The Propagandist Strikes Back…and Strikes Out

Catholic author Mark Shea's unconvincing bombast coddles Mideast terrorists.

Why does a respected Catholic author indulge in rhetorical venom that could give aid and comfort to sworn enemies of the United States and Israel?

Mark Shea, whom FPM exposed March 8 in "A Catholic Writer's Propaganda For Iran," offered this defense on his blog:

"In point of fact, I affirm Israel's existence and think Jews, like Palestinians, deserve a homeland. I'm big on people having a home. I merely reject the propositions that a) Israel is immaculately conceived and preserved from all sin, both original and actual b) it's our job to defend Israel (or Germany, Japan, Korea and the scores of other countries our Empire extends to)and c) we need to pound the drums for war with Iran."

Let's examine these propositions.

Regarding Israel, nobody would regard it as "immaculately conceived and preserved from all sin, both original and actual." This rhetorical straw man caricatures pro-Israel opinion, and allows Shea not only to disregard Israeli concerns about self-defense but also the likelihood of an independent Palestinian state dedicating itself to Israel's destruction.

In addition, Shea uses his "immaculate conception" meme to browbeat Israel's supporters. On March 30, Shea condemned Benjamin Kirstein’s assertion that criticizing Israel "is either subjectively anti-Semitic, in that it consciously and intentionally furthers the goals of the campaign (to destroy Israel); or it is objectively anti-Semitic, in that it unconsciously and unintentionally does the same thing."

Shea labeled Kerstein's assertion "a particularly idiotic act of idolatry" and accused Kerstein of calling Israel a "sinless utopia," which Kerstein never even implied.

Besides, since when did opposing anti-Semitic genocide -- even clumsily --become a particularly idiotic act of idolatry?

Also, since when did the United States become an "empire"? If the United States is an "empire," why did it withdraw troops from Iraq? Why didn't it turn Iraq into a colony when it had the chance? Why does Iraq have an independent government? Why is the United States contemplating withdrawing troops from Afghanistan?

Moreover, why did the United States close military bases once the Cold War ended?

Yet Shea persists and contends that any pre-emptive attack against Iran would result in world war. As Shea declared March 12, while linking to comments from Russian and Chinese generals:

"And if Russia doesn't appreciate your chickenhawk class' election year need to look tough and throw some crappy little country against the wall just to show you mean business, you might discover that China wasn't just whistling dixie when she warned of WWIII as a result of your rash pre-emptive war."

On the same day -- in a post sarcastically entitled "Today's Pro-Mullah Propaganda"-- Shea linked to a story on the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers' warnings to the United States about attacking Iran.

"Actually, it’s just the common sense proposition that pre-emptive war is unjust, not to mention stupid and dangerous. One need not support the goons in Iran to see this."

Shea believes pre-emptive attacks violate Catholic ethics. Logically, he cites for support the military and diplomatic leaders of two nations that not only are tone-deaf to Catholicism but also are cavalier about human rights.

Shea reinforces the "empire" myth by exploiting the travails of American troops. On March 14, Shea posted about Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians:

"The real criminals will never be charged in the mass murder in Afghanistan. These would be the members of our Ruling Classes who sent a brain-injured soldier back into battle for yet another tour of duty (his fourth!)...Sending this valiant and deeply self-sacrificial all-volunteer force back into battle again and again and again in order to maintain the empire--and in such a massive exercise in futility as our Afghan experiment in nation-building -- is the real crime here....Leave Afghanistan. Now."

Shea amplified that theme April 10:

"Not surprisingly, our armed forces, stretched to the breaking point by ten years of being used as lab rats in our ongoing experiments, are now massively medicated. You would be too if you and your family were shoveled around like concrete and your life was being thrown away on a colossal exercise in futility. Not one more drop of blood from our young men and women. Get us out of Afghanistan now."

Shea ended with a hysterical, violent demand:

"Strip our legislative and executive branches of all wages and earnings except their pay for their office, and give it as a fund for wounded vets. If they complain, jail them until their experimental wars are over."

Shea's patronizing rhetoric demeans and insults American soldiers. It portrays them as slaves and dupes of an ostensibly evil political system. It is subtle, manipulative, cynical and beyond despicable.

It also ignores the reason for the invasion and occupation: to prevent Islamic terrorists from establishing a base for more attacks against civilians.

"Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told London's Daily Telegraph, which reported that about 100 al-Qaeda irregulars have returned, according to NATO estimates, with hundreds stationed in Pakistan.

"If we decide we're tired, they'll be back," Crocker said. "We've killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means that the ones that are left are totally dedicated. We think we've won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that."

If Shea really supports the troops, then why does he fail to address Iran's role in providing 1) funds, training and weapons for anti-American insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq 2) a base for al-Qaeda's financial and logistical operations and 3) asylum for Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command and some of Osama bin Laden's family?

For that matter, why did Shea link to this drivel Feb. 23? The link concerns a story from Associated Press about the USS Abraham Lincoln navigating the Strait of Hormuz in the midst of Iranian naval and air surveillance:

"And Iran 'has threatened' to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for sanctions, embargoes and other acts of war? Iran thinks it has the right to defend itself? Is the world going totally nuts?" (emphases in original)

Shea began:

"My own suspicion is that Obama may sucker the End to Evil crowd on their own bloodlust and figure out a way to launch a war against Iran just before the election, solidifying the war-propagandized American people around himself and beating the Hawks at their own game...."

As Shea continued, he mentioned nothing about sailors being away from their families, suffering from severe stress or even being manipulated by their own government

Naturally, Shea's concern about "pounding the drums for war with Iran" allows him to ignore that Iran has been the real warmonger for nearly 35 years.

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran's leaders have plunged their country into a state of undeclared war against the United States and Israel. Chants of “Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" have been staples of the theocrats and their cadres.

Governments do not engage in such rhetoric without purpose.

For nearly 10 years, Cato the Elder ended all his speeches in the Roman Senate by demanding that Carthage be destroyed. In 146 B.C. -- three years after Cato's death -- Rome obliterated Carthage to end the Third Punic War.

In the late 19th Century, German intellectuals proclaimed Jews to be the parasites of European culture. Fifty years later, the Nazis intensified the rhetoric to the point of equating Jews to rats running through a gutter into a sewer in a propaganda film.

The rest is history.

None of Shea's defenses answer the question in the first paragraph. The following series of contrasts, however, does.

On March 19, Muhammad Merah, a French terrorist trained by al-Qaeda, murdered a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse before police killed him. Before his rampage, Merah tried to train local boys for jihad..

On March 22, Shea posted under the title, "Saying Things I Regret in the Morning":

"So yesterday, I put up a post about the Muslim butcher of children in Toulouse and called him a person we can do without. My apologies. I have taken down that post and regret it. Whatever that sentiment is, it is not Christian. Jesus died for that man as well as for everybody else. My attitude was not rooted in the mercy of God or the love of Christ but in human contempt and vengefulness….May God grant this man mercy in Christ (and me too)."

Nowhere did Shea ask God to grant mercy to the victims. Nor did Shea ask God to grant mercy to Bales or his victims.

Moreover, it is inconceivable for somebody who commits murder and dies without repenting to receive posthumous forgiveness from a God who decreed (according to the Ten Commandments) that murder is forbidden.

Besides, calling a murderer of children "a person we can do without" is rather tame for someone who claimed that most Republican presidential candidates "aspire to be war criminals," described one as a member of "Murderers for Jesus" and declared "as a general rule, evangelical Christians love war above all."

Nowhere has Shea apologized for such bombast.

The warped moral universe where Shea resides bears no resemblance to basic ethics or common sense, let alone to any form of Christianity.

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