Monday, February 27, 2006
IHS Press, Potential Fascist & Antisemitic Connections, Etc.: A Chronicle of Disturbing Patterns
I usually am not inclined to blog on this kind of topic, but having conducted several weeks' investigation into this matter I believe the questions raised by fellow Catholic Matthew Anger (Fringe Watch) are credible, and that this issue, disturbing as it is, should be brought to the greater attention of the public. Please note that as any more information pertaining to this issue becomes available this post may be updated in the future -- Thanks, CB].
In September 2001, John Sharpe and Derek Holland founded IHS Press, its stated mission "to bring back into print the classics of last century on the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church" -- which the publishers hope will be "a welcome and refreshing change for any socially-conscious reader who, in a search for a humane solution to modern social problems, is looking for a break from worn-out theories."
In December 2005, IHS Press, under the imprint "Light and Darkness," published the two-part anthology Neo-Conned and Neo-Conned Again. Featuring "20 months of extensive research" and the contributions of a broad range of authors (a "who's who" of those who opposed the Iraq war), including "paleoconservative" Pat Buchanan (The American Conservative), Joseph Sobran, Deacon Keith Fournier (former editor of TCRNews.com), Paul Likoudis (The Wanderer), William T. Cavanaugh, Ph.D. (author of Torture and Eucharist), Scott Ritter (former chief UN weapons inspector for UNSCOM), journalist Robert Fisk, Professor Noam Chomsky, Justin Raimondo (antiwar.com), Mark & Louise Zwick (Houston Catholic Worker) and E. Michael Jones (Culture Wars) -- with endorsements by everyone from Dale Vree (New Oxford Review) to Howard Zinn (historian, Boston University) to Bishop Williamson (SSPX). . . . in the publisher's words, "a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred examination of the immorality, the injustice, the illegality, and the insanity of America’s aggression against Iraq."
In December 2005, Matthew Anger (who some might recognize as a frequent contributor to the Seattle Catholic) launched a blog called Fringe Watch, its primary aim "a study on the Third Positionist neo-fascist infiltration of conservative/traditional Catholic circles," but extending its investigation into such controversial figures as Bishop Williamson (SSPX), Fr. Leonard Feeney (1897-1978) . . . and IHS Press founders John Sharpe and Derek Holland. The relevant posts from his blog are as follows:
It also appears that the co-founder of IHS Press is none other than Derek Holland (presently going by the name of Deric O'Huallachain), a former International Third Position (ITP) leader with a sympathy for anti-American Arab governments, having traveled to Libya in 1988 (a field trip organized by Ayran Nations Australia leader Robert Pash).
According to Wikipedia's biography:
Holland's last public appearance was at a Swedish nationalist convention in 2002 (hosted by Nationaldemokratisk Ungdom, the youth wing of the National Democrats). Since that time the ITP appears to have gravitated towards the European National Front, and Holland has retired from active involvement in politics, though his Political Soldier writings are still circulated amongst radical nationalists.According to Matt Anger, Derek Holland now resides in Ireland and sits on the board of directors of IHS Press:
From the moment that IHS Press was established in 2001, people expressed concern, but were reassured (as was this writer) that Holland had put his extremism "behind him." Apparently that didn't stop him from being guest speaker at the February 2002 racial nationalist Nationaldemokratisk Ungdom (NDU) in Sweden. In March of that year the German neo-nazi Deutsche Stimme (German Voice) featured his essay, "Theory and Strategy: The Path of the Political Soldier." An overnight transition from political radicalism to religious orthodoxy seems improbable. And his activities in Ireland have covered as recently as 2005 in the Brandsma Review.
Having blogged previously on the disturbing presence of anti-semitism in "radical traditionalist" circles -- Dubious Sources in Catholic Family News May 17, 2003; Anti-semitism: Another Obstacle to SSPX Reconciliation Against the Grain Dec. 28, 2003; Pope Benedict XVI, the SSPX and Impediments to Reunion Sept. 10, 2005 -- I took an immediate interest in Matt Anger's investigation. (And lest you suspect Anger of possessing "neocon" affinities like myself, do read his Anti-War Conservatives vs. Subversives: A Clarification Fringe Watch Jan. 20, 2005).
Where is all this heading? -- Back in January I had touched on John Sharpe's dubious connections in my introduction to Matt Anger's blog. I was at the time greatly disturbed by these revelations concerning IHS Press, on account that various bloggers and websites I knew(TCRNews.com, for instance) were vigorously promoting the Neoconned series.
Likewise, I myself had promoted IHS Press on my website The Church and the Liberal Tradition (focusing on Catholic social doctrine and the debate between "Whig-Thomists" and "Augustianian Thomists"), and listed one of their books, Dr. Amintore Fanfani's Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism.
Others, however, were somewhat dismissive of Matt Angers' investigation. One commentator protests:
. . . As for Sharpe's views on "the Jews," which I knew nothing of until reading Matt's piece, that is separate. We at our end believe we can praise one work while deploring the rest. We do the same with First Things all the time, which we consider theologically very substantive though politically compromised (again, from our point of view; no offense intended to anyone here).I responded in turn that this was a grave mistake: perhaps one can separate the content from the source, "praising the work while deploring the source" -- but in this case, I would be pressed to ask whether, under the present circumstances, it is right to further the financial gain of this kind of publisher without at least inquiring more closely about their political/ideological views?
Another friend urged me to write John Sharpe and IHS Press regarding these allegations, and I agreed it would be the best idea to confront them directly. On February 8, 2006, I emailed the publishers at IHS Press, by way of their own website as well as their Neoconned promotional page, inquiring about the present connections of John Sharpe to the Legion of St. Louis and IHS Press' co-founder Derek Holland's relationship to the International Third Position (as described in the article Faith-based fascists bridging the waters, Searchlight March 2004). (Recieiving no response, I wrote them again on Februrary 21st).
On February 21, 2006 I received the following response from IHS Press:
I write on behalf of IHS Press as the editor. You should contact the Legion of St. Louis for information on their status or activities. IHS Press is not connected to the Legion of St. Louis.Mr. Sharpe and I corresponded further on the above topics, although his responses to my inquiries regarding the Legion of St. Louis and Derek Holland's background were in large part the same and stuck to the above points. My observations are as follows:
John Sharpe and the Legion of St. Louis
Mr. Sharpe advises: "You should contact the Legion of St. Louis for information on their status or activities. IHS Press is not connected to the Legion of St. Louis." (He reiterated this point in our subsequent correspondence). Now, while this is "factually" true (there is indeed, no formal connection between the two organizations), it remains the case that the founder of "The Legion of St. Louis" is none other than John Sharpe, as documented by the "founding email" of the organization, reproduced here on The LeFloch Report, and this article in the Dec. 13, 2002 edition of Seattle Catholic.
John Sharpe's Commentary on 9/11
[Note: This particular section has been revised on 3/1/06 in light of additional documentation uncovered from MediaMonitors.net -- CB]
Furthermore, as "editor of the Legion of St. Louis", Mr. Sharpe authored a series of essays on 9/11 for conspiracy website MediaMonitors.net, in which he airs views that would be of concern to most Catholics. In the first essay, "Thou Shall Not Kill Sept. 17, 2001, Sharpe suggests that the United States pretty much brought 9/11 on itself. Citing the work of (suprise!) "the master of secret history, Michal A. Hoffman, II," Sharpe muses that "there remains the possibility that that official story [of 9/11] will be a cover for something else, and that there are individuals who benefit from the results . . . who are other than the hypothetical crazy Arabs," speculating in his second essay (The Mainstream Media Reaction to the Attacks: Who's Pulling the Strings? Sept. 19, 2001) that the culprits may very well be "The Mossad or the U.S. Govt."
In this third essay, Islam vs. the West: Is This Another Crusade? October 18, 2001, Sharpe charges that:
Commentary on the geopolitical situation of 2001 can be neither complete nor sufficient if it fails to take into account the Jewish Nation. The temporal power that the Jews have achieved since, picking a somewhat arbitrary date, 1789, is both pervasive and relatively unchallenged. Some readers will doubtless call this extremism, anti-Semitism, and, God-forbid, some strange brand of Nazi fanaticism. On the contrary. It is simply a fact. The forces of high finance, government, and the media have been in largely Jewish hands for some time now; we should therefore expect that the direction in which the world is guided by those forces (or at least in which those forces attempt to guide the world) largely corresponds to a generally Jewish aim.Sharpe goes on to discuss the Catholic response to 9/11 from the Vatican ("little more than a nicely robed fan club for everything modern") and Pope John Paul II ("of scandalous Koran-kissing fame") -- such references to the Holy Father are to be expected -- before concluding:
1. The current and historical mortal enemy of Christian civilization is Judeo-Masonry. There can be no doubt about this fact from an analysis history, both recent, and that which dates from the time of Our Lord. Islam is a sideshow, albeit a powerful and vigorous one, to the main drama. It has been a tool of Jewry and may in fact be so in this case.Part III of Sharpe's 9/11 commentary ends with the anticipation that he "will try to pull together what is known about the "official story" and why it doesn’t wash. It will also consider just what role this 'greater Judaism' may have had in 9-11, particularly in light of the ideological gains which it continues to reap in the name of pluralism and tolerance."
The Sept. 11, 2002 - "9/11 Anniversary Edition" of the LSL's Legion News & Views [available here on the restored website of the LSL, or via the Google cache], again indulges in wild conspiracies about 9/11, recommending the conspiracy-theory websites The Abbé de Nantes" and http://www.whatreallyhappened.com -- speculating (from the former) that Bin Laden is "the secret ally of the United States"; (from the latter), that the Zionists, again, were the true perpetrators of the crime.
John Sharpe's endorsement of Judaism's Strange Gods, by Michael Hoffman II
Mr. Sharpe recommends Michael Hoffman's Judaism's Strange Gods as an "excellent and balanced treatment of an obviously difficult question." Who is Michael Hoffman II?
Michael Hoffman II is a conspiracy-theorist and Holocaust-revisionist, who heads the revisionist website Campaign for Radical Truth in History. He has authored a number of books such as Hate Whitey - The Cinema of Defamation ("tracking Hollywood's psychological war against whites, Christians, Germans and gentiles"); Witches and Rabbis: Legacy of the Reagan White House (the chapter titles alone are a good indication of the content: "Reagan's Kosher Cash Cow; Greatest Presidential Friend of the Israelis; Patron Saint of the Holohoax Lobby," etc.); on revisionisthistory.org, he bemoans the fact that
"The white race --at least in its current degenerate state as manifested in modern America-- is now the golem of the rabbis. Without the unstinting financial and military support of America's white leaders and white voters, the Israeli Zionists would not have one-tenth their power in the world today. The supremacy of whites in America such as George W. Bush, Donald Rumsefeld, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., Justice Antonin Scalia, . . . is synonymous with the rise of Judaic supremacy. I repudiate white supremacy and Judaic supremacy with every ounce of my being."
In subsequent correspondence with Mr. Sharpe I pointed out Michael Hoffmann II's rather dubious connections and asked, whether in light of his other writings as a Holocaust revisionist, Hoffman's Judaism's Strange Gods could honestly be considered to offer a "excellent and balanced" exploration of Judaism. Mr. Sharpe responded:
I am not aware of the books of his that you say indulge "in the worst form of 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion"-esque conspiracy-theorizing", whatever that means exactly. Notwithstanding your own point of view of Mr. Hoffman, his book on Judaism is balanced and enlightening. I suggest you read it before you comment on it one way or another.Although Sharpe professes an ignorance of Hoffman's other works, he has freely cited Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare in his speculations on 9/11. Although he may not be aware of his other works, I admit I was greatly disturbed by his apparent lack of concern about Hoffman's connections when I pointed these out to him.
Truth be told, I have not bothered to read Strange Gods of Judaism. While I am somewhat familiar with the selective-quotation from the Talmud by anti-semites (see the Anti-Defamation League's The Talmud in Anti-Semetic Polemics February 2003, which addresses the spurious charges of Michael Hoffman II and white-supremacist David Duke), the fact that Michael Hoffman II is a celebrated author of, and heavily marketed by, white-nationalist, neo-nazi, "revisionist history" and "New World Order" conspiracy-theory organizations is enough to repel me.
With regards to learning about Judaism as a religious tradition, I have found Hayim Halevy Donin's To Be a Jew: A Guide to Jewish Observance in Contemporary Life (Basic Books, 1991) particularly helpful, along with Back To The Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts (Simon & Schuster, 1986); I suppose Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History wouldn't hurt, either. And to understand Judaism from a Christian/Catholic perspective, one might read Roy H. Schoeman's Salvation is From The Jews (Ignatius Press, 2004).
Point being: if you want to learn about contemporary Judaism, ask a Jew. Better yet, ask a religious orthodox Jew, not a conspiracy-theorist with a background in "white-separatism" and Holocaust-revisionism.
John Sharpe's Lack of Concern about Derek Holland
That IHS Press' founder should plead ignorance of and willful disregard for the past activities of Derek Holland is extremely troubling for this reason: according to Matthew Anger,
The [International Third Position] has long been involved in a scheme of Marxist style "entryism" – with the aim of co-opting groups which profess non-mainstream views (not extremist per se) in the hopes of bringing them under their neo-fascist umbrella. But a breakthrough came with the ITP's St. George Educational Trust (SGET) set up in the early 90s as a "Catholic charity" organization (an investigation of the group by the UK Charity Commission took place in 1997).In subsequent correspondence, John Sharpe reiterated his position that
IHS does not scrutinize the activities of its staff provided those don't violate either the moral or the civil law, and, to repeat, Mr. O'Huallachain's activities - whether or not you endorse them - don't violate either. Therefore they are of no concern to IHS Press.In light of the fact that 1) IHS Press co-founder Derek Holland/Deric O'Huallachain has a known history of involvement in British fascism, including the origination of the International Third Position; 2) Derek Holland's comrade, Italian fascist Roberto Fiore, masterminded a plot in the 1990's to fund "nationalist commmunes" in Spain through "Catholic charities" which purported to be merely thrift stores and distributors of traditional Catholic literature; 3) that, as late as 2002, Derek Holland had a speaking engagement to a convention of the German NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) . . . then, in this writer's humble opinion, it probably would be in Sharpe's best interest to evaluate his background before entering into a joint publishing venture.
In the past several years, IHS Press has received recognition as a mainstream Catholic publisher. In September 11, 2003, Zenit News Service interviewed Mr. Sharpe on the founding of IHS Press and the revival of Catholic social doctrine ("As a complete sociopolitical creed the social doctrine really is a third way that isn't just between the Left and Right -- it rather transcends both Left and Right and rises above them with its own vision of social order"). They have received a fidelity rating of "excellent" by CatholicCulture.com; and in a November 2004 book review for the New Oxford Review, Thomas Storck commended their publication of Chesterton and Belloc, "their efforts to provide American readers with these foundational works cannot be praised too highly."
In addition to its promotion of traditional Catholic works, IHS Press has, through its "Sheffield Hallam University Press" imprint , published several books on economic socialism, including study of the controversial publisher Alfred Richard Orage and Gary Taylor's Socialism and Christianity: The Politics of the Church Socialist League -- a study of late 19th, early 20th century Christian socialism in England which challenges the notion that "socialism is anti-Christian".
Under its "Traditionalist Press" imprint, IHS Press also published the book The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going “Back to the Land”, an anthology which argues "why city-dwelling Catholics should settle and work in the country." The authors of the text are listed as:
Richard Williamson is a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. Peter Chojnowski is a teacher of religion, philosophy, and social thought at Immaculate Conception Academy. Christopher McCann is an associate of Angelus Press, a Catholic publisher of books about contemporary issues of the Catholic faith. John Marx was a professor of social science and economics at Catholic University of America. Willis Nutting was a frequent contributor to the Catholic journal Integrity.Now, Bishop Williamson is more than "a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church," being in fact excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988, along with the other leaders of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) (see John Paul II's apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta); Angelus Press is more than "a Catholic publisher" -- being the inhouse publisher of the SSPX, and Peter Chojnowski currently teaches for the Society of Saint Pius X at Immaculate Conception Academy in Post Falls, ID.
I should also mention that Richard Williamson also has a history of extremist views that mirror those of Sharpe and Derek Holland (see The Politics of Bishop Richard Williamson Fringe Watch January 25, 2006).
While it appears that the publishers' description of Williamson, Chojnowski and McCann could be construed as a willful attempt to conceal their controversial membership in the SSPX, one should also note that, according to Matt Anger, “whether one agrees with the SSPX or not, it is clear that Bishop Williamson has been an extremist and divisive force in Catholic tradition,” and that many within the SSPX remain severely critical of Richard Williamson’s relationship with Sharpe, Holland, and their involvement in neo-fascism.
Likewise, we should distinguish between those within the SSPX militantly opposed to Rome (like Williamson) and those who are not averse to entering into dialogue with Benedict XVI, with the goal of reconciliation.
IHS Press has also been vigorously marketing the Neo-Conned series, which received positive reviews by Dr. John Hubert TCRNews.com, Catholic "traditionalist" Michael Semin, and, curiously, a group called Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth (the latter reviewer has his own distinct criteria for determining the book's quality: "I went back through the book counting the 9/11 references. According to my quick survey, Neoconned Again includes 14 references (in ten essays) that take the official story [of 9/11] for granted; ten that cast doubt upon it indirectly or through innuendo; and three clear statements that the official story of 9/11 is a lie").
Over the past months, John Sharpe has also done promotional spots on left-wing radio (AntiWar.com's "Weekend Interview") and television (Dr Hesham Tillawi's "Current Issues" interview no longer available online but Sharpe's photo is posted). He will be presenting his work on Neo-Conned and Neo-Conned Again: Hypocrisy Lawlessness and the Rape of Iraq an an Arab/Islamic Center on March 31, 2006.
The publishers of the Neo-Conned volumes present themselves in a rather innocuous light:
J. Forrest Sharpe is the publisher and managing director of IHS Press. He is a student of Catholic Social Doctrine and the English Distributist movement. D. Liam O'Huallachain is the editorial director of IHS Press and is a student of Catholic Social Doctrine, the English Distributist Movement, and contemporary alternative political movements. Both have edited and annotated editions of works by 20th-century social thinkers such as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Fr. Vincent McNabb, Fr. Heinrich Pesch, and Dr. George O'Brien.But as we have seen in this post, there is more to D. Liam O'Huallachain's study of "contemporary alternative political movements" than a cursory or academic interest.
At the time of this writing, it also appears that the domain name "http://www.legionofstlouis.com/" expired (on February 6, 2006 to be precise). Perhaps we may take this as a sign that Mr. Sharpe intends to abandon his earlier project and concentrate fully on the advancement of IHS Press. One may hope as much -- but in light of Sharpe's past editorship of the Legion of St. Louis, his co-founder's questionable political activities (which continued even after the founding of IHS Press), and the many controversial connections unnearthed by Matthew Angers' Fringe Watch investigations, serious questions and concerns remain.
Had Sharpe expressed the slightest bit of concern over Michael Hoffman II's writing and views on Judaism, or Derek Holland's ideological history as a Third Positionist; or admitted that he was indeed the founder of Legion of St. Louis, but had repudiated the opinions he was disseminating at the time as editor, I would have been inclined to let the matter rest and give IHS Press "the benefit of the doubt."
But the fact that he immediately went on the defensive in his support for Michael Hoffman II's Strange Gods of Judaism, his utter lack of concern for Derek Holland and his connection as founder of the Legion of St. Louis prompted the writing of this article.
Given their ideological background and connections, is it a good idea to lend one's support to these publishers by way of promoting their books?
And what of the "neo-fascist infiltration of conservative/traditional Catholic circles"? -- in addition to the left-wing and "paleoconservative" authors who penned works for the Neo-Conned volumes, there were also good Catholics who supported this project, either by contributing their work or lending their voice in endorsement.
Would they have done so as readily had they been fully aware of the ideological affiliations of its publishers?