By Virtue of Murder
Included here as a reference attachment to an article by Victor Ostrovsky.
Meir Shnitser, in an article elsewhere in this newspaper, defends the dangerous traitor, Victor Ostrovsky, the ex-Mossad man, who is publishing, from his refuge in Canada, nine measures of treacherous, hateful lies against Israel and its security arms, mixed with one measure of truth which makes it even worse. Who knows better than I, having been the executive director of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, that as Shnitser said, incitement to murder on the television screen is, from the beginning, an improper action?
I have told Ostrovsky in a telephone interview on "Popolitica" that I hoped the Mossad would eliminate him. Meir Shnitser, who is always ready to fight, in the name of freedom of speech, for the right of every Palestinian to preach for the destruction of the state of Israel, wants to prevent my right to express my opinion in public. Yes, I think Victor Ostrovsky should be eliminated. Not because of his opinions, but because of his actions. Not because his is the enemy of Israel, but because he is a traitor. And not because this would be sweet revenge, but because for its own sake Mossad cannot afford to let someone who was its agent of his own free will profit from selling state secrets, even if most of the things he says are lies.
It would be preferable, of course, to kidnap Ostrovsky, as Eichman was kidnapped or as Vanunu was. To kidnap him and put him on trial and punish him according to the law. The table would even be turned. In the early Ô50s the Israeli security forces found out that a Yugoslav Christian woman who had collaborated with the Nazis had married a Jew and come with him to Israel to escape the "Ozna", which was Tito's security police.
Yugosalvia and Israel didn't have an extradition agreement. So the Israeli security service kidnapped the woman from her home in Israel and smuggled her onto a Yugoslav ship that happened, whether by accident or design, to be anchored in the Israeli port of Haifa. She stood trial in Yugoslavia and was found guilty of committing war crimes.
But you cannot always kidnap. Ostrovsky could not be kidnapped today from Ottawa. Even if it could be done, it would not be worthwhile to cause the disruption of relations between Israel and Canada.
But there are ways to do away with him. As the German scientists who helped the Egyptians were eliminated. As the Canadian ballistics expert, Gerald Bull, who tried to build a supergun for Saddam Hussain was assassinated. As the murderers of our athletes in Munich were assassinated with the authorization of then-Prime Minister Golda Meir. As an Israeli commando unit eliminated, even before the creation of Israel, Nazis who were hiding in Germany and Austria.
It is, of course, not permissible to sanction an official institution to carry out assassinations without specific criteria. Without a thorough system and the approval of a ministerial body in charge of security matters. A man who could be brought to justice should not be eliminated.
Nor should a man be eliminated unless the security arms have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the man is guilty of one of the following:
a) Collaboration in the genocide of the Jewish people.
b) A terrorist act against Israelis that has caused many deaths.
c) Collaboration with the enemy in creation of weapons that can endanger the existence of the state of Israel.
d) Treason that can cause damage to the state of Israel.
Ostrovsky belongs in the latter category.
In the mid-'50s it was learned that Andrea Artukovich was living in Los Angeles. When he was the minister of the Interior in the Nazi puppet government of Croatia, he was personally responsible for the elimination of Croatian Jewry.
In the heat of the Cold War the American government was not willing to extradite him into the hands of the communist Yugoslav government. As a Yugoslav expatriate I was deeply offended that such a war criminal was walking about freely. The thought that Artukovich would spend the rest of his life in America, while tens of thousands of Jews were buried in the death camps that he had built, was unbearable to me.
As I was a penniless young reporter for the newspaper Ma'ariv I offered the editor to whom I was responsible, Shmuel Shnitser, a deal. If Ma'ariv would finance my travel to the United States, and my expenses there until I could kill Artukovich, Ma'ariv would have the scoop whether or not I was caught.
Shnitser said that he would consult with his friends. Several days later he informed me that my offer was turned down. The reason was that if it became known that a reporter from Ma'ariv had been sent on a murder mission, the newspaper would not be able to send another reporter anywhere in the world.
I regret that to this day.
Meir Shnitser would never understand this.
Translation of a 1995 article in the Tel Aviv daily Ma'ariv by Yosef Lapid, a former head of Israeli television.
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Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown, "Objectively Disordered"?
Few of us would think that the producers and writers of Murphy Brown and Ellen have conspired with the Walt Disney Corporation in demonic subversion of traditional family values. Fewer still would imagine that Charles Schulz, the creator of the familiar characters of Peanuts , Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Charlie Brown, has joined the plot. Yet earlier this fall in a lecture at Notre Dame, psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., invited us into a strange world in which Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown are but a banana peel away from flagrant, clinically diagnosable, gender "disorders". With blithe indifference to the content of the scientific literature on the subject, Nicolosi declared that nonconformity to standard gender roles as early as three or four years of age accurately predicts adult homosexuality more than three times out of four! This makes early gender nonconformity a more robust predictor than any other variable known to the human or social sciences. It's a silly, bizarre dogma with no empirical basis.
Let's read Peanuts as Nicolosi would have us read our children. The only macho character in the comic strip is Lucy. She's a poster child for two of the four criteria required for "Gender Identity Disorder" -- an intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex and a strong preference for playmates of the other sex. Linus, trails his security blanket; Schroeder idolizes Beethoven instead of DiMaggio. Both are at risk. Too much piano, too little luxuriation in the sheer joy of masculinity.
When it comes to gender roles, Charlie Brown is the quintessential sap. He wants to engage in rough and tumble play, but Lucy always yanks away the football. When he's on the mound as pitcher, it's a hitter's paradise; hard hit balls spin him like a top, whiz by his head, and soar over Linus sucking his thumb in center field. Charlie Brown will never enjoy his body. He can't kick off or strike anyone out, and never gets to first base. Frustration is his leitmotiv. Charlie Brown, Nicolosi would argue, teeters on the edge, confronting a lifetime of gender disorder -- an offense against natural law.
According to Nicolosi, the Director of the Thomas Aquinas Pscyhological Clinic in California, if you have a three- or four-year-old son who pirouettes around the back yard, idolizes Baryshnikov, and prefers pastel color schemes (especially the pinks), there is something definitely wrong with him and he must be repaired. But neither Nicolosi's dissertation -- "The psychodynamic view of the role of meaning transformation for therapeutic change" from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles -- nor his two books, from a small New Jersey publisher with strong ties to local mutants of the psychoanalytic tradition, establish any level of expertise in child psychology. Nor do California's generic licensure requirements guarantee that he had routine instruction on and supervised clinical training with pediatric patients whose nascent language skills, brief attention spans, and limited memory capacities sharply differentiate them from adults.
In his book Homosexuality: a Psychoanalytic Study (1962), Irving Bieber, an early mentor of Nicolosi's and now emeritus in psychiatry at Albert Einstein Medical College, assumed psychological traits could be defined in the same fashion as Euclidean triangles and found an essence of homosexuality. He presented an "object relations" model of the neo-Freudian claim that the homosexual is the product of a dysfunctional family, typically with a dominating mother and an absent father. His conclusions were equally essentialist and absolutist: "homosexuality is always pathological and incompatible with a happy life."
Mimicking the mentor's model, in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, Nicolosi asserts "I do not believe that the gay life-style can ever be healthy." Gays who consider themselves healthy are, according to the model, unable to face the reality of the flawed developmental course leading to their "illness." In other words, if you're gay, and your experience doesn't conform to the Bieber-Nicolosi model, you're in denial. Such models are empirically vacuous, beyond confirmation or disconfirmation, and hence inherently unscientific.
Peer review in fact raises grave doubts about this model based on a vast amount of accumulating evidence that, except for sexual orientation, there are no significant differences in the psychosocial characteristics of homosexuals and heterosexuals, specifically that rates of "comorbidity" -- the correlation with recognized mental disorder -- are no higher for homosexuals than for heterosexuals. But Bieber and Nicolosi bet the farm on shopworn myths of the Oedipus complex and its role in the formation of sexual identity. For them, the matter has been settled by definition, within the framework of a revered theory.
Nicolosi never leveled with his Notre Dame audience. He never addressed the explicit critique and rejection of his psychodynamic brand of "reparative" therapy for homosexual orientation by the American Psychological Association. Reparenting therapy is risky business, inducing a highly suggestible, passive attitude in patients. Such risks increase exponentially when the "patient" is a child, as all recent research on "false memory" demonstrates. Psychotherapists practising their own forms of vulgar Freudian "reparenting" or "reparative" therapies do not publish detailed accounts of the practice. The resulting absence of scrutiny via impartial peer review and clinical supervision has led to tragic suicides and families broken by diagnoses which implant ideas of inadequate parenting or sexual abuse which are "accepted" by the suggestible patient.
Moreover, Nicolosi's claims for successful reparative therapy on three- and four-year-old males border on a public confession of unethical behavior. The American Psychological Association's has strictures against the acceptance of informed consent from a surrogate (a parent or other family member) who may be acting on social prejudice or cultural norms at odds with the the child's best interests.
Douglas C. Haldeman, President of the APA's Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bixexual Issues, and Gregory M. Herek, 1996 recipient of the APA's Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest, agree that in many published reports of "successful" conversion therapies "the participants' initial sexual orientation was not adequately assessed" so that "successes" reported for the conversions actually have occurred among bisexuals highly motivated to adopt a heterosexual behavior pattern. The success of conversion therapy "often has not been systematically assessed. Instead, only self-reports of patients or therapists' subjective impressions have been available... Assessments [of] behavioral indicators over an extended period of time have been lacking." In a recent article in American Psychologist, they conclude that "Many interventions... have, in effect, deprived individuals of their capacity for sexual response to others."
Given the unscientific nature of his therapeutic model, the destructive potential inherent in the therapy based on it, the fact that his work has never been subject to peer review, and the ethical questions that that work raises, one wonders why such an academically disreputable character like Nicolosi was sponsored by the Maritain Center to speak on a university campus.
Edward Manier is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
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Remembering Catherine Mowry LaCugna
Catherine Mowry LaCugna was my friend and colleague at the University of Notre Dame. She died on May 3 after a long and courageous struggle against cancer. She was only 44.
Catherine and I frequently joked about our first meeting in a crowded and noisy hotel in New Haven, Connecticut, back in the spring of 1981. She had recently completed her doctorate in Fordham University and was still living in New York. I was visiting at my mother's home in West Hartford. We agreed on New Haven for the interview.
I had been appointed the previous year to chair the department of Theology at Notre Dame and was just beginning the process of rebuilding. I was impressed with Catherine LaCugna that first day and invited her to come to Indiana for a more formal process. She did very well and we made the appointment.
Catherine began was an assistant professor in the fall of 1981 and moved quickly through the academic ranks, receiving last year an endowed professional chair. In the course of her career at Notre Dame she won two prestigious teaching awards and published and important book on the Trinity entitled, God For Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperCollins, 1991).
Although she never became a public theologian -- one frequently quoted in the press or appearing on national television -- her work had a significant impact within the Catholic theological community and among many of her graduate students.
I had once assured Catherine that she would never have to worry about becoming a controversial figure like me. Specializing in the doctrine of the Trinity would evoke more yawns than rebukes from the magisterial establishment.
But like many so-called speculative theologians (the late Bernard Lonergan, S.J., and David Tracy at the University of Chicago also come to mind), Catherine's work was radically critical of several conventional assumptions about the Christian faith and their embodiment in the structures of the Church.
Perhaps Catherine LaCugna's principle contribution to theology was her successful effort, in concert with other theologians, to reinstate the doctrine of the Trinity at the center of Christian faith.
For nearly 1500 years, following the major dogmatic definitions of the fourth and fifth centuries, the doctrine of the Trinity was parked inconspicuously on the sidelines of Christian theology and practice.
For many ordinary Christians, the doctrine made no sense at all: three divine persons, but only one God. It was something you simply believed "on faith," but it had no discernible importance in one's life.
Indeed, I can recall a seminary professor of mine (long since deceased) urging us never to preach on the Trinity, except perhaps on Trinity Sunday. The assumption was that the doctrine had no practical meaning, and couldn't be explained anyway.
Inspired by the greatest Catholic theologian of this century, Karl Rahner, S.J., Catherine LaCugna helped to retrieve the doctrine of the Trinity as the most "fruitful and intelligible was to articulate what it means to be `saved by God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit'" (from her article on the Trinity in Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, vol. II, Fortress Press, 1991).
"The doctrine of the Trinity," she wrote, "is a summary statement of faith in the God of Jesus Christ....The heart of Christian life is the encounter with a personal God who makes possible both our union with God and communion with each other. The Spirit of God gathers us together into the body of Christ, incorporating us into a new relationship with each other."
For Catherine LaCugna there could be no artificial distinction between the inner life of God where the three divine persons dwell in inaccessible mystery, and the life of God in the world. On the contrary, the "God who is" is "God for us."
We can only know God as "God for us," that is, as the God who creates and sustains all that is, as the God who cam among us in flesh and redeemed us by the cross and resurrection, and as the God who remains with us as the source of new life and of communion.
It is the "God for us" who we encounter in the liturgical life of the Church, in our spiritual lives, in our relations with one another, an in the life of society itself.
The doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, is not simply a strange and mysterious truth of faith which we believe on the authority of the Church, but it is at the heart and center of our Christian faith and practice.
Catherine Mowry LaCugna takes her well-earned place now in that eternal communion with the triune God toward which we all aspire and in which we all hope.
Richard McBrien is a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
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Bookburners and Their Victims: First-Hand Accounts of Pro-Israel McCarthyism
"We will get to him by other means, we will break him economically," stated the chief of the Mossad, Israel's CIA, to a Knesset committee after the failure of Israel's attempt to ban publication of my first book, By Way of Deception, in the US and Canada. This statement, made on camera, was purposefully leaked to an Israeli reporter and printed in the weekend edition of Ma'ariv, Israel's leading daily newspaper, with the military censor's approval. Since that day, Israel's foreign intelligence agency has waged a war of attrition against me with the enthusiastic cooperation of its cabal of North American Zionist organizations.
For years as a Canadian-born, Israel-raised former Mossad caseworker I was unwilling to accept the possibility of a wide conspiracy against me. After all, my book had finally been published. What more harm could I do to the country I had left in disgust to return to the land of my birth. Only hitting rock bottom has jolted me out of this innocence -- and optimism that a change of luck is just around the corner. I'm now convinced that I am the target of a broad collusion between the elements of the Israeli government and their gophers, mostly in the American Jewish community.
Following publication of my By Way of Deception I wrote a spy novel, Lion of Judah, using the spycraft that I'd learned with the Mossad as background. The book described a fictional Mossad operation aimed at thwarting a secret peace process under-way in the Middle East. (The book was written and published before the real- life, year-long secret negotiations that led to the Oslo accord came to light.)
In the book, I revealed considerable more about Mossad techniques than I had in By Way of Deception. But, despite the wide publicity garnered by my first book due to the Israeli government's unsuccessful effort to suppress it, my second book was ignored.
Radio and television interviews that were scheduled by my publisher were canceled almost as soon as they were booked. A speaker's bureau in Toronto, which seldom had trouble arranging speaking engagements with student and other groups eager to have me as a speaker, found that the engagements were canceled before I could appear. In fact, the cancellations occurred each time a local B'nai B'rith Anti- Defamation League (ADL) chapter got wind of them, and they always did.
But, of course, the less I spoke, the more time I had to write. In 1995, when my third book, The Other Side of Deception, another work of non-fiction, was published, the efforts against me were stepped up.
So, on Oct. 21, 1995, I was surprised to be invited by Canadian Television (CTV) producer Ron Fine to do a guest appearance on "Canada AM" the widely viewed Canadian version of "Good Morning America." Scheduled to appear on the same program, via satellite from Israel, was Israeli journalist Yosef Lapid, the former head of Israeli television.
An Appeal To Murder
Lapid had earned his 14 minutes of North America media fame by appealing openly on the Israeli television show "Popolitica" for the Mossad to seek me out in Canada and kill me for writing my books. He had followed this with an article making the same appeal in the Tel Aviv daily, Ma'ariv, headlined "By Virtue of Murder" (see accompanying translation).
On cue, Lapid repeated, as I listened, his call for my assassination on the Canadian television show, but this time with a twist. He said that, since Israel's Mossad could not kill me in Canada without causing a diplomatic incident, "I hope that there would be a decent Jew in Canada who would do the job for us."
My reaction was horror mixed with relief. Now it was going to be hard for media gatekeepers to pretend that there were not "ugly Israelis" every bit as vicious and fanatical as the Iranian ayatollah who had called for the assassination in Britain by a British Muslim of author Salman Rushdie.
Along with the producers of the show, a large percentage of the Canadian public had just seen for themselves a former Israeli government official calling upon Canadian Jews to murder me on Canadian soil for the books I had written. But, to my astonishment, there seemed no inclination by the Canadian media to follow up the story when it was an Israeli rather than an Iranian inciting the murder of a published author. I had never felt more alone and isolated in my life.
My spirits brightened when a reporter from USA Today viewed the tape of the "Canada AM" show and was outraged. "I'm going to write a story about this," he declared and proceeded to interview me for over an hour. Then, while I was still in his office, his editor told him by telephone to kill the article. "It's not a story," the editor said. The silence surrounding me intensified.
It was a year later that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing zealot who got his legitimization for murder from an extremist rabbi and his marching orders from the likes of Lapid. If by Lapid's rules I should be killed according to his category "D" (see accompanying article), in the eyes of Yigal Amir, Rabin's assassin, so should Rabin. I have no doubt in my mind that all those like Lapid who make their own rules as to who may live and who must die are partners in Rabin's murder.
A radio host named Tim Kern from a station in Denver, Colorado, called me up for an interview. Several days later he sent a file on me he had received from the "Mountain state regional office of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith." The ADL communication suggested that the station drop the interview, claiming that I am an unreliable subject. This sequence was repeated over and over in radio and television stations in the United States and Canada. Ironically, supposedly separate Jewish organizations around the United States kept coming up with same wording in their efforts to shut me up.
The same people who presumably would praise someone form the CIA or the U.S. armed forces who exposed serious wrong-doing in those institutions were now hard at work to smother my criticisms of an intelligence agency for a foreign country that, to put it as charitably as possible, does not have America's best interests at heart. The Americans who call me a traitor to Israel for exposing the Mossad's efforts to kill the peace process hail as a hero Jonathan Pollard, a traitor to the U.S. who spied on the American government for Israel.
In an attempt to break the vicious cycle, I decided to sue in a Canadian court Yosef Lapid for inciting my murder and "Canada AM" for airing his incitement to the public. I assumed that bringing the issue to public attention would expose the attempts of organizations in both the U.S. and Canada that in fact are agents of Israel to suppress the truth through intimidation and, if necessary, economic or physical terrorism.
After accepting a hefty retainer and completing the preparations for trial, my lawyer, Paul B. Kane of Perley-Robertson, Panet, Hill and McDougall in Ottawa, Canada, informed me that he could not continue with the case. His explanation was that the safety of his staff would clearly be jeopardized if he proceeded.
Then, HarperCollins, my publisher, informed me it was keeping the last portion of my advance, some $46,000, against advertising. I pointed our that since this was something I had never agreed to, they had no right to do it. "Sue us," was their response.
At the same time, my daughter, a television producer, was denied a job she had been offered in a Vancouver television station after its Toronto head office learned of her relationship to me.
Then my Canadian publisher, Stoddart, informed me it had decided not to publish my newest spy novel, Dominion of Treason, and also that it was holding back all monies coming to me from By Way of Deception and Lion of Judah.
Meanwhile I had suggested to my agent in Toronto a new (fifth) book on the American militia movement. I proposed to interview supporters of the movement to ascertain their motivations, and then to define the movement in terms of its members rather than simply labeling them as the enemy and shutting the door on them. I believe the growth of misunderstanding and mistrust within a nation, and particularly between regions as is the case between America's Eastern seaboard on the one hand and its Midwest and Far West on the other, is courting disaster.
My agent was enthusiastic about the proposed project. We called it We the People. For several months he told me how this proposed book was being received in literary circles of New York. Then he dropped out of sight, and I have not been able to make contact with him to this day. I know he is in his office and doing business, but he will not return my calls.
In 1996, a new, New York-based agent struck a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. Regnery Inc., a Washington-based publisher, signed a contract with me for a tounge-in-cheek guide to espionage called The Spy Game. They had some suggestions, however, for making the book more serious on the grounds that readers don't regard spying as a laughing matter.
As I was in the final stages of the first draft, however, my house burned to the ground. The fire marshal's report declared it arson. No one was hurt, since we had moved out several weeks earlier and I was using only one room in the house for writing. Luckily, aside from the house itself, very little was lost -- only my computer and several boxes of documents.
As I was sifting through the ashes of what used to be my bedroom, however, I realized things were starting to get out of hand. By then, under the Likud government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, both the Israel ambassador to the U.S. and the Israeli ambassador to Canada were former Mossad officers. I couldn't identify the perpetrators of the fire, or blame it on one group or another, but it was clear to me that those who had vowed to break me "economically" were becoming more confrontational and taking greater risks.
After several days of soul searching, I realized I could no longer allow my wife, who had stood by me through thick and thin, to remain in the line of fire. This was my battle, my choice. Knowing full well she would not abandon me, as almost everyone else had, I told her I needed to be alone, to sort things out for myself.
Our separation lasted several weeks. But we both realized we couldn't remain apart.
So I wasted no more time and re-wrote The Spy Game, having kept my notes on Regnery's suggested revisions with me. The work on the book was moving along well, and most of the editing had already been completed. The publisher, through his project editor, asked that I add a chapter on espionage and the Internet and also bring in some biographical material on myself. I complied and he expressed his satisfaction in a letter to me.
On July 9 of this year the Regnery publicity department faxed me a copy of their catalog page depicting my book, slated to be released in October. One day later, on July 10, 1997, I received a letter from Regnery informing me that the company had decided not to publish my book. I felt as though I had been hit by a freight train.
It suddenly occurred to me, for the first time, that the forces of racism, bigotry and apartheid may win, even here in North America. In calling out, finally, for help, I suddenly fear that I may only be shouting into the wind.
To all who believe that "it can't happen here," I say beware.
It is immensely satisfying to take a stand and speak out against coercion and tyranny. But eventually there may be a price to pay.
And when that day comes, and the bill is handed out, you may find that although your friends cherish you, they may choose to do it from a distance. I wonder now if the thousands who have called and written still think of me as a prophet and a hero, or only a fool?
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Recently, I was having a perennial grouse to a friend about the near impossibility of sustaining a hopeful, critical voice in today's world. This is especially true in a society like the US, which regards radical criticism as just this side of treason, and in a church where it carries the taint of heresy. My interlocutor (a graduate student, whose job it is to read the big books) said that while he sympathized with this predicament, he himself had been greatly reassured by something Kant had written at the beginning of his Critique of Pure Reason. There Kant expressed his gratitude to the 18th century Scottish skeptic, David Hume, for awakening him from his dogmatic slumber: a ringing endorsement, we both agreed, for the questioning voice never to lose its nerve.
One of the most important decisions I made as an adult catapulted me into a milieu that required dogmatic amnesia as the price of admission. I switched from the Anglican Church, in which I was raised, to the Roman Catholic Church. It was a bad move, done in the first or second flush of romantic enthusiasm for an ardently Catholic beau whose shining theological certainty was so different and exotic when compared to laid-back, tolerant old Anglicanism. The Anglican Church got off to a rum start. Having as your founding father a syphilitic, adulterous, not to mention homicidal monarch, is cringe-making - more than a little modesty-inducing. The King, Henry VIII, did, however, render his country one inestimable service. Failing to get his marriage annulled, he annulled Rome instead. (Apparently Henry did not have Congressman Joe Kennedy's luck in massaging the system.)
As a result of these less than auspicious beginnings, Anglicanism has, for the most part, eschewed the triumphalism and absolutism that characterizes Rome. Instead it allowed itself to develop as a broad church. Today an Anglican may be high or low, a Papist wannabee or an ethical agnostic like Don Cuppitt, the Cambridge clergyman and theologian - or any of the various shadings in between. This heterodox Anglican Church could be said to lack cojones (though, oddly, that famous celebrant of the testosterone factor, Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has abandoned her Roman Catholicism to embrace Anglicanism's American cousin, Episcopalianism). "Anglican orthodoxy" or "Anglican dogmatism" could well serve as exemplary oxymorons. The Church and its clerics must regularly submit to the kind of criticism that would be unthinkable in the Roman Catholic Church. For example, an Archbishop of Canterbury caught showing an unseemly interest in the poor or down trodden can expect to be mauled by Tories red in tooth and claw. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher often "handbagged" Archbishop Runcie for this crime.
Periodically I cross-examine the cradle-Catholic spouse about how much he was told, growing up, of the fearful number of skeletons rattling away in the Roman Church's closet. Not much, seems to be the answer - the scrupulous, bourgeois parents would have regarded it as impious to talk about such things had they even known about them. Those Renaissance Popes that Christopher Hope (reviewing Eamon Duffy's Saints and Sinners: a History of the Popes), calls "strictly late night, X-rated, anything goes, parental guidance viewing... Here is every failing known to humankind: torture, bribery, nepotism, murder, lust, vengeance, sodomy, simony, exile and sudden death," may be cliché now but it was not always so. For Catholics raised in the Jansenism so prevalent in the Irish church, the corrupt past had been repressed or revised. When, in the early years, I raised these elementary criticisms and tried to drag something like an admission of institutional guilt from the spouse, he would airily resort to the old Catholic apologetics. The gist of which was roughly, that even IF all this beastly history were true, the miracle was that the faith had been preserved. A real conversation stopper! In the end, the spouse graduated from such specious nonsense, but not so the present Pope. Much has been made in recent weeks of Papal encouragement of confession by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of the Church's dereliction in not saving more Jewish lives from Nazi extermination. So far so good; but it appears that the Pope is reluctant to utter the words of contrition himself, in part, perhaps, because they would indict his papal predecessor. As the National Catholic Reporter noted: "When asked if the Vatican would follow the recent lead of the French Bishops and itself apologize for the Church's apparent lack of action to stop the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews, John Paul II said: "We have already asked pardon for the past. What is interesting is that it is always the Catholic Church and the Pope who ask forgiveness. Meanwhile, others remain silent.' " What we have here is a man used to demanding - coercing even - contrition from others, but who believes his office bestows a virtual exemption from the practice. (Goodness only knows what that final insinuation, concerning others remaining silent, is all about.)
In any case, half-cock apologies after a wait of half a century are very nearly insulting. Nor do they make much sense if the Church is still unwilling to put its sins of omission - its inaction during World War II - into context, and undertake a critical self-study of its role in shaping cultures which so readily succumbed to the lure of fascism. Totalitarianism did not spring unaided from the head of a pathological former house painter. The roots lay buried in a soil mulched by all those ecclesially sponsored inquisitions, torture, murder and pogroms. The Vatican's inability to assume a role of moral leadership during the War was because its priority remained one of power, not pastoral concern. It was still busy being a player in European politics - signing Concordats with the German Chancellor rather than confronting him on the demonic course his country was taking.
Critics with long memories will recall that thirty five years ago an attempt was made to get Church authorities to come clean on Pope Pius XII's inaction, when the Swiss dramatist Rolf Hochhuth's play, The Deputy, was staged. Rather than deal openly and honestly with Pius' vacillations, Catholic officialdom deployed its forces to defend the Pope and attack Hochhuth. It was not about to have its dogmatic slumber disturbed. Interestingly, Hannah Arendt reports in her book, Men In Dark Times, that in the month before he died, Pope John XXIII was given the play to read, and "was then asked what one could do against it. Where-upon he replied: 'Do against it? What can you do against the truth?'" Once again the Vatican functionaries prevailed; then as now, John's vastly superior spirituality and humanism were side-lined.
The Church has been wrong on many things, and when apologies come, if they do, they are too often reluctant, feeble and so tardy as to render them worthless. This was certainly true in Galileo's case. Another genius whose potential value to the Church has never been understood, much less appropriated, and whose work was as least as revolutionary and important to the species as Galileo's, is Karl Marx. Catholic liberation theologians have fought a losing battle for decades to be allowed to use Marx's analysis of the way capitalism works, and its role in creating appalling inequality. Alan Binder, a Princeton economist, has written: "I think, that when historians look back at the last quarter of the 20th Century, the shift of money and power up the income pyramid is going to be their number one focus."
For all his pronunciamentos on "the culture of death" and the degradation of modern life, the Pope, and the guy who does much of this thinking, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, have had neither the prescience nor the magnanimity to admit that Marx predicted, all too accurately, the cultural and economic devastation that global capitalism would leave in its wake. However, even while the Church may remain trapped by its fear of Marx (his comment about religion functioning much of the time as the opium of the people, was too close to the bone), the occasional capitalist, who has seen the light, is emerging. In an October issue of The New Yorker (of all places), journalist John Cassidy writes about an Oxford educated economist, now a very big cheese at a top Wall Street investment bank. (We are not told his name.) The banker breaks into sibyl-like utterances, such as "the longer I spend on Wall Street, the more convinced I am that Marx was right." Or: "There is a Nobel Prize waiting for the economist who resurrects Marx and puts it all together in a coherent model... I am absolutely convinced that Marx's approach is the best way to look at capitalism."
Cassidy's essay is punctuated with prophetic bon mots from Marx's writings like, "Uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois (capitalist) epoch from all the earlier ones... All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man (sic) is at last compelled to face, with sober senses, his real condition of life and his relations with his kind." Compared to this sort of stuff, the Pope's condemnations of the ills that beset the modern world sound petulant, provincial and far from radical. Which is not surprising when one remembers that he has vanquished the critics who seek to waken the Church from its dogmatic slumber, and have it boldly embrace Marx's critique of pure capitalism.
Ann Petifer is a Notre Dame alumna.
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This fall began with big news stories about a hoax. Sensational documents -- showing that President Kennedy paid hush money to Marilyn Monroe -- dazzled a fine journalist and powerful media executives. But they finally realized the documents were fake.
Days after splashy coverage threw cold water on the Monroe- Kennedy papers, another hot item turned into a dud. At first, it had real sizzle: The New York Times devoted nearly a quarter of its front page to a new book attributed to an Italian trader who sailed from Europe to southeast China in 1271, four years before Marco Polo's fabled trek.
"A reading of an advance copy suggests that, while it lacks the scope of Marco Polo's epic tale, it has similar historical significance and perhaps greater drama," Times foreign correspondent Nicholas Kristof wrote gravely. But eight days later, at the end of September, the publisher (Little, Brown) announced postponement of the book due to serious doubts about its authenticity.
In each instance, the moral of the media story is that even top-notch journalists and sophisticated execs can make mistakes - - and that the mass media system works by correcting errors and shining light on the truth.
This may seem reassuring. After all, if media institutions are willing to bite the bullet and admit mistakes, then we don't have much to worry about.
The problem is that mainstream media like to debunk the hoaxes that aren't very important. The relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John Kennedy is not exactly a key issue for our futures. And few modern destinies hinge on whether the public believes that a 13th century Italian merchant made it to China before Marco Polo.
Let's face it: The less weighty a media hoax is, the more likely it will be set straight. And vice versa.
When deceptions cast a huge shadow, they're liable to get scant attention. That's why we're still waiting for the national media to come to terms with hoaxes of recent decades that had profound consequences.
Early this year, for example, the longtime owner of The Washington Post and Newsweek, Katharine Graham, basked in profuse media praise for her autobiography. Reviewers seemed untroubled by the fact that the 625-page book did not even mention the momentous hoax known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Graham was president of the Washington Post Co. when the front page of her newspaper carried a fateful headline on Aug. 5, 1964: "American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers." The Post joined with other large media to report falsehoods -- supplied by U.S. officials -- as absolute facts.
What followed, within days, was the congressional Tonkin Gulf resolution -- and then a bloody war in Indochina, with a death toll in the millions. But Newsweek was never interested in challenging the Tonkin Gulf Hoax, in sharp contrast to the verve of the three-page spread on "The JFK-Marilyn Hoax" in its current issue.
In late 1990, another big hoax encouraged war. A sobbing Kuwaiti teenager sat before a congressional committee and told of seeing Iraqi invaders pull hundreds of babies from incubators in a Kuwait City hospital.
The tears were shed by the daughter of a Kuwaiti diplomat -- and her performance was a scripted lie. But the U.S. media treated the hoax as unvarnished truth, underscoring the need for military action.
On the home front, conventional media wisdom can be so pervasive that years go by with news outlets busily perpetrating hoaxes rather than exposing them.
A decade ago, news media were filled with claims that the banking industry had to be deregulated in the interests of competition and stability. In 1988, the American Bankers Association gloated that 140 out of 150 newspapers ran editorials in favor of deregulation.
The hoaxers got their way. Deregulation went into effect. The savings and loan disaster quickly ensued, with the U.S. Treasury picking up a bailout tab that ballooned to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Today, in Washington and many state capitals, deregulation mania is rampant. Corporate strategists in various industries are euphoric. But -- even after consumers and taxpayers get stuck with whopping bills -- don't hold your breath for news media to examine the hoaxes that made it all possible.
Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His book Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News (co-authored with Jeff Cohen) has just been published by Common Courage Press.
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The Man Who Could Have Been My Father
"So this is little Maxie," he said,
and made a comic face, though I was
half way through my first year
of college. But here he was at last--
the man who (I shouldn't laugh)
could have been my father.
He received us in summer white,
a red bow-tie bright as ribbon;
but the skin was talcum-powder,
the straw blond hair slicked back
over a generous bald spot that was
actually glowing in the overhead light.
I caught my mother winking to Aunt Sarah--
in their eyes, he was still Ronald Coleman,
as handsome and dashing as ever. Fifty
years ago, this same Charly Fefferling
was the boy next door, and they were
both in love, would lie awake arguing
which sister made the better match.
Too bad he preferred the company
of girls closer to his own age,
his stuck-up sister's snooty pals.
Such a good-looking man, he could
have had his pick, any number
of girls. They were all crazy for him!
But the amazing thing was, he had chosen
to remain a bachelor. Just in case,
they kept in touch; even after
they had spouses of their own,
they would find excuses to visit
the toy shop he took over after
his father (God rest his soul) passed away.
Then one day a Kosher delicatessen
was there instead, and they lost track--
it must have been another twenty years--
until he called out of the blue
and invited them over to the home.
So now we're given a guided tour
of his store and hoard, the natural
history museum of his single room.
Ah, these two pudgy Eskimo faces
were his pride, his niece's twin boys.
He would be there good time Charly,
spoiling them rotten with pockets
full of silver dollars, Hershey's kisses.
This sombrero was a souvenir
of sunny Tijuana, this genuine
meerschaum pipe from Baker Street,
Conan Doyle's own tobacconist.
The silver brush he was holding up
once belonged to his mother.
Running a finger through soft,
forlorn bristles; you simply couldn't
get quality like this anymore.
The television set he could take
or leave, but it was good to have,
so he could watch his shows,
that miserly funny man Jack Benny.
He didn't want to bother with
the riff-raff down in the lounge.
Those alter cockers could argue you
blue in the face over absolutely nothing.
And here at last was his treasure,
this pineapple canary bird
who went by the name of Beanie.
"Thirteen years old," he waved
his arm. "Who's ever heard
of a bird living for so long?"
Then he made a face like Pagliacci.
"Beanie, I need some cheering up,"
he crooned. Of course, the bird was
only too happy to oblige, rinsing
that small room with joyous song,
rousing appreciative tears from
everyone's eyes but mine.
I wanted out of there, couldn't
wait to begin forgetting what
I was seeing--but for once in my life,
I acted politely, stood there listening
as that brightly-colored Beanie
sang his little heart out.
Max Westler is a professor of English at St. Mary's College.
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