interested, First Things
has published a useful rebuttal
of the factual basis of Daniel
Goldhagen’s notorious essay in The New Republic
, “What Would Jesus Have Done?” [The Goldhagen essay is not available
on-line.] The author’s final point seems well founded: “The New Republic
owed its readers, and more importantly the
Catholic people against whom Goldhagen made his reckless charges, the duty of investigating his claims at least minimally before
publishing them.” On the face of it, the editors’ decision to publish was a decision that Catholicism is a legitimate target for
any kind of abuse whatever, because—as several recent writers, including Goldhagen, have suggested—it has no right to exist.
Publication was, in short, an act of eliminationist bigotry.
Posted by Jim Kalb at August 01, 2002 10:18 AM | Send
Thanks for the link. The author writes that what Goldhagen is demanding is nothing less than “a renunciation of Christianity.” I think that’s pretty accurate. It reminds me of a piece in Chronicles in November, 1996, written by a German historian who argued that the ongoing attacks on Germany, the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general are all part of a larger assault on the West itself. The strategy is to find the West’s weak points — e.g., the Holocaust — and hammer away. That these left-wing scholars would use a horrific event such as the Holocaust to further their anti-Christian, anti-Western agenda is repugnant.
Thomas Molnar wrote in The Counterrevolution in 1969 that the left seeks to destroy Western civilization, and since the two strongest institutions within Western civilization are the Catholic Church and the United States of America, they are the left’s principal targets.
But still, the fact that The New Republic (or The New Repugnant, as it ought to be called) would publish such a thing is pretty shocking. It represents a culmination of recent trends among liberals and particularly Jewish liberals (and maybe even Jewish neocons, considering Commentary’s approving review of James Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword). Earlier, liberals had to show some minimal deference to Christianity or at least conceal the full extent of their hostility. But now that they’ve basically taken over the culture, they are no longer so constrained.
Readers of both Commentary and First Things will have noticed that the magazines have been at odds on a number of points in recent months. In the most recent issue of FT, its editor even responds to a comment that FT is “at war” with Commentary.
I doubt that Fr. Neuhaus’s relationship with Podhoretz and Commentary was ever fully healed after Podhoretz led the charge against the “End of Democracy?” symposium in 1995. How could it have been? Podhoretz not only slapped down Neuhaus and his contributors then, he reiterated the attack several years later in his book My Love Affair with America, where he presented the “End of Democracy?” symposium as his main evidence for an “anti-American” extremism on the right, the moral equivalent of violent anti-American demonstrations in the Sixties.
All true, but there are complications. Mrs. Podhoretz remains on the editorial board of First Things, while public intellectuals like Walter Berns, Peter Berger, and Gertrude Himmelfarb severed there association with the magazine after “End of Democracy”. Also, the sniping between Commentary & FT was never so intense when Podhoretz was editor of the former. Under his successor, the tension has significantly increased. I would like to think Goldhagen won’t be writing for Commentary anytime soon.
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