Brandon's Notepad

August 23, 2017

Catholic Hate Groups

ShortURL: http://wp.me/pb7U7-2Fq


Amidst the many news articles and commentaries published last week about the violence in Charlottesville and the tearing down of Confederate statues, I happened to notice a few Tweets about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map. I ignored them until someone started to point out that fourteen Catholic organizations were included. I had to learn more.


The Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a nonprofit organization that specializes in civil rights litigation. It was the brainchild of Morris Dees and was co-founded with Joseph J. Levin Jr. in 1971. Beginning with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in 1979, the firm continues to monitor several categories of hate organizations across the United States and files lawsuits on behalf of victims when hate-related events occur. The Wikipedia article about the SPLC includes a list of their most notable cases. As part of their monitoring, the SPLC maintains lists of organizations that conduct hate-related activities. The Hate Map featured on the SPLC website is a visualization of these lists that can be filtered by category and by State. (There is also a Wikipedia article dedicated to maintaining a cumulative listing, but it currently holds only three years of list data.)

What criteria must be met to end up on the map? The answer to that seems to be a bit subjective. The most basic criteria is that a listed organization attacks or maligns a specific class of people. Beyond that, inclusion is handled on a case-by-case basis. In the 2006 Winter Issue of the firm’s magazine Intelligence Report, the twelve (at the time) Radical Traditionalist Catholic groups are described, and it is clearly stated that their primary target is the Jews. The article was posted online in January 2007.

The Catholic List

Of the 917 organizations on the list, fourteen of them are categorized as “Radical Traditional Catholicism”. Here is the list as it appeared in August 2017:

  1. Christ or Chaos [Dr. Thomas A. Droleskeyis, Website]
  2. Culture Wars/Fidelity Press [E. Micheal Jones & James G. Bruen Jr., Website]
  3. Robert Sungenis [Website, Wikipedia]
  4. Catholic Family News / Catholic Family Ministries [Joseph John Vennari, Website, Wikipedia]
  5. Most Holy Family Monastery [Michael Diamond, Website, Wikipedia]
  6. In the Spirit of Chartres Committee [Website]
  7. IHS Press [Website, Wikipedia]
  8. Catholic Counterpoint [John Maffei, Fr. Gregorius Hesse & Fr. John O’Connor, Website]
  9. IHM Media [Website]
  10. Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary [Fr. Leonard Feeney, Website, Wikipedia, Catholicism.org]
  11. Fatima Crusader, The / International Fatima Rosary Crusade [Fr. Nicholas Gruner, Website, Wikipedia]
  12. The Remnant Press [Michael Matt, Website, Wikipedia]
  13. OMNI Christian Book Club [Website]
  14. Tradition In Action (TIA) [Website]

All Wikipedia articles linked above include an indication that the organization in question is included on the SPLC list.

Commonalities

An examination if the organizations’ websites and related information, a number of similarities start to arise:

  • All of the organizations oppose (to some degree) the teachings of the Catholic Church.
  • Almost all of the organizations sympathize with schismatic (e.g. SSPX) or heretical groups.
  • Almost all of the organizations are owned/operated by or are based on the work of single individuals or small groups.
  • Many of them offer literature or share content written by the same authors (e.g. Sungenis, Vennari)
  • Only one organization appears to promote physical activities. The remainder author or publish literature.
  • None of the organizations appear to promote violence.

Wait…what? All of these organizations oppose the Church? Indeed. For those not familiar, there are a number of believers who identify as Catholic but who do not align themselves with the present-day Church. Vatican II was a breaking point for most of them due to its wide-sweeping reform in both the Church’s customs as well as her approach to man’s problems in the modern day. The Latin Mass was no longer the norm (thought by many to be forbidden), church architecture leaned toward the modern, and ecumenism seemed to trump dogma. Some view Pope Pius XII (d. 1958) as the last true Pope and consider all of the Popes that followed to be antipopes. This topic has become a hotbed for Catholesque conspiracy theories written à la Dan Brown.

While ecumenism typically involves building relationships and resolving differences with other Christian denominations (i.e. getting a little too chummy with those Protestant heretics), the post-conciliar Church also boosted its involvement in interfaith dialogue with members of other religions, particularly Jews and Muslims. Traditional Catholics (or “Trad Caths” as they are often called these days) only see this fraternizing as an opportunity to compromise the faith, and thus they label the modern Church and its leadership as traitors against Christ. They speak out vehemently against her, stating in no uncertain terms exactly with whom they do not believe the Church should associate and why. Recall that one criterion for being on the Hate Map is that the organization maligns (syn: defame, slander, vilify, slur and revile) a specific class of people? With that in mind, could it not be said that the literature associated with this movement isn’t only anti-Semitic, but anti-Catholic as well?

The real Catholic Church (headed by the real Pope) does not promote hate of any kind (as it is a mortal sin) and it does not compromise on faith and morals — even if some of its members do. Despite what the Traditionalists believe, the purpose of the Second Vatican Council was not to reshape the Church to conform with the world’s norms, but to understand how the Church could better serve the world in its Catholic ministry. It should also be noted that there are traditionalist Catholic groups on good terms with the Holy See who accept (in spirit anyway) the documents of Vatican II and who have been approved to practice the traditional rites of the Church.

Reaction

It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to be called a racist or a hatemonger, but given their dedication to the cause, it is rational to assume that many wear it as a badge of honor. But is this true of the Radical Traditional Catholic crowd? A few articles I found would suggest the answer is an emphatic no! In Philadelphia Magazine’s 2013 piece What Hate Groups Say About Being Called Hate Groups, Catholic Counterpoint owner John Maffei, the follower of an anti-Semitic renegade priest, denies being a racist, stating that he is simply nostalgic for the way life used to be. Only a few days ago, on August 16th, Micheal Matt of The Remnant defended the 50-year-old newspaper after the local CBS television station in Minnesota, WCCO-TV, attempted to link it with the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, VA based on the paper’s inclusion on SPLC’s list. He referred to the SPLC as a generator of fake news, which is a popular name for propaganda containing false or misleading information presented in a way that makes it look like real news from authentic sources. Similarly, two days later, Brother André Marie of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary posted Civil Unrest Means Hate Map Time for Lazy Journalists, asserting that the SPLC profits greatly by framing conservative organizations as hate groups and providing false information to journalists and law enforcement, while ignoring leftist extremists. (It seems that the SPLC has cast a few stones in Brother André’s direction as well.)

Conclusion

While it is clearly wrong (indeed, quite sinful) to hate another person or group of people, it is not necessarily wrong to disagree with them. In fact, the right to harbor and even promote differences of opinion is protected by the Constitution of the United States (yeah, that whole First Amendment thing again, with its freedom of speech and religion). A line must be drawn somewhere, and it seems that the primary conflict between the SPLC and the “Radical Traditionalist Catholic” groups is that they don’t agree where that line should be. I invite readers to seek out and review the literature on their own. Does it call for the active extermination of the Jewish people? Or does it lay out in scholarly terms an argument based on hard facts that supports the notion that Jewish beliefs pose a real threat to Christianity? Is it somewhere in between? Does it attack people or ideas? How much of it is based on assumptions and speculation? And where is Dan Brown when you really need him anyway?


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February 10, 2017

Crippled America

ShortURL: http://wp.me/pb7U7-286



This is a short review of Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, written by Donald J. Trump.

The election is over and Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. A lot of people are worried about what he is going to do next. Is he really going to build that wall on our southern border? Is he really going to deport all illegal aliens? What about the Second Amendment? Taxes? Health Care?

The good news is, he’s already told you what he’s going to do. That is, of course, if you’ve read his book. Originally published in 2015 under the title “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again”, the name was changed in 2016 to “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America”. This book embodies Trump’s platform as a presidential candidate, and it is his play book now that he’s in office. The best part (for everyone’s sake) is that the book actually makes him sound sane.

Want an example? In chapter three, Trump addresses his campaign promise to build a wall along our southern border to help stop the inflow of foreigners entering the country illegally. He starts by describing what he said in his speeches and how the media spun the story to make him look as anti-immigration as possible. He then sets the record straight, firmly stating in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely not against immigration, but is very much in favor of legal immigration. He also covers a bit of history, explaining how Cuba, Mexico, and other countries in Latin America have taken advantage of The United States’ generous reception of immigrants as a way to offload their own countries of undesirables. [Note: I have not fact-checked his claims at the time of this writing, but he references some fairly-specific events that should be easy enough to substantiate.] Moreover, he qualifies his vision of a new great wall with the admission that it will not be a single wall. “It doesn’t have to cover the entire border. Some areas are already secured with physical barriers. In other areas, the terrain is too difficult for people to cross.” (p. 24) In other words, its not really about building a single, massive wall, but about fortifying areas that are completely exposed. He notes that several States have already built walls for this purpose, and that even Mexico has built a wall to prevent immigrants from spilling over its own southern border. As for Mexico paying for the new wall, Trump does not intend to send them an invoice and hope they cough up the cash. It would be more accurate to say that the Mexican economy will pay for it, not the government. That is, of course, unless the Mexican government would like to improve relations with the U.S. Trump is a shrewd businessman and he understands money. It would be foolish to underestimate his knowledge of economics.

It would also be foolish to assume this is a completely accurate, much less, objective treatise on his views and ideas. After all, he wrote the book, so it is by definition a subjective work. In terms of accuracy, I am not implying that he has been dishonest in what he has written, but there are far too few pages in the book to adequately cover the spectrum of decisions and scenarios that he will face in the next four years. He can only hang his hat on campaign promises for so long, especially since he seems bent on fulfilling as many as possible in the first hundred days in office. Trump appears to be very transparent and he likes to keep things simple, but the life and work of the President is anything but simple. And just maybe we should be more concerned about what he hasn’t divulged than about what he has already told us.

Overall, it was a good, informative read, and depending on what kind of voice you use to narrate in your head, it was also entertaining. One of the most interesting bits in my opinion is how he describes his relationship with the media as “mutually profitable” and “two-way”. (p. 11) Someone with a bigger vocabulary might have selected the word “symbiotic”. I think the following excerpt goes a long way in explaining why Trump behaves the way he does:

“I don’t mind being attacked. I use the media the way the media uses me — to attract attention. Once I have that attention, it’s up to me to use it to my advantage. I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want — viewers and readers — in order to make a point. […] The cost of a full-page ad in the New York Times can be more than $100,000. But when they write a story about one of my deals, it doesn’t cost me a cent, and I get more important publicity.” (p. 10-11)

Still wondering why he chose Steve Bannon as his Assistant and Chief Strategist?

I read the book just prior to election day. It seemed a little late to post a review, since no one would have a chance to take my recommendation and read it before casting a vote. But now, with the Left in a tizzy over what the orange, Fascist, racist hate-monger (their words, not mine) will do to dismantle Obama’s legacy and posture the United States as the planet’s ultimate and totally self-serving superpower, it seems more appropriate than ever to reveal what he has already told us.


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