America, the flagship publication of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Order in the United States, has created a stir by running an article titled “The Catholic Case for Communism.” Notwithstanding whatever theological pretensions the article may contain, its appearance in what was once a respected, mainstream center-left magazine indicates just how comfortable progressives are becoming with radicalism, and, yes, violence in the name of social justice.
columnist Ross Douthat. It is hardly a fringe magazine.
The author of the radical piece, Dean Dettloff, is a self-avowed “Catholic communist.” As the editors of America should realize, Dettloff openly espouses violence as a tactic in the revolutionary struggle to transform America. The Jesuit editors should know this because they themselves published an article in which he comes out and says as much.
Violence For a ‘Peaceful Future’
Dettloff is a U.S. citizen originally from Michigan who is currently based in Toronto, Canada. In August 2018 he wrote an article for America titled “How Canada’s ‘antifa’ groups are organizing to fight a growing far-right presence.” The piece is exactly as the headline suggests: a show of unapologetic support for the violent leftist group. In it, the author sympathetically quotes an Antifa terrorist named “Mike,” who says, “[t]he question of violence is often a loaded one.”
“Violence isn’t a protest tactic, it’s a tactical means of shutting down fascism,” Mike told Dettloff, “essentially an act of self-defence.” It’s important to point out here how communist radicals frame the notion of “self-defense.” They see a societal construct that is lashing out at the innocent proletariat. A violent assault on that brutalizing societal construct is thereby morally justified, even to a so-called Christian, in the name of destroying a murderous system.
“A Religious Left Means Sabotaging Oil Pipelines, Not Voting For Democrats,” reads a headline from a 2017 Dettloff article in Tikkun, a radical “religious left” publication. “If nothing else, the potential violence of damaging the progress of one unbuilt oil pipeline hardly compares to the violence of an infrastructure responsible for an increasingly uninhabitable climate for all people, and especially those already marginalized,” he writes in the article, clearly revealing his approval of such tactics.
In a 2017 article for the leftist Institute for Christian Studies, Dettloff uses the racial unrest that occurred in Ferguson, MO, following the killing of a black man by a white police officer as a justification for the use of violence to combat an oppressive American culture. “But how would our criticism of violence shift if we took into account the pervasive, structural, and society-building violence of ideologies like white supremacy?” he wrote in response to those advocating non-violent protest. “Is violence only on the scene when a body meets another body or object in physical space? Or can we call a society itself violent if it habitually treats some bodies as threats simply for being bodies in physical space at all?”
In case there were any doubts in regards to his meaning, Dettloff goes on to bluntly declare, “I confess to not being so convinced that ‘nonviolence’ is, after all, the only style of politics for a just and peaceful future.” Is this the emerging face of the Christian left today?
In September 2017, Dettloff appeared on a podcast called Revolutionary Left Radio, along with a man he jokingly called his “work husband” because they so were so closely tied together in their political efforts. This colleague, Matt Bernico, is an assistant professor of communication and media studies at Greenville University, a liberal arts college in Illinois.
“I think we’re kind of branded now, intentionally or not, as Christian leftists who are decidedly not pacifists,” Dettloff says of Bernico and himself during a discussion of the use of violence in pursuit of social justice goals. Both give an enthusiastic endorsement of Antifa as virtuous “defenders” of lamb-like leftist Christian clergy during the chaos that took place at the notorious far-right rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017.
“Yeah, so, I’m not a pacifist either,” Bernico interjects. “I don’t have those convictions, I guess. At least not anymore.” He goes on to state that “Christians can and should join Antifa … If someone could take an offering at their church specifically for the anti-fascists, that would be a beautiful thing.”
The host of the program later goes on to argue for the intrinsic necessity of “militant” violence at times. If one goes “too far to the fetishizing violence side that’s an error. And if you take it too far to fetishizing pacifism, that’s an error,” says “comrade” (his term) Brett O’Shea. “You have to operate in the situation that you’re in, and sometimes militant self-defense is absolutely needed, and I think we all agree on that.” Dettloff and Bernico both immediately acknowledge their approval of the statement.
These are the type of radicals with whom the Jesuits at America have decided to link hands. It should not be dismissed as just the sign of a single publication going off the rails. This is where the center-left is heading. The progressives who rule the roost in the Democratic ranks, and their media allies, are openly declaring President Trump voters to be an evil and irredeemable force in America today. As MSNBC host Chris Hayes stated, such people must be “utterly confronted and destroyed.” Hayes went out of his way to emphasize that this must be done non-violently, but by his very language he is stripping the humanity from American citizens who had the temerity to vote for Trump. It is absolutely inevitable that such hostile framing will be taken further by those who believe in a violent solution to what they perceive to be a dire crisis.
That these sentiments are tolerated and even promoted in the mainstream media tells you all you need to know about the startlingly dangerous direction progressivism is taking in the United States today.