Saturday, September 02, 2006

First Things - last

Quite a few years ago - about 15 years ago I think I subscribed to a new periodical that called itself First Things. It advertised itself as a "journal of religion, culture, and public life." Sounded perfect for me. I subscribed from the very first edition (probably still have it somewhere in this clutter). Over the course of the first several issues they published a couple of my letters to the editor.

As you would expect for a classy periodical its board was composed of Jews and Christians. It's always hard to know who really runs the show (e.g. where the money comes) but with Midge Decter on the board it's most likely the Podhoritzs of the neo-conservative, The Weekly Standard. The Jews, and even the Christians usually billed themselves as conservative - though I see now they were what you'd call today - neo-conservatives. They hired a man, Richard John Neuhaus, for whom I had great respect as their editor.

But gradually I lost my zeal for this journal. I noticed that after a few issues it was the same tiresome "dialogue"; Jews complaining about their mistreatment throughout history and Christians apologizing for themselves ad nauseum. Of course this is simplistic - but where really were bold Christian voices? As in America society today - they were not in First Things. Truely bold Christian voices of principle offering an alternative to the zeitgeist of contemporary American life are stigmatized in First Things the same way they are in the New York Times - as "fringe," "extremist," or worse "hate."

Here's a terrific analysis of that periodical by the Philadelphia Catholic intellectual, Caryl Johnston.

"First Things had a great moment about a decade ago. It published a brave issue about “The End of Democracy?” which ruffled a lot of feathers in the Zionist sector which supports the magazine. Mrs. Gertrude Himmelfarb, for one, resigned her membership on the Board.

Since that time First Things has settled down to be a reliable echo chamber for the doctrine that Might Makes Right and There Is to be No Discussion. And since that time its editor, Father R.J. Neuhaus, has converted to Catholicism. Despite this, I find it alarming that First Things has become the premier intellectual-Christian apologist for neoconservatism. I fear that Father Neuhaus has been swept up, not into Catholicism, but into the Zionist delusion, and that he is not aware that the Zionists now have set their sights on the Catholic Church. For the true teachings of the Catholic faith – and some renegade Presbyterians – are all that is left of Christianity’s retaining wall against the Zionist annihilation of American politics.

Mr. McClay will be cheering it on, but for Father Neuhaus, a good and decent man, I tremble. It would have been better if he had remained a Lutheran, than to let these wolves into the fold!"

from The Zionist Face of First Things.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To PuckPan,

We miss you over at Dick Polman's blog. Since you have refused to answer the question that I posed there, I'll pose it here. Did the holocaust take place? If yes, how many Jews were killed? I have included the opening excerpt from the wikipedia citation as a generally accepted estimate. Is this a number that you agree with, or is your belief that the number should be higher or lower? Your entitled to your opinion (stating the obvious), but such a fundamental question begs an answer so that those that want to engage in a meaningful discussion can understand whether it's worth the time to argue with you.

"The Holocaust, also known as Ha-Shoah (Hebrew: השואה) (Yiddish:האַלאָקאַוסט Halokaust, or more properly חורבן Khurbn) and the Porajmos or Samudaripen in Romani, is the name applied to the state-led systematic persecution and genocide of the Jews and other minority groups of Europe and North Africa during World War II by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. [1] Early elements of the Holocaust include the Kristallnacht pogrom of the 8th and 9th November 1938 and the T-4 Euthanasia Program, leading to the later use of killing squads and extermination camps in a massive and centrally organized effort to exterminate every possible member of the populations targeted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

The Jews of Europe were the main victims of the Holocaust in what the Nazis called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (die Endlösung der Judenfrage) or "the cleaning" (die Reinigung). The commonly used figure for the number of Jewish victims is six million, though estimates by historians using, among other sources, records from the Nazi regime itself, range from five million to seven million. Millions of other minorities also perished in the Holocaust in addition to this figure."

5:50 PM  
Blogger PuckPan said...

Dear Anonymous, Don't send me itemized litmus tests please.

The Holocaust, like all history, is a story about something in the past, reflecting the point of view of the writer. It is written by the winners of WW2. The losers are starting to speak (sadly, all too often from behind bars). The holocaust is not complete without their story.

I understand why this is a threat to you. Please try to understand that I am not motivated by hatred of you - I know you won't believe this but it really isn't about you. Not to me.

Too often the holocaust story is incompete and unfair and a thin disguise for a hateful blood-libel against the German people. Other voices need to be heard. My blog will present voices of the other side that are rarely heard.

Thanks for asking.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Like you, I am a Roman Catholic. Grew up across the street from the largest Catholic university in PA. Attended the local Catholic school affiliated with the university for eight years. Altar boy. CYO sports. Married a Catholic girl in a church. Baptized my daughters. So on, and so forth. So I'm not sure how your viewpoint of the holocaust would affect me other than it disturbs me as a human being.

While the full picture of the holocaust may never come to light (the unrecognized heroes, those unfairly portrayed as villains and those that escaped rightful persecution) due to the passage of time, there are certain facts that remain indisputable. Jews (and other races) were exterminated for no other reason than their religion, race, .... The final numbers are subject to interpretation. So once again I pose the following questions to you:

1) Did the holocaust take place?
2) What number would you identify as the number of Jews that were exterminated?

This isn't a litmus test. Your entilited to your opinion. However, your silence/lack of response (and your postings on your blog) seem to indicate that you either feel the holocaust never took place or that if it did, the number is greatly, greatly exaggerated as part of some plot by the winners. Why are you afraid to answer the question?

8:08 PM  
Blogger PuckPan said...

I'm not Roman Catholic. And what does that have to do with this?

The number of Jews is always greatly exaggerated regardless of the subject - though in the case of the holocaust not as a "plot by the winners." It is exaggerated for two reasons -

1) Its exaggeration supports a series of positions that would not be morally sustainable without it. Mainly the destruction of Europe through two world wars by America in the 20th century.

2) The Jewish religion is about the Jewish people. Naturally they focus on themselves. It is not a religion I share so I don't.

I am not "afraid" - please address my argument(s) rather than me if you want to continue to post here.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Puck,

My reference to you as Catholic was a misreading of your citation of Caryl Johnston. So, instead of making the assumption that you are Catholic, can I assume that you are Christian (Episcopalian , Presbyterian, Baptist, ...)? If that's the case, then I revise my statement to say that I am Christian, like you. Therefore, I am not Jewish and your comments are not a threat to me and your comments are not perceived as being motivated by hatred. Since you were not explicit as to why your comments could be perceived as either a threat or motivated by hatred, I provided that information. I think that puts that topic to bed.

I'm going to address 2) first. At the end of your post, you request that I address your arguments and not you. However, you place yourself squarely in the argument when you state that since you are not Jewish that you don't focus on them. Yes, the Jewish religion is about Jewish people, but Jewish people is not about Jewish religion (Yes, that is bad syntax in order to reverse the analogy). Just because someone is Jewish does not mean that you cannot empathize with them in regards to the holocaust. The holocaust wasn't just about the etermination of Jews. It was about the irrational slaughter of (fill in the number) people. I'm not black, but that doesn't mean that I don't view slavery as a horror. And the fact that certain members of the black community would like to see reparations for slavery (something I disagree with) is not going to change my mind. So your argument that you (Puck) have to be Jewish in order to to support a number does not hold water. Saying that you have to be a member of a group to agree with something that group believes ignores the fact that Jewish people have a right to be part of the human race. In the end, that's what the Nazis ignored. They were killing members of their own family.

Now for your first point, I will address it in three parts. For the first part, you make the statement that the exaggeration occurs to support a series of positions, but then you only state one position. What are those other position? Second, you tie WW I to the holocaust. My first post is explicit in stating the generally accepted belief that early elements of holocaust "... include the Kristallnacht pogrom of the 8th and 9th November 1938." I have never seen a citation that ties the holocaust to WW I. I don't know where you are coming up with that claim. Finally, are you saying (by inference) that the United States entered WW II for the purpose of destroying Europe under the guise of stopping the holocaust. We were attacked by Japan. We declared war on Japan. Japan was allied with Germany. Therefore, we entered the war with the Allies against the Axis. Once we entered an imprecise war, we prosecuted that war to the best of our capabilities. While such examples as the fire-bombing of Cologne might not have been totally necessary, the gloves were off. The Germans were our enemy. Your assertion that people cite 6 million killed Jews as a reason to support the destruction of Europe does not stand up. We "destroyed" Europe before the full realities of the holocaust came to light. "B" does not come before "A" just because you say it is so.

As I stated before, you are entitled to you opinions. And I thank you for at least answering my first post in part when you stated your belief that the Jewish numbers for the holocaust are "greatly exaggerated." As I said before, I don't know why you were afraid to answer the question in the first place. Just like you are entitled to your opinion, my opinion of your arguments and your blog lead me to conclude that you hold an irrational hatred/animosity towards Jews. I believe that you see conspiracies where none exist. I believe that you are so caught up on "them" as a religion that you don't see "them" as a people that are your neighbors and can hold the same interets as you for dancing, the arts, ... As a lover of the arts, you have the view of Jews as being like the Shylock portrayed on-stage and in the movies as being venal and full of hatred. I'll go with:

" Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die?"

6:54 AM  
Blogger PuckPan said...

I think a Catholic voice would be a lot more interesting if it defended the faith. I haven't heard that in a long time and I'd like to know what it sounds like. My blog will print voices like that.

How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
If I forgive him!

6:28 PM  
Blogger PuckPan said...

I know that many will say Anonymous' points at 6:54 deserve a better response. I'll do that - but it is exhausting arguing this issue. That is because it is in every way an argument with a religious fanatic.

Ananymous' "demands" that I answer a laundry list of exact questions presuppose an epistemology of history that is shared - but that really is the problem. There is no shared idea(l) of historical "truth." There are plenty of ways to construct this issue that conventional Holocuast doctrine is "true" and and even more ways to construct it so that it is false, misleading, or even meaningless. Furthermore this is a very dangerous argument from my side. In Europe it could lead to my imprisonment - it has done that in America although that is a court case the Holocaust fanatics won't be ready to test for about 5 or 6 years. Nevertheless it could lead to serious problems at work and smears, lies, and slanders, against which defending oneself becomes only further evidence of guilt.

The Holocaust is a religious doctrine, and blasphemy is punished as it always has been.

I'll provide an answer in a day or two when I can summon the energy and interest to do so.

6:39 AM  

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