Catholic University abruptly canceled an 11-part lecture series, "Building Catholic Communities," on Monday, after the Southern Poverty Law Center complained that two of the scheduled lecturers are anti-Semites.
The university released a statement yesterday saying the lecturers "appear to espouse views that are contrary to the mission and values of Catholic University. In light of this development, the dean of the school decided to cancel the lecture series," referring to Randall Ott, dean of Catholic's school of architecture.
Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, called the school to complain about the participation of E. Michael Jones, editor of the South Bend, Ind.-based Culture Wars magazine, and John Sharpe, founder of the Norfolk-based IHS Press and the Legion of St. Louis, an Internet-based forum.
"We were surprised that Catholic University was allowing two raging anti-Semites on their campus," said Mr. Potok. "A simple Google search will show you the frightening ideology of these men."
"These are not the Latin Mass traditionalists," Mr. Potok said. "These are the people who reject Vatican II reforms. They are out of [actor Mel Gibson's father] Hutton Gibson's world, in saying that the Jews are destroying the world."
- The prospect of "building Catholic communities" as a bulwark against secular culture (and presumably along with it the distributist theories of Chesterton and Belloc) seems innocuous enough. However, given John Sharpe's questionable ideological ties and views on the Jews (as one might gather from past online investigations), together with E. Michael Jones' own contributions, I agree that Catholic University of America is right to be cautious about the involvement of these men with any project.
- That said, I also think the Southern Poverty Law Center -- being inexperienced in the doctrinal nuances of Catholicism and what constitutes "traditionalist Catholicism" -- really does more harm than good in addressing these matters, in that they tar 'traditionalist Catholics' with a wide brush. Not every "traditionalist Catholic" -- even those within the SSPX -- need be necessarily equated with its worst anti-semitic elements.
- Many questions here: One being the question of academic freedom and whether a controversial figure with questionable views on the Jews ought to be permitted to speak on a topic other than that involving the Jews? To what lengths does "academic freedom" extend? (The same questions might pertain to Columbia University's invitation to Iranian president to address their university when he visited New York, with his own questionable background).
- Another question: should Catholic University have done its homework on vetting those speakers at a conference before agreeing to be its host? Instead of cancelling at the last minute in such a manner as to appear to be "the lapdog to the SPLC"?
- Another question: is it hypocritical of Catholic University to take this measure against figures deemed anti-semetic and not to do likewise with promoting (or hosting) other speakers/productions with anti-Catholic elements? (Georgetown Law School now funds student internships at abortion rights groups, and the controversial “Vagina Monologues” has been performed (or approved) on more than 100 Catholic campuses, including Notre Dame).
- In his response to the fiasco (Anti-Semitism and Thought Control at Catholic University Culture Wars April 2008), E. Michael Jones remarks:
When CUA president Daniel M. O’Connell meets with Notre Dame professors in private, he likes to brag about how orthodox and Catholic his university is in comparison to theirs. However, the recent cancellation of the Building Catholic Communities lecture series at CUA shows that there is no essential difference between these universities when it comes to compromising both academic freedom and the Catholic character of the university when subjected to pressure by groups like the SPLC. Father O’Connell, in fact, espouses what might be called the Jenkins doctrine of academic freedom: Vagina Monologues, Si! Oberammergau, No!So, it would appear that according to E. Michael Jones (who insists "there is nothing anti-Semitic about anything I have ever said"), 'dem Jews are really to blame after all?
The doctrine gets its name from the hapless president of Notre Dame University, Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, who as one of his first acts in office articulated a position on academic freedom which would allow the performance of the obscene Vagina Monologues but would ban a performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Which group thinks that obscenity is a protected form of expression but Passion Plays are not? If you’re answer to that question was the Jews, you have come a long way toward understanding how commissars like Mark Potok can impose Jewish forms of political correctness on Catholic institutions like CUA and Notre Dame. In his book, The Jewish Century, Yuri Slezkine opined that in becoming moderns we had all become Jewish. The same verdict applies a fortiori to Catholic academe in America. Combine the internalization of Jewish values that Slezkine mentioned, as manifested in the mind of John Jenkins, with the normal intellectual cowardice that one finds in Catholic academics and administrators, and you will find a situation where Catholics are eager to denounce other Catholics in a way that would make Stasi informers blush with shame.
- It does nothing to bolster Jones' case when forum posters, rushing to his defense, proclaim: ""Southern Poverty Law Center is a communist jew organization. That guy who runs it name Morris Deed is a Jew. Most likely this is another arm of the ADL" (and when the same forum thread -- predictably -- degenerates into a discussion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion).