The End of Dialogue and the Beginning of Unity
by E. Michael Jones
“Heretics, Jews and Heathens have made a unity against Unity.” St. Augustine, Sermons
In an article which appeared just before Christmas, David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times anointed Princeton Professor Robert P. George as “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.” The proximate reason for the anointing was a manifesto known as The Manhattan Declaration, which George launched in September in the library of the Metropolitan Club. According to Kirkpatrick, George in collaboration with “conservative evangelicals like the born-again Watergate felon Chuck Colson,” Metropolitan Jonah, the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and “more than half a dozen of this country’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, and Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia . . . drafted a 4,700 word manifesto that promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”
The Manhattan Declaration was ecumenical dialogue in action:
We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
At a Washington Press conference two months after the launching of the manifesto, Professor George stepped aside to let Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia make the case for the natural law basis for the Manhattan Declaration’s position. “They,” Rigali claimed, referring to
1) The profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.
“are principles that can be known and honored by men and women of good will even apart from divine revelation. They are principles of right reason and natural law.”
The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience was conceived as a political coalition, based on what has come to be seen as the great paradigm of American moral reform and interreligious cooperation, namely, the civil rights movement. According to the Manhattan Declaration, “The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.”
That the Manhattan Declaration chose the civil rights movement as its paradigm is hardly surprising. The civil rights movement has become the paradigm for virtually every political mobilization of Christianity since that time, including “work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes – from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.”
At Notre Dame in May 2009, both sides in the battle over the Obama invitation invoked the name of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement as a justification for their actions, whether those actions were civil disobedience or ordering the arrest of demonstrators for committing civil disobedience. We are talking about something which has become de rigueur. Any group which wants moral credibility must wrap itself in the mantle of the civil rights movement.
That includes, of course, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is suspect because it lacks diversity in the contemporary political sense of the word. It may include people from every nation on earth but all its members are, by definition, Catholic. All political coalitions based on the civil rights movement model are by definition heterogeneous, i.e., composed of various groups espousing various beliefs but exhibiting unity in diversity. Coalitions of this sort involve, in other words, a subtle denigration of the Church as the supreme ecclesia. Coalitions of this sort are subtly Masonic because they give the impression that, unlike the Church, they are motivated by ideals which transcend narrow sectarian boundaries.
The Manhattan Declaration’s characterization of the civil rights movement as the great Christian crusade is deceptive in other ways as well. To give just one, it ignores the contribution Jews made to the civil rights movement. It also ignores the motivation of all of the parties concerned. In his book The Fatal Embrace, Benjamin Ginsberg corrects the notion that the Civil Rights movement was in any sense a “Christian movement.” It was, in reality, “a coalition of Jews and liberal Protestants and a smaller number of liberal Catholics within the Democratic party.” Similarly, when it came to motivation, the Jews and Christians who made up the Civil Rights movement were less than altruistic because they
sought both to increase their power inside the federal government and to expand the power of the federal government vis a vis the states and local governments. Alliance with blacks on a platform of civil rights was the critical instrument that served both those purposes. Enfranchising blacks while discrediting Southern and conservative forces as racists [sic] increased the power of liberal forces at the federal level. At the same time, civil rights and later Great Society programs served to increase the federal government’s power vis a vis the states and other jurisdictions. . . . Northern Democratic liberals . . . found in the issue of civil rights a means of discrediting their opponents within the Democratic party—initially Southern conservatives and subsequently working-class ethnics in the North. . . . For Jews and other middle class liberals, support for civil rights was not only a moral commitment but also an important political tactic. By allying themselves with blacks, enfranchising black voters and delegitimating Southern White state and local governments, Jews and other liberals hoped to undermine the power of the same forces that had accused them of disloyalty.
Invocation of the Civil Rights Movement as the paradigm of civic religion in America ignores the fact that baser motives were at work. Like Harold Cruse, Ginsberg feels that the Civil Rights movement was payback for the lynching of Leo Frank. By promoting civil rights, Jews were able to exact revenge on the conservative Southern wing of the party, “a group that had been associated with the anti-Communist and anti-Semitic campaigns of the 1950s.” When Martin Luther King arrived in Chicago in 1966, the Jews got to settle scores with the Catholic ethnics as well. Or as Ginsberg puts it: “Through participation in the civil rights movement, Jews were striking a blow against their own foes in the Democratic coalition as much as against the enemies of blacks.”
The real civil rights movement turns out to be different than the one that constantly gets invoked as part of America’s Civic Religion. This gap between appearance and reality raises a number of troubling questions about the historical basis of this model of coalition building.
Troubling questions abound even more the closer we examine the philosophical basis of the Manhattan Declaration. If the Manhattan Declaration is based on “principles that can be known and honored by men and women of good will even apart from divine revelation,” why were Jews excluded as signatories? The same question applies to the Manhattan Declaration’s invocation of the civil rights movement? Martin Luther King certainly didn’t exclude Jews from his organization. According to Murray Friedman’s account of the civil rights movement, the movement could not have succeeded without Jewish participation. Wouldn’t a manifesto like the Manhattan Declaration be more like the civil rights movement which it invokes as its model if it were more diverse and had Jewish signatories? Surely Midge Decter, author of the famous Commentary piece on the homosexual take-over of Fire Island, “The Boys on the Beach,” is against gay marriage. By excluding Jews as signatories Professor George seems to imply that all Jews are in favor of same-sex marriage or that they are not open to the natural law. In an oblique reference to the Manhattan Declaration, Neocon National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg opined that “On the right, many conservatives have been trying to fashion something which might be called theological diversity amid moral unity. Culturally conservative Catholics, Protestants, and—increasingly—Jews find common cause.” Surely, Jonah Goldberg is open to “principles that can be known and honored by men and women of good will even apart from divine revelation.” Why then was he excluded from signing on when the MD was pitched as a collaboration of Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians?
The mystery deepens when we learn that Professor George is the heir apparent to the late Richard John Neuhaus, or, as Kirkpatrick puts it:
With the death of the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran minister turned Roman Catholic priest who helped bring evangelicals and Catholics together into a political movement, George has assumed his mantle as the reigning brain of the Christian Right.
By this point the disingenuous nature of both the New York Times article and the Manhattan Declaration itself has become too big to ignore. To talk about Richard John Neuhaus without mentioning First Things and Neoconservatism is like doing a remake of King Kong without the monkey. For those of you who spent the first decade of the 21st century living in a cave, First Things was the flagship of Neoconservatism, and Neoconservatism, as Murray Friedman, among others, pointed out, was a Jewish political movement. Or as New York Times columnist David Brooks defined the term “con is short for ‘conservative’ and neo is short for ‘Jewish.’” How is it possible to name Professor George as Neuhaus’s intellectual heir without talking about Neoconservatism? How is it possible to talk about a political coalition like the Religious Right without mentioning Neoconservatism? How is it possible to talk about Neoconservatism without including the Jews? Why then were Jews excluded as signatories from the Manhattan Declaration? And why wasn’t this noticed by the Times, which is abnormally sensitive to issues of the Jewish persuasion? Why, then, was there no mention of Neoconservativism and the legacy of Catholic-Jewish collaboration at organs of opinion like First Things, Crisis, and National Review? Is the exclusion of Jews from the Manhattan Declaration a tacit admission that coalitions of this sort are intrinsically unworkable?
Neoconservatism has evidently disappeared down the memory hole of contemporary discourse, and it’s difficult not to see its disappearance as intentional because in leaving out its immediate predecessor (while mentioning distant relatives like the civil rights movement) the Manhattan Declaration lays claim to an originality which it simply does not have. There is simply too much history here, as Ginsberg points out, which could contextualize its claims if it were available. By omitting this history, the MD and its apologists are denying us the ability to learn from the past. Perhaps both George and the Kirkpatrick had Santayana’s dictum in mind: “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Perhaps that is the point after all. Perhaps we are being pushed into a new arrangement, the Manhattan Declaration, which condemns us to repeat the mistakes of the old arrangement, Neoconservatism. The omission of Richard John Neuhaus’s political affiliations prevents us from seeing the political affiliations of his heir apparent, as well as depriving us of an understanding of who the true beneficiaries of interfaith dialogue are.
Professor George did not spring full-blown from the mind of Zeus. He may be, as the Times claims, the intellectual heir of Richard John Neuhaus, but Neuhaus could just as easily be described as the intellectual heir of William Buckley, or Michael Novak, or Deal Hudson, former editor of the now defunct Crisis, a magazine which came into existence ten years before First Things. All of these men claimed to be Catholic spokesmen for reformist political movements, but were in reality creations of Jewish money men like Marvin Liebman, or foundations like the Bradley Foundation, or think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, and their careers—but more importantly, their ideas—were a function of the money those institutions disbursed. “He who pays the piper calls the tune” has more relevance in the realm of foundation-backed ideas than it has to music.
To begin with, Richard John Neuhaus founded First Things in response to Jewish concern about the rise of Pat Buchanan and paleoconservatism. I have told this story before, but it is interesting to consult Benjamin Ginsberg, who wrote Fatal Embrace, when paleoconservatism was considered a very real threat in Jewish circles. Beneath the façade of interfaith collaboration on the civil rights movement model, Ginsberg discerns bedrock ethnic identity, which in America means religious affiliation. So the paleocons, led by Patrick Buchanan, “are socially conservative” and “some, like Buchanan, are conservative Catholics who reject the reforms mandated by liberal popes and the Vatican II conference [sic].” They were disgruntled in the early ‘90s because they had been swindled by the Republicans on the right-to-life issue, or, as Ginsberg puts it, “Though Reagan and Bush paid lip service to the concerns of these groups by praising the right-to-life movement and other moral goals, both lacked a genuine commitment to social issues that eventually became apparent and led to a sense of betrayal among social conservatives.”
Pat Buchanan was the Ahmadinejad of his day. He was the revenant of Father Coughlin, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh all rolled up into one. He was the most significant threat to Jewish hegemony over American culture since America First, and Ginsberg’s description of him shows how dire the threat seemed to American Jews as of 1993:
After a long hiatus, anti-Semitism has once again become a significant phenomenon on the political right. The most noteworthy expression was, of course, Pat Buchanan’s charge that the Persian Gulf war was promoted by the Israeli Defense Ministry and its “amen corner” in the United States and his subsequent description of Congress as “Israeli-occupied” territory.
Richard John Neuhaus’s patrons Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz were every bit as concerned about the Pat Buchanan phenomenon and paleoconservatism as Benjamin Ginsberg. Seeing an opportunity, Neuhaus became a double agent. While still working as editor of the Rockford Institute’s Religion and Society newsletter, Neuhaus was undermining the institution which published it, referring to the Rockford Institute as located in “the fever swamps” of intellectual discourse at cocktail parties in Manhattan. Finally, the hostility came out in the open and after a high speed car chase in Manhattan to secure the filing cabinet containing donor names, Neuhaus succeeded in diverting a $250,00 Bradley Foundation grant from Rockford to be used as the founding nest egg for First Things.
The founding of First Things was just one skirmish in a decade-long campaign which involved the subversion of just about every Catholic journal of opinion by Neoconservative agents of influence. Dale Vree, editor of the New Oxford Review recounted his big chance when a Jewish donor from the East Coast showed up at his offices and offered NOR money if it would support 1) free market economics and 2) a muscular American foreign policy. Vree declined, but the editorial record of other Catholic publications speaks for itself.
Even though Professor George has been identified as the Richard John Neuhaus’s heir apparent without any reference to the Neoconservatism Neuhaus promoted at First Things, the legacy of Neoconservative subversion is apparent in the agenda of the Manhattan Declaration. In fact, the agenda has remained unchanged, even if the Neoconservative label has become an embarrassment to the agenda’s promoters. The Manhattan Declaration is, in effect, the same deal which Dale Vree turned down, souped up a bit by the addition of heavy-duty natural law philosophizing. It is part and parcel of the cynical Republican exploitation of Catholic sentiment on abortion which led to the paleocon uprising in 1992. Catholics in Pennsylvania awoke to this scam when they rejected Rick Santorum’s attempt to get re-elected in 2006. Santorum, who tried to get Catholic voters in Pennsylvania enthused over bombing Iran, ended up losing the election instead, and as consolation prize took a job at the American Enterprise Institute, where his Jewish backers got to pay his salary directly. Professor George, it should be noted, was a supporter of Senator Santorum.
George’s message is simple. Catholic bishops should concentrate on abortion and stop talking about economics. In particular they should stop “lobbying for detailed economic policies like progressive tax rates, higher minimum wage.” Or, as David Kirkpatrick put it,
Last spring, George was invited to address an audience that included many bishops at a conference in Washington. He told them with typical bluntness that they should stop talking about the many policy issues they have taken up in the name of social justice. They should concentrate their authority on “the moral social” issues like abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, where, he argued, the natural law and Gospel principles were clear. To be sure, he said, he had no objection to bishops’ “making utter nuisances of themselves” about poverty and injustice, like the Old Testament prophets, as long as they did not advocate specific remedies. They should stop lobbying for detailed economic policies like progressive tax rates, higher minimum wage, and, presumably, the expansion of health care—“matters of public policy upon which Gospel principles by themselves do not resolve differences of opinion among reasonable and well-informed people of good will,”. . .
To begin with, this strategy is not based on “principles of right reason and natural law.” If unaided human reason can conclude that adultery is wrong, then it is equally capable of seeing that theft and murder (either by suction curette or by unmanned drones in an unjust war) are equally wrong. Professor George cannot invoke the application of the moral law in one instance and then revoke it in another, not if he wants to be taken seriously. But that is precisely what he does, and, in spite of his anointing by the New York Times, that is precisely why he is not taken seriously and why his coalition is going to bring about the very opposite of what they claim they want to achieve.
George never really tells us what his economic views are, but he implies that the whole economic thing is hopelessly complicated and best left to the experts. This idea is, of course, congenial to the leveraged buy-out kings who bankroll think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, which funds Catholic “thinkers” like Rick Santorum and Michael Novak because it lends an aura of moral probity to their predatory looting operations. In a book which by its title purports to bring sex and economics together in a consistent theory, George claims that marriage “is about children and property,” but he remains explicit on sex and vague on economics and never really brings the two issues together in any coherent way. At one point he cites approvingly James Q. Wilson’s thesis that “the marriage system made possible by the emergence of individual land ownership in turn helped to make England ‘the natural place for the emergence of capitalism,’” but in keeping with his policy of explicitness on sexual issues and vagueness on economics, he never gets around to telling us that “emergence of land ownership” was another word for the looting of Church property.
This a-historical acceptance of the status quo is typical of libertarian economics and finds expression in another essay in the same book by Jennifer Roback Morse, “Why Unilateral Divorce Has No Place in a Free Society,” which gets more specific about markets, but never quite explains whether they help or hinder marriage. Morse is handicapped from the start because she has to admit that the libertarian position on sexuality contradicts not only her own views but also what Professor George would call “natural reason.” George is a proponent of the metaphysically parsimonious “New Natural Law Theory” which takes seriously the Enlightenment idea that one can’t derive and “ought” from an “is.” The fact that “Libertarians want to combine the ‘fiscal right,’ which wants minimal government taxation, spending, and regulation with the ‘lifestyle left,’ which wants minimal governmental definition of proper sexual, marital, and family behavior” puts Catholic Libertarians like Roback Morse in a bind because “it is not possible for a society to be both fiscally conservative and lifestyle liberal. It sounds good on paper, but in practice it simply is not possible.”
Instead of abandoning Libertarianism as a fatally flawed ideology, Roback Morse attempts to square the circle by creating the philosophical equivalent of a political coalition on the Manhattan Declaration model. She does this because she is attracted simultaneously to the idea that “marriage [is] a unique social institution that deserves to be defended on its own terms, and not as a special case of something else” and because
One of the attractive features of the market as a social institution is its self-regulating character. Set up a society with property rights, contract law, and a court and police system; populate it with people who have a functioning conscience and sense of reciprocity; give the system a push—and it runs itself.
Roback Morse tries to reconcile these two views and fails because these views cannot be reconciled. This is so for a very simple reason: the moral law applies equally to both sexual and economic intercourse and neither marriage nor a sound economy is compatible with “the posture of a night-watchman state.” Libertarianism, like the Manhattan Declaration, invokes the moral law when it suits its purposes, something that Professor Roback Morse concedes when she writes that:
Libertarians recognize that a free market needs a culture of law-abidingness, promise-keeping, and respect for contracts. Similarly, a free society needs a culture that supports and sustains marriage as the normative institution for the begetting, bearing and rearing of children.
Flawed fundamental principles lead to flawed applications in the real world. Professor Roback Morse proves this axiom when she takes on the problem of welfare, especially to unmarried mothers with dependent children:
The libertarian approach to caring for the dependent is usually described in terse form as “let families and private charity take care of it and get the government out of the way.” This position is sometimes ridiculed as unrealistic or attacked as harsh. But the libertarian position, once fully fleshed out, is both humane and realistic.
Once again ideology trumps history in Libertarian thought. The only way Libertarian social solutions sound plausible is by ignoring the historical causes which led to the problem in the first place. Poor Laws in England are an example of state intervention, but they became necessary only in the aftermath of the great period of capital formation in England otherwise known as the Reformation, otherwise known as the looting of Church property. When English culture and England’s economic system was under the control of the Catholic Church, there were no Poor Laws. If there had been no looting, if England had continued for the next 900 years under the regime which had ruled it for the 900 years previous to the Reformation, there would have been no need of state welfare because huge amounts of property would have continued to be dedicated to the common good. Poverty of the sort that became endemic to English life, poverty of the sort that Charles Dickens wrote about three centuries after the looting of Church property had taken place was unknown in England before the reformation, and it was unknown in England for almost an entire millennium before the looting that gave birth to Capitalism took place because during that period economic exchange was subordinated to the moral law, and the moral law was enforced by the Catholic Church. The state had to step in to keep Englishmen from starving to death only after Capitalism had destroyed the social order. If Professor Roback Morse were familiar with encyclicals like Rerum Novarum, she would know that socialism follows inexorably from Capitalism. The Catholic position on the relationship between marriage and markets is that low wages of the sort favored by Libertarians like Professor Morse endanger the existence of the family, something the whole world was aware of by the end of the 19th century.
Those who advocate the natural law need to understand that morality is all of one piece, and that adultery, theft, and murder are all wrong. Even the morally challenged folks at the New York Times have figured this out. Anyone who claims that we are supposed to ignore nine of the Ten Commandments in the interest of political effectiveness is either a fool or someone who is trying to instrumentalize both philosophy and morals for political purposes. Those who make this claim also destroy their own reputation as thinkers in the process. Professor George is part of the same cadre of Neoconservative Catholics who destroyed their credibility during the run up to the Iraq war in 2003. As Kirkpatrick points out:
The intentional killing of innocent civilians in war is as grave a moral crime as abortion, George says, but what constitutes a “just war” is a more complicated judgment call. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he wrote an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the attack was not necessarily unjust and might even be a moral obligation. . . . But the opposition to banning abortion and embryo-destructive research is “straightforward.”
The “straightforward” immorality of the Iraq War was apparent to Pope John Paul II. In fact it was apparent to many Catholics not in the pay of Neocon-controlled foundations. Neoconservative Catholics like Robert George and George Weigel lost their credibility by slavishly backing the Bush Administration’s unjust war. Michael Novak, who bragged about his candle-light dinners with the pope, couldn’t get an audience to plead his case at the Vatican because the idea that America’s invasion of Iraq could be squared with the Just War principles of the Catholic Church was patently absurd. When the Scottish Catholic philosopher John Haldane tried to suggest that there might be a disconnect between “the principles of right reason and natural law” and the agenda of the Republican Party or that the Republicans lost the 2008 election because Catholics “took moral exception to some of the policies pursued by the Bush administration,” such as “the running sore of structural deprivation running through American society, or the prosecution of an unjust war,” George responded with derision, sarcasm, and ridicule:
When I asked George about the letter, he was derisive. “John, thanks for the advice!” he said sarcastically. “Gosh, I wish we would have taken it. We would have the strong and vibrant social conservative movement that you guys have in Great Britain!”
So much for “His critics, including many of his fellow Catholic scholars, [who] argue that he is turning the church into a tool of the Republican Party.”
If we were to ask which institution can give us an infallibly reliable guide to the relationship between adultery, theft and murder, the answer would be the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church. Any coalition which silences the Church on any of these issues is nothing more than an instrument of political control. The beneficiaries of these coalitions are not the Catholics, be they bishops or laymen, who are asked to join them. The beneficiaries are the Republican Party and the money men behind the Republican Party, who pay the salaries of the agents who promote their ideas. If Robert George didn’t exist, Karl Rove, a self-proclaimed Robert George fan, would have to invent him, or another representative in the line of Buckley, Novak, Neuhaus, and Hudson. Conservatism is another name for Catholics being paid to control Catholics, by confining the operation of their minds to ideas congenial to the rich and powerful.
To claim that unaided reason can know that adultery is wrong but not that prosecution of an unjust war is equally wrong so contradicts the mind’s ability to grasp the truth, that we are forced to look for other than rational motives when seeking to explain the ideas being proposed. As Kirkpatrick points out, George never lets an opportunity pass to quote with disapproval “Hume’s famous formulation, “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions and may never pretend to any office other than to serve and obey them.” George’s disapproval notwithstanding, there are many passions and appetites, and the craving for money and human respect are two of the most powerful, even more powerful for some than the sexual appetite. Professor George has subordinated the natural law to a political agenda. On just about every issue, the real criterion of whether the natural law should be taken seriously comes down to whether the policy in question is in conformity with the agenda of the Republican Party.
George claims that by limiting their focus the Catholic Bishops will gain in political effectiveness, but the evidence from the Neoconservative era all militates against drawing this conclusion.
After explaining the nature of the coalition which made up the civil rights movement, Ginsberg is equally frank in talking about the neoconservative alliance which succeeded it. At the heart of that alliance was the Republican or neoconservative strategy on abortion. Catholics were told that if they went along on economic issues that went against their own interests (“Blue collar unionized workers [i.e., Catholics],” Ginsberg tells us, “were among the major victims of Reaganomics.”), the Republicans would do something about abortion. This, it turns out, was a cruel hoax, because “Though Reagan and Bush paid lip service to the concerns of these groups by praising the right-to-life movement and other moral goals, both lacked a genuine commitment to social issues that eventually became apparent and led to a sense of betrayal among social conservatives.” This was so because the Jews were the senior partners in the Neocon alliance, and the Jews were not interested in doing anything about abortion. In fact, Ginsberg continues, “many neocons are fond of saying privately that social issues are merely useful bait with which to attract the votes of the riff-raff.”
So, first it was Michael Novak, and then it was Rick Santorum, who co-sponsored a bill on stem cell research with Arlen Spector which received Robby George’s support. And then it was Richard John Neuhaus. And then it was Chris “hate crimes” Smith. And now it’s Robby George, and through it all we are all supposed to pretend that we can’t see the man behind the curtain operating the money machine, which is the ultimate source of all of these ideas and coalitions.
The link between Michael Novak and the American Enterprise Institute is, if anything, even more obvious than the link between Richard John Neuhaus and the Bradley Foundation under Irving Kristol’s protégé Michael Joyce. No possible interpretation of the natural law can come to the conclusion that adultery is wrong but theft, even in sophisticated forms such as leveraged buy-outs, is not. Hence, we must seek the rationale of George’s advice to the bishops to downplay economics in places other than in the natural law. The make up of the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute might be a good place to start. David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm which plunders companies by taking them over and loading them down with debt, is one of the 24 trustees of the American Enterprise Institute. Marc Lipschultz, a partner with Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts, another private equity firm is another. Upon closer examination, the Manhattan Declaration rests not upon the natural law, but upon another sort of foundation, The Bradley Foundation.
What conclusions are we to draw from all this, other than the feeling that Catholics have been duped every time they allowed themselves to be drawn into political alliances? The main conclusion is that unity is better than dialogue. When the Catholic Church was strong and unified, she had a positive effect on American culture, as for example, when the Catholics of Philadelphia boycotted Warner Brothers theaters there in the 1930s and forced Hollywood Jews to accept the Production Code and ban nudity and obscenity from their films. Or when Msgr. Ryan stood up to Margaret Sanger and the Rockefeller interests and defeated their plan for government-funded birth control. Once the Church chose dialogue over unity, she lost whatever power she had to influence the culture and earned only the contempt of her enemies in return.
Unity with your friends and fellow-believers, in other words, is better than dialogue with your enemies. If we ever needed proof of that statement, we have almost 50 years of experience with the failed experiment known as Catholic-Jewish dialogue. One year after the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Jews used dialogue to divide the Church. One of the first casualties was the Oberammergau Passion Play, which was caught, as Shapiro puts it, “between the anvil of Nostra Aetate and the hammer of Jewish organizations.”
In the years following Vatican II, Dialogue became the main vehicle for bringing the Catholic mind under Jewish control. Dialogue has also become a synonym for subversion of Church teaching. After years of dialogue, the USCC, under the direction of Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, issued a joint Catholic-Jewish statement on “Covenant and Mission” which affirmed that Jews could be saved without accepting Christ as their savior. In May of 2009 the same bishops had to issue a “clarification” which repudiated their own statement. It turns out that, upon reflection, the bishops concluded that the Mosaic covenant was no longer “eternally valid,” and Jews did have to convert if they wanted to be saved after all. The bishops’ volte face on the Jews is one indication that after 40 years the Jewish control of the Catholic mind is beginning to fade. Over the past three years we have seen a change of historic magnitude, and a catalyst for that change has been Culture Wars magazine.
Other people have noticed the same thing. Having watched with amazement as House Democrats acceded to the US Catholic bishops’ demand that abortion funding be removed from their health care bill, Pat Buchanan is forced to wonder, “Is the Church Militant Back?” When the Church is united and acts on her own, unfettered by self-imposed political constraints, good things happen.
Kirkpatrick cites the Stupak amendment, the bishops’ successful attempt to get abortion funding stripped from the Obama administration’s health care bill as an example of the successful implementation of George’s strategy when in fact it shows the opposite of what the Manhattan Declaration is proposing. Abortion got stripped from the health care bill when the bishops acted in a unified manner with a resolve which they never had during the birth control battles of the ‘60s and which they could not have mustered if they were working under Republican-controlled restraints in concert with other Christian denominations. It was Catholic Democrats in the House who cast the decisive vote against abortion. Working in concert with Jews against abortion is unthinkable.
George tries to drag religious liberty into the discussion, but it’s clear that Catholic doctrine is going to suffer from the inevitable political horse-trading that this involves. Instead of asserting the historical truth that the Church has never repudiated her right to coerce the baptized, including recalcitrant politicians, George comes out in favor of civil disobedience, based on the historically false claim that, “Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.” The Church counseled patience and suffering and in extreme cases of manifest injustice the overthrow of wicked regimes, but it never condoned “civil disobedience.” The source of this claim lies neither in Scripture nor Tradition, but, unsurprisingly in George’s reading of the Civil Rights movement, in particular the tract written by Christian Socialist and Catholic apostate Michael Harrington under the name of Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience. King’s willingness to go to jail, rather than comply with legal injustice, was exemplary and inspiring.
Rather than accept a hollow and specious religious freedom and the dubious privilege of going to jail, the bishops would do better to claim, in opposition to the Manhattan Declaration, that the Church has never believed in being bound by non-coercion when it comes to the baptized. Strengthened by that principle they should concentrate on restoring the unity of all believers, including Catholic politicians, who would then act more like Congressman Stupak than the late Senator Kennedy. Dialogue does nothing but weaken this resolve. The net result is dialogue with “Catholic” universities like Notre Dame—another fruit of Vatican II and another colossal waste of time.
What is true of abortion is also true of the re-admission of the Anglicans. After almost 500 years of schism and almost 50 years of fruitless palaver, the pope re-admitted Anglicans disgusted with feminist bishops and openly homosexual clergy without a word of dialogue. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who found out about the merger when the rest of the world did, was the last one to know.
Dialogue has weakened the resolve of Catholics, but all of this good will has led to no concessions on the part of the Jewish-controlled press. If anything, that press has become more virulently anti-Catholic in response to what they perceive as Catholic weakness. Even the bishops, the main apologists for the failed experiment known as Catholic-Jewish dialogue, have started to take notice. Archbishop Timothy Dolan tried to explain the Catholic/Jewish double standard in an op-ed piece he sent to the New York Times, which the Times refused to publish. When it comes to sexual abuse, the Catholic Church is subjected to a “scurrilous ... diatribe” by Maureen Dowd “that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish or African-American” faith, but when the New York Times “exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuses in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish Community ... 40 cases of such abuses in this tiny community last year alone,” wrote the archbishop, “the district attorney swept the scandal under the rug, and the Times held up the carpet.” Buchanan went on to mention Catholic/Jewish relations as one of the main areas of change in American life:
The Vatican has reaffirmed that Catholics in interfaith dialogues have a moral right if not a duty to convert Jews, and reaffirmed the doctrine that Christ’s covenant with his church canceled out and supersedes the Old Testament covenant with the Jews. When Abe Foxman, screech owl of the Anti-Defamation League, railed that this marks a Catholic return to such “odious concepts as ‘supercessionism,’” he was politely ignored.
The American bishops’ repudiation of Cardinal Keeler’s “Reflections on Covenant and Mission” marks more than just a stunning reversal of 50 years of bad theology. That repudiation had global political implications as well, implications which became clear when the Jerusalem Post ran an article on “why Israel is losing the PR war.” According to the Jerusalem Post, the main reason for the precipitous drop in Israel’s approval rating (from 70 to 40 percent) is the “resurgence of replacement theology,” their term for supercessionism, i.e., the traditional Catholic teaching that the Jews have been superceded, and that the Church is the New Israel.
As some indication that great minds run in the same circles, I submit Abe Foxman’s outraged response to the bishops’ clarification of the Keeler statement. Both Abe Foxman and Mike Jones agree that dialogue and evangelization are mutually exclusive alternatives. Since the bishops have been commanded by the Gospels to go and baptize all nations, they have no choice but to abandon dialogue because, as Foxman pointed out, it’s the antithesis of proselytism.
Both the ADL and Culture Wars have concluded that Catholic/Jewish dialogue has failed, and Catholics are finally awakening to the fact that this dialogue has failed because the Jews have used it as a cover for their hidden agenda of control from the beginning. As some indication of what those motives are, all of the major Jewish organizations recently signed a friend of the court brief demanding that the Obama administration allow the Catholic Church no exemptions of conscience when it comes to hiring homosexuals.
Actions speak louder than words. In spite of all the dialogue, there was no collaboration in the area of religious freedom and freedom of conscience when it came to the health bill and the concerns it raised for Catholics. Beyond that, the intent behind Jewish support of the homosexual agenda became crystal clear: use “tolerance” to create a homosexual fifth column within the Catholic Church, one which, because of the nature of its sexual activities, can be used to create a whole new series of lawsuits. With Elder Brothers like this, who needs enemies?
Abe Foxman was outraged by what he considered a volte face on dialogue, but the simple fact remained: whenever the bishops engaged in dialogue with the Jews, they repudiated the Gospel. Conversely, whenever they acted on their own and reaffirmed the Gospel, they invariably outraged the Jews. This leads me to refine my previous statement: the Church can proclaim the Gospel or she can have good relations with the Jews, but dialogue, which is to say both at the same time, is impossible.
Why is that? Well, anyone who has read The Gospel of St. John or the Acts of the Apostles or St. Paul’s Epistle to the Thessalonians should know the answer. It’s because the Jews rejected Christ, and in rejecting Christ they rejected Logos, and in rejecting Logos, they became, as St. Paul put it, “enemies of the entire human race.” Dialogue, in other words, is not possible without logos. This rejection of logos in general and the Logos made flesh is now the core of Jewish identity, and it will remain so until they reject their rejection and accept Christ as their savior. Michael Medved recently said the same thing. In a symposium which appeared in the September 2009 issue of the American Jewish Committee’s publication, Commentary, on Norman Podhoretz’s latest book, he wrote that “For most American Jews, the core of their Jewish identity isn’t solidarity with Israel; it’s rejection of Christianity.”
Michael Medved has articulated the fundamental Jewish idea. As Richard Weaver told us “Ideas have consequences,” and one of the consequences of the fundamental Jewish idea is blasphemy. Over 40 years of dialogue led America’s Catholic bishops into a denial of the Gospel, but it didn’t put a stop to Jewish blasphemy. At the same time that the American bishops were trying to placate Abe Foxman, Larry David was busy urinating on a picture of Jesus Christ during a segment of the HBO sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” When David’s Catholic secretary uses the bathroom after him, she mistakes David’s urine for Jesus’s tears and claims that the picture is weeping. The latest instance of Jewish blasphemy brought forth fundraising letters from fire-breathing defenders of the faith, who demanded that Catholics “take action” and send in a contribution, but they couldn’t quite bring themselves to say that Larry David was a Jew, and that the Jewish penchant for blasphemy goes back to the central Jewish document, the Talmud, and that all of this behavior has to do with, as Michael Medved put it, the “rejection of Christianity,” which lies at the core of Jewish identity.
No one, it seems, is allowed to connect the dots. Catholics can’t connect the dots for a very simple reason; connecting the dots leaves one open to the charge of anti-Semitism. In May 2009, following the appearance of my article on Deborah Lipstadt and Holocaust Denial, the ADL put me on their most wanted list. This means that I have moved out of the realm of “dynamic silence.” Since the ADL has been getting the magazine for years now (They are, in fact, our most faithful readers. We never have to send them a second renewal notice), I can only assume that something must have happened recently to bump up my status. What happened is very simple: Culture Wars has broken the lock which has kept the Catholic mind under Jewish control for the past 40 years. The ADL now realizes that the Church is heading in the other direction on all of the issues the Jews consider important. After 40 years of unprecedented advances in subversion and covert warfare, the Jews are finally starting to lose their control over the Catholic mind.
Dialogue is a failed experiment. It had no roots in tradition. In just about every instance it involved the bishops in compromising the gospel. In fact, as the Manhattan Declaration made clear, the main requirement for dialogue is a willingness to suppress some Catholic truth of importance to the person engaged in dialogue. There was always an aura of make-believe surrounding the Church’s dialogue with the world which began in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The main element of make believe had to do with wishing away the Church’s enemies. It turns out that the Church’s enemies did not disappear after all. Instead, they used their feigned status as our friends to gain unprecedented hegemony over the Church they never gave up trying to destroy.
The Church fathers were wiser than their successors in this regard. They understood, as Augustine said, that “Heretics, Jews and Heathens have made a unity against Unity.” History is another word for the story of this alliance and its war against the Church. In spite of the illusions generated by the Second Vatican Council, nothing has changed. As A. E. Houseman wrote about sobering up after a drinking binge,
I was I; my things were wet
The world it was the old world yet.
As we sober up from the intoxication generated by the failed experiments of the ‘60s, we are left with certain fundamental truths. The most fundamental is that there can be no dialogue without logos. The only antidote to rejection of logos is rejection of that rejection, otherwise known as conversion. Since dialogue has made conversion impossible, it is time to dispense with dialogue and return to the tradition that promoted evangelization and conversion as the antidote to the world’s ills because unity with fellow believers is more important than the ability to chatter on endlessly with our enemies.
This article was published in the July/August 2010 issue of Culture Wars.
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