Friday, September 14, 2007

A Wrong Needs to Be Righted

With few exceptions we at The ChesterBelloc Mandate rarely post essays or articles. We prefer to maintain this site as an archive.

That said, we have in the past alluded to the smearing of names (see Ramblings of Defense and Dr. John Rao's The Smear Reports), to the unjust persecution and bearing of false witness to those who are not given the opportunity to respond or even interviewed prior to running a story. There are those who choose to publish gossip and hearsay (not to mention libel) or create scandal with wild stories without doing what Chesterton would have done in an instant: ask the accused.

We are not mentioning the primary secular source, which ran the story. They are beyond asking for charity and truthfulness. The shame belongs to Catholics. To Catholics and to Catholic journalists. To people from whom we would expect fairness and legitimate reporting. For those selecting to backbite instead of making a simple phone call and for those who would hand down a public verdict without the opportunity of a defense for the accused.

The ChesterBelloc Mandate has stood and continues to stand by IHS Press. For us, it was never an option not to. We have seen the devastation of reputations damaged and IHS is simply the latest. Even those we would consider socio-economic opponents (Thomas Woods, Jr for instance) have been hurt by the latest round-up of unjust charges. In the case of John F. Sharpe we saw what anyone else who chose to see, could see. The charges against him were innuendo and public whispering. They assumed what an adolescent could see through instantly. It was the election, the choice to fill in the blanks while the sentence came down from unknowns whose closets they would never allow the public to inspect.

Who watches the watchers, ladies and gentlemen?

It is with this in mind we wish to congratulate Stephen Hand of TCRnews (unfortunately TCR have closed their doors this year). Mr. Hand is a perfect example of a reflective Catholic able to transcend differences, recognise truth and embrace it. It is our opinion that Mr. Hand has placed his reputation on the line for the sake of justice and honour. We commend Mr. Hand and hope this posting will reach further than the original article amongst Catholics.

Let this be a lesson learned. Mr. Sharpe has endured and sacrificed so we could learn this lesson. He has been the defendant. The defendant without a forum. It pleases us to reprint this article from his recent advocate.

Lt Cmdr Sharpe Jr: Catholics, Jews and Bush's War
by Stephen Hand, Monday, July 23, 2007

'Justice requires me to speak up for him. For I had at the time been corresponding with the same man, urging him not to cross any line into genuine extremism,' writes Stephen Hand.

The following article is written in reply to an opinion piece by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

With the news that Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Sharpe Jr. was under investigation and indeed has been "temporarily relieved of duty and placed under investigation in early March for allegedly violating a rule that forbids all personnel in the U.S. Navy to "participate in any organization that espouses supremacist causes," I had reason to pause. Justice requires me to speak up for him. For I had at the time been corresponding with the same man, urging him not to cross any line into genuine extremism, as some were accusing him of on account of an association with another man. It started like this. As the matter is so serious, I feel free to quote him. I wrote to him:

Let's go back. Were it not for two things I would never have breathed the word "schism" in relation to my former friends [in traditionalist circles):

1. The following statement from We Resist You to the Face:

"In our view a possible future declaration of a sede vacante ('the period of time when the Apostolic See is empty, as a consequence of the heresy of the Pope,' ---Catholic Family News, 7/2000) would take place automatically when the Church would become aware of the gravity of the present day errors and who is responsible for them." ---We Resist [The Pope] To His Face, V.3 (emphasis mine)

John Sharpe replied (some names removed here):

Steve -- I'm just sitting down to dinner, but one interesting thing. I was present at the meeting(s) where Atila (who .... well, that's another story; pro-war; anti-distributist; slanders Gill and Penty; T.I.A. (read neocon, possible CIA); etc. etc.), [they] received the statement drafted BY Atila (Atila Sinke Guimarães), reviewed it, disussed it, and signed it. He sent me an electronic draft, and I presented what I thought were reasonable critiques, but - get this - I specifically objected to the statement you indicated. His reply said somewhat condescendingly that as I matured in thought I might be able to make some theological contributions some day ... or some such thing. At any rate he specifically dismissed my criticism of that quasi-sede statement.

It was clear to me then that this man knew how to make distinctions, even if Atila Guimaraes didn't. Thus---as stated---began my long sad clash with those who, in the light of all this, signed such a statement (instigated by Guimaraes) which seemed to me overreaching at best, schismatic at worst. My correspondence with Sharpe began, on the one hand, with my praise for his massive two-volume set, Neo-Conned! which included contributions from many reputable antiwar activists on all sides of the political and ethnic spectrum (including a TCR writer), as well as Noam Chomsky and other Jews.

I had seen accusations (at pro-war blogs and in email) that Sharpe was in league with some who believed the "neocons" were a "front for the state of Israel" and I urged him to avoid such a conclusion, since I was and remain convinced the US calls the shots in this unjust aggression against Iraq, not Israel. Sharpe replied that his criticism was not against Jews as persons but against the Jewish Lobby which was part of the problem, presenting a grave danger to the world. That one Derrick Holland (who in another era reportedly belonged to British National Front as some of his Neo-Con critics today used to be Trotskyites!) was involved in helping prepare the volumes did not phase me since I never heard of him, but for scant references on Neocon blogs.

I came away from the correspondence believing that Lt. Cmdr. Sharpe's main concern was the Iraq war, not the Jews, and certainly not "white power". After all, many critics of Israeli policy in the Middle East have been accused of the politics of antisemitism over the last decades.

Still I urged Sharpe to carry on with his constructive works (as with the Neo-conned volumes) and to avoid linking with any who might overreach or plunge headlong into diversions like the "Jews run the world" crowd. For it is my conviction, as I told him, that it is Enlightenment errors, specifically its atheism and hatred of the Catholic Church, and American corporatocracy (consisting of Gentile and Jew alike) which is heading us towards American hegemony and possibly Armageddon.

Sharpe seemed to agree, or at least he said nothing to contradict my views ensuring me he was not in any way "anti-semitic".

Over time I became more and more concerned as I saw (as our readers here know) Jewish persons and groups ratcheting up the most outlandish---indeed wicked--- charges against pope Pius XII. If such a saintly man who saved so many Jews could be labeled an "antisemite" and made to appear complicit in the death of Jews during Hitler's war, what else would be said of people of less consequence who could hardly defend themselves?

Clearly an agenda was on, it appeared, as Cockburn and critics of the Jewish Lobby suggested. I have since been dismayed to find that people I very much admire such as G.K Chesterton, Hillare Belloc and St. Maximillian Kolbe (who died giving his life for another in Aushwitz) have also been labeled "antisemitic". Is this not rather anti-Catholicism as opposed to anti-Jewish?

I was then surprised to be contacted once very briefly (15 minutes?) by the Southern Poverty Law Center (their initiative, not mine), which had on their own gotten a copy of a book I had written on the above-mentioned traditionalist views; they wondered about one person's involvement in something called the Southern League (I couldn't help them as I knew next to nothing about it), but was asked nothing about Sharpe. Their final report sums all I was able to say. Virtually nothing.

John Sharpe was, it now appears to me, the victim of pro-Iraq war zealots, using anti-semitism and "white supremacy" as a mere pretext, to stir up revulsion. After what some have done to Pius XII can we be surprised?

It is a disgrace. A man has suffered over his convictions about an unjust war. He went to many places to sell those books in the interests of saving lives! To play "gottcha!" because he sold those books in one odd antiwar place is cynical and cruel at best. A wrong needs to be righted.

Stephen Hand is the editor of TCR - Traditional Catholic Reflections and Reports

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