably not surprising, as MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributists.)

    But to be fair, that hilarious parody dates back to when Henry, MM, MZ and Iafrate were the mainlines of Vox Nova. The place has, somewhat diluted its craziness since then.

  • Tito,

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the current frequent posters on Vox Nova dissent from Catholic doctrine.

    That many of them do specialize in “friendly fire” towards other orthodox Catholics is arguably true, though.


    Well, unless the Distributist Review is not an alternative news source, it would seem that MM does believe Chaput could derive more benefit from reading Krugman than from reading the Distributist Review. (Actually, this is probably not surprising, as MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributism, at least where economics is involved. Chesterton and Belloc were admirable in lots of ways, but their economic analysis was not necessarily great. MM is probably right to rely more on Keynes and Krugman than on Chesterton and Belloc when it comes to actual economic theory.)

    To be fair, though, that hilarious parody dates back to when Henry, MM, MZ and Iafrate were the mainlines of Vox Nova. The place has, somewhat diluted its craziness since then — in regards to contributors at least. (Oddly, the comboxes seem to have gone even further off the deep end — though perhaps that’s just a matter of the “other side” not bothering to show up much anymore. I suppose in some ways we’ve had an equal and opposite history here. Given the natural affinities of belief, it may be that political sites natural sort themselves into either right or left with few dissenting voices bothering to show up.)

  • Darwin,

    I wasn’t aware that killing children in the womb was part of Catholic teaching.

  • I’m not either, but I was giving them credit for the fact that Gerald L. Campbell hasn’t posted there in a very long time. (Though I agree it was disgraceful that everyone at the time defended his claim that being pro-choice was a legitimate exercise of subsidiarity.)

    People like MM and MZ do everything possible to support pro-abortion candidates, because those candidates happen to also be leftists, but they insist that they are not in fact pro-abortion themselves (and would vote for anti-abortion leftists if they existed) so I figure it’s fair to categorize them as unwise rather than dissenting.

    Ditto on the tendency to attack pro-lifers far more often than pro-aborts while at the same time claiming to be pro-life.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to defend them. I just want to be precise in my attacks. 🙂

  • OK, I’ll back track.

    Certain bloggers are disobedient.

    The rest of the bunch are essentially good guys and it would be nice to share a beer with them because it would make for interesting conversation(s)!


  • Precision is always appreciated. As is beer.

  • As for a personal blog, here you go:

    I’m only tempted to set up something a little more formal because I think “Ein Brett Vorm Kopf” would be a great name.

  • Can’t let a name like that go to waste!

    I guess I should just bookmark the category link. For some reason, it’s not possible to put the category links into an RSS reader.

  • It would be helpful though if those bloggers on Vox Nova who are not in dissent do correct those who post comments who are. That would make it appear less likely that they are dissenting.

  • “MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributism, at least where economics is involved. Chesterton and Belloc were admirable in lots of ways, but their economic analysis was not necessarily great. MM is probably right to rely more on Keynes and Krugman than on Chesterton and Belloc when it comes to actual economic theory.)”.

    Yes, as regards “economic theory”. But economics in practice? A good antidote to Keynes [Krugman is not worth the effort] is J.K. Galbraith’s ALMOST EVERYONE’S GUIDE TO ECONOMICS. He makes the point that economics is not that difficult to understand. Thus, in the controversy about raising the debt limit, it is not difficult to understand that you cannot keep writing checks on an account without money. Belloc understood this; GKC understood this. Even B. Obama as a senator understood this.

    In May 1939, shortly after learning that unemployment stood at 20.7%, Henry Morgenthau, the secretary of the Treasury, exploded: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” Morgenthau concluded, “I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

  • From the other side of the pond, I rate the orthodoxy of your bishops according to extent that they are excoriated by the liberal media – Burke, Olmsted, Chaput et al. The fact that none of ours has yet to be targeted by the Tablet, the English equivalent of the National Catholic Reporter, is cause for concern.

The New York Times Has All The Answers!

Thursday, August 4, AD 2011

You are correct Klavan on the Culture!  The New York Times does have all the answers, and most of them are wrong!  Ad revenues for the print New York Times have been declining for years and the Old Gray Lady is about as profitable as a Soviet Tractor Plant circa 1986.  However, the Newspaper of Record has a plan.  It seems there is this thing called the internet, and the New York Times will get suckers subscribers to pay for access to New York Times content.

This was tried before by the Times and it  was a dismal failure, but this time it will succeed for sureAnd if it doesn’t, the fish wrap industry is just waiting to be conquered!

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4 Responses to The New York Times Has All The Answers!

Maureen Dowd Does Theology

Tuesday, June 21, AD 2011


One of the House Catholics at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, recently wrote a column in which she attacked the stand of Archbishop Timothy Dolan against gay marriage.  In the column she made the mistake of mentioning Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, who writes an incisive blog In The Light of the Law that I visit religiously.  Ed Peters responded to Dowd:

Fine, you ask, what does any of this have to do with me? I might have thought, nothing, except that Dowd decided to link my recent criticisms of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reception of Communion at a Mass celebrated by Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard (despite Cuomo’s open cohabitation with a woman not his wife), with Abp. Dolan’s criticism of efforts in the New York legislature to legalize “gay marriage”, the ‘link’ being that Cuomo is a strong proponent of “gay marriage” and would sign such a bill if it reaches his desk.

Okay, yes, I think that Cuomo’s signature on such a bill would add to his Communion-eligibility problems under Canon 915, but Abp. Dolan is not making that argument: he is arguing natural law on marriage and common sense, not sacramental discipline. (I know, I know, one would have to have read and understood Dolan’s arguments to see that point, but even if Dowd didn’t or doesn’t, some of her readers would have and do). So why does Dowd not discuss Dolan’s arguments on marriage in her article about Dolan on marriage, and later, if she wishes, tackle my arguments on holy Communion in an article about me and holy Communion (assuming I was worth her time in the first place)? Why smush these two strains together?

Because Dowd apparently thinks she has discovered some “ah-ha” contradiction in the Church’s logic. She writes: “Therein lies the casuistry. On one hand, as Peters told The Times about Cuomo and Lee, ‘men and women are not supposed to live together without benefit of matrimony.’ But then the church denies the benefit of marriage to same-sex couples living together.”


That’s not right. That doesn’t even rise to level of being wrong. Instead, that’s what comes from someone who is not even pretending to be interested in what the other side actually holds.

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5 Responses to Maureen Dowd Does Theology

  • Only way I know the NYT exists is because you guys seem compelled to respond to its inanities. And, that’s like trying to debate a set of wind chimes in a tornado.

    Dowd and NYT on matters of faith and morals: comprehensively confused and infallibly ignorant.

    I wouldn’t read the NYT with Ted Bundy’s eyes.

  • Tell us how you really feel about the New York Fish Wrap T.Shaw! 🙂

  • I apologize for offending . . .

  • I wonder, as Peters implies at the end of his piece, if Dowd realizes she has challenged the Times dogma that gay can do no wrong?

  • I had the same reaction as T. Shaw. I try to read the original article before reading posts about it, so I clicked over to Maureen Dowd’s piece. It was terrible, malicious, fallacious: vintage Maureen Dowd. I couldn’t figure out why I’d bothered. Then I read Ed Peters’ reply, and it was basically “Dowd’s article is terrible, malicious, and fallacious”. Yup.

Like a Thief in the Night

Friday, May 20, AD 2011


A crazed group is seeking cheap publicity by claiming that the world will end tomorrow.  (No, I will not link to them or mention their name.)  The end will come around 6:00 PM according to these loons which I assume is Pacific Standard Time since these mopes are based, where else?, in California.  Since the time of Christ there have been constant confident predictions naming the date of the end of the world and the Second Coming, all in direct contradiction to Christ’s own words that He will come “like a thief in the night” and that no man will know the hour of His coming.

In the very unlikely event that tomorrow will see the end of the world, I do hope the New York Times does have the opportunity to get out one last edition with this oft-predicted headline:  WORLD ENDS:  WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT.

Update:  Saturday, May 21, 2011:  8:45 PM Central Standard Time:

“With no sign of Judgment Day arriving as he had forecast, the 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil engineer behind the pronouncement seemed to have gone silent on Saturday.”

Color me shocked!  Shocked!

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24 Responses to Like a Thief in the Night

  • Can’t end soon enough for me.

  • I hope they took into account the 10 days that were removed between October 4 and October 15, 1582 for the Gregorian calendar adjustment.

  • I’m almost ready. I just can’t decide whether to dress formal or corporate casual. I expect TAC readership will drop dramatically Sunday, but that’s okay, most of the TAC contributers will surely be gone too. For my lawyer friends here, I will miss you, but they say a thousand years really flies by in Heaven.


  • Since it is a Saturday, if it is hot I will be wearing shorts and a t shirt. If it is not, I will be wearing, as usual when I am not in my “working clothes”, a flannel shirt and jeans.

    If the world does end on Saturday I will attempt to do one last post with an appropriate Youtube video, although it would be slightly more serious in tone than this one so an Onion video probably would be out.

    If I make it to purgatory I should have ample time to post RL, so you can still read my missives while I am being chastised for my manifold sins. The Purgatory Catholic-I like the sound of that!

  • Interesting – the end of the World is on my wedding aniversary. Do I have to get my wife a present since she will not get to use it? I guess I can cancel the reservation – saves me more money.

  • Joke all you want, but if I had one request of God it would be: “Time for a do-over. Your first plan didn’t work.”

  • My pregnant wife would like to know what happens if our baby is saved but she is not. Does she get raptured up with the baby? Does she get cast down once the baby is delivered?

  • “Do I have to get my wife a present since she will not get to use it?”

    I think not CL, although our distaff contributors and commenters should feel free to correct me on the social etiquette called for when an anniversary coincides with The Consummation of All.

  • “Does she get raptured up with the baby? Does she get cast down once the baby is delivered?”

    A defense in English Common Law was pleading the belly when a woman who was pregnant was on trial for a capital offense. I would be looking up the law on that subject in the next 24 hours! If you happen to be standing behind Leo McKern in the goats and sheep line, perhaps he could put the plea to the Almighty! 🙂

  • Top 5 “most searched” on Google:

    1. judgment day may 21

    2. end of the world 2011

    3. rapture 2011

    4. lance armstrong

    5. preakness 2011

    Looks like many will be betting on one horse rather than four

  • When this prophecy fails, the majority of the suckers involved won’t leave the group. Research into groups like this show that the more time, effort, and money the members put into organizations like this, the more likely the poor dupes are willing to stay.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) CL, if you play it safe & give your wife her anniversary present early, it should count for some extra time off from Purgatory! 🙂

  • Say your prayers.

    When you least expect it. Expect it.

    Be thankful for each day. It coud be your last.

  • The shame is that Harold Camping was reasonable and humble at one point in his career. When I heard him describing his theory on the radio in his Biblical History of Time series some years ago, he acknowledged that we could not determine the “day or the hour” of the end of time, but said that we are permitted to determine the “year and the month” of the end, which I thought was legalistic and implausible, but sufficiently humble to keep me tuned in.

    His long and painstaking disseration (hundreds of hours) recounting the exact passage of time in the Old Testament was worth listening to (for me anyway) because it attempted to be rule-based. For instance, when measuring time based on the lives of the patriarchs, Camping specifically focused on wherever the words “she bore a son, and called his name…” appeared as the tipoff that the biblical calendar continues through that particular patriarch.

    Another basic rule he claims to have followed is “a day is like a thousand years” in determining the end date. Rules like that led to anticipation that we were building to a meaningful result rather than something completely random. What I got out of it was exegesis of otherwise biblical passages I would normally tend to think were not terribly interesting or important.

    He was also humble enough to acknowledge that his calculation was so complex, he might be wrong in couple of places and off “by a few years”. (All these quotes are entirely from memory, so I apologize in advance if any are wrong, but I think I’ve captured them accurately.) No matter, since the basic message seemed to be live as a Christian and prepare for the end.

    All of that humility and careful introspection is gone now and his fans, who are otherwise devote Christians, seem to be setting themselves up for a big fall. Atheists and secularists in particular will ridicule them (and by extention other Christians) to no end.

  • Wait, I though they had scheduled the world to end in 2012 (re Mayan calendar). Did some one move up the date?

  • Predictions of the end of the world from 4990 BC to 4.5 billion yrs from now:

    Check 1988/89, a guy predicted the End then said “Oops! Forgot to carry the one, it’s next year.”

  • Should I get raptured, I would like to remain a contributor to TAC. Heaven probably has awesome Internet connections (those prayers have to get answered somehow). Just think of the content I would provide, and maybe even get answers to some of our nation’s greatest mysteries: Who shot Kennedy? What’s in Area 51? Who’s buried in the tomb of the Unknown Soldier? What did Mrs Lincoln really think of the play?

    In fact, submit questions you’d like to be answered, and I’ll do my best.

  • ……..duhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s ridiculous, however every Catholic website is posting it, and that’s what they want……..don’t give it credibility by even acknowledging it !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Micael S.

  • I have a 6PM appointment with a medium-rare steak and a glass of cold water with a shot of Dewars so I can keep it down.

  • Larry, the question I’d most like to ask is: why are there always 10 hot dogs to a package but only 8 buns?!?

  • That has long puzzled me also Elaine, and it may take Heavenly wisdom to unseal that particular mystery.

  • I guess about now the US is disintegrating – California and Arcadia splitting off the US mainland with Mt.St Helens, Mt. Hood and all those other volcanoes really going off, a massive earthquake totally inverting the fault near Kansas (can’t remember its name off hand) etc. etc.

    I was expecting a flood of concerned Americans landing in Auckland about now, because Sat. 6 pm. occurred 17 hours ago – a beatiful late Autumn Sunday here and all’s right with the world. 🙂

    And now for lunch, then a visit to my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

  • No Don, just a rather dull—wait, is that the sound of a trumpet that I hear? Could it be? It is! The neighbor’s kid has decided once again to practice playing her trumpet next to an open window! Close your window!

AP's Article On The Catholic Blogosphere & NPR's Firing Of Juan Williams Are Par For The Course

Monday, October 25, AD 2010

National Public Radio’s ludicrous firing of Juan Williams and a subsequent mainstream media article on Catholic bloggers may seem to be two separate issues. Some may say what does the overwhelmingly conservative leaning Catholic blogosphere have in common with the liberal leaning Juan Williams? The answer is quite simple; both scare the mainstream media because Juan Williams and the majority of the Catholic blogosphere put forth interesting solutions to often discussed questions.

The modus operadi of some in the mainstream media is to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. Combine this with a Juan Williams quote which most of America agrees with and voila you have it; the ultimate straw man from which you can tear apart any minority who appears on Fox News or any Catholic blogger who faithfully defends the teachings of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church.

In this Associated Press article on the Catholic blogosphere, the piece mentions Thomas Peters and Michael Voris (who is known for his videos not his blogging,) but focuses on harsh unnamed Catholic bloggers. The article quotes John Allen who calls elements of the Catholic blogosphere “Taliban Catholicism.” The highly respected Mr. Allen, who though working for the dissident leaning National Catholic Reporter, is often known for his many high ranking Church contacts and his fairness. He should have know better than to give the quote that he did. To take a few bloggers from the right (or even from the left) and call them the Catholic blogosphere is the type of journalism that would not pass muster for a high school paper, let alone the AP. This would be akin to taking the worst rated college or pro football team and telling the world this is the best of American football, or perhaps watching the Walla Walla Community theater production of Hamlet and saying this is Hamlet at its finest. John Allen should have realized where this article was going and chosen his words more carefully.

The AP article continues by naming a Church official who seems worried about the Catholic blogosphere. One wonders if the Church official would know the difference between Father John Zuhlsdorf from Father Richard McBrien, Amy Welborn from Aimee Semple McPherson, Mark Shea from Mark Sanford, Rocco Palmo from Rocco Mediate, or Tito Edwards from Tito Santana. I worked for years in a diocesan office and I have yet to meet, even in my travels, a diocesan official who is well versed in the blogosphere. It seems to be a generational thing and most diocesan officials are not to be confused with the younger, more conservative seminarians or young priests being ordained.

While some in the mainstream media snicker at the Pope and Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church) they in reality have their own magisterium. In their secular magisterium anyone who believes in the Catholic Church’s authority is hopelessly outdated, because according to gatekeepers in the mainstream media, true thinkers are those in the dying liberal churches who don’t know what they believe. Sadly, GK Chesterton prophetically predicted this would happen. He said, “It’s not that atheists and agnostics believe in nothing, they believe in everything.” In modern parlance, “It’s all good.” How sad that some who proclaim to be “open minded” can’t see the obvious; liberal Christianity is dying on the vine.”

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19 Responses to AP's Article On The Catholic Blogosphere & NPR's Firing Of Juan Williams Are Par For The Course

  • Pingback: AP’s Article On The Catholic Blogosphere & NPR’s Firing Of Juan Williams Are Par For The Course: The American Catholic « Deacon John's Space
  • Keep preaching brother!

    I nominate the following excerpt to be the quote of year here at The American Catholic.

    “One wonders if the Church official would know the difference between Father John Zuhlsdorf from Father Richard McBrien, Amy Welborn from Aimee Simple McPherson, Mark Shea from Mark Sanford, Rocco Palmo from Rocco Mediate, or Tito Edwards from Tito Santana.”

  • Nothing to “wonder” about. The answers are self-evident.

  • Well said, excellent, wonderful!

  • Uh…it’s “magisterium.”

    Good piece, though.



  • It’s not clear to me that Allen was interviewed for the AP story. He was using “Taliban Catholics” in his own writing at least as far back as February.

  • Great piece with good insight. I especially like your quote about people not knowing the difference between Catholic bloggers and others.

    One note: Allen’s quote reveals more about himself than it does about Catholic blogging or orthodox Catholics. For all those who believe him to be fair, you might want to read his work more closely and don’t forget that he chooses to work for the dissident Reporter. His work displays some real blind spots.

  • It’s just funny that in article that to some extent is bemoaning in the incivility of the blogosphere, the term “Taliban Catholic” is so casually tossed about as though there is nothing uncivil about that comparison.

    But that, of course, is par for the course for people who yelp the loudest about tone and the harshness of dialogue. What it really is is an attempt to change the topic and avoid having to defend indefensible positions.

  • Defending the indefensible?

    As in an article that defends the civility of Michael Sean Winters but paints Catholics who are righteously standing up and saying enough as fringe.

    30-40 thousand readers a month may be ‘nobody reading’ to you, but I think it is enough to get an army of Catholics to get folks who espouse the opinions of dissent, silenced.

    It is half past time we take our parishes and schools back.

    We’ll look forward to more armchair criticism from you.

    Carry on.

  • Someone should ask John Allen when was the last time a Catholic blogger destroyed millenia-old works of art. Or shot a woman in the back of the head as halftime entertainment at a soccer match. Or sponsored terrorists who flew airplanes into buildings killing 3000 people.

    For the life of me, I’ll never understand why people who should know better consider John Allen to be “fair”. “Fair” people don’t make such idiotic comparisons.

  • We’ll look forward to more armchair criticism from you.

    Umm, what? I was critiquing the Allen quote and the condescending tone of the AP article, not Dave’s post.

  • Please, please, please – check your spell-check and correct “magEsterium” to “magIsterium”. The word comes from the Latin – magister.

  • Paul,

    Yes, my comments were about the article, not your comments which I completely agree with and thank you for stepping up to the plate to say.

  • p.s. I am not of the opinion that the article had coded message in it that needed to be cracked.

    There are many of us that are finished with letting teachers and priests preach and teach dissent and we area shutting it down by exposing what is going on with teaching, sanctifying and governing.

    Writing intellectual treatises on the internet is swell but it is not helping our children down at the local school being hoodwinked by Sister Mary Wear the Pants and Fr. Hehirtic. We have had to flee from our parishes, pull our children out of schools.

    What are we running from? It’s time to go back and demand our religion be taught.

    1. Pour through every bulletin and expose every problem, naming names and exercising your gifts by explaining the theological problems and consequences to our children.

    2. Start holding the priest accountable.

    3. If the priest won’t be held accountable, go to the Bishop.

    4. If the Bishop won’t be accountable, go to the Nuncio.

    5. If the Nuncio won’t hold them accountable, go to the Holy See.

    Round up as many in your area who are willing to do it.

    If in time, they do not intercede and do something to stop the people poisining the wells our children are drinking from, start a campaign to hold up the money on the annual Bishops appeal.

    Build it and they will flee.

    People may call it harsh. People like this author will call it fringe. Whatever hits you have to take from the author of this article on The American Catholic or anyone in the AP – Do it anyway.


  • Anna, I do hope your not talking about me as being part of the dissent, or just sitting at my computer composing essays while Rome burns. I do think my bona fides as a writer, educator (working in the Church and taking a lot of heat from Church liberals) etc should fit pass muster. I would hope so anyone, considering how many nasty names I have been called by the liberals in the Church. If I have misinterpreted your remarks, please forgive me. However, it would appear to me that you think this article is somehow not orthodox enough. I don’t know how that is possible. It would seem to me that the first three or four commentors (among others) like what I have to say. Anyway, God Bless & take care!

  • David,

    I actually never knew you existed before I found your article, but I can see that you are not a dissident.

    It has been such a refuge to come to the internet and read solid opinions. But we need those opinions to get into our schools and parishes and it is time to do something a little different.

    As a Boston activist who is part of the blogging community described in the AP, those of us on the ground doing this difficult ministry not only get called ‘names’ by dissidents, we are undermined by people on the right, sitting staring at their computers using their orthodoxy and bonafides to take cheap shots at us.

    ” to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. ”

    Is blogosphere a game of “who is the bigger player”? Is it about chumming around with folks who post comments telling you how great you are?

    Oh wait…

    Look, I’ve done my share of years of writing and defending the Magisterium.

    But you know what we realized?

    Not a single dissident in our children’s schools been removed from teaching children by the things we are writing on the internet (myself included)

    A lot of us have been parish shopping for ten years.

    It’s time to go to plan b.

    I can appreciate your frustration with the article that they failed to recognize the big wazoos who have been banging away at their keyboards. But the work we are doing is critical new work and the author of the AP article knew more about that then you did!

    Nobody on the ground is a threat to your thunder. We will not be competing in who is the greatest of them all contests. At ease.

    We are people who are trying to focus getting orthodoxy to our own children, family and friends while you bang away at your ministry doing it for people in the com boxes. Not as worthy as the work you are doing, but it is nonetheless, worthy work that did not deserve your cheap shot.

    The kicker was your respectful attitude towards John Allen, who in between working with Joan Chittister, Tom Roberts, Michael Sean Winters and Bishop Gumbleton (talk about fringe!) serving up poison to Christ’s souls, characterized parents fed up with dissent that is continuously being taught no matter how much you write with concerns to your Bishop, as lecherous murderers.

  • Goodness Anna I think the liberals have got the best of you. I spoke kindly of John Allen? I took him to task for his comment. I only said he was respected by many. Have you ever read what Father Zuhlsdorf says about John Allen? Father Z calls him “his friend and highly respected.” Do you think Father Z has gone wobbly too?

    I understand what you must be going through living in Boston. You may remember that I mentioned in my article that my childhood parish was scourged with not only one priest sent to the slammer for molestation, but two. Some of those these two deviants molested were my friends, so believe me I don’t need any lectures on that subject.

    I would suggest you take some time to pray over the whole matter, calling those that are on your side not wholly orthodox doesn’t help. God Bless & take care!

  • David,

    I must not be making myself clear.

    I have the greatest respect for Fr. Z. But I disagree with his characterizations of John Allen. I am NOT attacking Fr. Z or his orthodoxy. Nor, am I attacking your orthodoxy. Nor am I attacking you.


    There is no need to be defensive. Be at peace.

    The AP wrote an article about a new ministry in the Church and your reaction to it was a knee-jerk.
    Look here:

    ” to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. ”

    The good people in Boston are getting off their fannies and taking our schools and parishes and chancery back. That’s what the article was about.

    What is it about that you wouldn’t embrace?

  • Anna, there is nothing about what you said that I wouldn’t embrace. God Bless you and the good people of Boston who are helping turn the tide. May God Be With You All!

E. J. Dionne & Maureen Dowd Are Playing With A Dangerous Fire

Tuesday, September 28, AD 2010

In a recent column Washington Post columnist, E J Dionne noted that the Tea Party movement is a great scam. Quite an indictment coming from the self described progressive Catholic who still thinks government can never be big enough and the Church should tell the faithful more about the teachings of the agnostic Saul Alinsky than that of 2,000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church. Dionne has made it his business to comment on all matter of politics and religion for quite some time. His partner in left wing chicanery is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who never hesitates to go for the jugular.  Though she says he she comes from humble Washington DC roots, you would never know it by how she mocks those who really came from humble surrounding and never forgot it. She probably grew up with many Sarah Palin’s and Christine O’Donnell’s around her. Yet, I doubt she mocked many to their face as she gleefully does now to the backs of Palin and O’Donnell.

Dionne and Dowd seem to have it backwards, they don’t think citizens should voice their views about the fallacies of liberal Big Government, but they do believe everyone knows better than the divine about religion. This is quite common for liberals who often seem to think they are divine. Dionne and Dowd are part of a movement who thinks they should control government and religion, and those who disagree with them are often labeled as unintelligent; the worst sin as far as liberals are concerned. However, who is the unintelligent one? Big Government has never worked. It has only brought huge debt which has to be repaid by future generations. Individuals who go into debt face a series of tough measures. Yet Dionne and Dowd seem oblivious to this and advocate the same disastrous path for the government, the end result being tough measures for everyone.  In other words Big Government is a disaster that doesn’t work.

However, Big Government isn’t the only disaster Dionne and Dowd advocate. They want the Catholic Church to turn her back on its 2,000 year old teachings and embrace the Dictatorship of Relativism, so named by Pope Benedict XVI. Dionne and Dowd are happy to embrace dissident Catholics who espouse this sort of thinking. It seems Dionne and Dowd are more comfortable with the views of Marx, Alinsky and Freud than they are with Christ, St Paul, St Thomas Aquinas, St Joan of Arc and Pope Benedict XVI.

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2 Responses to E. J. Dionne & Maureen Dowd Are Playing With A Dangerous Fire

  • Apologies in advance: Top ten reasons to vote dem:

    10. I vote Democrat because I believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn’t.

    9. I vote Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

    8. I vote Democrat because Freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

    7. I vote Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

    6. I vote Democrat because I believe that people who can’t tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don’t start driving a Prius.

    5. I vote Democrat because I’m not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies through abortion so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

    4. I vote Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits.

    3. I vote Democrat because I believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the democrats see fit.

    2. I vote Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

    1. I vote Democrat because my head is so firmly planted up my @$$ that it is unlikely that I’ll ever have another point of view.

  • T Shaw did you come up with this? If you did something tells me that this might show up across the internet. Who knows old EJ and Maureen might heartily approve, not realizing your satire (well at 2-10.)

CNN Joins The Hit Piece Parade Against Pope Benedict XVI and The Catholic Church

Sunday, September 26, AD 2010

It would appear that those in the mainstream media who want to do hit pieces on Pope Benedict XVI need to take a number. The latest to engage in Yellow Journalism is CNN. The “network of record” dispatched Gary Tuchman to do the dirty work. One might recall that it was none other than Tuchman who remarked how distressing it was travelling in the heartland during the 2008 Election campaign. He complained that some who recognized him told him that their Middle American views and ideas were repeatedly mocked by the mainstream media, all the while those of the liberal establishment were hailed. Tuchman’s words were quite revealing when it comes to this story.

CNN has been advertising their hit piece on Pope Benedict XVI as if he was already guilty of some sort of cover up, even though during the Abuse Scandal it was none other than the New York Times who praised then Cardinal Ratzinger for tackling the tough problems. What tough problems did he tackle? The most notable example being Father founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Marcial Maciel was one of the few prominent conservatives caught up in the Abuse Scandal, most of the abusers were Church liberals who wanted to change the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger took on Father Maciel at the height of his power and popularity. One might recall that Father Maciel was quite close to Pope John Paul II. So from this example we can see that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) showed no favorites and pulled no punches. The Legionaries of Christ were shaken to the core and as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI removed their leadership and installed his own, hardly the work of someone who was timid.

The CNN piece was perhaps even more despicable than the New York Times hit piece, because in the interim much of the modus operandi of the Old Gray Lady was exposed. Still CNN used the same material and claimed that they had something new. There is nothing new here. The crux of their argument comes from material provided by Jeffrey Anderson the attorney who has made millions off the scandal. Anderson says he is one a mision to “reform the Church.” What kind of reform would that be? Some Catholic dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy, which means the poor whom they dioceses assisted through their social programs are left in the cold. For all his concern of “reform”  Anderson hasn’t provided a penny to these particular poor.

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18 Responses to CNN Joins The Hit Piece Parade Against Pope Benedict XVI and The Catholic Church

  • This is a message for Dave Hartline:
    I was in Woodlawn in Chicago during the early years of
    The Woodlawn Organization when it was taken over by the
    Alinsky operatives, including, Fr. Egan, Nick Von
    Hoffman,et.al. I was one of two clergy who opted out
    of the movement for moral and ethical reasons. I read
    your article with comments on Alinsky and the”Radical”
    modus operandi in Fr. Dick Kim’s blog last week. You
    have a far different perspective than the Chicago Diocese at that time. Interesting.

  • Thank you for your post. I do believe there were many people like Alinsky who had great influence on those in the pre Vatican II Church. It was reported that Pope Pius XII wanted to convene the Conference but became too ill to do so. In some US Archdiocese, as well as a few in France and Belgium, movements arose that today one would view as being heretical or schismatic. I do recall the Catholic author Dave Armstrong (who was brought into the Church by Father Hardon SJ) saying that Father Hardon would often say, “The Revolution began…” Dave Armstrong couldn’t remember the precise date but it was sometime in the 1930s or 1940s.

    Anyway, what I am getting at it is before the modern communications era there were folks like Alinksy who claimed to be in line with what the Church was teaching (even though Alinsky was an Agnostic.) In reference to those who say that Alinsky’s book, “Rules for Radicals,” which was dedicated to Lucifer among others was really sort of tongue and cheek. One generally doesn’t dedicate books to the leader of the dark side as some sort of joke. I find that dedication intersting because it happened in 1971, the twilight of his life. Why didin’t he dedicate his previous books to Lucifer? The reason I feel this happened is because it would have caused a stir. Perhaps in the twilight of his life, Alinsky was being more open about his agenda.

    The first time I had heard of Alinsky occurred in my freshman year of college when some radical graduate students were quoting him like most fervent believers would quote the Gospel. In the turmoil that was the Church in the 1970s, I don’t think many people paid much heed to the role of these radicals until recently. However, I dare say that the likes of Father McBrien were quite familiar with the lofty aspirations of Alinksy and those of a similar mindset. This doesn’t even touch on those in the media who were influenced by Alinsky, and who today run those organizations. Does anyone think that the hit pieces on Pope Benedict in particular and the Church in general would have been possible had not these poeple been calling the shots?

    Fortunately as I have said before the tide is turning. I can’t help but refer back to a priest I know who was ordained some five years ago. There was quite a stir when he made no bones about his orthodox or conservative views. I spoke with him recently and he laughed saying, “those in the seminary now make me look like a milquetoast moderate.” Now that is what really drives the left up a wall, they thought the Election of 2008 would end any talk of conservatism prevailing in any sector of society. With the coming election, it appears that it is liberalism whose back is against the wall.

  • For my taste, Mr. Hartline, you seem too optimistic.

    Also, not just from you but from others I keep hearing of how good “new” seminarians are but I have not seen much to bouy my spirits among those have seen.

    Benedict is too little too late. The trials are upon us.

  • Karl with all due respect, it isn’t about your taste or mine, it is about facts. The fact is the Church was ruderless in the 1970s, Pope Paul VI said as much when uttered his famous words, “The Smoke of Satan had entered the Church.” However, Pope John Paul II’s Springtime of the Evangelization is here. We didn’t get into the mess we are in overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight either. However, with Pope Benedict at the helm (perhaps fulfilling St John Bosco’s vision of the Twin Pillars) we will make great strides. The trials have been upon us many times before; the Islamic Invasions, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the 1960s Cultural Revolution, and yet here we are still Fighting the Good Fight!

  • I see the same facts but interpret them differently. It is not about taste though, you are spot on. The shoes we walk in influences our take. I remember into the early sixties. I have lived throughout this tempest. I believe we have seen, nothing yet.

  • In light of the customary, infernally low level of intellectual honesty in the Commie News Net pile-on piece of journalistic excrement, here’s my proposed response:

    Keep the Faith.

  • Karl, I certainly agree with you on your concluding point. However, I think we are in much better shape that we were 35 years ago. Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI, through their leadership and those seminarians, women religious and laity whom they influence, are at least beginning to waft out the Smoke of Satan that had entered the Church.

    T Shaw, the Haku War Dance. I wonder if the Knights Templar did something similar before battle? May God Keep Us All Safe from enemies within and without!

  • “All one has to do is read the writings of those who started the French Revolution (which is often widely praised and celebrated in the West)…”

    During the 1780’s, many who made up the Third Estate, particulary the bourgeoisie (merchants, bankers, lawyers, etc), were fed up with the inequities of the ruling class.

    The First Estate (Clergy) and the Second Estate (Nobility) were a small minority of privileged men who made up the Aristocracy. As a result of the blurred lines between the two classes,(holding high positions under the Church’s provision, for example) the Aristocratic ruling class was exempt from almost all taxes. Many of the bourgeoisie were also exempt, which left the burden of paying for wars, affairs of state, etc. on the backs of the peasantry.

    The causes of the French Revolution were many and historians still argue over them but there are aspects of the Enlightenment that conservatives, particularly American conservatives, should appreciate and identify with.

    Those who advocated for change at the time, pushed for positions in government, the Church and the military to be open to men of talent and merit. They fought for a constitution and a Parliament that would limit the king’s power. Religious toleration and fair trials were also part of their agenda.

    Now, as we all know, the French Revolution got totally out of hand but there are reasons for those of us in the West to identify with the philosophes of the 18th century.

  • DP

    It was Louis the XVI who called the Estates General. The likes of Robespierre, Danton et al were not interested in what you suggest above they wanted real power and to remake society as they saw fit. They wanted to import their revolution to all of Europe.

    You know sort of like Lenin and Stalin.

  • Afghani Stan, excellent point. I would also ask that our friend DP consider that some of the ideas that Enlightenment is given credit for dates back to the Magna Carta. In addition, there were already primitive forms of government in some Swiss Cantons (Catholic cantons at that) which espoused early democratic ideals. Sadly, Ulrich Zwingli tried to put a stop to that, which in some ways was the start of the Left’s War on Rural Inhabitants.

  • If memory serves (John Robinson, Dungeons, Fire and Sword), the Templars entered battle assuring each other that, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are The Lord’s.”

  • Stan and Dave,

    Yes, Louis XVI did convene the Estates General at the last minute but only after a hiatus of 170+ yrs and to no avail.

    Robespierre was, of course, an extreme leftist and a tyrant as well. But there are other Enlightenment notables such as Locke (a champion of America’s Founding Fathers), Newton and Montesquieu who contributed a great deal with regard to the expansion of thought and science in secular society.

    In fact, Pope Benedict XIV respected Montesquieu and the advances of the Enlightenment (especially tolerance) even though many of his bishops didn’t share his sensibilities at the time.

    In any case, some of the ideas and ideals of the philosophes should be celebrated by both the West and the Church.

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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.

    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.

War Crimes

Tuesday, August 10, AD 2010

As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, Richard Fernandez asks us to name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. (“Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.”)

Meanwhile, Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) thinks it’s past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9:

I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS  Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the  millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.

(HT: Bill Cork).

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97 Responses to War Crimes

  • Excellent post Christopher. Apparently Pius XII wasn’t as certain initially in his condemnation of the bombings as those members of Catholic blogdom in this country who engage in the self-flagellation ritual of spitting on the grave of Harry Truman in the annual August bomb follies. When the chief diplomat of the US mentioned an editorial of L Osservatore Romano that criticized the US for the bombings Pius responded that the editorial had not been authorized by him. I truly pray that those swift to condemn Truman never have to deal with making a decision that would kill hundreds of thousands, or likely kill millions if they do not make the decision. The cry of “consequentialism” is of course useful on Catholic blogs, and fairly useless when dealing with grim realities that constantly arise in war.

  • Sitting in Truman’s seat I may well have made the same decision. But I would not have tried to defend it before my Creator. The intrinsically evil nature of the act is not altered by either its good intentions or beneficial consequences. Some sins are simply more forgivable than others. While I’m willing to defend Truman I am unwilling to defend his decision, even though I certainly sympathize with his predicament. As wrong as his decision was, Truman is a far more morally sympathetic character than most of his vain and self-righteous critics.

  • Thanks for this post, Christopher. The last two paragraphs–yours and Michael’s–pretty well sum up where I am now.

    My sons and I visited the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force last month, and one of the exhibits is the original “Bockscar,” the B-29 which dropped “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. I posed my sons by a Spad XIII (the same model as flown by Eddie Rickenbacker) and by an F-86 Sabre (Korea). I refused to do the same with Bockscar. I explained to my oldest (I was trying to keep my youngest from touching every. single. aircraft. in the museum) what it was, and also said that it killed thousands of innocent people, and was dropped by a Catholic cathedral. If nothing else, I think he’ll remember that and understand the horrid complexity of war, even when the war itself is necessary.

  • It’s true that the Japanese army committed atrocities during WWII with a greater death toll than Hiroshima, but when was the last time you read an article trying to justify the Rape of Nanking?

  • I’m not sure what VDH’s point was about the Tokyo raids. Because we had done much worse, Hiroshima is not bad?

    The correct moral decision is clear enough. The fact it would be difficult to follow through on it is no real surprise. Doing the right thing is rarely easy.

    I have no desire to villify Truman for dropping the bomb; but I don’t consider him a hero either.

  • The firebombings of earlier in the war both in Europe and Japan were clearly nothing more than acts of terror deliberately calculated to demoralize civilians… and Dresden was a particularly horrific example of this barbarism (cf., http://www.rense.com/general19/flame.htm).

    “Bomber” Harris, the Brit commander behind Dresden and similar attacks, also memorialized in Britain by a statue in his honor, famously said he did “not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.”
    “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.”

    “It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only extensions of this immoral military doctrine. The Brits, who during Germany’s V-2 campaign suffered a small fraction of the casualities they themselves would inflict on a supine German civilian population, should have known better.

    Truman should also have known better.

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotinally scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotional scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • My opinion: liberal, left-wing catholics resurrect this uncharitable (“He who is without sin . . . , etc.) opinion each August in order (I think) to salve their consummate consciences for voting for abortion: because America Hiroshima is evil, don’t you know? But, it’s not evil to vote for abortion.


  • T. Shaw,

    Most, if not all of us who frequent here are adamantly opposed to abortion and I have never voted for anyone who supports the killing of the unborn (whether the candidate has a D or R after his name).

    This is not Vox Nova.

    But evil is evil, and wrong is wrong. I agree with the others that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were evils, as well as Dresden, etc. It should be no surprise that even generally good people can do evil things.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South:

    Quoth Sherman,
    “The Government of the United States has in North Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war – to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . . war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact…. We will . . . take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.”

    Not rebellious southern civilians alone were subject to this policy, but the Indians too:

    “It is one of those irreconcilable conflicts that will end only in one way, one or the other must be exterminated . . . . We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to the extermination, men, women and children” … “The more Indians we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed next year… They all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers.”

    There’s no ambiguity about it: deliberate targeting of non-combatants and their homes and property is flat out immoral. I hope The American Catholic continues to rank the noun above the adjective.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South

    Er, no.

    That hypothesis would be news to the Iroquois, who referred to George Washington as the “burner of towns” for his dispatch of John Sullivan to root out the pro-British tribes in 1779. Sullivan performed his mission with gusto, obliterating at least 40 Iroquois villages.

    Washington was actually rather disappointed with the results, truth be told.


  • There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the use of the word “moral”. The Church quite clearly teaches that morality is a personal attribute. A nation, an institution, a group cannot sin. It has no soul, no free will.

    [Likewise, the Church did not commit the sexual. They were acts of individuals. And again the Church did not cover up the acts. Those were decisions by individual bishops].

    The question then becomes “whose was the sin?” Who should be put on trial?

    There is a great deal of the disingenuous in those who point to others as the sinners. It is just a tad too easy at a distance of 60 years. And there is a touch of discerning the mote in the eye of others.

    Should not those who so quick to condemn the bombings, to condemn the war, be willing to give up all the benefits they enjoy as a result of the war?

    It seems to me that we Americans did what amounts to acts of contrition by rebuilding Germany and Japan after the war, and ridding those countries of the brutal regimes which oppressed them.

  • I think that several of the comments here misunderstand the upshot of the original post. Is it possible to hold both that

    (1) the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other bombings of non-combatants, both in WWII and after, is an intrinsically evil act


    (2) the agents responsible for committing those acts were in all liklihood not possessed of a desire to commit an intrinsically evil act, but by a desire to do the best thing possible in a very bad set of circumstances.

    Sometimes holier-than-thou-types seem not to understand that holding (2) does not remove the force of (1) but, if anything, testifies even more strongly to how pervasive sin is in the world: sometimes what seems to be the very best thing to an already compromised ethical agent (and who is not already compromised) is intrinsically evil.

    I take it that there exists an analogy between Truman and his desicion and the sister in charge of medical ethics at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, who ordered the D&E on the woman who appeared to be dying from priaclampsia [sic?].

  • Of course then we would have the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederates after the citizenry were unable to come up with the monetary ransom requested by the boys in gray.


    Then there is also the fact that the Confederate States decreed death for all former slaves in the Union Army and the officers who led them.

    “3. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

    4. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United States when found serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy.”


    Neo-Confederate apologists for the Confederacy have a lot to explain when they want to take Lincoln to task for “total war”.

  • One element I would like to raise in this thread is the alternatives to what Truman did. The opponents of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also oppose the fire bombing of Japanese cities which was the only way to destroy from the air the spread out Japanese industries. Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender. Of course while this was still going on Japan would have still controlled a large part of Asia and continued to kill, on average, some 300,000 civilians each and every month. An invasion of the Home Islands would have led to a mammoth death toll of civilians. During the battle of Manila in March of 45 MacArthur restricted the use of artillery and air power in order to attempt to spare civilian casualties. Some 100,000 civilians died anyway, some deliberately slain by the Japanese, but most simply dying as a result of being caught in the cross fire of two armies battling in an urban area.

    So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do? (I do hope that no one brings up the truly fatuous idea of inviting the Japanese military to observe a test of the bomb. The Japanese didn’t surrender after Hiroshima. A test of a bomb would have had no impact upon the Japanese government.)

  • I understand that the bombing of Dresden was immoral. It was (as far as I know) a civilian, not a military, target. But does that distinction apply to Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The Japanese civilians were doing machine work in their houses; the families were trained for combat. Granted, they weren’t uniformed, and who knows if they would have resisted or surrendered, but I don’t see how they can be classified as non-military.

  • Oh – let me add, “unless I’m wrong”. I’m no ethicist or historian.

  • Hindsight may be 20/20, but war crimes are forever.

  • Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.

  • Actually Pinky Dresden was rather heavily involved in the German war effort. A good revisionist look at that bombing is linked to below:


    In regard to what an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would have entailed the most recent study is linked below.

    “Giangreco, a longtime former editor for Military Review, synthesizes years of research in a definitive analysis of America’s motives for using atomic bombs against Japan in 1945. The nuclear bombing of Japan, he concludes, was undertaken in the context of Operation Downfall: a series of invasions of the Japanese islands American planners estimated would initially cause anywhere from a quarter-million to a million U.S. casualties, plus millions of Japanese. Giangreco presents the contexts of America’s growing war weariness and declining manpower resources. Above all, he demonstrates the Japanese militarists’ continuing belief that they could defeat the U.S. Japan had almost 13,000 planes available for suicide attacks, and plans for the defense of Kyushu, the U.S.’s initial invasion site, were elaborate and sophisticated, deploying over 900,000 men. Japanese and American documents presented here offer a chillingly clear-eyed picture of a battle of attrition so daunting that Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall considered using atomic and chemical weapons to support the operation. Faced with this conundrum, in Giangreco’s excellent examination, President Truman took what seemed the least worst option.”


  • “Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.”

    What terms would you have offered Japan restrainedradical? Here are the terms Truman offered.

    Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender
    Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945

    “1.We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

    2.The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

    3.The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

    4.The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

    5.Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

    6.There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

    7.Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

    8.The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

    9.The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

    10.We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

    11.Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

    12.The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

    13.We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”


  • So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do?

    If I were Truman my priority would have been to end the war quickly so as to prevent Soviet entry into the war (the fact that the Allies actually encouraged Soviet entry is one of the more boneheaded moves in all of diplomatic history). If ending the war quickly meant accepting something less than unconditional surrender (say, by letting the Japanese keep their Emperor), then it would have been cheap at the price.

    If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu). That would have achieved the same effect as Hiroshima without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children.

  • Arguing from counterfactuals is rather unhelpful in this instance. Our knowledge of what *may* have happened, given a different decision, is so slight as to provide no reason for acting. This is, by the way, why moral absolutes are important for Catholic theology. One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.

  • “If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu).”

    The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    For example:
    “At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable military significance. It contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata’s 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defence of all of southern Japan.”

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests. Japanese militarists laughed at such peace advocates and assumed that Japan could stop an American invasion and cause the US, sick of war and high casualties, to withdraw from most of Asia and the Pacific. A negotiated peace is a fantasy.

  • “One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.”

    Wrong. Catholic moral theology has never simply thrown up its hands in regard to the real world. If Truman hadn’t dropped the bombs there would have been consequences, almost certainly terrible consequences. Condemning Truman without owning up to those consequences and accepting them, is to pretend that we live in a pacifist dream world rather than a world where the leaders of nations sometimes have to make decisions that will end up killing lots of people no matter what they do or not do. Condemning is easy, thinking through the consequences of acting or not acting is much harder and less pleasant, but must be done if moral theology is to be something more than a bat to swing in Catholic comboxes.

  • The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    To suggest that the bomb couldn’t have been dropped on a military target in Japan without resulting in 95% civilian casualties is just silly. Dropping the bomb on the assembled forces at Kyushu would have had the same effect as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but without the massive civilian loss of life.

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests.

    I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.

  • “I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.”

    Which of our Asian allies would you have advised to “suck it up” BA and continue to live under the Rising Sun? How do you think the American people would have reacted to the idea that the nation that brought them Pearl Harbor was going to retain some foreign conquests, not be occupied, not be disarmed and probably be ready for another go at the US in twenty years. Your suggestion might fit some fantasy world. It certainly could not have been implemented by any US President in 1945.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

  • Donald,

    You’re right, I’m sure America never would have stood for China or Korea living under oppression.

    Actually the Chinese wanted to make peace with Japan at the beginning of 1945, but didn’t out of deference to America. The idea that Truman bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki because he was concerned about the plight of the Chinese is the real fantasy.

    And as far as I can tell you have no answer as to why the bomb couldn’t be dropped on the troops at Kyushu.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

    And how many were there in Nagasaki?

  • Good way of completely avoiding the question of which of our Asian allies you would have thrown to the wolves BA. The idea that such a thing would have been entertained by the US government is a tribute to the absurdity that usually surrounds the August Follies. In regard to China making a separate peace with Japan, unless you can cite chapter and verse, I will also assume that this is a fantasy of yours. The Japanese army had actually gone on the offensive in 44 and 45 in China and controlled a huge amount of China.


    There was zero prospect that Japan was going to willingly withdraw from China absent surrender by Japan. As a matter of fact, several overseas commanders after Japan surrendered contemplated carrying on a war.

    As to your odd assumption that there were large military units in Kyushu out in the open waiting to be bombed, the military units of Japan were subject to conventional bombing like everything else in Japan. They were dispersed, with most of them located in urban centers, as was the case in Hiroshima.

  • And how many were there in Nagasaki?

    I don’t know how many strictly military folks there were, but I know the Japanese lady at Sasebo’s indoc mentioned that it was their primary Navy shipyards. (Sasebo became the largest afterwards.)

  • Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender.

    One thing about the blockade – it takes a lot longer (as you admit, years) and it can be reveresed, as well as regulated to allow certain subsistence amounts in (and refugees out, if you are so inclined), and the repeated opportunity to surrender, change minds, etc. With the bomb, it’s all over in an instant, and there is no going back.

  • Mitsubishi shipyards, if anyone wants to research.

  • I don’t know that a blockade would have taken years. Like Britain, Japan was and remains a net food importer, and our submarine force was annihilating their merchant marine at will. I don’t think their navy would have been able to escort sufficient convoys to keep them going for very long.

    Then again, famine and the attendant diseases can’t be flipped off like a light switch, either. I can easily see the civilian death toll from a blockade leaping into the high hundred thousands, if not more than a million, in relatively short order, even given a surrender.

    And as to subsistence blockades–well, that certainly hasn’t hurt the Kim tyrants in North Korea. That ratchets down the likelihood of surrender, I think, and ups the likelihood of continuous conventional bombardment.

  • The famine would have hit in the Spring of 1946. MacArthur only avoided the famine historically with huge shipments of food that he insisted be sent to Japan from the US. Needless to say, sending food to Japan was not popular. MacArthur in response to opposition said that he was responsible for keeping the Japanese alive and that he would resign rather than allow mass starvation on his watch. It was Mac’s finest moment in my opinion.

    I have my doubts that even mass starvation would have caused the Japanese to capitulate, absent intervention by Hirohito, something he was unwilling to do until after Nagasaki.

  • FWIW, there was a similar discussion here on Kiwiblog.co.nz a few days ago.

    Most opinions were that “The Bomb” was the right decision under the circumstances, for all the reasons above mentioned.

    This will be debated for many years to come, by those who will moralize and condemn those who had this truly terrible decision to make, in the dispassionate comfort of their safe armchairs.

    Does the end justify the means? No.
    Was this means justified? If the END was to prevent the continued destruction of human life, and in bringing the war to an abrupt end, prevent the killing of many more millions than “The Bomb” would kill, then yes, the MEANS was justified.

  • The only non-negotiable I would insisted on would have been withdrawal from occupied lands. Some disarmament would probably have been necessary too. I may also have insisted on a reparations fund.

  • Intrinsically immorlal means can never be justified by good ends/consequences. Truman was wrong. But he was still a good man trying hard to do the right thing. This is not all that different from the Sister Margaret McBride, who when confronted with the choice of directly taking a life (via a direct abortion) versus allowing that same life and that of another (the mother) to die did what most sensible and well-intentioned people would do — choose to have one person to survive rather than none. Very understandable. But still very wrong.

  • After Nagasaki, Japan agreed to all terms except removal of the emperor. It was rejected and conventional bombing continued, killing thousands more.

  • Your understanding of those events is faulty restrainedradical. Here is actually what was said on August 12 by the Allies:

    “From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms. …The ultimate form of government of Japan shall, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people”

    The Allies heard nothing from Japan on August 13, and ordered a resumption of bombing for August 14, previously halted by Truman, the date when Hirohito, finally, eight days after Hiroshima and five days after Nagasaki, addressed Japan and ordered the capitulation:

    “Despite the best that has been done by everyone—the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people—the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

    Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

    Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

    The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.”

    American bombing was halted after Hirohito’s address. Japanese units on the Asian mainland continued fighting for several days after Hirohito’s address.

  • Donald,

    You are misunderstanding my point–which is also the point of Catholic moral theology. To say that one need not provide answers to any of your multitudinous counterfactuals in order to determine that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil is just to say that the intentional killing of civilians is *intrinsically* evil. To say this, however, is not to say what you appear to think it says, that I–and the Church–are throwing up our hands with respect to “the real world.” Quite the contrary, the structure of reality, as revealed by Christ and his Church, is precisely what is being respected in the confident determination that some acts are so destructive of the imago dei that they can never, under any circumstances, be permitted–come what may. The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.

    From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    Now, you may disagree with the Christ and the Church’s teaching here–many do, Christians and non-Christians alike–but let us not be deceived by a sophistry which attempts to lessen the gravity of this evil act by appeal to a set of conjectures which remain just that, conjectures. From the perspective of Catholic moral theology, it is you, and not I, who are ignoring the “real world.”

  • Don, it’s not incumbent on one who is pointing out the immorality of intentional targeting of civilians to solve the problem of “what other course was there?”

    But the “other course” here would have been to continue the conventional war and perhaps pursuing something other than unconditional surrender.

    Oh, and with regard to the confederates, Bobby Lee in his forays north expressly forbade the type of tactics Sherman expressly adopted.

    Chambersburg should not have been burned, but by 1864 the Confederates were responding to Yankee war crimes, specifically in this case, Hunter’s devestation of civilian targets in the Shenandoah.

    Such is the logic of “total war”– it tends to suck in those who would otherwise not want to practice it.

  • One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc. For the Church, there are good things and bad things that accompany *any* political regime, and it is a dangerous, and finally idolatrous, mistake to believe that the defense of any particular civitas terrena–whether it be America in the 20th century, Rome in the 5th, or some future city–is worth the commission of an intrinsically evil act, which destroys one’s participation in the civitas dei.

    None of this entails pacifism. But it does entail our willingness to call a spade a spade.

  • From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    I’m not clear that “it would have been better” scenarios along these lines are all that useful. Frankly, from a perspective of Christian moral theology, it would be better if one no had earthly responsibilities for anyone else. Paul, after all, enjoins people not to even marry (and thus take on the responsibilities of a spouse) and for spouses to be celibate (and thus not take on the responsibilities of children) because earthly responsibilies tend to turn us away from true eternal priorities. And yet, we as Catholics also recognize that it is necessary that we as a human community have marriage, have children, have rulers and law, etc. Greater earthly responsibilities invariably distract people from their eternal destinations — something which I think Dante well summarizes the thinking of the Christian tradition on in Purgatorio. And yet, there is also a sense in which it is necessary that a portion of society make the sacrifice of focusing on earthly responsibility. Why?

    One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc.

    It seems to me that this misses an obvious issue, which is that the environment in which people find themselves often affects their ability to live in accordance with the the civitas dei. Look at conflicts such as the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War in which one side was actively invested in stamping out the Church and perverting the order of society. To be sure, such situations offer the opportunity for martyrdom, but for most they offer the opportunity for apostacy, collaboration and corruption. I’m reminded similarly of some of the pieces I’ve read about the archives which are now open in Germany of East German secret police files, where people were constantly encouraged to inform on each other and rewarded for betraying of friends and family. Surely such an environment is destructive to many souls.

    Without question each society presents its own temptations and corruptions, and if anything I lean heavily in the direction of Christians seeking the path to God in their own societies as they exist rather than embracing a revolutionary ethic of overturning the social order in order to make society “more holy”. And armed struggle has a tendency to corrupt all sides. But I can’t see that complete indifference is the right response either.

  • Darwin,

    I mean “would have been better” in the strict sense that it is always better not to commit an intrinsically evil act than to commit one. I do not mean to say, nor is it true that, marriage, law-making, etc. fall under the same category. I am assuming here a post-lapsarian condition.

    As for your second comment: fair enough. I am more Pascalian in my outlook than most, and I am well aware that certain regimes produce certain evils that are on first blush more destructive than the evils of other regimes. (I am not so certain, however, that collaboration, apostasy, etc. are not equally prevalent in the West. There are more lapsed Catholics in American than any other denomination, they say.) But would you at least acknowledge that if my position leads to a skeptical indifferentism, it is nonetheless within the bounds of orthodoxy, and in fact corresponds nearly exactly with Augustine’s own view, whereas the danger in becoming too tied up with the “justness” of a particular regime on earth leads rather quickly to unorthodoxy and idolatry: one excuses intrinsic evils committed by that regime in order to ensure its own continued existence, rather than admitting that such an act has been committed?

    I fear that I discern something of this in McClarey’s hand-waving about the behavior of the Allies–and America in particular–in WWII.

  • Like Darwin, I can’t go so far as to say that it matters little who wins wars… Certainly there are just wars, and WWII was one example. It’s the old Thomistic distinction between jus ad bellum, whether a war is just in the first place, and jus in bello, whether a war is conducted in accordance with moral principles.

    Collateral damage is inevitable in modern warfare, but where the Allies went wrong was in aping the evil done by the Axis powers, i.e., deliberately targeting civilians and non-military targets for the purpose of “demoralizing” the populace.

  • (I am being especially procrastinatory today.)


    First, I agree that yours is a perfectly viable interpretation of where the Allies went wrong in WWII. I agree with it, in fact, and, as I said, nothing in my own position commits one to pacifism.

    But I still think that it is *also* true that, at least according to Augustine and several other thinkers in the Augustinian tradition, it *still* makes little difference what regime a Christian lives under, for the reason that *every* regime is dominated by the libido dominandi, and so, from the perspective of the civitas dei, they are all equal.

    Thomas, and the Thomistic tradition more generally, has a less skeptical view. One that, I hasten to add, is perfectly legitimate. It seems to me that the Church, within the bounds of orthodoxy, allows for a range of opinion on this matter.

    I am not so much bothered by any disagreement here as I am by the hesitancy to call a spade a spade.

  • Don (Kiwi)

    You seem to contradict yourself. First, you say that the ends cannot justify the means, and then you do precisely that – you state the end of ending the war justified the means of dropping the bomb. Am I missing something?

  • “The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.”

    Actually it depends on how you define intentional. Papal armies in the Middle Ages routinely besieged cities, a normal military operation of the time. The cities would be caused to surrender usually through blockades that produced starvation, and, inevitably, disease would usually explode in the cities. If any pope ever breathed a word against sieges as a method of warfare, I am unaware of it. This is quite a bit more of a complicated area than it seems at first glance.

  • That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

  • c matt.

    Re-reading my comment, I appear to do as you say. However, in the context of what was occuring – a war costing huge casualties on both sides, a stark choice became presented. Do we continue as we are, and lose many millions of lives, or do we introduce a new stratagem, and save arguably millions of lives which would otherwise be lost? ( the other choice was, as Wj said earlier, to lie down and be conquered, which to me , would be unacceptable)
    I guess the choice was therefore, a lesser of two evils. No doubt it can be debated whether or not a less evil choice is the correct moral choice in view of the principle, that the end does not justify the means.
    Quite a connundrum, isn’t it?

  • All ends are achieved by a means.

    But the end does not (necessarily) justify the means.

    Some means are justifiable, others are not.

  • Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

    I think you mean “are you denying that…has ALWAYS been regarded as an intrinsically evil act,” or “are you CLAIMING…has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act.”

    Perhaps a better tact might be to find out when it was first enumerated as an intrinsic evil?

    I think the situation is significantly more complicated than folks are willing to consider– even with folks that I KNOW are honestly trying to just figure it out, there’s incredible simplification.

    Does it matter that there was warning given so the population had a chance to leave?
    Does it matter that military operations were moved into civilian areas, even into family dwellings?
    Does it matter that “aiming” with bombs in that day was more an art than a science?
    Do prior tactics of the Americans matter?
    Do prior tactics of the Allies matter?
    Does our responsibility to defend the innocent that WEREN’T in those cities matter?
    What effect does the (possible) Japanese military stopping civilians from evacuating have on the morality of it?
    How much information did they have about what was going on at ground level, and how much could they reasonably be expected to have?

    (stuff like this is probably why a lot of folks think morality should be restricted to philosophy, not the real world– it’s just not as simple IRL, even if it is still black and white)

    I know full well I don’t have nearly enough information to make an informed, binding judgement on these actions that happened before my parents were born. Luckily, I don’t have to; it’s useful to try to figure out, in case a similar case comes along, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not cut and dried.

  • “That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?”

    I think the praxis of the Church is always of importance, especially when that praxis went on for centuries. I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.

    Let’s think this through. Hiroshima is bombed from the air, either fire bombed or nuked. Bad, intrinsically immoral. Hiroshima is taken by the US in a ground assault in the spring of 46 which, in a house to house fight against the Japanese Army, kills most of the civilian population, who are caught in the cross fire. Morally acceptable. I assume the difference is one of intention, but I find that argument weak. A military man would have to be brain dead not to realize that large scale combat in an urban area is going to kill huge numbers of civilians. If mass casualties are foreseeable in a ground assault, how does that materially differ from mass casualties caused by an air assault? The current Church stance may be an argument for pacifism, but I do not think it adequately addresses that other measures taken in military operations, presumably morally licit, may kill just as many civilians, if not more, than the measures condemned.

    I might also note that in the spiritual realm popes have been quite willing to take actions which have had adverse impacts on innocent parties. A good example would be the Interdict which prevented the dispensing of the sacraments in nations or regions. Imagine a pope saying that a dying innocent could not have the comfort of the Last Rites. However, it was done, and not infrequently, for reasons that the popes employing it deemed good and sufficient. The last use of the Interdict, in a fairly mild form, was by Saint Pius X in the early years of the last century. The idea that innocents have an all-embracing immunity is one that is popular in the Church today, but it is rather a novel one.

  • Now you are just obfuscating. For who would not agree with your following assertion? (I certainly don’t disagree with it.)

    “I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.”

    We don’t need to go through the motions of explaining how the doctrine of double effect applies in ius in bello scenarios on this blog. I’ll just take it for granted that most people reading here have a working knowledge about how unintentional though foreseen civilian casualties, for example, are a different kind of thing than INTENTIONALLY DECIMATING A CIVILIAN TARGET.

    Most ALL military operations involve the unfortunate killing of innocents, and if the Church is to have a doctrine of just war at all, which she most assuredly does, then it is basic to such a doctrine to differentiate foreseen but unintended evils from evils intentionally committed. So while, for example, the intentional slaughter of women and children has always been rightly condemned by the Church–which is not to say that she has not at times engaged in this practice against her better lights (thereby proving true what she has to say about sin)–the unfortunate killing of innocents as a result of some other strategy which does not *directly* target them is a more difficult scenario to parse. There is an entire casuitical literature on this and related topics. We all know all the moves here.

    What you are now doing, in fact, is redescribing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as if this weren’t the intentional killing of civilians. But, on any plausible account of intentional acts (i.e. Thomas, Anscombe, Suarez, etc.), the bombing most clearly *was* an intentionally, and not merely foreseen, attack on noncombatants. Which is, as I said before, intrinsically evil.

    Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology. Which is it?

  • By the way, there is one other theological assumption in your response that I take issue with.

    1. The fact that the Church in the past–yea, even for centuries in the past–did or did not intentionally target or unjustly allow a disproportionate number of civilians to be killed in any of her wars is immaterial to the issue at hand. Why? That the Church acted one way or another in the past has, apart from her explicit teachings on doctrine and morals, no bearing on the normative status of that action. For centuries the Church abused the theology of indulgences; from this it does not follow that we, in the present, are supposed to be okay with the selling of indulgences on the grounds that the Church did it in the past. You are conflating two very different kinds of “tradition” and how they have normative bearing in Catholic theology.

    Of course, if you deny the distinction between an intended and a foreseen end, then you are a consequentialist. But if you are a consequentialist, then you have a problem with the decalogue. Do you have a problem with the decalogue?

  • I apologize for the somewhat heated and exasperated tone. If I had known that you denied the difference between an intended and foreseen end, I would have found your defense of the bombings much more intelligible–though not, I am afraid to say, any less repugnant.

  • “Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology.”

    My problem WJ is that what is considered as unforeseen in war in regard to civilian casualties is predictable as night follows day. Two corps battling each other in an urban area will produce large amounts of civilian deaths. A siege of a city will produce a large amount of civilian deaths. Foreseeability in this area seems like a very frail reed on which to make categorical distinctions. Because of the technology of the day, bombing an urban center in World War II was going to produce quite a few civilian casualties no matter what was done. My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths? Hiding behind foreseeability in this area strikes me as exalting form over substance.

  • No sweat WJ. This is an area which people get passionate about. I certainly am in that category.

  • Donald, I think this response of yours points the way toward a difficult and important issue in the theology of Just War. At least we are now down to brass tacks, as it were. I am enjoying this quite a bit. You write:

    “My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths?”

    The short answer to this is that the intentional targeting of a civilian is murder, and murder is always wrong. Why is it wrong? Well, even Augustine, who was not, I have to admit, terribly worried about civilian casualties, views murder as the sort of action which destroys the imago dei in the soul of the person committing it. (Indeed, murder is like any violation of the decalogue in this respect.) So the intentional targeting of a civilian is wrong not *only* because of what happens to the civilian (as you point out, the civilian may well be killed unintentionally via another strategy) but also what happens to you.

    In the second case, the military commander is intending to engage a lawful combatant, and he foresees that as a result of his action some number of civilians will die. This is not *intrinsically* evil, first, because there are some circumstances in which it is permitted; in a less tautological sense, it is not *intrinscially* evil because the ACTION in question is not murder, but some other action describable in a different way, and so the commander in question is not deprived of grace.

    Of course, it way well be the case, at least according to Just War Theory, that at some point the unintended yet foreseen civilian casualties issuing from some or other military strategy outweigh the good that is to be rationally expected to result from that strategy, and in this case the unintended yet foreseen killing of civilians is evil, though not intrinsically so. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s skepticism as to whether any modern war can be “licit” (cf. interview with Zenit in March of 03 I believe) derives his beliefs that most contemporary wars cannot but fail to be just in their in bello execution. This is an important and complex issue, and it is not one about which I am certain.

    But can I ask a clarifying question? Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?

  • As a follow up: I am not a pacifist, but it has always seemed to me that one of the strongest arguments for pacifism from a strictly theological point of view has to do with the *near impossibility* of ensuring that even the most just war from a ius ad bellum perspective will be able to be fought successfully and justly in bello. Many of your examples seem to support this view. I guess one can go one of two ways here. One can view the near impossibility of ius in bello conduct to constitute a strong argument for a practical, if not principled, pacifism, or one can argue that the Church’s understanding of ius in bello conduct has to be changed or expanded or loosened in some way.

  • “Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?”

    Depends entirely on how likely a foreseeable end is. An artillery barrage is made of a grove of trees. Tragically some lumberjacks are killed. Clearly different from intentionally targeting the lumberjacks.

    A division of enemy troops are in a city filled with civilians and intermingled with the civilians. The artillery unit is told to attack the enemy and civilian deaths results. I don’t view that much differently from intentionally targeting the civilians, since their deaths are entirely predictable. Of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians, they were merely in the way of accomplishing the goal of winning the war. This area is tricky and filled with moral land mines. Whenever double effect is trotted out, I listen very carefully, but am rarely convinced by it.

  • If you hold that “of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians,” then you hold that they didn’t intentionally kill them. It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?

    I wonder what you make of double effect as it applies to abortion. Do you see the moral difference, that is, between surgically removing a mother’s fallopian tubes, knowing that the child inside them will die as a result of this procedure necessary for saving the mother’s life, and flooding the fallopian tubes with chemicals intended to kill the child? (There are any number of other scenarios, which all share the same structure.)

    The reason I ask is that in both cases the death of the child is entirely foreseeable.
    and directly killing

  • “It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?”

    Only if intention governs all. In that case why do the airmen of the Enola Gay not get a pass since they most definitely were not intending to kill civilians but rather to convince Japan to surrender? How does this differ materially from the artillery men intending to win a battle in a city, not intending to kill civilians, but knowing that civilians will be killed in large numbers by their bombardment?

    Frankly in the abortion case where the child cannot survive I see no problem with the desperate necessity of removing the fallopian tubes in order to preserve the mother’s life since the child simply cannot survive in any case. I pray for the day when technology will eliminate this sad quandry.

  • The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act. You can’t for example, burn your neighbor’s house to the ground and then say that your “intention” in doing so was to stop him from playing loud music. No, pretty clearly you intended to burn his house down with the further end in mind of ceasing his loud music. But this further end in mind does not mean that in burning his house down you acted unintentionally. So with Truman. The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt. This further end–bringing the war to a speedy halt–does not evacuate the intentional structure of the prior act. If you don’t mind a recommendation here, I suggest you read Anscombe’s classic work “Intention.” She demonstrates all this quite persuasively.

    Indeed, in the latter case, the whole point is that the removal of the fallopian tubes is a *different* act than the direct killing of the child. Which is why it is licit.

  • The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt.

    I have to disagree on the “clearly” part of that — you do NOT warn people to leave and give them time if you are trying to kill large numbers of them.

  • “The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act.”

    Ah but that is where foreseeability rears its ugly head. The artillery men bombarding the city filled with enemy troops know that large numbers of civilians will be killed. As a matter of fact Hiroshima had 43,000 Japanese troops in it. Once again, I do not think this is simple at all.

  • What is often ignored by Catholics who spill ink on this issue ignore is 1) The pertinnent Catholic moral principles involved and 2) The actual circumstances within Truman made his decision.

    With respect to the use of atomic weapons, Catholic moral theologian Father Heribert Jone defined them this way:

    The fourth condition required for positing an action that has an evil effect that there be a sufficient reason, i.e., a proportionate resulting good, to permit the evil effect. The morality of using either the atomic or hydrogen bomb as a weapon of war is therefore, not a question of principle, which remains unchangeable, but a question of fact, and the fact questioned is whether there can be a military objective so vital to an enemy, the destruction of which would be a sufficient reason to permit the death of a vast number of civilians who at most contribute only remotely and indirectly to the war effort. We think this proportion can exist 1) because today’s concept of “total war” has greatly restricted the meaning of the term “non-combatant”; 2) because in modern warfare the conscription of industry, as well as manpower, greatly extends the effort on the home front; and 3) because it is difficult to set limits to the defense action of a people whose physical and even spiritual existence is threatened by a godless tyranny. Therefore, while use of atomic weapons must be greatly restricted to the destruction of military objectives, nevertheless, it may be justified without doing violence to the principle of a twofold effect. (Moral Theology #219 pp. 143-44 1961 Edition)

    Unfortunately, all of the of Catholic moral theologians and writers who condemn the bombings demonstrate no knowledge of the circumstances involved. The most horrendous and despicable example, in my view, is the recent piece written by well-known Catholic author and senior apologist at Catholic Answers Jimmy Akin.

    The objections these people raise is that the atomic bomb drops cannot be justified because they targeted innocent civilians. To be sure, there is no moral justification for deliberately killing innocent people regardless of how noble your end purpose is. The ends do not justify the means. You cannot do evil so that good can become of it. True enough.

    However, this was not the case with atomic bombings. In WWII Japan, the meaning of the term non-combatant was not only “greatly restricted” it was completely obliterated. William Manchester, in his biography of General Douglass Mac Arthur states:

    Hirohito’s generals, grimly preparing for the invasion, had not abandoned hope of saving their homeland. Although a few strategic islands had been lost, they told each other, most of their conquests, including the Chinese heartland, were firmly in their hands, and the bulk of their army was undefeated. Even now they could scarcely believe that any foe would have the audacity to attempt landings in Japan itself. Allied troops, they boasted, would face the fiercest resistance in history. Over ten thousand kamikaze planes were readied for “Ketsu-Go,” Operation Decision. Behind the beaches, enormous connecting underground caves had been stocked with caches of food and thousands of tons of ammunition. Manning the nation’s ground defenses were 2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen, a total of 34,600,000, more than the combined armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. 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)]

    The mass conscription of “all males ages fifteen and all females ages seventeen to forty-five” is practically the entire adult population. With this, the entire country of Japan became a large military base and no longer a civilian, but a military asset, and therefore, a legitimate military target.

    This idea that the bomb drops were a deliberate attack on innocents is flat out false.

    Furthermore, given the alternatives, either an invasion or blockade would have killed more Japanese, not to mention caused more than a million Amreican casualties in the case of an invasion, the most merciful thing Truman could have done was to drop the bombs. He most certainly could have justifiede it before his creator.

  • Donald,

    I have to get to bed–not a night person–so I’ll conclude by reiterating a distinction which you seem to deny (why? I can’t understand). There is a difference between the object of an intentional action and the foreseeable consequences that follow from that action. If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.


    I don’t understand you. Is your claim that there were NO innocent Japanese (as you argue in the first half of your longish post) or that there were in any case LESS (innocent) Japanese killed as a result of the bomb than through other means? If the first, then I don’t see why you mention the second; if the second, then everything I’ve already written here applies to that argument. (I don’t think you’ll get many people agreeing to your first claim, though.)

  • Greg.

    Very interesting, and confirms my thoughts and understanding of the situation.

  • Wj.

    If I burn my neighbour’s house down, there will be smoke………”

    INO, applying this thinking is obfuscation of conscience.
    You know that you wish to burn down his house and you know fires create smoke. You therefore cannot claim that the creation of smoke is non-culpable, while the burnng of the house is.

  • Just because an action is or may be the lesser of two evils (dropping the atom bomb vs. all out ground invasion of Japan) doesn’t make it good or justified, or a precedent to follow in the future. The lesser of two evils is still an evil. However, this being a fallen world, sometimes a lesser evil is the best we can do. Unfortunately, what often happens is that instead of simply making the least bad choice possible and asking God’s forgiveness for any sin involved, we try to paint that choice as being entirely good.

  • WJ:

    I did not say there were no innocent Japanese. What I said was that the line between combatant and non-combatant had been erased due to the mass civilian conscription and therefore we were not TARGETING innocents.

  • “If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.”

    Your example WJ illustrates precisely where the diffculty in this area lies. Intention either always determines the morality of an action or it does not. I think neither at Hiroshima nor my artillery against a city example is the goal to kill civilians, rather the killing of civilians is a necessary part of the action being undertaken to reach another goal, winning a battle or a war. The difference you would raise between them is that the bomb was directed against civilians while the artillery men only kill civilians accidently. This distinction is of cold comfort morally I think when the deaths of the civilians from the use of the artillery are completely predictable and foreseeable. If the goal is allowed to make the action moral in the case of the artillery barrage, I am uncertain why the same logic is not applicable in the case of Hiroshima.

  • Going to have to agree with Greg M. that the notion of “civilian” took a rather major beating in this situation– probably why the Gen. Conv. spent so much time hammering out who is a civie and who isn’t.

    Is someone standing by the soldier and reloading a valid target?
    Are you not allowed to fire at a foxhole that’s trying to gun you down, because you can see they’ve got a red cross worker trying to patch them up?
    Can you destroy a yard full of military ships under construction or repair?
    Can you bomb the not-formally-military staffed bomb factory?
    If it’s required for someone to be a formal military to be a military target, how do you deal with informal attacks? (getting a bit to close to modern issues, so I’ll stop there)

  • Well, despite the best efforts of bombing apologists, we’re left at the end of the day with the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated, not because of their military value (which was slight and certainly less than many other potential targets), not because the civilians there were a threat (regimes like Japan’s always threaten that their civilians will rise up against any invader… they don’t), but because our bombing policy was, as I stated before, identical to “Bomber” Harris’ vision of demoralizing CIVILIAN populations.

    Thus, all this talk of Hiroshima’s bombing being justified either because of its military use or the ridiculous notion that the little old ladies and kids were armed threats to our forces, is bunk.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out in order to terrorize the populace and thus break the will of the military to resist.

    That END was produced immediately by the MEANS of purposeful destruction of innocent lives, NOT as a by-product or collateral result of legitimate bombing. Why can’t folks here acknowledge simply what everyone, especially Truman, knew at the time– the bombings were done to terrify the Japs so completely at our ability to incinerate civilian centers that their military would capitulate?

  • I think the evidence supports Tom’s contention. And I think the application of Catholic teaching yields a rather clear cut answer. That said, his moral error notwithstanding, Truman is still a far mor sympathetic character than many of his self-righteous critics.

    A man might deliberately kill his comrade in arms if that comrade is dying and in agony. Such an act is murder and intrinsically evil. Yet, I would hardly make it my business to scold him. All sins are forgivable of course — but some certainly more than others. Truman’s act was not heroic; it was wrong; but it was certainly understandable and forgivable.

  • Tom, you’re entitled to your own view, but not your own facts, and what you’re claiming as “facts” are far from proven.

    Feel free to call me whatever you like– heaven knows I can’t stop you– but your OPINIONS of what was true are far from persuasive, and should not be stated as if they are objective reality.

    (On a side note, I’m so sick of being one of the folks who has to say “hold up a sec, we don’t actually KNOW X, or Y, and Z is totally wrong.” Even when I agree with a conclusion, or don’t disagree, it’s a bad idea to let incorrect claims stand.)

  • Foxfier:
    It is completely appropriate to bomb a bomb factory, even knowing that some civilians will likely be killed. That is because a bomb factory is a military target. An entire city is not.

  • Mike-
    Military bases are sometimes cities. (Zip code, hospital/power/stores/water, own police force, civilian families, schools, etc.)

    Military bases, since they are military bases, are military targets.

    Thus, it’s clear that entire cities CAN be a military target.

  • Fair enough I suppose, but are you seriously suggesting that H or N were military bases? If so, then no need for further discussion since we occupy different universes.

  • Mike-
    Not going to fight this, because– like I said way up above– I don’t think we have enough information to do a decent job of it.

    My rough limit is basic damage control on the BS I _know_ I’m going to have to deal with in the next five years, in the form of “X who is (or was) a Catholic said Y, so it must be true, defend it.” Generally in the middle of family reunions or parties with geek friends.

    If you can’t make your argument off of facts, why on earth are you trying to state it as fact? Just throw in an “I” here or there, maybe in conjunction with “think” or “reason” or “believe,” refer to sources for your claims and bada bing: no conflict.

    Shoot, you could even say “I don’t see how it could be justified to bomb an entire city, because cities are not military targets” and it’s no longer something I, or some poor idiot like me, will have to defend. It’s your educated belief from the facts as you know them and your understanding of Catholic teachings. (Anybody talking Catholic theology with a half-dozen highly intelligent folks who have little to no use for organized religion, let alone the Church, needs to have their head examined. No offense to the real Catholic apologists among us.)

  • Foxfier,

    It’s not exactly as if there is no considered stance on this issue by the overwhelmingly vast majority of bishops, theologians, popes, etc. over the past fifty years. The only people who pretend as though this is somehow a difficult question for the Church to address are a handful of American Catholics.

    It is much better to do as Donald does: reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly. It is no good pretending as though there is an epistemic difficulty here where there is not one.

  • Yay, appeal to authority, and total missing of the point.

    Have fun, I’m out.

  • “reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly.”

    Questioning is not rejection, especially in an area such as this where we are not dealing with revealed truth, but rather the application of hair splitting logic.

  • (Same way I duck out when folks start bringing out “but all these guys say that the death penalty isn’t needed anymore! So I win!”)

  • Mike.

    Check the anecdotal historical evidence of who were in occupancy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the military operations and indusctrial complexes attached to those cities.

    One could arguably conclude they were military bases.

  • I’m out after this one as well.

    Don, I didn’t mean to be inflammatory. I take it that you do reject the distinction between foreeseable consequences and intended ends *in certain instances*; but perhaps you only question their analytic efficacy. Fair enough. I think your position commits you to consequentialism (or at least some kind of proportionalism, a la McBrien, et. al.), which I don’t think you want to be committed to, but that’s a different topic. It is an important conversation to have, though.

    Foxfier, I wasn’t so much “appealing to authority” as showing that what you take to be a difficult, perplexing, epistemically vague scenario appears only to be so for a subset of American Catholics and not for the universal Church as a whole. This is an empirical claim.

  • Don the Kiwi,
    Sorry about the oddly abbreviated post above. I am well aware that both H and N contained both military operations and industrial complexes attached to the war effort. Same for Chicago and Detroit. And targeting those operations and complexes would have been morally licit, even if done quite imperfectly. But that is not what happened, and the evidence is quite clear that Truman knew exactly what he was doing. As I said earlier, I don’t really blame him — even if I can safely conclude from my comfortable perch that he were morally wrong. But I refuse to reason backwards either. Just because I’m sympathetic, actually very sympathetic, to the consequences, does not mean that the means were morally acceptable. They weren’t. Pretty much all of us do bad things for good reasons, and that does not make us bad people — just sinners.

  • Fortunately we don’t have to speculate on why Truman chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki and whether it was because the cities were military targets.

    His own press release states that the Potsdam ultimatum was issued to Japan (calling for their unconditional surrender) “to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction.” NOT the Japanese military, NOT the Japanese industrial ability, but the Japanese people themselves.

    Besides, the US had already joined in the British practice of terror bombing by helping in the destruction of Dresden and by firebombing Tokyo, a practice which indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians.

    As Doolittle’s raid early in the war demonstrated, it was entirely possible to target industry and military targets without wiping out entire cities.

    We simply adopted the Brit practice of firebombing, and ultimtely, nuclear bombing, to demoralize the civilian populaces of our enemies, not to advance a military objective.

  • Actually Tom Truman referred to the “military base of Hiroshima” when he announced the Hiroshima bombing. You can say that was incorrect, but that is how Truman looked at it.

    The firebombing of the cities of Japan wasn’t undertaken for terror purposes, but because that was the only way to take out the Japanese industries that tended to be located within residential areas. Precision bombing of Japanese industries was attempted until around March of 45 and had proven completely ineffective.

  • The Doolittle raid was a propaganda operation in 42. 15 of the 16 B-25s were lost, along with 80 airmen. The damage to Japan was completely negligible. From a morale standpoint in the US it was a success. From a military standpoint it was a disaster.

    The technology of the day made precision bombing usually a wistful dream rather than a reality.

    “In practice, the Norden (bombsight) never managed to produce accuracies remotely like those of which it was theoretically capable. The Royal Air Force were the first to use the B-17 in combat, and reported extremely poor results, eventually converting their aircraft to other duties. USAAF anti-shipping operations in the Far East were likewise generally unsuccessful, and although there were numerous claims of sinkings, the only confirmed successful action was during the Battle of the Philippines when B-17s damaged two Japanese transports, the cruiser Naka, and the destroyer Murasame, and sank one minesweeper. However these successes were the exception to the rule; actions during the Battle of Coral Sea or Battle of Midway, for instance, were entirely unsuccessful. The USAAF eventually replaced all of their anti-shipping B-17s with other aircraft, and came to use the skip bombing technique in direct low-level attacks.

    In Europe the Norden likewise demonstrated a poor real-world accuracy. Bombing was computed by assessing the proportion of hits falling within 1,000 feet (300 m) and 2,000 feet (600 m) circles about an MPI (mean point of impact). To achieve a perfect strike, a bomber group would have to unload all its bombs within the 1,000 ft circle. By the spring of 1943 some impressive results were being recorded. Over Bremen-Vegesack on 19 March, for instance, the 303d Bombardment Group dropped 76 per cent of its load within the 1,000 ft ring. Under perfect conditions only 50 percent of American bombs fell within a quarter of a mile of the target, and American flyers estimated that as many as 90 percent of bombs could miss their targets.[5][6][7] Nevertheless, many veteran B-17 and B-24 bombardiers swore by the Norden.”


  • There is an ongoing myth that the British were primarily interested in terror bombing for the heck of it since they could not bloody the Germans in any other way. This is the received wisdom after Vonnegut and Irving. But it makes very little sense for the British to lose all those highly trained men of the Bomber Command (55,000 killed) and spend all that money to build a large strategic force merely to terrorise the Germans. The bombers were the British contribution to the continental war, as they lacked the ability to insert their forces into the field in a decisive ways. A much fairer assessment is provided in this book .

  • Harry S Truman was a 33° Freemason, an enemy of the Catholic Faith, which may be why Nagasaki, the center of Japanese Catholicism, was targetted. (More Catholics were killed on August 9th, 1945 than in four centuries of brutal persecution.)

    General Tomoyuki Yamashita was executed for the atrocities committed in the Battle of Manila (the “one case [in which] the event took place on American soil” mentioned in the post), despite the fact that said atrocities were committed by troops who had disobeyed his order to withdraw from the city to avoid civilian casualties.