Articles and Posts by Tom Piatak:
The Inconvenient Dead(0)
On Sunday, 522 Catholics killed for the Faith during the Spanish Civil War were beatified in Spain. So far, some 1500 Catholic martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War have been beatified. The left is not pleased. An article in the Guardian says that the killing of Catholics during the Civil War is “highly controversial,” “controversial” being the standard way of describing something not pleasing to the left. The article also notes that, ”In perhaps the most controversial moment, Pope Francis made a televised address to the congregation, but failed to address the church’s support for Franco,” and concludes by stating that “Critics of the Catholic church argue that while it is happy to honour those killed by republicans, it has failed to address the far higher number of republicans who were murdered by Franco’s forces.”
Unmentioned in the article is the salient fact that, if it were not for Franco, the Catholic Church in Spain would have been destroyed. Indeed, the most probable outcome of Franco’s defeat would have been a Communist dictatorship in Spain. Those beatified were not combatants, or even political figures, but ordinary Catholics who were killed simply because they were Catholic. But the Guardian doesn’t want these people to be remembered, and those who dare to remember are criticized in a way that the killers never are.
Democrats to the Barricades(0)
While the political spotlight has been on the government shutdown, the Democrats have not forgotten that America’s political future will be shaped by the immigration bill passed by the Senate but stalled in the House. In an effort to convince House Republicans to drop their opposition to the bill, congressional Democrats gave their support to a rally for the bill held on the National Mall, and eight House Democrats were even arrested for blocking a street near the Capitol following the rally.
It is, of course, telling that the Obama Administration gave access to the Mall to the organizers of the rally, despite preventing World War II veterans from visiting the World War II Memorial. Even more telling is this statement by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the leader of the House Democrats arrested after the rally. As VDARE’s Peter Brimelow has noted, Gutierrez disdains loyalty to America and Americans, proclaiming instead, “I have only one loyalty, and that’s to the immigrant community.” Obama and Gutierrez know that, by giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and by importing millions of additional immigrants from the Third World, the immigration bill will give a dramatic, perhaps irreversible, boost to leftism in the United States. Let us hope that the Republicans in the House realize this, too.
A War on Syria Is a War on Christians(0)
Ten years ago, Chronicles was one of the few American publications pointing out that the American invasion of Iraq would be a disaster for Iraqi Christians. And so it proved to be. Since our invasion of Iraq, half of Iraqi Christians have fled, and those who remained have been targets of murder, extortion, and kidnapping by Islamists, who have also murdered Iraqi clergy and bombed Iraqi churches filled with worshippers.
One of the places those Iraqi Christians have fled to is Syria. Today, Barack Obama is asking Congress to give him authority to unleash America’s military might on Syria. The Christians of the Mideast are unanimous in opposing Western attacks on Syria, because they realize that the alternative to the Assad regime is rule by Islamists and that Islamist rule will be disastrous for them. Most Americans are opposed, too, because we have had enough of pointless wars in the Mideast. Let us hope that Congress listens, and blocks American attacks on Syria.
Mass Immigration: Bad for America, Bad for the Church(0)
This Labor Day, elite opinion is pushing a piece of legislation that poses a clear threat to the interests of working Americans, the immigration bill supported by President Obama and passed by the Senate. By massively increasing legal immigration and regularizing illegal immigration, this bill promises to further depress wages and to throw more Americans out of work, at a time of high unemployment and massive underemployment. So important is this bill to elite opinion that even those it normally scorns can earn a good word by supporting the bill, as shown by a recent article in The New York Times praising the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to support the bill.
As Bishop Robert Baker made clear through his spokesman the last time there was a major push for amnesty, immigration is “not a doctrinal issue. It’s a prudential issue. Well-formed, faithful Catholics and Christians can take different opinions because it’s a prudential issue.” Indeed, the statement issued by Benedict XVI on immigration in 2010 indicated that states have the right to regulate migration and defend their frontiers, and also recognized the importance of respecting a country’s laws and its national identity. The immigration bill shows contempt for the rule of law and our national identity, in addition to advancing the interests of plutocrats over those of working Americans. It is bad for America, and it should be rejected for that reason alone.
But it is also bad for the Catholic Church. It is likely that many of the bishops view today’s immigration through the experience of their own forebears, and there is little doubt that past immigration benefited the Catholic Church. For example, large numbers of Slovak immigrants, including the Piataks, began coming to Cleveland in the late nineteenth century. These immigrants founded a Catholic parish in 1887, and they and their children founded seven more Roman Catholic parishes and two Byzantine Catholic parishes in Cleveland over the next forty years, in addition to founding a Benedictine abbey and a high school for boys. By and large, these parishes were staffed by Slovak priests and the parish schools were staffed by Slovak nuns and the funding for them was provided by the immigrants themselves. The Slovak immigrants came from a world where life revolved around the village church and the leading authority figure was the parish priest. This experience inspired them to build churches and schools once they came to America, just as similar experiences inspired other Catholic immigrants to undertake comparable efforts all over the country.
Today’s immigration is different. Hispanic Catholics are not funding a boom of new Catholic churches and schools. Although there are many fervent Catholics among them, Hispanic Catholics come from a different world than earlier Catholic immigrants did. Because of the shortage of priests that has characterized Latin American Catholicism from its inception, many immigrants are coming from villages where the priest is able to visit a few times a year, if that. As a result, their attachment to Catholicism is generally more tenuous than among earlier immigrants. Archbishop Chaput just noted that although 70% of foreign born Hispanics are Catholic, only 40% of third generation Hispanics are. In other words, Hispanics are coming to America to lose a faith that was afforded at least some protection by an ambient Catholic culture in Latin America. This is hardly something the bishops should be encouraging.
Meandering and Craven(0)
Last Friday, Commonweal published an essay by former First Things editor Jody Bottum entitled “The Things We Share: A Catholic’s Case for Same-Sex Marriage.” The reaction of National Review’s Michael Potemra was to pronounce Bottum’s piece “fascinating and brave.” A less apt description is hard to imagine. Bottum’s essay is so meandering that it is difficult to read. And “courageous” is hardly the word to describe an essay whose point is the necessity of moving from what Bottum sees as the losing side to what he sees as the winning side, even if the essay was calculated to burn bridges to former friends and colleagues. In fact, what Bottum’s essay represents is craven capitulation to the forces of secular liberalism, as shown by the fact that the Henry Luce Foundation paid for the essay (apparently paying by the word) and The New York Times celebrated the essay by running an adulatory profile of Bottum on the same day Commonweal published the essay. Neither the Henry Luce Foundation nor The New York Times are in the habit of financing or promoting opponents of gay marriage.
Despite what Bottum and Potemra want us to believe, there is no conservative argument for gay marriage. Indeed, it is telling that despite invoking Thomas Aquinas in the essay, and mentioning him in the profile, Bottum never gets around to telling his readers what Aquinas thought of homosexual acts. Gay marriage is clearly the defining issue for the left today. Those unwilling to resist the push for gay marriage are unlikely to defend any conservative principle once it comes under concerted attack.
UPDATE: Phil Lawler has written an excellent response to Jody Bottum. Those who are interested may read Lawler’s essay here.
Death in Oklahoma(0)
Earlier this week, Chris Lane, an Australian baseball player, was brutally killed in Duncan, Oklahoma. Police have charged James Edwards and Chancey Luna with first degree murder for killing Lane. Lane was white; Edwards and Luna are black, though an accomplice, Michael Jones, charged with being an accessory after the fact, is white. Australian papers are reporting that Edwards had tweeted “90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM” and boasted of assaulting whites after George Zimmerman was found to have acted in self-defense in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. There is thus far more evidence of racial animus in this case than there ever was in the Zimmerman case, which became a media cause celebre and prompted unctuous comments by Barack Obama on how Trayvon Martin looked like him or how he could have been Trayvon Martin, coupled with a directive to Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether Zimmerman had violated Martin’s civil rights.
So far, Obama and Holder have been silent about Lane’s murder, and places like The Huffington Post are indignant that anyone is taking note of the race of Lane’s killers. Obama’s silence on this issue is no more surprising than his silence concerning the Moslem Brotherhood’s burning of sixty or so Coptic, Catholic, and Protestant churches in Egypt. As Steve Sailer has long pointed out, contemporary media analysis is governed by the Leninist dictum of Who? Whom? If an event lends itself to being portrayed as evidence of further victimization of a member of a certified victim class, it will become a major news story and the source of endless hand-wringing. If an event cannot be fit into that framework, or indeed challenges that framework, it will be ignored or downplayed and those trying to call attention to it, if persistent enough, will be accused of “racism” or “Islamophobia” or the like.
The Worst Republican Nominee Ever(0)
John McCain is back in the news. The media is exulting that “The Straight Talk Express Is Back” because McCain has taken to denouncing members of his own party as “wacko birds” and to carrying water for Obama in the Senate. As bad as Obama has been, America is probably fortunate that McCain never made it to the White House. He would have given us most of what Obama has, and likely gotten us into wars in Iran and Syria and who knows where else. One of McCain’s few criticisms of Obama is that we are not doing enough to aid the jihadists hoping to topple the Assad regime in Syria, whom Obama has decided to aid even though they are killing and kidnapping Christians. We also now know that McCain wanted Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, a choice that would have made clear that McCain was no conservative but interested only in embroiling America in more ruinous foreign wars.
McCain was instrumental in getting the Senate to pass the disastrous immigration bill, and he is now trying to convince Republicans in the House to drop their opposition and give millions of illegal immigrants a “pathway to citizenship” and a chance to vote, a chance the vast majority of them would use to vote for Democrats. McCain warns that “If we fail on immigration reform, it won’t matter who our nominee is because of the polarization of the Hispanic vote.” Unsurprisingly, McCain doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Despite many years of advocating immigration policies that would make La Raza proud, Obama trounced McCain among Hispanic voters. Most Hispanics vote for the Democrats because they believe they benefit from Big Government and they also believe that the Democrats are the more reliable provider of Big Government, not because of immigration.
And an analysis of the 2012 results by Sean Trende shows that the principal reason that Romney lost was because white voter turnout was down. According to Trende, the white voters who didn’t show up in 2012 tended to be the type of voters who went for Perot in 1992. To win those voters back, Trende writes that the GOP “would have to be more ‘America first’ on trade, immigration and foreign policy; less pro-Wall Street and big business in its rhetoric; more Main Street/populist on economics.” In other words, the GOP would have to be more like Pat Buchanan, and less like Mitt Romney or John McCain. More recently, as Steve Sailer notes, Trende stated that the GOP could have done three things to win a majority of the popular vote in 2012: increase its share of the white vote by 3 percentage points, increase its share of the black vote by 16 percentage points, or increase its share of the Hispanic vote by 21 percentage points. The first task means winning the same share of the white vote Nixon and Reagan did; the third task means winning a share of the Hispanic vote no Republican presidential candidate has ever done.
The principal failing of the Republican Party in recent years has been the refusal to support policies that help most of its voters and the support of policies that harm those voters and even the party’s long-term prospects. McCain’s loud support for mass immigration and his eagerness to help Barack Obama illustrate these failings to a T.
A Small Miracle(0)
It’s as if The Nation admitted Alger Hiss’s guilt, The New Republic discovered the virtues of evangelical Christianity, or National Review concluded that Barack Obama has been an outstanding president. Yesterday, Consumer Reports gave the top ranking of any sedan to the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the first American sedan the magazine has rated best in 20 years. The disdain of Consumer Reports for American cars is longstanding, and it persisted even after other parts of the automotive press began to allow that maybe American cars weren’t so bad after all. Which is why so many papers picked up yesterday’s story about the magazine’s rating of the new Impala and why, if my computer is to believed, so many people are searching for information about the car. This change of heart won’t be enough to reverse Detroit’s recent municipal bankrupty, an event that was the result of many causes but that would have been inconceivable if Americans still bought GM, Ford, and Chrysler cars in the same numbers we used to. But it is a small bit of unexpected good news, especially for those of us living in areas that benefited from the American auto industry during its long prosperity and that are tied to that industry still.
They Don’t Like Hot Dogs And They Don’t Like Us(0)
Much of the discussion over the immigration bill that just passed the Senate focuses on how it will deal with illegal immigration. But much of the financial backing for the bill comes from Silicon Valley, which wants to vastly increase legal immigration, particularly the H1B visa program, which allows American employers to import technical workers from abroad. According to this devastating article about Silicon Valley by Joel Kotkin, H1B visa holders currently take between one third and one half of new IT jobs in America. Although those pushing for more H1B immigrants claim American companies can’t find enough skilled workers here, Kotkin notes that America is currently graduating 50% more IT workers than are needed. Indeed, there is no real reason to suppose that Americans lack the ability to become engineers, computer programmers, and the like. It’s just that many Americans with the ability to pursue those jobs have chosen other fields, as the H1B program has driven down wages and free trade has gutted the manufacturing sector that used to provide stable employment to American engineers.
But Silicon Valley’s advocacy of mass immigration is consistent with its behavior in other areas. As Kotkin notes, many of the companies based there show little interest in employing Americans. Apple employs 700,000 Chinese to manufacture its products, and employment in Silicon Valley as a whole has actually decreased by 40,000 since 2001.
Steve Sailer recently did a fine job dissecting a piece at Slate that attacked American technical workers for opposing increased immigration. One of Sailer’s commenters unwittingly illustrated the anti-American mentality that Sailer was skewering: ”Immigrants like me who came to Silicon Valley found it easy to adapt and assimilate. We were able to learn the rules of engagement, create our own networks, and participate as equals. These days, the campuses of companies such as Google resemble the United Nations. Their cafeterias don’t serve hot dogs; they serve Chinese and Mexican dishes, and curries from both northern and southern India.” This immigrant may have “adapted” and “assimilated,” but he didn’t assimilate to America. What he assimilated to is an aspiring transnational elite that views America with disdain. We don’t need any more immigrants like that, no matter how talented they might be.
Your Tax Dollars At Work(0)
Last week, Fr. Francois Mourad, a Syrian Catholic priest, was brutally murdered by Islamist rebels in Syria. There is some uncertainty as to whether Fr. Mourad was beheaded or shot, although it seems more likely that he was shot. What there is no doubt about is that his killers are part of the armed rebellion trying to topple the Assad regime in Syria, a rebellion that Barack Obama has decided to arm, just as he supported the Islamist rebellion in Libya. Fr. Mourad’s murder is not an outlying event, but entirely representative of the treatment the Christians are receiving from the rebels in Syria, which is why tens of thousands of Syrian Christians have fled the country. The mainstream media is largely ignoring Fr. Mourad’s death, just as it largely ignores any news story that might reflect poorly on the Obama Administration, as the murder and mayhem committed by the rebels in Syria surely does.