Sorry Folks, But Anti-Semitism Warrants Outrage

Normally I do not reply to readers’ comments, but the comments on my post earlier today are frankly shocking.

Thomas Peters, Communications Director of the American Principles Project, chose to speak at an event hosted by the leading promoters of anti-Semitism in Poland. The "college" that hosted him is attached to, and founded by, Father Tadeusz Rydsyk. Father Rysdyk not only also founded Radio Marija, it is clear that the college is an arm of the station and Mr. Peters reports that he got a tour of the station’s studios ("The Elders of Zion" goes hi-tech!). So there is no "guilt by association" here except for the association Mr. Peters chose: He decided to go to an event hosted by these notorious anti-Semites who dabble in Holocaust denial and have been denounced by the papal nuncio, Lech Walesa and many of Poland’s bishops. He shouldn’t have.


Mind you, I don’t think anyone should attend an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute but that has more to do with the allocation of that precious commodity of time than any moral concern. Choosing to associate with anti-Semites is different, it shows moral stupidity or coarseness or both, and the fact that Father Fessio was there too is hardly exculpatory.

Mr. Peters, of course, has a boss who presumably approved his taking time off to attend this conference and should have warned him against it. If Mr. Peters’ moral compass is off, he at least can plead youth. His boss, Professor Robert George, knows, or should have known, of Radio Marija’s anti-Semitism which has been a stain on Catholicism for many years, not least because it was so at odds with the obvious, determined effort of Pope John Paul II to eradicate anti-Semitism from his homeland and his Church. Professor George should explain why he thought his subordinate should attend such a conference. Or, that he did not know about it. A person in executive authority is expected to give an account of the activities of their staff, and that is not guilt by association either. That is being responsible.

Most importantly, I cannot help but detect in some of the comments posted something I have noticed before, both in the Church and outside of it, that disturbs me greatly. People, good people, smart people, sometimes forget that we need to get outraged, and outraged easily, by anti-Semitism. It is a pernicious cancer in our civilization and we must not only refuse to have anything to do with it, we must call out those who do.


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jim dick
9 years 1 month ago
Right on!
9 years 1 month ago
There is obviously a political agenda at play in these posts and outrage by Mr. Winters:
Could it be a conincidence that Prof. George has recently co-authored the "Manhattan Declaration" defending the constitutional basis for religious freedom.  This is a declaration sumarily dismissed on this blog without even a proper vetting.  Now, out-of-the-blue, Sean Winters decides to prounce this estemeed professor from Princeton an anti-semite by association.
It is obvious that Mr. Winters is simply seeking a "Beck-style" news break (in this case a smear) in order to discredit both this very necessary declaration and also to taint the reputation of this young, popular conservative blogger, Mr. Peters.
Yes, anti-Semetism is a horrible outrage and it has been declared so by the Vatican on many occasions; however, this does not mean that such vile propaganda was present at this particular venue - it was simply an international conference on Catholic social media in the internet age.
Where you at the conference Mr. Winters?  Do you have evidence of anti-semitic propaganda being dissminated?  Do you also claim that Ingatious press is anti-semitic (the publisher of all papal encyclicals) due to the fact that the founder was present at this media conference?
If not, your post amounts to libel and a uncouth attempt at political posturing.
Also, what hypocrisy that you decry discrimination yet attack and slander those who support non-violent resisence (i.e. the recent declaration) to governemt power and intimidation against selected populations.  This blog is all but silent by recent US government encrouchments on religious liberties of selected minorities such as orthodox Jews or Catholics...
Pearce Shea
9 years 1 month ago
Let's be clear, I don't like antisemitism and I don't like American Papist. I just want to point out that at the very best, you are making a "guilt by association" argument. You are right that the good Father is a wingnut possessed of some horrendous ideas. You are right Peters should have been more circumspect about the invitation to speak. You are putting your personal politics before sense, however, when you suggest that speaking there is necessarily an act of condoning antisemitism. Do you have a transcript of the speech Peters gave? Ought Obama have not spoken at Notre Dame because the Pope has advocated against condom programs in Africa, and abortion here in the United States? I realize it's not a great analogy.
The fundamental point stands: arguments which rely on guilt by association are both tacky and logically weak. Push the line a little further and we've devolved into something pretty close to catty libel.
I do not think that outrage over anti-semitism ought to trump logic, much less common decency (again, I dislike American Papist, but don't think Peters deserves the public excoriation you seem to think is warranted- did you try emailing him or calling before making your posts?). I think the same point was well made on this website when some people were losing their heads over Notre Dame/Obama.
Pearce Shea
9 years 1 month ago
Oh, and I'd wonder what Fr. Martin has to say about your take on all this. Wasn't Fr. Fessio (SJ and founder of the Ignatius Press) another speaker? Why no mention of him?
Devon Zenu
9 years 1 month ago
I regularly read and frequently disagree with Thomas Peters' blog. I agree with one of the commentors on MSW's previous post that American Papist has gotten much nastier and partisan since Peter's started working for the American Principles Project. He too often deals in caricature and is very selective in his application of Catholic teaching. (For a self-professed papist he seems to have little regard for papal teaching on a number of important Catholic ecological, ecomonomic, and social principles.)
That being said, I think it is important (following St. Ignatius' own principle) to interpret his actions and words in the most charitable light possible. He's an up and coming young blogger. He was invited to an international conference on social media that included prominent Catholic figures. My guess is that he was unaware of the anti-semitic background of the conference host and simply saw this as a great professional opportunity for himself. The correct response I think would be to gently and privately communicate the concern to Mr. Peters. He could then make a statement of support for Jews and against anti-Semitism on his blog and we could all be done with this. I think MSW's accusatory tone has probably not helped this situation. Anti-semitism deserves outrage, but that outrage should not eclipse Christian charity.
Jason Welle
9 years 1 month ago
Again, it's a leap of logic to imply that critics of your post are ignoring anti-semitism.
The criticism is directed at the questionably logical association which paints Mr. Peters as cavorting in anti-semitism, while not actually demonstrating that he supports the anti-semitic views of Fr. Rydsyk or that the conference reflected his views, nor calling out other prominent attendees like Fr. Fessio.  It makes the post seem like an attempt at the character assassination of Mr. Peters, rather than a justified criticism of anti-semitism.
If you want to run a post about Fr. Rydsyk's anti-semitism, then go for it.  If you wish to criticize specific points of Mr. Peters presentation at the conference or a post on his blog, then do so.  But I agree with ''DT'' that regardless of one's opinions of Mr. Peters, and I for one find his blog to be problematic, his particular actions in this case ought to be viewed as charitably as possible.
Tony Annett
9 years 1 month ago
Michael is right. Unfortunately, Peters' association with anti-semitism only scratches the surface. His blog, and more particularly his awful American Principles Project, is dedicated to a neocon laissez-faire liberal view of the world, dressed up in some Catholic garb. Leaf through the pages of his blog and you will find global warming denialism (with Inhofe named as a climate expert!), opposition to the the government role in heathcare (he clearly doesn't understand the issue) and simplistic laissez-faire economics (where he not only doesn't understand the issue, but seems more at home with the American Calvinist tradition than the treasure of Catholic social teaching). You will find him pumping the "sovereignty and security of our nation" (what happened to Catholic multilateralism and teachings on war and peace?) and publishing articles by torture-supporter Andrew McCarthy on why the unjust detainment of prisoners in Gitmo must continue.

The whole thing is a sham. Take this comment from the young whippersnapper: "Chris Korzen and all his buddies at Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholics for Choice are a bunch of self-serving, duplicitous parasites...fake Catholics...". I would look in the mirror if I were you, Mr. Peters (or is Master Peters the more appropriate sulatation?)
Grace Wilson
9 years 1 month ago
Try this one more time - see if survives the censors.
For Michael Sean Winters, who for months (years?) has been closely associated with the pro-abortion Barack Obama and has done his best to encourage Catholics to vote for and support the pro-abortion Barack Obama to cluck over another blogger's association with an anti-Semitic individual is almost the height of hypocricy.
On what grounds do you criticize Peters, MSW? That he is associating with a group that expounds views contrary to Catholic teaching?
Tony Annett
9 years 1 month ago
Your analogy is way off, Grace. The appropriate analogy is attending a conference by, say, Planned Parenthood and bragging about it, complete with pictures.


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