The Mind of the Ideologue

khomeini

On February 16, 1979, a secular leftist professor of politics, Richard Falk, enjoying in the security of France a sabbatical for international meddling, wrote an editorial for The New York Times, entitled “Trusting Khomeini.” When the history of the collapse of western civilization is written, that editorial should merit more than a footnote. The pro-western Shah of Iran, no saint, but no ayatollah either, had been on the throne of Iran since he was a boy. He had guaranteed freedom of religion to Jews and Christians. He had bankrolled Great Britian only a few years before, when the English had nearly spent themselves to death. He was a buffer against radical Muslims in the Middle East. But he had a secret police, and they did the atrocious things that secret police do. And Iranians were growing impatient to see a broader distribution of the wealth from the oil fields. So the Shah had to go.

Professor Falk was no mere commentator on the coup d’etat. He was an important player in it, a fact that he does not reveal in his editorial. He writes to reassure everyone, though, that it was absurd to believe that Khomeini was a dangerous man. Khomeini was not, says Falk, a promoter of “theocratic fascism.” He was not motivated by “virulent anti-Semitism.” Khomeini has said that non-religious leftists would be welcome in Iran, so long as they do not “commit treason against the country,” a qualification which Falk brushes aside. He seems to have forgotten about all of the “traitors” murdered or sent to concentration camps in every ideologically defined state in the twentieth century.

“To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling,” he concludes, “seems almost beyond belief. His political style is to express his real views defiantly and without apology, regardless of consequences. He has little incentive suddenly to become devious for the sake of American public opinion. Thus, the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false. What is also encouraging is that his entourage of close advisers is uniformly composed of moderate, progressive individuals.”

That was a few months before the Shah of Iran, dying of lymphoma, was finally admitted for medical care in the United States. Then the moderate, progressive individuals in charge of Iran smiled moderately and progressively, and political agitators, called “students” by the western press, seized the American embassy and held American citizens hostage.

Everybody makes mistakes. Tris Speaker predicted that the Yankees would regret turning Babe Ruth into an outfielder. But Falk’s colossal mistake, which has cost countless lives and which still bids fair to overwhelm the west in violence, seems to be more than a case of professorial naiveté. There is something mysterious going on here.
  Malcolm Muggeridge mused all his life long about the same sort of thing. What explains the phenomenon of the “fellow traveler,” the man who follows a movement that would destroy people like him first of all? What explains the bishop Talleyrand who associated himself with the haters of the clergy? “There have been Jewish anti-Semites, and male feminists,” says Muggeridge, “and brewers who were total abolitionists. The fact is that human behavior cannot be comprehended in the concept of enlightened self-interest.” Men are better and worse than that.

Muggeridge saw them in their various species, which are with us still: “These millionaires … who identified themselves with forces unmistakably destructive of their wealth; these pious clergymen who lent themselves to propaganda which made a mockery of the faith they professed; these admirable scholars who contentedly swallowed the most monstrous perversions of historical scholarship.” He recalled the mild-mannered socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who wrote their learned tome, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization, after Stalin had starved some millions of his citizens to death and turned the Ukraine into a weed-infested waste. The Webbs knew of this. Muggeridge himself had reported what Stalin was doing, while Walter Duranty of The New York Times, whom Muggeridge liked personally and called the most accomplished liar he had ever met, was writing puff-pieces on overflowing silos and Russian boys in love with their tractors. Muggeridge for his pains won the inveterate enmity of the left. Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Webbs also knew of the forced labor camps; what Solzhenitsyn would cause to live in infamy as the Gulag Archipelago. Yet they wrote that “the USSR is the most inclusive and equalized democracy in our world.” When the Nazi Ribbentrop received the Order of Lenin in Moscow, in 1941, where were the Webbs, or the leftist Dean of Canterbury, or the tenderhearted humanitarians of the west? Or, to advance the dreary reel, why did Jason Epstein, writing The Great Conspiracy Trial about the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, not notice the difference between the Sermon on the Mount and this wisdom delivered by Bobby Seale: “If a pig [a policeman] comes up to us unjustly, we should bring out our pieces and start barbecuing that pork, and if they get in our way, we should kill some of those pigs and put them on a morgue slab”?

Why did we shove to his eternal reward the cowed and cooperative Muammar Qaddafi, to usher in the supposedly democratic Muslim Brotherhood and their like? Why does Canadian television boast a self-soothing spree of multicultural comedy, called Little Mosque on the Prairie? Why are anti-Semitic rallies breaking out in Boston, without national scandal?

Why should people on the ideological left be fellow travelers with Islamists? What is the connection?

Here comes the inevitable protest. “You are the fellow travelers!” they cry out. “You social conservatives are no better than the Taliban!” That is because orthodox Catholics do not believe that a man can marry a man, that people should be permitted to snuff out the lives of the children they have made, that little children ought to be required to play Naming of Parts with some minor governmental functionary of little knowledge and less wisdom, that men and women are utterly interchangeable except when a man insists he really is a woman or vice versa, and so forth. By this definition, my parents and grandparents were members of the Taliban. So were all their neighbors. Fulton Sheen was a mullah, Franklin Roosevelt a caliph, Pope John XXIII an imam, and Washington the sultan of his country.

That accusation we can dismiss as ridiculous. Yet it’s telling, that anyone would make it. Such people do not say that the Ayatollah Khomeini was as wicked as Bishop Sheen. They do not hate the Ayatollah, but they do hate the bishop. They revile the shy, scholarly Pope Benedict, the dearest friend the Jewish people have had in Rome, because he dares to oppose them in matters sexual; but they do not revile the mullahs who demand that Israel be swept into the sea.

Perhaps Pope Benedict himself has solved the riddle: modern man and the Muslim are alike held bound by the same false idea. It is what Muggeridge called will.

Last night I saw a clip of a brutal execution. Four little boys, sitting at a bench, hands bound behind their backs, shot in the head one after another by a Muslim soldier. My only prayer then was to look at the Cross. No words sufficed.

There is the answer—to all our weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable pursuit of pleasure, power, prestige, and wealth. The Cross is Christ’s rebuke and welcome to us all. There is our God, uniting Himself with suffering, weakness, ignominy, and poverty. He is no hoary old god of politics: “My kingdom is not of this world.” We could kill Him, but we cannot catch Him. When we try to strip him down to an idea and put it in its cell, we find not Jesus but somebody else, coolly contemptuous of the bars. “Come in,” says the Prince, filing his fingernails. “I am the one you chose.”

Islam crams the world into its narrow pages. Allah is beyond love; beside love. Islam takes the single idea of the will of God and runs mad with it. Modern man exalts the will also. He takes one poor idea of freedom, understood as permission to do what you will, and rages against the world for being the world and not inert stuff for his will to work on. He rages against men for being men and women for being women. He despises what is normal both when it is sweet and when it is bitter. He denies all sin, and forgives none. He denies all sanctity, and forgives none.

Muggeridge says that the ideologue is possessed: “Argument does not impinge upon him, and the normal restraints of prudence are not operative. He is ready, even eager, to eat yesterday’s words, and to denounce yesterday’s hero.” He needs not persuasion, says Muggeridge, but exorcism.

Jesus Christ, God made man, suffering and dying for us upon the Cross—He is the answer. That is why He is hated so deeply. A whole civilization now seems ready to die rather than to bend the knee to Him.

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); and Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015).

  • TERRY

    My grand-niece starts at P.C. in Rhode Island next week, where this guy teaches. I hope she can get into one of his courses.

    • Jdonnell

      Education should not simply reinforce your preconceptions; if your grand niece leaves college with all her old views unmoved, she will not have been educated. She will have resisted getting one.

      • GG

        Education should mean always seeking the truth. If your perceptions are correct why would you seek error?

        • Jdonnell

          If your perceptions are correct, they should withstand examination, even in a hostile environment. A university is not a hostile one, though many individual faculty members may be hostile toward religion, or if they are religious, hostile to orthodoxy, or the opposite–hostile to anything that strikes them as unorthodox, even though it may be something that is just old.

      • TERRY

        You’re not making much sense. She is 18 and leaving home, has been raised Catholic, is going out into the world – why make such a comment?

        • GG

          Because he is an ideologue.

          • Jdonnell

            No, because I am just the opposite. The ideologues are more likely to appear as authors on this site. And, that is sad and what has contributed to the “crisis” in which we now live. AE’s silly misrepresentations are the result of ideology.

            • ForChristAlone

              And yet, being convinced of all this, you take time out of your busy day to stop here and, moreover, choose to read something written by a man whom you are convinced is an ideologue. And then you have the gall to waste our time having to read your complaints. A bit inconsistent.

            • DE-173

              You are the apotheosis.

            • GG

              No, you are the ideologue extraordinaire. Keep typing it is revealing.

        • Jdonnell

          If she takes courses from profs. who spend their time bashing people who have spent their careers–like Falk–using their positions (prof. of international law at Princeton) to aid the poor, the unrepresented, the marginalized, and who in turn give tacit support to regimes like the Shah of Iran (and use half-truths to do so), she will be getting the same mis0education that too many students receive.

          • DE-173

            “using their positions (prof. of international law at Princeton) to aid the poor, the unrepresented, the marginalized,”

            In other words promulgating politically correct opinions that “Jdonnell” and the rest of the ideologues find pleasing to their viscera.

          • GG

            Always seek the truth.

            If the young lady gets indoctrinated into the ideology of people like Falk she will not be educated in any authentic sense. She will simply be propagandized.

            • Jdonnell

              Nonsense. She will have been given an alternative to the propaganda with which we are constantly surrounded. How much of an outcry did you make when the Bush folks chose to use false statements to propagandize the US public into support for invading Iraq and Afghanistan? That is an ex. of what we daily experience in our media and in most of our educational institutions. Unless you can show me that you spent more time voicing opposition to what the Bush administration did than in making replies to my comments in response to AE’s essay, you are illustrating that you are the dupe of ideologues.

          • Art Deco

            -using their positions (prof. of international law at Princeton) to aid the poor, t

            He never did any such thing. He’s a low rent opinion journalist with an academic sinecure. He has, for more than thirty years, a consistent record of advocacy on behalf of the more repellant party in any international conflict.

            • Jdonnell

              “on behalf of the repellant”? Are you describing Falk? or Jesus?

              • GG

                You compare the Lord to a mere ideologue?

              • Art Deco

                You’ve already shown your utterly ignorant or utterly malicious with your mash note for the likes of the Alawite cohort of cousins which has ruled Syria for 40 odd years. Crawl back under your rock and quit bothering normal human beings.

                Re Falk, the man is a professional verbalizer, but works within no authentic social research discipline. There are conventions which apply in the day to day dealings between governments conducting diplomatic business. Very little of Falk’s work has concerned these matters. He writes polemics on topical questions. He’s written advocacy on behalf of Soviet Russia, various and sundry foreign reds, and truculent Arab nationalists. He’s a bad guy, and deserves to be ignored in public fora.

                • Jdonnell

                  “Professional verbalizer”? Even at your level, you ought to be able to do better than that phony label. As for the Assad comment, you show that you are simply a victim of the anti-Syrian propaganda spewed by AIPAC ideologues and others with interests, in oil, etc. The media regularly lump the current Assad together with his father, despite the fact that the two are very different. Some Syrian holdover hardliners help obscure that difference. At the very least, Assad is the legal (and recently re-elected) president of a sovereign nation, and it is a clear violation of international law to support and equip those engaged in attempting to war against the legal Syrian government. I note that on this site and accompanying this article in Crisis, there is a plea for aid for Iraqi Christians. The US had created the conditions that necessitate this aid–again by engaging following the advice and propaganda of ideologues. This is my last comment; I have already spent too much time responding to right-wing ideologues in the stream.

                  • Art Deco

                    That’s what he is. The man has no education whatsoever in the historical or sociological aspect of social research. He is putatively a Professor of “International Law”, but that’s a thin discipline because there is no body which defines, enforces or adjudicates ‘international law’. It’s just glosses on extant conventions. In any case, he does not write about that. It’s regrettable that Princeton University has passed off this verbose newspaper-columnist manque as a scholar.

                    You do not even attempt to defend your previous nonsense about ‘sacrifices’ this cossetted academic supposedly made.

                    As for the Assad crew, the reports of Freedom House are available for anyone who cares to look.

                    We very seldom get baldly dishonest individuals on this board.

                    • Jdonnell

                      I will rely on the judgment of Princeton’s law faculty in hiring and granting tenure to Falk, instead of taking your venomous take on him. As for judging Assad by Freedom House, in making the suggestion, you show how captive you are to propaganda, which is what that old Cold War outfit is all about. It became a source of much CIA infiltration and spying in foreign countries. You have to look at Assad’s record rather than what outfits like Freedom House say about him. He is no more responsible for the student demonstrators who got roughed up and gave a pretext for the Western-backed rebels to begin their civil war than is Obama for the police shooting in Ferguson. He helped Syria to usher in a new constitution that is very forward looking, and he took the (Russian) suggestion to get rid of chemical weapons and acted on it. (The US in contrast is still dragging its own feet about weapons it promised to destroy years ago.) His troops have mostly won the civil war, which drags on only in a couple of spots that are now fueled by imports of radicals. A popular uprising never occurred because Assad is popular in Syria–just not among Americans or Israelis.

                    • Art Deco

                      The Syrian ‘constitution’ is a blank piece of paper with a signature bloc at the bottom for Bashir Assad to put his John Henry.

                      Out of more than three decades of chewing up periodical literature of all sorts, I have never encountered anyone attempting to make the case for the Alawite butchers in Damascus. This is a first.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Instead of chewing, you ought to try reading. I’ve read the new Syrian Constitution, which is anything but a blank piece of paper. It’s very forward looking, and mandated the recent presidential election. Of course, in the US, the election was dismissed as a “sham,” exactly the same word used in an attempt to discredit past elections that elected leaders not approved by the US–the Sandinista election in the 80s got that same designation by the Reagan goons. The Syrian Constitution was ratified overwhelmingly. Assad was also elected by a huge margin, including votes from neighboring countries where voters could not have been accused of being intimidated, as anti-Assaders would otherwise claim. Those “Allowite butchers,” as you wrongly lump them together, have protected the Christian and other religious minorities. Since the US “liberated” Iraq, the Christian population has come under increasing danger. The Syrian war casualties are the result of rebels making war on the legal government of Syria; they are horrible, and the military kills just as the rebels attempt to do. Their ranks have diminished as far as an Syrian citizens are concerned; no popular support for the rebels ever materialized. All indications show Assad to be even more popular now that before the war began. The only things keeping it going are hopes of outside intervention and the new fighters from al Qaeda, al Nusra, and ISIL–all bloodthirsty terrorists. Their successes, such as they are, are the indirect result of US foreign policy, including the blank check that US grants to Israeli behavior.

                    • Art Deco

                      I will rely on the judgment of Princeton’s law faculty in hiring and
                      granting tenure to Falk, instead of taking your venomous take on him.

                      There is no law faculty at Princeton. He’s ensconced in the political science department. He entered academe in the latter 1950s, when the academic job market was quite soft. He was granted tenure with a full professorship on the strength of a single monograph and the completion of his dissertation, which strongly suggests the appointment was not above-board. This was decades prior to his most serious wrongdoing.

                    • Jdonnell

                      You wax pathetic in your repeated attempts to diminish someone whose achievements put most people’s–yours included–to shame. Falk has a law degree from Yale a law doctorate from Harvard; he has been awarded a chair at Princeton (which he has been allowed to hold even in retirement. He has received prestigious awards, like a Guggenheim, etc. Yet, al you can do is verbally abuse him. He did a stint with the UN for several years, looking after human rights in Palestine (and for his blunt assessment was vilified as politically incorrect). He has written and edited scores of books, etc. etc. But, all you can say is that “he was granted a full professorship on the strength of a single monograph.” A monograph is a book and what often provides the basis for such a promotion. Get off your nasty and uncharitable smears.

                    • Art Deco

                      He has never, at any time in his rancid academic’s life, been an advocate for anything resembling ‘human rights’. You want to understand Richard Falk, read Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims or Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed,

                      Everyone employed at a research university or selective liberal arts college in the last fifty years has carried a doctoral degree with him; that’s not a distinction among academics. His promotions were a distinction, but since his publication record was modest when he received them, they could not have been the issue of that record.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Yeah, that’s right, the UN Human Rights Council chose him because of he had never advocated for human rights. Calling on propagandists like Sowell for accurate info. suggests your place as an ideologue.

                    • Art Deco

                      The U.N. Human Rights Council elected the Libyan delegate as its president. It’s a bad parody. Like most subsidiaries of the United Nations. As everyone of sense knows.

                    • Jdonnell

                      “Elected” is the operative word; no one country appointed Falk. Don’t get me started on the illegal and immoral attack on Libya and its popular leader. The US has succumbed to neocon ideologues–unfortunately some claim to be Catholics–in wreaking havoc in Western Asia and creating a blowback of Islamic fundamentalism. The US could claim credit for the rise of ISIL.

      • Tony

        The purpose of reading old books, said C. S. Lewis, is precisely that they will give you a perspective on things that are “too close” for you to see well, and that they show you other things whose very existence you hadn’t suspected. In other words, reading old books helps to counter the preconceptions that arise from simply living where and when you do.

        At Providence College, ALL freshmen and sophomores are enrolled in a four semester course in the development of western civilization, in sections taught by teams of professors (three, typically). For most students, it’s a 16 credit course; for Honors students, 20 credits. They will encounter Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Dostoyevsky, Augustine, Bach, Milton, etc…. Preconceptions based upon the fashion of the times have a hard time surviving those cannons. The professors who teach in the program span the entire political and theological spectrum.

      • ITomFlying

        That’s about as senseless an arguement one could possibly make. It assumes an individual enters college with incorrect views. While this could be true, one cannot make the statement unconditionally. It’s about as senseless as trying to assert “all learning is knowledge and therefore good.” There are a GREAT many “things” in this world we would be far better off NOT knowing.

        No, just because a person enters college does not imply they must leave college a changed person with new views. They may but, the lack of a change of views is not an indication the individual’s education was “resisted.”

        • Jdonnell

          Your comment about my argument is in keeping with the accuracy of your spelling of the word. If you leave college with all the views you brought with you, then you haven’t received an education. Conversely, if you leave having dumped all the views you had upon entering, you have probably not had an education either, just a traumatic experience.

          • DE-173

            And if all you learn in four years is what your professors tell you, you have not received an education.

          • GG

            What is a view?

            • ForChristAlone

              I suspect that a “view” is for liberals something akin to “feelings.”

              • GG

                Ha, very true.

          • hombre111

            Wonderful insights, Jdonnel, but in this crowd, you are casting pearls.

            • Art Deco

              Wonderful insights, Jdonnel, but in this crowd, you are casting pearls.

              Wonderful insights into what? The oh-so-sweet nature of Bashir Assad? The devotion to ‘the poor’ of Richard Falk (resident of Mercer County, NJ)?

              • ForChristAlone

                Let’s remember that hombre was ordained in 1964 which speaks volumes.

    • Tony

      Terry — there’s a one in 20 chance of that right off the bat, just considering the Western Civilization course alone. What’s her name?

      • TERRY

        I appreciate your interest, but both she and her mom know about Esolen and I can only hope that she can get into one of his courses. I would rather not put her name out on the internet.

        • Ford Oxaal

          I think “Tony” *is* Mr. Esolen.

          • TERRY

            good point. I contacted her mom and she said do not put her daughter’s name on the internet.

            • Crisiseditor

              “Tony” is, indeed, Dr. Esolen. Feel free to email a message to me for Dr. Esolen and I can forward it to him: http://www.crisismagazine.com/contact

              • TERRY

                Thanks for your offer. I forwarded it to her mother and the decision is now hers.

                Many thanks

                • ForChristAlone

                  And her education will be well-served by getting into one of his classes.

                  • TERRY

                    I heard from ‘Tony’ and she is enrolled in one of his classes, and he says “we’ll have a blast!”

                    Grace a Dieu

                    6;15 P,.M. 8/23/14

    • guest

      Terry

      Oh to have such teachers of insight and wisdom in a world is
      now so desperately short of wisdom!

      It is so important to know WHY some things are IN-correct; all the implications, good and bad … and to know about BETTER ALTERNATIVES.

      Now THAT is education.

    • Tony

      Terry — she is enrolled in my class, Intro to Literature. We’ll have a blast!

      • TERRY

        Tony – thank you for this. There are now some new stories for family lore.

  • ForChristAlone

    Brilliant!

    Speaking of the ideologue, AE writes: “He needs not persuasion, says Muggeridge, but exorcism.” What I have been advocating for awhile now – more exorcisms. And if the clergy is not prepared to perform them, it will be up to us laymen and women to do so.

    • Jdonnell

      Yeah, and maybe they could start with AE.

      • GG

        Why?

      • DE-173

        Or Jdonnell.

        • Jdonnell

          Or you, for that matter. AE’s selective history and excuses on behalf of the money-changers in the Temple sound demonic to me.

          • GG

            Look in the mirror.

          • DE-173

            And you sound demonic to me.

            • Jdonnell

              For sticking up for Falk? Who has spent most of his life working on behalf of the poor, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden? His behavior is Christian, whatever his beliefs. The foolish dismissal might be taken as an example–to use Camus’s phrase–of “virtuous Satanism.”

      • Objectivetruth

        I cast you out…..

      • ForChristAlone

        That is a gratuitous slur and one for which you ought to apologize. Who the hell do you think you are?

    • Blah Blaah

      You’d better be very darn careful before you plunge into amateur exorcisms. The land of Satan is no place for laymen and women. Read a bit – read a LOT, from reliable Catholic sources- about the power of Satan before making such a reckless suggestion. Better to pray for – even demand – more ordained, Church-appointed exorcists than to set yourself up as one and find yourself caught by your own prey. The devil knows very well the difference between an ordained priest and a naked layman pretending he has the power and protection of ordination. He also knows the difference between prayers in Latin and prayers in other languages – and seems to be more ‘subject’ when the prayers are in Latin. I doubt any laymen and women who feel the urge to set themselves up as exorcists are up for the job. It would be less dangerous to do brain surgery on yourself in the kitchen.

      Read Amorth’s ‘An Exorcist Tells His Story’ and ‘An Exorcist: More Stories’ so you can understand that exorcism is not layman’s play. A bishop has to choose very carefully when he wants to train a priest to be an exorcist, and the exorcist himself must have special qualities to perform that work. Exorcists also need our prayer all the time.

      • ForChristAlone

        Please don’t put words in my mouth. First of all, I am NOT suggesting that people self-appoint as exorcists nor do so independent of a bishop. Nor am I suggesting that laypeople engage in dilettantism when it comes to dealing with things Satanic. People can be trained for this very serious work and Canon law be changed to allow for this. Secondly, there was a time when those studying to be priests (i.e. not yet priests) were given the third of four minor orders of exorcism. Since they had not yet reached the fourth of minor orders – acolyte – they were not yet considered clerics. All I AM suggesting is, that given the state of the world and the evil threats that face the Church, laymen and women might so be commissioned by the Church and authorized by a bishop to discharge this needed function. I do however believe that exorcism is most likely very much underutilized. And like all charisms in the Church, they are gifts and ought to be taken very seriously for use by the Church and for the Church.

    • msmischief

      Laity are not authorized to exorcize. Dealing with the Devil is exactly when you don’t want to put yourself in the wrong.

      A prayer for deliverance, on the other hand. . . .

      • ForChristAlone

        reference my note below, please

  • GG

    Excellent as usual. My favorite line is that the ideologue needs exorcism not persuasion. That is true. The comments on many articles on this site are proof enough. These people refused to be convinced of the truth. No argument will win them over.

  • Fred

    Brilliantly written Anthony, thanks for sharing. I’m afraid collectively we have been stagnate in our faith for some time while evil has grown up all around; some wrapped in cunning deceit and other forms manifested in grotesque brutality, including killing of the innocents in the womb and euthanasia. Well, it’s now staring in the face and daring us to be strong witnesses to our faith like never before for most of us. The consequences for timidity strike me as being rather dire. I’m not sure reconstituting the Knights Templar of Crusades lore is in order, but being knightly and acting boldly most assuredly.

  • Jdonnell

    This mishmash of highly skewed facts is unworthy of any publication and belongs with the worst of what appears on Fox News as “fair and unbiased.”
    Richard Falk has a largely brilliant record of self-sacrifice on behalf of the poor, the marginalized–a record that ought to be the envy of most Catholics. Whatever his remarks about Khomeni (who was a fanatic but not quite the demon portrayed in US media). Esolen’s apologia for the reign of the Shah is mendaciously selective. The Shah, he fails to note, was largely a stooge for US and British oil interests. When the country undertook democracy for a short time with a prime minister who nationalized Iran’s oil, the CIA engineered his removal. The Shah opposed democracy–though made feints in its direction when his days were numbered by popular demonstrations against years of repression.
    Were AE really interested in promoting governments that protect religious minorities–for which he gives the Shah credit–he would support Syria’s President Assad, under whose leadership Christians and others have had freedom of religion, now threatened by the rebels fighting against him with the support of the US government. Assad is a popular leader, democratically re-elected just this year, following an overwhelming support in a referendum for a new Constitution. Charges that he is a “brutal” head of state are invariably unsupported and made in conjunction with his father, who was a brutal leader.

    • DE-173

      “Richard Falk has a largely brilliant record of self-sacrifice on behalf of the poor, the marginalized–a record that ought to be the envy of most Catholics. ”

      Who are you to judge?

    • Tony

      Who says that I am in favor of removing Assad?

      It is odd to say that the Shah was a “stooge” for the UK, when the UK had to come begging to him and not the other way around. In any case, the removal of the Shah, which Mr. Falk played a part in, was one of the great mistakes of the last fifty years. That it should have been done in the name of “democracy” merely proves my point. There’s an idea there — and all of reality has to submit to the idea. What Mr. Falk did or does when he is not playing international politics is not to the point.

      The question for Falk, and the Webbs, and Alger Hiss, and, yes, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is “How can you have been so wrong? What kept you from seeing what was right in front of your eyes?” That is the question that Muggeridge asks.

      • Ford Oxaal

        I suppose we all have a temptation to false empathy in order to be accepted by others, and if indulged against right reason, we risk losing not only real empathy, but reality itself. Academia seems to have developed false empathy into a community art form — the herd looking to take offense, and the herdsman, whoops, herdsperson looking to cause none. And so the dog chases its tail, and over time, the entire culture goes into a tailspin.

      • Jdonnell

        I didn’t say you were in favor of removing Assad, only that if you were really interested in the protection of religious minorities–for which you give the Shah (too much) credit–you would affirm Syria’s Assad for his excellent record in protecting the rights of Christians and others.

        You now (defensively) add Bush’s name to the list of those who were “wrong,” but you didn’t include his name in the article, where it most assuredly belonged. He and Chaney, Rumsfeld, and others were wrong to the tune of over a hundred thousand people, who died because they were wrong (and liars). What you call the removal of the Shah “one of the great mistakes of the last fifty years” is itself wrong in that you omit to note that it was wrong that he was installed as an absolute ruler by the CIA and MI6. You give the false impression in your article that the Shah ruled uninterrupted, when that is not the case; Mossadegh was elected Prime Minister and nationalized Iran’s oil, making Big Oil and the US and England intent on having him removed. These are all crucial facts that are left out of your discussion and thus make you fit for your own list.

        • DE-173

          So you complain about somebody else’s spelling and then make an obvious error with “Chaney”.

          Log. Speck. Eye.

          • Jdonnell

            Try to distinguish between a misspelling and a typo.

            • DE-173

              Try to take responsibility. I didn’t call it a misspelling or a “typo”. I called it an error.

              You can’t even keep this straight.

              • GG

                Note the amateurish and pedantic critique by the self appointed smarty pants ideologues reveal their true nature.

        • Tony

          OK, one thing at a time.

          You blame me for being too generous to the Shah. I didn’t say he was a great man or a saint. All I implied is that he was better than Khomeini and the others have proved to be. In any case, the Shah was not the point of the article. The question was, “How could Richard Falk have been so colossally wrong about the Ayatollah Khomeini?” I know about Mossadegh, but what is the point of bringing that up? Mossadegh does not explain Falk’s love affair with Khomeini. When Falk was writing, he was “selling” Khomeini to the west. He helped to install Khomeini back in Iran.

          You blame me for not putting George W. Bush in the article, and you assume that it is obvious that Bush was a liar. I don’t know how you can know that, because it requires knowing quite well that Bush knew what no one in the west was in any position to be certain about. When have you ever seen me, though, jumping up and down in celebration of George W. Bush? I am by nature skeptical of the claims made by politicians of all stripes. Most politicians, I believe, are not very attentive, and are easily misled by their preconceptions or by where they believe their political interests lie. Bush hardly qualifies as an ideologue; otherwise he never would have made his push for amnesty, and he never would have allowed Teddy Kennedy to write the major education bill. Ideologues cannot help flaring up in wrath against their ideological “enemies,” which was something that Bush never did; you cannot point to a single instance of his treating Nancy Pelosi with anger or contempt. He was accused of being the worst of traitors, but he never returned with accusations in kind. I have to take these things into account as I judge these affairs with the very incomplete information I have at my disposal.
          What Bush can be faulted for, what does not require any special knowledge on my part, is his old-time liberal trust in “democracy” as the solution for the problems of all the people in the world. It’s the secular “faith” we all grew up with, and it is false, but very few people are willing to admit that it is false, so it seems harsh to blame Bush in particular for that.

          Look: Walter Duranty CELEBRATED the Stalinist regime, WHILE Stalin was starving millions, and the mayhem was right there in front of him to observe. The Webbs wrote their puff-book about Stalin DURING the horrible times, and they were sufficiently nervous about it to beg confirmation from others that what Muggeridge was saying wasn’t really true. What explains that? The Webbs were, personally, very nice people. Alger Hiss, when he wasn’t betraying the United States, was a very nice man. SOMEBODY in Indiana must have known the particulars of what Alfred Kinsey was doing to those little children; what explains the adulation he received for all those years? Heck, Hollywood STILL celebrated Kinsey as recently as a couple of years ago.

          Ideology is an ersatz religion. All ideologies purport to bring about heaven on earth. They are all evil, and they blind us. I’m not saying that “having an idea about a halfway decent political arrangement” is an “ideology.” Bentham was an ideologue. Burke was not; what he called a “metaphysician” was what we now call an ideologue. La Mettrie was an ideologue. FDR was too much of an opportunist to be an ideologue. Pope Leo XIII, affirming that the Church can coexist with all manner of political arrangements, was not an ideologue …

          • Jdonnell

            You continue to blame Falk to excess. His editorial was written after K. took power in Iran, not before. And, Falk is not quite as fulsome about K. as you say. He bases his comments on his own conversation with him in France (where, as I read years ago, he took language lessons from Samuel Beckett in exchange for getting Beckett beluga caviar; I don’t know if the story is true, but it’s too good not to relate). Falk cautions against excessive hopes for K’s Iran in the Times editorial: “The historical record of revolutionary zeal’s degenerating into excess is such as to temper enthusiasm about Iran’s future.” He adds, “What happens in the next few days is likely to determine whether the movement’s largely non-violent record will be spoiled further [by more violence] and whether a new political order can successfully be brought into existence.” Clearly, Falk is aware that anything might happen; he is also aware that K. did not have total control and that others might make Iran into something other than what he hopes.

            You say that while he was not a “saint,” he was someone who deserved to be in control. Your fail even to mention the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister let alone that it was he who deserved to be in office and not the Shah. whose SAVAK was a ruthless outfit that was guilty of all manner of human rights violations.

            Whether or not Bush had a temper when he and Cheney and Rummy repeatedly gave false information to the US public is beside the point; war criminals don’t have to be bad tempered to be guilty of crimes–in the case of the Bush folks, crimes in destroying a country, costing the lives of tens of thousands of US troops, a trillion or more US taxpayers’ dollars, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties. As I am sure you know: “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

            • Tony

              Falk helped to install Khomeini. He was not just a disinterested commentator. If I am wrong about that, I apologize; but that was what everyone at Princeton was saying at the time, and I was there. The real question, as I say, is how Falk managed to get things so bizarrely wrong; and I don’t think much of his patina of academic reserve. He was presenting himself as an objective and even-handed observer, and not a principal participant. How did he manage to be deceived by such a man, when the fellow was right there in front of him, and, as he himself says, when he did not ever pull his punches? What explains this Maximum Possible Error? And th errors of the Webbs, and Duranty, and Hiss, and all the other apologists for Papa Joe; it wasn’t WEB DuBois’ finest hour, writing about the wonders of Stalin’s regime. And the apologists for Mao, and Ho Chi Minh, and Hitler…

              I hold no brief for Bush and the rest. You are the one who is adamant in judgment against him. You accuse him of “war crimes,” which is a great deal more than the usual stupidities of war. I am skeptical; I attribute more things to stupidity, accident, and misinformation, than to malice. What on earth would have been his motive? His approval ratings, before the Iraq incursion, were sky-high; if he knew that there were no WMD’s there, then he would also have known that that fact would eventually be discovered. In other words, what “success” could he possibly have expected? He is at once supposed to be the most demonically intelligent Machiavellian, and a complete doddering fool. I rather think he was well out of his depth. I am only trying to reason things out here. I know plenty of paleoconservatives who believe that Bush was a war criminal … rather than just one more foolish “gnostic” believer in democratic machinery, in the long line that boasts Wilson and, frankly, just about everybody in the west ever since.
              But the article is about the blinding evil of ideology. What ideology do you suppose I am beholden to? I do not believe in the eternal goodness of any particular form of political arrangement. I do not put my trust in princes, or in electoral machinery, or in technology, or in the Grand March of History….

              • Jdonnell

                Falk’s op-ed on Khomeini appeared after the latter’s installation; you were just plain wrong about the chronology, which invalidates your claim that Falk helped put him into power. My comments were confined to what you had highlighted re. Falk and not with the issue of ideology. Falk is far less appropriate in that context than the better-known ideologue from Harvard law school, Alan Dershowitz. He is not only better known, but a riskier target than Falk, who has taken positions in defense of those who are defended by Dershowitz and more popular in the US. Comments on Falk in the stream connected with your essay indicate quite distinctly how Falk is so often seen and made an object of derision for his efforts on behalf of unpopular causes. It’s just one more way in which this non-Christian behaves in a way that ought to make most Christians envious and ashamed by comparison.

                • GG

                  Propaganda. Even a quick Google search of Falk shows he is indeed an ideologue.

                  • Jdonnell

                    The propaganda in the mass media is what Falk has attempted to counter. It gets him vilified by suckers like you. Had the word, “ideologue” been available to the Scribes and Pharisees, they would undoubtedly used it to attack Jesus.

                    • GG

                      Again, you compare an ideologue to our Lord. What a disgrace.

                • Tony

                  The date of the editorial isn’t decisive. Falk was working with him in France; he was a player, and he doesn’t reveal himself to be so. Again you are side-stepping the mysterious question, which is how Falk could have gotten things so wrong. I agree that Dershowitz is an ideologue, but what is the point of saying so? There is an obvious analogy between Falk’s support of Khomeini and the Webbs’ support of Stalin, and, while we’re at it, Harold Laski’s breathless support of Lenin.

                  I recall an incident at Chapel Hill, circa 1983, when I was a graduate student. A young woman was near the student center, just outside of the English department offices, selling copies of Mao’s Little Red Book. I asked her what she thought about the “Cultural Revolution,” in which Mao had murdered some tens of millions of his own people. She replied something to the effect that certain measures were unfortunately necessary and so forth. Argument was impossible.

                  This is a phenomenon wholly different from naivete, or inattentiveness, or too much caution before making a judgment against somebody. She was SELLING the book, as if it were a Bible.

                  • Art Deco

                    I agree that Dershowitz is an ideologue,

                    Prof. Dershowitz has no record of acting as a press agent for flagitious foreign governments or paramilitaries. That’s what Richard Falk has done with his adult life. He’s a bad guy in the petty ways that ‘public intellectuals’ can manage to be.

      • Mary

        You are right that Khomeini was feigned as a harbinger of democracy. I met an Iranian Christian convert who had been a ‘student’ at the Tehran revolution. He said they thought that they would get democracy but they got such cruelty. He said no one suffered like Iranian mothers. Any girls or women arrested were automatically raped as it was unlawful to kill virgins. These mothers would be given their daughters clothing and they knew what had happened to them.

      • John Albertson

        President Bush rescued an estimate at least 400,000 Iraqis from torture and/or death. Iraq has suffered under two Husseins: the sadistic Saddam Hussein and the incompetent Barack Hussein Obama. In 2007, George W. Bush predicted exactly what is happening in Iraq
        today if we were to completely pull out of Iraq. He predicted mass killings,
        a safe haven for terrorists, and a far more dangerous enemy, Nonetheless, Obama continues to take pride in his removal of U.S. troops seven years ago and has yet to apologize for saying that terrorism is in retreat and that the terrorists are”Junior Varsity.” During the Iraq War. Bush said it would be inappropriate to play golf or engage such activities in such a serious time. Exactly eight minutes after Obama finished his pathetic speech about the beheading of Mr. Foley, he was back on the golf course.

    • Ford Oxaal

      But you have to admit, people who gnaw at the very thing that gives them a platform in the first place are behaving in a suicidal manner by degrees. And we see it unceasingly. The term to describe this might be “hypocrite”, but like the term “love”, has been so abused that its meaning has become deadened. Maybe “reverse snob” is the term. Someone who panders to an audience by decrying the very thing they appear to represent.

    • BPS

      What precisely is Falk’s self-sacrifice for the poor? His 9/11 truther stance perhaps? Or maybe his blaming of the Boston marathon bombings on US world domination? Maybe it’s his blaming of all the problems in the Middle East on Israel? Yep, that’s probably it!

      • Jdonnell

        Falk has defended the poor in court, written briefs and articles on behalf of those not in a position to defend themselves. written articles showing how international law (and morality) condemn US aggressions abroad, etc. But, your question suggests that none of that really matters to you–no doubt because you have done so much more for the poor yourself.

        • cestusdei

          Wow…none of that cost him anything. In fact he benefited by doing it.

        • GG

          He is an ideologue. Left wing and relativistic. The typical blame America first kook that benefits from living in the USA while being self loathing.

        • DE-173

          “But, your question suggests that none of that really matters to you–no doubt because you have done so much more for the poor yourself.”

          Can’t tell the difference between charity and self-promotion, can you?

          You judgmental clod, you have no idea what anybody on this board does for the poor. They could be digging deep like the poor widow and keeping their good deeds to themself.

          Of course some guy putting a quill to papyrus publicly, that just happens to feature his seal prominently, now that’s sacrifice.

          In any case, the issue is his judgment, not his charity.

          • GG

            Apparently left wing propaganda from the self appointed elite is now “helping the poor” or some such thing.

            • ForChristAlone

              and getting appointments from the UN is supposed to mean something to those of us who have not drunk the Kool-Aid.

              • GG

                There are none more credulous than the Left.

          • Jdonnell

            What I can judge (as distinct from the judgmental character of your name calling) is that AE made important selections in his article and in doing so misrepresented history. Dismissing Falk as “self-promoting” also smacks of being judgmental. He has gone all over the place to support unpopular but worthy causes.
            I made no reference to any “board” and have no idea what your board you are referring to or who is on it. I do hope that whoever they are they are, they are doing just a fraction of the good that Falk has done.

            • DE-173

              “He has gone all over the place to support unpopular but worthy causes.”

              You’ve yet to name one, or to explain how it is that you know about them without publicity-or are you just a groupie who stalks the guy.

              • Jdonnell

                You now admit by implication that you know nothing about where Falk has gone to defend causes or otherwise engage in support for human rights. Yet, you have had no problem in speaking ill of him, despite your ignorance of his career.

                • Jdonnell

                  I am no groupie, but I have been interested in some of the same issues as Falk and so have run into some of his writings and articles in which he is mentioned. To name just one cause he has been devoted to: human rights for Palestinians, a cause which has taken him on repeated trips to that area and have led to appointments with the UN. For his efforts, he has been vilified by the Israeli lobby and hardly been financially enriched.

                • DE-173

                  No, I don’t know what YOU consider to be so laudatory. You still haven’t provided anything but clichés that have a rather familiar ring. This isn’t a leftist playpen, where anything goes.

              • ForChristAlone

                You must remember that in the crowd we are now on to all that matters for them are good intentions. They wreck the country but ‘mean well.’ But we’re the ones who were gullible enough to buy it; no longer, however.

                • DE-173

                  Pavers of the road to hell.

            • Art Deco

              He has gone all over the place to support unpopular but worthy causes.

              There is not one worthy cause of which he has ever been a public advocate.

        • BPS

          If that’s the extent of his ” largely brilliant record of self-sacrifice on behalf of the poor, the marginalized–a record that ought to be the envy of most Catholics”, then I can unequivocally guarantee that I’ve done more for the poor than Richard Falk

          • ForChristAlone

            moi aussi

          • Jdonnell

            What I offered, as I said, was just one example of his advocacy. His advocacy concerned not only the poor–as I have also made clear–but you are interested only in dismissing him. The example I gave concerns not simply an impoverished group–the Palestinians–but a group that is usually seen in the US in a very negative light, which is a likely reason that their defenders like Falk get vilified, as in the article in Crisis. Those who speak out for the Palestinians as the object of continuing human rights abuses, the virtual prisoners of the Israelis are subjected to verbal attacks and sometimes physical threats.
            I’m glad that you are such a help to the poor; it would help them if you would also advocate better health care and wage increases for them, along with higher taxes and confiscatory attachments to the assets of the wealthiest.

            • GG

              And this is an example of ideology.

              • Jdonnell

                Which is more important, doing acts of charity in giving voice to the voiceless and oppressed, or labeling it as “ideology”? You label to dismiss, which is both uncharitable and illogical.

                • GG

                  Which is more important relating the truth or spewing propaganda?

                • Art Deco

                  Falk’s never done any ‘acts of charity’ that anyone knows about. He’s a press agent for bad governments and bad political movements.

            • RufusChoate

              I searched carefully not comprehensively and found nothing to substantiate your claim. Falk simply doesn’t have any documented record of “defending the poor in court” unless your definition of the “poor” includes every Leftist anti-Western dregs of last 45 years. He has been consistently on the wrong side of history where apparently you keep him company. .

              • Jdonnell

                When you get criticized by both Arabs and Jews, you must be doing something right. (Jus not ideologically right-wing.) Your search was a waste of time, since anything or anyone or group that you don’t like you rule out as defending the poor. I don’t like or admire some of those he has defended, starting with his pro bono defense of one of the bombers at the Univ. of Wisconsin. (I am familiar with that terrorist episode and have always despised those who did it.) But, that does not stop me from admiring his persistent efforts on behalf of the marginalized and poor, who have little if any voice. That includes the Palestinians. The vilification he received when on the UN HR Council is repeated today in the currently appointed head of the investigation into the ongoing massacre of Palestinians. Same terms of abuse, same charges of anti-Semitism. (Falk is Jewish himself, though his haters usually gloss over that.) Now, get a life.

                • RufusChoate

                  Nothing you said is even remotely near the truth or reality. He is a Hamas partisan and being a Jew is irrelevant as Frankl’s testimony about the cruelty of the Socialist Death Camp’s Jewish Capos proved.

                  Try reading more it sometimes helps with chronic ideological blindness but I sense you’re too far gone to recover. .

                  • Jdonnell

                    Not true that Falk has supported the marginalized? The poor? That he defended the Madison bomber? That he has been vilified (almost endlessly) for having defended the Palestinians? Etc. Your confusions are myriad. Being a Jew is rather relevant when someone is accused of being an anti-Semite. Just as those who confuse criticism of Israel or Israelis with anti-Semitism, you confuse Palestinians and Hamas.

  • TERRY

    Let me try to clarify what I said – Judging from his writing – If she can get into one of his classes, that course should help her in strengthening her faith.

  • Articles that bump me into a forgotten or better yet new perspective makes the day joyful. Thank you.

    The trouble with kingdoms of heaven on earth is that they’re liable to come to pass, and then their fraudulence is apparent for all to see. We need a kingdom of heaven in Heaven, if only because it can’t be realized. – Malcolm Muggeridge

    Most people, maybe all of us, are usually mere puppets and all conversation is denial.

    The latest in neuroscience and cognitive science research says…

    The belief that our attitude or state of mind influences or causes the way we act is a fallacy.

    The belief that our feelings or emotions influence or cause the way we act is a fallacy.

    The belief that our body sensations influence or cause the way we act is a fallacy.

    The belief that our decisions influence or cause the way we act is also a fallacy.

    Therefore, all these beliefs keep us puppets. Advertisers know the strings! What may ’cause the way we act’ is a question to sit with. There is no ‘answer’ but an experience maybe, reality is not changed by doing anything and enlightenment is not an experience.

    • Ford Oxaal

      The greater the virtue, the less the puppet.

  • LHJ

    Is this Richard Falk writing under a pseudonym?

  • John Albertson

    Why mention Fulton Sheen among those free of ideology? Not a bad man by any means, but one constantly in need of popular approval. Thus, in his “Footsteps in a Darkened Forest” in the section on “Modern Saints,” he includes Ghandi, John F.Kennedy and Dag Hammarskjold. There are many kinds of “fellow-travellers” and not all of them are secular leftists.

    • Tony

      John — the sentence doesn’t state that he was no ideologue. He wasn’t, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that if somebody who believes what Roman Catholics believe is supposed to be “just like the Taliban,” then all those people I named were regular jihadists — which is absurd.

      The real connection, and a very strange one too, is between Islamists and western haters of western civilization, people who are usually on the nihilist left.

  • cestusdei

    Spot on. I remember the protests against the Shah. Later I asked one of the protesters why he didn’t protest against Khomeni who was worse. His response was to sneer. He didn’t care about Iran or Iranians. He just wanted to look avant guarde and be one of the in crowd, to feel good about himself. I had apparently missed the point.

    • ForChristAlone

      These types will say anything to advance their political agendas. We assume that they debate issues in good faith. This is the first error we make and pay heavily in the end because we wind up having to clean up the mess.

  • Mike17

    I live in the United Kingdom and I remember the lefties assuring everybody in the 1960s that Ho Chi Minh was just a Vietnamese nationalist and that the Viet Cong had nothing to do with Communism. And the Left still turns a blind eye towards the left-wing atrocities during the Spanish Civil War.

    One other thing: I taught Economics for 37 years and always thought that it was the Intentional Monetary Fund which kept the UK economy from going under in the 1970s. I would very much like to know more of how the Shah of Persia ‘bankrolled Great Britain’.

  • Mary

    This is very true. If I can land one nail on the head….secularism has Theological roots and those roots are imported from Islam. Nominalism is it’s philosophical nom de guerre. The import began in the later 12th century. I understood a lot about Islam before I read this era of western philosophy…the links are unmistakable. Occam is the founder of secularism. So yes indeed Islam and western secularists are strange bedfellows swilling from the same trough. I am glad that Muggeridge called them possessed indeed they have a blindness as you describe that is formed in spiritual roots which hark of the demonic. I could never find the particular way Islamic doctrine made its way to the likes of Occam I haven’t had time for the research…but Adrian Pabst seems to cover it a little in his new book Metaphysics. Pabst is in Radical Orthodoxy….I hope to write about this link some day this demon needs unmasking. It seems to me with Islam, when, how and for what purpose it rose seemed a suitable response from the evil one bruised by the establishment of Christ’s Holy Church….major doctrines etc settled. Islams earliest inscription is in the dome of the rock it’s main point is that Allah hath no son. keep addressing this topic it may help clear some eyes and waken a few more to the trough they swig in. Islam, it’s books, mosques and schools must be banned in the west it is the only way to get on top of this global situations. Singapore went about things the right way when they separated from Malaysia…I am not advocated violence or harm simply that like Mein Kampf (spawn of nominalism) it’s ideology can indeed be banned. It isn’t about OUR idea of moderate progressive or fundamentalist Muslims…that has no meaning in Islam it is indeed about the religion itself. If we loved Muslims and Christ we would free them from its hateful low religion.

  • hombre111

    Tony, Tony. I have been to a fiftieth anniversary reunion with the four priests who survive from that day of grace in 1964, and I return to this? The grumpy old Mullah fit within his historical context, which you either do not know (not likely) or choose to ignore. To put it briefly, the Shah, with his pretensions to ancient Persian roots, was a stooge installed by the U.S. and Britain when the CIA overthrew the legitimate government of Iran, after it tried to assert its ownership of the oil under its soil, being plundered by Big Oil from the west. The Shah did not serve the interests of his own people as much as he served the interests of the U.S..

    Imagine a coup in America, engineered by foreign interests who wanted to reassert control over our resources for the sake of foreign corporations who had used our weakness in earlier days to continue the old habit of colonial plunder. Would we accept the new guy kindly, even if he did pretend to be a new George Washington?

    From the Iranian perspective, our embassy was the viper’s nest, which relayed orders to the compliant Shah. In this context, the “students” who took the embassy staff captive were like the “Indians” who dumped tea into the harbor. In that case, the high crime against the people was only taxation. In the Iranian case, western powers had installed a parasite to suck the blood of his own people. The Tea Party crowd were patriots. The Iranians who merely wanted their country back were ungrateful wretches.

    All these years later, we still hate the Iranians and their coup. We conveniently forget the prolonged outrage that brought it to the surface. And we are furious because those Iranians still refuse to acknowledge that we are the masters of the Mideastern Universe.

    • Art Deco

      The Shah ascended the throne in 1941 after his father’s abdication. He was never a creature of either the United States or Britain.

      Mohammed Mossadeq was a child of Iran’s tiny educated elite engaged in a demagogic enterprise and intent on disestablishing the monarchy, which he had no franchise to do.

      • hombre111

        Art, you are lazy. A few minutes on Google would have demonstrated that what I said was true. Mossadeq was appointed premier and began to try to regain Iran’s oil reserves for his own country. British M16 and the CIA, in collusion with the Shah and other pro-Western elites, helped engineer his downfall and install the Shah.. In August, 2013, CNN published an article in which the CIA finally admitted its role in all of this. It is convenient for Americans to forget this, but Iranians remember this whole mess as clearly as we do the Second World War.

        What I neglected to say was how the US viewed the whole thing, as usual, through its Cold War prism, imagining that somehow overthrowing a democratically elected government was part of the battle against communism. But with the arrival of Khomeini, we learned, too late, that Iranian nationalism was by far the stronger force. With my own frequent travels outside the US, this tunnel vision of the US was obvious to me. Everything boiled down to the red menace, in the simple mind of Ronald Reagan, in particular. But other forces were at play and we tried to turn back the real thrust of history.

        • Art Deco

          The Iranian majlis had been prorogued (by M. Mossadeq). Mossadeq was subject to dismissal by the head of state who was…guess who?

          The Shah never bothered to return the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company properties to the British business interests from which it they had been seized, which is oddly incongruent with the Shah being a British ‘stooge’.

          The schema of Operation Ajax has been known for more than four decades, so no clue what this “CIA finally admitted” blather.

          Mossadeq elected to go into the ring with his constitutional superior and was prepared to use extra-legal means to dispose of him. Ambitious political operators do no have much claim to sympathy when some of their own tools are turned against them.

    • Tony

      Father — welcome back. A pen-pal of mine who teaches a lot of Iranian graduate students in one of the top engineering schools in the US tells me that they ask their parents all the time, “Why did you take to the streets to bring down the Shah and put Khomeini in his place?” There’s no good answer, but shame and guilt. However bad the Shah was, it sure is hard to believe that the crop of mullahs since have been anything but immeasurably worse.

      I didn’t write to praise the Shah, just as I wouldn’t write to praise Tsar Nicholas, or the Weimar Republic. The point was to ask, “How could Falk have gotten Khomeini so wrong?” Why did Beatrice Webb go gaga for Stalin? What explains the phenomenon of the ideologue who celebrates and promotes the very thing that will destroy his like? That’s the question. The article is not about the Middle East. It is beyond my pay level to untangle the mass of prudential mistakes, self-protection, selfishness, Machiavellian realpolitik, fear of the Soviet Union, genuine belief that a compliant authoritarian is better all around than a radical Islamist, etc., that characterized British and American actions in the Middle East. In general, I am coming to believe that we too have been blinded by a sentimental belief in “democracy.” Eric Voegelin believed so.

      The real job for us is to clean our heads of ideology, or what Voegelin called “Gnosticism.” It is not easy to do.

      • Art Deco

        However bad the Shah was, it sure is hard to believe that the crop of mullahs since have been anything but immeasurably worse.

        Again, Freedom House composed comparative scores and analyses. Iran was proximate to the regional median such as it was ca. 1975. The most severely abusive governments at that time were those of Iraq and South Yemen, followed by Afghanistan, Libya, and Algeria. The most benevolent were those of Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, pre-1975 Lebanon, Kuwait, and Egypt (in about that order).

        Making reference to Operation Ajax is non sequitur re Khomeini. His disputes with the Shah’s government concerned agrarian affairs and came to a head in 1963/64. The residuum of Mossadeq’s political party (Kareem Sanjabi &c) was the least antagonistic to the United States from among the factions which made up the Iranian government in 1979.

        And, of course, the Shah’s ambitions were circumscribed. Iran had a clutch of abiding disputes with Iraq but was otherwise non-belligerent. The peace-and-justice types actually care very little about either.

      • ForChristAlone

        Hombre usually sounds bright enough. I’m surprised he didn’t get the thesis of your piece and you were then forced to explain it to him.

  • maxthelion

    Hi Anthony that was one of the most refreshing articles I’ve read in a long time. You came at it from the leftfield and made your point superbly. I think you’ve a brilliant style of writing!!

    Go raibh maith agat (Irish for thank you)

  • Art Deco
  • Tony

    Many years ago, I gave one of my first public lectures as a translator of Dante. It was meant to be the finale for a group of Catholics who met every month to discuss Thomas Aquinas. They called themselves, in jest, the Summa Wrestlers. I don’t remember what my topic was, although I do believe I focused on the Paradiso.

    After the talk, an elderly gentleman came up to me to ask a question. He was not a member of the group. He wanted me to attribute all that was wrong in the Catholic Church to the abandonment of the Latin Mass. I could not pry his fingers from it, and he came near to spoiling the session for everybody else.

    You can be an ideologue even when the idea is generally a good one. Ideology, like ressentiment, is an ever-present danger for the intellectual.

    We have ideologues in the deanery up here in the Canadian diocese where we spend our summers. The diocese has ordained one man in the last seven years. The now elderly priests who run the show CANNOT be budged from what they have been preaching and doing for forty years, not in any single little regard. It has failed colossally, but they keep saying, “It MUST work!” To take one obvious and easily remedied example, the bad pseudo-folk music that they say must attract young people actually attracts nobody but a few girls who like to croon it from the choir-stage up front; but we double down on it, because it must work. They might try obedience instead, but that would mean acknowledging past mistakes, even if they were well intended.

    The ideologue suffers from a strange detachment from reality. We don’t require that he be prescient. We would be content were he only willing to look at what HAS happened. Was the sexual revolution the dawn of an age of love and flower power? Didn’t Stalin murder his millions, and Mao his tens of millions? If Muslim violence in the Middle East is attributable to American-Israeli relations, to what is Muslim violence in Nigeria, the Punjab, Indonesia, the southern Sudan, and the Philippines attributable?

    Richard Falk has not only not apologized for defending Khomeini; he defends his defense. He calls Israel an apartheid state, when every single Muslim nation is an apartheid state, and the evidence is abundant; talk to the few Christians remaining in Bethlehem and ask them what kinds of work they are allowed to do. He defends suicide bombing. He can do so because he lives in the United States; he could do nothing comparable in Iran. I do not see Jews knifing off the head of a journalist, or Sholem celebrating his bar-mitzvah by holding the severed head of a Muslim and posing for a photo taken by his proud papa. I do not see Jews burning Christian churches.

    Anyway, my essay is not about Falk. It is about the dreadful ersatz religion, ideology. I hesitate to call Islam an ideology rather than a religion, but by sheer chance I’ve just read the last chapter of Eric Voegelin’s great work, The New Science of Politics; Voegelin says that the ideologue has not a Bible but a Koran. A fascinating observation.

    • Art Deco

      I’m not sure your framework is the correct one. Erik v. Kuehnelt-Leddihn addressed this question in a magazine commentary a generation ago: An ‘ideology’ is a nexus of ideas with a relationship to each other, and any person carefully questioned has one.

      The trouble you are having with those clergy is that they are invested in their own foolishness. This is a human problem which manifests itself anywhere, not merely in contemplation of public affairs. The clergy in question may have a problematic ‘ideology’ as well, but those are two different vectors.

      The problem you see with Richard Falk and ‘J. Donnell’ is not that they have an ideology, but that they lie, all the time and about just about everything. Discussion of political topics and research into them do not serve as aids to understanding, but to promotion of images and idea sets derived from aggression and vanity. Richard Falk has had a simulacrum of an academic career, not the real thing; if he’d just held up his middle finger the last four decades, he’d have said substantially the same thing, just more concisely.

      • Tony

        Art — I understand your point, and I am an admirer of Erik der Ritter, but I’m still with Muggeridge, Kirk, Voegelin, and Burke on this one.

        Everyone has a view of the world, but not everyone has an “ideology,” because not everyone is possessed. The ideology is not so much a view of reality as a comprehensive attempt to force reality into the confines of a fantasy. There is a denial of reality or even a hatred of reality at the heart of the ideologue; and often this hatred burns bright, as in Marx and Sartre. The ideologue is the man whom Burke called the “metaphysician,” thinking of La Mettrie and the philosophes. Ideology is an ersatz religion.

        The ideologue must lie, because no ideology can stand the pressure of reality. That is why feminists cannot admit the horror of abortion, or even such an obvious thing as the (marked and often massive) physical superiority of men. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “Herland” is a long and mostly pleasant but utterly foolish exercise in ideology and flight from reality.

    • ForChristAlone

      Only an ideologue would strap a bomb around his child’s waste and send him into a crowd of people to blow himself up. In my mind, no legitimate religion does this kind of thing. In polynesian cultures they were wont to cannibalize their enemies. Even that was not as bad as purposely sending your child to his or her own death. We need no longer to bury our heads in the sand regarding the evil we face.

  • John Albertson

    That is a superb reply. I am still working on the difference between an
    ideologue and a fanatic, the latter being, according to Churchill, one
    who cannot change his mind and won’t change the subject. If they are
    different in some sense, the ideologue certainly is an embryonic fanatic.

  • JimD

    What name droppers we have among us! Richard Falk. Bashir Assad. Don’t stop there. Why not throw in those champions of the poor & downtrodden Chairman Mao, the Kmer Rouge, Idi Amin. At least it would be more honest, no. You need to break a few eggs to make an omelet, as the saying goes. Falk needs the cloak of academic position to spin his web of lies and deceit. Assad needs to kill a few Christian leaders in Lebanon (as the UN report found), or use some chemical weapons against his own people, to protect Syria from its enemies. And jdonnell needs to label anyone who challenges his pieties as an ideologue, sort of the pot calling the kettle … . Except you have to have a legitimate idea to be an ideologue. When you have none, you revert to name calling and name dropping. How dare you attack a Princeton Prof vetted by his peers. A few years back didn’t Princeton appoint to its bioethics chair a man who advocated infanticide up to age 1 or 2? Can’t recall his name. My how enlightened those Princeton folks are! As for what education should do , I credit college for giving me a respect and hunger for learning, but my education only began there, and it continues today . As I aged up a I found it necessary to revisit old ideas, weigh them against the current or prevailing wisdom, and discard what does not seem honest or true. Open & honest
    dialogue is important. But today it seems more people are not interested in that, only in casting into darkness those they disagree with or demonstrating their intellectual and moral superiority. It’s sort of like rewriting the Socratic dialogues with Socrates and Alcibiades calling each other stupid, unenlightened or primitive. Good luck with that!

  • Tony

    I write an article which in the end is a cry of the heart: I witnessed four little boys having their brains blown out by a Muslim fanatic, one after the other. This was put on video precisely to celebrate and spread the evil. I could do nothing afterwards but gaze at the Cross; I had no words.

    For this, I get the response, “But George W. Bush!” And, “Khomeini wasn’t all that bad!” Do you hear me? I saw four little boys have their heads shot off. I saw it on a video meant for wide distribution. Muggeridge saw starving peasants, millions dead by the deliberate, direct, and intended actions of the Soviet regime. Eugenio Corti, when he was an Italian soldier on the Russian front, saw people who had cannibalized the dead in the stuffed boxcars transporting “enemies of the State” to Siberia. Muggeridge came to the conclusion that it was ideology itself that was evil — ideology, man’s self-made substitute for religion.

    And we did not have that discussion. “But, but Bush lied!”

    I saw four little boys, crying, their hands tied behind their backs, lined up on a bench, facing the wall, while a grown man took a gun and fired a bullet through one skull after another, and another grown man captured it on video. The Cross, the Cross, the Cross is the only answer. Don’t talk to me about your political players. Do you hear?

    • Marie

      Thank you, Sir, for your article, and for your writing in general. I will pray for you.

    • Guest

      Thank you, Sir, for your article, and for your writing in general. I will pray for you.

  • JoFlemings

    I think you are a brilliant communicator, Professor Esolen! But this piece makes me ask about the things that are bothering me- we American orthodox Catholics- are we so few and so paltry in our witness to lives of faith that no one can find the cross until we have to die for it, or at least talk about dying for it?

    I feel as though ideologues get away with being so, because we don’t seem to live something ‘other’ enough to be compelling for a different course and cause. I find little difference between my parish life and say, the local public school PTA, in terms of priority, or values, or principles in why we do what we do, or the way we do things. We are concerned about money, first and foremost; and about order and organization- smooth functioning— keeping what is undesirable at bay or at a comfortable distance, because that is not seemly to us. We don’t want the mess or the hassle.

    Prudence is a virtue, but more times than anyone can count, we laud and commend the lives of the saints for their heroic faith that makes a mockery of the simple human virtue of prudence. I wonder how many of us are more like the Cathars than the Catholics of old—and how to inoculate my own soul against what bothers me about myself the most- buying into the world to try to have my Christian cake in comfort, and eat it too.

    How can I, with any integrity, testify to Christ and Him Crucified when I control everything in my life according to my western first world preferences?

    • Tony

      Excellent questions. I think we cannot do all things at once; we will be overwhelmed. One thing at a time. Maybe at your house you begin by unplugging the television, unless to watch old shows and classic movies. Maybe you begin by teaching your children at home. Maybe you begin by asking the priest for weekly benediction of the Sacrament on Friday, followed by adoration. Maybe you begin by singing together, old folk songs, silly songs, hymns. Maybe you begin by shedding one heavy collar after another. But you begin — that’s the thing.

      A life-changing book for me has been Joseph Pieper’s classic: Leisure: The Basis of Culture. You might find an answer there. God bless you and your family.

  • David Zacchetti

    It sounds like some people have an appetite for destruction.

  • Peter Atkinson

    This is a powerful article, Dr. Esolen. Thank you for taking your time to write this.

MENU