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No one was more qualified to write a book on beauty than the late Sir Roger Scruton. He was a man of impeccable taste and cultivated manners who could charm an audience even when, after being invited to a symposium at Notre Dame to talk about beauty, he ended up talking about wine instead. He most probably could have come back in a year and talked about beer and charmed that audience just as much a second time, but death intervened.

He was especially qualified in the field of music, having not only the ability to play an instrument but the ability to compose musical pieces as well. Das Rheingold is a brilliant critique of the mythic origins of Capitalism in theft, but Scruton turns his review of it into an attack on the failed revolutionary socialism—Wagner took part in the revolution of 1848 with Bakunin—which motivated Wagner to take to the barricades in Dresden and write the opera in the first place. When Scruton turns Nibelheim into a “police state” which is “perhaps the first premonition in Western art of Orwell’s 1984,” instead of viewing it as the City of London and symbol of capitalism as state-sponsored usury, he misses the point in a way that defies explanation. His analysis of Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold is musically acute but philosophically and economically tone deaf because the same conservative world view which allowed Scruton to charm his audience at Notre Dame is based on an ethnocentrism which blinds him to the reality of what Wagner is saying here. Scruton can’t seem to get over the fact that Wagner had the misfortune of being born a German, and that he needs to turn him into a proper English conservative by dragooning him into the anti-Communist crusade to make up for that birth defect.

What is true of his book on music is a fortiori true of his book on beauty. Scruton aspires to universality when he defines beauty as “a real and universal value, one anchored in our rational nature.” Because of its firm foundation in Being, “the sense of beauty has an indispensable part to play in shaping the human world.” Unfortunately, Scruton then loses his train of thought along the way of telling us what he means by those and other undefined terms. Scruton traces his understanding of beauty back to Plotinus, referring to beauty as a transcendental, a notion which still had not been universally recognized at the time of Aquinas, who dealt with it as an addendum to his thought on Being. According to Plato and Plotinus, “beauty is an ultimate value—something that we pursue for its own sake, and for the pursuit of which no further reason need be given.” Scruton then compares beauty to truth and goodness, making it “one member of a trio of ultimate values which justify our rational inclinations.” Scholastics called those “ultimate values” transcendentals, which meant that they, along with “the One,” described the fundamental and ultimate aspects of Being, or as Scruton put it “Why believe p? Because it is true. Why want x? Because it is good. Why look at y? Because it is beautiful.”

Instead of accepting the ontological foundation of beauty as the platform upon which he erects his own aesthetics, Scruton begins to quibble with the Angelic Doctor, accusing Aquinas of making “theological claims” about beauty, when this is not the case. Scuton undermines his whole aesthetics by erecting a roadblock which divides its history between then and now when he says apodictically that the Angelic Doctor’s “subtle and comprehensive reasoning” is “not a vision that we can assume.” As a result, Scruton proposes “to set it to one side, considering the concept of beauty without making any theological claims.”

Throughout Scruton’s book we are subjected to the same self-defeating behavior. Scruton opens the door to what seems like a promising solution to “a deep difficulty in the philosophy of beauty” only to slam it shut again after we have been granted a tantalizing vision of our goal. In this regard, Scruton tells us that Aquinas’s understanding of beauty is “worth noting” because he “regarded truth, goodness and unity as ‘transcendentals’—features of reality possessed by all things, since they are aspects of Being, ways in which the supreme gift of Being is made manifest to the understanding.” Beauty is a manifestation of Being, and this fact provides the best response to those who claim “that beauty is a matter of appearance, not of being.” Then after affirming that beauty makes a reasonable claim about its object, Scruton takes it all back again by claiming that these “reasons do not compel the judgement, and can be rejected without contradiction,” forcing him to wonder “So are they reasons or aren’t they?” Whenever Scruton is on the verge of drawing definite conclusions, he has to run the idea first by his ethnic superego, an imaginary figure made up of the ghosts of people like John Locke and David Hume, who have the final say on everything, “creating a soothing and harmonious context, a continuous narrative as in a street or a square, where nothing stands out in particular, and good manners prevail.”

Pace, Sir Roger, but there is nothing theological about Scholastic aesthetics. Aquinas’s ontology has been influenced by Revelation, but the rudimentary aesthetic principles we can derive from that ontology do not determine his aesthetics, nor does it determine the aesthetic theories of those who paved the way for a deeper understanding of beauty.

Why then does Sir Roger feel that the Angelic Doctor’s “subtle and comprehensive reasoning” is “not a vision that we can assume.” In his autobiography Gentle Regrets, Scruton tells us that “there is consolation without truth, as we know from the history of religion.” The real question is, however, whether Scruton believes that there can be beauty without truth.

Solemn Rituals

Sir Roger Scruton was born into a troubled lower middle-class family and grew up “in a nondescript corner of post-war England,” where “nothing could conceivably happen . . . except the things that happen anywhere: a bus passing, a dog barking, football on the wireless, shepherd’s pie for tea.” After discovering the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Scruton realized that art provided a way out of that dreary existence. Scruton associated art with the English upper class, who lived hidden behind a wall which he could see from the library that provided the Hermetic texts, which he “read like an alchemist, searching for the spell that would admit me to that secret world, where shadows fall on tonsured lawns, and the aesthetic (or was it ascetic?) way of life occurs in solemn rituals after tea.”

After serving his apprenticeship as “a barbarian let loose in a library” (a phrase he appropriated from Ezra Pound, Scruton ended up at Cambridge University, where he had the misfortune to study philosophy as “bequeathed by Russell, Wittgenstein and Moore.” Logical positivism convinced him that any philosophy with any connection to the Logos of human existence (or its rejection, as in the case of Nietzsche) was founded on “nothing more than megalomaniac fantasies, implausible analogies and false distinctions founded neither in logic nor in fact.” Realizing that “the new philosophy I studied proved no more satisfactory to me than the science it had replaced,” Scruton gravitated toward culture as a “more important way of seeing things,” and that eventually led him to aesthetics.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Philosophy, Political Correctness 

On October 3, 1998, Pope John Paul II beatified Alojzije Cardinal Stepinac at the national shrine of Marija Bistrica in front of 500,000 Croats.1 The next step was canonization. On February 10, 2014, the memorial of Blessed Stepinac, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, announced that the canonization was possible in the year 2015 during the Eucharistic celebration over which he presided at St. Jerome’s church in Rome.2 What looked like a sure thing in 1998, however, never happened, and why it never happened has become an object of intense speculation and discussion ever since.

The Croats, as we have come to expect, blamed the Serbs, largely because Pope Francis convoked “a commission of Catholic and Orthodox leaders,” under the presidency of a representative of the Holy See, to examine the wartime record of Blessed Aloysius. Pope Francis established the commission in “May 2016 after receiving a letter from the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej, who stated his opposition to the cardinal’s canonization.”3 Instead of coming to an agreement on the life of one of the most heroic figures in the post-World War II Church in eastern Europe, the commission concluded its work within the foreseen time frame of one year, it terminated its investigation in the summer of 2017 without reaching any results “agreeing to disagree about the Croatian cardinal’s cause for canonization.”4

When Pope Francis was asked about Stepinac on his return from Bulgaria on March 17, 2019,5 he replied:

The canonization of Stepinac is a historic case. He is a virtuous man for this Church, which has proclaimed him Blessed, you can pray [through his intercession]. But at a certain moment of the canonization process there are unclear points, historic points, and I should sign the canonization, it is my responsibility, I prayed, I reflected, I asked advice, and I saw that I should ask Irinej, a great patriarch, for help. We made a historic commission together and we worked together, and both Irinej and I are interested in the truth. Who is helped by a declaration of sanctity if the truth is not clear? We know that [Stepinac] was a good man, but to make this step I looked for the help of Irinej and they are studying. First of all, the commission was set up and gave its opinion. They are studying other sources, deepening some points so that the truth is clear. I am not afraid of the truth, I am not afraid. I am afraid of the judgment of God.6

As in so many instances lately, Pope Francis once again spread confusion in the very act of making a clarification. If Stepinac’s life is an example of heroic virtue, as Pope John Paul II claimed, what’s holding back the canonization? Or is he, as the pope says, “a virtuous man for this church” alone? And if so, what does that mean? At what point did his status become unclear after his beatification? Shouldn’t the committee which approved his beatification have looked into unclear, historic points before beatifying him? Or are we talking about the difference between John Paul II, who like Stepinac lived under both Nazi and Communist rule, and Francis, who experienced neither? According to Matija Stahan, the Serbs presented no new evidence and Irinej made use of sources that have “perpetuated allegations fabricated by the Yugoslav government after World War II to remove Stepinac from the public as a symbol of Christianity and Croatian patriotism.”7 As proof that Stepinac was not guilty of the crimes which Patriarch Irinej laid at his feet, Stahan cites evidence from Stepinac: His life and Time by Robin Harris, who refers to the campaign to defame Stepinac as the “project”:

That project—as Stepinac himself well understood—meant that, in practice, the Yugoslav Communist Party and elements within the Serbian Orthodox Church, which otherwise had nothing in common, shared a joint goal. This consisted of demonizing the Catholic Church (to which nearly all Croats belonged) and the Croatian nation (which numerically, culturally and economically was, alone, in a position to challenge Serbian supremacy). The existence of this unholy and unspoken combination helps explain why the black legend against Stepinac was so persistent and its promotion so effective.8

The bland tone we have come to expect from press releases issued by official Vatican commissions failed to allay the outrage and betrayal Catholic Croats felt at the hand of the Vatican. Catholics had been suspicious of the commission from its inception. In 2016, Professor Ronald J. Rychlak, who has written about Pope Pius XII, whose canonization had been stalled by the Vatican for lack of a miracle—even though he had been proclaimed “venerabilis” in 2009—announced that the Serbian case against Stepinac was “a false narrative created by Soviet agents.”9

Stepinac’s sermons were “prohibited … from being published, because they were so strong against the Ustashe,” Rychlak said. Instead, his words were secretly printed and circulated and occasionally broadcast over the radio. He also severely condemned the Ustashe’s destruction of Zagreb’s main synagogue in 1941 and in an October 1943 homily, the archbishop condemned notions of racial superiority.

Robin Harris’s 2016 biography of Stepinac joined the chorus of outrage which Rychlak articulated in the same year. Stepinac, according to Harris, was the victim of a Serbian-Communist conspiracy. His show trial was Serbian payback for the show trial of Draza Mihailovic, the Serbian leader of the guerilla group known as the Chetniks, to whom Harris attributes war crimes of the same magnitude as those committed by the Ustashe, the Croatian fascist state. “The stoking of hatred against the Catholic Church remained a means of keeping the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serb nationalists sympathetic to the regime. Tito, under pressure from the Americans, would later justify his reluctance to free Stepinac by referring directly to Serbian Orthodox sensitivities.”10 According to Harris, the controversy which surrounded the canonization of Cardinal Stepinac in 2016 can be laid directly at the feet of the Communists, who “had systematically played on Serbian desires for revenge by knowingly exaggerating Catholic Croat misdeeds.”11

Serbian nationalism may be responsible for slandering Stepinac’s memory in the former Yugoslavia, but Harris attributes the ongoing animus against Stepinac abroad which stalled his canonization to “propaganda from Communist circles.”12 “Lenin’s imitators in Yugoslavia,” Harris continues “have, indeed, found plenty of ‘useful idiots’ in the West, though the idiocy is often concealed behind a veil of erudition.”13

It is worth noting that Harris wrote these lines 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and 36 years after the death of Tito. To say that “Lenin’s imitators” were hard at work in the West stalling Stepinac’s canonization in 2017 is nothing short of preposterous, but the fact that Harris made the claim is a significant lead and needs to be examined more closely in order to discover the true identity of the group which is hiding behind the cover of a now defunct communism.

Harris spends a lot of time defending Stepinac’s actions during the war by rebutting the allegations of writers like John Cornwell, who claimed that “priests, invariably Franciscans, took a leading part in the massacres”14 of Serbs at concentration camps like Jasenovac, where a renegade Franciscan who came to be known as Brother Satan engaged in the slaughter, but only after he had been excommunicated by the Church as soon as they found out what he was doing.

 

Thirty years ago, almost to the day, I spoke at Hillsdale College, the bastion of conservative academic thought nestled in the woods and hills of southern Michigan. My speech took place one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall and one year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, at what we can say with hindsight was the high noon of the conservative era in American history. As the English conservative William Wordsworth put it when he was a young and enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution: “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.”

I tried to remember the feeling then as we drove along a scenic route that only Siri, our computer, could compute, through wooded small farms, all of which had Trump for president signs in their front yards. Well, maybe not all of them, but whenever one of those farms declared its allegiance in the recently concluded 2020 presidential election it was for Trump. Not one Biden sign was visible. Michigan was a hotly contested state largely because of the draconian COVID lock-down which its Democratic governor had imposed on lower end entrepreneurs.

The group of students who invited me to speak were solidly in favor of Trump as well. Some wore Make America Great Again hats as an act of defiance against the oligarchic coup d’etat which was in full swing at the moment. The oligarchic mainstream press had anointed Biden as president elect, and tech giants like Google were censoring anyone who hinted that voter fraud had put Biden over the top, at least in the mind of the fourth estate.

I forgot to mention that this meeting had to be held in a secret off campus location. The students could have been mistaken for white boys, but they were all Catholic ethnics of mixed European heritage, not unlike me. The only exceptions were the students who were taking RCIA instruction to become Catholics. All of them were familiar with my YouTube videos. Some had read my books. One young catechumen whose build indicated that he could have played for the Hillsdale football team, if they still had one, told me that he listened to my “God has a Plan for Your Life” video while driving to work. The video’s message moved him to tears, so much so that he had to pull over. Shortly after that experience, he decided to become a Catholic.

If these young men had a political affiliation, it was America First, but sympathy to that point of view had been banned from Hillsdale’s campus, which is why we were meeting where we were. When I asked what the name of their club was, one young wit said, “The Charles Lindbergh Aviators Club.” These young men had invited me not to praise conservatism, but to bury it. Conservatism died four years ago with the election of Donald Trump. By the time we met together in wake of the 2020 presidential election conservatism’s cold inert corpse has been lying un-mourned in the political equivalent of the county morgue. It was now time to give conservatism a decent burial, but before we could do that we had to write its obituary and mention the role which Michigan in general and Hillsdale College in particular played in its rise and fall.

Beginning at the beginning. I waved a first edition, signed copy of The Conservative Mind by the late Russell Kirk, Michigan’s most famous philosopher and formerly a lecturer at Hillsdale College. After basing his analysis of conservatism’s roots on Edmund Burke’s hope that “Providence would not abandon mankind to Jacobinism,” Kirk went on to place that hope in “that American society which John Adams did so much to guide into conservative constitutions and ways of enduring justice.”[1]

Having defeated fascism in World War II, America was now positioned in Kirk’s eyes to become “the Providential instrument of this redemption.”[2] The first step in Kirk’s “general plan of action” was “an affirmation of the moral nature of society.” Here again Kirk appealed to John Adams, who affirmed that “true happiness” could only be found in virtue. “Family piety and public honor must be shored up. A people who are arrogant, avaricious, and crass will wither. Americans still are nearly as responsive to ethical considerations as they were in Tocqueville’s day. They can be led to a life of dignity and order,”[3] but only if they follow Adams’ understanding of the necessity of moral behavior for the success of any form of self-government. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[4] America had no constitution which functioned in the absence of a moral people, according to John Adams, and history would prove him right in ways which Russell Kirk could not imagine in 1953.

The man who gave me Russell Kirk’s book was Henry Regnery, head of the Regnery Press of Chicago and Kirk’s publisher. Henry was a German-American whose family came from the Moselle Valley during the 19th century when Germans were a powerful force in American life, especially in Chicago. When the American exposition was held there in 1893, German was the main language spoken.

German was also the main language spoken at the Chicago symphony, at least until World War I, when the director of that symphony announced that due to political considerations everyone in the symphony would have to speak English. “Is that clear?” he asked after his little speech, prompting one member of the symphony to ask from the back of the room “Was hat er gesagt?”

The American Proposition

The Conservative Mind was published in 1953, an important year in the progress of the American Empire. Where was what Hegel would have called the Weltgeist in 1953? It was in Tehran, where Kermit Roosevelt orchestrated a coup which deposed Muhammad Mossadegh and installed the American puppet Shah Reza Pahlavi in his place. The year 1953 marked the emergence of the CIA as a player on the world stage. Stalin died in the same year.

Shortly after Stalin’s death, a man by the name of C.D. Jackson said that by losing Stalin, America had lost the best salesman for the American Proposition. C.D. Jackson was simultaneously an employee of the CIA and TIME magazine, where he functioned as Harry Luce’s right-hand man. TIME magazine at this point in time was the propaganda ministry for the United States of America, and one of the main vehicles for the anti-Communist crusade, which would find its culmination in 1991, which is where I came in. During my first visit, I was taken on a short tour of the campus by Lissa Roche Jackson, an attractive lady who introduced herself as “the wife of George IV, the mother of George V, and the daughter-in-law of George III, the man who put Hillsdale on the conservative map when he became president of the college in 1971.

Two years before the annus mirabilis of 1953, Henry Regnery published God and Man at Yale, another seminal conservative document, whose author was William F. Buckley. In the annus mirabilis of 1953, the CIA also got into the magazine business. One of the magazines they created as a front was Encounter, which was edited by the English poet Stephen Spender and the then unknown Irving Kristol, who went on to become the father of neoconservatism.

 

After playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s blockbuster film The Passion of the Christ, actor Jim Caviezel became the poster boy for Catholics who wanted to use the film to share their faith. Playing that role also got Caviezel blacklisted from Hollywood films. In 2011, Caviezel told First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida that he had “been rejected by my own industry” after playing Christ in Gibson’s film. Responding to Gibson’s warning that “you’ll never work in this town again,” Caviezel said, “we all have to embrace our crosses,” and went ahead with the role, only to learn that “Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been” and that “not much has changed in 2,000 years.” Seven years after the release of The Passion of the Christ, Caviezel tried to put a Christian interpretation on the wreck of his career by claiming that “we have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth.”

Caviezel, unfortunately, can’t distinguish between his reputation and his career because even if Passion wrecked his Hollywood film career (but not his ability to earn money on TV), it established his reputation as only a $600 million world-wide blockbuster could do. The film industry may have known about him after The Count of Monte Cristo, but the world recognized him after The Passion of the Christ.

This, of course, leads to the next question. If Caviezel is willing to risk his career “to speak the truth,” why did he become involved in an anti-Iranian propaganda film like the newly released and quickly forgotten Infidel? At this point, we will let Caviezel speak for himself, as captured during a Fox news report flogging the film:

First of all, my job is to get people into the theater. Second, how is this relevant today? It’s relevant because we have this thing call cancel culture and if Christians don’t watch out, it will be canceling Christianity as well because a lot of our pastors, our bishops, our priests, they’re laying right over; they’re letting their churches be burned. Alright, how do we know that? Well, it’s right there in the news. Statues being ripped down. They don’t say anything. And I watched a movie that Mel Gibson did, Braveheart, where you have the English, who are the bad guys, against the Scots, but the real bad guys were the guys who were collaborating. That’s why we’re in this situation right now. We can’t go to churches; we can’t go into our church. Why? Because it could get contaminated, right? So why are we on airplanes? I have friends that have committed suicide. I have [Navy] Seal buddies who have lost seven of their friends, committing suicide, and would it have helped to get into a church especially during this time? Absolutely. And is it good for mental illness? Yes, it is. The collaborators in our faith, this is where the persecution starts. You’ve got to have guys in your faith that won’t stand up to the governors, that won’t stand up to the mayors. And that’s why the Gospels are very much alive right now. I got to play Jesus. Some of us love Peter or Paul. But there are many of us now who are flat out Judases, okay? Or they’re Pontius Pilates or they’re Pharisees, and it’s a bloody shame if you can’t tell the difference between a priest or a bishop and a politician. And it’s really sad, but this is called luke-warmness. And Christ has a very special place for them, and they know it.

After the awkward pause which ensued when Jim ran out of things to say, Shannon Bream, the Fox News Info Babe, jumped in and opined: “Well, we’re out of time, but it’s important for us to be sharing our faith.” Jim then signed off with a disgusted look on his face. Or was it frustration at having been so inarticulate? Or was he frustrated by the fact that he was trying to make sense of a film that was as inarticulate in its way on the screen as he was on Fox News. So why are we on airplanes, Jim?

Infidel is certainly a film about how “it’s important for us to be sharing our faith.” In Infidel, Caviezel plays a “Christian blogger” who gets betrayed by an Iranian friend, who in spite of his secular banter at a birthday party for his daughter is a violent Islamic fundamentalist. We find this out later when the cops remove one of the Persian carpets on his wall, revealing the door to his secret Islamic man-cave, a room replete with a picture of the late Qasem Soleimani and another picture of himself preparing to fire an rpg at the same type of infidel he just invited to his daughter’s birthday party. During the course of the party, the Iranian father becomes upset with his daughter, who is dating an infidel who drives a fast car and nearly rear-ended the car which Caviezel and his wife drove to the party. The daughter mysteriously disappears, and we learn later that her father, the admirer of General Soleimani, murdered her for assimilating in the same way that he did into Washington society, or was it for her lack of duplicity? Either way, the point is clear. You can’t trust an Iranian. They may talk a good game, but sooner or later they will reveal their true colors.

[…] This is just a short excerpt of the full article in the October Issue of Culture Wars Magazine.
Please Click Below to purchase and download a copy to continue reading.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Hollywood, Iran, Islam, Terrorism 

On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan launched a military attack on the Armenian ethnic enclave known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was quick to blame Turkey for Azerbaijan’s actions:

The Turkish Armed Forces are directly involved in hostilities. President Recep Erdogan dreams of rebuilding the Ottoman Empire, which destroyed its Armenian population during the First World War. One hundred years later, Turkey returned to the South Caucasus to continue the Armenian genocide. With the help of Turkey, terrorists who have come from the Middle East to Nagorno-Karabakh are fighting on side of Azerbaijan. How can someone suggest leaving the population of Nagorno-Karabakh defenseless in the face of terrorists and extremists? A truce can only be achieved if Turkey is forced to withdraw from the South Caucasus.

Like Pashinyan, Adam Schiff, the Jew whose congressional district covers Hollywood and includes many influential Armenians, attacked Erdogan but omitted any mention of Israel’s role in the war. Blaming the Turks was an oversimplification because it left out other key players. Turkey was bringing now unemployed jihadi refugees from Syria into the battle, and it was arming them with high tech weapons supplied by the Israelis, including drones, against which Armenian forces have “little defense.” The deployment of Israeli “kamikaze drones” which can take out Armenian tank and artillery positions dug in the Nagorno-Karabakh’s mountainous terrain” could tip the balance of the war in Azerbaijan’s favor. Pashinyan’s failure to mention Israeli involvement was calculated for public effect in a way that Armenian diplomacy was not. A better indication of the threat which Israel posed came when Armenia withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest against “Israel’s supply of ultra-modern weapons to Azerbaijan.”

Erdogan’s use of Azeris, Israelis, and other proxy warriors put the Turks at odds not only with the Armenians but also with both the Russians, their traditional enemy in the region, as well as with the Iranians, who, in spite of being Muslims, were the main force on the ground which drove the same jihadis, then known as ISIS, out of Syria and into refugee camps in Turkey, where Erdogan weaponized them once again. One week into the war, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani announced that “Iran will not allow anyone, on some pretext, to bring terrorists that Iran has fought for years to our border.”

The conflict goes back to the Soviet era when Stalin put Nagorno-Karabakh or what is now calling itself Artsakh under the administration of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan, followed by a referendum which returned it to Armenia, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to aspirations of ethnic independence on both sides, followed by Azerbaijan reasserting its territorial claims, followed by war, the attack of September 20 being only the latest installment of that conflict. The only thing which remained constant during all of this turmoil was the Armenian ethnic identity of the overwhelming majority of that region’s inhabitants.

[…] This is just a short excerpt of the full article in the October Issue of Culture Wars Magazine.
Please Click Below to purchase and download a copy to continue reading.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Turkey 

“Therefore, Jew,Though justice be thy plea, consider this That in the course of justice none of us Should see salvation.”

ORDER IT NOW

Edmund Mazza begins The Scholastics and the Jews: Coexistence, Conversion, and the Medieval Origins of Tolerance by citing what he calls Jeremy Cohen’s “classic work,” The Friars and the Jews, in which Cohen argues that “the Dominicans and Franciscans developed, refined, and sought to implement a new Christian ideology with regard to the Jews, one that allotted the Jews no legitimate right to exist in European society.”[1] That “new Christian ideology” involved “an organized and aggressive mission to the Jews.” And what was involved in this form of aggression? Raymond of Penaforte, then general of the Dominican order, “committed himself to making contemporary Jews believing Christians.”[2] Working for the conversion of the Jews as a way of bringing about their eternal salvation qualifies in Cohen’s mind as “stirring up hatred against Jews.”[3] Full of rage at the very idea of conversion, Cohen concludes his diatribe against Raymond of Penaforte by claiming that “This Jew-hater was later made a saint.”[4]

Nothing demonstrates the fact that Jews have a negative identity based solely on the rejection of Logos better than Cohen’s claim equating conversion with extinction. Cohen’s book appeared in 1982. We now have decades of Jewish literature affirming the fact that in the Jewish mind there is no difference between Raymond of Penaforte and Adolf Hitler. According to the all but unanimous verdict of recent Jewish scholarship, both men sought the extinction of the Jewish people. The fact that Mazza refers to Cohen’s screed as “serious historical allegations” is all that you need to know about the outdated, irenic tone of The Scholastics and the Jews.

Thirty five years after the publication of The Friars and the Jews, Mazza tries to rescue the reputation of the Catholic Mendicants of the Middle Ages by making the case that it was Tertullian and not John Locke who was the father of religious liberty. The term “’religious liberty,’” he tells us, “was not invented by French philosophes of the eighteenth century, nor by Protestant reformers in the sixteenth century, but by the early Church Father Tertullian in the second century, namely in his Apology for the Christians written in AD 197.”[5] Although many people have championed the idea after Tertullian, no one in “the thousand-year history of Greece and Rome” ever made a “plea for individual liberty grounded in reason/natural law” before Tertullian, who:

recognized that human liberty is rooted in human nature and Nature’s God, to be used in accordance with His eternal Law, which Nature obeys blindly, but which man—whose nature is fashioned in the image and likeness of God—may rationally choose to obey. That is to say: Liberty is not the right to do whatever you want; it is the freedom to do what you ought. And conversely then, “sin” is defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law,” to use the words of that infamous-sinner-turned-saint, Augustine of Hippo.[6]

The medieval Scholastics used philosophy rather than force to convert the Jews because they knew that Christ was the Logos Incarnate and that all men were by definition rational creatures who responded instinctively to reasoned argument. This was true of all who followed in Tertullian’s footsteps in their dealing with the Jews:

For all Justin Martyr’s extensive use of the Hebrew Prophets to persuade Trypho into the Christian fold, the catalyst for Justin’s conversation with him was Greek philosophy. Christ is the “Logos,” which is Greek for “Reason/ Truth.” This is how Justin put it in both his 1st Apology and 2nd Apology and he makes a similar argument here in his Dialogue: the argument for the unity of Truth. “Logos” was sent down among men: to the Greeks in the form of philosophy, to the Jews in the form of type and of prophecy. . . . and he exhorted them to become acquainted with the God who was to them unknown, by means of the investigation of reason, saying, “That it is neither easy to find the Father and Maker of all, nor, having found Him, is it safe to declare Him to all.” But these things our Christ did through His own power.[7]

The fact that Jews were free to reject Logos and make that rejection the core of their identity led inexorably to the idea of tolerance, because the Church was adamant, even if temporal leaders were not, in insisting that baptism should not be coerced. Toleration flowed just as inexorably from the understanding that Jews were the enemies of Christian societies. Raymond of Penaforte’s co-religionist and fellow Dominican Thomas Aquinas made this point clear when he claimed that “the Jews sin in their rites” and when he called them “our enemies.”[8] This proves that “one did not have to like the Jews to be tolerant.” Quite to the contrary,

one had to dislike them to be tolerant, for tolerance only applied to evil. Tolerance was not an imperative of love but a restraint on one’s hatred. It is thanks to this restraint however, that Jews, in the Thomistic concept, were permitted to live their own lives within the bounds of a Christian society.[9]

This idea has disappeared from the Catholic understanding of tolerance, and, therefore, it has also disappeared from the understanding of the world at large, which believes that “there is no such thing as an absolute truth,” which as Mazza points out, “is actually to proclaim one.”[10] As a result, “the Church is roundly condemned as intolerant for the very reason that it holds to Truth.[11]

Throughout his book, Mazza focuses on Jewish grievance rather than Jewish malfeasance, explaining that “soon after the arrival of the Black Death in 1349, the Jewish communities of Spain found themselves scapegoats for the plague, which killed as much as a third of the population in some cities.”[12] Similarly, “By the 1430s, one third to one half of the Jewish population of the peninsula had converted to Catholicism. By 1492, the remnant that had refused was expelled from the country—a fact equally worthy of a moment of observed silence.”[13] In neither instance was the Church involved in persecuting Jews, but was the government wrong in expelling them, as 190 countries had done and would continue to do? Did Jewish misbehavior have any bearing on the violence which recurred periodically throughout European history? Thomas Aquinas urged “fraternal correction” in dealing with the Jews, but only “in so far as it is necessary for that end, but not so as we have to correct our erring brother at all places and times.”[14] “When preaching leads to people pelting Jews with stones and when censoring blasphemies leads to vendettas against prominent Jewish leaders, it is time to forego fraternal admonition.”[15]

Once again Mazza seems to accept the Jewish narrative of eternal victimhood at face value, even when he exonerates the Church by blaming the peasants for the violence. But he never asks why the peasants were pelting the Jews with stones. Did usury play a role in this anger? Were they forced to take the law into their own hands because the prince, who could borrow at a lower interest rate, refused to enforce the extant laws against usury because he personally benefited from the Jews’ presence in his realm? St. John Capistran referred to this situation as stemming from “the privileges of the Jews,” a term which Mazza never mentions in his book. Instead, the Dominicans are criticized as “sorely lacking in the fraternal love of their saintly founders.”[16]

 

“History rolled right over my body.” — Sidney Rittenberg

At the end of Euripedes’ play The Bacchae, Cadmus asks his daughter Agave, “What do you see?” Agave is sitting center stage with a severed human head in her lap. It is the head of her son Pentheus, who was torn limb from limb by the women of Thebes as they danced naked on the mountainside worshipping the Asiatic god Dionysos. Still intoxicated by the revelry that led to her son’s death, Agave says, “it’s a lion’s head, a trophy for the palace.” At this point, Cadmus says, “Look carefully. Study it more closely.” As the intoxication wears off, Agave recognizes what she has done and answers, “I see horror. I see suffering. I see grief.”

“Does it still look like a lion?” Cadmus asks.
“No, Pentheus. I am holding his head.”
“You were mad,” Cadmus tells his daughter. “The city was possessed by Dionysos.”
At this point, Agave awakes to the full consequence of her actions.
“I see now,” she says, “Dionysos has destroyed us.”

• • •

America went through its own bout of Dionysian intoxication in the days following May 25, when a Minneapolis cop by the name of Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of a 46-year-old Black man by the name of George Floyd, causing his death. Corrupted by 66 years of bad education, America’s Black Lumpenproletariat erupted in an orgy of rioting that brought the rule of law to an end in many of America’s large cities. As of this writing, Antifa, a group which Donald Trump has designated a domestic terrorist organization, is still in control of a six-square block section of downtown Seattle, which they have designated the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” In Minneapolis, the town where the rioting started, their Pentheus, Mayor Jacob Frey, was denounced by one of the Bacchant women who spoke in the name of Black Lives Matter after he refused to defund the Minneapolis police department. Frey was not torn limb from limb, but he was expelled from the crowd and had to take refuge with the police he was ordered to defund.

The race riots of May and June 2020 were only the latest installment of what might be called the regime of governance by crisis which began four years ago, when the Deep State decided to do whatever was necessary to depose Donald Trump. That campaign began with Russiagate, followed by the impeachment, followed by the hate speech campaign of 2019 which sought to ban “unwanted content” from the Internet, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic. What united all of these crises was oligarch unhappiness with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and a desire to replace the institutions of representative government with ad hoc committees of crisis managers masquerading as scientific experts and/or aggrieved minorities.

By now it should be obvious that the racial narrative writes itself whenever a Black man dies at the hands of a white cop. Floyd’s body was still warm when the mainstream media took up the story which had already been written and declared him a saint, complete with halo and wings. In reality, Floyd was a violent felon who died with traces of fentanyl and cocaine in his system, but the BBC described him as someone who “was simply trying to live life as any other American, in search of betterment in the face of both personal and societal challenges.”[1] He then became “the latest totem of the ills that plague the country in 2020.” After growing in wisdom, age, and grace, Floyd’s life suddenly “took a different turn, with a string of arrests for theft and drug possession culminating in an armed robbery charge in 2007, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison.” Missing from the BBC account was any mention of Floyd’s incarceration, drug dealing, violence against pregnant women or his role as a porn star,[2] but no one needed to tell a graduate of America’s public school system that he was witnessing the latest installment of the ongoing saga of American racism in action.

The Palestinians who watched the same video, however, saw something else. They recognized the knee hold that Officer Chauvin inflicted on Floyd as the same technique which Israeli police routinely used on Palestinians. Also missing from the mainstream account of Floyd’s death was any mention of the role which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) played in weaponizing the Minneapolis police department. The ADL has been pressuring police departments across the country for years to train with Israeli instructors to learn submission techniques like the knee on the throat hold. But more importantly, the policemen who are subjected to the Israelification of local police forces learn more than techniques. They learn attitudes, and the main attitude they learn is that they should treat the locals who fund their departments with their tax money in the same way that Israelis treat Palestinians. Whenever the race issue gets raised, the Jewish revolutionaries who are the main orchestrators of incidents like the Floyd riots remain invisible. This was certainly true of the ADL, which arranged the 2012 meeting in Chicago which brought together the Minneapolis police department and counter-terrorism experts from Israel at a conference sponsored by the FBI and the Israeli consulate in Chicago which focused on “terrorism prevention techniques.”[3]

After seeing the video of Officer Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, Neta Golan, the co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said: “I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.”[4] Israeli training of US police is widespread: “Since 2002 the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”[5] In the aftermath of Floyd’s killing, Palestinians were quick to draw parallels between the final images of the man suffering under the knee of the officer, and similar choke holds used by Israel occupation forces. “Crazy how the same thing happens in Palestine but the world chooses to ignore it,” Palestinian athlete Mohammad Alqadi wrote on his Twitter feed above four separate images of Israeli soldiers pinning Palestinians to the ground with their knees on their necks or head.[6]

 
How Identity Politics Became Identity Theft

Karl Marx once said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Nothing proved the truth of Marx’s claim better than the farcical battle over the statue of St. Louis in, yes, St. Louis which followed hot on the heels of the tragedy of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The battle over the statue began as an exercise in identity politics, and before long it degenerated into an example of identity theft. The main protagonist in this story is Umar Lee, who was born Bret Darran Lee in 1974 to a southern Presbyterian family and grew up in Florissant, Missouri just outside St. Louis. Lee may or may not be Black, which is an ideological marker based upon but independent of biological fact, because he claims, according to The Jerusalem Post that he “has two younger siblings who are half African-American.”[1]

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by 28-year-old white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, leading to extensive rioting. After the death of Michael Brown, Lee got involved with the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, and was arrested on two occasions and, in his words, “locked up.” After getting fired from his job as cab driver, Lee became a full-time, but little known activist. In 2015, Lee noticed that statues started coming down in St. Louis, largely because of agitation on the part of St. Louis Jews. At some point during this period, Lee made contact with Ben Paremba, an Israeli restauranteur who was “passionate” about promoting Israel and other Jewish causes. At this point Paremba was as little known to locals as Lee, but all of that changed after the Jewish press took notice of their petition to remove the statue of St. Louis and began promoting them as social justice crusaders, if you’ll pardon the term.

In a series of tweets, Lee tried to establish his position as an aggrieved Muslim, bringing up the Crusades as the cause of his grievance, but the underlying source of his complaint was inspired by a group of Jews, who were incensed that the city where they had come to study had erected a statue in honor of a king who had burned the Talmud.

Once Lee mentioned the term “anti-Semitism,” the Jewish press began carrying stories which lionized Lee as a crusader for Jewish rights. Because of his philo-Semitism, Lee soon found himself lionized in the Jewish press. Writing for the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Ben Sales described Lee as “a local activist who started the petition and also took part in a successful drive to remove a nearby Confederate monument in 2017. Lee, Sales continued, “is not Jewish but started the petition because of Louis IX’s anti-Semitism.”[2] Because Lee’s petition called St. Louis a “rabid anti-Semite” who “inspired Nazi Germany,” it began “drawing Jewish support” from St. Louis Jews like Rabbi Susan Talve, “the founding rabbi of the city’s Central Reform Congregation, who said taking it down would help advance racial justice in the United States.” According to Talve, St. Louis Jews have “been talking about that statue for a long time.” Talve then added that removing the statue would be “a very important part of reclaiming history, reclaiming the stories that have created the institutionalized racism that we are trying to unravel today. If we’re not honest about our history we will never be able to dismantle the systems of oppression that we are living under.”

“Susan Talve hated Cardinal Burke,” according to one Catholic familiar with the local scene. He went on to say that Burke told him that Talve had “an animosity toward me for reasons that I don’t understand.” Blinded by over 50 years of the failed experiment known as Catholic-Jewish dialogue, his eminence was evidently incapable of seeing that Talve’s animosity toward him was based on her ancestral animosity toward the Catholic Church, which he led in St. Louis at the time. Unsurprisingly, Rabbi Talve’s animosity toward the Catholic Church has turned her into an advocate of Lee’s attack on the statue.

St. Louis Catholics were determined to ignore the ethnic animosity behind the struggle. America Needs Fatima, a front group for the Brazilian cult Tradition, Family, and Property joined the fray, criticizing “limp-wristed politicians” who were giving in to “revolutionary extremists.” ANF Protest Coordinator Jose Ferraz, claimed that “American Catholics” who were “strong in their faith” were being “pushed around by anarchist revolutionaries,” but without identifying any of the actual players in the dispute.

After local activist Jim Hoft announced that a group of Catholics associated with his website Gateway Pundit was going to defend the statue, Lee issued a statement describing what he clearly knew to be a group of Catholics as “White Nationalists” along with “those on the alt-right such as those who held the infamous and tragic rally in Charlottesville.”

Hoft then responded by claiming that Lee deliberately misrepresented the Gateway Pundit rosary group as white racists: “We are Christians and Christian allies who believe we still have the freedom to practice our religion in America. We are organizing a prayer rally with Catholic and Christian men. And now we are being threatened — In America. We will not apologize for our Christianity. Not in St. Louis.”

The leader of a local rosary group, taken in by Lee’s propaganda, began to suspect that local Catholic activists at the rosary protest “might be backed by white supremacists” and warned his group off. He then retracted his first tweet after he learned that the Rosary rally was being sponsored by local activist Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit and TFP-America Needs Fatima. Neither group talked about the Jews. As a result, neither group was able to discuss the conflict’s most significant player. Both groups as a result became proxy warriors in an exercise in street theater which kept the true dynamics of the conflict hidden.

In his article, Sales found a local Catholic who made a valiant attempt to defend the city’s eponymous saint, only to be shot down later by Talve, who opined that “Asserting that your way is the only way I think is always wrong” with no sense that this was precisely the gist of what the local Jews and their Muslim front man were imposing on the citizens of St. Louis.

 

“Fear” is the first word of The Plot against America, the Philip Roth novel which just got re-cycled as an HBO series by David Simon and Ed Burns, creators of The Corner, The Wire, and Generation Kill. “Fear,” Roth tells us, “presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.” The memories in question are Roth’s, of growing up in a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey. The fear comes from the one alteration of history that turns these memories into what Roth referred to in an interview with Robert Siegel on NPR as “a kind of false memoir.” The premise of the novel is that Charles Lindbergh was elected president in 1940. Everything else in the book follows from that premise and from Roth’s ethnic paranoia and his ethnic bigotry. The most significant thing about Roth’s book is the fact that it’s fiction. The Plot against America is a Jewish fantasy, which is interesting first of all for what it tells us about Roth personally but also because of what it tells us about the ethnic group which has accepted his paranoid Jewish fantasy as something to be taken seriously by people other than psychiatrists and cultural pathologists.

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To give an early example of the kind of fear which pervades the novel, seven-year-old Philip sees a German beer garden on a trip to Union, New Jersey, the town his father is thinking of moving the family to take advantage of a promotion at the insurance firm where he is employed. What follows is the 71-year-old’s bigotry projected into the mind of his seven-year-old name-sake. What ordinary Americans might consider “the homey acre of open-air merriment smack in the middle of town” was in fact some-thing “called a beer garden.” and before you know it the beer garden becomes the American equivalent of Auschwitz according to the following logic: “the beer garden had something to do with the German-American Bund, the German American Bund had something to do with Hitler, and Hitler, as I hadn’t to be told, had everything to do with persecuting Jews.” The beer garden was the place where Americans drank “the intoxicant of anti-Semitism. That’s what I came to imagine them all so carefully drinking in their beer garden that day—like all the Nazis everywhere, downing pint after pint of anti-Semitism as though imbibing the universal remedy.” All this passes through the mind of an allegedly seven-year-old child while driving past in a car.

Roth’s book is some indication that anti-Semitism is the universal remedy, but not in the way that Roth indicates. Charges of anti-Semitism have become the universal remedy to unwelcome discourse. They are also the universal remedy to an accurate history of the 20th century. As evidence of the anti-Semitism which was raging in America on the eve of America’s entry into World War II (and also of unwelcome discourse which got silenced), Roth cites Charles Lindbergh’s Des Moines radio speech at an America First rally; in fact, he gives the entire speech in an appendix to the book. This is a mistake, at least from the point of view of what Roth wants to achieve, because it says the opposite of what Roth wants Lindbergh to say. In the speech we read, among other things, Lindbergh’s statement; “No person with a sense of dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany,” This does not sound like the raving of an anti-Semite. Lindbergh’s point was that three groups were trying to get America into the War at the time—the Roosevelt administration, the English, and the Jews—and that the Jews “would be the first to feel its consequences” because “tolerance cannot survive war and devastation.” It was the last time that anyone in public life in America singled out Jews as a group for criticism. Lindbergh and America First were silenced after the Roosevelt administration entered the war, and they have been demonized ever since. Roth’s book is one more contribution to that demonization.

If Lindbergh was talking about Europe, however, he was profoundly right in a way that no one could have understood at the time. War provided the cover for the annihilation of large numbers of Jews in Europe. If Lindbergh was talking about America, he was wrong because—pace, Mr. Roth—there were no pogroms in America. So which Lindbergh is Philip Roth talking about? He is talking about the Lindbergh in his mind, a fictional prop that is dragged out to justify Roth’s hatred of the goyim and his deep ambivalence toward an America that, even more than Renaissance Poland, has been the paradisus Judaeorum. The ambivalence comes out best in an argument between Roth’s parents. Roth’s father is outraged by the programs of President Lindbergh, shouting “This is our country,” Roth’s mother, on the other hand, responds by saying, “Not anymore. It’s Lindbergh’s. It’s the goyims’. It’s their country.” In other words, the book revolves around the unhealthy dichotomy—it’s our country/it’s their country—without any understanding of why the dichotomy is unhealthy. Roth’s book is exactly what he says it is. It is a “false memoir.” It is a distortion of history for political and racial purposes. It is also an exercise in bigotry and slander. Anything is justified because Roth considers his foes the embodiment of evil and as fully worthy of the hatred he lavishes on them. Roth is no longer promoting sexual liberation, as he did in Portnoy’s Complaint, but the hatred and bigotry are still there, even if the twisted humor is gone.

Because it is a “false memoir,” Roth’s book is the mirror image of what was really going on. If there was such a thing as fascist America, it was created by Roth’s hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If there were ever “a plot to replace American democracy with the absolute authority of a despotic rule” in America, Roosevelt inaugurated it, and the presidents who have succeeded him simply implemented what he inaugurated.

The first program which creates indignation among the Roth family is Lindbergh’s “Just Folks Program,” which sends Jewish children off to places like Kentucky—one of the two centers of evil in Roth’s America (the other is Detroit), where Philip’s brother works on a tobacco farm near Danville. “The only purpose of this so-called Just Folks,” Roth tells us, “is to make Jewish children into a fifth column and turn them against their parents.”

Well, that sounds like a plausible explanation of the purpose behind a government program of this sort. But just who was proposing this sort of the thing in the 1930s? The answer is just about everyone in power at the time. The Nazis had their Hitlerjugend, but unmentioned in Roth’s account is that Stalin’s Comsomol was doing the same sort of thing, and unmentioned as well is the fact that “Just Folks” bears an eerie resemblance to the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was, of course, instituted by Roosevelt. According to Roth’s fantasy, Jews “were being coerced to be other than the Americans we were.” Lindbergh had ordered that Jews were “to be shipped thousands of miles from family and friends. . . . The Jews will be scattered far and wide to wherever Hitlerite America Firsters flourish.”

Louis Wirth and Ethnic Cleansing

 

“You must not exact vengeance.” — Leviticus 19:17

“This is not murder. This is mitzvah.” — Meyer Offerman, Hunters

Over the course of 2019 the Jews lost control of the narrative in America. When Jews lose control they get upset, because, in a world without logos, the only order is the order they impose on the rest of us, a group known as the goyim, whom, Jews believe, have a natural tendency toward anti-Semitism. When the Jew loses control, he thinks the world is out to get him, and when he thinks the world is out to get him, his thoughts turn to murder. As a result, we are now being subjected to one paranoid Jewish fantasy after another advocating murder as the solution to what they perceive as the problem of anti-Semitism. A year ago Amazon Prime members were subjected to The Man from High Castle, a fantasy about what America would be like after losing World War II. In mid-March Netflix released the film version of Philip Roth’s paranoid fantasy The Plot Against America, and in late February Amazon Prime released Hunters, probably the most flagrant example of Jewish paranoia leading to Jewish murderous fantasies to date. Hunters is set in America in 1977. In the opening scene, a Jewish couple arrive at a barbecue given by the husband’s new employer, an obnoxious white southerner (Is there any other kind?) wearing a “Kiss the Cook” apron as he presides over grilling hot dogs, which is of course prescient of the Holocaust. After our obnoxious Southern host makes some tactless sexual remarks, the Jewish wife, who looks to be in her thirties, suddenly recognizes him as a former officer in Auschwitz. After trying to brush off her distress with a few humorous remarks, the southerner pulls a gun out of the barbecue and shoots not only the Jewish couple but every member of his own family as well. He then sits down in a lawn chair, where he waits for 24 hours until a fellow Nazi arrives to dispose of the bodies and then shoot him in the arm to give him an alibi.

https://youtu.be/lQds7dL7RUY

Does that sound plausible to you? Well, it’s as plausible as this paranoid piece of Jewish revenge porn gets. Hunters tells the story of how Meyer Offerman, “a wealthy Holocaust survivor with a thick Yiddish accent played by Al Pacino,” based loosely on Simon Wiesenthal, who got into the Nazi hunting business in 1977, assembled “a diverse band of Nazi hunters” to kill anyone they suspected of being Nazis from taking over America and turning it into—you will be expecting this—the “Fourth Reich.” Jonah Heidelbaum, the protagonist in this struggle, is a young man whose grandmother got murdered by a man in a black hat, whom Offerman identifies after introducing himself at Grandma’s wake as a Nazi hunter. Jonah initially ignores Offerman’s offer to help, but soon gets busted for selling dope, and when Offerman goes his bail, their collaboration begins.

Al Pacino as Meyer Offerman
Al Pacino as Meyer Offerman

Unfortunately, Jonah shows some initial reluctance at killing people in cold blood even if they’re Nazis. As a result, Offerman spends a good part of the conclusion of the first episode trying to convince Jonah that his homicidal rampage is both religiously and morally justified: “This is not murder,” Offerman tells Jonah, “This is mitzvah,” which means blessing in Hebrew. Once again Hollywood has drawn us into an alternative universe where hate is a Jewish virtue, and we become anti-Semites who are complicit in Nazi crimes if we object to Jews gunning down in cold blood anyone they find suspicious.

Director David Weil told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that “his first and main inspiration was his grandmother, who survived imprisonment in the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, and whom Weil said he used to see as a superhero while growing up in a Conservative Jewish family on Long Island.” Hunters is “a love letter to my grandmother, it is a way to honor my birthright and my heritage and my Judaism, and it’s a way to shed light on hidden crimes and secrets.”[1]

Weil also had specific movies in mind when he directed Hunters, which is a mash up of Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. “If ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is one end of the spectrum, and ‘Munich’ is the other end of the spectrum, I think ‘Hunters’ lives in the middle,” Weil said in the same interview.[2]

Hunters is also about morality, as Jews like Weil defines that term, which means in this instance comic book morality according to which “The center of the [Hunters] series really revolves around the moral, ethical question about ‘Does it take evil to fight evil? Do you have to be a bad guy in order to effectively combat the bad guys?’” Logan Lerman, who plays the show’s protagonist Jonah Heidelbaum, says in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I’m really curious to see what people’s responses are.”[3]

As Weil indicates, we have been down this road before. Steven Spielberg’s Munich, an epic drama about Mossad agents who seek to retaliate against the Palestinians responsible for the “Munich Massacre” at the 1972 Olympics, offers two arguments for the need for violent Jewish revenge — one is the biblical eye-for-an-eye means of paying back the Nazis for the suffering they caused. Hunters, which gets its moral theology from Munich, is full of flashbacks to scenes of chilling Nazi atrocities, such as a chess match that SS officers play involving real prisoners, who are forced to kill each other as the game progresses. The other argument is one of self-defense. As the hunters torture a Nazi by blaring loud music into his ears, Jonah urges them to stop — he is clearly conflicted by inflicting pain on someone else. But since the goal of the torture is to extract information about who else the Nazi might be working with in order to stop a possible plot that could harm Jews and others, he reluctantly accepts the death of the Nazi they were trying to interrogate.

 
• Category: Arts/Letters, Ideology • Tags: Anti-Semitism, Hollywood, Jews, Nazis 
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