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No One Expects The Secular Inquisition!

February 28, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


The last few weeks have been a train wreck for the legacy media. Almost all of the wounds have been self-inflicted, with Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School now pursuing a $250 million defamation suit against The Washington Post — and good for him.
I won’t bore you with the litany of horribles from the media desperately eager to craft a narrative to fit a worldview. The point is that their outlook on humanity isn’t just diametrically opposed to precisely half of America, but it is opposed to basic concepts of reality.
By the time this reaches your hands, there will be a stronger-than-even likelihood that the Mueller investigation will have released its report to the U.S. Department of Justice. There will be a stronger-than-likely chance that this report will be deemed inconclusive, with just enough ambiguity to satisfy both the president and his detractors.
The media will spin this accordingly into the old logical fallacy of disproving the negative. No proof of Russian collusion will be twisted into no proof that there wasn’t Russian collusion.
Of course, the press would love for such McCarthyism to be employed against the perceived enemies of freedom and justice in the world. This despite the fact that McCarthy, for all his perceived faults, was entirely correct about not only Alger Hiss but the depth of Communist infiltration into the American government during the 1930s and 1940s.
Yet if “democracy dies in darkness” — the new motto of the ethically challenged Washington Post — then nowhere has this darkness been more pervasive than among the perceived champions of total democracy. Some would prefer this to be a novel problem of clickbait-driven media, yet the problem is as old as Walter Cronkite and Bob Woodward. The moment media stopped being a path for information and turned into a lens, the game was up. Vietnam could be spun; Watergate could be spun; Iran-Contra could be spun.
Just to dwell on this point for a moment, I can remember as a (very) young man that the Soviets were still being propped up in the late 1980s by opinion-driven media who sought detente with the Soviet Union in a partnership for peace. That is, where the socialist experiment could be modernized, and thus it has been in places such as Communist China, to a point where the materialist dreams of the planners could be met if only Western markets would subsidize it.
To Ronald Reagan’s credit, the postwar system of free markets and global capital achieved precisely this effect, by depriving the Soviets of needed capital and driving such investment toward the Chinese under the Clinton administration. With this so-called “end of democracy” came a certain conviction that only the Western liberal democratic order could preserve world peace. Those who stood against this order? Experienced regime change — unless, of course, you had nuclear weapons — a lesson that Iran and North Korea took to heart after the 2003 Iraq War.
Thus surrounded by nefarious enemies, Western foreign policy sought to expand our natural frontiers. The West no longer stopped at Berlin or Warsaw, but in places such as Kiev, Minsk, and Tbilisi. The South China Sea would be incorporated into the Alfred Thayer Mahan dictum that only the United States should guarantee the freedom of the seas. Cheap loans were extended to Third World countries incapable of paying them back, foreign aid was sent to indoctrinate the so-called Global South into adopting secular Western sexual norms, and an effort to keep Washington at the center of a global hub with other nations as so many spokes on a wheel.
No small wonder that the nations that could chafe — the BRICs of Brazil, Russia, India, and China — were the first to do so. Thus far, all of them have adopted what the American media have dubbed “populist” or nationalist governments in the face of Western globalism.
Back home, the impulse to dragoon the American public into the new secular dogmas has taken terrifying and dizzying new forms. Wearing a red MAGA Hat makes you a Nazi (until it turns out you were set up). Actors are getting beaten for being outspoken against the Trump regime (by people they themselves hire to do precisely that). Russians are buying our elections (until their efforts are shown to equate to a gnat belch in a hurricane). Cow emissions are imperiling the planet (yet no one can seem to point to the “clean energy” socialist state).
Even on questions such as marriage and sexuality, we find ourselves the victims of disinformation from our own media — folks warehoused in cubicles in big cities who can’t possibly imagine a different viewpoint on the world. Even within the Catholic Church, men like now former Cardinal McCarrick sock away pensions while men such as Cardinal Burke suffer one indignity after another. The media condemn the idea that the priesthood harbors a homosexual clergy crisis…if only we had just allowed these pederasts to marry, if only we had women’s ordination, if only…if only…if only….
Woe to those who stand up to these postmodern inquisitors. Time and time again, we see the reputations of good men and women dragged through the mud with the palpable excuse that something is trending on Twitter. The game is easy: Set up a Twitter account, friend the target’s associates, unleash your oppo file — and it works.
All of this crystallizes in the fact that our media are more than happy to serve as a secular Torquemada to a braying crowd. Just use a few buzzwords — racist, sexist, Nazi, pedophile, globalist, nationalist — and the mob will emote accordingly. Few people correct their first impressions because our amygdala tells us that our emotions were true, ergo our reactions must be as well.
Thus the modern secular inquisition chews up those who would preach heresy in the face of its interlocutors. The American press will make it dangerous to dissent because there is an order at play, a secular faith that Western liberal democracy is not just the best but only method of governance fit for their ideological designs.
The most we can do as good Catholics is simply to be aware of it when such criticism occurs to our own tribe, either from outside or within. No one expects the secular inquisition… but don’t expect it to come with soft pillows and the comfy chair (apologies to Monty Python fans everywhere).

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Pope Francis caused quite a stir as a document designed to increase harmony between Sunni Islam and Catholicism appeared to offend sensibilities back home. Within the document, there is a line stating that pluralism is willed by God…which to those of us who correctly chose to align with the Deposit of Truth and Faith, might be a touch perplexed as to why First National Bank just endorsed Second National Bank across the street.
Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, explained in great detail in these pages why Francis was correct on the technical questions while opening up the possibility for scandalizing the faithful by not explaining the difference between permissive will and consequential will (“Did Pope Francis Apostatize in Abu Dhabi?” in The Wanderer, February 14, 2019, p. 5A). The overreaction of apostasy from certain quarters of Catholicism seems more political than theological in substance, but it does go to show that words matter — and not just a little bit.
To be fair, I am quite certain that Al-Tayyab would have welcomed a distinction, if for no other reason than he himself quite honestly believes that Islam is the true and correct path. Francis’ gesture may have helped heal the rift created when the media condemned “Panzer Pope” Benedict XVI’s 2005 Regensburg Address — a fantastic speech one should read immediately.
Yet it does go to show that the media, once again, tend not to be terribly interested in reporting truth, but rather in skewing viewpoints towards discrete ends.

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Fr. James Schall passed away today. A Jesuit priest & Georgetown professor, he served as mentor & model to a numberless many (including me). With penetrating insight & wit, he pointed us to Christ & those great Catholic minds we mustn't forget.

Fr. Schall, requiescat in pace.

Please pray for Raymond DeSousa today, who is a weekly Wanderer columnist who is undergoing serious surgery today.

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