“As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots. It would be a contradiction of faith and life. Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community.”

– Pope Francis, “Greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis to a Delegation of the World Congress of Mountain Jews,” Hall of Popes, 5 November 2018

 

Recently, while surveying the Catholic social media landscape, I came across an episode of The Patrick Coffin Show podcast titled “Meet the Real Mayor Pete” (#130 from May 28, 2019), featuring guest E. Michael Jones. Coffin, for those unfamiliar with him, is a Catholic media personality who spent almost eight years as the host of Catholic Answers Live and now hosts his own independent show. Jones was on Coffin’s show to talk about Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who as many will know is running to be the Democratic nominee for the 2020 U.S. election. Plenty of social media pundits are offering their opinions on Pete Buttigieg right now, but this interview stood out to me because what Jones had to say tapped into a line of thinking that deserves some explication for the uninitiated.

Jones has a personal connection to the topic, since he was apparently a neighbour of Buttigieg’s and was disturbed by the way Pete was raised and influenced by his father, Joseph Buttigieg. The elder Buttigieg, who died in January of this year, was an English professor, known in academic circles for having edited and translated the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist who had a major influence on the development of cultural theory in the humanities. As Jones correctly notes, Buttigieg’s time in the academy was preceded by the reign of what was called the ‘New Criticism’ in English studies—a mode of formalistic criticism characterized by the ‘close reading’ of texts. The New Criticism was replaced, in Buttigieg’s era, by new forms of literary criticism associated with thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Stanley Fish.

Jones describes this new era as one of “Jewish literary criticism.” Specifically, he says, “During this period of time, [the New Criticism] was succeeded by Jewish literary criticism, which was basically people like Stanley Fish, who was my teacher at Temple University. . . . We go from Sola Scriptura [New Criticism] at the beginning, and now we have Talmudic literary criticism where the only person who’s allowed to talk about the text is the rabbi. And Stanley Fish is the rabbi, Jacques Derrida is the rabbi. It was called deconstructionism. Fish was not part of that, but it was part of this whole revolution in literary criticism which basically took over the university and in effect redefined discourse” (6:51-8:08). This will sound a bit strange to anyone with a knowledge of the field. Certainly Derrida, who Jones rightly points out was the originator of the method known as deconstruction, was Jewish and influenced by Talmudic and Kabbalistic thought; Fish is also Jewish. But the same cannot be said for many other thinkers in this group. A number of them were Catholic. The other great voice of literary deconstruction, the Belgian Paul de Man, actually worked for a collaborationist newspaper during World War II and wrote an infamously anti-Semitic article titled “The Jews in Contemporary Literature.” They were not a homogenous bunch.

Ok, so how does this relate to Pete Buttigieg? Well, Jones asserts that Joseph Buttigieg, having absorbed the spirit of Talmudic literary criticism, brought up his son according to this spirit, even though Pete was baptized in the Catholic Church and attended Catholic schools. Allegedly, as a result of being a young man with a Jewish mentality in a Catholic environment, Pete was very isolated and did not interact with his neighbours. Jones explains: “What we’re seeing is here this kind of Jewish mentality of [non-Jews] being unclean. I think it’s clear. You know, if you touch the man who’s unclean, you become unclean. And this was an attitude that you saw here that pervaded his upbringing at the hands of his father” (10:45-11:02). Jones sees this attitude reflected in what he describes as Pete Buttigieg’s cold and calculating approach to politics and detached attitude toward the common man. Today’s Pete Buttigieg, then, is essentially a product of his father, who was in turn a product of the “Jewish mentality” pervasive in academia. Jones and Coffin further speculate that the icy father-son relationship fostered by this mentality was perhaps what brought out Pete’s homosexuality, but for the purposes of this piece we need not continue that far into this odd narrative.

So what is this all about? Where is Jones coming from? For anyone familiar with Jones, it is obvious. Jones has a long history as one of the leading purveyors of Catholic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. In his Culture Wars magazine, and in books like The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History, The Jews and Moral Subversion, and Catholics and the Jew Taboo, Jones has outlined a narrative of a world-historical conspiracy of Jewish aggression and subversion against both the Church and the United States. For Jones, Jewish thought or the Jewish spirit is the Satanic opposition to the Logos, which is God, Christ, the Church, morality, etc. Just look up “E. Michael Jones and Jews” on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean. This great dichotomy allows Jones to cast the Jews as the originators and purveyors of almost any kind of evil and subversion.

In this interview, Jones is recycling material from The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. The relevant section bears the title “October 1976: The Jewish takeover of American Discourse” (1000-5). Speaking of the ideas behind Fish’s reader-response criticism, Jones writes, “Reader Response Criticism corresponded in time to the Jewish take over of American culture. The speech codes which got imposed on college campuses over the course of the 1990s which came to be known as political correctness, were in fact the practical consequences which were drawn from the Jewish takeover of discourse which occurred in America during the 1970s” (1004-5). Pete Buttigieg, we can infer, is the very embodiment of this “Jewish takeover of discourse” and of the much-derided campus speech-police who promote “political correctness.”

I should note, in fairness, that Jones does not consider himself an anti-Semite and strenuously objects to that characterization. However, in doing so he is being disingenuous. The argument he makes in his defence goes something like the following (and here I am quoting from The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit): “Jewish leadership controls the ‘Synagogue of Satan,’ which in turn controls the ethnic group into which Jews are born. No one has control over the circumstances of his birth. That is why anti-Semitism, if by that term we mean hatred of the Jews because of immutable and ineradicable racial characteristics, is wrong” (1067). So not all Jews are bad—only the ones who adhere to the Satanic Jewish mentality. They are not bad because of their racial makeup, but because of their religion and culture. How tolerant he is! The problem with this argument, if it needs to be pointed out, is that racialist anti-Semitism was merely one form of anti-Semitism, which is normally understood to encompass non-racialist anti-Judaism.

It should be clear to any Catholic that Jones’s anti-Semitic project—the great narrative that lies behind his analysis of Pete Buttigieg in his interview with Coffin—stands in stark contrast with the message of Nostra aetate:

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

. . .

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone. (4)

Pope Francis restated this message even more succinctly in his 2018 greeting to the World Congress of Mountain Jews, remarking that to be a Christian and an anti-Semite is “a contradiction of faith and life,” and that “we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community.” Now although I take the words of the Holy Father very seriously, I’m not going to suggest that Jones should be ‘banned.’ I simply suggest that any Catholic should treat Jones’s words with exceptional care, and reject his anti-Semitism entirely. Further, Coffin might want to consider exactly where he is heading with his increasingly reactionary show.

As the anti-Francis vortex continues to grow in scope and intensity, I think we will be hearing more from Jones or from other Catholics thinking along similar lines. Anti-Semitism is the ur-conspiracy that all conspiracy theory leads to, and unfortunately it has a history in the Church.

All this being said, I must admit that I agree with Jones on some points. He is right to be suspicious of forms of literary criticism like deconstruction, which constitute a genuine threat to Catholic values and a proper understanding of culture and history. But if he looks a little deeper into deconstruction, he might be surprised to find not a Jewish plot, but rather the origin of his own brand of reality-twisting cultural and historical analysis.

 

Works Cited

“Meet the Real Mayor Pete—E. Michael Jones.” The Patrick Coffin Show. Podcast. https://youtu.be/muNxJeZvQkI

Jones, E. Michael. The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History. South Bend, Indiana: Fidelity Press, 2008.

Nostra aetate. October 28, 1965. Vatican.va. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

Pope Francis. Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to a Delegation of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. Hall of Popes. Monday, 5 November 2018. Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. http://www.christianunity.va/content/unitacristiani/it/papa-francesco/2018/udienze/udienza-ad-una-delegazione-di-rabbini–mountain-jews–del-caucas/en.html

 

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar David says:

    I must say this piece is a little shameful and contains its own example of what it accuses others of: a conspiracy theory that there are perhaps many catholic anti-semites out there, and in particular that these folks are found in the “anti-Francis” crowd. The author cites one person, then tries to claim this may be representative of some larger group. (One also has to be reminded that Patrick Coffin having him on his show doesn’t mean he adopts all of Jones’ views.) There is also the pure speculation that “we will be hearing more from Jones or from other Catholics thinking along similar lines.” This also seems to suggest that Jones is some significant figure amongst “conservative” or “traditional” Catholics, when i would wager most have never even heard of him. It also tries to link Jones’ views to criticisms of Francis, for which there is no evidence provided, and indeed no indication whatsoever what Jones thinks of Francis. This also means this piece is filled with various fallacies, e.g., non-sequitur, ad hominem.

    This also shows how folks often don’t address and refute any criticisms on their face but must resort to demonizing people, e.g., the Francis “critics” may be anti-semites or tolerate them, so you can dismiss them. It reminds one of how people shamefully claimed that any criticism of Obama must be because he is black. Lastly, this piece seems to implicitly defend Buttegieg, who is a rather nasty character- claiming that God made him “gay,” that any christian who claims otherwise and doesn’t accept the homosexual agenda, and in our case, follows Church teaching, is wrong and a bad Christian; he seems to be rather anti-religious liberty; he just came out the other day in favor of unrestricted abortion. Folks need to be careful in their zeal to demonize the “critics” of Francis.

    • D.W. Lafferty D.W. Lafferty says:

      Thanks for your comment. While I don’t think there are many Catholic anti-Semites out there, I do know that Jones is the most prominent and has made inroads into the alt-Right scene, talking with people like Faith Goldy and the reformed pickup-artist Roosh V. Now the alt-Right is starting to bleed into the “red-pilled” anti-Francis Catholic scene, as suggested by Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with Goldy, or Milo’s presence in Catholic social media. In any case, I’m not suggesting that Coffin is tainted by association. I just know that there are many everyday Catholics who listen to Coffin’s show, and they should know what Jones is getting at when he talks about the Jewish mentality. Coffin can do what he wants with his show, and people can comment on it. As far as Buttigieg goes, I’m Canadian and so I’ll withhold my opinion of him, other than I know he’s not a product of the Jewish takeover of American discourse.

      • Avatar Christopher Lake says:

        D.W.,

        Thank you so much for this article. It’s actually quite needed, as I’ve come to increasingly realize in recent months, through attempting to challenge anti-Jewish thinking from some Catholics online. I’m a convert (and revert) to Catholicism who first came to be open, in any way, to the basic, simple truth of theism through encountering the writing of the great Jewish theologian and mystic, Martin Buber.

        Of course, in my time as a Catholic, I have had to face up to the fact that in earlier centuries of the Church’s history, there have been sad and disturbing strains of anti-Semitism, even from some of the Church’s canonized Saints. Until recently though, I had been under the impression that this dark history was no longer embraced, and even celebrated, by many lay Catholics. That illusion, on my part, has been shattered.

        Anti-Semitism is not a part of official, Magisterial Catholic teaching, and especially and explicitly, Vatican II made that very clear, thanks be to God! However, anyone who thinks that anti-Jewish thinking is not still a real and abiding problem among *more than a few of the laity* of the the Church needs to check out the comment section underneath Bishop Robert Barron’s newest video, “Re-Judaizing Catholicism.” The spite and venom against Jews, and against supposedly “modern, Satanic Judaism,” from many of the “Catholic” commenters are palpable and frightening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVqFozSjpBs

    • Avatar jong says:

      David
      You can watch Dr.Marshall interview with Patrick Coffin in TnT Entertainment and Discussiping Show. Listen intently to all Patrick Coffin had stated and you can personally judge his character as this is publicly aired.
      About my fave Gossiper of hearsay and conspiracy theories in his channel.., Dr.Marshall had been continously attacking the dignity of Pope Francis and are spreading and discussiping Fake News in his channel.Not to mention Dr.Marshall are also attacking the dignity of Pope Benedict XVI and worse even the Saints like St.Pope Paul VI, St.John XXIII and St.John Paul II the Great.
      What does scriptures teaches us when we attack the dignity of the Saints, it is called Blasphemy, read Book of Revelation.
      And Dr.Marshall attacking the dignity and teaching of Pope Francis is violating Canon752 and CCC2479.
      So, discern and use prudence in judging the character of Patrick Coffin and Dr.Marshall as both of them embraced the evil attitude of “Recognize and Resist” the Pope.
      Do not be deceive by this channels.
      John1:5

  2. E. Michael Jones is a sadly misguided soul.

    Not only does he take criticism of Jews to a point that would make even the most rigorous of the Early Church Fathers blush, he has embraced a number of other obscurantist viewpoints, particularly AIDS denialism (google “The Emperor’s New Juju” if you are strong of stomach). Even worse, he has written a book about “India’s Rape Crisis” (which, as an Indian and Catholic, I read attentively) in which he somehow manages to tie said “crisis” neither to the uglier side of Hinduism, nor to the influence of the sexual revolution, but to them darn Jews.

    What makes it sad is that Jones is actually a very sound writer and thinker on a number of points. His articles on the SSPX and his books on capitalism and usury are near-essential reading for a contemporary Catholic; unfortunately, almost everything else he writes is contaminated by his obsession with the “Jewish Question”. I pray that God may enlighten his soul and guide him in writing more good articles and books, because that same God will ask him for a reckoning of the talents he was given one day.

  3. Avatar Manuel Dauvin says:

    I don’t want to fall into the fallacy mentioned in the first comment but just from personal experience the only Catholics I’ve heard mention Jewish conspiracy have been right leaning. I am a conservative leaning catholic.
    That said. There is such a thing as conspiracy and people of like origins or ideals make easy Co-conspirators.
    I’m not an anti semite by any stretch. ..just not in me. But,hypothetically, if I see a coordinated movement in say, the economy and the overwhelming majority of the players happen to be jewish will I have to turn a blind eye out of fear. I belive the Muslims are capable of conspiring. ..i believe the Chinese are capable of conspiring. ..on an on. Are Jews the only race incapable of conspiring? I studied Hebrew in my teens. ..went to the holy land at 12…love the Jewish roots of my faith but not the least bit afraid to notice a Jewish conspiracy if it should rear is head. Didn’t a group of Jews pay soldiers to lie about the resurrection? Was that conspiring?
    In fact the frequent over-drama surrounding any mention of Jews being involved in any plot to influence the world is suspicious. ..why are we more afraid of being labeled anti-semite and not so worried of anti-Mexican comments or anti-Muslim? It’s weird.

    • Avatar M. says:

      No Manuel it is healthy, because people are rightfully afraid and worried of becoming like neo-nazis monster who hate Jews and the alt right. A bit of fear in that direction, and even overkill- if there is actually overkill- won’t hurt, in light of the events of the past century. It is worrying when people complain about overkill and political correctness on things that in themselves, are good or motivated by decency, such as worrying about being “too much against” anti-semitism. It is the same, for me, as if someone worried about sounding “too prolife” or worried about sounding “too anti-racist, why the overkill?” Yeah when millions of Jews were gassed and starved by a nation in *recent* history, it is natural and right for people to get a little owly when they start hearing people talking in a similar vein again so soon.

      • Avatar M. says:

        PS, edit to correct first sentence- “because people are rightfully afraid and worried of becoming like neo-nazis or the alt right monsters who hate Jews.”

  4. Avatar Manuel Dauvin says:

    Ok…understood the Holocaust was horrible. Though not as bad as the next one. My point kind of was that the victims of the next holocaust have the same right to our affections.

    • Avatar carn says:

      Maybe you should appreciate some in my view very relevant aspects, when considering what to think about potential Jewish conspirations:

      1. In the last 1500 to 2000 years or so, probably not a single decade passed without somebody in the world screaming “Death to the Jews” and no century passed without somebody – not seldom the same somebodies – putting that into practice.

      2. Currently there are about 20 million Jews in the world; the number of various polls – e.g. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2005/07/14/islamic-extremism-common-concern-for-muslim-and-western-publics/ – indicate that just among the 1,5 billion Muslims the number of people who might one day consider “Death to the Jews” to be a sensible policy program could be a few hundred million.

      Accordingly, for the next serious attempt – imminent this century if history doesn’t fail repeat itself – at turning “Death to the Jews” into practical policy, the Jews on their own might be outnumbered 1 to 10 or even worse.

      Consequently:

      I would advise the Jews to conspire in whatever way needed to ensure, that they’ll keep some allies or at least that their potential enemies dislike each others enough to skip allying against the Jews.

      Accordingly, as long as mankind does not get out of the habit of regularly having people scream or even put into practice “Death to the Jews”, one should be pretty tolerant if one thinks Jews are up to some conspiring – they should be, if they are not totally dumb.

      (That does not mean, that one should not criticize them if some specific conspiring is problematic; e.g. their only reliable ally regarding military aid are the US republicans; so Jews conspiring to weaken US conservatives is more likely than not pure fantasy, cause that would be pretty dumb move)

      • Avatar Manuel Dauvin says:

        I’m hearing you. Thank you for your thoughts. Anyone who would single the Jews out nowadays as working for their self interest to the detriment of others is missing some major news cycles.
        Again thank you and please continue this site.

    • Avatar M. says:

      Of course others have the same right to our affections, no disagreement there. All of humanity has right to our affections, all races, all creeds. Except when there is hatred involved or genocide, then, it is right to skip the affection, and say “repent.” I get your point though. God bless you Manuel. below Carn said it a lot better than I did.