Anti-semitism is on the rise in the United States and abroad, and Catholics are not immune to this pestilence. On the contrary, self-described “traditionalist” catholic culture appears to be a fertile breeding ground for it. This is not the first time I have written about this; in fact, I feel as though I am obliged to repeat the same mantra, every few months: there are anti-semites among us, and we of Jewish heritage beg you all to stand against them.
At the end of last year, writer and theologian Dawn Eden Goldstein brought attention to the fact that the Catholic Herald had published the writing of a known anti-semite. Goldstein is a Catholic of Jewish ethnicity and heritage, as I am, and like me she has repeatedly been subjected to hateful attacks. These attacks escalated again recently, after she once again blew the whistle on far-right Catholics promoting and enabling anti-semitism – specifically, on EWTN’s promotion of Taylor Marshall’s conspiracy-theory text, Infiltrations, published by Sophia Institute Press. This text, to quote Goldstein, “vilifies modern popes and promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
Goldstein is a very conservative, though orthodox theologian herself, but this did not protect her from becoming the target of yet another smear piece by Austin Ruse, who seems to have made a hobby of lashing out at Jewish Catholic women such as Goldstein, journalist Jenn Morson, myself, and others. I won’t bother to link to Ruse’s piece; it is precisely what one would expect. Here is Goldstein’s response, however, in which she delineates her position with admirable coolness and charity.
The normalization of anti-semitism.
I would like to add to what Goldstein has written and remind my readers that while antisemitism may still be a fringe position for many Catholics, it is gradually being normalized and defended by far-right commentators who are attempting to present themselves as guardians of orthodoxy. Marshall is one such; Ruse another. Patrick Coffin, formerly of Catholic Answers, has repeatedly given air time to overt anti-semite E. Michael Jones. Marshall, as well as 1Peter5 blogger Steve Skojec follow openly white-supremacist Stefan Molyneux.
A recent piece in Sojourners explored more fully this connection between “traditionalist” Catholics and white nationalists. The piece reveals much of what is going on from the top-down, among media influencers and their interconnections. What I and other Jewish or non-white Catholics have experienced has been not only these top-down attacks, but also the repeated anti-semitic attacks from these people’s followers. “Jews have no place in the church” one commenter wrote. On Twitter someone calling himself OfficerReynolds referred to Goldstein as “another lying Juwess.” When I wrote about anti-semitism last time, a commenter asked me, “Are you simply a lying, subversive jew?” I was attacked by Holocaust deniers and people who accused all Jews of being “anti-Aryan.”
And many refuse to take notice.
Unfortunately, while the anti-semitic voices seem emboldened to be louder and more overt, this does not mean that everyone is finally sitting up and taking notice. Jewish people have many brave and kind allies among Catholics, yes. I have been encouraged by the support and commiseration I have received, and which Goldstein and Morson have received, each time we are attacked.
But many others stay silent. They can speak out against the “incivility” when it goes so far as to involve a mass shooting, but otherwise they turn away and ignore the hate speech, the mockery, the abuse. Or, worse – they chide us for our divisiveness, for our lack of charity in speaking out against those who advance an agenda that has killed millions of our people, in the previous century alone.
Look, non-Jews and white folks: speaking out against racism and anti-semitism is the least you can do. And I don’t mean speaking out against “all this social media infighting” or “all this character assassination.” I don’t mean some variation on the “both sides are at fault” nonsense.
The two sides here are: Jews, who happen to be Jews. Or Muslims. Or Immigrants. Or Black people. And on the other side are racists who oppose us for being non-white, xenophobes who oppose us for not being white citizens, and anti-semities who oppose us for being Jew – , mock us for being Jews, even want us killed for being Jews.
There is no benefit to sitting down for a polite conversation over this, trying to resolve our differences.
Am I supposed to be a little less Jewish, to persuade the Nazis to be a little less Nazi? I don’t think so.
Please understand: those of you who are white, non-Jewish, not presently targets of white supremacist hatred may think that you can turn away from all this…because, well, you can. We can not. Nor can we avoid making certain comparisons with history. And one comparison we are making is between you, the ones who ignore this, the ones who chide us for our divisiveness – and the many good respectable Europeans who turned a blinf eye to what the Nazis were doing, or even supported them, for other reasons.
We no longer feel we can trust you, if you do not speak up.
“Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but because out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed.
That word is “Nazi.” Nobody cares about their motives anymore.
They joined what they joined. They lent their support and their moral approval. And, in so doing, they bound themselves to everything that came after. Who cares any more what particular knot they used in the binding?”
image credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 133-075 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5338071