Neoconservatism & anti-catholicism: The connection is growing

Published 13 years ago -  - 13y ago 51


I was first alerted to neoconservative polemicist David Frum’s new found friendship with Christopher Hitchens while reading a blog of Tom Piatak on the Chronicles Extrawebsite.  Frum had apparently cited his new relationship with Hitchens for introducing him to feminist writer Andrea Dworkin, who had recently passed away.

Now that Frum and Hitchens are all friendly and loving and hugging each other as bosom buddies, we should pause to understand what this relationship means. Hitchens has always specialized in a crude kind of anti-Catholicism from the time he wrote a mean-spirited, hatchet-job book against Mother Theresa and from the time he once even advocated blowing up a church in Africa. Now that he has wormed his slimy, drunken self into neoconservative circles, there’s a good chance his rhetoric will start coming out the mouths of neocons themselves, including Frum.

That Hitchens has become a neocon is no surprise. Lots of Trotskyists make this journey, so why shouldn’t he? The neocons’ desire for a global democratic revolution coincides nicely with Trotskyists’ visions of world-wide revolution and 9-11 and the subsequent War on Terror has pushed him to his new neocon friends quicker than peace would have. Such socialists are hardly pacifists and so he left his friends on the left (and his column in the Nation) and has gone neocon. Hitchens has never been a supporter of Israel, which is usually a neocon prerequisite, but that can be changed over time, especially if his hatred of Islam and the Christianity that the Palestinians practice in faith can be turned against them. We will have to wait and see.

But one thing Hitchens does hate and hates with a passion is the Catholic Church and he has made no secret of this in previous writings. Rather than focus on his love for Trotsky, we should focus on the historical character he truly resembles and that’s Oliver Cromwell. Like Cromwell, Hitchens hates both the royal family and Catholicism, seeing both as blocks and threats to their utopian paradises. Of course, Cromwell was a Puritan religious fanatic, but that God died long ago in both the England and the New England that the Puritans founded. The Puritans changed with the times, but never lost their moral fervor no matter what God they believed in (abolition, prohibition, feminism, transcendentalism, socialism, Fabianism.) As Kevin Phillips book The Cousins Wars points out, support for Cromwell’s New Model Army came in the Essex, East Anglia and southern seacoast regions of England. They were also the regions that offered great support to the rebel cause in America and to the North in the War Between the States. Hitchens hails from originally for Portsmouth, which was a Cromwellian stronghold during the English Civil War. Once you get that fervor in your blood, it doesn’t leave you.

And just as Cromwell went off to Ireland to kill as many Catholics as he could get his hands on with his sword, so too does Hitchens attack the same targets, albeit with his keyboard. The question of whether his sentiments will remain just his own sodden rantings or will filter down to his new found “friends” is an open one. The first indication of this will concern the new pope.

Many conservatives rejoiced over the selection of Benedict XVI, including the neocons. Why this was so is a mystery (maybe they were just following the crowd.) Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger had spoken out against the war in Iraq. He also spoke out against the Bush II doctrine of preemptive warfare. He has continued to do so as pope and the name he chose, Benedict, reflects his desire to bring about universal peace in the same fashion the Pope Benedict XV did during the Great War. At some point, the neocons are going to get tired of the pope’s words against their war and will want to respond in some fashion. Who better but to do so than Hitchens? In fact Hitchens probably will, in private correspondence or magazine paper, labor to convince his new “friends”to drop their religious fronts and go after the Holy Father with everything they’ve got, lest he stand in the way of their global democratic revolution. Hitchens will no doubt assure them of Stalin’s dictum “How many divisions does the Pope have?” to buck them up if they fear taking on the leader of the world’s largest religion. And when attacking the pontiff won’t shut him up, then maybe smears about the church’s sex abuse scandals will.

All of this puts neoconservative Catholics in a bind. One of the great lies neoconservatives tout is that the term is a closet derogatory term for “Jew.” Just as the word “kike” used to come from the Yiddish word for circle that many Jewish immigrants stood in while being processed on Ellis Island, so has the neoconservative term that they invented to describe themselves, has been perverted into anti-Semitic smear. This is a lie because the neoconservative ranks include many Catholics, from Bill Bennett, to Peggy Noonan to Linda Chavez to Michael Novak, to Jean Kirkpatrick to Richard John Neuhaus. Far from being the right-wing authoritarian church of media mischaracterization, Catholicism has always had an appeal to leftists ever since the days of Leo XIII and Rerum Novarum. And amazing as it might seem, very few leftist Catholics leave the church for a completely different religion, as others are want to do when faced with internal conflicts in their own respective religions, or at least not as many as one might think.

Like their non-Catholic neocon brethren, these figures have all made their journey from liberals and leftist sympathizers to right-wing social democracy, especially as the left became dominated by the secular and the anti-religious. Such figures became important as conduits to lead working class and middle class Catholic voters from their traditional home in the Democratic Party to the Republicans. But their influence within their own religion is limited. The Bush II Administration sent Novak along with U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson to see Pope John Paul II just before the war broke out to explain the doctrine of “preemptive war” and win the pope on to their side. But His Holiness wasn’t biting, nor was the rest of the Vatican, especially one Cardinal Ratzinger, official upholder of church dogma. The neocons found themselves on the opposite side of the church when it came to the war, but wisely did not make frontal assault upon it, (Outside of Mr. Lufa himself Bill O’Reilly, a fellow Catholic right wing social-democrat, calling the pope “naive,”about the threat posted by Saddam Hussein. Which is a funny statement considering the pope saw up close and personal the evil presented to the world by Nazism and Communism in his native Poland. It says a lot about the shallowness of Mr. O’Reilly to make such a statement, but shallow men of mind and spirit are usually those who forget that telephones have answering machines,) because such a move would have certainly cost Bush II his job.

But now that Bush II is safely ensconced for four more years and now the Hitchens has become the neocons’ new “friend,” the gloves may very well come off against the Vatican if the new pope is serious about emulating the role of Benedict XV as Benedict XVI. Such attacks will test the loyalties of the aforementioned neocon Catholics as to where their loyalties truly lay, their ideology, or their God.

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