Hysteria Central

October 2005

Michael O'Brien is an accomplished Catholic novelist. His strength is fiction. In The Catholic World Report (April), he ventures into nonfiction, specifically political science, and what he writes turns out to be fiction as well. He writes about "The New Totalitarianism" that is already here or on its way because of "hate" crimes legislation and same-sex "marriage." The NOR has spoken out against active homosexuals (even calling them fags, rump rangers, and light in the loafers), and as a result subscriptions have been canceled. And the NOR has spoken out against "hate" crimes legislation and same-sex "marriage" several times, but they do not portend a "New Totalitarianism."

O'Brien doesn't understand that there is no such thing as a perfect democracy. For example, in the U.S., women didn't get the right to vote until 1920, during World War II Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps, in 2000 Al Gore got the popular democratic vote but because of the Electoral College George W. Bush became President, filibustering in the Senate thwarts the will of the majority, our two-party system is less democratic than multi-party systems, the Mormons are still not allowed to practice their religion freely (i.e., polygamy), there is still no provision for selective conscientious objectors (which accords with the Just War teaching of the Catholic Church), and because of a recent Supreme Court ruling your home can be seized by private developers. Moreover, the Supreme Court -- whose members are not elected, are not accountable to the people, and serve for life -- can veto legislation passed by the people's representatives and can veto initiatives passed by the people themselves. But none of this means that America was not or is not a democracy, that America was or is a totalitarian state or that it is headed toward totalitarianism.

Nonetheless, because of "hate" crimes legislation and same-sex "marriage," O'Brien asserts that "a whiff of Germany in the early 1930s is discernible in the atmosphere," and "for several years now we have lived in a situation very close to the crisis that Germany reached when the National Socialists" came to power. This is pure hysteria, and is so reminiscent of the New Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which claimed that Nixon was Hitler and America is Amerikkka.

But then O'Brien tries to cover his bases by saying: "In some cases there may even be no visible dictator, only a system or a social philosophy that permeates and controls everything... Joseph Pieper points out that this is the most dangerous form of totalitarianism of all..." Oh, really? In America we have a "system" and a "social philosophy" of democratic capitalism that "permeates and controls everything." Is this, then, "the most dangerous form of totalitarianism of all"? Puh-leez! This is pure fantasy.


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New Oxford Notes: October 2005

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