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During World War II, a renowned American poet broadcast pro-Fascist propaganda from Mussolini’s Italy. Seven decades after Ezra Pound, a respected Catholic writer is following Pound’s example.
Mark Shea is an author and commentator for the National Catholic Register, a conservative newspaper owned by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). His personal blog, “Catholic and Enjoying it,” is one of About.com’s five nominees for the Catholicism Readers’ Choice Awards 2012. Shea passionately opposes American military action against Iran.
In expressing that passion on his blog, Shea engages in such vile attacks, distortions, and fear mongering that one wonders whether he gives aid and comfort to a sworn enemy of the United States.
Take his blog post from Jan. 13, 2012 in which Shea links to that revered outlet for serious foreign-policy analysis, Cracked.com.
In “6 B.S. Myths You Probably Believe About America’s ‘Enemies,’” Cracked.com’s Mark Hill wrote that 1) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment about obliterating Israel was mistranslated and taken out of context 2) Iran has a smaller military budget than either Greece or Australia and 3) Ahmadinejad can be overruled by his superiors and has no significant power.
“It’s sad when the writers of Cracked,” Shea wrote, “know more about the Imminent Threat that is not Iran than the warmongers of the Right and the combox cowards who…defend their rhetoric in favor of cold-blooded murder of innocent human beings.”
Shea ended by asserting that “all the panic about Ahmadinejad with his finger on the button is pure provincial ignorance…using his stupid blather as a justification for praising cold-blooded murder of civilians as ‘wonderful’ is both ignorant and evil.”
However, the German newspaper Die Welt reported in May 2011 that Iran was building bases in Venezuela for intermediate-range missiles, complete with anti-aircraft batteries and commando facilities. Engineers from a firm owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard visited the site three months earlier.
The purpose, reported Die Welt, was to attack Iranian enemies — likely the United States — if Iran itself was attacked.
Since Shea’s post, the Washington Post reported on Jan. 31 that “Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States,” according to intelligence officials testifying before Congress. On Feb. 24, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Iran’s accelerated production of enriched uranium that could be converted easily into weapons-grade stock.
The Revolutionary Guard’s own news service published an article on Feb. 4 by Alireza Forghani, a strategic analyst who advises Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. Forghani called Israel “this corrupting material” and stated that “it is a ‘jurisprudential justification’ to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”
So who are these “innocent human beings” Shea mentions? Among them are Iranian nuclear scientists, one of whom was assassinated Jan. 11 in Tehran. Afterward, Sen. Rick Santorum, seeking the Republican presidential nomination, remarked: “On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”
Shea responded in his Jan. 12 post, “Murderers for Jesus,” by assailing Santorum’s Catholic credentials:
“’100% Prolife’ candidate Rick Santorum…dissenting from two millennia of Catholic teaching which says that you may never, for any reason, deliberately take innocent human life…is now on record in favor of the murder of civilians on the chance that something or other might happen years from now to justify it.
“Some people will try to make the claim that he was not a civilian. Sorry, but we are not at war with Iran. The scientist is part of the military-industrial infrastructure of Iran — just like the occupants of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were. If you say it is legitimate to murder him, you are saying it was legitimate for Osama bin Laden to murder his victims on 9/11.”
Stephen White, a fellow in the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Catholic Studies Program, wrote his rebuttal Jan. 23:
“…Santorum’s own remarks clearly indicate that he was talking about Iranian scientists who are working on nuclear weapons capability — a decidedly military endeavor — not just making electricity (emphasis in original).
“The Iranian regime invests large amounts of resources in killing Americans. Its president has publicly stated a desire to wipe our ally Israel off the map (something Mark Shea seems to scoff at)….The point is that while Mark Shea may judge that building nuclear weapons for such a regime constitutes innocent behavior, I do not.”
White also described as “badly flawed” Shea’s attempt to equate the death of the scientist with the 9/11 deaths:
“Under the Just War tradition, the right to use force…does not grant the right to use indiscriminate or disproportional force…his definition of what can constitute a legitimate military target is either so narrow as to exclude those who manufacture WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) or so broad as to include the accountants, janitors, firemen, paralegals and insurance agents who died in the WTC. Neither strikes me as a morally responsible position.”
“We are, after all, talking about a field of candidates — Ron Paul doesn’t count since he will never be nominated — who aspire to be war criminals.”
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