From the New York Post
By Damian Thompson
Last week, a New York-based magazine published a 3,000-word article about Communism that failed to mention the murder of 50 million people — the lowest possible estimate — by Communist regimes during the 20th century.
The rambling essay didn’t once accuse Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia of killing anyone. Instead, it congratulated Communists for fighting the “violent capitalist economy” of the United States.
You would assume that such squalid agitprop could appear only in a sectarian Marxist publication, or on a website run by clueless millennials who have never even heard of the gulag or the Cultural Revolution.
But you would be wrong. The author, Dean Dettloff, is indeed a hardline Communist. He’s a young Canadian supporter of the Marxist-Leninist Party for Socialism and Liberation, which deplores China’s move away from Mao’s ideological purity and hates Gorbachev for destroying the Soviet Union.
But who published him? America magazine, the century-old Jesuit periodical that is among the most influential Catholic publications in the United States.
How can we explain this grotesque lapse of judgment? Dettloff isn’t some crazy freelancer who slipped his propaganda into the current issue of America when the editors weren’t paying sufficient attention. (As a magazine editor, I know this can happen.)
Dettloff is America’s Toronto correspondent. For two years, he has been writing partisan dispatches for America, making excuses for Venezuela’s narco-dictator, Nicolás Maduro, glorifying the far-left thugs of the antifa movement and never missing an opportunity to depict the United States as the Great Satan of capitalism.
“The United States is bad. It’s not good. It would be better if it didn’t exist, and someday, whether by the march of historical contingency or extinction, it won’t,” he tweeted on the Fourth of July, which he called “an abhorrent and perverse holiday that Christians have reasons to hate.”
In an introduction to “Animal Farm” never published in his lifetime, George Orwell described the “servility” with which the “literary establishment have swallowed Russian propaganda.” But he was describing English Soviet apologists whose silence about the gulag was explained partly by the wartime alliance with Stalin against Hitler.
Dettloff doesn’t even have that excuse. Nor, apparently, do his well-funded Jesuit editors. They are happy to whitewash and euphemize genocides — in which their fellow Jesuits perished — as “tragic mistakes.” Dettloff, and his editors by implication, reserve their anger for the “unbridled terrorism” of capitalism.
God only know what Pope Francis makes of this. He remembers Soviet tyranny and has never defended it. As the Jesuit provincial in Argentina, he opposed liberation theology — a strand of Catholic thought, in vogue in Latin America in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, that sees the church’s primary mission not as the salvation of souls, but the liberation of the “oppressed” on earth (understood in Marxian terms).
As a pontiff, however, he seems unconcerned by the crushing of religion in China, with which the Vatican has signed a concordat that grants the Chinese Communist Party a say in the selection of Catholic bishops. He has maintained a troubling silence on the herding of China’s Muslim Uighurs into concentration camps.
But regardless of their views on Francis’ pontificate, American Catholics should be alarmed by Communist apologetics appearing in the pages of the country’s premier Jesuit journal. It’s of a piece with the preening naivety of countless millennial commentators, of whom Dettloff is an extreme example, who roll their eyes at any mention of Communist barbarism.
An ideology drenched with the blood of Catholics — bishops, priests, nuns and laypeople — should never find a home in a journal devoted to the Catholic faith.
Damian Thompson is associate editor of The Spectator.
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