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Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?

In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to economics, displays no interest in actual Catholic teachings on economics. Perhaps that his because his position is at odds with that of Pope Francis, and as recent news reports suggest, he may also have joined forces with Vatican opponents of the Pope’s emphasis on refugees, tolerance and spiritually.

On February 7, 2017 The New York Times published an article that suggests “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican.” The story outlined how Bannon appears to be now engaging in a Fifth Column action within the Vatican in support of ultra-traditionalist forces who are unhappy with the Pope’s social justice message. These forces take issue with Francis’s more tolerant tone towards Syrian refugees, his call for economic fairness and his pro-environmental stances, particularly when it comes to climate change.

This reactionary “Shadow Church” features some familiar names. First and foremost is the former Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, Cardinal Raymond Burke. And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the shadow church may include The Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Institute for Human Dignity); a Catholic lay organization led by Benjamin Harnwell, whom The Times describes as “a confidant of Cardinal Burke.” Indeed, it was Harnwell who introduced Bannon to Burke.

The Times reported that Harnwell invited Bannon to speak before the Institute’s summer 2014 conference on poverty. Bannon, then-the editor of Breitbart News (not long before he joined the Trump presidential campaign), used the occasion to launch into a rallying call to culture war replete with broad allusions to what he believed is a coming clash of civilizations between the Christian West and Islam:

And we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

Cardinal Burke is also on the record stating his belief that Christianity and Islam are incompatible.

I think that in order to understand what may going on here we need to be aware of the idea of Fourth Generational Warfare (4GW for short). It is a term and a set of ideas that are likely to start getting more attention. What may look like a reign of confusion emanating from Bannon’s perch in the White House is more likely a well-thought-out strategy. You might say there may be a method to the madness — designed to “overwhelm, disorient and disrupt” progressives, moderates and even some centrist conservatives. The more confusion that is sown, the better.

And it is not too difficult to understand why Pope Francis would be a target . It is all-too-common for Catholics such as Bannon who have no true grasp of Catholic social justice teachings to confuse Marxism with the Church’s economic teachings. As sociologist Dr. James Scaminaci noted:

A sub-component of 4GW is William Lind’s conspiracy theory of the internal war for supremacy between what he called “cultural Marxists” and their ideology of “Political Correctness” or “multiculturalism” and the “traditional American culture” or “Judeo-Christian culture.” Lind argued that “cultural Marxists” hate America’s “Judeo-Christian culture” and were seeking to destroy it. The losers were to be rich, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexual men.

Nevertheless, some have pooh-poohed the idea of a possible “rad-trad” alliance against Pope Francis. However, as one article from NPR has pointed out, Breitbart News has made it quite clear where they come down in the battle between Pope Francis and the clique of radical traditionalists:

A year ago, Francis criticized candidate Donald Trump for wanting to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying, “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.”

But that’s not Bannon’s worldview. While most Breitbart reports on the pope have been neutral, headlines about the pope when Bannon was in charge included:

▪ “Seven Ways Pope Francis Slapped Conservatives in the United States”

▪ “A Vatican Expert: Pope Francis a ‘Friend of Islam'”

▪ “Pope Francis Slams Capitalism, Death Penalty, Immigration Law; No Real Mention of Abortion, Gay Marriage”

▪ “Pope Francis Threatens Legacy of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan”

Perhaps Charles Pierce put it best. Writing in Esquire :

This isn’t just a matter of the cafeteria having a few new and unfamiliar faces in the buffet line. This is dragging elements of the Church into alliances with white supremacists all over the world, lining up parts of the Church with the likes of Marine Le Pen in France. This is entering into an alliance with forces so completely contrary to the Church’s stated mission that they might as well give Cardinal Burke an army and let him march against the Languedoc.

It may well turn out that Bannon is less of a racist at all — but something worse; a political opportunist. The presidential advisor is playing a dangerous game using previously marginalized political movements in order to advance his own agenda — with possibly unintended but entirely foreseeable consequences.

Betsy DeVos’s Mudsill View of Public Education

My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman’s work in explaining Betsy DeVos’s long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If you haven’t I strongly urge you to read her work, here, here, and here. DeVos, President Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Department of Education, is not there to strengthen that governmental agency but essentially, to destroy it. Indeed, her motives have been clear for a long time. DeVos’s family related philanthropies are longtime funders of Christian Right projects, particularly in the area of school privatization. Politico reports that DeVos has said her work in education is intended to “advance God’s kingdom.”

DeVos’s approach is one of the contemporary mindset that mixes libertarianism with the Christian Right agenda that has become dogma for contemporary conservatism. To that end, they claim that their approach is “liberty.” But another great American had a different term for it: Mudsill.

In a stunningly awful performance at here confirmation hearing before a select U.S. Senate committee, DeVos displayed an incredible lack of familiarity with basic terminology of educational principles. As senator after senator cross-examined her she exposed herself as a person unfit for her position.

Normally, this would be grounds for a president to withdraw her nomination. But it may be that she may be precisely the type of department head desired by many modern conservatives. DeVos has no interest in strengthening public education but in eviscerating it.

As Rachel Tabachnick observed:

[Dick] DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters. Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to “dismantle” public schools; the DeVoses persevered. Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide “rewards or consequences” to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local “grass roots” entities and could not be “viewed as only a conservative idea.” DeVos added, “This has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible.”

There may be more than just an outright hostility towards public education at play here. Indeed, this is nothing less than libertarianism on steroids. I would suggest that this belief in private education is part of a more hierarchical, oligarchic conservatism. Contrary to the popular notion that conservatism is about independence it is in actuality more about creating a less knowledgeable working class.

As I have written in an earlier post:

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “mudsill” as 1. a supporting sill (as of a building or bridge) resting directly on a base and especially the earth; 2. a person of the lowest social level). The economic theory gets its name from an 1858 defense of slavery by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond.

“In all societies that must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life,” Hammond declared. He further argued that this perennial underclass is necessary for the rest of society to move forward. He said that this class requires “a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites,” he said, “are vigor, docility, fidelity.” Hammond insisted that such a class is necessary to support “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill.”

This view of economics and government brings us back to the origins of the Mudsill theory, which was primarily a justification of slavery that, in turn, is the root of modern libertarianism. “Mudsillism” allows for the select few to use other human beings to generate wealth without providing just compensation. And although we don’t call it that, Mudsillism is resurgent in America as wages are stagnant or in decline despite the increases in worker productivity. Increasingly, average Americans work longer and harder while shareholders and executives are rewarded far beyond their contributions. And personal indebtedness to financial institutions replaces wages that, in turn, replaces liberty with dependence. Indeed, if libertarian economics were to prevail, the result would be local theocracies, restricted education, and the hierarchical economic castes.

And restricted education is a cornerstone element of Mudsillism. This is so self-evident that in a speech given in September 1859 Abraham Lincoln identified this threat. In that address Lincoln got right to the point:

By the “mud-sill” theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a treadmill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be–all the better for being blind, that he could not kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. Those same heads are regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which ignites them. A Yankee who could invent strong handed man without a head would receive the everlasting gratitude of the “mud-sill” advocates.

Lincoln went on to attack Hammond’s Mudsill-based opposition to universal education. He observed, “According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous.” But Lincoln did not fear an educated working class. Indeed, he boldly enunciated what would become a core belief of contemporary liberalism, stating, “In one word Free Labor insists on universal education.”

Lincoln knew that in the absence of universal education, access to better knowledge and skills is a privilege accorded to the few who can afford to buy it, and that the result was greater economic inequality. This means that a greater segment is suited to only the most menial tasks. Doing away with public education is one of the surest ways to ensure that most less-affluent Americans become that “blind horse upon a tread-mill.”

And indeed privatization does make for a more ignorant working class. It doles the ability to think critically and make complex decisions. As a recent post in Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler website indicated, DeVos’s methods have had catastrophic results. Her methods were applied in the state of Michigan. And since those methods were introduced in 2002 student performance results dropped like a rock.

Let us heed Lincoln’s warning. What Betsy DeVos advocates is neither liberty nor freedom. It is not even an improvement in delivering educational services. It is instead, Mudsill – a direct route to making the American worker be nothing more than “a blind horse upon a treadmill.” But more importantly, it is precisely why Betsy DeVos has no business being the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Maureen Malarkey Share the 2015 Coughlin Award!

Originally <a href=http://www.talk2action.org/story/2015/12/30/134622/25”>posted at</a> Talk to Action.

Yes, folks it’s that time of the year again. It’s time for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award. As it is every year, the competition was stiff, so much so that this year for the first time we have a tie!  This year’s award goes to <a href=”http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/archbishop-salvatore-cordileone-takes-divisive-action-san-francisco-archdiocese“>Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone</a> and <a href=”http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2015/01/maureen-mullarkey-strikes-again-and.html“>Maureen Malarkey</a>.

 

The Coughlin Award — affectionately known as “The Coughie” — is our way of recognizing the person who has best exemplified an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith in the preceding year. The award is named for <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin“>Father Charles Coughlin</a>, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists, and other conservative media personalities.<p>

 

Best known for his diatribes against FDR, Judaism and open sympathy with the racist policies of Adolph Hitler, Coughlin’s advocacy was antithetical to the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:<p><p>

 

<blockquote>Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + “o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]<p>

  1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.<p>

Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. –Southey.<p>

Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.<p><p>

*Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.<p>

*Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.</blockquote><p><p>

In order to win a Coughie, a candidate must complete three qualifying tasks: 1) Make the faith decisively less inclusive 2) Engage in incendiary behavior and 3) Ultimately embarrasses the Church. This year’s winners — as usual — have risen to the challenge.<p>

 

This year there were so many exemplars of the Coughlin tradition, our judges had a hard time deciding whom to choose. For example, there was Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), the Tea Partying, climate change denying gun rights activist who published a screed on <i>Townhall.com</i> entitled, “Why I Am Boycotting Pope Francis’ Address to Congress.” And then there was (and <a href=http://www.talk2action.org/story/2014/12/30/82455/131”>last year’s winner</a>), Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia — whose strident divisiveness always makes him a contender. But as the nominating committee pointed out — neither of them can hold a candle to this year’s co-winners.

 

Since it is my belief that chivalry is not dead, ladies first.

 

<b>Maureen Mullarkey</b>

 

Our first award winner is Maureen Mullarkey, the <a href=http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2009/02/dana-rudolph-educational-challenge-of.html”>painter</a>-cum-political writer who

topped the charts of high-minded commentary about the current pontiff with <a href=http://thefederalist.com/2015/09/24/che-guevaras-pope/”>Che Guevara’s Pope </a>.

 

As I <a href=http://www.talk2action.org/story/2015/9/21/131542/062”>

observed</a> in September 2015 :

 

<blockquote>Then there is conservative writer Maureen Mullarkey who recently inked a poison pen piece entitled, <a href=”http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/mullarkey/2015/01/francis-political-illusion“>”Francis and Political Illusion”</a> in which she describes Francis as “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” Mullarkey subsequently published a piece entitled, <a href=”http://thefederalist.com/2015/01/26/pope-francis-is-a-leftist-and-must-be-called-out/“>”Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out”</a>. In it, she complains that Francis is not being harsher on Islam “when innocents are slaughtered in Paris by the same forces that are shedding Christian blood in the Middle East… .”<p>

Such ranting should be no surprise coming from Mullarkey who is a contributor to the journal <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Things“><i>First Things</i></a>, the well-known outlet for Catholic and Evangelical neoconservatives.</blockquote>

 

But Mullarkey had gone too far — even for <i>First Things</i>, which took down her last piece and fired her as a contributing writer. Editor R.R. Reno explained, <a href=https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/09/no-more-tirades”>No More Tirades</a>:

 

<blockquote> I’ve criticized Pope Francis and his encyclical, <i>Laudato Si</i>. However, Maureen’s commentary on Francis goes well beyond measured criticism. She consistently treats him as an ideological propagandist, accusing him of reducing the faith to secular political categories. This is her way of reducing him to the political terms she favors. And those terms are the ones used by radio talk-show hosts to entertain the public with mock-battles against various Empires of Evil. I don’t want First Things to play that game.</blockquote>

 

That, readers, was the Coughie clincher!

 

<b>Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone</b>

 

But in 2015 Coughlin Award-winning divisiveness was not the sole domain of Maureen Mullarkey. In fact, this year’s co-winner is a culture warrior, <i>par excellence</i>!

 

In 2012 Pope Benedict installed Salvatore Cordileone as the archbishop of San Francisco. To say that he was not a good fit for the progressively tolerant City by the Bay is an understatement. The archbishop is both a strong proponent of the Latin mass as well as being a signatory to the anti-marriage equality manifesto known as <a href=http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/07/23/christian-right-seeks-renewal-in-deepening-catholic-protestant-alliance/#sthash.savcOVUH.dpbs”>the Manhattan Declaration</a>.  (He went on to chair the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on the promotion and defense of marriage.)

 

 

Archbishop Cordileone is such a polarizing figure that a hundred prominent Bay area Catholics took out a full page ad in the <i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> calling for his resignation. <a href=http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/influential-catholics-call-removal-san-francisco-bishop-full-page-ad”>

According to</a> the <i>National Catholic Reporter</i>:

 

<blockquote>In an April 16 <a href=http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/04/cordileonead.jpg”>full-page advertisement</a> in the <i>San Francisco Chronicle</i>, more than 100 signers say the embattled archbishop pursues “a single-issue agenda,” coercing teachers with a “morality code which violates individual consciences as well as California labor laws” and “[isolating] himself from our community” as he “relies … on a tiny group of advisors recruited from outside of our diocese and estranged from their own religious orders.”</p>

 

Referring to themselves as “committed Catholics inspired by Vatican II,” signers include well-known philanthropists in the archdiocese, members of school and university boards, the former director of Catholic Charities CYO, high-profile attorneys and physicians, major figures in the business and corporate world, and officials of trusts, foundations and charitable organizations.</blockquote>

 

Part of what triggered all this was Archbishop Cordileone’s attempt to add a morality clause to the local Catholic high school teachers’ handbooks. As the <i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> <a href=http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-archbishop-s-morality-clauses-run-counter-6063227.php”>reported</a> earlier this year, “It contains a 2,000-word section calling for staff members — in their professional and private lives — to honor church teachings. He specifically cited opposition to abortion, contraception, homosexuality, artificial insemination, cloning and same-sex marriage, not to mention masturbation, fornication and pornography.”

 

Then, as if to outdo himself, in February 2015 a “morality pamphlet” was distributed to elementary School level parochial students within the diocese. Its shocking contents <a href=http://www.cbsnews.com/news/star-of-the-sea-school-morality-pamphlet-backlash-parents/”>were reported</a> by <i>CBS News</i>:

 

<blockquote>Questions included, “Did I participate or approve of a mercy killing?” “Did I perform impure acts by myself (masturbation) or with another (adultery, fornication or sodomy)?” …  Star of the Sea parish pastor Father Joseph Illo said when he realized in December the adult content of the pamphlets in December, he halted their distribution.</blockquote>

 

The many examples of the Archbishop’s Coughie-worthy achievements include <a href=http://ncronline.org/news/people/surprise-resignation-stuns-california-seminary-students-faculty”>the sacking of popular priests</a> and the use of <a href=http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/03/19/3635964/what-would-jesus-do-definitely-not-this/”>sprinklers to keep the homeless away</a> from St. Mary’s Cathedral.  Archbishop Cordileone may not be a Pope Francis Catholic — but he may be a Maureen Mullarkey Catholic!

 

So then you have it ladies and gentlemen; I give you Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Maureen Mullarkey our 2015 Coughlin Award co-winners!

 

 

 

 

What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don’t Want You To Know About Secession

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom Woods, Thomas DiLorenzo and an organization known as the League of the South: all of whom advocate for the secession and nullification as tools to be used by the Christian Right.

To that end, they perpetuate the myth of an antebellum South that was united in its belief in and desire for secession. They paint a portrait of Old Dixie as both an orthodox Christian and libertarian paradise for all its inhabitants that was spoiled by a foreign intruder: thus their claim that the conflict of 1861 to 1865 was not a Civil War initiated by a faction of Southern planters — but a war of Northern aggression.

Bullfeathers and balderdash!

In an August 6, 2015 article Sarah Posner interviewed author Julie Ingersoll about her book on Christian Reconstructionism, Building God’s Kingdom was asked about the influence the movement’s founder, R. J. Rushdoony has had upon the Neo- Confederate movement. Ingersoll explained:

I’ve tried to handle this delicately and in detail in the book and a brief answer is really difficult. This is partly because neither of these movements has clear-cut membership requirements and it depends what you mean by Neo-Confederates. There are numerous organizations that identify as Reconstructionist and Neo-Confederate that hold lectures and conferences—there is a lot of cross-fertilization among them…

What’s important, I think, is the larger way in which Rushdoony and the Reconstructionists helped build a resurgence of interest in and affection for, a pre-civil war vision of society. They did this, in part by promoting the work of Southern Presbyterian theologian R. L. Dabney and the view that the civil war was not about slavery but was a religious war to preserve a godly southern culture from the tyranny of a secularizing North.

Libertarian and traditionalist Catholic author Thomas E. Woods, Jr. is correct that the Civil War is surrounded by mythology. But with that said, the real myths are the ones Woods believes in and teaches in his homeschooling courses and in his books. The war was not about the North against the South, but patriot against secessionist. And for our purposes, many of those patriots included Southerners – a fact that today’s secessionist faction all-too-conveniently ignores.

Take for example Woods’s claims about the Civil War in his heavily criticized work – from both the left and the right, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Woods starts out his chapter on the Civil War by claiming it should be more accurately described as a “War Between the States.”

Strictly speaking, there never was an American Civil War. A civil war is a conflict in which two or more factions fight for control of a nation’s government. The English Civil War of the 1640s and the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s to classic examples; in both cases, two factions sought to control the government. This was not the case in the United States between 1861 and 1865. The seceding Southern states were not trying to take over the United States government; they wanted to declare themselves independent.

But contrary to this assertion, secession was, as it is today, a tool of factionalism. As Civil War hero, General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain noted, “The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretense, from breaking up this common Country.”

Chamberlain’s statement cuts the heart out of Tom Woods’s central argument, that Southern secession was not a factious action. In fact, the majority of American Southerners did not support the secession.

Two excellent books on secession and nullification pose a challenge to Woods and his ilk: The South Vs. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War by William W. Freehling and David Williams’s Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War. On page 7 of the introduction of the latter, Williams makes two important points:

It seems to gratify the pride of most southerners, at least white southerners, to think that the wartime South was united. It seems also to gratify the pride of many northerners to think their ancestors defeated a united South. Few northerners seem willing to consider that’s the Union may not have been preserved, the chattel slavery would not have ended when it did, without the service of nearly half a million Southerners in Union blue

And:

Our skewed image of the Civil War South also stems in part from the ways in which we emphasize the era’s military and political aspects. The great mass of literature dealing with the war years focuses largely on battles and leaders. Such studies are crucial, to be sure. By focusing so much of our collective attention on those aspects, tends to foster the myth of sectional unity, minimizing dissent or ignoring it altogether. In doing so, we paint all southerners, all white southerners at least, with a broad brush of rebellion. This oversimplified an often not-so-subtle effort to, in a sense, generally demonize white southerners as led to the mistaken idea that the terms “Southern” and “Confederate” are interchangeable during the war. They are used as such in most texts to this day. That firmly embedded misconception leaves little room in the popular and, too often, professional imagination for the hundreds of thousands of southern whites who opposed secession and worked against the Confederacy.

Williams documents how secessionist factions seized control many of the state conventions called to decide whether or not to leave the Union. Over and over again the author cites examples of secessionist intimidation designed to prevent the participation in these meetings of those who chose loyalty to the United States. Williams said in a 2008 interview:

That’s right. In late 1860 and early 1861, there were a series of votes on the secession question in all the slave states, and the overwhelming majority voted against it. It was only in the Deep South, from South Carolina to Texas, that there was much support for secession, and even there it was deeply divided. In Georgia, a slight majority of voters were against secession.

He also said:

The popular vote [in Georgia] didn’t decide the question. It chose delegates to a convention. That’s the way slaveholders wanted it, because they didn’t trust people to vote on the question directly. More than 30 delegates who had pledged to oppose secession changed their votes at the convention. Most historians think that was by design. The suspicion is that the secessionists ran two slates — one for and one supposedly against — and whichever was elected, they’d vote for secession.

In that same interview Williams commented, “It seems like the common folk were very much ignored and used by the planter elite. As a result, over half a million Americans died.” Such behavior does not describe a reasoned citizenry justifiably seeking independence but a poisonous faction trampling on the rights of the many.

Indeed, a close examination of Confederate society as well as of the Antebellum South exposes the weaknesses of economic libertarianism, especially of the Austrian School laissez-faire variety. And as both authors esoterically point out, it was devotion to libertarianism that ultimately did in the Confederacy.

As both authors point out the Confederate Army never had enough food to feed their soldiers. The problem was not enough farming but no government planning that would require the plantations to produce certain amounts of food. Instead, the plantation class exercised “their freedom” and concentrated on growing cotton and tobacco simply because those products were far more profitable. Woods, DiLorenzo and other Neo-Confederates often speak of the Confederacy and the Antebellum South as if they were paradise. That may have been true for the plantation class, but not for slaves and poor white farmers.

As David Williams points out in Bitterly Divided, plantation owners used slavery not only to exploit African-American labor also to control poor white dirt farmers. Slavery was used to keep wages artificially low by creating a surplus of cost-free labor. It also allowed the wealthier members of Southern society to build economic empires against which any smaller free labor enterprise had to struggle to compete with (at page 11, Williams states that on the eve of the Civil War half of the South’s personal income went to just over 1000 families). The planters used their economic muscle to outbid poor whites for the best farmland – and in the process, drove up prices. And to control them politically, devices such as literacy tests and poll taxes were used to keep poor whites from voting – the same devious devices that would later be employed to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote.

How unpopular was the Confederacy in the South? Those “nearly half a million Southerners in Union blue” more than replaced the 364,511 Federal soldiers and sailors killed in action. Our nation would not have been preserved without the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Southern whites and blacks dressed in blue uniforms, along with the countless others who engaged in everything from civil disobedience to out right guerilla activity.

As I have previously written, libertarian economic s is not about freedom per se but the freedom to oppress others:

This is libertarianism ‘s inherent fatal flaw: Its sole emphasis upon the liberty of the more powerful individual and its striking indifference to the rights of others. It fails to account for externalities — when a third person is affected by an occurrence or transaction to which he is not a party. It is a philosophy of governance that refuses to consider that the individual’s well-being is linked to the well-being of all within a given society

And this brings us back to the mythology pedaled by Rushdoony and the Reconstructionists — that of an idyllic pre-Civil War Southern society and notion that the war was not about slavery but was a religious war to preserve a godly Southern culture from the tyranny of a secularizing North. It was not. It was more about preserving a caste system society based upon Mudsill economics — a libertarian model that has more in common with feudalism than with capitalism.

Secession and nullification have regained currency with elements of the Christian Right in recent years, as Rachel Tabachnick and I have reported. They now rise, zombie-like, and threaten true economic and religious freedom. One way to expose the fraudulent foundations upon which secession and nullification are built, is to look at our own history — and to give long overdue credit to the brave American Southerners who helped to preserve the Union.

The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, “Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness.” Donohue then went on to describe the activities of several Catholic and non-Catholic Progressive leaning organizations during the last two papal visits. As is his wont, Donohue recklessly tarred dissent (by the Women’s Ordination Conference, for example) as anti-Catholic behavior. Donohue demagogically conflates progressive and liberal dissent with hate. There are important differences between hate and dissent, regardless of the source.

But with the ascendancy of the more open-minded Pope Francis, the Catholic League president all-too-conveniently overlooked much of the ugliness aimed at the pontiff from the Right.

On his upcoming visit to the United States Pope Francis will be addressing Congress. A significant portion of his message is expected to focus on the need to take action against Global Warming. This is not sitting well with many conservatives including conservative Catholics who would prefer that Francis talk about culture war memes such as abortion and the supposed war on Christianity.

One of these is Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — a Tea Partier and a vocal gun rights activist — who once described Native Americans as “wards of the federal government.” He has also signed a pledge to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. It would be an understatement to say that he is at odds with Francis over economics and the environment.

So, to that end, on September 17, 2015 Representative Gosar published a piece on the conservative website Townhall.com entitled, “Why I Am Boycotting Pope Francis’ Address to Congress.” The statement is a long list of grievances against the successor to Saint Peter — and it is not short on hyperbole. Gosar complains, for example, that Francis may discuss climate change, but he…

…has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into “climate justice” and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line. If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.

It goes on like this.

If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous.

Gosar claims:

I have both a moral obligation and leadership responsibility to call out leaders, regardless of their titles, who ignore Christian persecution and fail to embrace opportunities to advocate for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realizes his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life. As the leader of the Catholic Church, and as a powerful voice for peace throughout the world, His Holiness has a real opportunity to change the climate of slaughter in the Middle East… not the fool’s errand of climate change.

“Socialist talking points?” “Leftist policies?” Really?

Gosar’s condescending screed is full of stuff like this: “…when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.” Such language is not civic in nature, but instead, full of hatred and hostility.

Unfortunately for Gosar, this partisan sniping reveals a breathtakingly bad understanding of Catholic social teaching (of which, both the “Option for the Poor” and “Stewardship of God’s Creation” are of great importance). He should know this since he boasts of his Jesuit education.

Then there is conservative writer Maureen Mullarkey who recently inked a poison pen piece entitled, “Francis and Political Illusion” in which she describes Francis as “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” Mullarkey subsequently published a piece entitled, “Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out”. In it, she complains that Francis is not being harsher on Islam “when innocents are slaughtered in Paris by the same forces that are shedding Christian blood in the Middle East… .”

Such ranting should be no surprise coming from Mullarkey who is a contributor to the journal First Things, the well-known outlet for Catholic and Evangelical neoconservatives.

None of this is new.

As I pointed out in 2013 when Rush Limbaugh, Jeb Bush and Bill Donohue himself engaged in some ugliness by mischaracterizing Pope Francis’s criticisms of libertarian economics as a call to Marxist revolution. This is far from the first or only time a Catholic has been called a Marxist or a Socialist for wanting to use the power of government to ensure that capitalism be fairer and less predatory.

While it is true that a lot of ugliness has been directed at Pope Francis: Bill Donohue just isn’t being straight with us about the direction from whence it mostly comes.