A Bizarre Jihad

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A few months ago, I received a threat letter from a lawyer representing Dawn Eden telling me that I was henceforth forbidden from mentioning her in print. This cease-and-desist threat said if I mentioned Dawn in print again, she would bring charges against me for criminal stalking. So, of course, my response almost immediately was to mention Dawn in print.

Within a day, she served me with papers to appear in Washington, D.C., Superior Court, Domestic Violence Division no less. Dawn and an ambulance chaser named Will Cubbedge charged me with criminal stalking for—get this—writing a Crisis column about her and mentioning her on social media. That’s right. Dawn says Tweeting is criminal stalking.

The judge was having none of it. He concluded that Dawn is a public figure and that my coverage of her in columns and on Twitter is constitutionally protected. More importantly, he said none of what I have published about Dawn came anywhere close to stalking. Stalking, after all, must include things like physically following, threatening, or, at least, some kind of direct contact. The judge concluded, quite correctly, that journalism is not stalking. If it were, Dawn would be guilty herself. Her charges were so absurd that merely minutes into her testimony, the judge interrupted and asked, “Does any of this [blather] have anything to do with stalking?”

The central issue was that her feelings were hurt because she had been criticized. This will seem rather rich since Dawn specializes, not in spiritual writing as she told the judge, but in abrasive columns and Tweets attacking good people she disagrees with. She has that right, of course, as do I. It’s just that she and her clown lawyer wanted to take that right away from me.

wrote about Dawn’s various jihads a few years ago: her unbalanced attacks on Cardinal Burke, Catholic News Agency, the Catholic Herald, EWTN, Charles Coulombe, Sophia Institute Press, National Catholic Register, Napa Institute, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Catholic Thing editor Robert Royal.  

Her jihads continue to this day.

In recent weeks, she has gone after well-respected public intellectual Jay Richards for his scientific dissent on masking and vaccines. She charged him with “urging disobedience against public health rules.” How awful! When Richards tried to answer her on Twitter, she oddly accused him of “breaking into” her timeline. See how this works? She can go after someone all she wants, but it’s some kind of offense if they answer.

Last summer, she went after Msgr. Charles Pope, whose crime was leading a rosary walk on Capitol Hill without a mask. Dawn was COVID-offended and let go with both barrels on social media and in The Washington Post. She was also incensed that Pope led his group in prayer in front of a statue of Lincoln with a slave rising from his knees because, everyone knows, the statue is, that’s right, racist.

When an Illinois parish priest wrote to her privately that she would have to answer for her vote in the presidential election, she charged him with “spiritual abuse” and reported him to his bishop. So, again, here is Eden claiming some kind of offense by the priest.

In January, EWTN marketed a patriotic rosary. She said, “EWTN re-crucifies Our Lord daily on the cross of Americanism.” She Tweeted, “When the history of Catholic enablers of Trumpism is written, EWTN…and Raymond Arroyo will loom large.”

She accused EWTN of racism. “Racism,” she said, “is regularly served straight up” on Raymond Arroyo’s The World Over. She was agitated that Catholic hero Bill Donohue wondered “why it’s socially okay to mention the Capitol rioters were white but not okay to mention the race of BLM protestors.” She was shocked that Arroyo did not correct Donohue. This is what passes for racism in Dawn’s head.

Lately, Dawn has been especially beefed about the charitable donations of financier Frank Hanna III of Atlanta, a generous donor to dozens of Catholic causes. Hanna has been one of the most generous donors in the Catholic world, supporting Sophia Institute Press, Thomas More College in New Hampshire, the business school at Catholic University of America, and the campus evangelist group FOCUS. He even purchased the oldest written copy of the Lord’s Prayer and the oldest written copy of the Prologue to the Gospel of John from a Swiss museum and donated them to the Vatican. What a horrible man!

Eden is especially incensed that Hanna publishes the Kennedy Directory, the directory of officially recognized Catholic organizations. It should be noted that Hanna does not get to approve who gets in the directory or not. It is up to the local ordinary to determine if a group is approved for listing. She says Hanna bought the Kennedy Directory to hide the finances of his charitable arm, the Solidarity Association, though, as she says, he lists his supported charities on his website.

Eden’s behavior gets regular huzzahs from the likes of Mark Shea and the other Patheos-type oddballs. They cheer her on because she is going after people and organizations they do not like. Longtime friends and allies, however, are concerned about the turn she has taken. At what cost has she become a public scold, at what cost to a reasonably successful career in writing and teaching.

Dawn and her lawyer, Cubbedge, demonstrated the unfortunate turn of the Left toward “lawfare,” using the courts to silence dissent. As it happens, in Washington, D.C., there is quite a substantial “anti-SLAPP” law that forbids using the courts to silence critics. However, I did not invoke this in court since their case was already so embarrassingly weak. 

Indeed, I was never really worried about Dawn’s threat against me. But it was an inconvenience. A few weeks ago, in her court appearance, she claimed that most of her work is in spiritual writing. My advice, and that of her old friends, would be for her to stop her jihad against “conservatives” and go back to her strength. Alas, it is unlikely she will. 

[Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

By

Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. His latest book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, is now available from Crisis Publications.

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