Thursday, August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

[Edith Stein (1891-1942)]

nun, Discalced Carmelite, martyr  

Commemorated 9 August

"We bow down before the testimony of the life and death of Edith Stein, an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century. It was the synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting ... and also the synthesis of the full truth about man. All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God." These were the words of Pope John Paul II when he beatified Edith Stein in Cologne on 1 May 1987.

Who was this woman?

Edith Stein was born in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11, as her family were celebrating Yom Kippur, that most important Jewish festival, the Feast of Atonement. "More than anything else, this helped make the youngest child very precious to her mother." Being born on this day was like a foreshadowing to Edith, a future Carmelite nun.

Edith's father, who ran a timber business, died when she had only just turned two. Her mother, a very devout, hard-working, strong-willed and truly wonderful woman, now had to fend for herself and to look after the family and their large business. However, she did not succeed in keeping up a living faith in her children. Edith lost her faith in God. "I consciously decided, of my own volition, to give up praying," she said.

In 1911 she passed her school-leaving exam with flying colours and enrolled at the University of Breslau to study German and history, though this was a mere "bread-and-butter" choice. Her real interest was in philosophy and in women's issues. She became a member of the Prussian Society for Women's Franchise. "When I was at school and during my first years at university," she wrote later, "I was a radical suffragette. Then I lost interest in the whole issue. Now I am looking for purely pragmatic solutions."

In 1913, Edith Stein transferred to Gottingen University, to study under the mentorship of Edmund Husserl. She became his pupil and teaching assistant, and he later tutored her for a doctorate. At the time, anyone who was interested in philosophy was fascinated by Husserl's new view of reality, whereby the world as we perceive it does not merely exist in a Kantian way, in our subjective perception. His pupils saw his philosophy as a return to objects: "back to things". Husserl's phenomenology unwittingly led many of his pupils to the Christian faith. In G6ttingen Edith Stein also met the philosopher Max Scheler, who directed her attention to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, she did not neglect her "bread-and-butter" studies and passed her degree with distinction in January 1915, though she did not follow it up with teacher training.

"I no longer have a life of my own," she wrote at the beginning of the First World War, having done a nursing course and gone to serve in an Austrian field hospital. This was a hard time for her, during which she looked after the sick in the typhus ward, worked in an operating theatre, and saw young people die. When the hospital was dissolved, in 1916, she followed Husserl as his assistant to the German city of Freiburg, where she passed her doctorate summa cum laude (with the utmost distinction) in 1917, after writing a thesis on "The Problem of Empathy."

During this period she went to Frankfurt Cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. "This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant churches I had visited people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. It was something I never forgot. "Towards the end of her dissertation she wrote: "There have been people who believed that a sudden change had occurred within them and that this was a result of God's grace." How could she come to such a conclusion?

Edith Stein had been good friends with Husserl's Göttingen assistant, Adolf Reinach, and his wife.
When Reinach fell in Flanders in November 1917, Edith went to Göttingen to visit his widow. The Reinachs had converted to Protestantism. Edith felt uneasy about meeting the young widow at first, but was surprised when she actually met with a woman of faith. "This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it ... it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me - Christ in the mystery of the Cross."

Later, she wrote: "Things were in God's plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that - from God's point of view - there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God's divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God's all-seeing eyes."

In Autumn 1918 Edith Stein gave up her job as Husserl's teaching assistant. She wanted to work independently. It was not until 1930 that she saw Husserl again after her conversion, and she shared with him about her faith, as she would have liked him to become a Christian, too. Then she wrote down the amazing words: "Every time I feel my powerlessness and inability to influence people directly, I become more keenly aware of the necessity of my own holocaust."

Edith Stein wanted to obtain a professorship, a goal that was impossible for a woman at the time. Husserl wrote the following reference: "Should academic careers be opened up to ladies, then I can recommend her whole-heartedly and as my first choice for admission to a professorship." Later, she was refused a professorship on account of her Jewishness.

Back in Breslau, Edith Stein began to write articles about the philosophical foundation of psychology. However, she also read the New Testament, Kierkegaard and Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. She felt that one could not just read a book like that, but had to put it into practice.

In the summer of 1921. she spent several weeks in Bergzabern (in the Palatinate) on the country estate of Hedwig Conrad-Martius, another pupil of Husserl's. Hedwig had converted to Protestantism with her husband. One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and read this book all night. "When I had finished the book, I said to myself: This is the truth." Later, looking back on her life, she wrote: "My longing for truth was a single prayer."

On 1 January 1922 Edith Stein was baptized. It was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, when Jesus entered into the covenant of Abraham. Edith Stein stood by the baptismal font, wearing Hedwig Conrad-Martius' white wedding cloak. Hedwig washer godmother. "I had given up practising my Jewish religion when I was a 14-year-old girl and did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God." From this moment on she was continually aware that she belonged to Christ not only spiritually, but also through her blood. At the Feast of the Purification of Mary - another day with an Old Testament reference - she was confirmed by the Bishop of Speyer in his private chapel.
After her conversion she went straight to Breslau: "Mother," she said, "I am a Catholic." The two women cried. Hedwig Conrad Martius wrote: "Behold, two Israelites indeed, in whom is no deceit!" (cf. John 1:47).

Immediately after her conversion she wanted to join a Carmelite convent. However, her spiritual mentors, Vicar-General Schwind of Speyer, and Erich Przywara SJ, stopped her from doing so. Until Easter 1931 she held a position teaching German and history at the Dominican Sisters' school and teacher training college of St. Magdalen's Convent in Speyer. At the same time she was encouraged by Arch-Abbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey to accept extensive speaking engagements, mainly on women's issues. "During the time immediately before and quite some time after my conversion I ... thought that leading a religious life meant giving up all earthly things and having one's mind fixed on divine things only. Gradually, however, I learnt that other things are expected of us in this world... I even believe that the deeper someone is drawn to God, the more he has to `get beyond himself' in this sense, that is, go into the world and carry divine life into it."

She worked enormously hard, translating the letters and diaries of Cardinal Newman from his pre-Catholic period as well as Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate. The latter was a very free translation, for the sake of dialogue with modern philosophy. Erich Przywara also encouraged her to write her own philosophical works. She learnt that it was possible to "pursue scholarship as a service to God... It was not until I had understood this that I seriously began to approach academic work again." To gain strength for her life and work, she frequently went to the Benedictine Monastery of Beuron, to celebrate the great festivals of the Church year.

In 1931 Edith Stein left the convent school in Speyer and devoted herself to working for a professorship again, this time in Breslau and Freiburg, though her endeavours were in vain. It was then that she wrote Potency and Act, a study of the central concepts developed by Thomas Aquinas. Later, at the Carmelite Convent in Cologne, she rewrote this study to produce her main philosophical and theological oeuvre, Finite and Eternal Being. By then, however, it was no longer possible to print the book.

In 1932 she accepted a lectureship position at the Roman Catholic division of the German Institute for Educational Studies at the University of Munster, where she developed her anthropology. She successfully combined scholarship and faith in her work and her teaching, seeking to be a "tool of the Lord" in everything she taught. "If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him."

In 1933 darkness broke out over Germany. "I had heard of severe measures against Jews before. But now it dawned on me that God had laid his hand heavily on His people, and that the destiny of these people would also be mine." The Aryan Law of the Nazis made it impossible for Edith Stein to continue teaching. "If I can't go on here, then there are no longer any opportunities for me in Germany," she wrote; "I had become a stranger in the world."

The Arch-Abbot of Beuron, Walzer, now no longer stopped her from entering a Carmelite convent. While in Speyer, she had already taken a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 1933 she met with the prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne. "Human activities cannot help us, but only the suffering of Christ. It is my desire to share in it."

Edith Stein went to Breslau for the last time, to say good-bye to her mother and her family. Her last day at home was her birthday, 12 October, which was also the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Edith went to the synagogue with her mother. It was a hard day for the two women. "Why did you get to know it [Christianity]?" her mother asked, "I don't want to say anything against him. He may have been a very good person. But why did he make himself God?" Edith's mother cried. The following day Edith was on the train to Cologne. "I did not feel any passionate joy. What I had just experienced was too terrible. But I felt a profound peace - in the safe haven of God's will." From now on she wrote to her mother every week, though she never received any replies. Instead, her sister Rosa sent her news from Breslau.

Edith joined the Carmelite Convent of Cologne on 14 October, and her investiture took place on 15 April, 1934. The mass was celebrated by the Arch-Abbot of Beuron. Edith Stein was now known as Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce - Teresa, Blessed of the Cross. In 1938 she wrote: "I understood the cross as the destiny of God's people, which was beginning to be apparent at the time (1933). I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf. Of course, I know better now what it means to be wedded to the Lord in the sign of the cross. However, one can never comprehend it, because it is a mystery." On 21 April 1935 she took her temporary vows. On 14 September 1936, the renewal of her vows coincided with her mother's death in Breslau. "My mother held on to her faith to the last moment. But as her faith and her firm trust in her God ... were the last thing that was still alive in the throes of her death, I am confident that she will have met a very merciful judge and that she is now my most faithful helper, so that I can reach the goal as well."

When she made her eternal profession on 21 April 1938, she had the words of St. John of the Cross printed on her devotional picture: "Henceforth my only vocation is to love." Her final work was to be devoted to this author.

Edith Stein's entry into the Carmelite Order was not escapism. "Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone." In particular, she interceded to God for her people: "I keep thinking of Queen Esther who was taken away from her people precisely because God wanted her to plead with the king on behalf of her nation. I am a very poor and powerless little Esther, but the King who has chosen me is infinitely great and merciful. This is great comfort." (31 October 1938)

On 9 November 1938 the anti-Semitism of the Nazis became apparent to the whole world.

Synagogues were burnt, and the Jewish people were subjected to terror. The prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne did her utmost to take Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross abroad. On New Year's Eve 1938 she was smuggled across the border into the Netherlands, to the Carmelite Convent in Echt in the Province of Limburg. This is where she wrote her will on 9 June 1939: "Even now I accept the death that God has prepared for me in complete submission and with joy as being his most holy will for me. I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death ... so that the Lord will be accepted by His people and that His Kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world."

While in the Cologne convent, Edith Stein had been given permission to start her academic studies again. Among other things, she wrote about "The Life of a Jewish Family" (that is, her own family): "I simply want to report what I experienced as part of Jewish humanity," she said, pointing out that "we who grew up in Judaism have a duty to bear witness ... to the young generation who are brought up in racial hatred from early childhood."

In Echt, Edith Stein hurriedly completed her study of "The Church's Teacher of Mysticism and the Father of the Carmelites, John of the Cross, on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of His Birth, 1542-1942." In 1941 she wrote to a friend, who was also a member of her order: "One can only gain a scientia crucis (knowledge of the cross) if one has thoroughly experienced the cross. I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart: 'Ave, Crux, Spes unica' (I welcome you, Cross, our only hope)." Her study on St. John of the Cross is entitled: "Kreuzeswissenschaft" (The Science of the Cross).

Edith Stein was arrested by the Gestapo on 2 August 1942, while she was in the chapel with the other sisters. She was to report within five minutes, together with her sister Rosa, who had also converted and was serving at the Echt Convent. Her last words to be heard in Echt were addressed to Rosa: "Come, we are going for our people."

Together with many other Jewish Christians, the two women were taken to a transit camp in Amersfoort and then to Westerbork. This was an act of retaliation against the letter of protest written by the Dutch Roman Catholic Bishops against the pogroms and deportations of Jews. Edith commented, "I never knew that people could be like this, neither did I know that my brothers and sisters would have to suffer like this. ... I pray for them every hour. Will God hear my prayers? He will certainly hear them in their distress." Prof. Jan Nota, who was greatly attached to her, wrote later: "She is a witness to God's presence in a world where God is absent."

On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. It was probably on 9 August that Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, her sister and many other of her people were gassed.

When Edith Stein was beatified in Cologne on 1 May 1987, the Church honoured "a daughter of Israel", as Pope John Paul II put it, who, as a Catholic during Nazi persecution, remained faithful to the crucified Lord Jesus Christ and, as a Jew, to her people in loving faithfulness."


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Goodbye, American Solidarity Party

It is with great regret that I deliver the news that the American Solidarity Party, a group that I hoped would emerge a a serious arm of resistance against the two-party duopoly and its stranglehold on American politics, has been taken over by a dedicated group of neo-integralist reactionaries that stands for a sectarian and discriminatory approach to the public square. I documented this in an earlier article, Dog-Whistle and Pony Show: Exposing Imago Dei Politics (formerly the Dorothy Day Caucus), but my warnings were not heeded by enough people to counter the recruiting this group has done among fringe groups of dominionists, theocrats, and monarchists.

It has been my honor to pour myself into the work I have undertaken in attempting to turn the ASP into a force of justice for all, and I have had an opportunity to work alongside many people who will, I hope, accompany me in the long term. I have come to the realization, however, that my vision for the American Solidarity Party was not to be. The underlying struggle in this party between those on the one hand who love justice and liberation for all people, and those on the other who are trying to regain a religious ascendancy for Christendom in the cultural sphere, is not a battle that is worth the time, effort, and sacrifice that it would take to win a decisive victory. Even then, the triumph would be pyrrhic - the ASP is an organization I do not see as being capable of escaping the baggage of its past mistakes.

I write in the waning hours of the 2018 ASP Convention, watching the IDP sweep the election of officers to the National Committee. As my term of office ends I will do everything possible to uphold my fiduciary duty to protect the larger membership of the organization from the unscrupulous cabal which is seizing the reins of the party. I will then depart, shaking off the dust of my feet.

My passion for justice and the liberation of the oppressed will move to other venues.  More to come...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

2018 Candidacy for the American Solidarity Party National Committee

I am Ephrem Hugh Bensusan, and I am running for reelection to the National Committee of the American Solidarity Party.

A little about myself: I am 49, married with grown children. I work for Apple, Inc. as a Technical Advisor in the Enterprise Creativity Software division. I have a long background in political activity, and my views are particularly formed by Liberation Theology, as well as the thought of the American Civil Rights leaders of the 20th Century. I am technically a Melkite Greek Catholic, but I attend the Roman Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington, Kentucky, under Bishop John Stowe, a Bishop notable for his Social Justice activism.

Currently, I am the Director of Social Media and Marketing for the National Committee. I oversee our Internet presence and Social Media accounts.  I am also the Chairman of the American Solidarity Party of Kentucky, and I have led our state party through a period of fairly rapid growth, established us as an officially affiliated chapter, and worked to establish relationships with other political and social justice groups locally, most notably the Lexington NAACP and BUILD - Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-action, and we continue working to establish relations with the various refugee and immigrant advocacy groups in the commonwealth, as well as with pro-life groups that seek to implement whole-life solutions rather than simply focus on issues of legal status. The Kentucky ASP is also very serious about racial justice, and we have contributed to the movement to remove specific Confederate monuments both in Frankfort and Lexington. In Lexington, this movement, coordinated by Take Back Cheapside, an African American led organization, was successful in getting statues of John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan removed from the Old Fayette County Courthouse, and having the plaque marking the South’s largest slave marketplace restored, thus dispelling the celebration of those who fought for slavery, and returning to truth-telling about the atrocities of our past. We of the ASP-KY are both grateful and honored to have played even the smallest role in helping bring this to pass.

I am deeply committed to the 4 core principles of our party:

The sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
The necessity of social justice.
Conservation of the environment.
The promotion of a more peaceful world.

Guided by these principles and values, we seek to promote the material and spiritual welfare of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or orientation, in a political framework that emphasizes unity over fragmentation, community over individualism, liberation over oppression, solidarity over division.

These have been my emphases both in Kentucky and on the National Committee. It is my hope that your vote will return me to this position, that I may continue the work we have undertaken.

My priorities for the National Committee are these:

Grow the party at the state and local levels, encouraging networks with other groups of like mind.
Encourage state chapters to affiliate with the national party in order to create a national organization with strong chapters in all states.
Field candidates to run at all levels of government, with a focused emphasis on local and state elections.
Ensure that all of our policies and actions as a party arise from a preferential option for the poor and the marginalized, rather than serving to enrich the already wealthy and the dominant.
Emphasize our particular distinctives - the 4 core principles - in platform and policy development, and in spreading our ideas in the various media.

Lastly, promotion of principled resistance to both the current Administration and to the threats to the common good that come from both sides of the conventional political spectrum.

In 1904, in the original edition of his novel, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair described the American two-party system as “‘two wings of the same bird of prey!’ The people were allowed to choose between their candidates, and both of them were controlled, and all their nominations were dictated, by the same power. The people attended political meetings of either party, and the hall was paid for, and the speakers were hired, out of the same purse.”

 More than a century later, that reality has not changed. In fact, the inequality of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of humanity is greater now than ever before. For all their superficial “differences,” Democrats and Republicans alike are united in the neoliberalism that feeds the ruling elite.

We need people on the National Committee that take a stand of Principled Resistance against this existing order, and particularly against its assault on those who it has targeted for oppression: immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and the unborn.

I can guarantee that I will remain in the vanguard of those who stand and fight, and not among those who compromise and acquiesce as the country slides further under the boots and high heels of its monied master class.

I thank you for your consideration. I would deeply appreciate your support and your vote at the upcoming convention.

May God bless our endeavours and our nation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dog-Whistle and Pony Show: Exposing Imago Dei Politics (formerly the Dorothy Day Caucus)

Imago Dei Politics (formerly the Dorothy Day Caucus) is a neo-integralist† association of American Solidarity Party members that are dissatisfied with what they perceive to be the party’s drift away from “social conservatism”, by which they mean outspoken opposition to Same Sex Marriage, the adoption of children by same sex couples, and no-fault divorce. They are a sectarian organization, enunciating what they call “a Christ-centered witness in the public square” as their political vision. They are also very localist, espousing a view of the principle of subsidiarity that would easily pass muster in the American South of the 1960s, and have a tendency to, at the very least, provide shelter to defenders of the Confederacy and other racists, misogynists, and homophobes.

The origins of IDP lie in the tumult surrounding the revision of the ASP platform during the second quarter of 2017. There had been widespread sentiment that the 2016 platform needed revision, with input from a party membership that was more than 10 times the size of the membership at the time of the 2016 convention. After considerable deliberation, the National Committee decided to revise the platform through an 11-member committee, 6 of which would be elected by the full party membership, and 5 of which were appointed by the NC. Thirty members applied to be on the Platform Committee, and hundreds of members voted to select the top 6. An extensive survey regarding agreement with and importance of each part of the platform was sent to members, and again, hundreds responded. Then the 11 members of the Platform Committee went to work revising, and submitted interim drafts for yet another round of surveying. The Platform Committee finally consolidated different versions down to the Committee’s preferred language on each topic, and over 500 members of the party voted to ratify each bullet point. Ratification required a 2/3rds vote, which was far exceeded in almost every case (decriminalization of marijuana was the only point that failed ratification, with about 60% support).

Supporters of the old platform plank “We support the legal recognition of marriage as a union of one man to one woman for life,” were unsatisfied with the outcome of this highly democratic process. The surveys had shown a wide variety of opinions about same-sex marriage among the membership. Because none of several possible formulations about this subject garnered supermajority support in the surveys, the Platform Committee did not propose language on this issue, meaning that the ASP no longer takes any position against Same Sex Marriage (or no-fault divorce, for that matter). A handful of members tried to organize a campaign to vote down the entire platform in protest of its silence on a contentious issue, but the final convention results revealed they had been entirely unsuccessful in persuading others to follow them (only 7 votes).

This very important change in position was received bitterly by those who would become the founders of the dissident group styled the “Dorothy Day Caucus.”

Other issues had arisen in the time around the 2017 Convention. One member of the NC, James Lomuscio, ostensibly for personal reasons, had pulled back from involvement, but at the request of the then-Chair Matthew Bartko had not actually resigned. Dane Garrett, one of the malcontents, began spreading disinformation around the party regarding this situation, which ended up revealing, at least at the NC level, the whole set of circumstances surrounding this semi-resignation to be a patchwork of deceptions woven together to whip up animosity against Lillian Vogl by a small circle including Lomuscio, Dane Garrett, Tara Ann Thieke, and Brian Lester.

After the Convention, this circle regrouped, and in a social media blitz on August 6, 2017, the Dorothy Day Caucus announced itself with great fanfare on all available ASP venues. Led by Tara Ann Thieke and Dane Garrett (withdrawn/unsuccessful candidates for NC), Stephen Beall and Brian Lester (two members of the Platform Committee who fought tooth and nail to prevent the SSM language and distributist economic language from being removed), and Jeffrey Stuart (the chief offender in holding himself out as representing the views of the party, particularly in a racist, sexist and homophobic manner) the DDC presented its Affirmation Statement, and ultimately ended signing up 77 people willing to put their name to it.

The Dorothy Day Caucus is an independent association of members of the American Solidarity Party. We seek a radical transformation of American politics in the spirit of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.
1. We recognize the irreplaceable value of a Christian vision and are committed to providing a Christ-centered witness in the public square.
2. We support the traditional family of mother, father, and child as the foundation of society and the surest guarantee of health and security for children. ​
3. We call for the greatest possible autonomy for local governments and mediating institutions.
4. We advocate an economy in accord with the dignity of human work and human nature, ordered toward the widespread distribution of property, ownership, and opportunity. ​
5. We oppose military aggression, economic coercion, and treaties and institutions that promote corporate hegemony.
We affirm the core values of the ASP, and we work with the national and state committees to elect candidates, develop policies, and educate the public in accord with our principles. 

It is Items 1-3 that really merit our attention.

Item 1 is a dog-whistle to theocrats and other sectarians who wish to impose the tenets of their own religio-political beliefs as law upon the greater society, and serves notice that it is the values of Christianity (interpreted, of course, in a distinct manner) that forms the basis for DDC/IDP political interaction.

Item 2 is a dog-whistle to those who oppose SSM on religious grounds and wish the party to go back to taking a vigorously quixotic stand against it. It is also designed to exclude other familial arrangements, particularly those that involve adoption by LGBT persons and couples.

Item 3 is a subtle call for what the DDC/IDP terms “Subsidiarity,” but is really a kind of localism - the kind that had to be put down in the 1960s as men like George Wallace and Jim Clark took a stand for local “rights.”

Of course, the end design has, from inception, been to “take back the ASP” from those who have set a new course away from religious radicalism and towards being a force living up to our core principles of sanctity of life, necessity of social justice, conservation of the environment, and the hope of a more peaceful world. They aim to take over the ASP National Committee in our June 2018 Convention. The hashtag they customarily use, in fact, is #SeeYouInJune.

To that end, the DDC/IDP has used a two-pronged social media strategy. The first prong thereof has been to (1) misappropriate our name and trademarks to deceive people into thinking they actually represent the party, (2) produce material that upholds their distinctive positions and, again, deceive people into thinking that they represent the mainstream of the party, and (3) create false-front groups to spread their disinformation. 

The second prong of their social media strategy has been that of alt-right- style trolling. They use their false-front sites to troll, feeling confident that party members, even if they don’t participate, are watching for the drama. There they make wild accusations about the tyranny of the NC, and present themselves as victims of wrongdoing. They make loud claims of being victimized and persecuted, and disseminate these claims in videos, open letters, and social media posts in their false front groups. Then they also use small coordinated gangs to appear as a troll-mob on social media posts to provoke a negative response and then play victim when the response comes.

This strategy has been in effect since August, and took another step forward as two of their own, Tai-Chi Kuo (who has suggested that members of non-Christian religions go form their own parties) and Carlo Razzeto (an outspoken foe of SSM), have announced their candidacies for NC. Other members or allies of IDP who have announced their candidacies include, as of May 31, 2018, Christopher Hunt, Zebulon Baccelli, Eric Anton, Patrick Harris, Jose Carlos Moreno, Amar Patel, and Monica Tully.

In March 2018 the DDC changed its name to Imago Dei Politics, and restructured its leadership as follows:

Board of Trustees:
  • Tara Ann Thieke, President 
  • Dane Garrett 
  • Patrick Harris 
  • Charlie Jenkins 
  • Tai-Chi Kuo 
  • Jeremy Miller 
  • Lucy Moye 
  • Monica Tully 

Executive Committee:
  • Jeffrey Stuart - Chair 
  • Eric Anton, Vice-Chair 
  • Jeremy Miller, Secretary-Treasurer 
  • Zebulon Baccelli, Political Action 
  • Skylar Covich, Political Action 
  • Brendan Illis, Communications 
  • Dane Garrett, at-large 
  • Charlie Jenkins, at-large 

It is worthy of note that Skylar Covich, Vice-Chair of the ASP National Committee, also serves as a member of the IDP Executive Committee, cementing an alliance that has existed since the DDC launch, and which has constituted the root of the factionalism in the party, as he has actively worked against the rest of the NC to promote DDC/IDP aims.

I reiterate: the DDC/IDP strategy since its inception has been to take over the NC at the Convention this June. All of their efforts have been a movement toward this goal. Their current activity is the execution of a plan to sign on new voting members for the purpose of this hostile takeover, and it is using both its official venues and its false-flag troll groups effectively to make that happen.

If the DDC/IDP succeeds in this hostile takeover, the ASP will no longer stand for social justice, but rather for taking civil rights away from LGBT people, and for the toleration of misogyny, racism, and homophobia. It is of paramount importance that those of us who do value social justice do not let this happen if we want to keep the ASP from devolving into a hate group. The only way we can rest assured that this isn’t going to occur is by becoming voting members* of the ASP ourselves and outnumbering their votes.

† "Catholic Integralism is a tradition of thought that rejects the liberal separation of politics from concern with the end of human life, holding that political rule must order man to his final goal. Since, however, man has both a temporal and an eternal end, integralism holds that there are two powers that rule him: a temporal power and a spiritual power. And since man’s temporal end is subordinated to his eternal end the temporal power must be subordinated to the spiritual power." [Definition from Integralist website The Josias.]
The Coming Neo-Integralism - John Ehrett

* Full Membership is available for anyone who contributes at least $10 a year to the party. Full members have voting privileges in state and national conventions. 
* Supporting Membership is for those who are making regular contributions of at least $10 a month. A key perk of Supporting Membership is that all members of your household who are 18 and older and make the affirmation statement will also have voting privileges. 
* Patron status recognizes anyone who contributes at least $300 per year ($25 a month), and also affords household voting membership.

Appendix 1

A number of people have asked for additional documentation regarding the IDP toleration of and participation in misogyny, racism, and homophobia. Here is a representative sample of discussions from some of their public venues:

Appendix 2

An Exposition of the Conflict of Interest Resolution that Bars IDP Leaders from Serving on the NC or in State Chapter Leadership by Benjamin Hatmaker

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Confeder-H8 History Month: Did the South Secede from the Union over Slavery? Part II - South Carolina

It is often said that the South seceded for reasons other than slavery, economics in general, sectional discord, States' Rights, or taking a stand against "Federal tyranny" as the real cause. And yes, it's pretty easy to see that these excuses "reasons" simply extend from slavery, e.g., "economics" being the economics of a slave economy, "Federal tyranny" meaning that slavery wasn't able to expand into the newer territories, etc.

The contention, however, that the preservation of slavery was not the overriding preoccupation of the seceding states is wholly unsupportable from the secession documents themselves.

All that said, South Carolina, the first state to secede, took a little bit different angle than some other states, in that, as I mentioned at the end of the previous installment, it constitutes an anti-States'-Rights position. The document begins by laying out what South Carolina alleged to be a right to secede from the Federal Union and then moves on to the justification of their secession, to wit, that free States are violating South Carolina's right to hold slaves by refusing to enforce the Fugitive Slave clause in Article 4 of the Constitution, by freeing African Americans who are brought into their territory, by allowing African Americans to have citizenship, and other things that the white supremacist Palmetto State considered to be heinous offenses against their property rights:
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. 
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the *forms* [emphasis in the original] of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. 
This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety... 
Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.
Thus South Carolina, seceded from the Union on December 24, 1860, the stated cause being that the other States had failed in their obligation to help prop up the system of keeping people in chains, and in fact worked against the perpetuation of that criminal enterprise.

READ: Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Confeder-H8 History Month: Did the South Secede from the Union over Slavery?

Mississippi Declaration of Secession

One might think this question is a no-brainer, right? After all, all of the secession documents assign the preservation of slavery as the reason for withdrawal from the Union. But no. In a recent study by Teaching Tolerance, only 8% of High School students polled could correctly identify the preservation of slavery as the cause for secession.

On one of my Facebook posts, a defender of the Confederacy said this:
“The Confederacy was about more than just racism. It was about a people gathering together to stand against a tyrannical government that was bullying them. I will admit that slavery was part of what the Confederacy wanted to keep, but it was not the only reason that the Confederacy fought for independence. Too many people on the left view the Confederacy as only a group of backwoods redneck racist hicks that wanted nothing more than to keep their slaves. The vast majority of the Southern population did not own slaves; only the wealthy few did... I've said all along that slavery was a factor, but it wasn't the only factor.” 
To that he appended a link to prove his point. And what does this link say? Take a look:
What led to the outbreak of the bloodiest conflict in the history of North America? 
A common explanation is that the Civil War was fought over the moral issue of slavery. 
In fact, it was the economics of slavery and political control of that system that was central to the conflict. 
A key issue was states' rights. 
The Southern states wanted to assert their authority over the federal government so they could abolish federal laws they didn't support, especially laws interfering with the South's right to keep slaves and take them wherever they wished. 
Another factor was territorial expansion. 
The South wished to take slavery into the western territories, while the North was committed to keeping them open to white labor alone. 
Meanwhile, the newly formed Republican party, whose members were strongly opposed to the westward expansion of slavery into new states, was gaining prominence. 
The election of a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, as President in 1860 sealed the deal. His victory, without a single Southern electoral vote, was a clear signal to the Southern states that they had lost all influence. 
Feeling excluded from the political system, they turned to the only alternative they believed was left to them: secession, a political decision that led directly to war. 

Translation: The Civil War was not fought over “the moral issue of slavery.” The Civil War was, rather, fought over the economics of slavery, over forcing free states to acquiesce to slavery, over the expansion of slavery, and over the growing possibility that slavery might be outlawed. The common thread is slavery, in case it escaped anybody’s notice.

It is common to hear that the Civil War occurred over States’ Rights rather than slavery. The foolishness of that statement should be clearly evident. What particular right were these states fighting for? Anybody? Further, a reading of the source documents clearly shows that the Southern states opposed States’ Rights when it came to other states embracing freedom.

READ: Five myths about why the South seceded by James Loewen

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Confeder-H8 History Month: Introduction

Earlier this month there was a rather lengthy dumpster fire on my Facebook timeline stemming from my link to and article about the celebration of Confederate History Month in a particular location, and my introduction thereto, which said:

 “Just to illustrate how far we haven't come... The fact that any level of government is willing to countenance this kind of ahistorical nonsense is not only disgusting, but criminal. Let me be crystal clear - any and all tolerance of or advocacy for "Confederate Heritage" is morally indistinguishable from Holocaust denial or outright neo-Naziism. Period.” 

The reaction, something to which I suppose I ought to be accustomed by now, was Confederacy sympathizers rushing forward to show off their rebel flag tattoos and double down on the utter nonsense they were taught, that the Southern cause was a noble fight against tyranny, based in States’ Rights and a “complex of economic issues” rather than the perpetuation of slavery.

Yes, it is true that I am not making any allowances for the fact that many Americans are simply taught a narrative that consists of lies. Here’s why: making those allowances only sets up the perpetuation of the situation. It is necessary to doing justice that the truth be laid out boldly and openly, without compromise or waffling, that nobody be allowed to take refuge in the mythology of White Supremacy that so permeates our culture. This rebuttal needs to be presented not as polite debate, but as a bucket of ice-water thrown hard to wash away the cruft of lies that has been allowed to obscure the unpleasantness of the truth.

A couple of days ago, I credited a certain “free exchange of ideas” as having led not only to a failure to address the Holocaust, but also a failure to convey anything but Confederate propaganda through our educational system. I cannot recant that opinion. With the history of Slavery, the Confederacy, Reconstruction, and the years of Lynch-mob Jim Crow oppression that followed in particular, I think it is demonstrable that, contra the cliche that “the winners write the history” the post-Reconstruction “Gentlemen’s Agreement” to focus on reconciliation of North and South and its concomitant resurgence of White Supremacy allowed and encouraged the losers of the war to win the peace and, most important, to control the narrative that would be taught to succeeding generations. It is that narrative that this series is designed to counter.

By way of introduction to this series - Textbook Racism: How scholars sustained white supremacy, by Donald Yacovone, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “It would appear that despite the monumental outburst of scholarship produced since the mid-1960s, the way we teach history remains as lifeless as John Brown’s body. But as Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an associate professor of history at the Ohio State University, observed in the introduction to ‘Teaching Hard History’: ‘Slavery isn’t in the past. It’s in the headlines.’ History is far from a dead thing. ‘We carry it within us,’ James Baldwin memorably remarked. We ‘are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frame of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.’”