Thursday, December 13, 2007
Personal Asides: The Worst Debate of All-Time The U. S. Bishops First Job: Get Rid of the USCCB Give Joe McCarthy Some Creditbut Easy on the Total Rehab Stuff.
Without being sexist about it, its been my experience that something happens to a woman when you put her in charge of a political debate. In 1977 I became president of The City Club of Chicago and continue as its chairman today and from that era on candidates have dreaded and feared any debate put on by the League of Women Voters whom none other than David Axelrod called the league of women vultures. So we at the City Club never had a woman run a debate and thus have acquitted ourselves well in that department. I dont hear much about LWV debates any more but I assume they have passed out of existence. Whenever there are candidatorial debates the League is wisely avoided as main coverage and other civic organizations pitch in.
What is the rap about a woman running a debate? The League of Women Vultures would always insist on such strict rules that they utterly precluded anyone deriving sense and clarification of thought out of such events. Now take a look at that atrocity of several nights ago when The Des Moines Register hosted a Republican debate. As the sole dominatrix came a woman with a Buster Brown haircut and a whip and spurs: Nurse Ratched. She was Carolyn Washburn, editor of The Register. Given that we have come some 2,500 years after the Greeks invented democracy, Carolyns madhouse was testimony that giving a woman power to elicit or shut down speech of men is a near aphrodisiac for any female.
Believe it or not she demanded a show of hands at one point rather than an expression of views. As the sole proprietor of the debate, she did not entertain any questions to the candidates whatever about Iraq or immigration. No one on the stage changed their standings but the event was a total disaster. Also how Alan Keyes got onto the stage is beyond me. He is the only one I have ever seen who in the space of 10 seconds allotment for answer can start out roaring angry. Keyes is a brilliant man whom I would rather have U. S. Senator than Obama but he has become a camp-follower in Republican presidential efforts who makes money the way Harold Stassen did by running for president, collecting funds and converting them to a means that somehow or otherthrough legal but highly imaginative meansare converted to the use of his private industry which is running for president or any other office he can determine.
U. S. Bishops.
Now that Francis Cardinal George has been elected as head of the Catholic bishops trade association, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he would immensely please a diverse group within the Church ranging from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska on the right to Anne Burke, the former interim head of the National Review Board in the centertwo people who are so widely divergent as to imagine a tent has not been constructed broad enough to hold them both. Bishop Bruskewitz whom I deeply admire is a gutsy scholar, authenticist prelate and canon lawyer who believes the USCCB should be abolished. Anne Burke is a talented lawyer, state Supreme Court Justice, indubitably far more centrist or even liberal than Bruskewtiz who feels the USCCB should be abolished.
There is little hope that Cardinal George will do anything like that, however. Talented and intellectual he may be, but those who have been waiting for him to assume the reins of the Chicago archdiocese these ten years of his nondescript tenure now know better than to assume he is a man of decisiveness that would spring from inner conviction. Still, if there have not been abundant earlier reasons for the USCCB to be canned, its woolly-headed film review service, a part of its propaganda arm, Catholic News Service, just gave us another.
This is to bring you up to date on a film that has just been releaseda childrens film that hopes to imitate The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis called The Golden Compass. The film which has been just released is based on a series of childrens books, His Dark Materials, by British writer Philip Pullman. Pullman is an atheist and is not tepid about it, following in the genre of Christopher Hitchens and Ricahrd Dawkins. Pullmans intent is to sell atheism and malevolent anti-Catholicism to anyone who can con including childrenand the way he intends to do it is by producing a sweet childrens film which has some of his most unsavory bigoted parts disembowled. The game plan involves a $150 million film which will encourage children to buy his trilogy.
Nor is this a charge I am making on supposition. Pullman is famous or notorious for this belief. He says, I dont think its possible there is a God. Im trying to undermine the basis of Catholic belief. My books are about killing God. I am all for the death of God. Pullman is nothing if not ambitious. The death of God has long been a watchword among French Revolution protagonists, Nazis and Soviets. Hitler boasted that genocide of Jews was deicide: i.e. by killing Jews he sought to prove the non-existence of God.
Pullman rounded up Random House, Barnes & Noble, Coca-Cola and Burger King to help finance the film. The virulent anti-Catholic message of Pullmans books has been watered down so it is barely recognizablealthough the bad guys belong to what Pullman calls the evil Magisteriuman ominous group bent on global domination. The Magisterium to Catholics is nothing less than the teaching authority of the Church. IN the film, agents of the Magisterium refer to certain ideas that are hateful to them as heresy. The film is murky, bland and on the surface innocuousbut Pullmans goal is to have the film filled with talking animals, flying gypsies, good witches ands the like lead to purchases of his books. The books concern explicitly with the killing of God (which occurs in the final volume of his trilogy) and characters prattle quotes to young readers such as The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake and In every world, trhe agents of the Magisterium are sacrificing children to their cruel god! The Magisterium experiments on children, separating them from their true animal spirits (called daemons) and turning them into zombies so as to create a more compliant, docile populace.
No one is calling for the banning of Pullmans books or his filmbut youd think, would you not, that the film reviewers for the USCCBs Catholic News Service who actually work for a variant of the Church magisterium would be concerned? Harry Forbes and John Mulderig would at least report some of the downsides to the books on which the film is based? Nope, in their review published in The Catholic New World this week they give it a laudatory review. Which atheist Pullman can easily use to hornswoggle more viewers and hence more readers. Ah but they give it a pass because Most moviegoers with no foreknowledge of the books or Pullmans personal belief system will scarcely be aware of religious connotations and can approach the movie as a pure fantasy adventure Will seeing this film inspire teens to read the books which many [sic] have found problematic? Rather than banning the movie or books, parents might instead take the opportunity to talk through any thorny philosophical issues with their teens.
Again, no one is calling for a ban on the film or the booksbut giving the film a warmly appreciative review by CNS and hoping that if teens read the anti-Catholicism, their parents will take the effort to instruct them on the verities of the Faith is utterly, utterly stupid.
Not as stupid as an USCCB allowing such a review to be printed. No, chaotically stupid in allowing the USCCB to exist in the first place, with the yes-your-excellencies, no-your-excellencies presiding at contributors expense in a marble, expensive palace with a presidium where each has his own little microphone and can join playing UN security council. This we Catholics get for equating apostolic succession with mitered and crosiered elevated pretense ala the UN.
Just because a revisionist conservative mood is in vogue to rehabilitate those discarded into the dustbin of history whose value sorely need to be burnished and more greatly appreciated Robert A. Taft being one, my old boss Walter H. Judd another, my friend the late Jim Farmer of CORE, the only Republican in the civil rights quartet otherwise composed of Martin L. King, Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins meticulous care should be applied to anotherJoe McCarthy. A comic book-like partial rehab job has been tried by Ann Coulter but it is wafer-thin. Now, a correspondent urges I review the latest book about him, Blacklisted by History by M. Stanton Evans [Crown Forum, 672 pp., $29.95] which undertakes a full-scale re-presentment.
I did not know McCarthy, having come to Washington shortly after he didbut I did know a great many people who had reason to appraise his work including the legendary Tom Tommy the Cork Corcoran who moved from being FDRs top political operative to stalwart anti-Communist and friend of Chiang kai-Shek. Tom Corcorans belief was that Joe was at leat 90% right. Judds view was that any good Joe did was vastly overshadowed by the general disrepute he brought to the issue of pro-Communism in government. But all the same heand Isteer clear from the popular media rap on McCarthy--that he was an incorrigible liar and that anyone fortunate enough to have been assailed as a Communist by him has an a-priori case for secular sainthood. That is not remotely the case. Much of the truth is in the middle and Joe McCarthy did not deserve his name made into a curse which is the contribution Owen Lattimore made to obscuring the truth.
Just one incident. As we all know, Joe had nothing whatsoever to do with Alger Hiss although Hiss conviction for perjury seemed to confirm in some minds that there was definitely smoke in the kindling. Second, Joe didnt go around making charges that lots of people were Communist but used other descriptives. Third, his biggest case involved the long forgotten name of Lattimore whom Joe called an articulate instrument of the Communist conspiracy in America. There he was indubitably right. Lattimore was cleared by the political whitewash without doubt by the Republican ex-governor of Minnesota Hubert Humphrey convinced President Truman to appoint to the federal bench, Luther Youngdahl. Joe was correct about Lattimore. Lattimore was a shill, a fellow traveler of and an apologist for the USSR and Mao. But later, by insisting that Lattimore had been Hiss boss Joe was in error.
Evans book errs when it seeks to completely exonerate McCarthy from charges of political overkill and when it fails to give due academic credit to others including Ron Radosh, adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute whose scholarship Evans appropriates without citation. Also,. Gen. George Marshall was totally wrong on his evaluation of Mao but that doesnt make him a com-symp. Edward R. Murrow was totally wrong in his documentary when he accused McCarthy of zeroing in on the wrong Annie Lee Moss who worked near the Pentagons code room and whom Joe said flatly was a Communist. Murrow showed there were two Annie Lee Mosses and claimed Joe had the wrong Annie Lee Moss: Murrow was the one who was wrongthe Annie Lee Moss Joe cited was, in fact, a Communist and was the right one to designate and should never, ever had clearance to work near the code room.
In his zeal to clear everything about McCarthy, Evans errs in trying to whitewash Cohn and Schine. Their excursion through Europe had them spending the moon on the taxpayers dime and their trip was a rather futile one, seeking to find pro-Commie books in embassy libraries. But Evans is right-on when he moves to the Joseph Welch-McCarthy confrontation (although without showing indebtedness to others). Welch was a blowsy, phony Boston lawyer who could wipe away a tear faster than he could excessively bill a client. This tripe about Joe naming a young lawyer on Welchs staff as a member of the pro-Red National Lawyers Guild and thus ruining the kid is the stuff of fiction and was done by Welch entirely for the TV cameras since Welch himself had told the same thing to the New York Times earlier. Probably the most unsatisfactory elements of the book are two: failure of Evans to acknowledge other sources whose material he takes credit for and his attempt to whitewash Joe when a brief scrubbing of inaccuracies would have served the cause of truth better.