Monday, May 6, 2013

Frank Cocozzelli on the Neo-Confederate Agenda of Catholic Thinker Thomas E. Woods

I've been meaning to recommend Frank Cocozzelli's recent fascinating introduction to the thinking of an up and coming theorist of the Catholic fringe right, Thomas E. Woods. Visit the Wikipedia page devoted to Woods, and you'll see that he's described there as a "New York Times-bestelling author" who's a political analyst and American historian. Read what Rachel Tabachnik wrote about Woods early in April at Talk to Action, and you'll find another reason he ought to be on our radar screens: he's front and center in a new Ron Paul curriculum project for home-schooled young people.

Frank's overview (which is the first in a two-part series Frank is writing about Woods) notes that Woods is an extreme economic libertarian who is a devotee of "über-libertarian theorist" Murray Rothbard, whose understanding of abortion ought, one would think, automatically to disqualify him as a mentor for Catholic thinkers trumpeting their own über-Catholic orthodoxy, since Rothbard has written that "should the mother decide that she does not want the fetus there any longer, then the fetus becomes a parasitic 'invader' of her person, and the mother has the perfect right to expel this invader from her domain. Abortion should be looked upon, not as 'murder' of a living person, but as the expulsion of an unwanted invader from the mother's body."

And so Rothbard views laws restricting or prohibiting abortion as "invasions of the rights of mothers."

Woods is, as well, Frank tells us, a secessionist and nullificationist who believes that states should have the right to nullify federal laws or court orders that they regard as unconstitutional. And this is hardly an academic point to mention at present, since almost all the states of the old Confederacy whose legislatures are now dominated by tea-party Republicans have been making bold noises lately about nullifying this or that federal law which they divine does not apply to their citizens. Just as many citizens in these same states of the old Confederacy have been making loud noises about seceding from the Union after the re-election of the nation's first African-American president . . . . 

Frank points out that Woods is also a darling of the influential Opus Dei priest and political player John McCloskey, who has himself "ruminated on the appeal of secession to achieve theocracy" and has "gleefully imagined" the violent separation of the godly from the United States in an essay entitled "2030: Looking Backwards." McCloskey's essay looks forward to the day in which "Christians" may stage or collude in an American revolution that will permit them to "live in states that recognize the natural law and divine Revelation, the right of free practice of religion, and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith."

While all of this neo-Confederate blather may sound perfectly cray-cray to normal and sane human beings, I think Frank Cocozzelli is absolutely right to draw our attention to the influence that folks like Thomas Woods now wield in American Catholicism. It's hardly a long step from Woods's toxic nonsense, after all, to the ludicrous claim of the previous president of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, that U.S. Catholic bishops will soon be martyrs for their opposition to the human rights of gay persons.

And Cardinal George is an influential prelate presumably speaking for a sane, well-balanced body of bishops who couldn't possibly believe in secessionist libertarian stuff and nonsense, and couldn't possibly want to fan the flames of violent revolution, could they?

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