Messianisme homosexuel: Quand le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût (What moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment », the newest semantic heirs to « love »?)

11 février, 2020

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Si toutes les valeurs sont relatives, alors le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût. Leo Strauss (?)
Tu ne coucheras pas avec un homme comme on couche avec une femme. C’est une abomination. Lévitique 18:22
Il n’y aura aucune prostituée parmi les filles d’Israël, et il n’y aura aucun prostitué parmi les fils d’Israël. Tu n’apporteras point dans la maison de l’Éternel, ton Dieu, le salaire d’une prostituée ni le prix d’un chien, pour l’accomplissement d’un voeu quelconque; car l’un et l’autre sont en abomination à l’Éternel, ton Dieu. Deutéronome 23: 17-18
La vertu même devient vice, étant mal appliquée, et le vice est parfois ennobli par l’action. Frère Laurent (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
La liberté, c’est la liberté de dire que deux et deux font quatre. Lorsque cela est accordé, le reste suit. George Orwell (1984)
Parler de liberté n’a de sens qu’à condition que ce soit la liberté de dire aux gens ce qu’ils n’ont pas envie d’entendre. George Orwell
Il faut constamment se battre pour voir ce qui se trouve au bout de son nez. Orwell
Le plus difficile n’est pas de dire ce que l’on voit mais d’accepter de voir ce que l’on voit. Péguy
Si vous admettez qu’un homme revêtu de la toute-puissance peut en abuser contre ses adversaires, pourquoi n’admettez-vous pas la même chose pour une majorité?  (…) Le pouvoir de tout faire, que je refuse à un seul de mes semblables, je ne l’accorderai jamais à plusieurs. Tocqueville
Si j’étais législateur, je proposerais tout simplement la disparition du mot et du concept de “mariage” dans un code civil et laïque. Le “mariage”, valeur religieuse, sacrale, hétérosexuelle – avec voeu de procréation, de fidélité éternelle, etc. -, c’est une concession de l’Etat laïque à l’Eglise chrétienne – en particulier dans son monogamisme qui n’est ni juif (il ne fut imposé aux juifs par les Européens qu’au siècle dernier et ne constituait pas une obligation il y a quelques générations au Maghreb juif) ni, cela on le sait bien, musulman. En supprimant le mot et le concept de “mariage”, cette équivoque ou cette hypocrisie religieuse et sacrale, qui n’a aucune place dans une constitution laïque, on les remplacerait par une “union civile” contractuelle, une sorte de pacs généralisé, amélioré, raffiné, souple et ajusté entre des partenaires de sexe ou de nombre non imposé.(…) C’est une utopie mais je prends date. Jacques Derrida
C’est le sens de l’histoire (…) Pour la première fois en Occident, des hommes et des femmes homosexuels prétendent se passer de l’acte sexuel pour fonder une famille. Ils transgressent un ordre procréatif qui a reposé, depuis 2000 ans, sur le principe de la différence sexuelle. Evelyne Roudinesco
Les enfants adoptés ou nés sous X revendiquent aujourd’hui le droit de connaître leur histoire. Nul n’échappe à son destin, l’inconscient vous rattrape toujours. (…)  les enfants adoptés ou issus de la PMA ne sortent jamais indemnes des perturbations liées à leur naissance. Il faut rester ouvert, être attentif à leurs questions, s’ils en posent, et surtout ne pas chercher à cacher la vérité. L’idéal serait de trouver une position équilibrée entre le système de transparence absolue à l’américaine et le système de dissimulation à la française, lequel, ne l’oublions pas, reposait autrefois sur une intention généreuse d’égalité des droits entre les enfants issus de différentes filiations. Evelyne Roudinesco
1936, dans les quartiers bourgeois de Tokyo. Sada Abe, ancienne prostituée devenue domestique, aime épier les ébats amoureux de ses maîtres et soulager de temps à autre les vieillards vicieux. Son patron Kichizo, bien que marié, va bientôt manifester son attirance pour elle et va l’entraîner dans une escalade érotique qui ne connaîtra plus de bornes. Kichizo a désormais deux maisons : celle qu’il partage avec son épouse et celle qu’il partage avec Sada. Les rapports amoureux et sexuels entre Sada et Kichizo sont désormais épicés par des relations annexes, qui sont pour eux autant de célébrations initiatiques. Progressivement, ils vont avoir de plus en plus de mal à se passer l’un de l’autre, et Sada va de moins en moins tolérer l’idée qu’il puisse y avoir une autre femme dans la vie de son compagnon. Kichizo demande finalement à Sada, pendant un de leurs rapports sexuels, de l’étrangler sans s’arrêter, quitte à le tuer. Sada accepte, l’étrangle jusqu’à ce qu’il meure, avant de l’émasculer, dans un geste ultime de mortification ; puis elle écrit sur la poitrine de Kichizo, avec le sang de ce dernier : ‘Sada et Kichi, maintenant unis’. Wikipedia
Il nous arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer (…) ce contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. On en a un exemple dans l’homme qui, sentant s’affaiblir son goût pour la femme qu’il aime, applique spontanément les règles qu’il a dégagées, et pour être sûr qu’il ne cesse pas d’aimer la femme, la met dans un milieu dangereux où il faut la protéger chaque jour. Proust (La Prisonnière)
C’est déjà ou presque de l’homosexualité, en vérité, que nous parlons puisque le modèle-rival se trouve normalement un individu du même sexe, du fait même que l’objet est hétérosexuel. Toute rivalité sexuelle est donc structurellement homosexuelle. Ce que nous appelons homosexualité, c’est la subordination complète, cette fois, de l’appétit sexuel aux effets du jeu mimétique qui concentre toutes les puissances d’attention et d’absorption du sujet sur l’individu responsable du double bind, le modèle en tant que rival, le rival en tant que modèle. Pour rendre cette genèse plus évidente, il faut évoquer ici un fait curieux observé par l’éthologie. Chez certains singes, quand un mâle se reconnaît battu par un rival et renonce à la femelle qu’il lui disputait, il se met, vis à vis de ce vainqueur, en position, nous dit-on, d’ ‘offre homosexuelle’. (…) S’il n’y a pas d’homosexualité ‘véritable’ chez les animaux, c’est parce que le mimétisme, chez eux, n’est pas assez intense pour infléchir durablement l’appétit sexuel vers le rival. Il est déjà assez intense, pourtant, au paroxysme des rivalités mimétiques, pour ébaucher cet infléchissement. Si j’ai raison, on devrait trouver dans les formes rituelles, le chaînon manquant entre la vague ébauche animale et l’homosexualité proprement dite. Et effectivement, l’homosexualité rituelle est un phénomène assez fréquent; elle se situe au paroxysme de la crise et on la trouve dans des cultures qui ne font aucune place, semble-t-il, à l’homosexualité, en dehors des rites religieux. Une fois de plus, en somme, c’est dans un contexte de rivalité aigüe qu’apparait l’homosexualité. Une comparaison du phénomène animal, de l’homosexualité rituelle, et de l’homosexualité moderne ne peut manquer de signaler que c’est le mimétisme qui entraine la sexualité et non l’inverse. De cette l’homosexualité rituelle, il faut rapprocher, je pense, un certain cannibalisme rituel qui se pratique dans des cultures , également, où le cannibalisme n’existe pas en temps ordinaire. Dans ce cas comme dans l’autre, il me semble, l’appétit instinctuel, alimentaire ou sexuel, se détache de l’objet que les hommes se disputent pour se fixer sur celui ou ceux qui nous le disputent. (…) Un des avantages de la genèse par la rivalité, c’est qu’elle se présente de façon absolument symétrique chez les deux sexes. Autrement dit, toute rivalité sexuelle est de structure homosexuelle chez la femme comme chez l’homme, aussi longtemps toutefois que l’objet reste hétérosexuel, c’est-à-dire qu’il reste l’objet prescrit par le montage instinctuel hérité de la vie animale. (…) C’est sur ce parallélisme que se base Proust pour affirmer qu’on peut transcrire une expérience homosexuelle en termes hétérosexuels sans jamais trahir la vérité de l’un ou l’autre désir. René Girard
La lisibilité de la filiation, qui est dans l’intérêt de l’enfant, est sacrifiée au profit du bon vouloir des adultes et la loi finit par mentir sur l’origine de la vieConférence des évêques
C’est au nom de l’égalité, de l’ouverture d’esprit, de la modernité et de la bien-pensance dominante qu’il nous est demandé d’accepter la mise en cause de l’un des fondements de notre société. (…) Ce n’est pas parce que des gens s’aiment qu’ils ont systématiquement le droit de se marier. Des règles strictes délimitent et continueront de délimiter les alliances interdites au mariage. Un homme ne peut pas se marier avec une femme déjà mariée, même s’ils s’aiment. De même, une femme ne peut pas se marier avec deux hommes. (…) « le mariage pour tous est uniquement un slogan car l’autorisation du mariage homosexuel maintiendrait des inégalités et des discriminations à l’encontre de tous ceux qui s’aiment, mais dont le mariage continuerait d’être interdit. (…) L’enjeu n’est pas ici l’homosexualité qui est un fait, une réalité, quelle que soit mon appréciation de Rabbin à ce sujet (…)  c’est l’institution qui articule l’alliance de l’homme et de la femme avec la succession des générations. C’est l’institution d’une famille, c’est-à-dire d’une cellule qui crée une relation de filiation directe entre ses membres. C’est un acte fondamental dans la construction et dans la stabilité tant des individus que de la société. (…) résumer le lien parental aux facettes affectives et éducatives, c’est méconnaître que le lien de filiation est un vecteur psychique et qu’il est fondateur pour le sentiment d’identité de l’enfant. (…) l’enfant ne se construit qu’en se différenciant, ce qui suppose d’abord qu’il sache à qui il ressemble. Il a besoin, de ce fait, de savoir qu’il est issu de l’amour et de l’union entre un homme, son père, et une femme, sa mère, grâce à la différence sexuelle de ses parents. (…) Le droit à l’enfant n’existe ni pour les hétérosexuels ni pour les homosexuels. Aucun couple n’a droit à l’enfant qu’il désire, au seul motif qu’il le désire. L’enfant n’est pas un objet de droit mais un sujet de droit. Gilles Bernheim
Ce qui pose problème dans la loi envisagée, c’est le préjudice qu’elle causerait à l’ensemble de notre société au seul profit d’une infime minorité, une fois que l’on aurait brouillé de façon irréversible trois choses:  les généalogies en substituant la parentalité à la paternité et à la maternité;  le statut de l’enfant, passant de sujet à celui d’un objet auquel chacun aurait droit; les identités où la sexuation comme donnée naturelle serait dans l’obligation de s’effacer devant l’orientation exprimée par chacun, au nom d’une lutte contre les inégalités, pervertie en éradication des différences. Ces enjeux doivent être clairement posés dans le débat sur le mariage homosexuel et l’homoparentalité. Ils renvoient aux fondamentaux de la société dans laquelle chacun d’entre nous a envie de vivre. Gilles Bernheim (Grand rabbin de France)
He said, ‘Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you. Juan Carlos Cruz
The pope is saying what every reputable biologist and psychologist will tell you, which is that people do not choose their sexual orientation. A great failing of the church is that many Catholics have been reluctant to say so, which then “makes people feel guilty about something they have no control over. Rev. James Martin (Jesuit)
The Vatican declined to confirm or deny the remarks in keeping with its policy not to comment on the pope’s private conversations. The comments first were reported by Spain’s El Pais newspaper. Official church teaching calls for gay men and lesbians to be respected and loved, but considers homosexual activity “intrinsically disordered.” Francis, though, has sought to make the church more welcoming to gays, most famously with his 2013 comment “Who am I to judge?” He also has spoken of his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting they are children of God, loved by God and deserving of accompaniment by the church. As a result, some sought to downplay the significance of the comments as merely being in line with Francis’ pastoral-minded attitude. In addition, there was a time not so long ago when the Catholic Church officially taught that sexual orientation was not something people choose, the implication being it was how God made them. The first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the dense summary of Catholic teaching published by St. John Paul II in 1992, said gay individuals “do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial.” The updated edition, which is the only edition available online and on the Vatican website, was revised to remove the reference to homosexuality not being a choice. The revised edition says: “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.” Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for equality for LGBTQ Catholics, said the pope’s comments were “tremendous” and would do a lot of good. “It would do a lot better if he would make these statements publicly, because LGBT people need to hear that message from religious leaders, from Catholic leaders,” he said. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit whose book “Building a Bridge” called for the church to find new pastoral ways of ministering to gays, noted that the pope’s comments were in a private conversation, not a public pronouncement or document. But citing the original version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Martin said they were nevertheless significant. Martin’s book is being published this week in Italian, with a preface by the Francis-appointed bishop of Bologna, Monsignor Matteo Zuppi, a sign that the message of acceptance is being embraced even in traditionally conservative Italy. NBC news
Why did god make me this way? Why did god make me wrong? Mia Lamay
The doctor said that we had a girl coming, so we started thinking of girl names. » « ‘Mia’ was born in 2010. » « Mia constantly wanted to change her clothes, like 12 times a day. » »Then the dog sweater came and she became obsessed with wearing one garment for six months straight. In hindsight I think she was trying to dispel a sense of discomfort in her image that was being shown to the world. » »She would take on boy personas and always want to play with boy things, we thought we had a tomboy on our hands. » « She didn’t fit in with the boys and she didn’t fit in with the girls. It was obvious to her and to the other kids. » « Her need to play boy roles and to be seen or spoken to as a boy at home became very persistent, and very consistent. Those are the hallmarks of a possibly transgender child — consistence, persistence, and insistence. And she was meeting all of those markers. » « A mother’s heart knows when her child is suffering, » says Jacob’s mom. « He was talking about hating his body, I found him angrily poking at himself one day, wanting to be something different. He would say ‘Why did god make me this way? Why did god make me wrong?' »One day after a near car accident, Jacob’s mom realized that if something were to happen, she didn’t want to « force her to be Mia for that one last day. At that point, my mind was made up. » In April of last year, the family took a trip and bought Jacob a Prince Charming costume. « We hadn’t yet transitioned Jacob, but he had short hair and was wearing almost entirely boy clothes… and he just glowed. Something clicked. » « There had been a video that had gone viral of an adorable little boy in California, Ryland Whittington, and his parents had made a video of him explaining transitioning and clearly this boy is so happy now. We were struck by that. » Jacob’s parents showed him the video of the boy, asking if he wanted to be like Ryland, but he said: « I can’t, I can be what I like at home, but I have to be Mia at school. » Jacob’s parents explained that he could start at a new school where everyone would know him as a boy from the beginning, and he immediately said « That’s what I want. I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob. » « Before the transition, he didn’t smile a lot. I had never seen him throw his head back and laugh. He’s a different person, he’s becoming himself. » »He started looking people in the eye, talking to people, and striking up conversations. I realized how much he had come out of his shell and how much being Jacob suited him. » »I couldn’t ask for a better son, » concludes Jacob’s dad. His mom agrees: « I want him to know how proud of him I am, how brave I believe he is, how no matter what I am in his corner, and I will always love him — because he’s my son. » Business insider
It’s not how you act, or what you wear, or anything like that. It’s just how you really are inside. … You just feel like you just got put in the wrong body. Jacob Lemay
Fourth grader Jacob Lemay knew he was a boy before he could properly pronounce the word “transgender.” His whole family now advocates for trans rights. Now, Mimi Lemay has written a memoir titled “What We Will Become” about love, acceptance and change. Jacob is now in fourth grade. He has a pet hedgehog named Trinket, and he loves hockey, jumping on his backyard trampoline and playing with his sisters. He is a typical 9-year-old boy in every way, except for being transgender. He said some of his friends know and some don’t. But to most kids, it’s just not that big a deal. Over the last five years, he has grown and matured, and he is more sophisticated now when he talks about what it means to him to be transgender. And since he has reached the early stages of puberty, Jacob has opted to take a puberty blocker. This is a completely reversible step endorsed by the medical community. It is also the very kind of treatment that some state lawmakers are looking to stop. More than half a dozen states, most recently Ohio, have introduced bills seeking to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. This type of care, Mimi Lemay said, will save the lives of children like Jacob. More than half a dozen states, most recently Ohio, have introduced bills seeking to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. This type of care, Mimi Lemay said, will save the lives of children like Jacob. Mimi and Joe Lemay said their entire family now advocates for transgender rights. In fact, Jacob recently asked presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a question at a televised town hall. The Lemays said they want to keep sharing their story to help other families with trans kids. “Your child will be OK as long as you support them,” Mimi Lemay said. “There is no harm in saying to your child, ‘I see you … and believe you, and you are who you say you are.’ NBC news
Je suis un prêtre clandestin. (…) À 18 ans, j’ai fait mon coming-out. Cela ne s’est pas bien passé. Au point que j’en suis venu à cette alternative : le suicide ou l’exil. (…) J’ai été accusé d’être un activiste homosexuel infiltré dans l’Église. Tout récemment, un archevêque a même voulu me défroquer. (…) Le point de départ a été la découverte de l’œuvre de René Girard. Avec sa lecture rigoureusement anthropologique du texte biblique, il a montré que l’on n’est face ni à une mythologie ni même à une théologie humaine mais, au contraire, à une anthropologie divine. (…) René Girard m’a aidé à prendre conscience que ce n’est pas Dieu qui est violent mais l’homme. Par exemple, le Christ n’est pas sacrifié par les hommes pour payer le prix exigé par un dieu sanguinaire. Que signifie alors la mort de Jésus ? Que les hommes sont violents. Et, ne se rebellant pas, Jésus s’est donné au milieu d’un de nos typiques épisodes de lynchage comme incarnant le pardon en tant que valeur divine. (…) La haine des autres est réelle mais je n’ai pas à me laisser définir par elle. Je cherche toujours à enseigner comment vivre au-delà du ressentiment. Devenir soi et pardonner, voici quelque chose au cœur de la foi chrétienne. (…) Si le rejet de l’homosexualité au sein de l’Église est si fort, c’est aussi parce qu’il y a tellement de gays mal à l’aise au sein du clergé (…) Cette parole est trop rare et pourtant indispensable pour que les positions dogmatiques sur la famille ou sur l’homosexualité évoluent au sein de l’Église et de la société. James Alison
In general, despite what those who try to conflate “gay” with “paedophile” would have you believe, a knowing clerical gay milieu is genuinely shocked and baffled when minors are involved. In all these cases, in as far as the behaviour was adult-related, plenty of people in authority sort-of-knew what was going on, and had known throughout the clerics’ respective careers. However the informal rule among the Catholic Clergy – the last remaining outpost of enforced homosociality in the Western world – is strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Typically, blind eyes are turned to the active sex lives of those clerics who have them, only two things being beyond the pale: whistle-blowing on the sex lives of others, or public suggestions that the Church’s teaching in this area is wrong. These lead to marginalisation, whether formal or informal. Given all this, it seems to me entirely reasonable that people should now be asking “How deep does this go?” If such careers were the result of blind eyes being turned, legal settlements made, and these clerics themselves were in positions of influence and authority, how much more are we going to learn about those who promoted and protected them? Or about those whom they promoted? So it is that voices like Rod Dreher – keenly followed blogger at The American Conservative – are resuscitating talk of the “Lavender Mafia”, and the demand, which became popular in conservative circles from 2002 onwards, that the priesthood be purged of gay men. Investigative journalists are being encouraged to lay bare the informal gay networks of friendship, patronage, and potential for blackmail which structure clerical life (or are being excoriated for their politically correct cowardice in failing to do so). The aim is to weed out the gays, especially the treasonous bishops who have perpetuated the system. Ross Douthat – the New York Times columnist – has called for a papally mandated investigation into the American Church (I guess along the lines of Mgr Charles Scicluna’s in Chile) in order to restore its moral authority. Others, like Robert Mickens, The Tablet’s Rome correspondent for many years, are equally aware of the “elephant in the sacristy” which is the massively disproportionate number of gay men in the clergy, but highlight the refusal of the Roman authorities to engage in any kind of publicly accountable, adult discussion about this fact. Their refusal reinforces collective dishonesty and perpetuates the psychosexual immaturity of all gay clergy, whether celibate, partnered or practitioners of so-called “serial celibacy”. How to approach this issue in a healthy way? As a gay priest myself I am obviously more in agreement with Mickens than with Dreher or Douthat. However I would like to record my complete sympathy with the passion of the latter two as well as with their rage at a collective clerical dishonesty which renders farcical the claim to be teachers of anything at all, let alone divine truth. Jesus becomes credible through witnesses, not corrupt party-line pontificators. Having said that, I suspect that particular interventions, whether by civil authority or Papal mandate, are always going to run aground on the fact that they can only deal with, and bring to light specific bad acts, usually ones that rise to the level of criminality. I cannot imagine a one-off legal intervention in this sphere that would be able to make appropriate distinctions where there are so many fine lines: between innocent friendship, sexually charged admiration, abusive sexual suggestion, emotional blackmail, financial blackmail, recognition of genuine talent, genuine love lived platonically, genuine love lived with sexual intimacy, sexual favours granted with genuine freedom, sexual favours granted out of fear or in exchange for promotion, covering peccadillos for a friend, covering graver matters for a rival in exchange for some benefit, not wanting to know too much about other people’s lives, or obsessively wanting to know too much about them. Let alone the usual rancours of break-ups, career disappointments, petty jealousies, bitterness, revenge and so on. All of these tend to shade into or out of each other over time, making effective outside assessment, even if it were desirable, impossible. (…) An anecdotal illustration: a few years ago, I found myself leading a retreat for Italian gay priests in Rome. Of the nearly fifty participants some were single, some partnered, for others it was the first time they had ever been able to talk honestly with other priests outside the confessional. Among them there were seven or eight mid-level Vatican officials. I asked one from the Congregation for the Clergy what he made of those attending with their partners. He smiled and said, “Of course, we know that the partnered ones are the healthy ones.” Let that sink in. In the clerical closet, dishonesty is functional, honesty is dysfunctional, and the absence or presence of circumspect sexual practice between adult males is irrelevant. And so to some systemic dimensions of “The elephant in the sacristy”. The first is its size. A far, far greater proportion of the clergy, particularly the senior clergy, is gay than anyone has been allowed to understand, even the bishops and cardinals themselves. Harvard Professor Mark Jordan’s phrase “a honeycomb of closets”, in which each enclosed participant has very little access to the overall picture, is exactly right. But the proportion is going to become more and more self-evident thanks to social media and the generalized expectations of gay honesty and visibility in the civil sphere. This despite many years of bishops resisting accurate sociological clergy surveys. At the time of the last papal election in 2013 we did have hints that the Vatican and the cardinal electors were shocked at discovering from reports commissioned by Benedict how many of them were gay. Part of their shock has to have been their fear at how the faithful would be scandalized if they had any idea. They were right to be afraid, and the faithful are going to have an idea as the implosion of the closet accelerates. (…) A second dimension is grasped when you understand the general rule that the heterosexuality of a cleric is inversely proportional to the stridency of his homophobia. This is one of the reasons why I am sceptical of all attempts to “weed out the gays”. The principal clerical crusaders in this area turn out to be gay themselves – in some cases, so deeply in denial that they don’t know it. And in some cases knowingly so. My own experience, which has since been confirmed by hundreds of echoes worldwide, is that there are proportionately few straight men in the clergy (leaving aside rural dioceses in some countries, where heterosexual concubinage is the customary norm) and they do not, as a rule, persecute gay men. It is closeted men who are the worst persecutors. Some are very sadly disturbed souls who cannot but try to clean outwardly what they cannot admit to being inwardly. These can’t be helped since Church teaching reinforces their hell. For others the lure of upward mobility leads them to strategic displays of enthusiasm for the enforcement of the house rules. A third dimension is that banning gay men from the seminary never works. In practise, the ban means that those “tempted” by honesty will be weeded out, or will weed themselves out, uncomfortable with the inducements to a double life. Those unconcerned by honesty, and happy to swim in the wake of the double lives of those doing the weeding, will learn how to look the part. The only seminaries that might avoid this are those that differentiate on the basis not of sexual orientation, but of honesty, which is a primary requisite for any form of psycho-sexual maturity. And there are some that do, presumably with the permission of wise Bishops, but in quiet contravention of the official line. These of course are instantly vulnerable to accusations of being liberal, of promoting homosexuality or whatever, when in practical terms, the reverse is true. For honesty is effectively forbidden by a Church teaching, which tells you that you are an intrinsically heterosexual person who is inexplicably suffering from a grave objective disorder called “same-sex attraction”. And so we get seminaries in which there are no gay seminarians, but whose rectors nevertheless push programmes like those of “Courage” on their oh-so-non-gay-but-transitorily-same-sex-attracted charges. A fourth dimension: no attempt to view this issue through culture war lenses will be helpful. The clerical closet is not the result of some 1960s liberal conspiracy. It is a systemic structure in which, absent scandal, all of its survivors are functional. (…) This is not a matter of left or right, traditional or progressive, good or bad, chaste or practising; nor even a matter of twenty five years of Karol Wojtyla’s notoriously poor judgment of character, though all these feed into it. It is a systemic structural trap, and if we are to get out of it, it must be described in such a way as to recognise that unknowing innocence as much as knowing guilt, well-meaning error as well as malice, has been, and is, involved in both its constitution and its maintenance. (…) What is to be done, and what is quietly happening? In my view the first thing is for the laity to be encouraged in their fast growing majority acceptance of being gay as a normal part of life. This, despite fierce resistence from elements of the clerical closet. Pope Francis’ reported conversation with Juan Carlos Cruz (a gay man abused in his youth by the Chilean priest, Fr Karadima) is a gem in this area: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you”. This remark led to much spluttering and explaining away from those who realise that the moment you say “God made you like this” then the game is up as regards the “intrinsic evil” of the acts. Nevertheless, it is only when straightforward, and obviously true, Christian messaging like Francis’ becomes normal among the laity themselves that honesty can become the norm among the clergy. Otherwise we will continue with the absurd and pharisaical current situation in which there is one rule for the clergy (“doesn’t matter what you do so long as you don’t say so in public or challenge the teaching”) and another for the laity, passed off as “the teaching of the Church”, and brutally enforced, for instance, among employees of Catholic schools, parish organists, softball coaches and the like. Only when it is clear (as it is increasingly) that the laity are quite confident in the (obviously true) view that “if you are this way, then learning to love appropriately is going to flow from, not despite, this” will it be possible to change, without scandal, the formal rules regarding the clergy. I bring this out since much was made of Francis’ reported answer to the Italian Bishops when asked if they should admit gay men to the seminary: “if you are in any doubt, no”. This was read as Francis being against gay men. I read the remark differently: that of a wise and merciful man addressing a group of men, a significant proportion of whom are gay, and telling them, in effect, that only those among them who are capable of honesty in dealing with their future charges should induct people like themselves into the clergy. “Are you yourself going to vacillate in standing up publicly for the honesty of the young man? If so, don’t make his future dependent on your cowardice”. James Alison
Aucune religion n’interdit le cannibalisme. Je ne trouve pas non plus de loi qui nous empêche de manger des gens. J’ai profité de l’espace entre la morale et la loi et c’est là-dessus que j’ai basé mon travail. Zhu Yu 
Sur internet : les gens racontent beaucoup de choses. Des choses pour se faire peur, ou pour se faire jouir, et parfois les deux se confondent. Il suffit de fouiller un peu sur le web pour s’en rendre compte. Commençons par le vore, une « paraphilie » (ce qu’on appelait autrefois « perversion », une pratique ou attirance considérée comme « anormale ») qui consiste à avaler ou être avalé par un animal ou un individu, sans effusion de sang ni violence. On se fait engloutir d’un coup, gloups, comme le Petit Chaperon rouge, fantasme du retour au ventre de la mère, avant de ressortir indemne. La plupart des sites pornos en proposent quelques vidéos, souvent une mauvaise 3D, le reste se passe dans la tête. Variantes : les giant vore, où des hommes minuscules se font ingurgiter par d’immenses maîtresses plantureuses ; ou le cock vore, lorsque la proie se fait avaler par un urètre géant, souvent à grands traits de style manga et avec des personnages indéterminés, quelque part entre l’humain et l’animal. Loin de ces supports masturbatoires, d’autres préfèrent une version plus réaliste : des vidéos façon snuff movies, où des membres plus vrais que nature grillent sur des barbecues. Devant lesquelles on se demande si c’est pour de faux, ou pas. Ils ont un rapport sexuel, puis décident ensemble de couper le pénis de Bernd, de le faire flamber, de le goûter. Puis ils le font sauter à la poêle avant de le terminer. Dans les Google Groupes, des topics spécialisés recensent les annonces de milliers de personnes « sérieuses » qui veulent manger, ou se faire manger, au milieu de dessins et montages grossiers de femmes avec une pomme dans la bouche et d’hommes avec une broche dans le derrière. Mais pour remonter à la source de l’imaginaire cannibale, il faut se rendre sur le forum DolcettGirls : fondé par un dessinateur canadien sous le pseudo de Perro Loco, il rassemble une communauté qui s’échange bons plans pornos, nouvelles érotiques, comics mordants et recettes. C’est à Perro Loco, aussi, qu’on doit le Cannibal Cafe Forum, institution fermée après un « terrible fait divers » : c’est là que l’informaticien allemand Armin Meiwes (aka le cannibale de Rotenbourg) a posté ses annonces pour trouver sa victime. En 2001, il reçoit la réponse de Bernd Jürgen Brandes, un Berlinois de 43 ans à la recherche de « l’excitation ultime ». Armin, qui rêve de « quelqu’un qui serait pour toujours avec lui », le reçoit. Ils ont un rapport sexuel, puis décident ensemble de couper le pénis de Bernd, de le faire flamber, de le goûter. Puis ils le font sauter à la poêle avant de le terminer. Armin tue ensuite Bernd de plusieurs coups de couteau, en découpe 30 kg et met « les meilleurs morceaux » au congélateur. « Ce qui a le plus choqué n’est pas le fait que Meiwes ait mangé une partie de Brandes, mais que Brandes ait consenti à être mangé », note le psychologue Mark Grifths, de la Nottingham Trent University : « On connaît peu la prévalence de ce type de comportements, bien que Meiwes affirme qu’au moins 800 personnes partageaient sa passion. » Alors Perro Loco a fermé le Cannibal Cafe et ouvert DolcettGirls, spécialisé dans les trips trash. Depuis cette affaire, il affirme que son site n’est qu’une plate-forme d’échanges de fantasmes, pas de rencontres meurtrières. Condamné à perpétuité, Armin est aujourd’hui en prison. Et végétarien. (…) Comme l’explique Bill Schutt dans son livre Cannibalism, a Perfectly Natural History, la nature abonde de cas de cannibalisme. Les araignées Amaurobius ferox pondent dans l’unique but de nourrir leur portée. Quand les bébés deviennent trop gros et que les œufs viennent à manquer, maman se laisse dévorer, dernière étape avant que sa progéniture, une fois adulte, puisse reproduire le schéma. En se faisant cannibaliser, les mantes religieuses produisent plus de sperme. Et on ne vous parle pas des requins : les fœtus s’entredévorent dans l’utérus de la mère et seul naît le plus fort, ragaillardi par toutes ces protéines avalées. Difficile pourtant de généraliser : d’une région à une autre, ou même d’un groupe à un autre au sein d’une même espèce, le cannibalisme apparaît ou disparaît. Pas de déterminisme, simplement une stratégie contingente de survie et d’évolution. Il en fut de même chez les humains : chez nous non plus, le cannibalisme n’a jamais été ancré, jamais des « sauvages » n’ont mangé leur prochain comme ils auraient savouré un steak d’élan. Chez nos ancêtres préhistoriques, on ne soupçonne que des cas isolés ; d’ailleurs l’espèce n’aurait pas survécu à un cannibalisme généralisé. Partout où l’anthropophagie s’est développée, elle était encadrée et liée à un contexte précis. Plus souvent, elle ne se résumait en réalité qu’à des fantasmes d’Occidentaux ou à des arguments inventés pour mieux éradiquer des populations (coucou Christophe Colomb). « Le cannibalisme survient toujours dans des sociétés en proie à des crises historiques, démographiques ou écologiques terribles. En plus, dès que les Européens arrivaient, ils décuplaient les crises, et vingt ans après les premiers contacts, le phénomène avait pris des proportions monumentales », explique l’anthropologue et chercheur au CNRS Georges Guille-Escuret. Parfois autorisé, voire valorisé (pour honorer un ancêtre ou saluer le courage d’un ennemi), le cannibalisme a très vite été rejeté par ceux qui ne le pratiquaient pas. « Nous vivons dans des sociétés qui ont décrété une rupture entre le monde de la nature et celui de la culture, analyse l’anthropologue. Dans la vision chinoise par exemple, cette césure n’existe pas : le cannibalisme va être progressivement prohibé pour maintenir les rapports sociaux, mais une anthropophagie pour raisons médicales ou sexuelles perdure encore, ce n’est pas un tabou ultime. » Chez nous, si. La faute aux Grecs, tout d’abord, qui jugeaient le cannibalisme incompatible avec le fonctionnement d’une cité, au même titre qu’un gouvernement de femmes. « Deux sociétés les effrayaient : les cannibales et les Amazones. D’ailleurs, partout où on a trouvé les premiers, on a subodoré les secondes. » Plus tard vient s’ajouter la phobie chrétienne : le fait de consommer de la chair humaine devient un sacrilège, l’homme ayant été créé « à l’image de Dieu ». « Il y a aussi la règle de l’interdiction du “redoublement du même” : on ne peut pas mettre l’identique sur l’identique », développe l’anthropologue. En clair : on ne couche pas avec sa sœur car c’est le même sang, on ne mange pas un membre de notre espèce car c’est la même chair. « En Polynésie, on considère même que le cannibalisme est un inceste alimentaire. Mais le double tabou, la phobie politique grecque et la phobie cosmogonique chrétienne, peut créer une double fascination. Toute prohibition implique une contestation fantasmatique. On n’interdit pas sans provoquer le désir de transgression. » Alors, dès qu’un cas est connu, tout le monde fait « beurk », mais tout le monde veut savoir. L’histoire du vol 571, où les survivants du crash ont dû manger leurs congénères pendant les deux mois qu’ont duré les recherches dans les Andes, a été adaptée au cinéma. Luka Rocco Magnotta, le dépeceur de Montréal, a son fan-club et va bientôt se marier. Issei Sagawa, l’étudiant japonais qui a mangé une Néerlandaise à Paris en 1981 (jugé irresponsable et libéré depuis), a écrit une douzaine de livres et tourné des pubs pour des restaurants de viande. Il a même participé à quelques pornos. « Il n’y a rien de plus excitant qu’une jolie fille en train de manger, quoi qu’elle mange. » Au restaurant, si Appetizing Kid en voit une en train de ronger une cuisse de poulet « ou une saucisse » avec les mains, le Croate de 28 ans reconnaît qu’il doit masquer son trouble avec sa serviette. « Je suis sûr que beaucoup imaginent pire, mais ils ne l’admettront jamais. » « La sexualité et l’alimentation sont des zones de métaphore l’une pour l’autre : c’est universel, comme Levi-Strauss l’avait remarqué, confirme Georges Guille-Escuret. Dans le cannibalisme, beaucoup de métaphores sexuelles s’expriment. Le va-et-vient est permanent. » Ne dit-on pas qu’il/elle est « à croquer » ? Au lit, qui ne s’est jamais fait mordiller une oreille ou un téton ? Et ce bébé joufflu, pourquoi mémé dit-elle qu’« on le mangerait » en embrassant ses petits petons ? « Bien sûr, je trouve excitant une cannibale qui mange une jambe ou la masculinité d’un mec, mais je préfère encore plus le vore classique, précise Appetizing Kid : un requin qui avale un surfeur, une géante qui mange un homme… » Alors quand Dinoshark ou Shark Attack passe à la télé, il sort le Sopalin. Des cannibales, des vrais, il affirme en avoir croisé. Il a vu des photos (je recevrai moi-même quelques images où le montage est difficile à prouver). Des gens dont il se tient éloigné. « J’aime l’art, l’imaginaire du cannibalisme, mais ça reste virtuel pour la plupart d’entre nous. On estime plus nos vies que nos fantasmes. » Ce désir, le psychologue américain Steven J. Scher et son équipe l’ont analysé. Résultat : le degré d’horreur que nous ressentons vis-à-vis de l’anthropophagie dépend de notre attirance pour la victime. En demandant à leurs cobayes de choisir, parmi plusieurs personnes, qui ils embrasseraient et qui ils mangeraient, ils ont remarqué qu’on trouve moins dégoûtant de manger une personne de l’autre sexe, soit un potentiel partenaire. On trouve aussi moins répugnant de manger une personne « sexuellement attirante » qu’une moche, un adulte qu’un enfant. « La corrélation [entre désir et cannibalisme] est proche de 90 %, écrivent-ils dans leur étude. En général, ce qui provoque le dégoût à l’idée de manger une personne est aussi ce qui provoque le dégoût lorsqu’il s’agit de choisir un partenaire sexuel. » A quel moment peut-on switcher de « tiens, si on faisait l’amour » à « tiens, si on se grignotait l’oignon » ? D’un point de vue purement sadomasochiste, on peut imaginer le fait de cannibaliser comme l’acte ultime de domination, et le fait d’être mangé comme celui de la soumission. Neon
L’oppression mentale totalitaire est faite de piqûres de moustiques et non de grands coups sur la tête. (…) Quel fut le moyen de propagande le plus puissant de l’hitlérisme? Etaient-ce les discours isolés de Hitler et de Goebbels, leurs déclarations à tel ou tel sujet, leurs propos haineux sur le judaïsme, sur le bolchevisme? Non, incontestablement, car beaucoup de choses demeuraient incomprises par la masse ou l’ennuyaient, du fait de leur éternelle répétition.[…] Non, l’effet le plus puissant ne fut pas produit par des discours isolés, ni par des articles ou des tracts, ni par des affiches ou des drapeaux, il ne fut obtenu par rien de ce qu’on était forcé d’enregistrer par la pensée ou la perception. Le nazisme s’insinua dans la chair et le sang du grand nombre à travers des expressions isolées, des tournures, des formes syntaxiques qui s’imposaient à des millions d’exemplaires et qui furent adoptées de façon mécanique et inconsciente. Victor Klemperer (LTI, la langue du IIIe Reich)
Il m’était arrivé plusieurs fois que certains gosses ouvrent ma braguette et commencent à me chatouiller. Je réagissais de manière différente selon les circonstances, mais leur désir me posait un problème. Je leur demandais : « Pourquoi ne jouez-vous pas ensemble, pourquoi m’avez-vous choisi, moi, et pas d’autres gosses? » Mais s’ils insistaient, je les caressais quand même ». Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Grand Bazar, 1975)
Dénoncé en direct comme un quasi-pédophile appelé à répondre de ses actes devant la justice pour les outrages imposés à des  jeunes filles flétries», «Gab’la rafale» tint le choc, mais ce lynchage télévisuel laissa des traces. En avouant son penchant pour des jouvencelles, Matzneff fut la proie d’un néopuritanisme conquérant qui, paradoxalement, accompagnerait, les années suivantes, le déferlement d’une pornographie «chic» sévissant aussi bien dans le cinéma, la publicité que la littératureLe Figaro (2009)
 Matzneff est un personnage public. Lui permettre d’exprimer au grand jour ses viols d’enfants sans prendre les mesures nécessaires pour que cela cesse, c’est donner à la pédophilie une tribune, c’est permettre à des adultes malades de violenter des enfants au nom de la littérature. Marie-France Botte et Jean-Paul Mari
Un écrivain comme Gabriel Matzneff n’hésite pas à faire du prosélytisme. Il est pédophile et s’en vante dans des récits qui ressemblent à des modes d’emploi. Or cet écrivain bénéficie d’une immunité qui constitue un fait nouveau dans notre société. Il est relayé par les médias, invité sur les plateaux de télévision, soutenu dans le milieu littéraire. Souvenez-vous, lorsque la Canadienne Denise Bombardier l’a interpellé publiquement chez Pivot, c’est elle qui, dès le lendemain, essuya l’indignation des intellectuels. Lui passa pour une victime : un comble ! (…) Je ne dis pas que ce type d’écrits sème la pédophilie. Mais il la cautionne et facilite le passage du fantasme à l’acte chez des pédophiles latents. Ces écrits rassurent et encouragent ceux qui souffrent de leur préférence sexuelle, en leur suggérant qu’ils ne sont pas les seuls de leur espèce. D’ailleurs, les pédophiles sont très attentifs aux réactions de la société française à l’égard du cas Matzneff. Les intellectuels complaisants leur fournissent un alibi et des arguments: si des gens éclairés défendent cet écrivain, n’est-ce pas la preuve que les adversaires des pédophiles sont des coincés, menant des combats d’arrière-garde? Bernard Cordier (psychiatre, 1995)
Nous considérons qu’il y a une disproportion manifeste entre la qualification de ‘crime’ qui justifie une telle sévérité, et la nature des faits reprochés; d’autre part, entre le caractère désuet de la loi et la réalité quotidienne d’une société qui tend à reconnaître chez les enfants et les adolescents l’existence d’une vie sexuelle (si une fille de 13 ans a droit à la pilule, c’est pour quoi faire ?), TROIS ANS DE PRISON POUR DES CARESSES ET DES BAISERS, CELA SUFFIT !” Nous ne comprendrions pas que, le 29 janvier, Dejager, Gallien et Bruckardt ne retrouvent pas la liberté.  Aragon, Ponge, Barthes, Beauvoir, Deleuze, Glucksmann,  Hocquenghem, Kouchner, Lang, Gabriel Matzneff, Catherine Millet,  Sartre, Schérer et Sollers (Pétition de soutien à trois accusés de pédophilie, Le Monde, 1977)
Presidents run for re-election against real opponents, not public perceptions. For all the media hype, voters often pick the lesser of two evils, not their ideals of a perfect candidate. Victor Davis Hanson
How can evangelicals support Donald Trump? That question continues to befuddle and exasperate liberals. How, they wonder, can a man who is twice divorced, a serial liar, a shameless boaster (including about alleged sexual assault) and an unrepentant xenophobe earn the enthusiastic backing of so many devout Christians? About 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016; according to a recent poll, almost 70% of white evangelicals approve of how he has handled the presidency – far more than any other religious group. To most Democrats, such support seems a case of blatant hypocrisy and political cynicism. Since Trump is delivering on matters such as abortion, the supreme court and moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, conservative Christians are evidently willing to overlook the president’s moral failings. In embracing such a one-dimensional explanation, however, liberals risk falling into the same trap as they did in 2016, when their scorn for evangelicals fed evangelicals’ anger and resentment, contributing to Trump’s huge margin among this group. Bill Maher fell into this trap during a biting six-minute polemic he delivered on his television show in early March. Evangelicals, he said, “needed to solve this little problem” – they want to support a Republican president, but this particular one “happens to be the least Christian person ever”. “How to square the circle?” he asked. “Say that Trump is like King Cyrus.” According to Isaiah 45, God used the non-believer Cyrus as a vessel for his will; many evangelicals today believe that God is similarly using the less-than-perfect Trump to achieve Christian aims. But Trump isn’t a vessel for God’s will, Maher said, and Cyrus “wasn’t a fat, orange-haired, conscience-less scumbag”. Trump’s supporters “don’t care”, he ventured, because “that’s religion. The more it doesn’t make sense the better, because it proves your faith.” Maher portrayed evangelical Christians as a dim-witted group willing to make the most ludicrous theological leaps to advance their agenda. As I watched, I tried to imagine how evangelicals would view this routine. I think they would see a secular elitist eager to assert what he considers his superior intelligence. They would certainly sense his contempt for the many millions of Americans who believe fervently in God, revere the Bible and see Trump as representing their interests. Maher’s diatribe reminded me of a pro-Trump acquaintance from Ohio who now lives in Manhattan and who says that New York liberals are among the most intolerant people he has ever met. Liberals have good cause to decry the ideology of conservative Christians, given their relentless assault on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and climate science. But the disdain for Christians common among the credentialed class can only add to the sense of alienation and marginalization among evangelicals. Many evangelicals feel themselves to be under siege. In a 2016 survey, 41% said it was becoming more difficult to be an evangelical. And many conservative Christians see the national news media as unrelievedly hostile to them. Most media coverage of evangelicals falls into a few predictable categories. One is the exotic and titillating – stories of ministers who come out as transgender, or stories of evangelical sexual hypocrisies. Another favorite subject is progressive evangelicals who challenge the Christian establishment. (…) In 2016, [ the Times’ Nicholas Kristof,] wrote a column criticizing the pervasive discrimination toward Christians in liberal circles. He quoted Jonathan Walton, a black evangelical and professor of Christian morals at Harvard, who compared the common condescension toward evangelicals to that directed at racial minorities, with both seen as “politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor”. Strangely, the group most overlooked by the press is the people in the pews. It would be refreshing for more reporters to travel through the Bible belt and talk to ordinary churchgoers about their faith and values, hopes and struggles. Such reporting would no doubt show that the world of American Christianity is far more varied and complex than is generally thought. It would reveal, for instance, a subtle but important distinction between the Christian right and evangelicals in general, who tend to be less political (though still largely conservative). This kind of deep reporting would probably also highlight the enduring power of a key tenet of the founder of Protestantism. “Faith, not works,” was Martin Luther’s watchword. In his view, it is faith in Christ that truly matters. If one believes in Christ, then one will feel driven to do good works, but such works are always secondary. Trump’s own misdeeds are thus not central; what he stands for – the defense of Christian interests and values – is. Luther also preached the doctrine of original sin, which holds that all humans are tainted by Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden and so remain innately prone to pride, anger, lust, vengeance and other failings. Many evangelicals have themselves struggled with divorce, broken families, addiction and abuse. We are thus all sinners – the president included. (…) I can hear the reactions of some readers to this column: Enough! Enough trying to understand a group that helped put such a noxious man in the White House. Yet such a reaction is both ungenerous and shortsighted. Liberals take pride in their empathy for “the other” and their efforts to understand the perspective of groups different from themselves. They should apply that principle to evangelicals. If liberals continue to scoff, they risk reinforcing the rage of evangelicals – and their support for Trump. Michael Massing
Comment les évangéliques peuvent-ils soutenir Donald Trump? Cette question continue de brouiller et d’exaspérer les progressistes. Comment, se demandent-ils, un homme qui est divorcé deux fois, un menteur en série, un fanfaron éhonté (y compris au sujet d’une agression sexuelle présumée) et un xénophobe impénitent peut-il obtenir le soutien enthousiaste de tant de chrétiens dévots? Environ 80% des évangéliques ont voté pour Trump en 2016; selon un récent sondage, près de 70% des évangéliques blancs approuvent la façon dont il a géré la présidence – bien plus que tout autre groupe religieux. Pour la plupart des démocrates, un tel soutien semble être un cas d’hypocrisie flagrante et de cynisme politique. Étant donné que Trump se prononce sur des questions telles que l’avortement, la Cour suprême et le déplacement de l’ambassade américaine en Israël à Jérusalem, les chrétiens conservateurs sont évidemment prêts à ignorer les défauts moraux du président. Cependant, en adoptant une telle explication unidimensionnelle, les libéraux risquent de tomber dans le même piège qu’en 2016, lorsque leur mépris pour les évangéliques a nourri la colère et le ressentiment des évangéliques, contribuant à l’énorme marge de Trump parmi ce groupe. Bill Maher est tombé dans ce piège dans la diatribe mordante de six minutes qu’il a prononcée lors de son émission de télévision début mars. Les évangéliques, a-t-il dit, « devaient résoudre ce petit problème » – ils veulent soutenir un président républicain, mais celui-ci « se trouve être le moins chrétien de tous les temps ». « Comment résoudre cette quadrature du cercle? », a-t-il demandé. « Dire que Trump est comme le roi Cyrus. » Selon Ésaïe 45, Dieu a utilisé le non-croyant Cyrus comme véhicule de sa volonté; de nombreux évangéliques croient aujourd’hui que Dieu utilise de la même manière un Trump moins que parfait pour atteindre les objectifs chrétiens. Mais Trump n’est pas un vaisseau pour la volonté de Dieu, a déclaré Maher, et Cyrus « n’était pas un nul gras, aux cheveux orange et sans conscience ». Les partisans de Trump « ne s’en soucient pas », s’est-il aventuré, parce que « c’est la religion. Moins cela a de sens, mieux c’est, car cela prouve votre foi. »Maher a dépeint les chrétiens évangéliques comme un groupe humble disposé à faire les sauts théologiques les plus ridicules pour faire avancer leur programme. Pendant que je regardais, j’ai essayé d’imaginer comment les évangéliques verraient cette routine. Je pense qu’ils verraient un élitiste laïc désireux d’affirmer ce qu’il considère comme son intelligence supérieure. Ils ressentiraient certainement son mépris pour les millions d’Américains qui croient ardemment en Dieu, vénèrent la Bible et considèrent Trump comme représentant leurs intérêts. La diatribe de Maher m’a rappelé une connaissance pro-Trump de l’Ohio qui vit maintenant à Manhattan et qui dit que les libéraux de New York sont parmi les personnes les plus intolérantes qu’il ait jamais rencontrées. Les libéraux ont de bonnes raisons de dénoncer l’idéologie des chrétiens conservateurs, étant donné leur assaut incessant contre les droits à l’avortement, le mariage homosexuel, les droits des transgenres et la science du climat. Mais le mépris pour les chrétiens, commun à la classe diplômée, ne peut qu’ajouter au sentiment d’aliénation et de marginalisation des évangéliques. De nombreux évangéliques se sentent assiégés. Dans une enquête de 2016, 41% ont déclaré qu’il devenait plus difficile d’être évangélique. Et de nombreux chrétiens conservateurs considèrent les médias nationaux comme hostiles à leur égard. La plupart des reportages médiatiques sur les évangéliques se répartissent en quelques catégories prévisibles. L’une est les histoires exotiques et émouvantes – des histoires de pasteurs qui se révèlent transgenres, ou des histoires d’hypocrisies sexuelles évangéliques. Un autre sujet de prédilection est celui des évangélistes progressistes qui défient l’establishment chrétien. (…) En 2016, [léditorialiste du NYT Nicholas Kristof] a écrit une chronique critiquant la discrimination omniprésente envers les chrétiens dans les milieux de gauche. Il a cité Jonathan Walton, un évangélique noir et professeur de morale chrétienne à Harvard, qui a comparé la condescendance commune envers les évangéliques à celle dirigée contre les minorités raciales, les deux étant considérées comme «politiquement peu sophistiquées, manquant d’éducation, en colère, amères, émotionnelles, pauvres». Étrangement, le groupe le plus négligé par la presse est celui des blancs. Il serait rafraîchissant que davantage de journalistes parcourent la « Bible belt » et parlent aux fidèles ordinaires de leur foi et de leurs valeurs, de leurs espoirs et de leurs luttes. De tels reportages montreraient sans aucun doute que le monde du christianisme américain est beaucoup plus varié et complexe qu’on ne le pense généralement. Cela révélerait, par exemple, une distinction subtile mais importante entre la droite chrétienne et les évangéliques en général, qui ont tendance à être moins politiques (quoique encore largement conservateurs). Ce genre de reportage approfondi mettrait probablement également en évidence le pouvoir durable d’un principe clé du fondateur du protestantisme.«La foi, pas les œuvres», était le mot d’ordre de Martin Luther. Selon lui, c’est la foi en Christ qui compte vraiment. Si l’on croit en Christ, on se sent poussé à faire de bonnes œuvres, mais ces œuvres sont toujours secondaires. Les propres manquements de Trump ne sont donc pas centraux; mais c’est ce qu’il représente – la défense des intérêts et des valeurs chrétiennes – qui l’est. Luther a également prêché la doctrine du péché originel, selon laquelle tous les humains sont entachés par la transgression d’Adam dans le jardin d’Eden et restent donc naturellement enclins à l’orgueil, la colère, la luxure, la vengeance et d’autres défauts. De nombreux évangéliques ont eux-mêmes lutté contre le divorce, la rupture dans leurs familles, la toxicomanie et les abus. Nous sommes donc tous pécheurs – y compris le président. (…) J’entends les réactions de certains lecteurs à cette chronique: Il y en assez d’essayer de comprendre un groupe qui a permis l’arrivée d’un homme aussi nocif à la Maison Blanche. Pourtant, une telle réaction est à la fois peu généreuse et à courte vue. Les libéraux sont fiers de leur empathie pour ‘l’autre’ et de leurs efforts pour comprendre la perspective de groupes différents d’eux. Ils devraient appliquer ce principe aux évangéliques. Si la gauche continue ses moqueries, elle risque de renforcer la rage des évangéliques – et leur soutien à Trump. » Michael Massing
C’est au nom de la liberté, bien entendu, mais aussi au nom de l’ « amour, de la fidélité, du dévouement » et de la nécessité de « ne pas condamner des personnes à la solitude » que la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis a finalement validé le mariage entre personnes de même sexe. Tels furent en tout cas les mots employés au terme de cette longue décision rédigée par le Juge Kennedy au nom de la Cour. (…) Le mariage gay est entré dans le droit américain non par la loi, librement débattue et votée au niveau de chaque Etat, mais par la jurisprudence de la plus haute juridiction du pays, laquelle s’impose à tous les Etats américains. Mais c’est une décision politique. Eminemment politique à l’instar de celle qui valida l’Obamacare, sécurité sociale à l’américaine, reforme phare du Président Obama, à une petite voix près. On se souviendra en effet que cette Cour a ceci de particulier qu’elle prétend être totalement transparente. Elle est composée de neuf juges, savants juristes, et rend ses décisions à la suite d’un vote. Point de bulletins secrets dans cette enceinte ; les votants sont connus. A se fier à sa composition, la Cour n’aurait jamais dû valider le mariage homosexuel : cinq juges conservateurs, quatre progressistes. Cinq a priori hostiles, quatre a priori favorables. Mais le sort en a décidé autrement ; le juge Kennedy, le plus modéré des conservateurs, fit bloc avec les progressistes, basculant ainsi la majorité en faveur de ces derniers. C’est un deuxième coup dur pour les conservateurs de la Cour en quelques mois : l’Obamacare bénéficia également de ce même coup du sort ; à l’époque ce fut le président, le Juge John Roberts, qui permit aux progressistes de l’emporter et de valider le système. (…) La spécificité de l’évènement est que ce sont des juges qui, forçant l’interprétation d’une Constitution qui ne dit rien du mariage homosexuel, ont estimé que cette union découlait ou résultait de la notion de « liberté ». C’est un « putsch judiciaire » selon l’emblématique juge Antonin Scalia, le doyen de la Cour. Un pays qui permet à un « comité de neuf juges non-élus » de modifier le droit sur une question qui relève du législateur et non du pouvoir judiciaire, ne mérite pas d’être considéré comme une « démocratie ». Mais l’autre basculement désormais acté, c’est celui d’une argumentation dont le centre de gravité s’est déplacé de la raison vers l’émotion, de la ratio vers l’affectus. La Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis s’est en cela bien inscrite dans une tendance incontestable au sein de la quasi-totalité des juridictions occidentales. L’idée même de raisonnement perd du terrain : énième avatar de la civilisation de l’individu, les juges éprouvent de plus en plus de mal à apprécier les arguments en dehors de la chaleur des émotions. Cette décision fait en effet la part belle à la médiatisation des revendications individualistes, rejouées depuis plusieurs mois sur le modèle de la « lutte pour les droits civiques ». Ainsi la Cour n’hésite pas à comparer les lois traditionnelles du mariage à celles qui, à une autre époque, furent discriminatoires à l’égard des afro-américains et des femmes. (…) La Maison Blanche s’est instantanément baignée des couleurs de l’arc-en-ciel, symbole de la « gay pride ». Les réseaux sociaux ont été inondés de ces mêmes couleurs en soutien à ce qui est maintenant connu sous le nom de la cause gay. (…) Comme le relève un autre juge de la Cour ayant voté contre cette décision, il est fort dommage que cela se fasse au détriment du droit et de la Constitution des Etats-Unis d’Amérique. Yohann Rimokh
Le droit a pour rôle d’instituer et d’assurer les personnes de leur identité. Il faudrait se demander si reporter sur les individus, et en particulier sur les jeunes, le poids de devoir définir et (ré)affirmer eux-mêmes à tout moment les éléments de leur identité sans jamais pouvoir rien tenir pour acquis est vraiment libérateur. Muriel Fabre-Magnan
Une des raisons qui m’ont poussée à écrire ce livre était la lassitude de voir des termes juridiques employés à contresens, comme le contrat ou le consentement, qu’on associe toujours à la liberté dans le grand public, alors qu’en réalité, pour un juriste, qui dit contrat et consentement dit au contraire que l’on renonce à une partie de sa liberté ; le contrat n’est pas le mode normal de l’exercice des libertés. Je voulais alors souligner le risque de retournement de la liberté qui en résulte. Le lexique utilisé dans le cadre de débats de société conduit en outre souvent à polariser les opinions. La question de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH) est un excellent exemple. On trouve un camp qui pousse à une interprétation toujours plus individualiste des droits de l’homme par la CEDH et un autre qui condamne de façon générale les droits de l’homme. Le Royaume-Uni, par exemple, avait menacé de dénoncer la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme avant même le Brexit. Il me semble possible et préférable de trouver une voie alternative : il faut en effet défendre les droits de l’homme, qui sont une avancée démocratique essentielle, et la CEDH a ainsi rendu une série d’arrêts extrêmement précieux, par exemple pour condamner l’état des prisons, garantir le respect des droits de la défense ou encore dénoncer des pays qui se livrent à des traitements inhumains ou dégradants. Et, en même temps, la CEDH dérape parfois dans ses arrêts et abuse de ses prérogatives. Seule une analyse juridique précise permet de démonter les rouages, comprendre à quel endroit exact se fait ce dérapage et d’essayer d’y remédier. Sinon, on est inévitablement conduit à adopter une position excessive dans un sens ou dans un autre. (…) C’est effectivement très récemment que ce terme de liberté a pris un sens général, et presque philosophique, qui est celui du droit pour les individus de mener leur vie comme ils l’entendent. La liberté est devenue la faculté de pouvoir faire tous les choix pour soi-même, ce qu’on appelle aujourd’hui un droit à l’autonomie personnelle. Cet énoncé peut certes sembler satisfaisant dans un cadre autre que juridique, mais demander au droit de garantir que les personnes puissent faire ce qu’elles veulent quand elles veulent conduit à l’effet inverse et à un risque de retournement de cette liberté. Si, en effet, le droit doit garantir à toute personne la possibilité de faire ce qu’elle veut, y compris de renoncer à sa liberté, on finit évidemment par détruire le concept même de liberté. (…) Et, comme le soulignent plusieurs auteurs, l’ultralibéralisme économique ou sociétal sont les deux faces d’une même médaille. La liberté est souvent revendiquée pour que les autres puissent se mettre à notre disposition. La faculté de renoncer à sa liberté n’est cependant pas la liberté. Plus généralement, ce qu’on appelle une protection des personnes contre elles-mêmes, et qui est dénoncé comme une forme de paternalisme étatique, est en réalité toujours une protection des personnes contre autrui. L’exemple de la prostitution est assez typique, et il illustre aussi un des autres points que je voulais souligner dans ce livre, à savoir que tous les débats contemporains, sociétaux ou économiques qui posent la question de la licéité sont toujours appréciés par rapport au seul critère du consentement. Cela signifie que l’on ramène tout à un débat interindividuel quand il serait plus pertinent de s’interroger, par exemple, sur les politiques économiques et sociales donnant aux personnes une plus grande faculté de choix de vie. Que signifie le consentement d’une prostituée si elle n’a pas d’autre choix que de consentir ? (…) La liberté sexuelle implique la faculté pour chacun d’avoir la sexualité de son choix sans avoir à subir aucune discrimination. Mais pourquoi l’État devrait-il donner sa bénédiction à chaque nouvelle pratique ? De même, la contractualisation des relations sexuelles n’est pas la meilleure façon de protéger juridiquement contre les agressions sexuelles ni de respecter le consentement des personnes. Si on contractualise, on s’oblige à ces pratiques. Or la liberté consiste en la capacité de pouvoir refuser un rapport initialement consenti. (…) Le droit doit tenir compte des évolutions sociales, mais il est aussi un horizon tracé pour une société. Il est en effet de l’ordre du devoir-être. Les juristes opposent toujours le fait et le droit, donc le réel et ce qui doit être. Le droit est, dans une société, les valeurs et les objectifs sur lesquels les personnes s’accordent. Pour vivre ensemble, il est nécessaire de définir un projet commun, lequel peut évidemment évoluer dans le temps. Le terme d’institution de la liberté cherche à exprimer l’aspect dynamique de cette liberté et le rôle que le droit doit jouer pour la garantir. On ne naît pas libre, on le devient, et c’est ce processus d’émancipation que doit soutenir le droit. Muriel Fabre-Magnan
Nine in 10 Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in their personal life, a new high in Gallup’s four-decade trend. The latest figure bests the previous high of 88% recorded in 2003. Gallup
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-eight percent (48%) disapprove. Rasmussen (Feb. 10, 2020)
The turnout in the Iowa caucus was below what we expected, what we wanted. Trump’s approval rating is probably as high as it’s been. This is very bad. And now it appears the party can’t even count votes. (…) We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party. For fuck’s sake, we’ve got Trump at Davos talking about cutting Medicare and no one in the party has the sense to plaster a picture of him up there sucking up to the global elites, talking about cutting taxes for them while he’s talking about cutting Medicare back home. Jesus, this is so obvious and so easy and I don’t see any of the candidates taking advantage of it. The Republicans have destroyed their party and turned it into a personality cult, but if anyone thinks they can’t win, they’re out of their damn minds. (…) Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat. He’s never been a Democrat. He’s an ideologue. And I’ve been clear about this: If Bernie is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. No question. I’ll take an ideological fanatic over a career criminal any day. But he’s not a Democrat. (…) what I’m saying is the Democratic Party isn’t Bernie Sanders, whatever you think about Sanders. (…) First, a lot of people don’t trust the Democratic Party, don’t believe in the party, for reasons you’ve already mentioned, and so they just don’t care about that. They want change. And I guess the other thing I’d say is, 2016 scrambled our understanding of what’s possible in American politics. (…) Sanders might get 280 electoral votes and win the presidency and maybe we keep the House. But there’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public. Eighteen percent of the country elects more than half of our senators. That’s the deal, fair or not. So long as McConnell runs the Senate, it’s game over. There’s no chance we’ll change the courts, and nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution. The purpose of a political party is to acquire power. All right? Without power, nothing matters. (…) [The answer is] framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you. The Democratic Party is the party of African Americans. It’s becoming a party of educated suburbanites, particularly women. It’s the party of Latinos. We’re a party of immigrants. Most of the people aren’t into all this distracting shit about open borders and letting prisoners vote. They don’t care. They have lives to lead. They have kids. They have parents that are sick. That’s what we have to talk about. That’s all we should talk about. It’s not that this stuff doesn’t matter. And it’s not that we shouldn’t talk about race. We have to talk about race. It’s about how you deliver and frame the message. (…) They’ve tacked off the damn radar screen. And look, I don’t consider myself a moderate or a centrist. I’m a liberal. But not everything has to be on the left-right continuum. (…) Here’s another stupid thing: Democrats talking about free college tuition or debt forgiveness. I’m not here to debate the idea. What I can tell you is that people all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans. They don’t want to hear this shit. And you saw Warren confronted by an angry voter over this. It’s just not a winning message. The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly. That’s all I care about. (…) We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant. (…) With a lot of these candidates, their consultants are telling them, “If you doubt it, just go left. We got to get the nomination.” (…) I’m hoping that someone gets knocked off their horse on the road to Damascus. (…) Mayor Pete has to demonstrate over the course of a campaign that he can excite and motivate arguably the most important constituents in the Democratic Party: African Americans. These voters are a hell of a lot more important than a bunch of 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter. James Carville
Progressive candidates and new Democratic representatives have offered lots of radical new proposals lately about voting and voters. They include scrapping the 215-year-old Electoral College. Progressives also talk of extending the vote to 16- or 17-year-olds and ex-felons. They wish to further relax requirements for voter identification, same-day registration and voting, and undocumented immigrants voting in local elections.The 2016 victory of Donald Trump shocked the left. It was entirely unexpected, given that experts had all but assured a Hillary Clinton landslide. Worse still for those on the left, Trump, like George W. Bush in 2000 and three earlier winning presidential candidates, lost the popular vote.  From 2017 on, Trump has sought to systematically dismantle the progressive agenda that had been established by his predecessor, Barack Obama — often in a controversial and unapologetic style. The furor over the 2016 Clinton loss and thenew Trump agenda, the fear that Trump could be re-elected, and anger about the Electoral College have mobilized progressives to demand changes to the hallowed traditions of electing presidents. (…) Most Americans are skeptical of reparations. They do not favor legalizing infanticide. They do not want open borders, sanctuary cities, or blanket amnesties. They are troubled by the idea of wealth taxes and top marginal tax rates of 70 percent or higher. Many Americans certainly fear the Green New Deal. Many do not favor abolishing all student debt, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the Electoral College. Nor do many Americans believe in costly ideas such as Medicare for All and free college tuition. The masses do not unanimously want to stop pipeline construction or scale back America’s booming natural gas and oil production. A cynic might suggest that had Hillary Clinton actually won the 2016 Electoral College vote but lost the popular vote to Trump, progressives would now be praising our long-established system of voting. Had current undocumented immigrants proved as conservative as past waves of legal immigrants from Hungary and Cuba, progressives would now likely wish to close the southern border and perhaps even build a wall. If same-day registration and voting meant that millions of new conservatives without voter IDs were suddenly showing their Trump support at the polls, progressives would insist on bringing back old laws that required voters to have previously registered and to show valid identification at voting precincts. If felons or 16-year-old kids polled conservative, then certainly there would be no progressive push to let members of these groups vote. Expanding and changing the present voter base and altering how we vote is mostly about power, not principles. Without these radical changes, a majority of American voters, in traditional and time-honored elections, will likely not vote for the unpopular progressive agenda. Victor Davis Hanson
When candidate Donald Trump campaigned on calling China to account for its trade piracy, observers thought he was either crazy or dangerous. Conventional Washington wisdom had assumed that an ascendant Beijing was almost preordained to world hegemony. Trump’s tariffs and polarization of China were considered about the worst thing an American president could do. The accepted bipartisan strategy was to accommodate, not oppose, China’s growing power. The hope was that its newfound wealth and global influence would liberalize the ruling communist government. Four years later, only a naif believes that. Instead, there is an emerging consensus that China’s cutthroat violations of international norms were long ago overdue for an accounting. China’s re-education camps, its Orwellian internal surveillance, its crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists and its secrecy about the deadly coronavirus outbreak have all convinced the world that China has now become a dangerous international outlier. Trump courted moderate Arab nations in forming an anti-Iranian coalition opposed to Iran’s terrorist and nuclear agendas. His policies utterly reversed the Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel and outreach to Tehran. Last week, Trump nonchalantly offered the Palestinians a take-it-or-leave-it independent state on the West Bank, but without believing that a West Bank settlement was the key to peace in the entire Middle East. Trump’s cancellation of the Iran deal, in particular, was met with international outrage. More global anger followed after the targeted killing of Iranian terrorist leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In short, Trump’s Middle East recalibrations won few supporters among the bipartisan establishment. But recently, Europeans have privately started to agree that more sanctions are needed on Iran, that the world is better off with Soleimani gone, and that the West Bank is not central to regional peace. Iran has now become a pariah. U.S.-sponsored sanctions have reduced the theocracy to near-bankruptcy. Most nations understand that if Iran kills Americans or openly starts up its nuclear program, the U.S. will inflict disproportional damage on its infrastructure — a warning that at first baffled, then angered and now has humiliated Iran. In other words, there is now an entirely new Middle East orthodoxy that was unimaginable just three years ago. Suddenly the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Palestinians have few supporters. Israel and a number of prominent Arab nations are unspoken allies of convenience against Iran. And Iran itself is seemingly weaker than at any other time in the theocracy’s history. Stranger still, instead of demanding that the U.S. leave the region, many Middle Eastern nations privately seem eager for more of a now-reluctant U.S. presence. (…) Trump got little credit for these revolutionary changes because he is, after all, Trump — a wheeler-dealer, an ostentatious outsider, unpredictable in action and not shy about rude talk. But his paradoxical and successful policies — the product of conservative, antiwar and pro-worker agendas — are gradually winning supporters and uniting disparate groups. (…) The result of the new orthodoxy is that the U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies. And yet Trump’s paradox is that America’s successful new foreign policy is as praised privately as it is caricatured publicly — at least for now. Victor Davis Hanson
Une cote de popularité au plus bas, des cafouillages dans la majorité, une étude qui remet en question sa politique économique… Les obstacles se multiplient pour le président de la République française. Cela pourrait avoir des conséquences désastreuses pour la suite, explique la presse étrangère. “Pas de repos pour Emmanuel Macron”, souligne le quotidien espagnol El País. En effet, si “le président a survécu à la plus longue grève de ces dernières décennies en France, il ne cesse d’accumuler les problèmes”. Le conflit autour des retraites, d’une part, n’est pas totalement réglé. Certes, les transports ont repris et les dernières manifestations ont rassemblé moins de monde qu’au début du mouvement. Mais “les ennuis de Macron ne sont pas terminés”, prévient le site britannique The Article. “Beaucoup s’attendent à ce que le printemps à Paris soit, eh bien, le printemps à Paris.” D’autant que de nombreux secteurs, habituellement peu prompts à protester, ont rejoint la grogne. Aujourd’hui, avec les 22 000 amendements déposés en parallèle au projet de réforme, le processus législatif est encore loin d’être terminé. Des journées de mobilisations sont d’ailleurs déjà prévues à la RATP le 17 février et partout en France le 20 février. Dans sa majorité aussi, Emmanuel Macron rencontre des difficultés. À un mois des municipales, La République en marche multiplie les faux pas et fait preuve de division. Avec bien sûr, le duel fraticide entre les candidats, Benjamin Griveaux (tête d’affiche officielle) et Cédric Villani (dissident qui refuse de reculer) pour la mairie de Paris. Mais les récents cafouillages des ministres macronistes, au sujet du droit au blasphème ou de la durée d’allongement du congé en cas de perte d’un enfant, n’arrangent pas non plus les choses pour Macron. Résultat ? Le gouvernement est “qualifié d’amateur” et l’image du président se retrouve toujours plus entachée, relate ABC. Au point que le jeune chef d’État rivalise désormais avec “François Hollande pour le titre de président le plus impopulaire de l’histoire de la Vème République”. Selon les derniers sondages, 73 % des Français auraient une mauvaise opinion d’Emmanuel Macron. Ce n’est assurément pas le rapport publié le 5 février par l’OFCE [Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques] qui va changer la donne. Après l’abrogation partielle de l’impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), le chef d’État avait très vite “hérité du surnom de ‘président des riches’”, rappelle le quotidien Suisse Le Temps. Or, la récente publication des économistes “juge qu’il correspond à la réalité”. Plus aucun doute : “La théorie macronienne du ‘ruissellement’ – selon laquelle l’attractivité fiscale conçue pour inciter les entreprises et les ménages les plus aisés à investir engendre à terme une hausse de revenus pour tous – ne fonctionne pas.” Pire encore, ajoute le quotidien suisse, “l’OFCE souligne une détérioration de la fracture sociale” puisque, assurent les experts : Les ménages appartenant aux 20 % les plus modestes, c’est-à-dire ceux ayant un niveau de vie individuel inférieur à 1 315 euros par mois, devraient perdre en 2020.” Ces difficultés pourraient avoir de lourdes conséquences sur l’avenir politique de Macron, prévient donc The Financial Times. Un an à peine après le “grand débat national”, “son attitude hautaine et son manque de finesse psychologique le rendent vulnérable”, et Marine Le Pen entend profiter de la situation pour la prochaine présidentielle. Or, sa potentielle arrivée à l’Élysée, en 2022, incarnerait un “séisme politique” dont les “ondes de choc seraient ressenties bien au-delà des frontières de la France”. Toutefois, si “le ciel s’assombrit pour le Roi Soleil français, il est beaucoup trop tôt pour affirmer que c’en est fait des espoirs de Macron”, rassure le FT. Ceux qui prédisent aujourd’hui sa chute, sont les mêmes qui se sont souvent trompés en 2017 sur sa capacité à briser l’ancien système” du bipartisme français. En somme, personne n’est capable de dire si la crise actuelle que rencontre le chef de l’État s’envenimera pour le reste de son quinquennat, conclut El País.“Mais en tout cas, elle envoie un signal inquiétant pour le président.” Courrier international
La dauphine désignée d’Angela Merkel en Allemagne, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a décidé de renoncer à lui succéder et va abandonner la présidence du parti conservateur, a indiqué à l’AFP ce lundi 10 février une source proche du mouvement. Lors d’une réunion ce matin de la direction du parti démocrate-chrétien CDU de la chancelière, Kramp-Karrenbauer a notamment justifié sa décision par les événements de Thuringe et la tentation d’une frange du parti de s’allier avec le mouvement d’extrême droite Alternative pour l’Allemagne (AfD). Elle a expliqué qu’«une partie de la CDU a une relation non clarifiée avec l’AfD» mais aussi avec le parti de gauche radicale Die Linke, alors qu’elle même rejette clairement toute alliance avec l’une ou l’autre de ces formations, a indiqué à l’AFP une source proche du mouvement. Dans la mesure où la candidature à la chancellerie doit aller de pair avec la présidence du parti à ses yeux, AKK a en conséquence décidé de renoncer dans les mois qui viennent à cette présidence. «AKK va organiser cet été le processus de sélection de la candidature à la chancellerie» pour succéder à Angela Merkel au plus tard fin 2021, a indiqué cette source. «Elle va continuer à préparer le parti pour affronter l’avenir et ensuite abandonner la présidence», a-t-elle ajouté. Elle doit en revanche conserver son poste de ministre de la Défense. AKK avait été élue en décembre 2018 à la présidence de la CDU, en remplacement d’Angela Merkel qui avait à l’époque renoncé en raison de son impopularité croissante après une série de revers électoraux et la poussée dans les urnes de l’extrême droite. AKK n’a toutefois jamais réussi à s’imposer à la présidence de la CDU. Elle a été en particulier très critiquée après l’alliance surprise nouée la semaine dernière entre des élus CDU de Thuringe et l’extrême droite pour élire un nouveau dirigeant pour cet Etat régional. AKK s’est vu reprocher de ne pas tenir son parti, tiraillé entre adversaires et partisans d’une coopération avec l’AfD, surtout dans les Etats de l’ex-RDA, où l’extrême droite est très puissante et complique la formation des majorités régionales. Le Figaro
Buttigieg is a gay Episcopalian veteran in a party torn between identity politics and heartland appeals. He’s also a fresh face in a year when millennials are poised to become the largest eligible voting bloc. Many Democrats are hungry for generational change, and the two front runners are more than twice his age. (…) In many ways, Buttigieg is Trump’s polar opposite: younger, dorkier, shorter, calmer and married to a man. His success may depend on whether Democrats want a fighter to match Trump, or whether Americans want to ‘change the channel,’ as Buttigieg puts it. ‘People already have a leader who screams and yells,’ he says. ‘How do you think that’s working out for us?’Time
Le 16 juin 2015, Buttigieg annonce dans une publication qu’il est homosexuel. Il est le premier homme politique ouvertement gay de l’Indiana. Le 28 décembre 2017, Buttigieg annonce ses fiançailles avec Chasten Glezman (né en 1989), professeur de pédagogie Montessori dans un collège privé de l’Indiana. Le couple se marie le 16 juin 2018 lors d’une cérémonie à la cathédrale de Saint-James de South Bend et fait en 2019 la couverture du magazine Time. En plus de l’anglais, Pete Buttigieg parle le norvégien, le français, l’espagnol, l’italien, le maltais, l’arabe et le dari, soit un total de huit langues. Buttigieg est chrétien et a déclaré que sa foi avait fortement influencé sa vie. Wikipedia
Va-t-il transformer l’essai? Après ses résultats inespérés dans l’Iowa (toujours contestés par Bernie Sanders), Pete Buttigieg espère bien récolter les fruits de l’énorme coup de pouce médiatique dont il a bénéficié tout au long de cette semaine chaotique. Le jeune candidat, encore inconnu il y a un an, croise donc les doigts ce mardi 11 février pour à nouveau s’imposer -ou du moins décrocher un score plus qu’honorable- dans le New Hampshire, deuxième État à voter aux primaires démocrates.  Si créer la surprise au cours des prochains scrutins et finir par décrocher la nomination du parti cet été est actuellement le rêve de tous les candidats, la seule vraie prouesse sera la suivante: battre Donald Trump lors de l’élection générale du 3 novembre et le sortir de la Maison Blanche. Pete Buttigieg est-il le meilleur candidat pour cette périlleuse mission? Le HuffPost a rassemblé plusieurs forces (et faiblesses) du candidat pour tenter d’y voir plus clair. Comme il aime souvent le rappeler en campagne, Pete Buttigieg a un atout majeur face à Donald Trump: son CV. Il faut dire qu’on pourrait difficilement imaginer un curriculum plus à l’opposé de celui du président républicain. Contrairement à l’occupant actuel de la Maison Blanche, le démocrate a tout d’abord de l’expérience politique. Alors que le magnat de l’immobilier était l’hôte d’une téléréalité avant de se présenter à la présidence, Pete Buttigieg vient lui de terminer son 2e mandat de maire. Trump s’est construit dans la plus grande ville du pays qu’est New York, Buttiegieg a fait décoller sa carrière à South Bend, 100.000 habitants, dans l’État de l’Indiana. Buttigieg met aussi régulièrement en avant son expérience dans l’armée. Il a passé sept mois en Afghanistan, un avantage sur tous ses concurrents démocrates et surtout sur Trump. Ce dernier a en effet réussi à échapper pas mois de cinq fois à la guerre du Vietnam: quatre reports grâce aux études qu’il suivait puis une dispense médicale pour une excroissance osseuse au pied dont les médias n’ont jamais retrouvé de trace. Diplômé de grandes universités, le candidat a aussi montré qu’il était polyglotte. En plus de l’anglais, il peut parler en norvégien, espagnol, italien, arabe, dari ou encore français comme il l’a montré en commentant l’incendie de Notre-Dame. Face à un président qui est parfois pointé du doigt pour la faiblesse du vocabulaire qu’il emploie dans son anglais natal. Pete Buttigieg se présente aussi aux antipodes de Donald Trump sur des aspects plus personnels. Là où Trump s’emporte et est devenu le roi du surnom mesquin, Buttigieg apparaît dans ses interventions comme calme, confiant et au point sur ses dossiers. Alors que les Américains LGBT ont vu leurs droits régresser sous la présidence républicaine, Buttigieg est le premier candidat démocrate ouvertement gay et apparaît régulièrement au bras de son mari Chasten. Âgé de seulement 38 ans, il est de loin le plus jeune de la course. Il n’hésite pas non plus à mettre l’accent sur sa foi chrétienne, un sujet généralement accaparé par les républicains. Quant à son programme, il ne renferme pas (encore?) de mesure phare, mais sa position modérée sur les impôts et la couverture santé pourrait bien attirer de précieux électeurs indépendants qui avaient penché pour Donald Trump en 2016. Au sein de ce groupe-clé pour départager une élection, la question du système de santé sera en effet la priorité numéro un pour faire son choix en novembre 2020, selon un sondage Gallup paru en janvier. Si la réussite de Pete Buttigieg dans l’Iowa et un très bon score dans le New Hampshire ce mardi serait un énorme tremplin, le candidat traîne cependant un énorme problème de popularité auprès d’électorats-clés pour un démocrate dans une élection présidentielle. Comme le montrent de nombreux sondages, l’ancien maire n’enregistre pour l’heure qu’un soutien très faible auprès des deux minorités ethniques principales aux États-Unis: les électeurs afro-américains et hispaniques. La présence de ces derniers, qui ont peu voté républicain en 2016, sera cruciale dans les bureaux de vote en novembre 2020 face à Trump. Les difficultés ne s’arrêtent pas là. Buttigieg pourrait aussi avoir une mauvaise surprise avec les jeunes, potentiel sous-exploité en 2016. Bien qu’il se vante d’incarner le renouveau politique du haut de ses 38 ans, le candidat n’est à l’heure actuelle pas très populaire avec les démocrates de moins de 38 ans, un groupe d’âge qui englobera 25% des électeurs en novembre. Son approche trop modérée ne fait pas le poids face à la politique autrement plus radicale de Sanders, qui lui a gagné le soutien massif des générations Y et Z. Buttigieg pourrait donc avoir bien du mal à donner envie à ce réservoir de voix démocrates de participer au scrutin. Reste enfin la faible notoriété de l’ancien maire de South Bend. The Huffington post
Il est déjà assez sûr de déduire des recherches en laboratoire et des parallèles éthologiques que les différentes manières dont les hommes et les femmes sont câblés sont directement liées à nos rôles sexuels traditionnels … Freud a dramatiquement déclaré que notre anatomie est notre destinée. Les scientifiques qui frémissent devant une formulation aussi dramatique, quelle que soit sa justesse, pourraient le reformuler ainsi: l’anatomie est fonctionnelle, les fonctions corporelles ont des significations psychologiques profondes pour les gens, et l’anatomie et la fonction sont souvent élaborées socialement. Arno Karlen
Les questions morales nous entraînent dans le bourbier de perpétuelles recherches philosophiques de nature fondamentale. D’une certaine manière, cela facilite le problème pour celui qui cherche une opinion juive. Le judaïsme n’accepte pas le type de relativisme poussé utilisé pour justifier le mode de vie homosexuel comme un simple mode de vie alternatif. Et tandis que la question de l’autonomie humaine mérite certainement d’être prise en considération dans le domaine de la sexualité, il faut se méfier des conséquences de tout argument quand il est poussé jusqu’à sa logique extrême. Le judaïsme chérit clairement la sainteté comme une valeur supérieure à la liberté ou à la santé. De plus, si l’autonomie de chaque individu nous amène à conférer une légitimité morale à toute forme d’expression sexuelle que celui-ci désire, nous devons être prêts à tirer la couverture de cette validité morale sur presque tout le catalogue de la perversion décrit par Krafft-Ebing, puis, par le tour de passe-passe consistant à accorder des droits civiques aux pratiques moralement non répréhensibles ou à autoriser le prosélytisme public aux défenseurs de la sodomie, du fétichisme ou de n’importe autre pratique. Dans ce cas, pourquoi pas dans le système scolaire? Et si le consentement est obtenu avant la mort d’un partenaire, pourquoi pas la nécrophilie ou le cannibalisme? Sûrement, si nous déclarons que la pédérastie est simplement idiosyncrasique et non une « abomination », quel droit avons-nous de condamner le cannibalisme sexuel – simplement parce que la plupart des gens réagiraient avec répulsion et dégoût? «L’affection aimante et désintéressée» et les «relations personnelles significatives» – les grands slogans de la Nouvelle Moralité et les représentants de l’éthique de la situation – sont devenus la litanie de la sodomie à notre époque. Une logique simple devrait nous permettre d’utiliser les mêmes critères pour excuser l’adultère ou tout autre acte considéré jusqu’ici comme immoral: et c’est exactement ce qui a été fait, et il a reçu la sanction non seulement des progressistes et des humanistes, mais de certains les religieux aussi. « Amour », « épanouissement », « exploiteur », « significatif » – la liste elle-même ressemble à un lexique de termes chargés d’émotions tirés au hasard des sources disparates des cercles agnostiques à la fois chrétiens et psychologiquement orientés. Logiquement, nous devons nous poser la question suivante: quelles dépravations morales ne peuvent pas être excusées par le seul critère des «relations humaines chaleureuses et significatives» ou de «l’accomplissement», les nouveaux héritiers sémantiques de «l’amour»? L’amour, l’épanouissement et le bonheur peuvent également être atteints dans les contacts incestueux – et certainement dans les relations polygames. N’y a-t-il plus rien qui soit « pécheur », « contre nature » ou « immoral » s’il est pratiqué « entre deux adultes consentants? » Pour les groupes religieux, établir qu’une relation homosexuelle doit être jugée selon les mêmes critères qu’une relation hétérosexuelle – c’est-à-dire «si elle vise à entretenir une relation d’amour permanente» – revient à abandonner la dernière prétention de représenter le « judéo-chrétien ». Dr. Norman Lamm
The moral issues lead us into the quagmire of perennial philosophical disquisitions of a fundamental nature. In a way, this facilitates the problem for one seeking a Jewish view. Judaism does not accept the kind of thoroughgoing relativism used to justify the gay life as merely an alternate lifestyle And while the question of human autonomy is certainly worthy of consideration in the area of sexuality, one must beware of the consequences of taking the argument to its logical extreme. Judaism clearly cherishes holiness as a greater value than either freedom or health. Furthermore, if every individual’s autonomy leads us to lend moral legitimacy to any form of sexual expression he may desire, we must be ready to pull the blanket of this moral validity over almost the whole catalogue of perversion described by Krafft-Ebing, and then, by the legerdemain of granting civil rights to the morally non-objectionable, permit the advocates of buggery, fetishism, or whatever to proselytize in public. In that case, why not in the school system? And if consent is obtained before the death of one partner, why not necrophilia or cannibalism? Surely, if we declare pederasty to be merely idiosyncratic and not an « abomination, » what right have we to condemn sexually motivated cannibalism – merely because most people would react with revulsion and disgust? « Loving, selfless concern » and « meaningful personal relationships » – the great slogans of the New Morality and the exponents of situation ethics – have become the litany of sodomy in our times. Simple logic should permit us to use the same criteria for excusing adultery or any other act heretofore held to be immoral: and indeed, that is just what has been done, and it has received the sanction not only of liberals and humanists, but of certain religionists as well. « Love, » « fulfillment, » « exploitative, » « meaningful » – the list itself sounds like a lexicon of emotionally charged terms drawn at random from the disparate sources of both Christian and psychologically-orientated agnostic circles. Logically, we must ask the next question: what moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment, » the newest semantic heirs to « love »? Love, fulfillment, and happiness can also be attained in incestuous contacts -and certainly in polygamous relationships. Is there nothing at all left that is « sinful, » « unnatural, » or « immoral » if it is practiced « between two consenting adults? » For religious groups to aver that a homosexual relationship should be judged by the same criteria as a heterosexual one – i.e., « whether it is intended to foster a permanent relationship of love » – is to abandon the last claim of representing the « Judeo-Christian tradition. »Clearly, while Judaism needs no defense or apology in regard to its esteem for neighborly love and compassion for the individual sufferer, it cannot possibly abide a wholesale dismissal of its most basic moral principles on the grounds that those subject to its judgments find them repressive. All laws are repressive to some extent -they repress illegal activities- and all morality is concerned with changing man and improving him and his society. Homosexuality imposes on one an intolerable burden of differentness, of absurdity, and of loneliness, but the Biblical commandment outlawing pederasty cannot be put aside solely on the basis of sympathy for the victim of these feelings. Morality, too, is an element which each of us, given his sensuality, his own idiosyncracies, and his immoral proclivities, must take into serious consideration before acting out his impulses. Several years ago I recommended that Jews regard homosexual deviance as a pathology, thus reconciling the insights of Jewish tradition with the exigencies of contemporary life and scientific information, such as it is, on the nature of homosexuality. (…) The proposal that homosexuality be viewed as an illness will immediately be denied by three groups of people. Gay militants object to this view as an instance of heterosexual condescension. Evelyn Hooker and her group of psychologists maintain that homosexuals are no more pathological in their personality structures than heterosexuals. And psychiatrists Thomas Szasz in the U.S. and Ronald Laing in England reject all traditional ideas of mental sickness and health as tools of social repressiveness or, at best, narrow conventionalism. While granting that there are indeed unfortunate instances where the category of mental disease is exploited for social or political reasons, we part company with all three groups and assume that there are significant number of pederasts and lesbians who, by the criteria accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists, can indeed be termed pathological. (…) Of course, one cannot say categorically that all homosexuals are sick – any more than one can casually define all thieves as kleptomaniacs. In order to develop a reasonable Jewish approach to the problem and to seek in the concept of illness some mitigating factor, it is necessary first to establish the main types of homosexuals. Dr. Judd Marmor speaks of four categories. « Genuine homosexuality » is based on strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex. « Transitory homosexual behavior » occurs among adolescents who would prefer heterosexual experiences but are denied such opportunities because of the social, cultural, or psychological reasons. « Situational homosexual exchanges » are characteristic of prisoners, soldiers and others who are heterosexual but are denied access to women for long periods of time. « Transitory and opportunistic homosexuality » is that of delinquent young men who permit themselves to be used by pederasts in order to make money or win other favors, although their primary erotic interests are exclusively heterosexual. To these may be added, for purposes of our analysis, two other types. The first category, that of genuine homosexuals, may be said to comprehend two sub-categories: those who experience their condition as one of duress or uncontrollable passion which they would rid themselves of if they could, and those who transform their idiosyncrasy into an ideology, i.e., the gay militants who assert the legitimacy and validity of homosexuality as an alternative way to heterosexuality. The sixth category is based on what Dr. Rollo May has called « the New Puritanism », the peculiarly modern notion that one must experience all sexual pleasures, whether or not one feels inclined to them, as if the failure to taste every cup passed at the sumptuous banquet of carnal life means that one has not truly lived. Thus, we have transitory homosexual behavior not of adolescents, but of adults who feel that: they must « try everything » at least once or more than once in their lives. (…) Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible. As for the intermediate categories, while they cannot be called illness, they do have a greater claim on our sympathy than the three types mentioned above. (…) To apply the Halakhah strictly in this case is obviously impossible; to ignore it entirely is undesirable, and tantamount to regarding Halakhah as a purely abstract, legalistic system which can safely be dismissed where its norms and prescriptions do not allow full formal implementation. Admittedly, the method is not rigorous, and leaves room to varying interpretations as well as exegetical abuse, but it is the best we can do. Hence there are types of homosexuality that do not warrant any special considerateness, because the notion of ones or duress (i.e., disease) in no way applies. Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to´evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these senses, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act, where it is legitimate to distinguish between the objective itself including its social and moral consequences, and the mentality and inner development of the person who perpetrates the act. For instance, if a man murders in a cold and calculating fashion for reasons of profit, the act is criminal and the transgressor is criminal. If, however, a psychotic murders, the transgressor is diseased rather than criminal, but the objective act itself remains a criminal one. The courts may therefore treat the perpetrator of the crime as they would a patient, with all the concomitant compassion and concern for therapy, without condoning the act as being morally neutral. To use halakhic terminology, the objective crime remains a ma´aseh averah, whereas a person who transgresses is considered innocent on the grounds of ones. In such case, the transgressor is spared the full legal consequences of his culpable act, although the degree to which he may be held responsible varies from case to case. (…) By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable. Were society to give its open or even tacit approval to homosexuality, it would invite more aggressiveness on the part of adult pederasts toward young people. Indeed, in the currently permissive atmosphere, the Jewish view would summon us to the semantic courage of referring to homosexuality not as « deviance » with the implication of moral neutrality and non-judgmental idiosyncrasy, but as « perversion » – a less clinical and more old-fashioned word, perhaps, but one that is more in keeping with the Biblical to´evah. (…) There is nothing in the Jewish law’s letter or spirit that should incline us toward advocacy of imprisonment for homosexuals. The Halakhah did not, by and large, encourage the denial of freedom as a recommended form of punishment. Flogging is, from a certain perspective, far less cruel and far more enlightened. Since capital punishment is out of the question, and since incarceration is not an advisable substitute, we are left with one absolute minimum: strong disapproval of the proscribed act. But we are not bound to any specific penological instrument that has no basis in Jewish law or tradition. (…) As long as violence and the seduction of children are not involved, it would best to abandon all laws on homosexuality and leave it to the inevitable social sanctions to control, informally,what can be controlled. However, this approach is not consonant with Jewish tradition. The repeal of anti-homosexual laws implies the removal of the stigma from homosexuality, and this diminution of social censure weakens society in its training of the young toward acceptable patterns of conduct. The absence of adequate social reproach may well encourage the expression of homosexual tendencies by those in whom they might otherwise be suppressed. Law itself has an educative function, and the repeal of laws, no matter how justifiable such repeal may be from one point of view, does have the effect of signaling the acceptability of greater permissiveness. Perhaps all that has been said above can best be expressed in the proposals that follow. First, society and government must recognize the distinctions between the various categories enumerated earlier in this essay. We must offer medical and psychological assistance to those whose homosexuality is an expression of pathology, who recognize it as such, and are willing to seek help. We must be no less generous to the homosexual than to the drug addict, to whom the government extends various forms of therapy upon request. Second, jail sentences must be abolished for all homosexuals, save those who are guilty of violence, seduction of the young, or public solicitation. Third, the laws must remain on the books, but by mutual consent of judiciary and police, be unenforced. This approximates to what lawyers call « the chilling effect », and is the nearest one can come to the category so well known in the Halakhah, whereby strong disapproval is expressed by affirming a halakhic prohibition, yet no punishment is mandated. It is a category that bridges the gap between morality and law. In a society where homosexuality is so rampant, and where incarceration is so counterproductive, the hortatory approach may well be a way of formalizing society’s revulsion while avoiding the pitfalls in our accepted penology. (…) Regular congregations and other Jewish groups should not hesitate to accord hospitality and membership, on an individual basis, to those « visible » homosexuals who qualify for the category of the ill. Homosexuals are no less in violation of Jewish norms than Sabbath desecrators or those who disregard the laws of kashrut. But to assent to the organization of separate « gay » groups under Jewish auspices makes no more sense, Jewishly, than to suffer the formation of synagogues that care exclusively to idol worshipers, adulterers, gossipers, tax evaders, or Sabbath violators. Indeed, it makes less sense, because it provides, under religious auspices, a ready-made clientele from which the homosexual can more easily choose his partners. In remaining true to the sources of Jewish tradition. Jews are commanded to avoid the madness that seizes society at various times and in many forms, while yet retaining a moral composure and psychological equilibrium sufficient to exercise that combination of discipline and charity that is the hallmark of Judaism. Dr. Norman Lamm

Quand le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût…

A l’heure où l’actualité se charge de nous rappeler chaque jour …

Les ravages dans tous les secteurs de la société, entre « mariage » et « enfants pour tous », du dérèglement des moeurs que nous vivons …

Pendant que devant le retour du réel le costume messianique de nos Obama français ou allemand semble lui aussi sérieusement prendre l’eau …

Et où face à l’insubmersible Donald Trump …

Et la confirmation de plus en plus éclatante par la réalité et les faits  …

De la justesse, face aux tigres de papier iraniens, chinois ou palestiniens, de nombre de ses intuitions et décisions …

Les Démocrates et progressistes américains semblent au contraire redoubler dans la caricature et dans l’aberration

Entre soutien aux villes-sanctuaire et appels à l’extension du droit de vote aux mineurs, repris de justice et immigrés illégaux comme à la suppression du collège électoral, des contrôles d’identité pour les électeurs et des frontières …

Et où profitant de la campagne présidentielle américaine …

Les lobbies homosexuels et leur claque médiatique …

Tentent contre toute évidence …

De nous imposer la candidature de ce qui serait …

Jeune, ancien militaire, surdiplômé d’Harvard, malto-américain, polyglotte, dûment marié à l’église et revendiquant sa foi chrétienne, s’il vous plait !

Le premier président ouvertement homosexuel et, putsch judiciaire et couverture de Time aidant, de son éventuelle « première famille » …

Petit retour avec le président de la Yeshiva university, le Dr. Norman Lamm

Et contre les nouveaux diktats de la pensée unique et du politiquement correct …

A la réalité non seulement biblique mais concrète de tous les jours …

Des nombreux problèmes moraux et sociaux que, sauf rares exceptions, posent …

Le véritable messianisme homosexuel qui, par médias et show biz interposés, nous est actuellement imposé …

Et qui au nom des nouveaux impératifs catégoriques de l »amour », de « l’épanouissement » et du « bonheur » …

Pourrait en arriver à nous faire avaliser …

A condition bien sûr d’être pratiqué « entre deux adultes consentants » et avec la « visée d’une relation d’amour permanente »…

Sans compter, dès l’âge de deux ans, le choix de sa propre assignation sexuelle …

Tant les contacts incestueux que les relations polygames …

Voire la nécrophilie ou le cannibalisme sexuel ?

Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality
Dr. Norman Lamm
Jonah web
March 30, 2007

Dr. Norman Lamm presently serves as President of Yeshiva University.

Popular wisdom has it that our society is wildly hedonistic, with the breakdown of family life, rampant immorality, and the world, led by the United States, in the throes of a sexual revolution. The impetus of this latest revolution is such that new ground is constantly being broken, while bold deviations barely noticed one year are glaringly more evident the year following and become the norm for the « younger generation » the year after that.

Some sex researchers accept this portrait of a steady deterioration in sex inhibitions and of increasing permissiveness. Opposed to them are the « debunkers » who hold that this view is mere fantasy and that, while there may have been a significant leap in verbal sophistication, there has probably been only a short hop in actual behavior. They point to statistics which confirm that now, as in Kinsey’s day, there has been no reported increase in sexual frequencies along with alleged de-inhibition to rhetoric and dress. The « sexual revolution » is, for them, largely a myth. Yet others maintain that there is in Western society a permanent revolution against moral standards, but that the form and style of the revolt keeps changing.

The determination of which view is correct will have to be left to the sociologists and statisticians -or, better, to historians of the future who will have the benefit of hindsight. But certain facts are quite clear. First, the complaint that moral restraints are crumbling has a two or three thousand year history in Jewish tradition and in continuous history of Western civilization. Second, there has been a decided increase at least in the area of sexual attitudes, speech, and expectations, if not in practice. Third, such social and psychological phenomena must sooner or later beget changes in mores and conduct. And finally, it is indisputable that most current attitudes are profoundly at variance with traditional Jewish views on sex and sex morality.

Of all the current sexual fashions, the one most notable for its militancy, and which most conspicuously requires illumination from the sources of Jewish tradition, is that of sexual deviancy. This refers primarily to homosexuality, male or female, along with a host of other phenomena such as transvestism and transexualism. They all form part of the newly approved theory of idiosyncratic character of sexuality. Homosexuals have demanded acceptance in society, and this demand has taken various forms -from a plea that they should not be liable to criminal prosecution, to a demand that they should not be subjected to social sanctions, and then to a strident assertion that they represent an « alternative life-style » no less legitimate that « straight heterosexuality. The various forms of homosexual apologetics appear largely in contemporary literature and theater, as well as in the daily press. In the United States, « gay » activists have become increasingly and progressively more vocal and militant.

Legal Position

Homosexuals have, indeed, been suppressed by the law. For instance, the Emperor Valentinian, in 390 C.E., decreed that pederasty be punished by burning at the stake. The sixth-century Code of Justinian ordained that homosexuals be tortured, mutilated, paraded in public, and executed. A thousand years later, Gibbon said of the penalty the Code decreed that « pederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed ». In more modern times, however, the Napoleonic Code declared consensual homosexuality legal in France. A century ago, anti-homosexual laws were repealed in Belgium and Holland. In this century, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland followed suit and, more recently, Czechoslovakia and England. The most severe laws in the West are found in the United States, where they come under the jurisdiction of the various states and are known by a variety of names, usually as « sodomy laws ». Punishment may range from light fines to five or more years in prison (in some cases even life imprisonment), indeterminate detention to a mental hospital, and even to compulsory sterilization. Moreover, homosexuals are, in various states, barred from licensed professions, from many professional societies, from teaching, and from the civil service -to mention only a few of the sanctions encountered by the known homosexual.

More recently, a new tendency has been developing in the United States and elsewhere with regard to homosexuals. Thus, in 1969, the National Institute of Mental Health issued a majority report advocating that adult consensual homosexuality be declared legal. The American Civil Liberties Union concurred. Earlier, Illinois had done so in 1962, and in 1971 the state of Connecticut revised its laws accordingly. Yet despite the increasing legal and social tolerance of deviance, basic feelings toward homosexuals have not really changed. The most obvious example is France, where although legal restraints were abandoned over 150 years ago, the homosexual of today continues to live in shame and secrecy.

Statistics

Statistically, the proportion the proportion of homosexuals in society does not seem to have changed much since Professor Kinsey’s day (his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was published in 1948, and his volume on the human female in 1953). Kinsey’s studies revealed that hard-core male homosexuals constituted about 4-6% of the population: 10% experienced « problem » behavior during a part of their lives. One man out of three indulges in some form of homosexual behavior from puberty until his early twenties. The dimensions of the problem become quite overwhelming when it is realized that, according to these figures, of 200 million people in the United States some ten million will become or are predominant or exclusive homosexuals, and over 25 million will have at least a few years of significant homosexual experience.

The New Permissiveness

The most dramatic change in our attitudes to homosexuality has taken place in the new mass adolescent subculture -the first such in history- where it is part of the whole new outlook on sexual restraints in general. It is here that the fashionable Sexual Left has had its greatest success on a wide scale, appealing especially to the rejection of Western traditions of sex roles and sex typing. A number of different streams feed into this ideological reservoir from which the new sympathy for homosexuality flows. Freud and his disciples began the modern protest against traditional restraints, and blamed the guilt that follows transgression for the neuroses that plague man. Many psychoanalysts began to overemphasize the importance of sexuality in human life, and this ultimately gave birth to a kind of sexual messianism. Thus, in our own day Wilhelm Reich identifies sexual energy as « vital energy per se » and, in conformity with his Marxist ideology, seeks to harmonize Marx and Freud. For Reich and his followers, the sexual revolution is a machina ultima for the whole Leninist liberation in all spheres of life and society. Rebellion against restrictive moral codes has become, for them, not merely a way to hedonism but a form of sexual mysticism: orgasm is seem not only as the pleasurable climatic release of internal sexual pressure, but as a means to individual creativity and insight as well as to the reconstruction and liberation of society. Finally, the emphasis on freedom and sexual autonomy derives from the Sartrean version of Kant’s view of human autonomy.

It is in this atmosphere that pro-deviationist sentiments have proliferated, reaching into many strata of society. Significantly, religious groups have joined the sociologists and ideologists of deviance to affirm what has been called « man’s birthright of unbounded ambisexuality. » A number of Protestant churches in America, and an occasional Catholic clergyman, have plead for more sympathetic attitudes toward homosexuals. Following the new Christian permissiveness espoused in Sex and Morality (1966), the report of a working party of the British Council of Churches, a group of American Episcopalian clergymen in November 1967 concluded that homosexual acts ought not to be considered wrong, per se. A homosexual relationship is, they implied, no different from a heterosexual marriage: but must be judged by one criterion -« whether it is intended to foster a permanent relation of love. » Jewish apologists for deviationism have been prominent in the Gay Liberation movement and have not hesitated to advocate their position in American journals and in the press. Christian groups began to emerge which catered to a homosexual clientele, and Jews were not too far behind. This latest Jewish exemplification of the principle of wie es sich christelt, so juedelt es sich will be discussed at the end of this essay.

Homosexual militants are satisfied neither with a « mental health » approach nor with demanding civil rights. They are clear in insisting on society’s recognition of sexual deviance as an « alternative lifestyle, » morally legitimate and socially acceptable.
Such are the basic facts and theories of the current advocacy of sexual deviance. What is the classical Jewish attitude to sodomy, and what suggestions may be made to develop a Jewish approach to the complex problem of the homosexual in contemporary society?

Biblical View

The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse and labels it an abomination: « Thou shalt not lie with a man as one lies with a woman: it is an abomination » (Lev. 18:22). Capital punishment is ordained for both transgressors in Lev. 20:13. In the first passage, sodomy is linked with buggery, and in the second with incest and buggery. (There is considerable terminological confusion with regard to these words. We shall here use « sodomy » as a synonym for homosexuality and « buggery » for sexual relations with animals.)

The city of Sodom had the questionable honor of lending its name to homosexuality because of the notorious attempt at homosexual rape, when the entire population -« both young and old, all the people from every quarter »- surrounded the home of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and demanded that he surrender his guests to them « that we may know them » (Gen. 19:5). The decimation of the tribe of Benjamin resulted from the notorious incident, recorded in Judges 19, of a group of Benjamites in Gibeah who sought to commit homosexual rape.

Scholars have identified the kadesh proscribed by the Torah (Deut. 23:18) as a ritual male homosexual prostitute. This form of healthen cult penetrated Judea from the Canaanite surroundings in the period of the early monarchy. So Rehoboam, probably under the influence of his Ammonite mother, tolerated this cultic sodomy during his reign (I Kings 14:24). His grandson Asa tried to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem of the practice (I Kings 15:12), as did his great-grandson Jehoshaphat. But it was not until the days of Josiah and the vigorous reforms he introduced that the kadesh was finally removed from the Temple and the land (II Kings 23:7). The Talmund too (Sanhedrin, 24b) holds that the kadesh was a homosexual functionary. (However, it is possible that the term also alludes to a heterosexual male prostitute. Thus, in II kings 23:7, women are described as weaving garments for the idols in the batei ha-kedeshim (houses of the kadesh): the presence of women may imply that the kadesh was not necessarily homosexual. The Talmudic opinion identifying the kadesh as a homosexual prostitute may be only an asmakhta. Moreover, there are other opinions in Talmudic literature as to the meaning of the verse: see Onkelos, Lev. 23:18, and Nachmanides and Torah Temimah, ad loc.)

Talmudic Approach

Rabbinic exegesis of the Bible finds several other homosexual references in the scriptural narratives. The generation of Noah was condemned to eradication by the Flood because they had sunk so low morally that, according to Midrashic teaching, they wrote out formal marriage contracts for sodomy and buggery -a possible cryptic reference to such practices in the Rome of Nero and Hadrian (Lev. R. 18:13).

Of Ham, the son of Noah, we are told that « he saw the nakedness of his father » and told his two brothers (Gen. 9:22). Why should this act have warranted the harsh imprecation hurled at Ham by his father? The Rabbis offer two answers: one, that the text implied that Ham castrated Noah: second, that the Biblical expression is an idiom for homosexual intercourse (see Rashi, ad loc.). On the scriptural story of Potiphar’s purchase of Joseph as a slave (Gen. 39:1), the Talmund comments that he acquired him for homosexual purposes, but that a miracle occurred and God sent the angel Gabriel to castrate Potiphar (Sotah 13b).

Post-Biblical literature records remarkably few incidents of homosexuality. Herod’s son Alexander, according to Josephus (Wars, I, 24:7), had homosexual contact with a young eunuch. Very few reports of homosexuality have come to us from the Talmudic era (TJ Sanhedrin 6:6, 23c: Jos. Ant., 15:25-30).

The incidence of sodomy among Jews is interestingly reflected in the Halakhah on mishkav zakhur (the Talmudic term for homosexuality: the Bible uses various terms- thus the same term in Num. 31:17 and 35 refers to heterosexual intercourse by a woman, whereas the expression for male homosexual intercourse in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 is mishkevei ishah). The Mishnah teaches that R. Judah forbade two bachelors from sleeping under the same blanket, for fear that this would lead to homosexual temptation (Kiddushin 4:14). However, the Sages permitted it (ibid.) because homosexuality was so rare among Jews that such preventive legislation was considered unnecessary (Kiddushin 82a). This latter view is codified as Halakhah by Malmonides (Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 22:2). Some 400 years later R. Joseph Caro , who did not codify the law against sodomy proper, nevertheless cautioned against being alone with another male because of the lewdness prevalent « in our times » (Even ha-Ezer 24). About a hundred years later, R. Joel Sirkes reverted to the original ruling, and suspended the prohibition because such obscene acts were unheard of amongst Polish Jewry (Bayit Hadash to Tur, Even ha-Ezer 24). Indeed, a distinguished contemporary of R. Joseph Caro, R. Solomon Luria, went even further and declared homosexuality so very rare that, if one refrains from sharing a blanket with another male as a special act of piety, one is guilty of self-righteous pride or religious snobbism (for the above and additional authorities, see Ozar ha-Posekim, IX, 236-238).

Responsa

As is to be expected, the responsa literature is also very scant in discussions of homosexuality. One of the few such responsa is by the late R. Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, when he was still the rabbi of Jaffa. In 1912 he was asked about a ritual slaughterer who had come under suspicion of homosexuality. After weighing all aspects of the case, R. Kook dismissed the charges against the accused, considering them unsupported hearsay. Furthermore, he maintained the man might have repented and therefore could not be subject to sanctions at the present time.

The very scarcity of halakhic deliberations on homosexuality, and the quite explicit insistence of various halakhic authorities, provide sufficient evidence of the relative absence of this practice among Jews from ancient times down to the present. Indeed, Prof. Kinsey found that, while religion was usually an influence of secondary importance on the number of homosexual as well as heterosexual acts by males. Orthodox Jews proved an exception, homosexuality being phenomenally rare among them.

Jewish laws treated the female homosexual more leniently than the male. It considered lesbianism as issur, an ordinary religious violation, rather than arayot, a specifically sexual infraction, regarded much more severely than issur. R. Huna held that lesbianism is the equivalent of harlotry and disqualified the woman from marrying a priest. The Halakhah is, however, more lenient, and decides that while the act is prohibited, the lesbian is not punished and is permitted to marry a priest (Sifra 9:8: Shab. 65a: Yev. 76a). However, the transgression does warrant disciplinary flagellation (Maimonides, Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 21:8). The less punitive attitude of the Halakhah to the female homosexual than to the male does not reflect any intrinsic judgment on one as opposed to the other, but is rather the result of a halakhic technicality: there is no explicit Biblical proscription of lesbianism, and the act does not entail genital intercourse (Maimonides, loc. cit.).

The Halakhah holds that the ban on homosexuality applies universally, to non-Jew as well as to Jew (Sanh 58a: Maimonides, Melakhim 9:5, 6). It is one of the six instances of arayot (sexual transgressions) forbidden to the Noachide (Maimonides, ibid).

Most halakhic authorities – such as Rashba and Ritba – agree with Maimonides. A minority opinion holds that pederasty and buggery are « ordinary » prohibitions rather than arayot – specifically sexual infractions which demand that one submit to martyrdom rather than violate the law – but the Jerusalem Talmud supports the majority opinion. (See D. M. Krozer, Devar Ha-Melekh, I, 22, 23 (1962), who also suggests that Maimonides may support a distinction whereby the « male » or active homosexual partner is held in violation of arayot whereas the passive or « female » partner transgresses issur, an ordinary prohibition.)

Reasons of Prohibition

Why does the Torah forbids homosexuality? Bearing in mind that reasons proferred for the various commandments are not to be accepted as determinative, but as human efforts to explain immutable divine law, the rabbis of the Talmud and later Talmudists did offer a number of illuminating rationales for the law.

As stated, the Torah condemns homosexuality as to’evah, an abomination. The Talmud records the interpretation of Bar Kapparah who, in a play on words, defined to’evah as to’eh attah bah. « You are going astray because of it » (Nedarim 51a). The exact meaning of this passage is unclear, and various explanations have been put forward.

The Pesikta (Zutarta) explains the statement of Bar Kapparah as referring to the impossibility of such a sexual resulting in procreation. One of the major functions (if not the major purpose) of sexuality is reproduction, and this reason for man’s sexual endowment is frustrated by mishkav zakhur (so too Sefer ha-Hinnukh, no. 209).

Another interpretation is that of the Tosafot and R. Asher ben Jehiel (in their commentaries to Ned. 51a) which applies the « going astray » or wandering to the homosexual’s abandoning his wife. In other words, the abomination consists of the danger that a married man with homosexual tendencies may disrupt his family life in order to indulge his perversions. Saadiah Gaon holds the rational basis of most of the Bible’s moral legislation to be the preservation of the family structure (Emunot ve-De’ot 3:1: cf. Yoma 9a). (This argument assumes contemporary cogency in the light of the avowed aim of some gay militants to destroy the family, which they consider an « oppressive institution. »)

A third explanation is given by a modern scholar, Rabbi Baruch Ha-Levi Epstein (Torah Temimah to Lev. 18:22), who emphasizes the unnaturalness of the homosexual liaison: « You are going astray from the foundations of the creation. » Mishkav zakhur defies the very structure of the anatomy of the sexes, which quite obviously was designed for heterosexual relationships.

It may be, however, that the very variety of interpretations of to’evah points to a far more fundamental meaning, namely, that an act characterized as an « abomination » is prima facie disgusting and cannot be further defined or explained. Certain acts are considered to’evah by the Torah, and there the matter rests. It is, as it were, a visceral reaction, an intuitive disqualification of the act, and we run the risk of distorting the Biblical judgment if we rationalize it. To’evah constitutes a category of objectionableness sui generis: it is a primary phenomenon. (This lends additional force to Rabbi David Z. Hoffmann’s contention that to’evah is used by the Torah to indicate the repulsiveness of a proscribed act, no matter how much it may be in vogue among advanced and sophisticated cultures: see his Sefer Va-yikra, II, p. 54.).

Jewish Attitudes

It is on the basis of the above that an effort must be made to formulate a Jewish response to the problems of homosexuality in the conditions under which most Jews live today, namely, those of free and democratic societies and, with the exception of Israel, non-Jewish lands and traditions.

Four general approaches may be adopted:1) Repressive: No leniency toward the homosexual, lest the moral fiber of the rest of society be weakened.2) Practical: Dispense with imprisonment and all forms of social harassment, for eminently practical and prudent reasons.3) Permissive: The same as the above, but for the ideological reasons, viz., the acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate alternative « lifestyle »4) Psychological: Homosexuality, in at least some forms, should be recognized as a disease and this recognition must determine our attitude toward the homosexual.
Let us consider each of these critically.

Repressive Attitude

Exponents of the most stringent approach hold that pederasts are the vanguard of moral malaise, especially in our society. For on thing, they are dangerous to children. According to a recent work, one third of the homosexuals in the study were seduced in their adolescence by adults. It is best for society that they be imprisoned, and if our present penal institutions are faulty, let them be improved. Homosexuals should certainly not be permitted to function as teachers, group leaders, rabbis, or in any other capacity where they might be models for, and come into close contact with, young people. Homosexuality must not be excused as a sickness. A sane society assumes that its members have free choice, and are therefore responsible for their conduct. Sex offenders, including homosexuals, according to another recent study, operate « at a primate level with the philosophy that necessity is the mother of improvisation. » As Jews who believe that the Torah legislated certain moral laws for all mankind, it is incumbent upon us to encourage all societies, including non-Jewish ones, to implement the Noachide laws. And since, according to the halakhah, homosexuality is prohibited to Noachides as well as to Jews, we must seek to strengthen the moral quality of society by encouraging more restrictive laws against homosexuals. Moreover, if we are loyal to the teachings of Judaism, we cannot distinguish between « victimless » crimes and crimes of violence. Hence, if our concern for the murder, racial oppression, or robbery, we must do no less with regard to sodomy.

This argument is, however, weak on a number of grounds. Practically, it fails to take into cognizance the number of homosexuals of all categories, which, as we have pointed out, is vast. We cannot possibly imprison all offenders, and it is a manifest miscarriage of justice to vent our spleen only on the few unfortunates who are caught by the police. It is inconsistent because there has been no comparable outcry for harsh sentencing of other transgressors of sexual morality, such as those who indulge in adultery or incest. To take consistency to its logical conclusion, this hard line on homosexuality should not stop with imprisonment but demand the death sentence, as is Biblically prescribed. And why not the same death sentence for blasphemy, eating a limb torn from a live animal, idolatry, robbery -all of which are Noachide commandments? And why not capital punishment for Sabbath transgressors in the State of Israel? Why should the pederast be singled out for opprobrium and be made an object lesson while all others escape?

Those who might seriously consider such logically consistent, but socially destructive, strategies had best think back to the fate of that Dominican reformer, the monk Girolamo Savonarola, who in 15th-century Florence undertook a fanatical campaign against vice and all suspected of venal sin, with emphasis on pederasty. The society of that time and place, much like ours, could stand vast improvement. But too much medicine in too strong doses was the monk’s prescription, whereupon the population rioted and the zealot was hanged.

Finally, there is indeed some halakhic warrant for distinguishing between violent and victimless (or consensual and non-consensual) crimes. Thus, the Talmud permits a passer-by to kill a man in pursuit of another man or of a woman when the pursuer is attempting homosexual or heterosexual rape, as the case may be, whereas this is not permitted in the case of a transgressor pursuing an animal to commit buggery or on his way to worship an idol or to violate the Sabbath, (Sanh. 8:7, and v. Rashi to Sanh. 73a, s.v. al ha-behemah).

Practical Attitude

The practical approach is completely pragmatic and attempts to steer clear of any ideology in its judgments and recommendations. It is, according to its advocates, eminently reasonable. Criminal laws requiring punishment for homosexuals are simply unenforceable in society at the present day. We have previously cited the statistics on the extremely high incidence of pederasty in our society. Kinsey once said of the many sexual acts outlawed by the various states, that, were they all enforced, some 95% of men in the United States would be in jail. Furthermore, the special prejudice of law enforcement authorities against homosexuals – rarely does one hear of police entrapment or of jail sentences for non-violent heterosexuals – breeds a grave injustice: namely, it is an invitation to blackmail. The law concerning sodomy has been called « the blackmailer’s charter. » It is universally agreed that prison does little to help the homosexual rid himself of his peculiarity. Certainly, the failure of rehabilitation ought to be of concern to civilized men. But even if it is not, and the crime be considered so serious that incarceration is deemed advisable even in the absence of any real chances of rehabilitation, the casual pederast almost always leaves prison as a confirmed criminal. He has been denied the company of women and forced into society of those whose sexual expression is almost always channeled to pederasty. The casual pederast has become a habitual one: his homosexuality has now been ingrained in him. Is society any safer for having taken an errant man and, in the course of a few years, for having taught him to transform his deviancy into a hard and fast perversion, then turning him loose on the community? Finally, from a Jewish point of view, since it is obviously impossible for us to impose the death penalty for sodomy, we may as well act on purely practical grounds and do away with all legislation and punishment in this area of personal conduct.

This reasoning is tempting precisely because it focuses directly on the problem and is free of any ideological commitments. But the problem with it is that it is too smooth, too easy. By the same reasoning one might, in a reductio ad absurdum do away with all laws on income tax evasion, or forgive, and dispense with all punishment of Nazi murders. Furthermore, the last element leaves us with a novel view of the Halakhah: if it cannot be implemented in its entirely, it ought to be abandoned completely. Surely the Noachide laws, perhaps above all others, place us under clear moral imperatives, over and above purely penological instructions? The very practicality of this position leaves it open to the charge of evading the very real moral issues, and for Jews the halakhic principles, entailed in any discussion of homosexuality.

Permissive Attitude

The ideological advocacy of a completely permissive attitude toward consensual homosexuality and the acceptance of its moral legitimacy is, of course, the « in » fashion in sophisticated liberal circles. Legally, it holds that deviancy is none of the law’s business; the homosexual’s civil rights are as sacred as those of any other « minority group. » From the psychological angle, sexuality must be emancipated from the fetters of guilt induced by religion and code-morality, and its idiosyncratic nature must be confirmed.

Gay Liberationists aver that the usual « straight » attitude toward homosexuality is based on three fallacies or myths: that homosexuality is an illness; that it is unnatural; and that it is immoral. They argue that it cannot be considered an illness, because so many people have been shown to practice it. It is not unnatural, because its alleged unnaturalness derives from the impossibility of sodomy leading to reproduction, whereas our overpopulated society no longer needs to breed workers, soldiers, farmers, or hunters. And it is not immoral, first, because morality is relative, and secondly, because moral behavior is that characterized by « selfless, loving concern. »

Now, we are here concerned with the sexual problem as such, and not with homosexuality as a symbol of the whole contemporary ideological polemic against restraint and tradition. Homosexuality is too important – and too agonizing – a human problem to allow it to be exploited for political aims or entertainment or shock value.

The bland assumption that pederasty cannot be considered an illness because of the large number of people who have or express homosexual tendencies cannot stand up under criticism. No less an authority than Freud taught that a whole civilization can be neurotic. Erich Fromm appeals for the establishment of The Sane Society – because ours is not. If the majority of a nation are struck down by typhoid fever, does this condition, by so curious a calculus of semantics, become healthy? Whether or not homosexuality can be considered an illness is a serious question, and it does depend on one’s definition of health and illness. But mere statistics are certainly not the coup de grâce to the psychological argument, which will be discussed shortly.

The validation of gay life as « natural » on the basis of changing social and economic conditions is an act of verbal obfuscation. Even if we were to concur with the widely held feeling that the world’s population is dangerously large, and that Zero Population Growth is now a desideratum, the anatomical fact remains unchanged: the generative organs are structured for generation. If the words « natural » and « unnatural » have any meaning at all, they must be rooted in the unchanging reality of man’s sexual apparatus rather than in his ephmeral social configurations.

Militant feminists along with the gay activists react vigorously against the implication that natural structure implies the naturalness or unnaturalness of certain acts, but this very view has recently been confirmed by one of the most informed writers on the subject. « It is already pretty safe to infer from laboratory research and ethological parallels that male and female are wired in ways that relate to our traditional sex roles… Freud dramatically said that anatomy is destiny. Scientists who shudder at the dramatic, no matter how accurate, could rephrase this: anatomy is functional, body functions have profound psychological meanings to people, and anatomy and function are often socially elaborated » (Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality, p. 501).

The moral issues lead us into the quagmire of perennial philosophical disquisitions of a fundamental nature. In a way, this facilitates the problem for one seeking a Jewish view. Judaism does not accept the kind of thoroughgoing relativism used to justify the gay life as merely an alternate lifestyle And while the question of human autonomy is certainly worthy of consideration in the area of sexuality, one must beware of the consequences of taking the argument to its logical extreme. Judaism clearly cherishes holiness as a greater value than either freedom or health. Furthermore, if every individual’s autonomy leads us to lend moral legitimacy to any form of sexual expression he may desire, we must be ready to pull the blanket of this moral validity over almost the whole catalogue of perversion described by Krafft-Ebing, and then, by the legerdemain of granting civil rights to the morally non-objectionable, permit the advocates of buggery, fetishism, or whatever to proselytize in public. In that case, why not in the school system? And if consent is obtained before the death of one partner, why not necrophilia or cannibalism? Surely, if we declare pederasty to be merely idiosyncratic and not an « abomination, » what right have we to condemn sexually motivated cannibalism – merely because most people would react with revulsion and disgust?

« Loving, selfless concern » and « meaningful personal relationships » – the great slogans of the New Morality and the exponents of situation ethics – have become the litany of sodomy in our times. Simple logic should permit us to use the same criteria for excusing adultery or any other act heretofore held to be immoral: and indeed, that is just what has been done, and it has received the sanction not only of liberals and humanists, but of certain religionists as well. « Love, » « fulfillment, » « exploitative, » « meaningful » – the list itself sounds like a lexicon of emotionally charged terms drawn at random from the disparate sources of both Christian and psychologically-orientated agnostic circles. Logically, we must ask the next question: what moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment, » the newest semantic heirs to « love »?

Love, fulfillment, and happiness can also be attained in incestuous contacts -and certainly in polygamous relationships. Is there nothing at all left that is « sinful, » « unnatural, » or « immoral » if it is practiced « between two consenting adults? » For religious groups to aver that a homosexual relationship should be judged by the same criteria as a heterosexual one – i.e., « whether it is intended to foster a permanent relationship of love » – is to abandon the last claim of representing the « Judeo-Christian tradition. »

I have elsewhere essayed a criticism of the situationalists, their use of the term « love, » and their objections to traditional morality as exemplified by the Halakhah as « mere legalism » (see my Faith and Doubt, chapter IX, p. 249 ff). Situationalists, such as Joseph Fletcher, have especially attacked « pilpolistic Rabbis » for remaining entangled in the coils of statutory and legalistic hairsplitting. Among the other things this typically Christian polemic reveals is an ignorance of the nature of Halakhah and its place in Judaism, which never held that law was totality of life, pleaded again and again for supererogatory conduct, recognized that individuals may be disadvantaged by the law, and which strove to rectify what could be rectified without abandoning the large majority to legal and moral chaos simply because of the discomfiture of the few.

Clearly, while Judaism needs no defense or apology in regard to its esteem for neighborly love and compassion for the individual sufferer, it cannot possibly abide a wholesale dismissal of its most basic moral principles on the grounds that those subject to its judgments find them repressive. All laws are repressive to some extent -they repress illegal activities- and all morality is concerned with changing man and improving him and his society. Homosexuality imposes on one an intolerable burden of differentness, of absurdity, and of loneliness, but the Biblical commandment outlawing pederasty cannot be put aside solely on the basis of sympathy for the victim of these feelings. Morality, too, is an element which each of us, given his sensuality, his own idiosyncracies, and his immoral proclivities, must take into serious consideration before acting out his impulses.

Psychological Attitudes

Several years ago I recommended that Jews regard homosexual deviance as a pathology, thus reconciling the insights of Jewish tradition with the exigencies of contemporary life and scientific information, such as it is, on the nature of homosexuality (Jewish Life, Jan-Feb. 1968). The remarks that follow are an expansion and modification of that position, together with some new data and notions.

The proposal that homosexuality be viewed as an illness will immediately be denied by three groups of people. Gay militants object to this view as an instance of heterosexual condescension. Evelyn Hooker and her group of psychologists maintain that homosexuals are no more pathological in their personality structures than heterosexuals. And psychiatrists Thomas Szasz in the U.S. and Ronald Laing in England reject all traditional ideas of mental sickness and health as tools of social repressiveness or, at best, narrow conventionalism. While granting that there are indeed unfortunate instances where the category of mental disease is exploited for social or political reasons, we part company with all three groups and assume that there are significant number of pederasts and lesbians who, by the criteria accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists, can indeed be termed pathological. Thus, for instance, Dr. Albert Ellis, an ardent advocate of the right to deviancy, denies there is such a thing as a well-adjusted homosexual. In an interview, he has stated that whereas he used to believe that most homosexuals were neurotic, he is now convinced that about 50% are borderline psychotics, that the usual fixed male homosexual is a severe phobic, and that lesbians are even more disturbed than male homosexuals (see Karlem, op. cit., p. 223ff.).

No single cause of homosexuality has been established. In all probability, it is based on a conglomeration of a number of factors. There is overwhelming evidence that the condition is developmental, not constitutional. Despite all efforts to discover something genetic in homosexuality, no proof has been adduced, and researchers incline more and more to reject the Freudian concept of fundamental human biological bisexuality and its corollary of homosexual latency. It is now widely believed that homosexuality is the result of a whole family constellation. The passive, dependent, phobic male homosexual is usually the product of an aggressive, covertly seductive mother who is overly rigid and puritanical with her son – thus forcing him into a bond where he is sexually aroused, yet forbidden to express himself in any heterosexual way – and of a father who is absent, remote, emotionally detached, or hostile (I. Bieber et al. Homosexuality, 1962).

Can the homosexual be cured? There is a tradition of therapeutic pessimism that goes back to Freud but a number of psychoanalysis, including Freud’s daughter Anna, have reported successes in treating homosexuals as any other phobics (in this case, fear of the female genitals). It is generally accepted that about a third of all homosexuals can be completely cured: behavioral therapists report an even larger number of cures.

Of course, one cannot say categorically that all homosexuals are sick – any more than one can casually define all thieves as kleptomaniacs. In order to develop a reasonable Jewish approach to the problem and to seek in the concept of illness some mitigating factor, it is necessary first to establish the main types of homosexuals. Dr. Judd Marmor speaks of four categories. « Genuine homosexuality » is based on strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex. « Transitory homosexual behavior » occurs among adolescents who would prefer heterosexual experiences but are denied such opportunities because of the social, cultural, or psychological reasons. « Situational homosexual exchanges » are characteristic of prisoners, soldiers and others who are heterosexual but are denied access to women for long periods of time. « Transitory and opportunistic homosexuality » is that of delinquent young men who permit themselves to be used by pederasts in order to make money or win other favors, although their primary erotic interests are exclusively heterosexual. To these may be added, for purposes of our analysis, two other types. The first category, that of genuine homosexuals, me be said to comprehend two sub-categories: those who experience their condition as one of duress or uncontrollable passion which they would rid themselves of if they could, and those who transform their idiosyncrasy into an ideology, i.e., the gay militants who assert the legitimacy and validity of homosexuality as an alternative way to heterosexuality. The sixth category is based on what Dr. Rollo May has called « the New Puritanism », the peculiarly modern notion that one must experience all sexual pleasures, whether or not one feels inclined to them, as if the failure to taste every cup passed at the sumptuous banquet of carnal life means that one has not truly lived. Thus, we have transitory homosexual behavior not of adolescents, but of adults who feel that: they must « try everything » at least once or more than once in their lives.

A Possible Halakhic Solution

This rubric will now permit us to apply the notion of disease (and, from the halakhic point of view, of its opposite, moral culpability) to the various types of sodomy. Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible. As for the intermediate categories, while they cannot be called illness, they do have a greater claim on our sympathy than the three types mentioned above.

In formulating the notion of homosexuality as a disease, we are not asserting the formal halakhic definition of mental illness as mental incompetence, as described in TB Hag. 3b, 4a, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the categorization of a prohibited sex act as ones (duress) because of uncontrolled passions is valid, in a technical halakhic sense, only for a married woman who was ravished and who, in the course of the act, became a willing participant. The Halakhah decides with Rava, against the father of Samuel, that her consent is considered duress because of the passions aroused in her (Ket, 51b). However, this holds true only if the act was initially entered into under physical compulsion (Kesef Mishneh to Yad, Sanh. 20:3). Moreover, the claim of compulsion by one’s erotic passions is not valid for a male, for any erection is considered a token of his willingness (Yev, 53b; Maimonides, Yad, Sanh, 20:3). In the case of a male who was forced to cohabit with a woman forbidden to him, some authorities consider him guilty and punishable, while others hold him guilty but not subject to punishment by the courts (Tos., Yev, 53b; Hinnukh, 556; Kesef Mishneh, loc. cit.: Maggid Mishneh to Issurei Bi´ah, 1:9). Where a male is sexually aroused in a permissible manner, as to begin coitus with his wife and is then forced to conclude the act with another woman, most authorities exonerate him (Rabad and Maggid Mishned, to Issurei Bi´ah, in loc). If, now, the warped family background of the genuine homosexual is considered ones, the homosexual act may possibly lay claim to some mitigation by the Halakhah. (However, see Minhat Hinnukh, 556, end; and M. Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe (1973) on YD, no. 59, who holds, in a different context, that any pleasure derived from a forbidden act performed under duress increases the level of prohibition. This was anticipated by R. Joseph Engel, Atvan de-Oraita, 24). These latter sources indicate the difficulty of exonerating sexual transgressors because of psycho-pathological reasons under the technical rules of the Halakhah.

However, in the absence of a Sanhedrin and since it is impossible to implement the whole halakhic penal system, including capital punishment, such strict applications are unnecessary. What we are attempting is to develop guidelines, based on the Halakhah, which will allow contemporary Jews to orient themselves to the current problems of homosexuality in a manner articulating with the most fundamental insights of the Halakhah in a general sense, and consistent with the broadest world-view that the halakhic commitment instills in its followers. Thus, the aggadic statement that « no man sins unless he is overcome by a spirit of madness » (Sot. 3a) is not an operative halakhic rule, but does offer guidance on public policy and individual pastoral compassion. So in the present case, the formal halakhic strictures do not in any case apply nowadays, and it is our contention that the aggadic principle must lead us to seek out the mitigating halakhic elements so as to guide us in our orientation to homosexuals who, by the standards of modern psychology, may be regarded as acting under compulsion.

To apply the Halakhah strictly in this case is obviously impossible; to ignore it entirely is undesirable, and tantamount to regarding Halakhah as a purely abstract, legalistic system which can safely be dismissed where its norms and prescriptions do not allow full formal implementation. Admittedly, the method is not rigorous, and leaves room to varying interpretations as well as exegetical abuse, but it is the best we can do.

Hence there are types of homosexuality that do not warrant any special considerateness, because the notion of ones or duress (i.e., disease) in no way applies. Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to´evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these sense, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act, where it is legitimate to distinguish between the objective itself including its social and moral consequences, and the mentality and inner development of the person who perpetrates the act. For instance, if a man murders in a cold and calculating fashion for reasons of profit, the act is criminal and the transgressor is criminal. If, however, a psychotic murders, the transgressor is diseased rather than criminal, but the objective act itself remains a criminal one. The courts may therefore treat the perpetrator of the crime as they would a patient, with all the concomitant compassion and concern for therapy, without condoning the act as being morally neutral. To use halakhic terminology, the objective crime remains a ma´aseh averah, whereas a person who transgresses is considered innocent on the grounds of ones. In such case, the transgressor is spared the full legal consequences of his culpable act, although the degree to which he may be held responsible varies from case to case.

An example of a criminal act that is treated with compassion by the Halakhah, which in practice considers the act pathological rather than criminal, is suicide. Technically, the suicide or attempted suicide is in violation of the law. The Halakhah denies to the suicide the honor of a eulogy, the rending of the garments by relatives or witnesses to the death, and (according to Maimonides) insist that the relatives are not to observe the usual mourning period for the suicide. Yet, in the course of time, the tendency has been to remove the stigma from the suicide on the basis of mental disease. Thus, halakhic scholars do not apply the technical category of intentional (la-da´at) suicide to one who did not clearly demonstrate before performing the act, that he knew what he was doing and was of sound mind, to the extent that there was no hiatus between the act of self-destruction and actual death. If these conditions are not present, we assume that it was an insane act or that between the act and death he experienced pangs of contrition and is therefore repentant, hence excused before the law. There is even one opinion which exonerates the suicide unless he received adequate warning (hatra´ah) before performing the act, and responded in a manner indicating that he was fully aware of what he was doing and that he was lucid (J.M Tykocinski, Gesher ha-Hayyim, I, ch. 25, and Encyclopaedia Judaica, 15:490).

Admittedly, there are differences between the two cases: pederasty is clearly a severe violation of Biblical law, whereas the stricture against suicide is derived exegetically from a verse in the Genesis. Nevertheless, the principle operative in the one is applicable to the other: where one can attribute an act to mental illness, it is done out of simple humanitarian considerations.

The suicide analogy should not, of course, lead one to conclude that there are grounds for a blanket exculpation of homosexuality as mental illness. Not all forms of homosexuality can be so termed, as indicated above, and the act itself remains an « abomination ». With few exceptions, most people do not ordinarily propose that suicide be considered an acceptable and legitimate alternative to the rigors of daily life. No sane and moral person sits passively and watches a fellow man attempt suicide because he « understands » him and because it has been decided that suicide is a « morally neutral » act. By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable. Were society to give its open or even tacit approval to homosexuality, it would invite more aggressiveness on the part of adult pederasts toward young people. Indeed, in the currently permissive atmosphere, the Jewish view would summon us to the semantic courage of referring to homosexuality not as « deviance » with the implication of moral neutrality and non-judgmental idiosyncrasy, but as « perversion » – a less clinical and more old-fashioned word, perhaps, but one that is more in keeping with the Biblical to´evah.

Yet, having passed this moral judgment, we cannot in the name of Judaism necessarily demand that we strive for the harshest possible punishment. Even where it was halakhically feasible to execute capital punishment, we have a tradition of leniency. Thus, R. Akiva and R. Tarfon declared that had they lived during the time of the Sanhedrin, they never would have executed a man. Although the Halakhah does not decide in their favor (Mak., end of ch. I), it was rare indeed that the death penalty was actually imposed. Usually, the Biblically mandated penalty was regarded as an index of the severity of the transgression, and the actual execution was avoided by strict insistence upon all technical requirements – such al hatra´ah (forewarning the potential criminal) and rigorous cross-examination of witnesses, etc. In the same spirit, we are not bound to press for the most punitive policy toward contemporary lawbreakers. We are required to lead them to rehabilitation (teshuva). The Halakhah sees no contradiction between condemning a man to death and exercising compassion, even love, toward him (Sanh. 52a). Even a man on the way to his execution was encouraged to repent (Sanh. 6:2). In the absence of a death penalty, the tradition of teshuva and pastoral compassion to the sinner continues.

I do not find any warrant in the Jewish tradition for insisting on prison sentences for homosexuals. The singling-out of homosexuals as victims of society’s righteous indignation is patently unfair. In Western history, anti-homosexual crusades have too often been marked by cruelty, destruction, and bigotry. Imprisonment in modern times has proven to be extremely haphazard. The number of homosexuals unfortunate enough to be apprehended is infinitesimal as compared to the number of known homosexuals; estimates vary from one to 300.000 to one to 6.000.000!. For homosexuals to be singled out for special punishment while all the rest of society indulges itself in every other form of sexual malfeasance (using the definitions of Halakhah, not the New Morality) is a species of double-standard morality that the spirit of Halakhah cannot abide. Thus, the Mishnah declares that the « scroll of the suspected adulteress » (megillat sotah) – whereby a wife suspected of adultery was forced to undergo the test of « bitter waters » – was cancelled when the Sages became aware of the ever-larger number of adulterers in general (Sot. 9:9). The Talmud bases this decision on an aversion to the double standard: if the husband is himself an adulterer, the « bitter waters » will have no effect on his wife, even though she too be guilty of the offense (Sot. 47b). By the same token, a society in which heterosexual immorality is not conspicuously absent has no moral right to sit in stern judgment and mete out harsh penalties to homosexuals.

Furthermore, sending a homosexual to prison is counterproductive if punishment is to contain any element of rehabilitation or teshuva. It has rightly been compared to sending an alcoholic to a distillery. The Talmud records that the Sanhedrin was unwilling to apply the full force of the law where punishment had lost its quality of deterrence; thus, 40 (or four) years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin voluntarily left the precincts of the Temple so as not to be able, technically, to impose the death sentence, because it had noticed the increasing rate of homicide (Sanh. 41a, and elsewhere).

There is nothing in the Jewish law’s letter or spirit that should incline us toward advocacy of imprisonment for homosexuals. The Halakhah did not, by and large, encourage the denial of freedom as a recommended form of punishment. Flogging is, from a certain perspective, far less cruel and far more enlightened. Since capital punishment is out of the question, and since incarceration is not an advisable substitute, we are left with one absolute minimum: strong disapproval of the proscribed act. But we are not bound to any specific penological instrument that has no basis in Jewish law or tradition.

How shall this disapproval be expressed? It has been suggested that, since homosexuality will never attain acceptance anyway, society can afford to be humane. As long as violence and the seduction of children are not involved, it would best to abandon all laws on homosexuality and leave it to the inevitable social sanctions to control, informally,what can be controlled.

However, this approach is not consonant with Jewish tradition. The repeal of anti-homosexual laws implies the removal of the stigma from homosexuality, and this diminution of social censure weakens society in its training of the young toward acceptable patterns of conduct. The absence of adequate social reproach may well encourage the expression of homosexual tendencies by those in whom they might otherwise be suppressed. Law itself has an educative function, and the repeal of laws, no matter how justifiable such repeal may be from one point of view, does have the effect of signaling the acceptability of greater permissiveness.

Some New Proposals

Perhaps all that has been said above can best be expressed in the proposals that follow.

First, society and government must recognize the distinctions between the various categories enumerated earlier in this essay. We must offer medical and psychological assistance to those whose homosexuality is an expression of pathology, who recognize it as such, and are willing to seek help. We must be no less generous to the homosexual than to the drug addict, to whom the government extends various forms of therapy upon request.

Second, jail sentences must be abolished for all homosexuals, save those who are guilty of violence, seduction of the young, or public solicitation.

Third, the laws must remain on the books, but by mutual consent of judiciary and police, be unenforced. This approximates to what lawyers call « the chilling effect », and is the nearest one can come to the category so well known in the Halakhah, whereby strong disapproval is expressed by affirming a halakhic prohibition, yet no punishment is mandated. It is a category that bridges the gap between morality and law. In a society where homosexuality is so rampant, and where incarceration is so counterproductive, the hortatory approach may well be a way of formalizing society’s revulsion while avoiding the pitfalls in our accepted penology.

For the Jewish community as such, the same principles, derived from the tradition, may serve as guidelines. Judaism allows for no compromise in its abhorrence of sodomy, but encourages both compassion and efforts at rehabilitation. Certainly, there must be no acceptance of separate Jewish homosexual societies, such as – or specially – synagogues set aside as homosexual congregations. The first such « gay synagogue », apparently, was the « Beth Chayim Chadashim » in Los Angeles. Spawned by that city’s Metropolitan Community Church in March 1972, the founding group constituted itself as a Reform congregation with the help of the Pacific Southwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations some time in early 1973. Thereafter, similar groups surfaced in New York City and elsewhere. The original group meets on Friday evenings in the Leo Baeck Temple and is searching for a rabbi – who must himself be « gay ». The membership sees itself as justified by « the Philosophy of Reform Judaism ». The Temple president declared that God is « more concerned in our finding a sense of peace in which to make a better world, than He is in whom someone sleeps with » (cited in « Judaism and Homosexuality » C.C.A.R. Journal, summer 1973, p. 38; five articles in this issue of the Reform group’s rabbinic journal are devoted to the same theme, and most of them approve of the Gay Synagogue).

But such reasoning is specious, to say the least. Regular congregations and other Jewish groups should not hesitate to accord hospitality and membership, on an individual basis, to those « visible » homosexuals who qualify for the category of the ill. Homosexuals are no less in violation of Jewish norms than Sabbath desecrators or those who disregard the laws of kashrut. But to assent to the organization of separate « gay » groups under Jewish auspices makes no more sense, Jewishly, than to suffer the formation of synagogues that care exclusively to idol worshipers, adulterers, gossipers, tax evaders, or Sabbath violators. Indeed, it makes less sense, because it provides, under religious auspices, a ready-made clientele from which the homosexual can more easily choose his partners.

In remaining true to the sources of Jewish tradition. Jews are commanded to avoid the madness that seizes society at various times and in many forms, while yet retaining a moral composure and psychological equilibrium sufficient to exercise that combination of discipline and charity that is the hallmark of Judaism.

Voir aussi:

Buttigieg en tête des démocrates dans l’Iowa, une première

Métro

12 novembre 2018

Le jeune maire américain modéré Pete Buttigieg a dépassé pour la première fois les poids lourds de la primaire démocrate dans un sondage publié mardi portant sur l’Iowa, un État-clé dans la course à la Maison-Blanche car il sera le premier à voter.

C’est la première fois que Pete Buttigieg, 37 ans, arrive en tête d’un sondage dans la campagne pour la primaire démocrate.

Le maire enregistre 22% des intentions de vote dans l’Iowa selon un sondage de l’institut de Monmouth University, devant les grands favoris jusqu’ici: l’ancien vice-président de Barack Obama, Joe Biden (19%), la sénatrice progressiste Elizabeth Warren (18%) et le sénateur indépendant Bernie Sanders (13%).

Encore inconnu du grand public il y a un an, le maire de South Bend, dans l’Indiana, s’est depuis forgé un nom en se posant en modéré capable de rassembler l’Amérique pour battre le républicain Donald Trump en novembre 2020.

Ancien militaire, polyglotte et utra-diplômé, il est le premier grand candidat ouvertement homosexuel à la Maison-Blanche, marié depuis 2018 à un enseignant, Chasten.

Dans l’Iowa, où la primaire sera organisée le 3 février, «Buttigieg émerge comme un choix de premier plan pour un large éventail de démocrates», quel que soit leur niveau d’«éducation ou leur idéologie», a écrit mardi Patrick Murray, directeur de l’institut de sondage Monmouth University, dans un communiqué.

Plus de deux tiers des 451 personnes interrogées –du 7 au 11 novembre– disent pouvoir encore changer d’avis, précise l’institut. La marge d’erreur est importante, à 4,6 points, mais ce nouveau sondage vient confirmer l’ascension de M. Buttigieg dans l’Iowa depuis plusieurs semaines.

Sur les 17 candidats encore en lice pour l’investiture démocrate, Joe Biden reste favori au niveau national mais est en perte de vitesse (26,8%), suivi par Elizabeth Warren (20,8%), Bernie Sanders (17%), avec, loin derrière, Pete Buttigieg (7,5%).

Voir également:

Pete Buttigieg, meilleur candidat pour battre Trump à l’élection présidentielle?

Après avoir brillé dans l’Iowa, l’ancien maire mise sur la primaire dans le New Hampshire pour affronter Donald Trump à l’élection présidentielle américaine.

PRÉSIDENTIELLE AMÉRICAINE – Va-t-il transformer l’essai? Après ses résultats inespérés dans l’Iowa (toujours contestés par Bernie Sanders), Pete Buttigieg espère bien récolter les fruits de l’énorme coup de pouce médiatique dont il a bénéficié tout au long de cette semaine chaotique.

Le jeune candidat, encore inconnu il y a un an, croise donc les doigts ce mardi 11 février pour à nouveau s’imposer -ou du moins décrocher un score plus qu’honorable- dans le New Hampshire, deuxième État à voter aux primaires démocrates.

Si créer la surprise au cours des prochains scrutins et finir par décrocher la nomination du parti cet été est actuellement le rêve de tous les candidats, la seule vraie prouesse sera la suivante: battre Donald Trump lors de l’élection générale du 3 novembre et le sortir de la Maison Blanche.

Pete Buttigieg est-il le meilleur candidat pour cette périlleuse mission? Le HuffPost a rassemblé plusieurs forces (et faiblesses) du candidat pour tenter d’y voir plus clair.

Aux antipodes de Trump

Comme il aime souvent le rappeler en campagne, Pete Buttigieg a un atout majeur face à Donald Trump: son CV. Il faut dire qu’on pourrait difficilement imaginer un curriculum plus à l’opposé de celui du président républicain.

Contrairement à l’occupant actuel de la Maison Blanche, le démocrate a tout d’abord de l’expérience politique. Alors que le magnat de l’immobilier était l’hôte d’une téléréalité avant de se présenter à la présidence, Pete Buttigieg vient lui de terminer son 2e mandat de maire. Trump s’est construit dans la plus grande ville du pays qu’est New York, Buttiegieg a fait décoller sa carrière à South Bend, 100.000 habitants, dans l’État de l’Indiana.

Buttigieg met aussi régulièrement en avant son expérience dans l’armée. Il a passé sept mois en Afghanistan, un avantage sur tous ses concurrents démocrates et surtout sur Trump. Ce dernier a en effet réussi à échapper pas mois de cinq fois à la guerre du Vietnam: quatre reports grâce aux études qu’il suivait puis une dispense médicale pour une excroissance osseuse au pied dont les médias n’ont jamais retrouvé de trace.

Diplômé de grandes universités, le candidat a aussi montré qu’il était polyglotte(vidéo ci-dessous). En plus de l’anglais, il peut parler en norvégien, espagnol, italien, arabe, dari ou encore français comme il l’a montré en commentant l’incendie de Notre-Dame. Face à un président qui est parfois pointé du doigt pour la faiblesse du vocabulaire qu’il emploie dans son anglais natal.

 


When they see us: Dans notre société tout homme qui ne parle pas bien risque d’être condamné à mort (Just in time: Guess why a Netflix series by Obama close friend on the 30-year old Central Park Five wilding case amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist just happened to come out a year and a half away from election time ?)

8 décembre, 2019

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J’ai résumé L’Étranger, il y a longtemps, par une phrase dont je reconnais qu’elle est très paradoxale :“Dans notre société tout homme qui ne pleure pas à l’enterrement de sa mère risque d’être condamné à mort.” Je voulais dire seulement que le héros du livre est condamné parce qu’il ne joue pas le jeu. En ce sens, il est étranger à la société où il vit, où il erre, en marge, dans les faubourgs de la vie privée, solitaire, sensuelle. Et c’est pourquoi des lecteurs ont été tentés de le considérer comme une épave. On aura cependant une idée plus exacte du personnage, plus conforme en tout cas aux intentions de son auteur, si l’on se demande en quoi Meursault ne joue pas le jeu. La réponse est simple : il refuse de mentir.  (…) Meursault, pour moi, n’est donc pas une épave, mais un homme pauvre et nu, amoureux du soleil qui ne laisse pas d’ombres. Loin qu’il soit privé de toute sensibilité, une passion profonde parce que tenace, l’anime : la passion de l’absolu et de la vérité. Il s’agit d’une vérité encore négative, la vérité d’être et de sentir, mais sans laquelle nulle conquête sur soi et sur le monde ne sera jamais possible. On ne se tromperait donc pas beaucoup en lisant, dans L’Étranger, l’histoire d’un homme qui, sans aucune attitude héroïque, accepte de mourir pour la vérité. Il m’est arrivé de dire aussi, et toujours paradoxalement, que j’avais essayé de figurer, dans mon personnage, le seul Christ que nous méritions. On comprendra, après mes explications, que je l’aie dit sans aucune intention de blasphème et seulement avec l’affection un peu ironique qu’un artiste a le droit d’éprouver à l’égard des personnages de sa création. Albert Camus (préface américaine à L’Etranger, 1955)
Le thème du poète maudit né dans une société marchande (…) s’est durci dans un préjugé qui finit par vouloir qu’on ne puisse être un grand artiste que contre la société de son temps, quelle qu’elle soit. Légitime à l’origine quand il affirmait qu’un artiste véritable ne pouvait composer avec le monde de l’argent, le principe est devenu faux lorsqu’on en a tiré qu’un artiste ne pouvait s’affirmer qu’en étant contre toute chose en général. Albert Camus (discours de Suède, 1957)
Personne ne nous fera croire que l’appareil judiciaire d’un Etat moderne prend réellement pour objet l’extermination des petits bureaucrates qui s’adonnent au café au lait, aux films de Fernandel et aux passades amoureuses avec la secrétaire du patron. René Girard (Critiques dans un souterrain, 1976)
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
En présence de la diversité, nous nous replions sur nous-mêmes. Nous agissons comme des tortues. L’effet de la diversité est pire que ce qui avait été imaginé. Et ce n’est pas seulement que nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui ne sont pas comme nous. Dans les communautés diverses, nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui nous ressemblent. Robert Putnam
What they’re trying to do is what the KGB under Lavrentiy Beria said to Stalin, the dictator — I’m not comparing our country to the Soviet Union — I just want to make sure it never becomes anything like that. Beria, once the Soviet deputy premier and interior minister, famously would reassure Stalin, « Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime. » And that’s what some of the Democrats are doing. They have Trump in their sights. They want to figure out a way of impeaching him and they’re searching for a crime. First, they came up with abuse of power — not a crime — it’s not in the Constitution. So now they’re saying ‘bribery,’ but they’re making it up. There is no case for bribery based on, even if all the allegations against the president were to be proved, which they haven’t been. Alan Dershowitz
I see him as the quintessential bully. Too much power truly does warp a person, even a very brilliant person who was once an authentic idealist. Like some of today’s bullies and Machiavellian politicians, he and his family benefited from the democratic society that he later scorned and tried to overpower. We can look back and use the clarity about the past to raise a warning about the present. You can experience viscerally what we lost when we let corrupt people move unchecked. What is our core national character?  Are we going to make heroes out of bullies and prioritize the achievements of power, or are we going to assert that heroism means having empathy for people’s struggles? Edward Norton
C’est une période au cours de laquelle les choses changeaient. On associe souvent New York à une ville libérale, progressive et cosmopolite. Mais dans les années 50, il y avait énormément d’anti-démocratie, de racisme, ce qui a eu un important impact sur le reste du siècle, jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Et je crois que choisir cette période m’a permis d’évoquer ce qui se passe aujourd’hui sans en parler directement. Edward Norton
In an op-ed from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein responded to the recent Netflix series on the Central Park Five, and accused its producer, Ava DuVernay, of fabricating words attributed to her character, played by Felicity Huffman, to portray her as a racist who was determined to convict the teens in the face of an alleged lack of evidence against them. Fairstein began the article, titled « Netflix’s False Story of the Central Park Five, » by declaring that the series, When They See Us, is « so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication, » and complained that it is « an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five). » She added that it « attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true. Fairstein listed a number of pieces of misinformation from the series and argued that there was plenty of evidence to reasonably convict them at the time, as she stood by charges that they attacked several other people in the park that same night. Among several pieces of misinformation she claimed were included in the series was that it « portrays the suspects as being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom, » and argued that if such accusations were true, they would have come out in the pre-trial hearings or inthe lawsuit that was filed years after their release from prison. Fairstein — who was supervisor over the sex crimes unit — argued that the series exaggerates how closely involved she was in handling the case and recalled that she « did not run the investigation, and never made any of the comments the screenwriter attributes to me. » She also directly contradicted a couple of scenes involving the questioning of an underage member of the group: The film claims that when Mr. Salaam’s mother arrived and told police that her son was only 15 — meaning they could not question him without a parent in the room — I tried to stop her, demanding to see a birth certificate. The truth is that Mr. Salaam himself claimed to be 16 and even had a forged bus pass to « prove » it. When I heard his mother say he was 15, I immediately halted his questioning. This is all supported by sworn testimony. The former prosecutor also argued that there was additional evidence of their guilt: There is, for example, the African American woman who testified at the trial — and again at the 2002 reinvestigation — that when Korey Wise called her brother, he told her that he had held the jogger down and felt her breasts while others attacked her. There were blood stains and dirt on clothing of some of the five. She soon added that more than a dozen other witnesses « named some or all of the five » in helping attack other victims. It is noteworthy that, while the Netflix series depicts the five teens as innocent bystanders who merely witnessed other assailants attacking and beating up other victims in the park, the film, The Central Park Five, by Ken Burns, accepted that they were « beating up other people » in the park even while that film was devoted to defending the teens regarding the attack on the jogger, Trisha Meili. Fairstein also recalled that Salaam « testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe — the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male school teacher and Ms. Meili. » The former prosecutor also argued that the fact that DNA testing on the semen found at the scene did not match any of the five teens did not mean that they could not have been part of the attack on her, as they were charged as « accomplices » to the person who eventually confessed to raping her, serial rapist Matias Reyes. She further recalled that « two of them admitted to climbing on top of her and siimulating intercourse, » adding that « Semen was found on the inside of their clothing, corroborating those confessions. » Fairstein concluded her article: That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims — and that her film includes so many falsehoods — is nonetheless an outrage. Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth. Newsbusters
The NYPD police officer who made the first arrests in the Central Park Five investigation has condemned Netflix’s drama When They See Us as ‘lies’ and said it puts the lives of cops and prosecutors at risk. Eric Reynolds, who as a plainclothes officer arrested Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, tells DailyMailTV that the four-part television adaptation is so filled with errors that it is ‘malicious recreation’. He described the miniseries, produced by Robert De Niro and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Ava DuVernay, as ‘total nonsense’ that left him ‘flabbergasted’ (…) He spoke out after an outcry in the wake of the series led to prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer losing publishing contracts, board seats and lecturing roles. Reynolds, 59, rejected criticism of the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the five for the rape of 28-year-old jogger, Patricia Meili – and particularly took issue with the portrayal of the black men as victims of a racist system. As an African American, he said, the allegations of racism cut particularly deep. (…) And he said that even the brief appearance he makes in the series, which has been watched by 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide, is pure ‘fiction,’ portraying events which simply did not happen; he was shown as a uniformed officer when he in fact wore plain clothes. He believes the series is inflammatory by depicting members of the five looking badly beaten when they were arrested. Reynolds told DailyMailTV, ‘Please, someone, show me the pictures of them. Show me the injuries, show me the black eyes, show me the swollen faces because every single one of them that came out of that precinct had none of that.’ He has shared his own recollections of the night of April 19, 1989 when more than 30 young men embarked on a violent spree of terror, and Meili was found raped and close to death in Central Park. Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes on April 19. But the one that is remembered is Meili’s rape. In 2002 their convictions were sensationally vacated in their entirety when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist already in prison, confessed to the crime and claimed to have acted alone. The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout. Supporters said they had been exonerated and the Central Park Five became synonymous with an unimaginable miscarriage of justice. When They See Us opens on the night of the ‘wilding’, where a mass of young men rushed through Central Park, casting the five very squarely as innocents caught up in events and on the fringes of any violence. Reynolds said, ‘When I saw the opening scenes it was like watching a musical. I was flabbergasted. That absolutely was not what occurred.’ The Central Park Five had their convictions vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted raping jogger Patricia Meili. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene In one scene a man, most likely a depiction of teacher John Loughlin, is shown being felled by a single punch while three of the five look on. Reynolds said, ‘It did not happen that way. They were beating him with a pipe. They beat him so savagely that both of his eyes were shut and he had a cracked skull.’ Testimony from one who was there stated that Yusef Salaam was wielding that pipe and ‘going to work on him.’ The cop who found Loughlin told Reynolds that he ‘looked like his head was dunked in a bucket of blood.’ In another scene the boys are part of a crowd halfheartedly harassing a couple on a tandem bike. Again Reynolds watched in outrage at what he said is a ‘total fiction.’ He explained, ‘The group lay in wait. They stretched out across the roadway and held hands to knock them off their bike. It was a couple on the tandem and the woman said she was scared for her life. ‘Her boyfriend just told her, ‘Put your head down and pedal as hard as you can.’ And they rode through them as they were grabbing at her clothes and by the grace of God they got away.’ Pointing to the couple attacked on their tandem he said it was the violence, not the ethnicity, of its perpetrators that mattered to police officers. He said, ‘I don’t understand how that’s a race issue if you’re in the middle of a park riding on a bike in the middle of the night and a group of males, whether they’re black, white or whatever, you know are standing on the road with the express purpose of knocking you off the bike. (…) He recalled, ‘We were getting numerous radio runs of a large crowd of black and Hispanic kids assaulting and robbing people. We had people going into the station house and cops out in the field who had gotten flagged down by civilians saying, ‘There’s a crowd of kids there. They’ve tried to assault us and thrown rocks. (…)  Reynolds recalled, ‘There were 30 of them on the move. There’s only two of us so, you know, clearly we’re not going to get all of them. Long story short we got five of them.’ Two were Raymond Santana – who had, Reynolds said, been leading the pack – and Kevin Richardson who started crying in the back of the squad car. Reynolds said, ‘He [Richardson] started crying and saying that he ‘knew who did the murder’. He said it was Antron McCray and he would tell us where he lived.’ The officers assumed he was talking about Loughlin who was beaten unconscious. (…) Reynolds’ partner asked Santana and Stephen Lopez, a member of the group he was arrested alongside, what they were doing out making trouble and why weren’t they with their girlfriends instead. According to Reynolds, ‘Santana said, ‘I already got mine,’ and they kind of laughed. I just assumed it was an in-joke. It only became significant after we learned what had happened to the jogger.’ (…) While the boys were waiting, at around 1.30am, the call came in that a female jogger had been found in the park, raped and beaten to within an inch of her life. The detectives responding to the crime had been told that Reynolds had arrested five out of a group of about 30 kids ‘wilding’ in the park. Now they instructed Reynolds not to let them go. He recalled, ‘They said, ‘Look, we don’t think these kids have anything to do with it but they were up there at the same time that she was attacked. They might have seen something so we’re going to come down and debrief them.’ Reynolds was in the room for all of those interviews. He said, ‘Their parents are there, they’re getting their rights read. We ask them what happened in the park? According to Reynolds they did not ask the kids about the rape directly. The first two kids told almost identical stories. They said they’d been in the park with a bunch of kids who were beating people up but they didn’t touch anybody Reynolds wrote them up and let them go home. Then, he said, ‘The third kid is Kevin Richardson. He’s there with his mother. We read him his rights. We ask him what happened. He said the exact same thing the other kids said – everyone else was beating people up but I didn’t touch anyone.’ Then one of the detectives noticed he had a scratch on his face. They asked him how he’d got it and at first he blamed Reynolds’s partner for the injury. When told the officer was next door and would be asked if that was true Richardson changed his story. Reynolds said, ‘He said, « Okay, it was the female jogger. » And I’ll be honest with you I almost fell off my seat because I was not expecting him to say that. ‘And then he starts to go into the story of the attack on the jogger. No coercion. We didn’t even think he was involved. He starts to give it up right there in front of us.’ Ultimately police questioned 37 boys and, contrary to Netflix’s dramatic depiction, there was nothing random or rushed in the five who were ultimately charged. They became the Central Park Five, he said, not because cops were anxious to pin the crime on someone but because they implicated themselves and each other when interviewed. In DuVernay’s drama particular attention is given to Korey Wise’s story. He is shown accompanying his friend Salaam to the station, an act of loyalty that sees him embroiled in the case when he wasn’t even on the cops’ radar. Reynolds is exasperated by this. He said: ‘Korey Wise was named by other participants in the wilding that day. We went specifically to look for him. ‘When detectives asked a couple of people in front of their building if they had seen him they said they saw him earlier and he said, « Y’all better stay away from me because the cops are after me. »‘ When they asked him why, Reynolds said, the people in front of the building stated that Wise had told them: ‘You see that woman in Central Park last night? That was us.’ (…) Reynolds points to a wealth of physical evidence that was never refuted at trial: hair and blood ‘consistent’ with the jogger’s was found on the boys’ sneakers and clothing, along with semen in the boys’ underwear. The fact that none of them claimed to be able to finish the act of penetrative sex is the reason, Reynolds said, that their semen was only found on the inside of their underwear and clothing rather than on Meili. (…) Reynolds explained, ‘Reyes comes forward to say he did it by himself and he can prove it because he knows something we don’t know. And he’s correct. ‘She had a fanny pack with her Walkman in it and he took it and he threw it away. (…) ‘But then Armstrong found that a detective had taken some notes of an interview with Korey Wise. And Korey said that there was a guy named ‘Rudy,’ who he said took her fanny pack and her Walkman.’ Reynolds believes that Rudy was Reyes and his name muddled up by Wise who has hearing difficulties. He said, ‘He told that to us on April 20, 1989, the day after. So how in the world does Korey Wise know about her fanny pack and Walkman in 1989 when Reyes says he knows about it because he was the only person there?’ (…) The report stated, ‘the most likely scenario for the events of April 19, 1989 was that the defendants came up on the jogger and subjected her to the same kind of attack, albeit with sexual overtones, that they inflicted upon other victims in the park that night. ‘Perhaps attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams, Reyes either joined in the attack as it was ending or waited until the defendants have moved on to their next victims before descending upon her himself, raping her and inflicting upon her the brutal injuries that almost caused her death.’ Reynolds’s view is supported by both the medical opinion of Meili’s two Urgent Care Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital and the Armstrong Report. Dr Robert Kurtz is on record as saying Meili had injuries consistent with a sharp, clean blade or object while Reyes’ confession only mentioned a blunt object. Dr Kurtz noted that Reyes, ‘never said he had used a knife, or broken glass, or broken bottle or something like that that would have been able to inflict a clean laceration.  Dr Jane Mauer, a surgeon who helped reconstruct Meili’s face recalled seeing hand print bruising on her thighs Dr Mauer said, ‘You could see the four fingers and the thumb indented in her skin to hold her legs apart.’ It led her to doubt that this could be the work of one man. Moreover the Armstrong Report concluded Reyes could not be considered a reliable witness. It revealed a fellow inmate in prison with Reyes said Reyes told him ‘the attack on the jogger was already in progress when he joined, attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams.’ Reynolds does not believe that the five should still be in prison. He said, ‘They did their time. They paid the price for what they did. You know, that’s it.’ When Bill de Blasio was elected New York City mayor in 2014 he ordered the $41 million settlement to go through for the five men. All legal action finished in 2016 when the men were awarded a further $3.9 million from New York State But despite the case now being closed, Reynolds feel the Netflix mini-series is unfairly punishing people who prosecuted the five. In the wake of the drama’s release Linda Fairstein, who supervised the prosecution, and lead prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer have both fallen victim to an angry public backlash. Fairstein, who now writes crime fiction, was dropped by her publisher. Lederer, who continues to work in the District Attorney’s office, resigned from teaching law as an adjunct at Columbia University in New York. Reynolds said, ‘It’s like mob justice. People are doing everything they can to destroy these women’s lives and they’ve done nothing wrong. They don’t even know that they’re not basing their opinions and their fury on what actually happened. (…) Reynolds believes the show falsely depicts a racist criminal justice system. He is keen to point out that growing up in Eighties New York, criminals posed the threat to public safety, not police officers. (…) He said, ‘This has got people so divided and so at each other’s throats it’s sad. Let me tell you there’s a lot of people who believe that they are guilty but they’re not going to say anything because they don’t want to get shouted down. They don’t want to be called racist.’ Daily Mail
More than three decades have passed since Jane Jacobs and Robert Caro tore down Moses’s once pristine public image, but his physical legacy remains standing. Our New York is Moses’s New York. He built 13 bridges, 416 miles of parkways, 658 playgrounds, and 150,000 housing units, spending $150 billion in today’s dollars. If you are riding the waves at Jones Beach or watching the Mets at Shea Stadium or listening to « La Traviata » at Lincoln Center or using the Triborough Bridge to get to the airport, then you are in the New York that Moses built. If we are to realize Mayor Bloomberg’s plans for a city of 9 million people with newer, greener infrastructure, then New York will again need to embrace construction and change. We will need again builders like Moses, who can put the needs of the city ahead of the opposition of a neighborhood. Yet Moses’s flaws, which were emphasized so eloquently by Jacobs and Mr. Caro, have led many to see nothing but evil in Moses and his works. Moses’s supposed villainy has established its place in the iconography of the preservationists who stand against growth. The opening of a three-part exhibition on Moses — at the Queens Museum of Art on January 28, at the Wallach Art Gallery of Columbia University on January 31, and at the Museum of the City of New York on February 1 — gives us a chance to reappraise his achievements. We should avoid the excesses of Moses’s early hagiography or his later vilification. The successes and failures of this master builder teach us that great cities need great builders, but that we must check their more Pharaonic excesses. The lessons of Moses’s life are taught by his projects. His best work, such as the parks and pools that had large benefits and modest costs, happened early in his career. When he was starting as Governor Smith’s park tsar, Moses could get public funding for his projects only if they were popular. The need to build support didn’t stop Moses from taking risks. Indeed, Smith accused Moses of wanting to « give the people a fur coat when what they need is red flannel underwear, » but Moses’s bold vision was just what the public wanted. Society was getting richer, and those parks and pools helped New York succeed as a place of consumption and as a center of production. Most of Moses’s bridges and expressways are also major successes. New York is a city of islands. The city’s waterways were ideal in the ages of sail and steam, but they became a major headache in the age of the car. Despite his lack of a driver’s license, Moses understood that New York needed to adapt to the automobile. His bridges made it easier for cars to cross between the city’s islands. His parkways made it more pleasant to drive into New York. Boston’s Big Dig should remind us that it is hard to retrofit a pre-car city for the automobile. By comparison, Moses’s achievements look cheap and effective. Some say Moses was wrong to build for the car. Some say the city should have bet exclusively on public transportation that would better serve the poor. But those critics ignore the millions of people who fled the older cities that weren’t car friendly. Every one of the 10 largest cities in the country in 1950 — except for Los Angeles and, miraculously, New York — lost at least one-fifth of its population between 1950 and today. Moses’s bridges and highways helped to keep some drivers living and working in New York. Those middle-class drivers helped New York to survive and grow, while every other large, cold city in the second half of the 20th century shrank. Not all of Moses’s transportation projects were winners. To build the Cross Bronx Expressway, Moses took thousands of apartments using the power of eminent domain. Neighborhoods were shattered as the highway smashed through a once-vibrant area. I cannot tell whether the benefits to the millions who have used the expressway outweigh the costs to the thousands who were evicted, but I am sure that the process was deeply flawed. To any friend of liberty, Robert Moses’s use of eminent domain represents big government at its most terrifying. At the stroke of a pen, entire communities can be wiped out because someone in government thinks that this removal is in the public interest. Without eminent domain, however, large-scale projects will either flounder or cost as much as the Big Dig. Mayor Bloomberg’s dream of a renewed New York will need eminent domain. But I hope that eminent domain in the post-Bloomberg era will become much fairer than it was during the era of Robert Moses. The state should develop better legal infrastructure to oversee takings. Perhaps there should be a state-level commission, independent of local government, with both elected and appointed members, that can subject each use of eminent domain to cost-benefit analysis and determine just compensation for the evicted. The right response to Moses’s excesses is not to renounce eminent domain, but to strengthen the process so that it can play its needed role. Mr. Caro criticizes Moses for catering to the prosperous by destroying low-income housing to build roads, housing, and amenities for the rich like Lincoln Center. This criticism may be apt, but the problem lies not in the man but in his situation. Moses was an appointed official whose career depended on the approval of elites, not the votes of the poor. While elected officials have an unfortunate tendency toward shortsighted populism, appointed officials have a tendency to cater to the well-connected. One of the most bizarre responses to the unelected power of Moses was to create the unelected power of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which seems almost designed to empower the most eloquent of squeaky wheels. A better response would have been to seek pro-growth solutions that combine the involvement of appointed and elected officials. Moses’s greatest failures were his housing projects. More than 40 years ago, Jacobs attacked Moses for replacing well-functioning neighborhoods with Le Corbusier-inspired towers. She was prescient. Moses spent millions and evicted tens of thousands to create buildings that became centers of crime, poverty, and despair. A simple but stark lesson emerged from Moses’s travails as housing tsar: The government is not good at the housing business. New York is filled with apartment buildings that provide decent housing and a comfortable social environment for their residents. Almost none of them were built by the government. New York has an affordable-housing problem, but it is the result of government intervention in the housing market that has limited housing supply. Rent control and an increasingly anti-growth regulatory environment have ensured that new supply has not kept up with the demand to live in reinvigorated New York. We need people with the vision of Robert Moses building homes in New York, but they should come from a private sector that is less fettered by government constraints. Moses was at his best when he had to make sure his projects would fund themselves or would really appeal to the people of New York. When Moses acquired vast federal funding, he also acquired the freedom to pursue his own vision, and that vision wasn’t always in the interests of the city. Mr. Bloomberg’s plan for New York in 2030 needs its own Moses-like master builders, but the city will be best served if those builders are funded by and accountable to the city. Those builders must not be beholden to every neighborhood group or cadre of unelected elites. While Moses’s successes would have been impossible under such conditions, his failures could have been checked if he had faced a greater degree of citywide oversight. Edward Glaeser
La violence le long de la ligne de tramway bordée de chênes Uptown a troublé ce qui avait été jusque là une journée de festivités plutôt paisible dans laquelle des centaines de milliers de personnes avaient fait la fête dans les rues en ce dernier jour du carnaval. NYT (sur les six victimes du Mardi gras de la Nouvelle–Orléans hier soir)
A l’exception d’un demandeur d’asile afghan, tous sont d’origine pakistanaise. Toutes les filles sont blanches. L’équation est aussi froide et simple qu’explosive, dans un Royaume-Uni en proie au doute sur son modèle multiculturel. (…) Dans les semaines suivant le procès, les médias égrènent les noms de villes où des gangs similaires à celui de Rochdale sont démantelés : Nelson, Oxford, Telford, High Wycombe… Et, fin octobre, c’est à nouveau à Rochdale qu’un groupe de neuf hommes est appréhendé. Chaque fois, les violeurs sont en grande majorité d’origine pakistanaise. Les micros se tendent vers les associations ou les chercheurs spécialisés dans la lutte contre les abus sexuels. Selon leurs conclusions, entre 46 % et 83 % des hommes impliqués dans ce type précis d’affaires – des viols commis en bande par des hommes qui amadouent leurs jeunes victimes en « milieu ouvert » – sont d’origine pakistanaise (les statistiques ethniques sont autorisées en Grande-Bretagne). Pour une population d’origine pakistanaise évaluée à 7 %. (…) En septembre, un rapport gouvernemental conclura à un raté sans précédent des services sociaux et de la police, qui renforce encore l’opinion dans l’idée qu’un « facteur racial » a joué dans l’affaire elle-même, mais aussi dans son traitement par les autorités : entre 2004 et 2010, 127 alertes ont été émises sur des cas d’abus sexuels sur mineurs, bon nombre concernant le groupe de Shabir Ahmed, sans qu’aucune mesure soit prise. A plusieurs reprises, les deux institutions ont estimé que des jeunes filles âgées de 12 à 17 ans « faisaient leurs propres choix de vie ». Pour Ann Cryer, ancienne députée de Keighley, une circonscription voisine, aucun doute n’est permis : police et services sociaux étaient « pétrifiés à l’idée d’être accusés de racisme ». Le ministre de la famille de l’époque, Tim Loughton, reconnaît que « le politiquement correct et les susceptibilités raciales ont constitué un problème ». L’air est d’autant plus vicié que, à l’audience, Shabir Ahmed en rajoute dans la provocation. Il traite le juge de « salope raciste » et affirme : « Mon seul crime est d’être musulman. » Un autre accusé lance : « Vous, les Blancs, vous entraînez vos filles à boire et à faire du sexe. Quand elles nous arrivent, elles sont parfaitement entraînées. » (…) un employé de la mairie s’interroge. Anonymement. « Où est la limite du racisme ? Les agresseurs voyaient ces filles comme du « déchet blanc », c’est indéniablement raciste. Mais les services sociaux, des gens bien blancs, ne les ont pas mieux considérées. » A quelques rues de là, dans sa permanence, Simon Danczuk, député travailliste de Rochdale qui a été l’un des premiers à parler publiquement d’un « facteur racial », juge tout aussi déterminant ce qu’il appelle le « facteur social » : « Les responsables des services sociaux ont pu imaginer que ces filles de même pas 15 ans se prostituaient, alors qu’ils en auraient été incapables à propos de leurs propres enfants. » (…) Mohammed Shafiq estime qu’ »une petite minorité d’hommes pakistanais voient les femmes comme des citoyens de seconde catégorie et les femmes blanches comme des citoyens de troisième catégorie ». Mais, pour lui, les jeunes filles agressées étaient surtout vulnérables. « Le fait qu’elles traînent dehors en pleine nuit, qu’elles soient habillées de façon légère, renforçait les agresseurs dans leur idée qu’elles ne valaient rien, qu’elles étaient inférieures. Mais cela faisait surtout d’elles des proies faciles, alors que les filles de la communauté pakistanaise sont mieux protégées par leur famille, et qu’un abus sexuel y est plus difficilement dissimulable. » Le Monde
Cologne résonne pourtant avec ce qui a pu être constaté en Egypte. On pense au film de Mohamed Diab Les Femmes du bus 678 (2011), et la façon dont des femmes subissent des attouchements. On pense à une enquête de l’écrivain et ancien journaliste du Monde Robert Solé qui décrivait les viols collectifs à répétition en Egypte (« Culture & idées » du 27 avril 2013). Des dizaines voire des centaines d’hommes se jettent sur une ou plusieurs femmes pour arracher leurs vêtements, les toucher, les pénétrer avec leurs doigts. Cette folie collective porte le nom de « taharosh ». Elle a souvent lieu lors de fêtes religieuses. Cela ressemble à ce qui s’est passé lors du soulèvement place Tahrir, au Caire, en 2011. Et cela ressemble à Cologne. Le Monde
We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up. This is terrorising our community. Jan Bøhler (Norwegian Labour Party)
Over the last month (…) Oslo’s city centre has witnessed an eruption of unprovoked attacks on random victims—most of them ethnic Norwegian men—by what police have described as youth gangs, each consisting of five to 10 young immigrants. The attacks typically take place on weekends. On Saturday, October 19, as many as 20 such attacks were recorded, with victims suffered varying degrees of injuries. One of the incidents involved a group of young men, originally from the Middle East, detained for attacking a man in his twenties in the affluent west end. According to police, the victim had been kicked repeatedly in the head while lying on the ground, in what appeared to be a random, unprovoked beating. Another victim that weekend was the uncle of Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr, who suffered several broken ribs after being mobbed at the Romsås subway station. The following weekend in Oslo, Kurds and Turks clashed over recent developments in Turkey, and ended up looting a branch of the Body Shop on Karl Johan gate, as well as destroying several cars. Car fires also have been on the rise, though the problem has been around for years. (Even in 2013, cars were set alight in Oslo at the rate of about one per week, mostly in the city’s poorer east end.) Overall, crime rates are still low by the standards of other cities, but the recent rise in youth crime suggests that may be changing. “We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up,” said Labour Party politician Jan Bøhler to the media last month. “This is terrorising our community.” While such observations are widely shared, Bøhler is notable for being one of the few politicians on the left who’s raised his voice about rising crime among young immigrants. Oslo is the fastest growing capital city in Europe, despite the fact the country now is registering fewer births than at any time since the government started keeping track in the 19th century. About 14% of the country’s population is now composed of immigrants, with Poles, Lithuanians and Swedes topping the European migration sources; and Somalian, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria supplying the greatest number of non-OECD arrivals. Many of the immigrants congregate in Oslo, where, according to Statistics Norway, about a third of all residents are immigrants or born to immigrants. (As recently as 2004, the figure was just 22%.) In several areas, such as Stovner, Alna and Søndre Nordstrand, the figure is over 50%. According to a 2015 Statistics Norway report, “most persons with an immigrant background living in Oslo come from Pakistan (22,000), while 13-14,000 are from Poland, Sweden and Somalia. There are large differences between the districts: Persons with a background from Pakistan and Sri Lanka are most represented in [the far eastern suburbs of] Oslo.” By one 2012 estimate, 70 percent of Oslo’s first- and second-generation immigrants will have roots outside Europe by 2040, and about half of the city’s residents will be immigrants. Until now, Norway had seemed to cope well with the influx of immigrants from war-torn Muslim countries, in part because the intake levels generally were kept at a level that permitted newcomers to be integrated without overwhelming local resources. Indeed, there has been a broad consensus in Norwegian politics to keep immigration rates lower than those of comparable countries such as Sweden and Germany. Nevertheless, concerns have been rising in recent years, even if the ruling class was hesitant to discuss the issue. The country’s libertarian Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) has repeatedly asked the country’s statistical agency to report on the statistical relationship between crime and country of origin. In the past, Statistics Norway refused, saying that such a task was “beyond its capacity.” But this year, for the first time, such a report was published. And the numbers were clear: Immigrants from certain backgrounds—particularly Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghanis—were many times more likely to commit violent crimes than other Norwegians (including other immigrant groups). In 65 out of 80 crime categories, non-Norwegians were over-represented. The largest discrepancy was in regard to domestic violence: Immigrants from non-Western countries were found to be eight times more likely to be charged for such crimes. Rape and murder were also heavily skewed toward these immigrant groups. Worryingly, the figures showed that second-generation immigrants were more likely to be criminals than their parents. For a long time, the expression svenske tilstander—“Swedish conditions”—has been used to describe large Swedish cities such as Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm, which feature areas plagued by bombings, gang-related gun violence, robbery and rape. In the past, Norwegians used the expression somewhat disparagingly, insisting that such issues would never arise in Norway (while also suggesting that the situation in Sweden was itself exaggerated by those with an anti-immigration agenda). But gradually, “Swedish conditions” have seemed less distant. Heidi Vibeke Pedersen, a Labour politician representing the immigrant-heavy area of Holmlia, recently wrote a Facebook post about her own experience, which was subsequently reprinted in VG, Norway’s biggest tabloid, under the headline “We have a problem in Oslo” (…) Pedersen’s article alluded to the fact that, in the quest to maintain their own cultures, some Muslims in Norway prefer to segregate instead of integrate. The newspaper Aftenposten recently uncovered the existence of Islamic schools presenting as cultural centres. And Islamsk Råd, the Islamic Council of Norway, now has proposed a separate branch of the Barnevernet—the government-run social services responsible for children—to deal with Muslim children. The article was shared by many. But Pedersen’s use of such terms as “Norwegian-Norwegian” (or norsk-norske) didn’t sit well with progressives and community advocates. Hasti Hamidi, a writer and Socialist Party politician, and Umar Ashraf, a Holmlia resident, wrote in VG that Pedersen’s use of the term “must mean that the author’s understanding of Norwegian-ness is synonymous with white skin.” Camara Lundestad Joof, a well known anti-racist activist and writer at the Dagbladet newspaper, accused Pedersen of branding local teenagers as terrorists. Using her own hard-done-by brother as an example, she explained how, in her opinion, Norwegian society has failed non-white young people. Had he been treated better, she argues, he and others like him would fare better. (One problem with this argument is that Norway is one of the least racist countries in the world.) Of course, this tension between racial sensitivity and blunt talk on crime has existed for generations in many Western societies. But it’s a relatively new topic in Norway, which is only now embracing certain hyper-progressive academic trends. (Oslo Metropolitan University, for instance, has recently produced an expert in so-called Whiteness Studies.) In fact, some influential Norwegians apparently would prefer that Statistics Norway had never released its report on crime and immigration in the first place. This includes Oslo’s vice mayor, Kamzy Gunaratnam, who told Dagbladet, “Damn, I’m angry! I’m not interested in these numbers…We don’t have a need to set people up against each other. These are our children, our people.” But burying the truth is never a good long-term strategy for anyone, including members of immigrant communities. The more persuasive view is that these issues should be addressed candidly, while they are still manageable. Unlike many other European countries, Norway doesn’t yet have an influential far-right party. But that may change if voters see that mainstream politicians are too polite to address a problem that ordinary people all over Oslo are talking about. Quillette
Les jeunes grandissent aujourd’hui dans un environnement où les menaces et la violence sont monnaie courante, où les adultes ont parfois peur d’intervenir et où on leur dit que la police est raciste. Notre quartier est de plus en plus divisé. Nous avons des régions qui sont principalement ‘norvégiennes-norvégiennes’, et d’autres à forte majorité immigrée. Ce n’est pas cela, la diversité. Heidi Vibeke Pedersen (élue travailliste norvégienne)
Depuis plusieurs semaines, le centre-ville d’Oslo est le théâtre d’agressions gratuites, qui prennent pour cible des hommes norvégiens « de souche ». Le mode opératoire est désormais connu des policiers, qui évoquent des gangs de jeunes immigrés, dont le nombre varie entre 5 et 10 habituellement. Une vingtaine de ces attaques, d’une rare violence, ont été recensées durant le seul samedi 19 octobre. Un jeune du quartier riche de la ville avait notamment été passé à tabac, prenant plusieurs cours de pied au visage. Au même moment, l’oncle du ministre de la Justice, le jeune Jøran Kallmyr, s’est fait casser plusieurs côtes. Le week-end suivant, plusieurs voitures ont été brûlées dans des échauffourées entre communautés turque et kurde. Mais en Norvège, rares sont les politiciens à se prononcer sur la hausse de la criminalité chez les jeunes immigrés… Valeurs actuelles
The random, apparently motiveless rampage in Central Park last week that the suspects in the case called wilding was an especially ferocious version of group delinquency that is common but usually not so vicious, law-enforcement officials and psychologists said this week. A 28-year-old investment banker, who was raped and savagely beaten, remains in a coma at Metropolitan Hospital as a result of the gang violence, and at least eight other people were assaulted by members of a group that the police now say numbered between 32 and 41. Eight youths have been arraigned on charges of rape, assault and attempted murder in the case, while five charges of assault, one involving a 13-year-old suspect, have been filed in the beating of a male jogger in his 40’s, who was seriously wounded in the head with a metal pipe. He was released from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center over the weekend. Also, a 15-year-old has been charged with being one of 17 youths who beat and robbed a male jogger who has been identified only as wearing an Army jacket. A grand jury is expected to take up all of the cases on Thursday.  »’Wilding seems to be a new term, but it’s hardly a new activity, » said Peter Reinharz, chief prosecutor for the Family Court Division of the city’s Law Department.  »In terms of group attacks, the No. 1 crime that we’ve seen among juveniles in Family Court, at least prior to the crack invasion, is robbery 2 – that is, aided robberies, the wolf-pack robberies.  »Prior to that, » he said,  »the No. 1 crime was jostling, which is pickpocketing. But for some reason, I guess it became a little bit easier to knock the old lady over and just grab the bag rather than to reach into the pocket and hope you came out with something. So things have gotten a lot rougher in the city with respect to wolf packs. » Last year, Mr. Reinharz said, 622 wolf-pack cases were referred to Family Court, along with 139 attempted robberies of that type. In 1987, there were 608 such cases and 144 attempted wolf-pack robberies. The police quoted some of the youths questioned in the case, all of whom live in Harlem near the park, as saying that the rampage grew out of a plan to attack joggers and bicyclists in the park for fun.  »It certainly got out of control, » Mr. Reinharz said of the episode,  »but I don’t know if it was out of control for these types of kids. I think that kids like this, given what I would call their predatory nature, are people who, given the chance, would do something like this again. There really isn’t any way to control them – at least we haven’t found it in the juvenile justice system. Although Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo said last week that the eight separate assaults on nine people seemed unrelated to money, drugs, alcohol or race, police officials said yesterday that they were investigating to what extent racial factors may have played a role in the youths’ choice of victims.  »The question of whether this was a series of bias-related incidents is being looked at very closely, » said Deputy Police Commissioner Alice T. McGillion. Police officials said that the evidence of bias consisted of testimony from victims, as well as a statement from one suspect in the rape attack, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam, who is said to have told detectives that one member of the group had suggested that they  »get a white girl. » Another 15-year-old, Jermain Robinson, who is charged with robbery of the male jogger in the Army jacket, is also said to have told detectives that youths who chased and threw stones at a white couple on a tandem bicycle had shouted racial epithets. All of those involved in the Central Park attacks are said to be black. The victims were a black man, who was briefly harassed until one youth shouted that he knew the man, two Hispanic people, – and six whites. Police investigators also said that while the other suspects had made no explicit references to racial factors, their acknowledgement that the chief target of their forays were joggers and bicyclists in the park was an indication that a racial motive was at work because, the police suggested, the majority of those who tend to use that part of the park at night tend to be white. For many psychologists, the idea of attacking people who seem to personify a level of unattainable affluence is a common pattern among particpants in wolf-pack attacks.  »From what I have been able to gether about the Central Park case, there seem to be some socioeconomic factors involved, » said Dr. Leah Blumberg Lapidus, a specialist in adolescent behavior in Columbia University’s department of clinical psychology.  »The media, especially television, is constantly advertising these various things that are necessary to define yourself, and the joggers may represent a level of socioeconomic attainment that the media has convinced everybody is necessary to have in order to be an acceptable person, » she said.  »So, to that extent, such people become a target. » On the other hand, Dr. Lapidus said, that did not explain why some of the victims were black or Hispanic. Law-enforcement officials said the the scale of the Central Park episode was reminiscent of an incident in July 1983, when gangs of youths ran amok at a Diana Ross concert in Central Park, beating and robbing scores of people. Two years later, in April 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon in which 26,000 people marched through Manhattan broke up in turmoil after packs of youths attacked and harassed dozens of people in and around Central Park, snatching chains, purses and other property. Police officials, who said Friday that none of the suspects in the park case had a criminal record, said yesterday that they had discovered that that one, 17-year-old Michael Brisco, had been on three years’ probation since December after a wolf-pack-style robbery last year. Officials said he and two others, 12 and 15 years old, had assaulted and robbed a 14-year-old on Nov. 10 on East 90th Street near Second Avenue. Authorities reported over the weekend that they were investigating the possibility that some of the participants in the park attacks had been involved in three separate robbery sprees four days earlier in East Harlem, one of which involved a stabbing. Professor Lapidus and another psychologist, Dr. Ann M. Jernberg, who is director of the Theraplay Institute of Chicago and Wilmette, Ill., both said that what they found set the park rampage apart from others were the intensity of the violence and the apparent failure of almost all of the nine accused youths to show any remorse. Police and prosecutors said they laughed and joked while in police custody, and that only one expressed any sorrow.  »This lack of awareness of the consequences of what they’ve done – almost as if they’re benumbed – is a little more extreme than what we’ve seen, » Dr. Lapidus said. For Dr. Jernberg, who traces the origin of many forms of antisocial behavior to early childhood problems in the family,  »the mob psychology that these kids were obviously caught up in protects them against remorse. » ‘You get together a group of adolescents and you’ve got the worst possible combination for trouble, » Dr. Jernberg said in a telephone interview from Chicago.  »The idea of collective violence, the risks involved, is terribly exciting, very dramatic, and sometimes all kids this age need is to see a violent movie or hear a song to encourage them. » For Mr. Reinharz, the randomness of such attacks – which he believes are largely underreported because  »people expect this kind of activity in the city » – is a component of what he called the  »predatory instincts » of youths who carry out wolf-pack behavior. NYT
En quatre épisodes, Dans leur regard reconstitue par la fiction l’affaire des “cinq de Central Park”, symbole de la violence et de l’arbitraire de la justice américaine envers les Noir.e.s. Au printemps 1989, cinq adolescents (quatre Afro-Américains et un Hispanique) ont été injustement accusés du viol et de la tentative de meurtre d’une joggeuse à Central Park. Condamnés par deux jurys successifs, ils ont passé entre six et treize ans derrière les barreaux avant que le véritable coupable ne se dénonce. Exonérés de toutes les charges en 2002, ils n’ont obtenu réparation de la part de l’Etat de New York qu’en 2014. Les Inrockuptibles
Pour ceux qui ne connaitraient pas l’affaire, elle a secoué New York et les États-Unis à la fin des années 80, et ses dernières répercussions ont eu lieu en 2014. Dans la nuit du 19 avril 1989, la joggeuse Trisha Melli est sauvagement attaquée, violée et laissée pour morte dans Central Park. La même nuit, une bande d’ados afro-américains et latinos (dont Raymond Santana et Kevin Richardson), sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc, est raflée par la police et emmenée au poste. Le lendemain, trois autres jeunes (Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, et Korey Wise) sont à leurs tours arrêtés, interrogés par les inspecteurs et poussés à avouer ce crime qu’ils n’ont jamais commis.  Les cinq garçons seront jugés coupables et jetés en prison en 1990. Il faudra attendre 2002 pour que le véritable criminel (ironie du sort, il était blanc) vienne se dénoncer et soit arrêté. La libération de Korey Wise et l’acquittement des cinq garçons suivront plus ou moins rapidement. Enfin, en 2014, ils recevront une compensation financière d’environ 40 millions de dollars. (…) Comment dépeindre, 30 ans après les faits, un New York pré-Giuliani gangréné par la drogue et les violences interraciales ? (…) Comment la presse a-t-elle a pu les jeter en pâture et les rendre coupables avant même le procès ? (…) Mais l’injustice de l’histoire de ce garçon commence bien avant le procès : au départ, il n’aurait même pas dû être arrêté. Celui qui n’était pas sur la liste de noms donnés par Raymond Santana au moment de son arrestation, celui qui s’est retrouvé au poste dans l’unique but de ne pas laisser son ami seul, est finalement celui qui a purgé la plus longue peine et a connu les conditions d’incarcération les plus difficiles – conditions auxquelles un jeune de 16 ans n’est absolument pas préparé. Le choix d’Ava DuVernay d’offrir à Korey Wise un épisode entier n’a alors rien d’étonnant. Si le calvaire du jeune garçon est de moins en moins supportable à regarder à mesure que l’épisode se déroule, c’est sans doute grâce au talent de son interprète. (…) Dans leur regard est puissante, l’injustice de son histoire et la souffrance de ses personnages font facilement passer de la rage aux larmes. En 1989, l’affaire avait pris une proportion nationale. L’attaque raciale et contre les minorités avait été mise en avant par les défenseurs des « Cinq de Central Park ». Mais Ava DuVernay se plaît à rappeler autre chose : contre eux, il y avait un milliardaire de l’immobilier (dont les bureaux bordaient le parc) maintenant président des États-Unis. Donald Trump avait payé plus de 80 000 dollars pour des pages entières dans des journaux, appelant notamment au rétablissement de la peine de mort dans l’État. Outre Donald Trump, la procureur Linda Fairstein, campée par Felicity Huffman, est également pointée du doigt. Les accusations de la réalisatrice vont même plus loin : elle serait responsable de l’arrestation et surtout de l’acharnement de la police et de la cour sur les cinq adolescents et leur famille. Aujourd’hui, l’ex-procureur reconvertie en autrice est à son tour lynchée sur la place publique (et notamment la tweetosphère). Il faut dire que devant les conditions des interrogatoires des cinq garçons, la violence verbale et physique dont ils ont (ou auraient, pour Fairstein) fait les frais, et l’instrumentalisation politique de leur incarcération, l’opportunisme de la procureur se confond facilement avec un racisme aveugle. Aujourd’hui encore, la femme dément la vision des interrogatoires que propose DuVernay et reproche à la réalisatrice d’avoir non seulement omis une grande partie des méfaits du gang cette nuit du 19 avril 1989, mais aussi de ne s’être penchée que sur l’innocence des cinq garçons. S’il fallait faire un reproche à la série émouvante et militante, on pourrait pointer du doigt sa mise en scène très classique. Comme le but n’est pas d’esthétiser, mais de redonner leur place, leur parole et leur dignité à des personnes à jamais meurtries, la réalisation use d’effets dramatiques (musique, ralentis…) pour augmenter l’empathie du spectateur. C’est un peu facile et attendu, mais rien d’étonnant de la part de la réalisatrice de Selma. Ecran large
“The fact that wilin’ became wilding, became wolf pack, became these boys are animals… I remember for the first time realizing that the news might not be true, that the news is something that you have to really think about and question. Ava DuVernay
When Donald Trump took out that full-page ad, and put them in all of New York City’s newspapers, calling for our execution, he placed a bounty on our head. Yusuf Salaam
I look at Donald Trump, and I understand him as a representation of a symptom of America. We were convicted because of the colour of our skin. People thought the worst of us. And this is all because of prominent New Yorkers – especially Donald Trump. Yusuf Salaam
Though the Central Park attacks were certainly the backdrop to Trump’s ad, his language did not presume the guilt of the defendants, whom he scarcely mentioned, and he did not call specifically for the execution of anyone. In fact, Trump demanded capital punishment only for murderers, and by the time his ad appeared, Trisha Meili was expected to survive. Moreover, Trump was hardly alone, in New York City, in expressing horror and anguish about the attack—neither the New York Times nor the Daily News objected to running the ad, after all. New York City in 1989 was under violent assault from predatory criminals. There were nine times as many murders then as now; robbery and muggings were more than ten times as frequent as they are today. Rape and felony assault were well over double today’s rates. Pack-style violence like what happened that night in Central Park was all too common. Gangs “ran amok” at a 1983 Diana Ross concert in the Park, according to the Times, “beating and robbing scores of people.” In 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon was broken up around Central Park when “packs of youth attacked and harassed dozens of people,” stealing jewelry and pocketbooks. David Dinkins, running against Ed Koch in the 1989 Democratic primary for mayor, called for “anti-wilding” legislation in the wake of the Central Park Jogger attack. He won the general election against Rudy Giuliani in part for his promise to be tough on crime. Trump’s ad, though cast as a brutal call for revenge, is actually a demand for public safety, and a return to the “feeling of security New York’s finest once gave to the citizens of this City.” Written in 1989, it is a prescient call for Broken Windows policing, which from 1994 on resulted in the sharpest and most enduring decrease in crime that any city has seen in American history. The policies that Trump called for saved the lives of tens of thousands of people—most of them black and Latino—who would otherwise have fallen victim to New York’s spiraling violence. The latest outbreak of passions regarding this case, and the novel twist of making Trump a central player in it, raise other questions. Given that there have been no new developments, except for the city payouts, in the Central Park case since Burns’s 2012 documentary, why was a new movie called for, anyway? The Netflix series, arguably, exists only to make Trump a target for his behavior in a long-ago New York episode—just in time for the 2020 campaign. Ana DuVernay, director of the docudrama, is a close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama. Like DuVernay, the Obamas have multiyear, multimillion-dollar development deals with Netflix. Amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist is likely to be part of the eventual Democratic candidate’s campaign strategy. When They See Us may be a valuable tool for that purpose; it certainly has little value for truthfulness. Seth Barron
Before their arrest, the teens crested through their city with youthful ebullience. They were “just baby boys.” But in the days following the rape of Trisha Meili, the teens—ages 14 to 16—transmogrified into a “wolf pack.” They became “savage.” Meili, who became known as the “Central Park jogger,” was often characterized as their “prey.” The flurry of media attention reached a galling crescendo when Donald J. Trump, then a local real-estate mogul, purchased full-page ads in four New York publications calling for the return of the death penalty so that the boys could be executed. The boys eventually became known as the “Central Park Five,” a pithy moniker picked up by local and national media outlets that served as much to undercut their humanity as it did to free up copy space. “If they had their way,” Salaam told CNN in 2012, 10 years after a man named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and two years before the Central Park Five received a $41 million settlement from the City of New York, “we would have been hanging from one of those lovely trees here in Central Park.” In rendering their journeys, DuVernay pays careful attention to the terrifying power of language, especially the animalistic rhetoric with which prosecutors and journalists referred to the teens. (Trump is referenced often, particularly in the second installment; he is depicted as the most powerful of the boys’ zealous detractors, not the sole purveyor of racial animus.) In its early installments, When They See Us implicates New York media, and the ensuing frenzy of the public, in spurring along the boys’ wrongful verdicts. The series re-creates the glee with which people seized upon words such as wildin’, common slang for any range of boisterous behavior, as evidence of the boys’ inherent criminality. The series enters a broader landscape of artistic reckoning with the Central Park Five case, as well as with the country’s history of weaponizing language against black and brown people. Most immediately, a new project from the artist and journalist Alexandra Bell appears in this year’s Whitney Biennial. No Humans Involved—After Sylvia Wynter takes its name from a seminal 1994 essay by the scholar and poet. In it, Wynter wrote at length about “NHI,” the unofficial acronym that Los Angeles law enforcement used to classify cases involving black men. Referencing a term coined by the sociologist Helen Fein, Wynter wrote that the acronym, and its attendant category of “nonhuman,” rendered black men (and by extension, all black people) targets for systemic violence: For the social effects to which this acronym, and its placing outside the “sanctified universe of obligation,” of the category of young Black males to which it refers, leads, whilst not overtly genocidal, are clearly having genocidal effects with the incarceration and elimination of young Black males by ostensibly normal and everyday means. Bell’s Wynter-inspired series is composed of photo prints she made using an exacting process of lithography and screen-printing. No Humans Involved zeroes in on the New York Daily News coverage of the Central Park Five case. The paper published some of the most egregious reporting on the case—details of the minors’ addresses and family histories, and inflammatory headlines such as “WOLF PACK’S PREY”—well before the case was even (wrongfully) adjudicated. The Daily News also published Trump’s full-page ad. By redacting and highlighting specific text and images from 10 days of the publication’s 1989 issues, Bell underscores the devastating effects of the outlet’s glaring bias against the young black and brown boys. “I really want people to look at [my series] and question the role that the Daily News played in the way we viewed these particular people,” she told The New Yorker recently. “And maybe even in some ways the outcome ultimately of the case.” (…) DuVernay’s project enters a wildly different political landscape. The man who wielded his money and influence to call for the teens’ execution now occupies the White House. From his perch, he refers to Mexicans as “rapists” and black men as “thugs”; the language of dehumanization has again shed its politesse. It’s understandable, then, if also sometimes frustrating, that When They See Us sometimes abandons subtlety in its references to Trump. The president’s lengthy, bombastic oeuvre of bigotry creates both a moral terror and an artistic quandary. Still, When They See Us pulls back the language of biased prosecution and journalistic malfeasance to revelatory effect. At the end—despite the cloud of animus that surrounds them—Yusef, Antron, Kevin, Korey, and Raymond get to be human. The Atlantic
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DuVernay said that when the case was first publicized, she was shocked at how the media’s misinterpretation of slang in the Central Park Five case led to the further dehumanization of the boys. One scene in Episode Two shows how, after some of the boys told detectives that they were “wilin’ out” in Central Park on the same night the rape occurred, the media interpreted the phrase to mean “wilding,” when it just means having fun or hanging out. The screen cuts to tabloids and newspapers with the words “WILDING” splashed across them as an indictment. Audio clips play newscasters interpreting « wilin’ out » as a description of violent acts committed by “wolf packs” of young people. To translate « wilin’ out » as « wilding » cements a vision of these innocent boys as « wild, » as savage, as animal, as other, a vision that’s rooted in the institutional dehumanization of Black people. (…) Unfortunately, even though the Central Park Five were convicted in 1990, this is still an issue today. In addition to facing barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and education, Black people are often punished simply for a way of speaking. Black language is thought to be deviant, something that is undesirable or indicative of unintelligence, criminality, or depravity (until, of course, it’s appropriated by non-Black pop stars). When neither court recorders, jurors, lawyers, or judges possess a grasp of this valid form of language, it can lead to injustices that take years to correct — if they ever are meaningfully addressed. The men of the Central Park Five case lost years of their lives because of linguistic discrimination. How many are still suffering? Bustle

Attention: une instrumentalisation peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où, entre chasse aux sorcières et procès de Moscou, un parti d’opposition américain n’ayant jamais accepté le choix populaire poursuit sa fuite en avant suicidaire pour se débarrasser de Trump …

Et où une vidéo de surveillance montre deux jeunes noirs cagoulés dévalisant avec force violence deux jeunes touristes étrangères à leur sortie du métro de Brooklyn …

Pendant que de Cologne à Stockholm ou même  Oslo, l’Europe découvre à son tour l’autre face de la diversité

Comment ne pas voir …

Ecrite par une proche de la famille Obama eux-mêmes sous contrat de la plateforme et sortie à un an et demi d’une élection présidentielle cruciale …

Et suvie de près, Alec Baldwin dans le rôle du méchant promoteur compris, par un autre film anti-Trump

La minisérie de Netflix sur les Cinq de Central Park « sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc » (sic) .. …

Comme la continuation, sous prétexte d’une tribune alors publiée appelant au retour de la paix civile y compris par la peine de mort, de l’actuel hallali sur l’actuel occupant de la maison Blanche ?

Et au moment où faisant l’impasse sur nombre des conditions de l’affaire comme notamment le climat de véritable sauvagerie de bandes de jeunes noirs descendant, avant la reprise de contrôle par Giuliani, en meutes dépouiller et molester les passants du célèbre parc de New York …

La réalisatrice elle-même et certains des commentateurs présentent les évnèments comme un effet de la discrimination linguistique …

Ne pas repenser au premier Camus qui avant de remettre lui-même en cause le « thème du poète maudit » qui ne pouvait s’affirmer que « contre la société de son temps, quelle qu’elle soit » …

Expliquait aussi doctement que faussement que « dans notre société tout homme qui ne pleure pas à l’enterrement de sa mère risque d’être condamné à mort » ?

Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix docuseries When They See Us depicts the heartbreaking story of the 1990 Central Park Five case in which a group of young Black and Latinx boys were convicted of a crime that they did not commit. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, falsely confessed to the rape of a female jogger, which led to them being imprisoned for six to 13 years. The series explores the ways the Central Park Five were villainized in the media and in public opinion — and particularly for their use of African American English (AAVE) and Black slang.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DuVernay said that when the case was first publicized, she was shocked at how the media’s misinterpretation of slang in the Central Park Five case led to the further dehumanization of the boys. One scene in Episode Two shows how, after some of the boys told detectives that they were “wilin’ out” in Central Park on the same night the rape occurred, the media interpreted the phrase to mean “wilding,” when it just means having fun or hanging out. The screen cuts to tabloids and newspapers with the words “WILDING” splashed across them as an indictment. Audio clips play newscasters interpreting « wilin’ out » as a description of violent acts committed by “wolf packs” of young people. To translate « wilin’ out » as « wilding » cements a vision of these innocent boys as « wild, » as savage, as animal, as other, a vision that’s rooted in the institutional dehumanization of Black people.

“The fact that wilin’ became wilding, became wolf pack, became these boys are animals… I remember for the first time realizing that the news might not be true, that the news is something that you have to really think about and question,” DuVernay told The Hollywood Reporter. Unfortunately, even though the Central Park Five were convicted in 1990, this is still an issue today. In addition to facing barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and education, Black people are often punished simply for a way of speaking.

It’s important to stress that not every Black person speaks AAVE and not every speaker of AAVE is Black. Nonetheless, it is a Black dialect with its own unique structure, rules, and syntax — all vital components of every language. Although many linguists now recognize the validity of AAVE, its association with a marginalized racial group can have devastating consequences.

University of Pennsylvania linguist Taylor Jones, along with New York University sociologist Jessica Kalbfeld, Ryan Hancock of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and Robin Clark, recently authored a study showing that Philadelphia court reporters frequently misinterpret AAVE. Philadelphia court reporters are required to score 95% accuracy when transcribing court proceedings, but none were able to score 95% when tested on AAVE. The study also found that most of the court recorders held negative beliefs about both AAVE and Black people, impacting their ability to correctly interpret what they heard.

Taylor tells Bustle that his team’s research illuminates how “the toxic mix of misunderstanding the language, negative attitudes about the language, negative attitudes about slang, and not understanding facial expressions,” can lead to unfair legal consequences for Black people. Think of what happened when Warren Demesme, then 22, was denied a lawyer because, during an interrogation by New Orleans police, he said, “just give me a lawyer, dawg.” This was misinterpreted to mean that he wanted a canine attorney and his request was denied, in a bewildering misapplication of justice. Anyone familiar with hip-hop slang or pop culture at large would know that “dawg” is shorthand for “dude” or “man.” While this kind of willfully obtuse reading of AAVE ultimately is rare, the more common forms of misinterpretation are more insidious.

That’s one reason, of many, that the Central Park Five case is so haunting.

Taylor points out that due to extensive racial segregation in the U.S., many non-Black folks truly don’t understand the most basic expressions of AAVE. He says although their study was intentionally careful about omitting slang terms — which he says are “ever-changing and shifting » — the participants were not able to accurately translate AAVE language structures into standard English. “We assume that we understand way more than we do and we assume that we’re communicating more effectively than we are,” Taylor says, meaning that sometimes AAVE speakers also don’t realize that they aren’t being heard.

Many speakers of AAVE — and this includes non-Black people, too — have found that to avoid the the possibility of their dialect being misinterpreted, they must code-switch, or use different tone and diction in different social settings. As a Black woman, I’ve had to code-switch in all aspects of my life. I even had to code-switch around my own family, as my great-grandmother felt that Black American language and slang was « undignified. » However, the ability to code-switch is a kind of privilege of its own, because as Taylor’s study points out, dialect is also correlated with socio-economic status. And while many people are vulnerable to discrimination within the criminal justice system, lower-income people with less education are disproportionately impacted. And in moments of intense emotion — such as an interrogation — anyone’s ability to code-switch can be impacted. This lack of access to code-switching can be devastating.

A 2016 paper by Stanford University researchers John R. Rickford and Sharese King argues that linguistic discrimination led to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Martin’s close friend Rachel Jeantel was the prosecution’s main witness, but because she spoke Carribbean-inflected AAVE, Rickford and King say her “crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible.” On Megyn Kelly’s show America Live, attorney Jonna Spilbor said that Jeantel, then 19, seemed “brutally ignorant.” On Fox News, Sean Hannity said that she had a “credibility problem.” In their paper, Rickford and King state that “the disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers.”

These cases are infuriating, because they’re unfair. It’s shocking to think of how many people might be wrongfully punished simply because they use a dialect that’s different to what’s considered standard. That’s one reason, of many, that the Central Park Five case is so haunting; these men spent years in prison because of institutionalized racism around the way they spoke.

Black language is thought to be deviant, something that is undesirable or indicative of unintelligence, criminality, or depravity (until, of course, it’s appropriated by non-Black pop stars). When neither court recorders, jurors, lawyers, or judges possess a grasp of this valid form of language, it can lead to injustices that take years to correct — if they ever are meaningfully addressed. The men of the Central Park Five case lost years of their lives because of linguistic discrimination. How many are still suffering?

Voir aussi:

Is Trump the Real Target of a Netflix Series?

A new film about the Central Park Jogger case seems conveniently timed.

Seth Barron
City journal

June 13, 2019

A Netflix docudrama about the 1989 Central Park “wilding” case has enflamed passions about the purported injustice done to the five teenagers who went to prison for it. Though they confessed that they had sexually assaulted Trisha Meili and beaten half-a-dozen other people in the park that night, their convictions were vacated 12 years later when a convicted murderer—whose DNA matched semen found on the victim—owned up to the rape. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio settled a civil suit brought by the “Central Park Five,” and the city paid out more than $40 million in damages—even though Linda Fairstein, head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit in 1989, and others have long maintained that significant evidence exists that the young men participated in the attack on Meili and committed other acts of violence in the park that night.

When They See Us, the new film about the case, has sparked fury among activists and retaliation against both Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecutor in the case. Fairstein, also a bestselling novelist, has been dumped by her publisher, Dutton, and Lederer has quit her professorship at Columbia University. Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, has called for both women to be disbarred and wants all their previous cases opened for review by Manhattan DA Cy Vance.

Somehow, amid the current rage about the Central Park case, President Trump has become a part of the story—at least, the story that activists are telling. That’s because, on May 1, 1989, ten days after news of the assaults broke, Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City dailies calling for a tough-on-crime approach to policing in a city then suffering an average of more than five murders a day. “Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” the ad blared in bold type. Trump spoke of the “complete breakdown of life as we knew it,” and lamented that “New York families—White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian—have had to give up the pleasure of a leisurely stroll in the Park at dusk.” Trump affirmed his “hate” for “muggers and murderers,” who, he said, “should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.”

In Netflix’s dramatized version of the story, Trump’s role in the prosecution of the teens is pivotal. “That devil wants to kill my son,” says the mother of one of the defendants. “You gonna take an ad out about killing my son?” The media have amplified this theme of Trump as a central figure in the purported hysteria surrounding the case. Receiving a “courage award” from the ACLU last week, Yusuf Salaam, one of the participants in the 1989 Central Park wilding, tearfully said, “when Donald Trump took out that full-page ad, and put them in all of New York City’s newspapers, calling for our execution, he placed a bounty on our head.”

Ken Burns, whose documentary about the Central Park case was highly regarded but lacked the cultural impact of When They See Us, now gives Trump more significance than he did in his 2012 film. “There was an orange-haired real estate developer in New York. . . . And he believed that these children should be executed.” Time reports that “President Trump played a key role in the Central Park Five case.” The BBC tells us that Trump’s ad fed into “the atmosphere of high crime rates and poor race relations in the city at the time.” The New Yorker says that “one of Trump’s first political acts” was to demand the teens’ execution. CNN White House correspondent April Ryan tweeted, “The injustice against the Central Park Five and @realDonaldTrump inability to apologize after wrongfully asking for the death penalty is horrific.”

Though the Central Park attacks were certainly the backdrop to Trump’s ad, his language did not presume the guilt of the defendants, whom he scarcely mentioned, and he did not call specifically for the execution of anyone. In fact, Trump demanded capital punishment only for murderers, and by the time his ad appeared, Trisha Meili was expected to survive. Moreover, Trump was hardly alone, in New York City, in expressing horror and anguish about the attack—neither the New York Times nor the Daily News objected to running the ad, after all. New York City in 1989 was under violent assault from predatory criminals. There were nine times as many murders then as now; robbery and muggings were more than ten times as frequent as they are today. Rape and felony assault were well over double today’s rates.

Pack-style violence like what happened that night in Central Park was all too common. Gangs “ran amok” at a 1983 Diana Ross concert in the Park, according to the Times, “beating and robbing scores of people.” In 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon was broken up around Central Park when “packs of youth attacked and harassed dozens of people,” stealing jewelry and pocketbooks. David Dinkins, running against Ed Koch in the 1989 Democratic primary for mayor, called for “anti-wilding” legislation in the wake of the Central Park Jogger attack. He won the general election against Rudy Giuliani in part for his promise to be tough on crime.

Trump’s ad, though cast as a brutal call for revenge, is actually a demand for public safety, and a return to the “feeling of security New York’s finest once gave to the citizens of this City.” Written in 1989, it is a prescient call for Broken Windows policing, which from 1994 on resulted in the sharpest and most enduring decrease in crime that any city has seen in American history. The policies that Trump called for saved the lives of tens of thousands of people—most of them black and Latino—who would otherwise have fallen victim to New York’s spiraling violence.

The latest outbreak of passions regarding this case, and the novel twist of making Trump a central player in it, raise other questions. Given that there have been no new developments, except for the city payouts, in the Central Park case since Burns’s 2012 documentary, why was a new movie called for, anyway? The Netflix series, arguably, exists only to make Trump a target for his behavior in a long-ago New York episode—just in time for the 2020 campaign. Ana DuVernay, director of the docudrama, is a close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama. Like DuVernay, the Obamas have multiyear, multimillion-dollar development deals with Netflix. Amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist is likely to be part of the eventual Democratic candidate’s campaign strategy. When They See Us may be a valuable tool for that purpose; it certainly has little value for truthfulness.

Voir également:

David E. Pitt
The New York Times
April 25, 1989

The random, apparently motiveless rampage in Central Park last week that the suspects in the case called wilding was an especially ferocious version of group delinquency that is common but usually not so vicious, law-enforcement officials and psychologists said this week.

A 28-year-old investment banker, who was raped and savagely beaten, remains in a coma at Metropolitan Hospital as a result of the gang violence, and at least eight other people were assaulted by members of a group that the police now say numbered between 32 and 41.

Eight youths have been arraigned on charges of rape, assault and attempted murder in the case, while five charges of assault, one involving a 13-year-old suspect, have been filed in the beating of a male jogger in his 40’s, who was seriously wounded in the head with a metal pipe. He was released from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center over the weekend. Also, a 15-year-old has been charged with being one of 17 youths who beat and robbed a male jogger who has been identified only as wearing an Army jacket. A grand jury is expected to take up all of the cases on Thursday.

‘Things Have Gotten a Lot Rougher’

 »’Wilding seems to be a new term, but it’s hardly a new activity, » said Peter Reinharz, chief prosecutor for the Family Court Division of the city’s Law Department.  »In terms of group attacks, the No. 1 crime that we’ve seen among juveniles in Family Court, at least prior to the crack invasion, is robbery 2 – that is, aided robberies, the wolf-pack robberies.

 »Prior to that, » he said,  »the No. 1 crime was jostling, which is pickpocketing. But for some reason, I guess it became a little bit easier to knock the old lady over and just grab the bag rather than to reach into the pocket and hope you came out with something. So things have gotten a lot rougher in the city with respect to wolf packs. »

Last year, Mr. Reinharz said, 622 wolf-pack cases were referred to Family Court, along with 139 attempted robberies of that type. In 1987, there were 608 such cases and 144 attempted wolf-pack robberies.

The police quoted some of the youths questioned in the case, all of whom live in Harlem near the park, as saying that the rampage grew out of a plan to attack joggers and bicyclists in the park for fun.

 »It certainly got out of control, » Mr. Reinharz said of the episode,  »but I don’t know if it was out of control for these types of kids. I think that kids like this, given what I would call their predatory nature, are people who, given the chance, would do something like this again. There really isn’t any way to control them – at least we haven’t found it in the juvenile justice system.

Racial Epithets, But Victims Mixed

Although Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo said last week that the eight separate assaults on nine people seemed unrelated to money, drugs, alcohol or race, police officials said yesterday that they were investigating to what extent racial factors may have played a role in the youths’ choice of victims.

 »The question of whether this was a series of bias-related incidents is being looked at very closely, » said Deputy Police Commissioner Alice T. McGillion.

Police officials said that the evidence of bias consisted of testimony from victims, as well as a statement from one suspect in the rape attack, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam, who is said to have told detectives that one member of the group had suggested that they  »get a white girl. »

Another 15-year-old, Jermain Robinson, who is charged with robbery of the male jogger in the Army jacket, is also said to have told detectives that youths who chased and threw stones at a white couple on a tandem bicycle had shouted racial epithets.

All of those involved in the Central Park attacks are said to be black. The victims were a black man, who was briefly harassed until one youth shouted that he knew the man, two Hispanic people, – and six whites.

Police investigators also said that while the other suspects had made no explicit references to racial factors, their acknowledgement that the chief target of their forays were joggers and bicyclists in the park was an indication that a racial motive was at work because, the police suggested, the majority of those who tend to use that part of the park at night tend to be white.

For many psychologists, the idea of attacking people who seem to personify a level of unattainable affluence is a common pattern among particpants in wolf-pack attacks.

 »From what I have been able to gether about the Central Park case, there seem to be some socioeconomic factors involved, » said Dr. Leah Blumberg Lapidus, a specialist in adolescent behavior in Columbia University’s department of clinical psychology.

 »The media, especially television, is constantly advertising these various things that are necessary to define yourself, and the joggers may represent a level of socioeconomic attainment that the media has convinced everybody is necessary to have in order to be an acceptable person, » she said.  »So, to that extent, such people become a target. »

On the other hand, Dr. Lapidus said, that did not explain why some of the victims were black or Hispanic.

Law-enforcement officials said the the scale of the Central Park episode was reminiscent of an incident in July 1983, when gangs of youths ran amok at a Diana Ross concert in Central Park, beating and robbing scores of people.

Two years later, in April 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon in which 26,000 people marched through Manhattan broke up in turmoil after packs of youths attacked and harassed dozens of people in and around Central Park, snatching chains, purses and other property.

Police officials, who said Friday that none of the suspects in the park case had a criminal record, said yesterday that they had discovered that that one, 17-year-old Michael Brisco, had been on three years’ probation since December after a wolf-pack-style robbery last year. Officials said he and two others, 12 and 15 years old, had assaulted and robbed a 14-year-old on Nov. 10 on East 90th Street near Second Avenue.

Authorities reported over the weekend that they were investigating the possibility that some of the participants in the park attacks had been involved in three separate robbery sprees four days earlier in East Harlem, one of which involved a stabbing.

Unusual in Intensity

Professor Lapidus and another psychologist, Dr. Ann M. Jernberg, who is director of the Theraplay Institute of Chicago and Wilmette, Ill., both said that what they found set the park rampage apart from others were the intensity of the violence and the apparent failure of almost all of the nine accused youths to show any remorse. Police and prosecutors said they laughed and joked while in police custody,and that only one expressed any sorrow.

 »This lack of awareness of the consequences of what they’ve done – almost as if they’re benumbed – is a little more extreme than what we’ve seen, » Dr. Lapidus said. For Dr. Jernberg, who traces the origin of many forms of antisocial behavior to early childhood problems in the family,  »the mob psychology that these kids were obviously caught up in protects them against remorse. »

 »You get together a group of adolescents and you’ve got the worst possible combination for trouble, » Dr. Jernberg said in a telephone interview from Chicago.  »The idea of collective violence, the risks involved, is terribly exciting, very dramatic, and sometimes all kids this age need is to see a violent movie or hear a song to encourage them. »

Attacks Thought Underreported

For Mr. Reinharz, the randomness of such attacks – which he believes are largely underreported because  »people expect this kind of activity in the city » – is a component of what he called the  »predatory instincts » of youths who carry out wolf-pack behavior.

 »These tend to be situations where these kids get together and there really isn’t any specific plan, » he said,  »I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t profess to understand them – but it seems to me that that one of the common threads you see among the most violent of these kids is that they really don’t have a game plan with respect to the day, let alone their lives.

 »They get up in the morning, or they get up in the afternoon many of them certainly only have only limited contact with school – and they just live for the moment. »

Slight Improvement Seen

Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital caring for the Wall Street banker said yesterday that she was still comatose and in critical condition, and that the prospects for her survival remained uncertain.

There have been a few improvements, including a reduction of brain swelling, according to Dr. Robert S. Kurtz, assistant chief of surgery and director of the surgical intensive care unit, and Dr. Kent Duffy, chief of neurosurgery.

Besides brain injuries, the woman also sustained fractures of the skull, of the bone around the left eye and the bone crossing the left temple.

 »We are worried about brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during the four to five hours she lay in the in the park, » Dr. Kurtz said.  »We won’t be able to assess that until the swelling is down. That is our deep and underlying concern. But the statistics are against her. »

Voir de plus:

EXCLUSIVE: ‘When They See Us is LIES.’ NYPD cop who arrested two of the Central Park Five says they DID attack jogger and forensic evidence proves it – and showing police and prosecutors as racist is putting lives at risk

  • On April 19, 1989, more than 30 young men terrorized New York’s Central Park, teacher James Loughlin was beaten and jogger Patricia Meili was raped
  • Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes. They were known as the Central Park Five.
  • In 2002 their convictions were vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes said he was Meili’s lone attacker. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene
  • The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout
  • Their arrest, incarceration and exoneration is the subject of Netflix miniseries When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey
  • But Eric Reynolds, lead police officer in the Central Park Five case tells DailyMailTV the series is filled with ‘malicious’ lies
  • Reynolds believes the Central Park Five did attack Meili and said, ‘That notion that there was none, no physical evidence, that tied them to the crime is an absolute lie.
  • Despite Reyes confession for rape, Reynolds said, ‘There was blood, semen, there was grass stains on Kevin Richardson’s underwear.’
  • He said inaccuracies in the show could cause people to threaten the lives of Central Park Five prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer
  • Reynolds said: ‘It’s a malicious recreation, which has nothing to do with the facts other than they ended up arrested and going to jail’

The NYPD police officer who made the first arrests in the Central Park Five investigation has condemned Netflix‘s drama When They See Us as ‘lies’ and said it puts the lives of cops and prosecutors at risk.

Eric Reynolds, who as a plainclothes officer arrested Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, tells DailyMailTV that the four-part television adaptation is so filled with errors that it is ‘malicious recreation’.

He described the miniseries, produced by Robert De Niro and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Ava DuVernay, as ‘total nonsense’ that left him ‘flabbergasted’.

Reynolds retired in 2001 after a 20-year career where he rose to Detective Third Grade and earned department recognition multiple times for his police work.

He spoke out after an outcry in the wake of the series led to prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer losing publishing contracts, board seats and lecturing roles.

Reynolds, 59, rejected criticism of the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the five for the rape of 28-year-old jogger, Patricia Meili – and particularly took issue with the portrayal of the black men as victims of a racist system.

As an African American, he said, the allegations of racism cut particularly deep.

Asked if he has been accused of being a race-traitor he said, ‘Oh yes and worse.’ Yet all he wanted to do as an officer was, he said, ‘serve his community.’

And he said that even the brief appearance he makes in the series, which has been watched by 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide, is pure ‘fiction,’ portraying events which simply did not happen; he was shown as a uniformed officer when he in fact wore plain clothes.

He believes the series is inflammatory by depicting members of the five looking badly beaten when they were arrested.

Reynolds told DailyMailTV, ‘Please, someone, show me the pictures of them. Show me the injuries, show me the black eyes, show me the swollen faces because every single one of them that came out of that precinct had none of that.’

He has shared his own recollections of the night of April 19, 1989 when more than 30 young men embarked on a violent spree of terror, and Meili was found raped and close to death in Central Park.

Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes on April 19. But the one that is remembered is Meili’s rape.

In 2002 their convictions were sensationally vacated in their entirety when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist already in prison, confessed to the crime and claimed to have acted alone. The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout.

Supporters said they had been exonerated and the Central Park Five became synonymous with an unimaginable miscarriage of justice.

When They See Us opens on the night of the ‘wilding’, where a mass of young men rushed through Central Park, casting the five very squarely as innocents caught up in events and on the fringes of any violence.

Reynolds said, ‘When I saw the opening scenes it was like watching a musical. I was flabbergasted. That absolutely was not what occurred.’

The Central Park Five had their convictions vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted raping jogger Patricia Meili. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene

In one scene a man, most likely a depiction of teacher John Loughlin, is shown being felled by a single punch while three of the five look on.

Reynolds said, ‘It did not happen that way. They were beating him with a pipe. They beat him so savagely that both of his eyes were shut and he had a cracked skull.’

Testimony from one who was there stated that Yusef Salaam was wielding that pipe and ‘going to work on him.’

The cop who found Loughlin told Reynolds that he ‘looked like his head was dunked in a bucket of blood.’

In another scene the boys are part of a crowd halfheartedly harassing a couple on a tandem bike. Again Reynolds watched in outrage at what he said is a ‘total fiction.’

He explained, ‘The group lay in wait. They stretched out across the roadway and held hands to knock them off their bike. It was a couple on the tandem and the woman said she was scared for her life.

‘Her boyfriend just told her, ‘Put your head down and pedal as hard as you can.’ And they rode through them as they were grabbing at her clothes and by the grace of God they got away.’

Pointing to the couple attacked on their tandem he said it was the violence, not the ethnicity, of its perpetrators that mattered to police officers.

He said, ‘I don’t understand how that’s a race issue if you’re in the middle of a park riding on a bike in the middle of the night and a group of males, whether they’re black, white or whatever, you know are standing on the road with the express purpose of knocking you off the bike.

‘As a woman I think you’re going to be scared out of your mind.’

As an example of one of the worst ‘lies’ in the drama Reynolds pointed to the scenes where Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, arrives at the precinct to take charge of the rape investigation.

She is shown repeatedly referring to the boys in the park as ‘animals’ and delivering orders to detectives with the words, « I need the whole group. Every young black male who was in the park. You go into the projects and stop every motherf**** you see. »‘

According to Reynolds, ‘It is so preposterous that it’s laughable. The sad thing is people believe it and are incensed by this.

‘As detectives we work on evidence. We don’t go rounding people up and Linda Fairstein wasn’t even there the first day. It just never happened.’

Reynolds was a plainclothes officer in the Anti-Crime Unit on patrol with his partner on the night of April 19, 1989.

He recalled, ‘We were getting numerous radio runs of a large crowd of black and Hispanic kids assaulting and robbing people. We had people going into the station house and cops out in the field who had gotten flagged down by civilians saying, ‘There’s a crowd of kids there. They’ve tried to assault us and thrown rocks.’

Reynolds and his partner were just one of many units looking for the group reportedly moving through the vast dark interior of Central Park.

And the reports were getting more serious. Reynolds said, ‘We find out about John Loughlin who had been beaten savagely and we figured because there were so many cops in the park they must have left.’

The cops were barely out of the park when they saw them. Reynolds recalled, ‘There were 30 of them on the move. There’s only two of us so, you know, clearly we’re not going to get all of them. Long story short we got five of them.’

Two were Raymond Santana – who had, Reynolds said, been leading the pack – and Kevin Richardson who started crying in the back of the squad car.

Reynolds said, ‘He [Richardson] started crying and saying that he ‘knew who did the murder’. He said it was Antron McCray and he would tell us where he lived.’

The officers assumed he was talking about Loughlin who was beaten unconscious.

Back at the precinct Reynolds began processing the arrests, reaching out to their parents and writing up appearance tickets for the boys who, as juveniles, would have to return to family court at a later date.

Reynolds’ partner asked Santana and Stephen Lopez, a member of the group he was arrested alongside, what they were doing out making trouble and why weren’t they with their girlfriends instead.

According to Reynolds, ‘Santana said, ‘I already got mine,’ and they kind of laughed. I just assumed it was an in-joke. It only became significant after we learned what had happened to the jogger.’

Reynolds couldn’t release any of them or complete the mounds of paperwork required by their juvenile status until their parents had shown up.

Reynolds, played by ‘Power’ actor Ty Jones, makes a brief appearance in the mini-series’ first episode – but Reynolds says the show makers got this wrong as well.

Reynolds is seen angrily remonstrating with Santana’s father Raymond Santana Sr, played by John Leguizamo, for turning up late. Reynolds says that never happened.

Instead, Reynolds explained, he sent a squad car to bring Santana’s grandmother to the station as various family members who said they would come failed to show.

He also noted, as a plainclothes officer, he never wore his uniform when in the police precinct. Jones wears a uniform in the scene.

While the boys were waiting, at around 1.30am, the call came in that a female jogger had been found in the park, raped and beaten to within an inch of her life.

The detectives responding to the crime had been told that Reynolds had arrested five out of a group of about 30 kids ‘wilding’ in the park. Now they instructed Reynolds not to let them go.

He recalled, ‘They said, ‘Look, we don’t think these kids have anything to do with it but they were up there at the same time that she was attacked. They might have seen something so we’re going to come down and debrief them.’

Reynolds was in the room for all of those interviews. He said, ‘Their parents are there, they’re getting their rights read. We ask them what happened in the park?’

According to Reynolds they did not ask the kids about the rape directly. The first two kids told almost identical stories. They said they’d been in the park with a bunch of kids who were beating people up but they didn’t touch anybody.

Reynolds wrote them up and let them go home.

Then, he said, ‘The third kid is Kevin Richardson. He’s there with his mother. We read him his rights. We ask him what happened. He said the exact same thing the other kids said – everyone else was beating people up but I didn’t touch anyone.’

Then one of the detectives noticed he had a scratch on his face. They asked him how he’d got it and at first he blamed Reynolds’s partner for the injury.

When told the officer was next door and would be asked if that was true Richardson changed his story.

Reynolds said, ‘He said, « Okay, it was the female jogger. » And I’ll be honest with you I almost fell off my seat because I was not expecting him to say that.

‘And then he starts to go into the story of the attack on the jogger. No coercion. We didn’t even think he was involved. He starts to give it up right there in front of us.’

Ultimately police questioned 37 boys and, contrary to Netflix’s dramatic depiction, there was nothing random or rushed in the five who were ultimately charged.

They became the Central Park Five, he said, not because cops were anxious to pin the crime on someone but because they implicated themselves and each other when interviewed.

In DuVernay’s drama particular attention is given to Korey Wise’s story. He is shown accompanying his friend Salaam to the station, an act of loyalty that sees him embroiled in the case when he wasn’t even on the cops’ radar.

Reynolds is exasperated by this. He said: ‘Korey Wise was named by other participants in the wilding that day. We went specifically to look for him.

‘When detectives asked a couple of people in front of their building if they had seen him they said they saw him earlier and he said, « Y’all better stay away from me because the cops are after me. »‘

When they asked him why, Reynolds said, the people in front of the building stated that Wise had told them: ‘You see that woman in Central Park last night? That was us.’

This account was committed to written statements.

Reynolds also pointed to the fact that the first thing Wise did when he got home late on April 19 was wash the clothes he’d been wearing.

When they went to pick up Antron McCray – whom Reynolds had earlier let go – the detective asked him to go and get the clothes he had been wearing the night before.

Reynolds said, ‘He comes back out and he’s got on a sweat suit. The front of it is completely covered with mud from head to toe. What could he possibly be doing that he’s completely flat in mud?’

NYPD mug shots taken of the Central Park Five on April 23, 1989. Top Row (L-R): Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana. Lower Row (L-R) Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Antron McCray

Reynolds said the officers who discovered the jogger told him she was ‘covered from head to toe in mud.’

Several weeks after his police confession to participating in the attack on Meili, McCray repeated this admission, while minimizing his own role, to the pre-trial psychologist appointed by his own team.

Meanwhile, while Wise was being held on Riker’s Island awaiting trial, a female friend came forward with information she thought would exonerate him but in fact only bolstered the case against him.

Reynolds said, ‘He called this young lady and she was surprised to hear his voice. She was like, ‘Korey, what did you do? They’re saying that you raped this woman.’

‘He says, ‘I didn’t rape her. I only held her legs while Kevin Richardson f***** her.’

If true, that scenario would make Wise every bit as guilty of rape as Richardson under New York law.

The crime, the trial and the convictions of the four black and one Hispanic teen were the focus of public outrage and racial conflict at the time.

Donald Trump took out newspaper advertisements demanding the death penalty for the Central Park Five in 1989

Donald Trump, then a real estate mogul in New York, took out newspaper advertisements calling for the return of the death penalty.

But Reynolds insisted, ‘Look, this idea that there’s outside pressure for us to wrap it up and get some suspects is totally false.

‘Nobody was looking at the newspaper and saying, ‘Donald Trump’s mad, we’d better do something.’ And the jury weren’t asking to see the newspaper, they were asking to see the evidence.’

Reynolds points to a wealth of physical evidence that was never refuted at trial: hair and blood ‘consistent’ with the jogger’s was found on the boys’ sneakers and clothing, along with semen in the boys’ underwear.

The fact that none of them claimed to be able to finish the act of penetrative sex is the reason, Reynolds said, that their semen was only found on the inside of their underwear and clothing rather than on Meili.

But isn’t Reynolds in danger of sounding like somebody who just can’t accept that he was involved in a terrible miscarriage of justice?

After all, weren’t the five exonerated thanks to Reyes’ confession – one backed up by the presence of his DNA on the victim and clear proof that he had penetrated her?

Reynolds rejected this notion. He does not equate the vacation of the five’s sentences with their exoneration. And he does not believe that Reyes’ clear guilt is proof of the others’ innocence.

Reynolds said, ‘They were not cleared. The convictions were vacated. They were given the opportunity to have another trial but there was no reason to retry because they had already done their time.

‘The reason they were granted that is because Matias Reyes came forward with the fictitious claim that he had attacked her alone.

Reynolds explained, ‘Reyes comes forward to say he did it by himself and he can prove it because he knows something we don’t know. And he’s correct.

‘She had a fanny pack with her Walkman in it and he took it and he threw it away.

‘She didn’t have it on her in the hospital. She was in a coma for 50 something days. She couldn’t tell us that she’d had one and it had been stolen, right?

‘But then Armstrong found that a detective had taken some notes of an interview with Korey Wise. And Korey said that there was a guy named ‘Rudy,’ who he said took her fanny pack and her Walkman.’

Reynolds believes that Rudy was Reyes and his name muddled up by Wise who has hearing difficulties.

He said, ‘He told that to us on April 20, 1989, the day after. So how in the world does Korey Wise know about her fanny pack and Walkman in 1989 when Reyes says he knows about it because he was the only person there?’

The Armstrong report noted, ‘At the time of this interview the police had no way of knowing that the jogger had a Walkman or that she carried it in a pouch.’

It said that, based on the evidence including Reyes confession, ‘it was more likely than not that the defendants participated in an attack upon the jogger.’

The report stated, ‘the most likely scenario for the events of April 19, 1989 was that the defendants came up on the jogger and subjected her to the same kind of attack, albeit with sexual overtones, that they inflicted upon other victims in the park that night.

‘Perhaps attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams, Reyes either joined in the attack as it was ending or waited until the defendants have moved on to their next victims before descending upon her himself, raping her and inflicting upon her the brutal injuries that almost caused her death.’

Reynolds’s view is supported by both the medical opinion of Meili’s two Urgent Care Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital and the Armstrong Report.

Dr Robert Kurtz is on record as saying Meili had injuries consistent with a sharp, clean blade or object while Reyes’ confession only mentioned a blunt object.

Dr Kurtz noted that Reyes, ‘never said he had used a knife, or broken glass, or broken bottle or something like that that would have been able to inflict a clean laceration.’

Dr Jane Mauer, a surgeon who helped reconstruct Meili’s face recalled seeing hand print bruising on her thighs.

Dr Mauer said, ‘You could see the four fingers and the thumb indented in her skin to hold her legs apart.’

It led her to doubt that this could be the work of one man.

Moreover the Armstrong Report concluded Reyes could not be considered a reliable witness.

It revealed a fellow inmate in prison with Reyes said Reyes told him ‘the attack on the jogger was already in progress when he joined, attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams.’

Reynolds does not believe that the five should still be in prison. He said, ‘They did their time. They paid the price for what they did. You know, that’s it.’

When Bill de Blasio was elected New York City mayor in 2014 he ordered the $41 million settlement to go through for the five men.

All legal action finished in 2016 when the men were awarded a further $3.9 million from New York State.

But despite the case now being closed, Reynolds feel the Netflix mini-series is unfairly punishing people who prosecuted the five.

In the wake of the drama’s release Linda Fairstein, who supervised the prosecution, and lead prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer have both fallen victim to an angry public backlash.

Fairstein, who now writes crime fiction, was dropped by her publisher. Lederer, who continues to work in the District Attorney’s office, resigned from teaching law as an adjunct at Columbia University in New York.

Reynolds said, ‘It’s like mob justice. People are doing everything they can to destroy these women’s lives and they’ve done nothing wrong. They don’t even know that they’re not basing their opinions and their fury on what actually happened.

‘If they knew what actually happened they would be ashamed of themselves.’

But, he said, ‘Don’t come back for revenge and destroy two people who were only doing their job and did nothing wrong. Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer did absolutely nothing wrong.’

Reynolds believes the show falsely depicts a racist criminal justice system.

He is keen to point out that growing up in Eighties New York, criminals posed the threat to public safety, not police officers.

He said, ‘I grew up in the projects, my mother used to go to school at night. She got her high school diploma the same year I got mine. She went to college at night also.

‘I would have to go every night and meet [my mother] at the bus-stop and bring her upstairs because it just wasn’t safe. And who was she going to get victimized by? It wasn’t the cops.’

Reynolds said of When They See Us, ‘We can’t even call it a sanitized version. It’s a malicious recreation, which has nothing to do with the facts other than they ended up arrested and going to jail.

‘I think that’s the only thing in it that stays true to what actually occurred.’

He said, ‘This has got people so divided and so at each other’s throats it’s sad. Let me tell you there’s a lot of people who believe that they are guilty but they’re not going to say anything because they don’t want to get shouted down. They don’t want to be called racist.’

But Reynolds, who was there and part of it all, believes facing that backlash is the lesser of two evils and remaining silent in the face of what he sees as injustice isn’t an option.

For Reynolds, his reason for speaking up is clear and unimpeachable, ‘The truth matters.’

Voir encore:

In an op-ed from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein responded to the recent Netflix series on the Central Park Five, and accused its producer, Ava DuVernay, of fabricating words attributed to her character, played by Felicity Huffman, to portray her as a racist who was determined to convict the teens in the face of an alleged lack of evidence against them.

Fairstein began the article, titled « Netflix’s False Story of the Central Park Five, » by declaring that the series, When They See Us, is « so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication, » and complained that it is « an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five). »

She added that it « attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true. »

Fairstein listed a number of pieces of misinformation from the series and argued that there was plenty of evidence to reasonably convict them at the time, as she stood by charges that they attacked several other people in the park that same night.

Among several pieces of misinformation she claimed were included in the series was that it « portrays the suspects as being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom, » and argued that if such accusations were true, they would have come out in the pre-trial hearings or inthe lawsuit that was filed years after their release from prison.

Fairstein — who was supervisor over the sex crimes unit — argued that the series exaggerates how closely involved she was in handling the case and recalled that she « did not run the investigation, and never made any of the comments the screenwriter attributes to me. » She also directly contradicted a couple of scenes involving the questioning of an underage member of the group:

The film claims that when Mr. Salaam’s mother arrived and told police that her son was only 15 — meaning they could not question him without a parent in the room — I tried to stop her, demanding to see a birth certificate. The truth is that Mr. Salaam himself claimed to be 16 and even had a forged bus pass to « prove » it. When I heard his mother say he was 15, I immediately halted his questioning. This is all supported by sworn testimony.

The former prosecutor also argued that there was additional evidence of their guilt:

There is, for example, the African American woman who testified at the trial — and again at the 2002 reinvestigation — that when Korey Wise called her brother, he told her that he had held the jogger down and felt her breasts while others attacked her. There were blood stains and dirt on clothing of some of the five.

She soon added that more than a dozen other witnesses « named some or all of the five » in helping attack other victims.

It is noteworthy that, while the Netflix series depicts the five teens as innocent bystanders who merely witnessed other assailants attacking and beating up other victims in the park, the film, The Central Park Five, by Ken Burns, accepted that they were « beating up other people » in the park even while that film was devoted to defending the teens regarding the attack on the jogger, Trisha Meili.

Fairstein also recalled that Salaam « testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe — the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male school teacher and Ms. Meili. »

The former prosecutor also argued that the fact that DNA testing on the semen found at the scene did not match any of the five teens did not mean that they could not have been part of the attack on her, as they were charged as « accomplices » to the person who eventually confessed to raping her, serial rapist Matias Reyes.

She further recalled that « two of them admitted to climbing on top of her and siimulating intercourse, » adding that « Semen was found on the inside of their clothing, corroborating those confessions. »

Fairstein concluded her article:

That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims — and that her film includes so many falsehoods — is nonetheless an outrage. Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth.

Voir par ailleurs:

Dans leur regard Saison 1 : pourquoi Netflix frappe fort avec sa nouvelle série puissante, révoltante et politique

Camille Vignes
Ecran large
15 juin 2019

Après le biopic un peu académique Selma, et après le four Un raccourci dans le tempsAva DuVernay revient avec une nouvelle oeuvre engagée et sans concession, sur Netflix cette fois. Dans leur regard retrace la sordide histoire de cinq jeunes de Harlem, arrêtés en 1989, accusés à tort du viol d’une joggeuse et incarcérés. Et c’est certainement l’une des séries les plus bouleversantes de l’année, s’attaquant au racisme institutionnel et systémique aux Etats-Unis.

« CENTRAL PARK FIVE »

D’Escape at Dannemora(série de Brett Johnson et Michael Tolkin, réalisée par Ben Stiller) à The Act(de Nick Antosca et Michelle Dean), en passant par Dirty John (d’Alexandra Cunningham) ou American Crime Story : The People v OJ Simpson, c’est une mutation qui anime la télévision américaine depuis quelques années, laissant fleurir de plus en plus de séries romancées retraçant des faits divers glaçants. Que ce soit pour pointer du doigt un système corrompu ou pour en montrer l’efficacité, un nombre croissant de showrunners s’attaque à des affaires criminelles pour rappeler leur importance dans l’histoire judiciaire américaine.

Loin de la froideur et de la rigidité induite par le format du documentaire classique, comme The Central Park Five(Ken BurnsSarah Burns et David McMahon), et ne lésinant pas sur les effets de pathos, la minisérie Netflix Dans leur regard (When They See Us en VO – « Quand ils nous voient ») d’Ava DuVernay se détache du lot. La cinéaste (qui a coécrit et réalisé les quatre épisodes) se penche sur l’histoire tristement connue des « Cinq de Central Park ». 

Pour ceux qui ne connaitraient pas l’affaire, elle a secoué New York et les États-Unis à la fin des années 80, et ses dernières répercussions ont eu lieu en 2014. Dans la nuit du 19 avril 1989, la joggeuse Trisha Melli est sauvagement attaquée, violée et laissée pour morte dans Central Park. La même nuit, une bande d’ados afro-américains et latinos (dont Raymond Santana et Kevin Richardson), sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc, est raflée par la police et emmenée au poste. Le lendemain, trois autres jeunes (Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, et Korey Wise) sont à leurs tours arrêtés, interrogés par les inspecteurs et poussés à avouer ce crime qu’ils n’ont jamais commis. 

Les cinq garçons seront jugés coupables et jetés en prison en 1990. Il faudra attendre 2002 pour que le véritable criminel (ironie du sort, il était blanc) vienne se dénoncer et soit arrêté. La libération de Korey Wise et l’acquittement des cinq garçons suivront plus ou moins rapidement. Enfin, en 2014, ils recevront une compensation financière d’environ 40 millions de dollars. 

DÉCOUPE CHIRURGICALE

Comment traiter une affaire aussi difficile et injuste ? Comment dépeindre, 30 ans après les faits, un New York pré-Giuliani gangréné par la drogue et les violences interraciales ?

Deux questions simples, terriblement actuelles et tellement innocentes comparées à celles que n’importe quelle personne ayant vu la série a dû se poser. Comment est-il possible de traiter cinq jeunes de la sorte ? Comment une procureur et un système peuvent-ils être assez cruels pour ignorer l’amas d’éléments prouvant leur innocence ? Comment la presse a-t-elle a pu les jeter en pâture et les rendre coupables avant même le procès ?

Divisé en quatre longues parties (64, 71, 73 et 88 minutes), le récit d’Ava DuVernay est extrêmement bien construit. Chacun des chapitres s’attarde sur un élément clef de l’histoire globale des cinq accusés, sans jamais dépasser le propos ni tomber dans la simplicité ou le cliché d’une série policière ou du récit d’un procès. Ce découpage permet non seulement de remettre en question différents aspects du système judiciaire américain, mais surtout de faire monter crescendo le sentiment de révolte et d’injustice du spectateur. 

Le premier chapitre montre comment les cinq jeunes ont été piégés et forcés de mentir pour avouer un crime qu’ils n’ont pas commis, pointant du doigt les méthodes plus que douteuses de la police et de la procureur Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman). Ils auraient contourné la loi et mené la plupart des interrogatoires sans la présence des parents (alors que les jeunes étaient âgés de 14 à 16 ans).

Le deuxième chapitre est centré sur le déroulement du procès, expliquant rapidement pourquoi il a été divisé en deux, mettant sous le feu des projecteurs le racisme systémique américain, et laissant tomber comme une sentence de mort la décision du jury en fin de course.

Après la narration linéaire des deux premiers chapitres, les deux suivants s’aventurent dans des chemins différents, s’attardant plus sur les destins des accusés. Le troisième épisode montre ainsi l’adaptation en milieu carcéral des quatre plus jeunes (Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray et Yusef Salaam) et surtout leur difficile tentative de réhabilitation dans le monde à leur sortie de prison, de nombreuses années après (6 à 13 ans).

Quant au dernier chapitre, il tourne autour de Korey Wise et de l’enfer qu’il a vécu en prison, entre passages à tabac et isolement volontaire. Âgé de 16 ans au moment des faits et jugé comme un adulte, il passe de prison en prison, demandant son transfert régulièrement pour se rapprocher de sa mère – sans réussite. 

WISE DECISION

Ce dernier chapitre est tout particulièrement poignant. S’il fallait faire une gradation, l’histoire de Korey Wise reste d’ailleurs peut-être la plus déchirante. Parce qu’il avait 16 ans au moment des faits, il a été jugé et jeté dans une prison pour adulte, alors que tous les autres ont été placés en détention pour mineurs. 

Mais l’injustice de l’histoire de ce garçon commence bien avant le procès : au départ, il n’aurait même pas dû être arrêté. Celui qui n’était pas sur la liste de noms donnés par Raymond Santana au moment de son arrestation, celui qui s’est retrouvé au poste dans l’unique but de ne pas laisser son ami seul, est finalement celui qui a purgé la plus longue peine et a connu les conditions d’incarcération les plus difficiles – conditions auxquelles un jeune de 16 ans n’est absolument pas préparé. Le choix d’Ava DuVernay d’offrir à Korey Wise un épisode entier n’a alors rien d’étonnant.

Si le calvaire du jeune garçon est de moins en moins supportable à regarder à mesure que l’épisode se déroule, c’est sans doute grâce au talent de son interprèteJharrel Jerome (vu dans MoonlightMr. Mercedesou encore Mon premier combat) se glisse dans la peau de Korey avec brio. C’est le seul à jouer le Korey Wise adolescent et adulte, alors que les quatre autres personnages ont chacun deux interprètes. C’est certainement l’acteur le plus marquant et puissant, même si Kevin RichardsonCaleel HarrisEthan Herisse, Marquis Rodriguez, Michael Kenneth WilliamsJovan AdepoChris Chalk et Justin Cunningham font aussi un excellent travail.

Et justement, deux de ses scènes sont particulièrement déchirantes et méritent d’être citées (bien qu’elles ne soient absolument pas les seules à révéler l’acteur). La première a lieu pendant le procès de Korey, alors qu’il est appelé à la barre, et qu’on le harcèle pour qu’il lise sa déposition, alors qu’il a bien dit et répété ne pas en être capable : il y a une telle détresse dans le regard de l’acteur, une telle incompréhension, que l’on ne peut qu’être révolté avec lui. 

La seconde arrive quand il est en prison, à des centaines de kilomètres de New York. Alors qu’il passe la plupart de son temps dans une cellule isolée pour ne pas se faire battre à mort par les autres détenus, il implore sa mère de venir le voir plus souvent lors d’une de ses trop rares visites. La scène est un véritable crève-coeur, un moment de désespoir brut.  

QUAND FICTION ET RÉALITÉ S’EMMÊLENT

Dans leur regard est puissante, l’injustice de son histoire et la souffrance de ses personnages font facilement passer de la rage aux larmes. En 1989, l’affaire avait pris une proportion nationale. L’attaque raciale et contre les minorités avait été mise en avant par les défenseurs des « Cinq de Central Park ».

Mais Ava DuVernay se plaît à rappeler autre chose : contre eux, il y avait un milliardaire de l’immobilier (dont les bureaux bordaient le parc) maintenant président des États-Unis. Donald Trump avait payé plus de 80 000 dollars pour des pages entières dans des journaux, appelant notamment au rétablissement de la peine de mort dans l’État.

Outre Donald Trump, la procureur Linda Fairstein, campée par Felicity Huffman, est également pointée du doigt. Les accusations de la réalisatrice vont même plus loin : elle serait responsable de l’arrestation et surtout de l’acharnement de la police et de la cour sur les cinq adolescents et leur famille. Aujourd’hui, l‘ex-procureur reconvertie en autrice est à son tour lynchée sur la place publique (et notamment la tweetosphère).

Il faut dire que devant les conditions des interrogatoires des cinq garçons, la violence verbale et physique dont ils ont (ou auraient, pour Fairstein) fait les frais, et l’instrumentalisation politique de leur incarcération, l’opportunisme de la procureur se confond facilement avec un racisme aveugle. Aujourd’hui encore, la femme dément la vision des interrogatoires que propose DuVernay et reproche à la réalisatrice d’avoir non seulement omis une grande partie des méfaits du gang cette nuit du 19 avril 1989, mais aussi de ne s’être penchée que sur l’innocence des cinq garçons. 

S’il fallait faire un reproche à la série émouvante et militante, on pourrait pointer du doigt sa mise en scène très classique. Comme le but n’est pas d’esthétiser, mais de redonner leur place, leur parole et leur dignité à des personnes à jamais meurtries, la réalisation use d’effets dramatiques (musique, ralentis…) pour augmenter l’empathie du spectateur. C’est un peu facile et attendu, mais rien d’étonnant de la part de la réalisatrice de Selma.

Dans tous les cas, Dans leur regard reste un uppercut porté par des acteurs formidables, et une série passionnante et déchirante, particulièrement importante.

Dans leur regard est disponible en intégralité sur Netflix depuis le 31 mai.

Résumé

L’adaptation de faits réels en fiction se soumet toujours à un point de vue (auteur, réalisateur…), et Dans leur regard n’y échappe pas. C’est pourtant une série forte, qui imprègne le spectateur et le suivra plusieurs heures après l’avoir finie. Et quand bien même le personnage incarné par Felicity Huffman n’est pas un témoignage de vérité, la série rappelle que le racisme institutionnel accuse encore aujourd’hui sans savoir. Elle éveille les consciences et met la lumière sur un système judiciaire américain à deux vitesses, qui existe toujours. 

Voir encore:

Dans leur regard: que vaut la mini-série de Netflix réalisée par Ava DuVernay?

 Constance Jamet

Le Figaro

CRITIQUE – Avec cette mini-série qui provoque une véritable onde de choc outre-Atlantique, Ava DuVernay, la réalisatrice de Selma, poursuit sa trilogie sur le racisme dans le système judiciaire américain.

C’est une des plus édifiantes erreurs judiciaires de l’histoire contemporaine américaine. En 1989, cinq adolescents originaires de Harlem sont condamnés à tort pour le viol barbare d’une joggeuse blanche dans Central Park. Embarqués par des policiers sur les dents, les garçons, quatre Afro-Américains et un Hispanique, se promenaient ce soir-là dans le parc de New York. Ils livrent des confessions forcées au bout de 42 heures d’interrogatoire musclé sans sommeil, sans nourriture, sans avocat. Malgré l’absence de preuves matérielles (leurs ADN ne correspondent pas à celui trouvé sur la victime) et leurs protestations, ils passeront entre six et quatorze ans en prison. Et ne seront innocentés qu’après les aveux du vrai coupable… en 2002.

Ce fait divers qui avait inspiré Donald Trump, alors simple magnat, à demander le rétablissement de la peine de mort, a divisé les États-Unis mais reste peu connu en France. Il est à redécouvrir dans le puissant réquisitoire Dans leur regard (When they see us), remarquable mini-série de quatre épisodes signée pour Netflix par Ava DuVernay. La réalisatrice engagée de Selma poursuit sa réflexion implacable sur le racisme latent du système judiciaire américain, inadapté à protéger les plus faibles. Comme avec son film Middle of Nowhere et son documentaire 13, nommé aux Oscars, qui liait esclavage et incarcération de masse, la cinéaste déconstruit les préjugés à l’égard des minorités.

Procès ubuesque

Face à l’engrenage, le quinté d’ados est d’une naïveté enfantine douloureuse. Ignorant jusqu’à la définition du mot viol. Considérés d’office comme de la mauvaise graine. Des boucs émissaires de l’insécurité qui gangrenait alors la Grosse pomme. Perdus, leurs parents les poussent à dire ce que les enquêteurs veulent entendre.

Lycéenne au moment des faits, Ava DuVernay s’est laissé convaincre de reconstituer l’affaire après avoir été contactée sur Twitter par l’un des membres de cette tragédie. Épaté par la rigueur de la réalisatrice sur Selma, Raymond Santana rêvait du même traitement pour raconter leur histoire. La réalisatrice a passé quatre ans de sa vie à discuter avec Santana, ses compagnons d’infortune et leurs familles.

Dans leur regard ne retrace pas uniquement le procès ubuesque. La fiction plonge dans l’enfer carcéral, les marques que ces années passées derrière les barreaux ont laissées. Corruption des gardiens, passage à tabac des autres détenus, isolement, réinsertion impossible… La série montre comment le système pousse à la récidive. Comme dans le fabuleux et éprouvant Chernobyl, le sens méticuleux des détails le dispute à l’humanité des personnages. Mention spéciale à Jharrel Jerome. Découvert dans Moonlight, il interprète Korey Wise, l’un des cinq innocents, à tous les âges. Fiction la plus regardée sur Netflix aux États-Unis depuis son lancement fin mai, Dans leur regard a déjà un impact qui la dépasse. Face à cette onde de choc, l’ex-procureur en charge du dossier a été lâché par son éditeur. De même, l’avocate générale de l’époque a démissionné de l’université de Columbia où elle enseignait. Et cette réparation tardive n’est sans doute pas terminée…

Voir enfin:

Fearful Norwegians Wonder: Are ‘Swedish Conditions’ Coming to the Streets of Oslo?

Quillette
November 21, 2019

Oslo is an unremarkable place compared to other European capitals, lacking the picturesque charm of smaller Norwegian cities such as Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. But it’s pleasant and pretty enough. Tourists find it easy to get around, with lots to explore. The Oslo Opera House, which opened in 2008, is spectacular. And in summer, you can swim in the Oslofjord and enjoy expensive utepils (“outside beer”) on the seafront or on Karl Johans gate, the city’s broad main street. Like the rest of Norway, Oslo traditionally has been a safe place, even by the standards of other wealthy countries. It’s also remained more demographically homogenous than most of its neighbours, being geographically isolated from migration patterns that have affected the rest of Europe.

Over the last month, however, Oslo’s city centre has witnessed an eruption of unprovoked attacks on random victims—most of them ethnic Norwegian men—by what police have described as youth gangs, each consisting of five to 10 young immigrants. The attacks typically take place on weekends. On Saturday, October 19, as many as 20 such attacks were recorded, with victims suffered varying degrees of injuries.

One of the incidents involved a group of young men, originally from the Middle East, detained for attacking a man in his twenties in the affluent west end. According to police, the victim had been kicked repeatedly in the head while lying on the ground, in what appeared to be a random, unprovoked beating. Another victim that weekend was the uncle of Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr, who suffered several broken ribs after being mobbed at the Romsås subway station.

The following weekend in Oslo, Kurds and Turks clashed over recent developments in Turkey, and ended up looting a branch of the Body Shop on Karl Johan gate, as well as destroying several cars. Car fires also have been on the rise, though the problem has been around for years. (Even in 2013, cars were set alight in Oslo at the rate of about one per week, mostly in the city’s poorer east end.) Overall, crime rates are still low by the standards of other cities, but the recent rise in youth crime suggests that may be changing. “We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up,” said Labour Party politician Jan Bøhler to the media last month. “This is terrorising our community.” While such observations are widely shared, Bøhler is notable for being one of the few politicians on the left who’s raised his voice about rising crime among young immigrants.

Oslo is the fastest growing capital city in Europe, despite the fact the country now is registering fewer births than at any time since the government started keeping track in the 19th century. About 14% of the country’s population is now composed of immigrants, with Poles, Lithuanians and Swedes topping the European migration sources; and Somalian, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria supplying the greatest number of non-OECD arrivals. Many of the immigrants congregate in Oslo, where, according to Statistics Norway, about a third of all residents are immigrants or born to immigrants. (As recently as 2004, the figure was just 22%.) In several areas, such as Stovner, Alna and Søndre Nordstrand, the figure is over 50%.

According to a 2015 Statistics Norway report, “most persons with an immigrant background living in Oslo come from Pakistan (22,000), while 13-14,000 are from Poland, Sweden and Somalia. There are large differences between the districts: Persons with a background from Pakistan and Sri Lanka are most represented in [the far eastern suburbs of] Oslo.” By one 2012 estimate, 70 percent of Oslo’s first- and second-generation immigrants will have roots outside Europe by 2040, and about half of the city’s residents will be immigrants.

Until now, Norway had seemed to cope well with the influx of immigrants from war-torn Muslim countries, in part because the intake levels generally were kept at a level that permitted newcomers to be integrated without overwhelming local resources. Indeed, there has been a broad consensus in Norwegian politics to keep immigration rates lower than those of comparable countries such as Sweden and Germany. Nevertheless, concerns have been rising in recent years, even if the ruling class was hesitant to discuss the issue. The country’s libertarian Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) has repeatedly asked the country’s statistical agency to report on the statistical relationship between crime and country of origin. In the past, Statistics Norway refused, saying that such a task was “beyond its capacity.”

A map of the Oslo area published by Statistics Norway, showing immigrant concentrations, from under 20% (yellow) to over 40% (brown).

But this year, for the first time, such a report was published. And the numbers were clear: Immigrants from certain backgrounds—particularly Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghanis—were many times more likely to commit violent crimes than other Norwegians (including other immigrant groups). In 65 out of 80 crime categories, non-Norwegians were over-represented. The largest discrepancy was in regard to domestic violence: Immigrants from non-Western countries were found to be eight times more likely to be charged for such crimes. Rape and murder were also heavily skewed toward these immigrant groups. Worryingly, the figures showed that second-generation immigrants were more likely to be criminals than their parents.

For a long time, the expression svenske tilstander—“Swedish conditions”—has been used to describe large Swedish cities such as Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm, which feature areas plagued by bombings, gang-related gun violence, robbery and rape. In the past, Norwegians used the expression somewhat disparagingly, insisting that such issues would never arise in Norway (while also suggesting that the situation in Sweden was itself exaggerated by those with an anti-immigration agenda). But gradually, “Swedish conditions” have seemed less distant.

Heidi Vibeke Pedersen, a Labour politician representing the immigrant-heavy area of Holmlia, recently wrote a Facebook post about her own experience, which was subsequently reprinted in VG, Norway’s biggest tabloid, under the headline “We have a problem in Oslo”:

Yesterday, my 15-year-old daughter went past [the suburb of] Bøler on a bus half an hour before another 15-year-old was robbed and beaten. Now I need to make a risk assessment: Is it too dangerous for her to go alone to the youth club…Young people now grow up in an environment where threats and violence are common, where adults might be afraid to interfere, and where they are told that the police are racist…Our part of the city is becoming more and more divided. We have areas that are mainly “Norwegian-Norwegian,” and others that have large immigrant populations. This isn’t diversity.

Pedersen’s article alluded to the fact that, in the quest to maintain their own cultures, some Muslims in Norway prefer to segregate instead of integrate. The newspaper Aftenposten recently uncovered the existence of Islamic schools presenting as cultural centres. And Islamsk Råd, the Islamic Council of Norway, now has proposed a separate branch of the Barnevernet—the government-run social services responsible for children—to deal with Muslim children.

The article was shared by many. But Pedersen’s use of such terms as “Norwegian-Norwegian” (or norsk-norske) didn’t sit well with progressives and community advocates. Hasti Hamidi, a writer and Socialist Party politician, and Umar Ashraf, a Holmlia resident, wrote in VG that Pedersen’s use of the term “must mean that the author’s understanding of Norwegian-ness is synonymous with white skin.”

Camara Lundestad Joof, a well known anti-racist activist and writer at the Dagbladet newspaper, accused Pedersen of branding local teenagers as terrorists. Using her own hard-done-by brother as an example, she explained how, in her opinion, Norwegian society has failed non-white young people. Had he been treated better, she argues, he and others like him would fare better. (One problem with this argument is that Norway is one of the least racist countries in the world.)

Of course, this tension between racial sensitivity and blunt talk on crime has existed for generations in many Western societies. But it’s a relatively new topic in Norway, which is only now embracing certain hyper-progressive academic trends. (Oslo Metropolitan University, for instance, has recently produced an expert in so-called Whiteness Studies.)

In fact, some influential Norwegians apparently would prefer that Statistics Norway had never released its report on crime and immigration in the first place. This includes Oslo’s vice mayor, Kamzy Gunaratnam, who told Dagbladet, “Damn, I’m angry! I’m not interested in these numbers…We don’t have a need to set people up against each other. These are our children, our people.”

But burying the truth is never a good long-term strategy for anyone, including members of immigrant communities. The more persuasive view is that these issues should be addressed candidly, while they are still manageable. Unlike many other European countries, Norway doesn’t yet have an influential far-right party. But that may change if voters see that mainstream politicians are too polite to address a problem that ordinary people all over Oslo are talking about.

Kathrine Jebsen Moore grew up in Norway. She now lives with her husband and four children in Edinburgh.


Historiquement correct: C’est au nom de valeurs chrétiennes que nous critiquons l’Inquisition (When it turns out that one of Western history’s supposedly most frightening and bloody chapters not only spilled very little blood but was a major force in support of moderation and justice)

2 décembre, 2019
 Colportés par eux-mêmes au Moyen Âge, ces clichés sur les membres du clergé avaient pour but de pousser à la réforme de l’Église

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Image result for Spanish flu map

La grippe de 1918, dite « grippe espagnole » est due à une souche (H1N1) particulièrement virulente et contagieuse de grippe qui s’est répandue en pandémie de 1918 à 19192. Bien qu’ayant pour origine probable la Chine pour le « virus père » et les États-Unis pour sa mutation génétique, elle prit le nom de « grippe espagnole » car l’Espagne — non impliquée dans la Première Guerre mondiale — fut le seul pays à publier librement les informations relatives à cette épidémie. Wikipedia
Tu te souviendras que tu as été esclave au pays d’Égypte, et que l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’en a fait sortir à main forte et à bras étendu: c’est pourquoi l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’a ordonné d’observer le jour du repos. Deutéronome 5: 15
Le Christ, qui est la Vérité elle-même, qui n’a jamais failli et ne faillira jamais, a dit aux prédicateurs de la foi qu’il choisit pour cet office « Allez enseigner toutes les nations ». Il a dit toutes, sans exception, car toutes sont capables de recevoir les doctrines de la foi.L’Ennemi du genre humain, qui s’oppose à toutes les bonnes actions en vue de mener les hommes à leur perte, voyant et enviant cela, inventa un moyen nouveau par lequel il pourrait entraver la prédication de la parole de Dieu pour le salut des peuples: Il inspira ses auxiliaires qui, pour lui plaire, n’ont pas h ésité à publier à l’étranger que les Indiens de l’Occident et du Sud, et d’autres peuples dont Nous avons eu récemment connaissance, devraient être traités comme des bêtes de somme créées pour nous servir, prétendant qu’ils sont incapables de recevoir la Foi Catholique. Nous qui, bien qu’indigne de cet honneur, exerçons sur terre le pouvoir de Notre-Seigneur et cherchons de toutes nos forces à ramener les brebis placées au-dehors de son troupeau dans le bercail dont nous avons la charge, considérons quoi qu’il en soit, que les Indiens sont véritablement des hommes et qu’ils sont non seulement capables de comprendre la Foi Catholique, mais que, selon nos informations, ils sont très désireux de la recevoir. Souhaitant fournir à ces maux les remèdes appropriés, Nous définissons et déclarons par cette lettre apostolique, ou par toute traduction qui puisse en être signée par un notaire public et scellée du sceau de tout dignitaire ecclésiastique, à laquelle le même crédit sera donné qu’à l’original, que quoi qu’il puisse avoir été dit ou être dit de contraire, les dits Indiens et tous les autres peuples qui peuvent être plus tard découverts par les Chrétiens, ne peuvent en aucun cas être privés de leur liberté ou de la possession de leurs biens, même s’ils demeurent en dehors de la foi de Jésus-Christ ; et qu’ils peuvent et devraient, librement et légitimement, jouir de la liberté et de la possession de leurs biens, et qu’ils ne devraient en aucun cas être réduits en esclavage ; si cela arrivait malgré tout, cet esclavage serait considéré nul et non avenu. Pape Paul III (bulle Sublimis Deus, 1537)
Pour tous les Indiens vivant dans les provinces du Paraguay, du Brésil, et de la rivière de la Plata, ainsi que dans toutes les autres provinces et endroits de l’Inde occidentale et méridionales, et à tous les individus laïques ou clercs, de tout grade et sexe […] Interdisant strictement l’asservissement, l’achat, la vente, l’échange ou le don des Indiens, de leurs femmes, de leurs enfants, de les priver de leurs biens, de les reloger ailleurs, de les priver de leur liberté et de les garder comme esclaves. Pape Urbain VIII (Bulle Commissum Nobis, 1639)
S’il est permis de capturer par la force et la duperie des noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne? Réponse : non. S’il est autorisé d’acheter, de vendre ou de faire des contrats en tout respect des noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont pas porté préjudice à personne et n’ont rien fait et qui ont été faits captifs par la force de la duperie Réponse : non Si les propriétaires de Noirs et autres natifs qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne et ont été capturés par la force ou la ruse, doivent les remettre en liberté ? Réponse: Oui Si les ravisseurs, les acheteurs et les propriétaires de Noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne et qui ont été capturés par la force ou la duperie n’ont pas le droit de leur demander de payer compensation? Réponse : Oui. Congrégation du Saint Office (Sainte Inquisition Romaine, pontificat d’Innocent XI, 1686)
Tous les esclaves qui seront dans nos îles seront baptisés et instruits dans la religion catholique, apostolique et romaine. (…) Enjoignons à tous nos sujets, de quelque qualité et condition qu’ils soient, d’observer les jours de dimanches et de fêtes, qui sont gardés par nos sujets de la religion Catholique, Apostolique et Romaine. Leur défendons de travailler ni de faire travailler leurs esclaves auxdits jours depuis l’heure de minuit jusqu’à l’autre minuit à la culture de la terre, à la manufacture des sucres et à tous autres ouvrages, à peine d’amende et de punition arbitraire contre les maîtres et confiscation tant des sucres que des esclaves qui seront surpris par nos officiers dans le travail. (…) Les hommes libres qui auront eu un ou plusieurs enfants de leur concubinage avec des esclaves, ensemble les maîtres qui les auront soufferts, seront chacun condamnés en une amende de 2000 livres de sucre, et, s’ils sont les maîtres de l’esclave de laquelle ils auront eu lesdits enfants, voulons, outre l’amende, qu’ils soient privés de l’esclave et des enfants et qu’elle et eux soient adjugés à l’hôpital, sans jamais pouvoir être affranchis. N’entendons toutefois le présent article avoir lieu lorsque l’homme libre qui n’était point marié à une autre personne durant son concubinage avec son esclave, épousera dans les formes observées par l’Eglise ladite esclave, qui sera affranchie par ce moyen et les enfants rendus libres et légitimes. Les solennités prescrites par l’Ordonnance de Blois et par la Déclaration de 1639 pour les mariages seront observées tant à l’égard des personnes libres que des esclaves, sans néanmoins que le consentement du père et de la mère de l’esclave y soit nécessaire, mais celui du maître seulement. Défendons très expressément aux curés de procéder aux mariages des esclaves, s’ils ne font apparoir du consentement de leurs maîtres. Défendons aussi aux maîtres d’user d’aucunes contraintes sur leurs esclaves pour les marier contre leur gré. (…) Les maîtres seront tenus de faire enterrer en terre sainte, dans les cimetières destinés à cet effet, leurs esclaves baptisés. Et, à l’égard de ceux qui mourront sans avoir reçu le baptême, ils seront enterrés la nuit dans quelque champ voisin du lieu où ils seront décédés. (…) Seront tenus les maîtres de faire fournir, par chacune semaine, à leurs esclaves âgés de dix ans et au-dessus, pour leur nourriture, deux pots et demi, mesure de Paris, de farine de manioc, ou trois cassaves pesant chacune 2 livres et demie au moins, ou choses équivalentes, avec 2 livres de boeuf salé, ou 3 livres de poisson, ou autres choses à proportion : et aux enfants, depuis qu’ils sont sevrés jusqu’à l’âge de dix ans, la moitié des vivres ci-dessus. (…) Seront tenus les maîtres de fournir à chaque esclave, par chacun an, deux habits de toile ou quatre aunes de toile, au gré des maîtres. Les esclaves qui ne seront point nourris, vêtus et entretenus par leurs maîtres, selon que nous l’avons ordonné par ces présentes, pourront en donner avis à notre procureur général et mettre leurs mémoires entre ses mains, sur lesquels et même d’office, si les avis viennent d’ailleurs, les maîtres seront poursuivis à sa requête et sans frais ; ce que nous voulons être observé pour les crimes et traitements barbares et inhumains des maîtres envers leurs esclaves. Les esclaves infirmes par vieillesse, maladie ou autrement, soit que la maladie soit incurable ou non, seront nourris et entretenus par leurs maîtres, et, en cas qu’ils eussent abandonnés, lesdits esclaves seront adjugés à l’hôpital, auquel les maîtres seront condamnés de payer 6 sols par chacun jour, pour la nourriture et l’entretien de chacun esclave. (…) Pourront seulement les maîtres, lorsqu’ils croiront que leurs esclaves l’auront mérité, les faire enchaîner et les faire battre de verges ou cordes. Leur défendons de leur donner la torture, ni de leur faire aucune mutilation de membres, à peine de confiscation des esclaves et d’être procédé contre les maîtres extraordinairement. Enjoignons à nos officiers de poursuivre criminellement les maîtres ou les commandeurs qui auront tué un esclave étant sous leur puissance ou sous leur direction et de punir le meurtre selon l’atrocité des circonstances ; et, en cas qu’il y ait lieu à l’absolution, permettons à nos officiers de renvoyer tant les maîtres que les commandeurs absous, sans qu’ils aient besoin d’obtenir de nous des lettres de grâce. (..) Ne pourront être saisis et vendus séparément le mari, la femme et leurs enfants impubères, s’ils sont tous sous la puissance d’un même maître ; déclarons nulles les saisies et ventes séparées qui en sont faites , ce que nous voulons avoir lieu dans les aliénations volontaires, sur peine, contre ceux qui feront les aliénations, d’être privés de celui ou de ceux qu’ils auront gardés, qui seront adjugés aux acquéreurs, sans qu’ils soient tenus de faire aucun supplément de prix. Code noir (articles 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 22, 25, 26, 27, 42, 43 et 47)
Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’Inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié par le Christ. Barack Hussein Obama
Citez-moi une seule civilisation dont le mythe fondateur n’est pas à sa gloire ? Les Antillais sont nés dans l’esclavage. Cette date, c’est notre combat pour sortir de la honte et de la victimisation. Serge Romana
Nous condamnons l’Inquisition au nom de valeurs chrétiennes. Nous ne pouvons pas la condamner au nom du Mahâbhârata, qui est constitué d’une série de meurtres alternés, à peu près dans le style de l’Iliade ! René Girard
On apprend aux enfants qu’on a cessé de chasser les sorcières parce que la science s’est imposée aux hommes. Alors que c’est le contraire: la science s’est imposée aux hommes parce que, pour des raisons morales, religieuses, on a cessé de chasser les sorcières. (…) La sorcellerie n’existe pas (…) on ne passe pour sorcier qu’en vertu d’un système d’accusation. René Girard
Il y avait vraiment des gens qui s’agitaient devant des courts-bouillons de grenouilles et de scorpions, mais nous savons que leurs manigances n’empêcheraient pas les avions de voler (…) C’est bien pourquoi, même lorsqu’elles étaient condamnées, même lorsqu’elles étaient techniquement coupables, les sorcières étaient des boucs émissaires. René Girard
Il semble en effet inconcevable qu’on puisse être jaloux du bien. Et cependant… Vous connaissez cette histoire de monarchie sacrée au Soudan : renversant les anciennes façons, le nouveau roi et son épouse avaient instauré le régime le plus raisonnable qu’il soit possible d’imaginer, et produisant le plus de bien commun. Une telle envie en était résultée que les voisins s’étaient réunis pour le détruire… Sans aucunement idéaliser notre propre histoire, c’est peut-être la fable du destin de l’Occident… (…) C’est justement ce qui justifie « la repentance », que certains catholiques ont bien tort de reprocher au pape. Certes, les non-chrétiens, qui oublient régulièrement de se repentir, n’ont pas moins de choses à se reprocher (souvent, bien davantage : quand je pense que l’on continue à monter en épingle les abus de l’Inquisition, après ce que l’incroyance a fait au XXe siècle !) Mais grâce à la Révélation, les chrétiens auraient dû avancer, et faire avancer le monde plus vite. Nous avons « les paroles de la vie éternelle ». Or, c’est toujours le petit nombre qui a compris, et vécu de l’esprit du Christ. Seulement, aujourd’hui, je ne vois pas d’autre lieu que l’Église pour faire barrière à cette terrible désagrégation de tout, qu’on appelle parfois l’apocalypse. Est-ce pour cela que cette Église devient comme un ultime bouc émissaire, et qu’on emploie tant d’efforts pour discréditer ou empêcher sa parole, alors qu’elle n’a plus de pouvoir que spirituel ? Et parfois de son sein même… On a l’impression d’une force diabolique d’auto-destruction. René Girard
La paix véritable, globale et durable viendra le jour où les voisins d’Israël reconnaîtront que le peuple juif se trouve sur cette terre de droit, et non de facto. (…) Tout lie Israël à cette région: la géographie, l’histoire, la culture mais aussi la religion et la langue. La religion juive est la référence théologique première et le fondement même de l’islam et de la chrétienté orientale. L’hébreu et l’arabe sont aussi proches que le sont en Europe deux langues d’origine latine. L’apport de la civilisation hébraïque sur les peuples de cette région est indéniable. Prétendre que ce pays est occidental équivaut à délégitimer son existence; le salut d’Israël ne peut venir de son déracinement. Le Moyen-Orient est le seul « club » régional auquel l’Etat hébreu est susceptible d’adhérer. Soutenir cette adhésion revient à se rapprocher des éléments les plus modérés parmi son voisinage arabe, et en premier lieu: des minorités. Rejeter cette option, c’est s’isoler et disparaître. Israël n’a pas le choix. Masri Feki
Souvenons-nous que les tribus d’Arabie étaient chrétiennes. Les meilleurs poètes et écrivains étaient chrétiens, tout comme nombre de guerriers et de philosophes (…) Ce sont eux qui portaient la bannière du panarabisme. La première université palestinienne a été créée par des chrétiens. Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar (Al-Ayyam)
La persévérance du gouvernement français à racheter ces esclaves et à protéger notre marine marchande n’eut d’égale que la mauvaise foi des Algériens dans l’exécution des traités. On en fut réduit, après Pontchartrain, à une politique de conciliation vraiment humiliante ; en 1830, il restait encore 122 esclaves, en majeure partie français, dans les bagnes d’Alger. Il fallait en finir. La présence de ce nid de pirates, à trois jours de Marseille, était une honte pour l’Europe et un reproche pour notre gouvernement. Une dernière insulte faite à notre consul par le dey Baba-Hussein, amena la rupture et décida Charles X à tirer le glaive justicier de la France. On sait le reste : la prise d’Alger le 5 juillet 1830. Aujourd’hui l’odjak des corsaires redoutables a fait place à une grande ville de commerce et de plaisance. A la place des bagnes et des marchés aux esclaves s’élèvent des hôtels somptueux et de florissantes écoles et facultés. Et sur la kasbah, cette bastille des Barberousse, flotte le drapeau tricolore, symbole de liberté, de progrès et de justice. Gaston Bonet-Maury (1907)
L’arrivée des navigateurs européens a été providentielle pour le commerce des Etats riverains du golfe de Guinée, trop éloignés du Sahara pour qu’ils y écoulent leur surplus d’esclaves. Les Etats exportateurs d’esclaves de la côte atlantique de l’Afrique noire considéraient ce trafic comme leur commerce naturel. (…) Dès le haut Moyen Age, le monde musulman est devenu le grand importateur d’esclaves. Dans les premiers siècles de l’islam, de nombreux Blancs d’Asie et d’Europe sont déportés en terre musulmane. En particulier, des Slaves (d’où les termes «esclave», «ex-slave») … Il semble qu’au total, entre le milieu du VIIe siècle et la fin du XIXe siècle, les traites musulmanes aient déporté un nombre de Noirs nettement supérieur à la traite européenne. (…) A la différence de l’islam, le christianisme n’a pas entériné l’esclavage. Mais, comme il ne comportait aucune règle d’organisation sociale, il ne l’a pas non plus interdit. Pourtant, l’idée d’une égalité de tous les hommes en Dieu dont était porteur le christianisme a joué contre l’esclavage, qui disparaît de France avant l’an mil. Cependant, il ressurgit au XVIIe siècle aux Antilles françaises, bien que la législation royale y prescrive l’emploi d’une main-d’oeuvre libre venue de France. L’importation des premiers esclaves noirs, achetés à des Hollandais, se fait illégalement. (…) Le mouvement part d’Angleterre, le pays qui a déporté au XVIIIe siècle le plus de Noirs vers l’Amérique. La force du mouvement abolitionniste anglais repose principalement sur la prédication des pasteurs évangélistes. Il en résulte une interdiction de la traite par l’Angleterre (1806) et les autres puissances occidentales (France, 1817), puis une abolition de l’esclavage lui-même dans les colonies anglaises (1833) et françaises (1848). Décidée par l’Europe, la suppression de la traite atlantique est imposée par elle aux Etats pourvoyeurs d’esclaves de l’Afrique occidentale. (…) Cependant, rien de pareil n’a eu lieu dans le monde musulman. L’esclavage étant prévu par l’islam, il eût été impie de le remettre en cause. Aussi, l’autre grande forme de la traite vers l’Afrique du Nord et le Moyen-Orient continua de plus belle au XIXe siècle, qui correspondit à son apogée. Et, parallèlement, des Européens continuaient d’être razziés en Méditerranée et réduits en esclavage à Alger, Oran, Tunis ou Salé (Rabat). D’où l’expédition de 1830 à Alger. Finalement, ce fut la colonisation qui mit presque entièrement fin à la traite musulmane. Jean-Louis Harouel 
Plus de 11 000 femmes nigérianes ont été secourues en Méditerranée l’année dernière, selon l’Office pour les migrations internationales (OMI). 80% d’entre elles faisaient l’objet d’un trafic à des fins d’exploitation sexuelle. “Il y a maintenant des filles qui n’ont que 13, 14 ou 15 ans”, m’a dit un agent anti-trafic de l’OMI. “L’Italie n’est qu’un point d’entrée. De la, elles sont dispatchées et vendues à des mères maquerelles partout en Europe.” Ben Taub
En 2015, le risque de mourir en Méditerranée (0, 37%) était inférieur au risque en France d’une personne de plus de 45 ans de subir un AVC (0, 4$%); en 2016, 363 000 migrants ont traversé la Mare nostrum (…) et 4 576 s’y sont noyés ou ont disparu, soit 1, 3% ou le double du risque de décéder apres une intervention chirurgicale – toutes catégories confondues – dans un pays industrialisé, ou encore le double du risque de mourir d’une anesthésie générale au sud du Sahara. En 2017, entre janvier et fin aout, 126 000 migrants ont traversé la Méditerranée et 2 428 ont été portés disparus, soit 1, 92%, ce qui est légèrement inférieur à la mortalité post-opératoire en chirurgie cardiaque en Europe de l’ouest (2%). Même si le risque est heureusement limité, on se demande évidemment pourquoi il ne cesse d’augmenter alors que les yeux du monde sont braqués sur la Méditerranée et que les secours devraient se perfectionner. La réponse: l’humanitaire est trop bon ! En effet, les bateaux de secours se rapprochent de plus en plus des eaux territoriales libyennes et, s’il y a danger de naufrage, n’hésitent plus à y entrer pour sauver les migrants. Si bien que les trafiquants embarquent un nombre croissant de migrants sur des embarcations toujours plus précaires (notamment des canots pneumatiques longs de 9 mètres, fabriqués en Chine, sur lesquels se serrent 130 personnes). (…) Les trafiquants emmènent donc les migrants à la limite des eaux territoriales, avant de repartir avec le moteur hors-bord dans un autre bateau en laissant les leurs clients dériver. A charge pour les humanitaires … Ceux-ci font bien, voire très bien leur travail, au risque de voir les migrants de moins en moins regardants sur la navigabilité des embarcations choisies par les trafiquants. Au cours des premiers six mois de 2017, quelque 93 000 migrants ont été secourus et transportés vers l’Italie, soit presque les trois quarts du total ayant embarqué pour la traversée pendant cette période. Stephen Smith
[La loi sur l’égalité réelle] revient tout simplement à détricoter la loi Taubira de 2001. Cette loi prend déjà en compte la souffrance des esclaves, honore leur lutte pour l’émancipation et redonne ainsi une place aux ultra-marins dans la République française. Le mouvement initié par Serge Romana milite pour instaurer le 23 mai en mémoire des victimes… Cela revient à dire qu’il y a d’un côté les abolitionnistes et de l’autre les victimes. (…) Prenez les faits : d’un côté, vous modifiez l’intitulé du 10 mai en expliquant qu’il s’agira désormais de « commémoration de la traite de l’esclavage et des abolitionnistes ». D’un autre côté, vous ajoutez le 23 mai, une journée en hommage « aux victimes de l’esclavage colonial ». Traduisez : les abolitionnistes sont presque tous blancs et les esclaves déportés depuis l’Afrique majoritairement noirs. La réalité, c’est que nous sommes en train de racialiser la France et d’entériner une vision racialiste du pays, à un moment où il faudrait tenir un discours d’unité et de cohérence. Si cette loi passe en l’état, nous allons adopter un texte qui définit des communautés – jusqu’alors non reconnues par les lois de la République – et qui entérine une fracture. Ce n’est qu’un symbole, certes, mais c’est très grave. C’est le signe qu’une racialisation subreptice est en train de s’installer au cœur de la société française. (…) Tout simplement parce que cette date ne fait pas consensus et n’a pas de sens collectif. Serge Romana propose le 23 mai en référence à une marche – qu’il n’a pas organisée, contrairement à ce qu’il dit – qui a rassemblé à Paris plusieurs dizaines de milliers de personnes. En vérité, Serge Romana fait de cette affaire une crispation personnelle et refuse le jeu démocratique. Sa date n’est pas choisie ? Il démissionne et œuvre en sous-main pour déstabiliser le 10 mai. L’amendement qu’il avait réussi à faire passer au Sénat est retiré du projet ? Il se met en grève de la faim et s’installe dans une tente devant le Sénat… Un sénateur que personne n’attendait sur ce sujet est arrivé, par simple déduction, à la même conclusion que nous : on ne doit pas instaurer deux dates. La célébration des victimes ne peut pas être une identité porteuse. (…)  Les décisions prises démocratiquement doivent être honorées. C’est une date qui fait consensus. Ce n’est pas celle que j’aurais choisie, mais il faut l’accepter. La commémoration est imparfaite : elle devrait être beaucoup plus ouverte au public, beaucoup plus suivie par des médias nationaux, ce devrait être un moment plus important de la vie politique française… (…) Nous sommes au-delà de l’affrontement, nous assistons à une réécriture de l’histoire par la mémoire. Le discours historique est dévoyé par le dolorisme, c’est une démarche perverse. Au sein de la population ultra-marine qui vit dans des conditions souvent précaires, ce discours rencontre un certain écho. Ce n’est pourtant qu’une manipulation de la souffrance. (…) Les indépendantistes se sont recyclés dans les questions identitaires, tout simplement parce qu’ils ont échoué. Jamais ils n’ont obtenu ce qu’ils voulaient, alors aujourd’hui, la mémoire autour de l’esclavage leur permet de construire une autonomie culturelle. L’identité devient la revendication. Et la mémoire de l’esclavage est dévoyée dans une entreprise politique. Myriam Cottias
Sous les arches de l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, à deux pas des grilles du Sénat, se joue une drôle de pièce. Tout le monde attend le personnage principal, Serge Romana, président de l’association CM98 (Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998). Ce généticien d’une soixantaine d’années est, ce lundi 16 janvier, en grève de la faim depuis quatre jours. Il entend protester contre l’initiative du sénateur de la Guadeloupe Desplan (PS) qui a supprimé un article du projet de loi sur l’égalité réelle en outre-mer, examiné à partir de ce mardi par le Sénat. Le texte ainsi biffé prévoyait que « la République française institue la journée du 10 mai comme journée nationale de commémoration de la traite, de l’esclavage et de leur abolition et celle du 23 mai comme journée nationale en hommage aux victimes de l’esclavage colonial ». Une nouvelle date donc – celle du 23 mai – fera peut-être son apparition dans le calendrier républicain pour commémorer l’abolition de l’esclavage. Mais pourquoi ? « Ce n’est pas l’abolition que nous souhaitions honorer, mais la mémoire de nos parents victimes de l’esclavage », expliquent les militants rassemblés autour de la tente de Serge Romana, qui se définit lui-même comme « entrepreneur mémoriel ». L’affaire de la double date agite les historiens et les politiques des départements d’outre-mer. Mais le débat mériterait d’être posé en place publique, tant cette proposition bouleverse les symboles. « Cela revient à instaurer une date pour les Blancs et une date pour les Noirs », explique posément l’universitaire spécialiste de l’esclavage Myriam Cottias, farouche opposante à ce projet de « surenchère mémorielle  » (lire notre interview) ». Pour le sénateur Desplan, responsable de cette ablation législative vécue comme un outrage par Romana, « trop de commémorations banalisent la commémoration ». Et celui-ci d’ajouter : « Introduire la notion de victime sous-entend aussi celle de bourreau. Je préfère que l’on célèbre les combattants. Et puis cette formule, victimes de l’esclavage colonial… que fait-on alors des victimes de l’esclavage non colonial ? Faisons preuve de bon sens, on ne peut pas se réconcilier en racialisant le débat. Et quand bien même on retiendrait l’idée d’une seconde date, celle du 23 mai n’a pas grand sens. » Fermez le ban. Alors, pourquoi cet acharnement sur le 23 mai ? « En 1998, l’État a fêté en grande pompe les 150 ans de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Malgré des colloques au Sénat, malgré une exposition à l’Assemblée nationale, une manifestation a rassemblé 40 0000 manifestants qui souhaitaient honorer la mémoire de leurs ancêtres esclaves », se souvient Serge Romana avec des trémolos dans la voix. La date correspond donc à un rassemblement parisien commémoratif. Le 23 mai, c’est son combat, son horizon, une obsession dont il ne se sépare jamais. Emmitouflé dans son manteau, bonnet enfoncé jusqu’aux oreilles, l’homme reçoit sous sa tente, assis sur un tabouret, téléphone portable à la main. Il fait montre d’une insatiable envie de convaincre. D’éduquer aussi : « Ne dites pas métropole, cela voudrait dire qu’il y a encore des colonies ! » s’agace-t-il. Il souhaite, dit-il en martelant, « inverser le stigmate de l’esclave, grâce aux commémorations ». Pour cet ancien adhérent d’associations nationalistes guadeloupéennes, la question est aujourd’hui, selon ses termes, « identitaire ». La mémoire des descendants des esclaves serait-elle bafouée par la simple commémoration du jour où la loi Taubira a fait de l’esclavage un crime contre l’humanité ? « Non, bien entendu », explique Françoise, militante venue soutenir le patron de son association, « nous célébrons aussi le 10 mai ». Simplement, pour elle comme pour les militants qui l’entourent, tous préféreraient ajouter une date bien à eux, un petit lopin de mémoire qu’ils cultiveraient sous la protection bienveillante de la République compatissante. Mais, d’ailleurs, le 23 mai n’existe-t-il pas déjà dans les calendriers de l’État ? Un texte signé par François Fillon le 29 avril 2008 s’est penché sur la question. Le Premier ministre du président Sarkozy a alors parafé une circulaire « relative aux commémorations de la traite négrière, de l’esclavage et de leurs abolitions », cadrant les commémorations nationales du 10 mai. Il y précisait en outre, que « de nombreuses associations originaires d’outre-mer organisent le 23 mai une journée commémorative en souvenir de la souffrance des esclaves. Cette date […] sera, pour les associations regroupant les Français d’outre-mer de l’Hexagone, celle de la commémoration du passé douloureux de leurs aïeux qui ne doit pas être oublié. » Serge Romana réclame que cette circulaire soit sanctuarisée par la loi. Lorsqu’il était enfant, raconte-t-il, ses parents ne parlaient jamais de l’esclavage. « Citez-moi une seule civilisation dont le mythe fondateur n’est pas à sa gloire ? Les Antillais sont nés dans l’esclavage. Cette date, c’est notre combat pour sortir de la honte et de la victimisation. » Ce mardi 17 janvier au soir, Serge Romana quittera sa tente pour rejoindre un hôtel proche. Il ne sera de retour sur place qu’à 8 heures du matin, mercredi. « Je ne peux pas faire la grève de la faim et celle du sommeil en même temps. » Il est aussi périlleux de démultiplier les dates que les combats. Le Point
Entre juin 2017 et juin 2019, période couverte par ce document sur les chrétiens opprimés pour leur foi, «la violence islamiste a fortement baissé en Irak et en Syrie». Mais cette amélioration conjoncturelle pèse peu face à la tendance lourde à l’œuvre dans ces pays: l’exode des populations chrétiennes a atteint un seuil critique, voire irréversible. À l’été 2019, ils étaient «bien en dessous des 150.000» en Irak, peut-être même «en dessous des 120.000», contre 1,5 million avant l’intervention américaine de 2003. «En l’espace d’une génération, la population chrétienne d’Irak a diminué de plus de 90%», note le rapport. Même phénomène en Syrie: mi-2017, les chrétiens étaient estimés à moins de 500.000, contre 1,5 million avant le début du conflit en 2011. Pour décrire cet exode massif qui a atteint son apogée entre 2017 et 2018, l’AED n’hésite pas à utiliser le terme de «génocide». L’Égypte, qui compte 10 millions de chrétiens essentiellement coptes, fait preuve d’une meilleure capacité de résilience. Malgré des attaques djihadistes extrêmement violentes – en novembre 2018, une embuscade contre trois bus de pèlerins chrétiens a fait sept morts et 19 blessés —, la fréquence de ces attentats est en baisse notable. En réalité, ce sont les chrétiens d’Afrique et d’Asie qui sont particulièrement visés par les persécutions. «La violence, et notamment la violence islamiste, est en mouvement ; elle se déplace du Moyen-Orient vers l’Afrique et l’Asie», explique le nouveau directeur France de l’AED, Benoît de Blanpré. Passé par plusieurs associations – les Enfants du Mékong, les Apprentis d’Auteuil et le centre Port-Royal -, le successeur de Marc Fromager connaît bien l’Asie du Sud-Est où il a vécu plus de 10 ans ; et c’est précisément dans cette région que «la situation s’est le plus dégradée», note-t-il. Les chrétiens sont confrontés à la violence islamiste, mais aussi au nationalisme agressif de certains États ou au régime totalitaire de la Corée du Nord, détaille Benoît de Blanpré. Le rapport s’attarde sur les Philippines, où se conjuguent la menace islamiste et l’autoritarisme de son président Rodrigo Duterte. En janvier 2019, vingt personnes ont été tuées et des dizaines d’autres blessées dans un double attentat revendiqué par l’État islamique contre la cathédrale Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel à Jolo, dans le sud du pays. Un mois plus tôt, le 5 décembre, le président philippin appelait à «tuer les évêques», «ce ramassis d’imbéciles qui ne sert à rien». Le nationalisme agressif touche aussi le Pakistan, où le cas d’Asia Bibi a soulevé une vague d’indignation internationale, et l’Inde, déstabilisée par les nationalistes hindous. Dans ce dernier pays, plus de mille attaques contre les chrétiens ont été recensées entre début 2017 et fin mars 2019, et plus de 100 églises ont dû fermer leurs portes en 2018 selon l’AED. «Les militants de l’hindutva ont accusé les chrétiens d’acte de prosélytisme en violation des lois anti-conversion, en vigueur dans six États», note le rapport. Encore moins médiatisées, les violences djihadistes en Afrique contre les chrétiens restent pourtant «à des niveaux critiques». Des attaques islamistes ont endeuillé les communautés chrétiennes burkinabées et nigériennes. Mais c’est le Nigeria qui compte le plus grand nombre de chrétiens tués (3731 en 2018). Dans ce pays où opère Boko Haram, «il existe clairement un ordre du jour pour islamiser toutes les zones majoritairement chrétiennes», selon Mgr Wilfred Anagbe, évêque de Makurdi situé dans la ceinture centrale du pays. Dans ce contexte, l’AED estime que la communauté internationale «manifeste un intérêt certain» pour les populations touchées. «Mais les réactions sont encore trop lentes et trop faibles pour avoir un réel impact», regrette Benoît de Blanpré qui conclut: «La liberté religieuse est un droit fondamental à faire respecter.» Le Figaro
Hitler’s Pope cannot be understood except as a series of very low blows against the modern Catholic Church, and specifically the papacy of John Paul II. Philip Jenkins
The anti-papal polemics of ex-seminarians like Garry Wills and John Cornwell … of ex-priests like James Carroll, and or other lapsed or angry liberal Catholics exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today. David G. Dalin
Many readers of The New York Times no doubt believe that Pope Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope. John Cornwell’s bestselling book told them that, and it’s been reaffirmed by Garry Wills, Daniel Goldhagen and other writers since. It’s been said so often in fact that most well-read Church bashers know it for a certainty. The only trouble is: It isn’t true. Not only does it contradict the words of Holocaust survivors, the founders of Israel, and the contemporary record of The New York Times, but even Cornwell, the originator of the moniker “Hitler’s Pope,” has recanted it saying that he was wrong to have ascribed evil motives to Pius and now found it “impossible to judge” the wartime Pope. But there’s something else that has been ignored nearly altogether. Precisely at the moment when Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in Rome (and throughout Europe) were saving thousands of Jewish lives, Hitler had a cleric broadcasting from Berlin who called for the extermination of the Jews. He was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the viciously anti-Semitic grand mufti of Jerusalem, who resided in Berlin as a welcome guest and ally of the Nazis throughout the years of the Holocaust. As I point out in my book, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, the outrageous calumny directed against Pope Pius XII has not only besmirched the reputation of a man who did more than any other religious leader to save Jewish lives, it has deflected attention from the horrible truth of Hajj Amin al-Husseini— who continues to be a revered figure in the Muslim world. It is possible to trace modern Islamic anti-Semitism back along a number of different historical and intellectual threads, but no matter which one you choose, they all seem to pass, at one point or another, through the hands of Hajj Amin al-Husseini —Hitler’s mufti. In late March 1933, al-Husseini contacted the German consul general in Jerusalem and requested German help in eliminating Jewish settlements in Palestine — offering, in exchange, a pan-Islamic jihad in alliance with Germany against Jews around the world. It was not until 1938, in the aftermath of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s infamous capitulation to Hitler at Munich, that al-Husseini’s overtures to Nazi Germany were officially reciprocated. But by then the influence of Nazi ideology had already grown significantly throughout the Arab Middle East. Several of the Arab political parties founded during the 1930s were modeled after the Nazi party, including the Syrian Popular Party and the Young Egypt Society, which were explicitly anti-Semitic in their ideology and programs. The leader of Syria’s Socialist Nationalist Party, Anton Sa’ada, imagined himself an Arab Hitler and placed a swastika on his party’s banner. Though he was the grand mufti of Jerusalem, al-Husseini moved his base of operations (and pro-Nazi propaganda) to Lebanon in 1938, to Iraq in 1939 (where he helped establish the strongly pro-German Rashid Ali al-Gaylani as prime minister), and then to Berlin in 1941. Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that al-Husseini “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.” At Auschwitz, al-Husseini reportedly “admonished the guards running the gas chambers to work more diligently.” After the defeat of the Axis powers, al-Husseini escaped indictment as a war criminal at Nuremberg by fleeing to Egypt, where he received political asylum and where he met the young Yasser Arafat, his distant cousin, who became a devoted protégé — to the point that the Palestinian Liberation Organization recruited former Nazis as terrorist instructors. Up until the time of his death, Arafat continued to pay homage to the mufti as his hero and mentor. This unholy legacy continues. Hajj Amin al-Husseini has inspired two generations of radical Islamic leaders to carry on Hitler’s war against the Jews, which is why today, as was true 60 years ago it is not the Catholic Church that is the great threat to the survival of the Jewish people, it is Islamofascism. Rabbi David G. Dalin
When Pius XII died in 1958, there were tributes from virtually every Jewish group around the world. Ronald J. Rychlak
John Cornwell’s new book, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, turns out to be a deeply flawed attack on Pope John Paul II. That’s right, the final chapter is actually an attack on the current plaintiff. Cornwell is disturbed by John Paul’s « conservative » positions on celibate clergy, women priests, artificial contraception, and abortion. He is especially concerned about the Pope’s opposition to direct political activity by the clergy. Cornwell apparently decided that the easiest way to attack the Pope of today was to go after Pius XII. If he can prove that Pius was flawed, then he establishes that popes can be wrong. If that is the case, then he can argue that John Paul II is wrong about the whole catalogue of teachings that tend to upset many modern Catholics. Cornwell’s thesis is that Eugenio Pacelli–Pope Pius XII–was driven by the desire to concentrate the authority of the Church under a strong, central papacy. Cornwell argues that as Pacelli worked toward that end, he created a situation that was easy for Hitler to exploit. Cornwell denies that Pacelli was a « monster. » In fact, he recognizes that Pacelli « hated » Hitler. His theory, deeply flawed though it may be, is that Hitler exploited Pacelli’s efforts to expand Roman influence. Unfortunately,   many reviews, like those in the New York Post and the London Sunday Times, missed that point. They simply reported that « Pius XII helped Adolf Hitler gain power, » as if the two worked together. That is certainly not Cornwell’s point. Some of the mistakes reported in the press are obvious to anyone who read Cornwell’s book. For instance, The Indianapolis News reported that Pius knew of Hitler’s plan for the Final Solution « in 1939 when he first became involved with the German leader. » First of all, the Nazis did not decide on the course of extermination until 1942. Perhaps more telling, this statement is at odds with two things in the book: 1) Cornwell argues that Hitler and the future Pope Pius XII first « became involved » in the early 1930s, and 2) Cornwell expressly notes that Pius XII’s first reliable information concerning extermination of the Jews came in the spring of 1942, not 1939. Similarly, the New York Post reported in a couple of different editions that « Pacelli… met with Hitler several times. » This is not true. The two men never met, and Cornwell does not claim that they did. The most common error by made reviewers was that of accepting Cornwell’s assertions without checking out the facts. On some of these points, the reviewer’s oversight might be forgiven. For instance, Viking Press has marketed this book as having been written by a practicing Catholic who started out to defend Pius XII. One is always reluctant to say what another person’s beliefs are, so reviewers could be forgiven had they simply remained silent about that issue. Instead, the vast majority took delight in calling Cornwell a good, practicing Catholic. Having decided to report on Cornwell’s religious beliefs, the reviewers might have noted that his earlier books were marketed as having been written by a « lapsed Catholic for more than 20 years » and that reviewers said he wrote « with that astringent, cool, jaundiced view of the Vatican that only ex-Catholics familiar with Rome seem to have mastered. » They might also have reported that during the time he was researching this book he described himself as an « agnostic Catholic. » Finally, it might have been worth noting that in a 1993 book he declared that human beings are « morally, psychologically and materially better off without a belief in God. » Instead, they presented only that side of the story that Cornwell and his publisher wanted the public to hear. The Vatican had not yet spoken, so a reviewer might be excused for not knowing that Cornwell lied about being the first person to see certain « secret » files and about the number of hours that he spent researching at the Vatican. When, however, he claimed that a certain letter was a « time bomb » lying in the Vatican archives since 1919, a careful reviewer might have mentioned that it had been fully reprinted and discussed in Germany and the Holy See: Pacelli’s Nunciature between the Great War and the Weimar Republic, by Emma Fattorini (1992). That letter at issue reports on the occupation of the royal palace in Munich by a group of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Pacelli was the nuncio in Munich and a noted opponent of the Bolsheviks. The revolutionaries sprayed his house with gunfire, assaulted him in his car, and invaded his home. The description of the scene in the palace (which was actually written by one of Pacelli’s assistants, not him) included derogatory comments about the Bolsheviks and noted that many of them were Jewish. Cornwell couples the anti-revolutionary statements with the references to Jews and concludes that it reflects « stereotypical anti-Semitic contempt. » That is a logical jump unwarranted by the facts. Even worse, however, is the report in USA Today that Pacelli described Jews (not a specific group of revolutionaries) « as physically and morally repulsive, worthy of suspicion and contempt. » Again, it is a case of the press being particularly anxious to report the worst about the Catholic Church. Cornwell claims that he received special assistance from the Vatican due to earlier writings which were favorable to the Vatican. Many reviewers gleefully reported this and his asserted « moral shock » at what he found in the archives. A simple call to the Vatican would have revealed that he received no special treatment. If the reviewer were suspicious about taking the word of Vatican officials, a quick consultation of Cornwell’s earlier works (or easily-available reviews thereof) would have revealed that he has never been friendly to the Holy See. (…) Cornwell misses the important point that is so well explained in George Weigel’s new biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope. John Paul’s political impact came about precisely because he did not primarily seek to be political, or to think or speak politically. The pontiff’s contribution to the downfall of Soviet Communism was that he launched an authentic and deep challenge to the lies that made Communistic rule possible. He fought Communism in the same way that Pius XII fought Nazism: not by name-calling but by challenging the intellectual foundation on which it was based. John Paul has recognized the parallels between his efforts and those of Pius XII, perhaps better than anyone else. He, of course, did not have a horrible war to contend with, nor was he threatened with the possibility of Vatican City being invaded, but given those differences, the approach each Pope took was similar. As John Paul has explained: « Anyone who does not limit himself to cheap polemics knows very well what Pius XII thought of the Nazi regime and how much he did to help countless people persecuted by the regime. » The most disappointing thing is that the modern press seems unable to recognize cheap polemics, at least when it comes to the Catholic Church. Ronald J. Rychlak
The first cause for suspicion is on the cover of Cornwell’s book. The dust jacket of the British edition shows Nuncio Pacelli leaving a reception given for German President Hindenburg in 1927. The photograph, a favorite of those who seek to portray Pius XII in an unfavorable light, shows the nuncio dressed in formal diplomatic regalia (which could easily be confused with papal garments), as he exits a building. On each side of him stand soldiers of the Weimar republic. In front of him stands a chauffeur saluting and holding open the square-looking door, typical of automobiles from the 1920s. Those who do not recognize the differences in uniform details could easily confuse the Weimar soldiers with Nazi soldiers because of their distinctive helmets associated with Nazi-era German soldiers. Use of this photograph, especially when coupled with a provocative title such as “Hitler’s Pope,” gives the impression that Pope Pius XII is seen leaving a meeting with Hitler. Making matters even worse is the caption from inside the dust jacket on early British editions of the book. This caption says that the photograph is from March 1939. By this time, Hitler was Chancellor of Germany, and this was the month Pacelli was made Pope. A fair-minded person reading the caption could easily conclude that Cardinal Pacelli paid a visit to Hitler immediately prior to being elected Pope. The American version of Hitler’s Pope never had the wrong date, but–given that the date might have been an honest error–it is far more revealing about the intentional mis-information that went into the marketing of this book. The U.S. edition uses the same photograph as the British edition, but it is cropped to eliminate two important points of reference: The soldier nearest the camera and the square door of the automobile. Both of those images provide clues to the true date of this photo (1927), and despite his claims in Brill’s Content, Cornwell did not want that known. The photo also has been significantly darkened, giving it a more sinister feel. Even more telling is the intentional blurring of the background. Looking at this cover, Nuncio Pacelli is in focus, but the soldier to his left and the chauffeur are both badly blurred. They are so badly blurred that it is impossible even for a well-trained observer to recognize that the soldier wears a Weimar uniform rather than a Nazi uniform. The chauffeur, due to the blurring and cropping that eliminates the car door, takes on the appearance of a saluting SS officer. Even a civilian in the background could seem to be a military (Nazi) official. Since none of the images on the British edition are blurred, and since Nuncio Pacelli’s face is in focus on the U.S. cover, but the other images are blurred, the only logical conclusion is that the photo was intentionally altered to support Cornwell’s thesis. Ronald J. Rychlak
La sorcière existe-t-elle ? Est-elle bénéfique ou dangereuse, faut-il voir en elle l’héroïque témoignage d’une autre forme d’intelligence, réprimée par les détenteurs du pouvoir, ou une pauvre idiote, une marginale, une vieille folle manipulée ? Quiconque s’est confronté aux textes reconnaîtra ces questions, auxquelles s’impose la nécessité de ne pas répondre trop précipitamment – sauf à simplifier les phénomènes et les textes du passé jusqu’à les rendre inintelligibles, à les enfermer dans une altérité opaque. S’il est impossible d’adhérer au système de croyance à la sorcellerie, comme au système qui guide sa répression, il est nécessaire de tenter de leur restituer une intelligibilité, de comprendre du moins ce qui les a rendus possibles, à quelles questions ou à quelles angoisses ils ont pu apparaître comme des réponses. Ou on ne verra jamais dans cette histoire que des imbéciles féroces s’acharnant à brûler des imbéciles crédules (pour reprendre des mots de Voltaire) ; et on s’étonnera de l’acharnement répressif d’un humaniste comme Bodin (dont Michel Porret analyse ici la réfutation de Jean Wier), avec sa Démonomanie des sorciers, « un des livres les plus attristants de cette époque », écrivait en 1948 Lucien Febvre, dans un article dont le titre formulait nettement le problème qui se pose aux historiens : Sorcellerie, sottise ou révolution mentale ? [10] Et on ne comprendra pas non plus la fascination qu’exercent encore aujourd’hui la sorcellerie, en particulier dans ses versions sataniques, et sa répression. Dans cet effort pour comprendre ce qui révolte (Febvre parlait d’horreur et de dégoût), – mais qui souvent fascine –, on a le choix entre une approche externe, résolument rationaliste et matérialiste, qui verra par exemple dans la sorcière le produit de la misère et de l’oppression subie par le peuple des campagnes, et dans sa répression la volonté d’asseoir de nouveaux pouvoirs (qu’ils soient locaux ou centraux, ecclésiastiques ou laïques), voire de sordides règlements de comptes entre voisins. Et une approche plus empathique, qui cherchera à tenir compte des systèmes de croyance et de représentation du monde, et à penser le sens du recours à la sorcellerie (se défendre contre des forces et des maux angoissants et inexplicables, contre lesquels il n’apparaît pas d’autre remède ; soigner, transmettre des traditions, conserver un lien avec les forces de la nature), voire ce qui fonde le sens de la répression pour les persécuteurs (défendre le Bien, et l’ordre concret et symbolique d’un monde menacé, restaurer ou imposer une hiérarchie nécessaire). L’une et l’autre attitude pourront mettre l’accent sur le collectif, les affrontements et rapports de force sur l’horizon desquels intervient la sorcellerie (guerres de religion, centralisation…), ou plutôt sur l’individuel, en cherchant dans la sorcière (ou le sorcier) le produit d’une histoire singulière et de conflits psychiques. Dans les études concrètes, ces positions ne sont d’ailleurs pas aussi exclusives les unes des autres qu’elles peuvent apparaître en théorie. Le grand livre de Michelet a fait beaucoup à la fois pour la réintégration de la sorcière et de la sorcellerie dans une histoire commune, démarche que l’on peut par certains côtés considérer comme héritière des Lumières, rationaliste, et pré-ethnologique, mais il a fait plus encore pour l’édification d’un mythe – et combien durable ! – qui exalte dans la sorcière le Féminin, le Populaire, le lien à la Nature, les puissances de la vie et de la création persécutées par les pouvoirs mortifères de l’Église. De la défense de la sorcière contre les préjugés et une répression intolérante et cruelle à une réhabilitation qui la constitue en héroïne, – porteuse d’ailleurs de valeurs et de causes variables selon les auteurs et les moments historiques – , il n’y a qu’un pas, souvent franchi. Christine Planté
In ‘The Spanish Inquistion: A Historical Revision, » (…) Kamen (…) reaffirms his contention that an all-powerful, torture-mad Inquisition is largely a 19th-century myth. In its place he portrays a poor, understaffed institution whose scattered tribunals had only a limited reach and whose methods were more humane than those of most secular courts. Death by fire, he asserts, was the exception, not the rule. He further argues that, beyond a few well-publicized autos de fe staged in 1559, the Inquisition was not the principal reason the Reformation did not take hold in Spain. Kamen believes the failure of Lutheran ideas in Spain had less to do with the Inquisition than with the populace’s indifference to Protestantism. As for the Inquisition’s much-vaunted role as Big Brother and its responsibility for intellectual decline, Kamen rejects this hypothesis out of hand, arguing that it was ineffective as a censor and that it failed even to prevent the importation of items listed on its own Index of Prohibited Books. The Inquisition, more interested in religion than science, did little to prevent the circulation of works by Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler. Kamen also dismisses the notion that the Inquisition enjoyed widespread popular support. People grudgingly accepted it, he avers, as an institution they employed to torment their enemies. Similarly, the monarchy, despite complaints that the Inquisitors regularly interfered with the administration of royal justice, supported it as a useful means of getting political opponents out of the way, as it did in 1590 when Philip II turned to this tribunal and its tradition of secret proceedings to silence Lucrecia de Leon, a prophetess in Madrid who had criticized the King and his policies. More controversial is Kamen’s interpretation of its handling of converted Jews, especially during the 1480’s, when, as a  »crisis instrument » created especially to deal with apostasy among conversos, the Inquisition was, by Kamen’s own admission, out of control.  »There is, » he writes,  »no systematic evidence that conversos as a group were secret Jews, » although the evidence for that assertion is ambiguous. Nor does he believe these conversos were persecuted solely out of racial enmity. He admits conversos suffered from a rising tide of anti-Semitism during the 1480’s that eventually led to the expulsion of Spain’s much diminished Jewish community in 1492. The conversos’ troubles, he asserts, were partly self-inflicted: the result of claims to be a  »nation » apart, neither Christian nor Jewish, a reluctance to assimilate (a similar attitude, he claims, contributed to the expulsion of the remnants of Spain’s Muslims in 1609), and also from personal enmities among the converso community, a situation that led to thousands of unwarranted denunciations and trials. Despite this fury, Kamen believes that most conversos escaped unharmed and led a  »relatively undisturbed » life by the close of the 16th century. Richard L. Kagan
Rodney Stark, universitaire américain, explore depuis de nombreuses années les relations entre le christianisme et l’essor de la civilisation occidentale. Dans ce nouvel ouvrage, il examine les préjugés anticatholiques selon lesquels le christianisme aurait été un obstacle au développement de cette civilisation occidentale, de la raison, de la science et des droits de l’homme. Stark montre, à l’aide des plus récentes recherches historiques, que c’est le contraire qui est vrai : la raison fondamentale pour laquelle ces caractéristiques se sont développées précisément en Occident tient au rôle que le christianisme a joué dans notre civilisation. Un renversement de perspective particulièrement stimulant. On lit souvent que l’Inquisition fut l’un des chapitres les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale ; que Pie XII, dit « le pape d’Hitler », était antisémite ; que l’obscurantisme a freiné la science jusqu’à l’arrivée des Lumières ; et que les croisades furent le premier exemple de l’avidité occidentale. Ces affirmations sont pourtant sans fondements historiques. Dans cet ouvrage, l’éminent professeur de sociologie des religions Rodney Stark démontre que certaines idées fermement établies – surtout lorsque l’Église entre en scène – sont en réalité des mythes. Il s’attaque aux légendes noires de l’histoire de l’Église et explique de quelles façons elles se sont substituées à la réalité des faits. Un livre passionnant, écrit « non pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Editeur
The historical view that Stark sets out in Bearing False Witness is that a line of “distinguished bigots”, stretching from Gibbon to the present day, have created a common culture in which widely held assumptions about the Catholic Church are based on “extreme exaggerations, false accusations and patent frauds”. Stark insists that he is not a whitewasher and that he is “simply reporting the prevailing view among qualified experts”. He also reminds his readers that he is not a Catholic. Though never an atheist, he was for some time primarily a “cultural Christian” or, as he has described it elsewhere, “an admirer but not a believer”. And now? “I have not been an agnostic for years. I wrote myself to faith.” The process of writing himself to faith includes books such as The Triumph of Christianity, which records “how the Jesus Movement became the world’s largest religion”; The Victory of Reason, explaining how Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western success; and God’s Battalions, an incisive defence of the Crusades. As a fledgling historian in the 1960s, though, Stark was still wedded to notions of the baneful role of the Church in history. In his first year of graduate school at Berkeley, he was asked to prepare a brief of research he had been doing on anti-Semitism to be distributed to bishops attending the Second Vatican Council. According to Cardinal Augustin Bea, this summary was influential in the production of Nostra Aetate, the Council’s statement on the Jews. (…) But over the years, as he carried out more work on ancient and medieval history, he became aware of “the extent to which the Catholic Church had stood as a consistent barrier against anti-Semitic violence”. A long analysis of all known outbursts of anti-Semitic violence in both Europe and the Islamic world from 500 to 1600 forced him to reconsider the entire link between Christianity and anti-Semitism. This was to become the theme of the first chapter of Bearing False Witness. Turning to the current state of the Catholic Church, Stark is typically unequivocal. Shame among Catholics about scandals involving paedophile priests is (in America at least) “limited to a few intellectuals. Otherwise there should have been substantial declines in membership or in Mass attendance. And that hasn’t happened. There has been no decline in membership or mass attendance in the United States. “The commitment of ordinary Catholics seems unaffected. In Latin America, rates of mass attendance have doubled and redoubled during the past 25 years. Catholic membership in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa is very far above that even claimed by the Catholic Almanac and continues to grow rapidly.” But what about Europe? “Europe is a lot more religious than it is said to be or even than it appears to be. I have written a lot about this, most recently in The Triumph of Faith.” Stark has suggested in other interviews that the lack of attendance at church in Europe is down to “ineffective churches rather than lack of faith, since religious belief remains high all across the continent”. This is typically trenchant stuff from someone who has spent decades understanding the past and present of Christianity. So what then does Prof Stark see as the future for the Catholic Church? “Continued strength.” The Age of Reason began in the 2nd century AD. How about that for a claim? Rodney Stark is not a man to equivocate. In his judgment, the Catholic Church has been routinely traduced by “distinguished bigots” – historians who have twisted or ignored the evidence and polluted popular understanding. Hence Stark’s determination to put back by a millennium-and-a-half the dating of the Age of Reason, which really began, he argues, with certain Church Fathers and their decision to conduct theology; that is, formal reasoning about God. Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine: they all insisted on the power of reason and its place in God’s plan. St Augustine went into raptures about the “sagacity” with which “the movements and connections of the stars have been discovered”. Man’s rational nature was an “unspeakable boon” conferred on us by God. Hence also Stark’s fury about the term “Dark Ages”. It is remarkable how politicians and journalists wanting to convey disgust these days, whether for the actions of ISIS or for rules about wearing high heels at work, are liable to call such a thing “medieval” or “a return to the Dark Ages”. And this darkness was, of course, the doing of the Catholic Church. Edward Gibbon said so. So did Voltaire. Daniel Boorstin, librarian of the United States Congress, wrote that the Church “built a grand barrier against the progress of knowledge”. Rubbish, says Stark. The Dark Ages are nothing but a hoax invented by intellectuals to glorify themselves and vilify the Church. The period from 300 to 1300 was, in fact, one of the great innovative eras of mankind. Technology was developed and put into use on a scale no civilisation had previously known: water mills, the three-field system, the horse collar, selective plant breeding, chimneys and much more. These things transformed productivity, increased the population, and widened horizons all over supposedly benighted Europe. But high-minded men of letters saw fit not to notice such things. What else? Human dissection for scientific purposes began in medieval universities and without serious objections from the Church. Stark reels off clergymen-scientists who preceded Copernicus and who, among other things, fought and won the battle for empiricism in science. There was moral progress too. The irony of ISIS comparisons, given that group’s recourse to abduction and enslavement, is that most of Europe had waved goodbye to slavery by 1300. Though not cited by Stark, Hugh Thomas, the great modern historian of the Atlantic slave trade, attributed the later resurgence of slavery to the memory of antiquity: “If Athens had slaves to build the Parthenon, and Rome to maintain the aqueducts, why should modern Europeans hesitate to have slaves to build its new world in America?” As for the treatment by some historians of the Church’s record on slavery, Stark accuses them of lying in plain sight. And so, in Bearing False Witness, Rodney Stark takes aim at one “myth” after another about Catholicism. The Spanish Inquisition? A “pack of lies”, originally spread by English and Dutch propagandists. The Inquisition “made little use of the stake, seldom tortured anyone and maintained unusually decent prisons”.  The Crusades? Stark begins by saying, in effect, “the others started it”, and goes from there. He is particularly hot in attacking the idea that the Crusaders were driven by dreams of land and loot. Stark’s style is brusque and clear. He is like a man carefully setting up skittles before firing down bowling balls of fact and argument to send them scattering (though in a couple of cases he is, in reality, rebalancing rather than overturning the debate). All of which means that Bearing False Witness is stirring, compelling, often convincing stuff. Some bits are especially fascinating, as when Stark makes the case for monasteries as the first true capitalist firms. (…) And, of course, the greatest obstacle nowadays to perceiving the Catholic Church as a force for good is not the myth of the suppressed Gospels, or the myth of the Protestant work ethic, or whatever else. It is the anything but mythical abuse scandals. (…) One thing Stark is not, therefore, is a Catholic: “I did not write this book in defence of the Church,” he states, looking possible critics straight in the eye. “I wrote it in defence of history.” Michael Dugan
Le problème n’était pas que le leadership fut silencieux. C’était que presque personne ne l’a écouté.  Quelques auteurs catholiques prétendent que ce ne fut pas avant les années 1890 que l’Église Catholique Romaine condamna l’esclavage. Un prêtre britannique a prétendu que cela n’a pas eu lieu avant 1965. Un Non-sens! Dès le septième siècle, Sainte-Bathilde (l’épouse du Roi Clovis II) devint célèbre pour sa campagne afin de faire cesser le commerce des esclaves afin de les libérer tous; en 851 Saint-Anskar débuta ses efforts pour faire stopper le commerce d’esclaves effectué par les Vikings. Que l’Église baptisa volontairement les esclaves démontre qu’ils furent  considérés comme ayant une âme, et très tôt, Rois et Évêques, incluant William le Conquérant (1027-1087) Saint-Wulfstan (1009-1095) et Saint-Anselme (1033-1109) interdirent l’esclavage des Chrétiens. Puisqu’en faisant exception des petits hameaux, Juifs et Vikings au nord, tout le monde était au moins nominalement un Chrétien,  l’esclavage était effectivement supprimé en Europe médiévale, excepté aux frontières méridionales et orientales avec l’Islam où des deux côtés on asservissait les prisonniers de l’autre. Toutefois, même cette pratique a épisodiquement fait l’objet de condamnation: au dixième siècle, les évêques de Venise ont proclamé une expiation publique pour la participation passée dans le commerce d’esclaves des Maures et ont cherché à empêcher tout Vénitien de participer à l’esclavage. Puis, au treizième siècle, Saint-Thomas d’Aquin conclut que l’esclavage était un péché. Ainsi, une série de papes supportèrent sa position en 1435, année où culminèrent trois déclarations majeures contre l’esclavage par le Pape Paul III en 1537. Il est significatif qu’au jour d’Aquin, l’esclavage était déjà une chose du passé ou des contrées éloignées. En conséquence, il  porta peu d’attention au sujet intrinsèque, prêtant plutôt d’attention au servage, qu’il tint également pour répugnant. Cependant, dans son analyse globale de la moralité dans les rapports humains, Aquin considérait l’esclavage comme étant en opposition à la loi naturelle, concluant que toutes les «créatures raisonnables» ont un droit à la justice. Par conséquent, il ne trouva aucune base naturelle pour prétendre à esclavage de personnes plutôt que d’autres, « de ce fait enlevant toute espèce de justification possible pour l’esclavage basée sur la race ou la religion.» La raison, et non pas la coercition, est la base, morale de l’autorité, parce qu’aucun «homme n’est par sa nature assujetti  à un autre.» Sur cette question, Aquin a distingué deux formes de  «sujétion» à l’autorité, l’une juste et l’autre injuste. La première existe lorsque les dirigeants travaillent pour l’avantage et le bénéfice de leurs sujets. La forme injuste de soumission « est celle de l’esclavage, dans lequel l’autorité contrôle le sujet pour ses propres avantages.» Se fondant sur l’immense autorité donnée à Aquin par l’Église, la position officielle était donc que l’esclavage était un péché. Il est vrai que quelques papes n’ont pas observé l’obligation morale d’opposition à l’esclavage. En 1488, le pape Innocent  VIII accepta un cadeau de cent esclaves Maures fait par le Roi Ferdinand d’Aragon, donnant certains d’entre eux à ses cardinaux. Naturellement, Innocent était un cas à part puisqu’il en est venu à commettre dans sa vie des actions parfaitement immorales. Cependant, la laxité ne doit pas être confondue avec la doctrine.  Ainsi. tandis qu’Innocent engendra beaucoup d’enfants, il n’a en aucun temps changé la doctrine officielle de l’Église comme quoi le clergé devait être célibataire. De la même manière, son acceptation d’un cadeau d’esclaves ne devrait pas être confondue avec des enseignements officiels de l’Église sur l’esclavage, enseignements qui ne changèrent pas. Ceux-ci ont été énoncés fréquemment et explicitement lorsqu’il devenait pertinent de le faire. Lors des années 1430, les Espagnols colonisèrent les îles Canaries et commencèrent à asservir la population indigène. Il n’était pas question de servage mais d’un véritable esclavage de sorte que des Chrétiens et les Maures pratiquèrent longtemps  sur les captifs en Espagne. Quand la rumeur de ces actions atteignit le Pape Eugène IV (1431 à 1447), il publia une Bulles, «Sicut Dudum». Le pape n’y a pas mâché ses mots. Sous la menace de l’excommunication, il donna quinze jours à partir de la réception de sa Bulle pour « restaurer à leur liberté au plus tôt toute personne de l’un ou l’autre sexe qui était par le passé, des résidants de les dites îles Canaries. . . Ces personnes doivent être totalement et perpétuellement libres et doivent être laissées libres sans exaction ou demande de quelques sommes d’argent que ce soit. Le Pape Pie II (1458 à 1464) et le Pape Sixte IV (1471 à 1484) ont poursuivi cette action par des Bulles additionnelles condamnant l’esclavage des insulaires dans les îles Canaries, qui, malheureusement, a quand même continué… Ce que cet épisode démontre est la fragilité de l’autorité papale de l’époque, et non pas une indifférence de l’Église au péché de l’esclavage. Avec le succès des invasions espagnoles et portugaises du Nouveau Monde, l’esclavage des indigènes et l’importation des Africains s’en sont suivis, et quelques esclavagistes ont eu comme raisonnement que cela n’était pas en violation de la moralité chrétienne, prétendant que ces derniers n’étaient pas « des créatures raisonnables» ayant droit à la liberté mais étaient plutôt des espèces d’animaux, et que donc légitimement sujets à l’exploitation humaine. Ce subterfuge théologique par les esclavagistes-commerçants fut astucieusement employé par Normand F. Cantor pour accuser le Catholicisme alors qu’il dit  : « l’Église a accepté l’esclavage… au seizième siècle en Espagne, les chrétiens discouraient au sujet de savoir si les esclaves noirs avaient une âme ou étaient des créations animales du Seigneur.» Cantor ne donna aucune indication comme quoi Rome à plusieurs reprises dénonça l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde comme motif d’excommunication. Et pourtant  c’est précisément ce que fit le Pape Paul III (de 1534 à 1549) sur cette question. Bien que membre d’une famille ecclésiastique Romaine, et quelquefois libertin dans ses premières années (il a été fait cardinal à vingt-cinq ans mais n’a pas accepté l’ordination jusqu’à ce qu’il ait eu cinquante ans). Paul se transforma et devint un  pape efficace et pieux qui a pleinement reconnu la signification morale du Protestantisme et lança la Contre-Réforme. Sa Bulle magnifique contre l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde (aussi bien que les Bulles semblables par d’autres papes) furent d’une façon ou d’une autre «oubliées» des archives historiques jusque très récemment. (…) Dans une seconde Bulle sur l’esclavage, Paul  appliqua la sanction de l’excommunication à quiconque sans regard pour : « sa dignité,  son état, sa condition, ou sa fonction… qui de quelque façon que ce soit prétend réduire les dits Indiens à l’esclavage ou de les dépouiller de leurs biens.»  Mais rien ne s’est produit. Bientôt, en plus de l’exploitation brutale des Indiens, les bateaux esclavagistes Espagnols et Portugais ont commencé à naviguer entre l’Afrique et le Nouveau Monde. Et comme les missionnaires Catholiques d’outre-mer avaient éveillé Rome afin qu’elle condamne l’esclavage des Indiens, des appels semblables ont été envoyés au sujet des esclaves noirs importés. Le 22 Avril 1639, le pape Urbain VIII (1623 à 1644), sur demande des Jésuites du Paraguay, publia une Bulle  « Commissum Nobis»  réaffirmant la loi de «notre prédécesseur Paul III» pour ceux qui réduisent d’autres à l’esclavage puisqu’étant ainsi sujets à l’excommunication. Par la suite, la Congrégation du Saint Office (l’Inquisition Romaine) a même abordé la question. Le 20 Mars 1686. (…) Le problème ne fut pas que l’Église ne condamna pas l’esclavage; ce fut que peu entendirent et que la plupart d’entre eux refusèrent d’écouter. À cette époque, les papes avaient peu ou à peu près pas d’influence sur les Espagnols et les Portugais puisqu’à ce moment-là, l’Espagne même régnait sur la majeure partie de l’Italie; en 1527, sous la conduite de Charles V, les espagnols ont même saccagé Rome. Si le pape avait si peu d’influences en Espagne ou au Portugal, il en avait à peu près aucune dans le Nouveau Monde et les nouvelles colonies, excepté indirectement par le travail des ordres religieux. En fait, il était illégal même d’éditer les décrets papaux « dans les possessions coloniales espagnoles sans le consentement royal,»  et le roi s’arrogeait le droit de désigner également tous les évêques. Néanmoins, la Bulle d’Urbain VIII fut lue en public par les Jésuites à Rio de Janeiro, avec comme résultat qu’ils furent attaqués à l’université locale des Jésuites avec pour compte qu’un certain nombre de prêtres furent blessés. Dans Santos, une foule a piétiné un Jésuite vicaire-général quand il a essayé de publier la Bulle, et les Jésuites ont été expulsés de Sao Paulo lorsque la rumeur se répandit de leur action pour faire connaître la Bulle contre l’esclavage. Ainsi, la connaissance des Bulles anti-esclavagistes et des décrets postérieurs de l’Inquisition contre l’esclavage ont été généralement limités au clergé, particulièrement aux ordres religieux, ce qui de ce fait a limité leur impact public. Naturellement, les Espagnols et les Portugais n’étaient pas les seuls esclavagistes du Nouveau Monde. Et même si  les Bulles papales furent publiées partout, elles n’eurent aucune force morale chez les Anglais et les Hollandais. Ainsi, il doit être noté que l’introduction de l’esclavage au Nouveau Monde n’a fait l’objet d’aucune dénonciation de personnalités hollandaises ou protestantes anglaises. Cependant, bien que les Bulles papales contre l’esclavage aient été rejetées dans le Nouveau Monde, les vues anti-esclavagistes de l’Église ont eu un effet significatif de modération dans les Amériques Catholiques par les moyens du  « Code Noir » et du « Código Negro Español ». Dans les deux cas, l’Église a inspiré leur formulation et leur renforcement, démontrant de ce fait son opposition fondamentale à l’esclavage et cela en essayant d’assurer « les droits des esclaves et son bien-être matériel,» et en imposant des «obligations aux propriétaires d’esclaves, limitant ainsi leur contrôle sur ces derniers.» Comme Eugene Genovese l’a mentionné : « le Catholicisme a fait une différence profonde dans les vies des esclaves. [ En ] donnant aux sociétés esclavagistes américaines brésiliennes et espagnoles une éthique. . .  celui d’une véritable législation spirituelle.» La prédominance d’anti-religieux, et particulièrement d’anti-Catholique, polarisée principalement dans la relation de l’histoire sur l’esclavage est bien démontrée par la «rubrique» sur  «Le Code Noir dans la Colombia Encyclopedia de 1975»  sous le mot Louisiane nous lisons : « [ Le code Noir adopté en 1724 pourvoit au contrôle rigide de la vie des [ esclaves ] et à la protection des blancs. Des dispositions complémentaires ont établi le Catholicisme comme religion officielle.» Et c’est fait ! Pas la plus légère reconnaissance des nombreux articles conçus pour protéger les esclaves. Il ne s’agissait pas d’une proclamation d’émancipation c’est un fait, mais le «Code des Barbades» n’en était pas un non plus. Comme exemple additionnel de la polarisation biaisée  antireligieuse chez les historiens contemporains, considérez que dans son article sur le Code Noir, Robin Blackburn a écrit « la politique officielle feinte l’encouragement des mariages d’esclaves dans les colonies françaises,» seulement à la fin de sa phrase il admet que cela avait des résultats « limités» mais  des résultats non négligeables. Il cite alors un document de la Martinique rapportant que la moitié des esclaves d’âge à se marier l’était. Puisque la distribution de l’état matrimonial des esclaves est précisée, ceci équivaut en fait au taux de mariage en France à ce moment-là, et il semblerait que selon lui, le soutien au mariage « soit feint.» Également remarquable est le fait que tant d’historiens distingués sur l’esclavage ont à peine mentionné l’existence du Code Noir et ont ignoré le Código Negro Español  si complètement qu’il n’apparaît même pas dans les index de leurs travaux. Mais si beaucoup d’historiens n’ont prêté que peu ou pas d’attention à ces codes, l’Église inspira ces codes, non plus que pratiquement personne a même mentionné le Code des Barbades (sous aucun nom), excepté les quelques historiens se spécialisant dans des lois sur l’esclavage, et quelques auteurs qui ont écrit spécifiquement au sujet de l’histoire de l’esclavage à la Barbade, bien que le code ait été observé dans toutes les Indes Occidentales Britanniques. Je pense que le code des Barbades aurait suscité une attention considérable s’il avait été produit par des Catholiques plutôt que par des Protestants…  Mais peut-être que la plus importante omission à noter dans les écrits sur l’esclavage dans le Nouvel Monde, et particulièrement de l’esclavage et des mauvais traitements faits à des populations indigènes, concerne la République Jésuite du Paraguay. Pendant plus de 150 années (1609-1768), les Jésuites ont administré un secteur de plus de deux fois la taille de la France, localisé au sud du Brésil et à l’ouest du territoire cédé au Portugal par le Traité de Tordesillas(1494).  Là, un petit groupe de Jésuites espagnols ( probablement jamais plus considérable que deux cents) fonda, protégea, éduqua , et conseilla une civilisation remarquable d’environ une trentaine de «réductions,» ou communautés, formée exclusivement  d’Indiens Guarani. Non seulement les arts et l’industrie se sont-ils épanouis dans la république des Jésuites (villes avec des rues pavées et des bâtiments, des orchestres symphoniques impressionnants, des imprimeries), mais encore une véritable tentative fut faite d’un gouvernement représentatif. Leur but en fondant cette république, est expliqué par le Jésuite supérieur Antonio Ruiz de Montoya en 1609, il s’agissait de christianiser et «civiliser» les Indiens de sorte qu’ils puissent être des sujets libres de la couronne, égaux aux Espagnols, et d’ainsi  : « amener la paix entre les Espagnols et les Indiens, une tâche si difficile que, depuis la découverte des Indes Occidentales il y a plus de cent ans, cela n’a toujours pas été possible.» La république s’est épanouie, mais plutôt que de devenir un fondement pour l’égalité et la paix, son existence a offensé beaucoup de fonctionnaires et de planteurs coloniaux, et provoqua des tentatives d’expropriation. Néanmoins, les Jésuites sont parvenus à devancer et contrecarrer ces tentatives pendant plusieurs générations. Mais ensuite, les choses ont commencé à se dégrader. La première étape dans la chute de la république est venue en 1750 quand les Portugais et les Espagnols ont signé un nouveau traité, redivisant l’Amérique du Sud le long des frontières naturelles. Comme résultat, sept des réductions sont tombées sous la juridiction portugaise. Il leur fut ordonné de passer le pouvoir aux autorités civiles, les Jésuites résistèrent et firent appel aux Couronnes Portugaises et Espagnoles pour conserver les réductions libres. Mais leurs adversaires étaient trop forts et sans scrupule, faisant circuler des fausses rumeurs de  conspiration des Jésuites contre les deux Couronnes. Ainsi en 1754, des troupes espagnoles furent envoyées contre les sept réductions de l’Ouest, alors que les Portugais avançaient à l’Est. Les deux forces européennes ont été défaites par les Indiens, qui étaient tout à fait bien entraînées dans la tactique militaire et possédaient des mousquets et des canons. Bien que les Jésuites n’eurent aucune participation dans les batailles, ils ont été blâmés comme traîtres et comme conséquence à cette lutte contre l’esclavage, ils furent expulsés du Portugal et de tous les territoires portugais en 1758. Bientôt, des accusations supplémentaires de complots durent portés contre le Jésuites en Espagne alors que tous les membres de l’ordre furent arrêtés au début de 1667 et expulsés dans les états pontificaux. En juillet, les autorités coloniales étaient prêtes à expulser les Jésuites d’Amérique latine, et le rassemblement  de ces derniers débuta à Buenos Aires et à Cordoue. Mais ce ne fut pas avant l’année suivante que les troupes espagnoles  s’emparèrent des vingt-trois «réductions» restantes et se saisirent des Jésuites demeurant, sur quoi les pères (même très malades et vieux) ont été attachés à des mules et transportés à travers les montagnes par mauvais temps, beaucoup sont décédés. Ainsi, étaient les Jésuites expulsés de l’hémisphère occidental. Bientôt, leur république tomba en ruine et fut pillée par les autorités civiles. Découragés par les mauvais traitements et la perte des «Pères Robe Noire» (les jésuites), les survivants Guaraní s’enfuirent, la plupart dans les villes. Ainsi, périt une brillante civilisation… Bien sûr, parmi les quelques historiens à traiter de la république des Jésuites, certains vocifèrent contre le colonialisme et le Catholicisme, condamnent les Jésuites «fanatiques» pour l’imposition de la religion et de la civilisation aux Indiens païens, et dénoncent des efforts des Jésuites pour soutenir une république comme un cruel paternalisme et une exploitation. Mais même si l’on devait accepter la version la plus extrémiste de ces assertions, on est confronté aux efforts sincères et efficaces des Jésuites pour protéger les Indiens contre les planteurs et les autorités coloniales qui ont souhaité les ramener à l’esclavage ou de les supprimer entièrement. D’avoir réussi à ériger avec les indiens, une civilisation indienne avancée dans ce contexte historique est un exploit tout à  fait extraordinaire. D’ailleurs, nos historiens parlent au moins de cet événement historique important, alors que la plupart des autres historiens l’ont tout simplement ignoré. J’ai pu trouver seulement deux livres sur le sujet en langue anglaise écrits depuis les trente dernières années, l’un d’entre eux traduit du Portugais et tous deux maintenant indisponibles. D’autant plus que j’ai pu découvrir, une seule reconnaissance du sujet dans l’encyclopédie Britannica  autre que cette simple phrase sous le mot : « Paraguay, histoire de » : « Pendant la majeure partie de l’ère coloniale, le Paraguay a été connu principalement comme une énorme mission de Jésuites de 30 reducciones.» Il n’est même pas dit ce que sont les  «reducciones». Quant aux travaux principaux sur l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde, qui tous ont des choses amères (et souvent anti-Catholiques) à dire au sujet de l’esclavage et de l’abus des Indiens en Amérique latine: ils conservent un silence absolu sur la république des Indiens du Paraguay. En revanche, une attention considérable a été prêtée par des historiens au fait que pas tout le clergé catholique, incluant  les Jésuites, ont accepté que l’esclavage fut un péché. En effet, parfois au milieu des sociétés esclavagistes elles-mêmes, des membres du clergé  ont eu des esclaves pendant le dix-huitième et tôt durant le dix-neuvième siècle. Les Jésuites dans le Maryland furent  propriétaires d’esclaves. Le reste du clergé était très confus au sujet de cette question. Par exemple, Dominicain Bartolome de Las Casas (1474-1566) a fait une campagne amère et tout à fait réussie contre l’esclavage des Indiens, pendant laquelle il a proposé que des esclaves soient apportés d’Afrique pour les remplacer. Plus tard, il est venu à regretter vivement cette proposition et a exprimé un doute de savoir si Dieu le pardonnerait pour ce péché terrible. Il faut également reconnaître que l’Église, habituellement, n’a pas confronté les gouvernements de front et n’a pas essayé par la  force de faire cesser l’esclavage. Reconnaissant que les papes avaient menacé d’excommunication, mais dans la pratique, l’Église a travaillé à essayer d’améliorer les conditions de vie des esclaves autant que possible. Ainsi, l’église était persistante dans son affirmation que l’esclavage était seulement un état de service, et que ceux qui furent asservis, étaient entièrement humains et pleinement égaux aux yeux de Dieu. Pendant que l’éminent  Cardinal italien Hyacinthe Gerdil (1718-1802) disait que : « l’esclavage ne peut pas être compris comme conférant à un seul homme le même pouvoir qu’un homme a sur son bétail. . . L’esclavage ne supprime pas l’égalité naturelle des hommes… [ et est ] sujet à la condition que le maître prenne le soin qui est dû à son esclave et le traite avec humanité.»Comme déjà mentionné, c’était dans cet esprit que le premier article du « Código Negro Español» exigeait de tous les maîtres d’avoir leurs esclaves baptisés et spécifiait de sérieuses sanctions  pour les maîtres qui n’ont pas permis à leurs esclaves d’assister à la messe ou de célébrer les jours de célébrations. En revanche, l’Église d’Angleterre ne reconnaissait pas les esclaves comme des « êtres humains baptisables.» Ces deux vues ont eu un effet profond, non seulement sur ceux impliqués dans l’esclavage, mais sur des attitudes envers les ex-esclaves et l’affranchissement des esclaves. Ce qui est clair est que l’affirmation commune comme quoi l’Église Catholique a généralement favorisé l’esclavage, n’est pas vraie. En effet, comme il sera vu, quand les Quakers américains initièrent le mouvement abolitionniste, ils  trouvèrent des âmes soeurs non seulement chez d’autres Protestants mais également parmi les Catholiques Romains. Si le monothéisme possédait un potentiel certain de provoquer des doctrines anti-esclavagistes comme cela est avancé par certains, il faut également se demander pourquoi l’Islam ne s’est-il donc pas retourné contre l’esclavage ? En effet, pourquoi l’esclavage persiste-t-il dans certaines régions  islamiques, alors qu’il vient tout récemment de cesser dans d’autres nations musulmanes en réponse à une pression intense de l’ouest (chrétien)? Pour répondre à cette question, nous devons reconnaître que les théologiens travaillent dans des limites intellectuelles définies, non pas simplement en conclusion de fondements culturels particuliers. Par exemple, il serait tout à fait impossible pour les théologiens juifs, chrétiens, ou islamiques de déduire que Dieu n’a aucun intérêt dans le comportement sexuel humain. Les textes révélés ne permettront simplement pas une telle conclusion. Ni les théologiens chrétiens ne pourraient déduire que Jésus a favorisé la polygamie, du moins sans une révélation additionnelle. Le problème fondamental auquel font face les théologiens musulmans vis-à-vis de la moralité de l’esclavage est que Mahomet a acheté, vendu, capturé, et possédé des esclaves. Comme Moïse, le Prophète a conseillé que des esclaves soient bien traités : « Et que ceux qui n’ont pas de quoi se marier, cherchent à rester chastes jusqu’à ce qu’Allah les enrichisse par Sa grâce. Ceux de vos esclaves qui cherchent un contrat d’affranchissement, concluez ce contrat avec eux si vous reconnaissez du bien en eux; et donnez-leur des biens d’Allah qu’Il vous a accordés. Et dans votre recherche des profits passagers de la vie présente, ne contraignez pas vos femmes esclaves à la prostitution, si elles veulent rester chastes. Si on les y contraint, Allah leur accorde après qu’elles aient été contraintes, Son pardon et Sa miséricorde.», également il est possible de gagner la rémission si l’on a tué un compagnon croyant par erreur en libérant un esclave : «Il n’appartient pas à un croyant de tuer un autre croyant, si ce n’est par erreur. Quiconque tue par erreur un croyant, qu’il affranchisse alors un esclave croyant et remette à sa famille le prix du sang, à moins que celle-ci n’y renonce par charité. Mais si [le tué] appartenait à un peuple ennemi à vous et qu’il soit croyant, qu’on affranchisse alors un esclave croyant. S’il appartenait à un peuple auquel vous êtes liés par un pacte, qu’on verse alors à sa famille le prix du sang et qu’on affranchisse un esclave croyant. Celui qui n’en trouve pas les moyens, qu’il jeûne deux mois d’affilée pour être pardonné par Allah. Allah est Omniscient et Sage.»(4,92). Comme ce fut le cas des règles juives au sujet de l’esclavage, les critiques de Mahomet ainsi que l’exemple ont probablement atténué bien souvent les conditions de vie des esclaves dans l’Islam contrastant avec le monde Romain ou Grec. Cependant, la moralité fondamentale sur le fondement de l’esclavage ne fut pas remise en cause. Tandis que les théologiens chrétiens furent capables de remettre en cause l’acceptation biblique de l’esclavage, ils n’auraient pas pu probablement le faire si Jésus avait possédé des esclaves. Le fait que Mahomet posséda des esclaves fait que pour les  théologiens musulmans, il est impossible en manœuvrant intellectuellement de surmonter ce problème, et cela même s’ils désiraient le faire. Rodney Stark
Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ? Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro, qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès la réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ». Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables. Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ». Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats. En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ». Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante. Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme. Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation. C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. (…) Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne [Dumézil] , nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi. Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle. Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église. (…)  En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier. Jean-Marc Bastière
A propos de la féodalité et du Moyen Âge, l’auteur a beau jeu de rappeler qu’elle ne mérite pas les clichés méprisants du XVIIIe siècle. Les médiévistes contemporains, de Régine Pernoud à Jacques Le Goff en passant par Jacques Heers, ont fait litière de ces préjugés et montré comment, sous l’égide du clergé catholique, les peuples de l’Occident ont jeté les bases de la démocratie, de la laïcité, de l’émancipation des femmes etc. À propos des croisades, Jean Sévillia signale qu’elles furent avant tout une manifestation de foi populaire et une réaction de défense des Européens dans une époque très critique de leur Histoire. Les excès et les massacres qu’on peut leur attribuer ne sortent hélas pas de l’ordinaire de l’époque (et sont plutôt moins choquants que les horreurs du début du XXe siècle). Pire que le Goulag ( *), l’ Inquisition ! Contre l’imagerie traditionnelle colportée par les protestants anglais et les philosophes français qui fait de l’Inquisition espagnole l’horreur absolue, on rappelle que ses victimes se comptent au nombre de quelques milliers en l’espace de trois siècles. Venons-en au XVIIIe siècle français. «Voilà un aspect des Lumières qui est aujourd’hui soigneusement caché : le racisme», dit fort justement l’auteur de Historiquement correct. Voltaire, le grand Voltaire, écrit dans Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des moeurs : «Il n’est permis qu’à un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les nègres, les albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Amériques ne soient des races entièrement différentes». En écrivant cela, le pourfendeur du clergé prend le contrepied de l’enseignement religieux qui, depuis Saint Paul, n’a de cesse de souligner l’unicité de la condition humaine. Malheureusement, aux XIXe et XXe siècles, le triste enseignement de Voltaire sera mieux suivi que celui de Saint Paul. Faut-il insister ? Le Siècle des Lumières fut aussi le grand siècle de la traite atlantique et les «philosophes» ne furent pas les derniers à placer leurs économies dans le trafic d’esclaves. Jean Sévillia a beau jeu de rappeler les crimes commis pendant la Révolution française, sous la Terreur, au nom de la Liberté, mais curieusement ne s’appesantit pas sur Napoléon Bonaparte, dont les actions ont peu de rapport avec la légende. De même, il ne manque pas de rappeler les exactions des Communards de 1871 mais néglige la responsabilité d’ Adolphe Thiers dans cette tragédie.Plus près de nous, Historiquement correct témoigne de la grande confusion idéologique qui a conduit en France les républicains de gauche à se faire les apologues de la colonisation à la fin du XIXe siècle et à défendre la présence française en Algérie après la seconde guerre mondiale. De la même façon, peut-on ignorer la contribution de plusieurs dirigeants socialistes ou communistes au gouvernement du maréchal Pétain (Doriot, Déat, Laval, Belin…), tandis que des officiers catholiques et parfois monarchistes s’engageaient dès les débuts de l’occupation allemande dans la Résistance (d’Estienne d’Orves, Leclerc de Hauteclocque, de Gaulle…) ? Et quel est l’extrémiste qui confie les lignes suivantes à son journal intime, en juillet 1940 ? «J’espère que l’Allemand vaincra ; car il ne faut pas que le général de Gaulle l’emporte chez nous. Il est remarquable que la guerre revient à une guerre juive, c’est-à-dire à une guerre qui aura des milliards et aussi des Judas Macchabées. » C’est le philosophe Alain, radical et pacifiste, grande conscience de la IIIe République. André Larané
The Name of the Rose, wrote a particularly influential manual. There is no reason to believe that Gui was anything like his fictional portrayal. By the 14th century, the Inquisition represented the best legal practices available. Inquisition officials were university-trained specialists in law and theology. The procedures were similar to those used in secular inquisitions (we call them « inquests » today, but it’s the same word). The power of kings rose dramatically in the late Middle Ages. (…) As in other areas of ecclesiastical control, secular authorities in the late Middle Ages began to take over the Inquisition, removing it from papal oversight. In France, for example, royal officials assisted by legal scholars at the University of Paris assumed control of the French Inquisition. Kings justified this on the belief that they knew better than the faraway pope how best to deal with heresy in their own kingdoms. These dynamics would help to form the Spanish Inquisition — but there were others as well. Spain was in many ways quite different from the rest of Europe. Conquered by Muslim jihad in the eighth century, the Iberian peninsula had been a place of near constant warfare. Because borders between Muslim and Christian kingdoms shifted rapidly over the centuries, it was in most rulers’ interest to practice a fair degree of tolerance for other religions. The ability of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together, called convivencia by the Spanish, was a rarity in the Middle Ages. Indeed, Spain was the most diverse and tolerant place in medieval Europe. England expelled all of its Jews in 1290. France did the same in 1306. Yet in Spain Jews thrived at every level of society. But it was perhaps inevitable that the waves of anti-Semitism that swept across medieval Europe would eventually find their way into Spain. Envy, greed, and gullibility led to rising tensions between Christians and Jews in the 14th century. During the summer of 1391, urban mobs in Barcelona and other towns poured into Jewish quarters, rounded up Jews, and gave them a choice of baptism or death. Most took baptism. The king of Aragon, who had done his best to stop the attacks, later reminded his subjects of well-established Church doctrine on the matter of forced baptisms — they don’t count. He decreed that any Jews who accepted baptism to avoid death could return to their religion. But most of these new converts, or conversos, decided to remain Catholic. There were many reasons for this. Some believed that apostasy made them unfit to be Jewish. Others worried that returning to Judaism would leave them vulnerable to future attacks. Still others saw their baptism as a way to avoid the increasing number of restrictions and taxes imposed on Jews. As time passed, the conversos settled into their new religion, becoming just as pious as other Catholics. Their children were baptized at birth and raised as Catholics. But they remained in a cultural netherworld. Although Christian, most conversos still spoke, dressed, and ate like Jews. Many continued to live in Jewish quarters so as to be near family members. The presence of conversos had the effect of Christianizing Spanish Judaism. This in turn led to a steady stream of voluntary conversions to Catholicism. In 1414 a debate was held in Tortosa between Christian and Jewish leaders. Pope Benedict XIII himself attended. On the Christian side was the papal physician, Jeronimo de Santa Fe, who had recently converted from Judaism. The debate brought about a wave of new voluntary conversions. In Aragon alone, 3,000 Jews received baptism. All of this caused a good deal of tension between those who remained Jewish and those who became Catholic. Spanish rabbis after 1391 had considered conversos to be Jews, since they had been forced into baptism. Yet by 1414, rabbis repeatedly stressed that conversos were indeed true Christians, since they had voluntarily left Judaism. By the mid-15th century, a whole new converso culture was flowering in Spain — Jewish in ethnicity and culture, but Catholic in religion. Conversos, whether new converts themselves or the descendants of converts, took enormous pride in that culture. Some even asserted that they were better than the « Old Christians, » since as Jews they were related by blood to Christ Himself. When the converso bishop of Burgos, Alonso de Cartagena, prayed the Hail Mary, he would say with pride, « Holy Mary, Mother of God and my blood relative, pray for us sinners . . . » The expansion of converso wealth and power in Spain led to a backlash, particularly among aristocratic and middle-class Old Christians. They resented the arrogance of the conversos and envied their successes. Several tracts were written demonstrating that virtually every noble bloodline in Spain had been infiltrated by conversos. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories abounded. The conversos, it was said, were part of an elaborate Jewish plot to take over the Spanish nobility and the Catholic Church, destroying both from within. The conversos, according to this logic, were not sincere Christians but secret Jews. Modern scholarship has definitively shown that, like most conspiracy theories, this one was pure imagination. The vast majority of conversos were good Catholics who simply took pride in their Jewish heritage. Surprisingly, many modern authors — indeed, many Jewish authors — have embraced these anti-Semitic fantasies. It is common today to hear that the conversos really were secret Jews, struggling to keep their faith hidden under the tyranny of Catholicism. Even the American Heritage Dictionary describes « converso » as « a Spanish or Portuguese Jew who converted outwardly to Christianity in the late Middle Ages so as to avoid persecution or expulsion, though often continuing to practice Judaism in secret. » This is simply false. But the constant drumbeat of accusations convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the matter of secret Jews should at least be investigated. Responding to their request, Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull on November 1, 1478, allowing the crown to form an inquisitorial tribunal consisting of two or three priests over the age of 40. As was now the custom, the monarchs would have complete authority over the inquisitors and the inquisition. Ferdinand, who had many Jews and conversos in his court, was not at first overly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Two years elapsed before he finally appointed two men. Thus began the Spanish Inquisition. King Ferdinand seems to have believed that the inquiry would turn up little. He was wrong. A tinderbox of resentment and hatred exploded across Spain as the enemies of conversos — both Christian and Jewish — came out of the woodwork to denounce them. Score-settling and opportunism were the primary motivators. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of accusations overwhelmed the inquisitors. They asked for and received more assistants, but the larger the Inquisition became, the more accusations it received. At last even Ferdinand was convinced that the problem of secret Jews was real. In this early stage of the Spanish Inquisition, Old Christians and Jews used the tribunals as a weapon against their converso enemies. Since the Inquisition’s sole purpose was to investigate conversos, the Old Christians had nothing to fear from it. Their fidelity to the Catholic faith was not under investigation (although it was far from pure). As for the Jews, they were immune to the Inquisition. Remember, the purpose of an inquisition was to find and correct the lost sheep of Christ’s flock. It had no jurisdiction over other flocks. Those who get their history from Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I will perhaps be surprised to learn that all of those Jews enduring various tortures in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition are nothing more than a product of Brooks’s fertile imagination. Spain’s Jews had nothing to fear from the Spanish Inquisition. In the early, rapidly expanding years, there was plenty of abuse and confusion. Most accused conversos were acquitted, but not all. Well-publicized burnings — often because of blatantly false testimony — justifiably frightened other conversos. Those with enemies often fled town before they could be denounced. Everywhere they looked, the inquisitors found more accusers. As the Inquisition expanded into Aragon, the hysteria levels reached new heights. Pope Sixtus IV attempted to put a stop to it. On April 18, 1482, (…) Sixtus ordered the bishops to take a direct role in all future tribunals. They were to ensure that the Church’s well-established norms of justice were respected. The accused were to have legal counsel and the right to appeal their case to Rome. In the Middle Ages, the pope’s commands would have been obeyed. But those days were gone. King Ferdinand was outraged (…) That was the end of the papacy’s role in the Spanish Inquisition. It would henceforth be an arm of the Spanish monarchy, separate from ecclesiastical authority. It is odd, then, that the Spanish Inquisition is so often today described as one of the Catholic Church’s great sins. The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with it. In 1483 Ferdinand appointed Tomas de Torquemada as inquistor-general for most of Spain. It was Torquemada’s job to establish rules of evidence and procedure for the Inquisition as well as to set up branches in major cities. Sixtus confirmed the appointment, hoping that it would bring some order to the situation. Unfortunately, the problem only snowballed. This was a direct result of the methods employed by the early Spanish Inquisition, which strayed significantly from Church standards. When the inquisitors arrived in a particular area, they would announce an Edict of Grace. This was a 30-day period in which secret Jews could voluntarily come forward, confess their sin, and do penance. This was also a time for others with information about Christians practicing Judaism in secret to make it known to the tribunal. Those found guilty after the 30 days elapsed could be burned at the stake. For conversos, then, the arrival of the Inquisition certainly focused the mind. They generally had plenty of enemies, any one of whom might decide to bear false witness. Or perhaps their cultural practices were sufficient for condemnation? Who knew? Most converses, therefore, either fled or lined up to confess. Those who did neither risked an inquiry in which any kind of hearsay or evidence, no matter how old or suspicious, was acceptable. Opposition in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to the Spanish Inquisition only increased. Many churchmen pointed out that it was contrary to all accepted practices for heretics to be burned without instruction in the Faith. If the conversos were guilty at all, it was merely of ignorance, not willful heresy. Numerous clergy at the highest levels complained to Ferdinand. Opposition to the Spanish Inquisition also continued in Rome. Sixtus’s successor, Innocent VIII, wrote twice to the king asking for greater compassion, mercy, and leniency for the conversos — but to no avail. As the Spanish Inquisition picked up steam, those involved became increasingly convinced that Spain’s Jews were actively seducing the conversos back into their old faith. It was a silly idea, no more real than the previous conspiracy theories. But Ferdinand and Isabella were influenced by it. Both of the monarchs had Jewish friends and confidants, but they also felt that their duty to their Christian subjects impelled them to remove the danger. Beginning in 1482, they expelled Jews from specific areas where the trouble seemed greatest. Over the next decade, though, they were under increasing pressure to remove the perceived threat. The Spanish Inquisition, it was argued, could never succeed in bringing the conversos back into the fold while the Jews undermined its work. Finally, on March 31, 1492, the monarchs issued an edict expelling all Jews from Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella expected that their edict would result in the conversion of most of the remaining Jews in their kingdom. They were largely correct. Many Jews in high positions, including those in the royal court, accepted baptism immediately. In 1492 the Jewish population of Spain numbered about 80,000. About half were baptized and thereby kept their property and livelihoods. The rest departed, but many of them eventually returned to Spain, where they received baptism and had their property restored. As far as the Spanish Inquisition was concerned, the expulsion of the Jews meant that the caseload of conversos was now much greater. The first 15 years of the Spanish Inquisition, under the direction of Torquemada, were the deadliest. Approximately 2,000 conversos were put to the flames. By 1500, however, the hysteria had calmed. Torquemada’s successor, the cardinal archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, worked hard to reform the Inquisition, removing bad apples and reforming procedures. Each tribunal was given two Dominican inquisitors, a legal adviser, a constable, a prosecutor, and a large number of assistants. With the exception of the two Dominicans, all of these were royal lay officials. The Spanish Inquisition was largely funded by confiscations, but these were not frequent or great. Indeed, even at its peak the Inquisition was always just making ends meet. After the reforms, the Spanish Inquisition had very few critics. Staffed by well-educated legal professionals, it was one of the most efficient and compassionate judicial bodies in Europe. No major court in Europe executed fewer people than the Spanish Inquisition. This was a time, after all, when damaging shrubs in a public garden in London carried the death penalty. Across Europe, executions were everyday events. But not so with the Spanish Inquisition. In its 350-year lifespan only about 4,000 people were put to the stake. Compare that with the witch-hunts that raged across the rest of Catholic and Protestant Europe, in which 60,000 people, mostly women, were roasted. Spain was spared this hysteria precisely because the Spanish Inquisition stopped it at the border. When the first accusations of witchcraft surfaced in northern Spain, the Inquisition sent its people to investigate. These trained legal scholars found no believable evidence for witches’ Sabbaths, black magic, or baby roasting. It was also noted that those confessing to witchcraft had a curious inability to fly through keyholes. While Europeans were throwing women onto bonfires with abandon, the Spanish Inquisition slammed the door shut on this insanity. (For the record, the Roman Inquisition also kept the witch craze from infecting Italy.) What about the dark dungeons and torture chambers? The Spanish Inquisition had jails, of course. But they were neither especially dark nor dungeon-like. Indeed, as far as prisons go, they were widely considered to be the best in Europe. There were even instances of criminals in Spain purposely blaspheming so as to be transferred to the Inquisition’s prisons. Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time. The inescapable conclusion is that, by the standards of its time, the Spanish Inquisition was positively enlightened. That was the assessment of most Europeans until 1530. It was then that the Spanish Inquisition turned its attention away from the conversos and toward the new Protestant Reformation. The people of Spain and their monarchs were determined that Protestantism would not infiltrate their country as it had Germany and France. The Inquisition’s methods did not change. Executions and torture remained rare. But its new target would forever change its image. By the mid-16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. King Philip II saw himself and his countrymen as faithful defenders of the Catholic Church. Less wealthy and less powerful were Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England. But they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous « Black Legend » of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today.  (…) Because it was both professional and efficient, the Spanish Inquisition kept very good records. Vast archives are filled with them. These documents were kept secret, so there was no reason for scribes to do anything but accurately record every action of the Inquisition. They are a goldmine for modern historians who have plunged greedily into them. Thus far, the fruits of that research have made one thing abundantly clear — the myth of the Spanish Inquisition has nothing at all to do with the real thing. Thomas F. Madden
When the sins of the Catholic Church are recited (as they so often are) the Inquisition figures prominently. People with no interest in European history know full well that it was led by brutal and fanatical churchmen who tortured, maimed, and killed those who dared question the authority of the Church. The word “Inquisition” is part of our modern vocabulary, describing both an institution and a period of time. Having one of your hearings referred to as an “Inquisition” is not a compliment for most senators. But in recent years the Inquisition has been subject to greater investigation. In preparation for the Jubilee in 2000, Pope John Paul II wanted to find out just what happened during the time of the Inquisition’s (the institution’s) existence. In 1998 the Vatican opened the archives of the Holy Office (the modern successor to the Inquisition) to a team of 30 scholars from around the world. Now at last the scholars have made their report, an 800-page tome that was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. Its most startling conclusion is that the Inquisition was not so bad after all. Torture was rare and only about 1 percent of those brought before the Spanish Inquisition were actually executed. (…) The amazed gasps and cynical sneers that have greeted this report are just further evidence of the lamentable gulf that exists between professional historians and the general public. The truth is that, although this report makes use of previously unavailable material, it merely echoes what numerous scholars have previously learned from other European archives. Among the best recent books on the subject are Edward Peters’s Inquisition (1988) and Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition (1997), but there are others. Simply put, historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. (…) The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training–something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge. The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was born out of a need to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community. As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule. During the 13th century the Inquisition became much more formalized in its methods and practices. Highly trained Dominicans answerable to the Pope took over the institution, creating courts that represented the best legal practices in Europe. As royal authority grew during the 14th century and beyond, control over the Inquisition slipped out of papal hands and into those of kings. Instead of one Inquisition there were now many. Despite the prospect of abuse, monarchs like those in Spain and France generally did their best to make certain that their inquisitions remained both efficient and merciful. During the 16th century, when the witch craze swept Europe, it was those areas with the best-developed inquisitions that stopped the hysteria in its tracks. In Spain and Italy, trained inquisitors investigated charges of witches’ sabbaths and baby roasting and found them to be baseless. Elsewhere, particularly in Germany, secular or religious courts burned witches by the thousands. Compared to other medieval secular courts, the Inquisition was positively enlightened. Why then are people in general and the press in particular so surprised to discover that the Inquisition did not barbecue people by the millions? First of all, when most people think of the Inquisition today what they are really thinking of is the Spanish Inquisition. No, not even that is correct. They are thinking of the myth of the Spanish Inquisition. Amazingly, before 1530 the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. There are actually records of convicts in Spain purposely blaspheming so that they could be transferred to the prisons of the Spanish Inquisition. After 1530, however, the Spanish Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth. By the mid 16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England, may not have been as militarily mighty, but they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. (…) In time, Spain’s empire would fade away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church. Thomas F. Madden

Attention: une chasse aux sorcières peut en cacher une autre !

En cette nouvelle journée internationale pour l’abolition de l’esclavage

Et face aux quelque 40 million de nouveaux esclaves …

Derrière la surenchère et l’emballement mémoriel

L’indifférence, voire la complicité, politiquement correct oblige …

D’un Monde judéo-chrétien qui y a hélas eu sa part …

Mais – qui le rappelle encore ? – , est à l’origine de son abolition

Et à l’heure où, djihad oblige et dans la même indifférence, l’épuration du judéo-christianisme hors de son propre berceau se poursuit …

Retour, après les croisades, à notre petite remise des pendules à l’heure …

Avec la traduction française du dernier ouvrage du sociologue des religions américain Rodney Stark …

Et sa recension des dernières recherches des historiens les plus reconnus …

Comme avec le livre du journaliste du Figaro Jean Sévilla …

Sur les préjugés antichrétiens en général et anticatholiques en particulier …

Et notamment, entre autodafés (à peine 10 exécutions par an pour un total de 2 300 sur 220 ans soit moins de 2% des accusés, et bien moins, sans compter les foules déchainées, que les autorités séculières qui les mettaient à exécution) et incinérations de sorcières (une petite poignée sur quelque 60 000),  la légende noire d’une Inquisition espagnole

Et l’un des chapitres soi-disant les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale …

Qui si l’on en croit les dernières recherches …

A non seulement versé très peu de sang …

Mais au nom même des valeurs à partir desquelles on la critique …

A été une force majeure en faveur de la modération et de la justice …

Et dont la prétendue férocité  …

N’avait en fait à l’instar de la Grande grippe de 1918 200 ans après …

D’espagnole que le nom !

The Real Inquisition

Investigating the popular myth.When the sins of the Catholic Church are recited (as they so often are) the Inquisition figures prominently. People with no interest in European history know full well that it was led by brutal and fanatical churchmen who tortured, maimed, and killed those who dared question the authority of the Church. The word “Inquisition” is part of our modern vocabulary, describing both an institution and a period of time. Having one of your hearings referred to as an “Inquisition” is not a compliment for most senators.

But in recent years the Inquisition has been subject to greater investigation. In preparation for the Jubilee in 2000, Pope John Paul II wanted to find out just what happened during the time of the Inquisition’s (the institution’s) existence. In 1998 the Vatican opened the archives of the Holy Office (the modern successor to the Inquisition) to a team of 30 scholars from around the world. Now at last the scholars have made their report, an 800-page tome that was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. Its most startling conclusion is that the Inquisition was not so bad after all. Torture was rare and only about 1 percent of those brought before the Spanish Inquisition were actually executed. As one headline read “Vatican Downsizes Inquisition.”

The amazed gasps and cynical sneers that have greeted this report are just further evidence of the lamentable gulf that exists between professional historians and the general public. The truth is that, although this report makes use of previously unavailable material, it merely echoes what numerous scholars have previously learned from other European archives. Among the best recent books on the subject are Edward Peters’s Inquisition (1988) and Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition (1997), but there are others. Simply put, historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. So what is the truth?

To understand the Inquisition we have to remember that the Middle Ages were, well, medieval. We should not expect people in the past to view the world and their place in it the way we do today. (You try living through the Black Death and see how it changes your attitude.) For people who lived during those times, religion was not something one did just at church. It was science, philosophy, politics, identity, and hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community.

The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training–something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge.

The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was born out of a need to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

During the 13th century the Inquisition became much more formalized in its methods and practices. Highly trained Dominicans answerable to the Pope took over the institution, creating courts that represented the best legal practices in Europe. As royal authority grew during the 14th century and beyond, control over the Inquisition slipped out of papal hands and into those of kings. Instead of one Inquisition there were now many. Despite the prospect of abuse, monarchs like those in Spain and France generally did their best to make certain that their inquisitions remained both efficient and merciful. During the 16th century, when the witch craze swept Europe, it was those areas with the best-developed inquisitions that stopped the hysteria in its tracks. In Spain and Italy, trained inquisitors investigated charges of witches’ sabbaths and baby roasting and found them to be baseless. Elsewhere, particularly in Germany, secular or religious courts burned witches by the thousands.

Compared to other medieval secular courts, the Inquisition was positively enlightened. Why then are people in general and the press in particular so surprised to discover that the Inquisition did not barbecue people by the millions? First of all, when most people think of the Inquisition today what they are really thinking of is the Spanish Inquisition. No, not even that is correct. They are thinking of the myth of the Spanish Inquisition. Amazingly, before 1530 the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. There are actually records of convicts in Spain purposely blaspheming so that they could be transferred to the prisons of the Spanish Inquisition. After 1530, however, the Spanish Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth.

By the mid 16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England, may not have been as militarily mighty, but they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil.

Protestant propaganda that took aim at the Spanish Inquisition drew liberally from the Black Legend. But it had other sources as well. From the beginning of the Reformation, Protestants had difficulty explaining the 15-century gap between Christ’s institution of His Church and the founding of the Protestant churches. Catholics naturally pointed out this problem, accusing Protestants of having created a new church separate from that of Christ. Protestants countered that their church was the one created by Christ, but that it had been forced underground by the Catholic Church. Thus, just as the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians, so its successor, the Roman Catholic Church, continued to persecute them throughout the Middle Ages. Inconveniently, there were no Protestants in the Middle Ages, yet Protestant authors found them there anyway in the guise of various medieval heretics. In this light, the medieval Inquisition was nothing more than an attempt to crush the hidden, true church. The Spanish Inquisition, still active and extremely efficient at keeping Protestants out of Spain, was for Protestant writers merely the latest version of this persecution. Mix liberally with the Black Legend and you have everything you need to produce tract after tract about the hideous and cruel Spanish Inquisition. And so they did.

In time, Spain’s empire would fade away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church.

Now a bit more of the real Inquisition has come back into view. The question remains, will anyone take notice?

Thomas F. Madden is professor and chair of the department of history at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author most recently of Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice and editor of the forthcoming Crusades: The Illustrated History.

Voir aussi:

The Truth about the Spanish Inquisition

Thomas F. Madden

Catholic culture

Description

An accurate portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition by a contemporary American historian, this treatment demolishes the Black Legend by providing both the historical context and the historical evidence required to make a balanced judgment. Political, cultural, religious and judicial aspects of the Inquisition are all addressed. The roles of both the Holy See and the Spanish Crown are described. The author is chairman of the Department of History at Saint Louis University.

October 2003

The scene is a plain-looking room with a door to the left. A pleasant young man, pestered by tedious and irrelevant questions, exclaims in a frustrated tone, « I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition. » Suddenly the door bursts open to reveal Cardinal Ximinez flanked by Cardinal Fang and Cardinal Biggles. « Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! » Ximinez shouts. « Our chief weapon is surprise . . . surprise and fear . . . fear and surprise . . . Our two weapons are fear and surprise . . . and ruthless efficiency . . . Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency . . . and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope . . . Our four . . . no . . . Amongst our weapons . . . amongst our weaponry — are such elements as fear, surprise . . . I’ll come in again. »

Anyone not living under a rock for the past 30 years will likely recognize this famous scene from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In these sketches three scarlet-clad, inept inquisitors torture their victims with such instruments as pillows and comfy chairs. The whole thing is funny because the audience knows full well that the Spanish Inquisition was neither inept nor comfortable, but ruthless, intolerant, and deadly. One need not have read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum to have heard of the dark dungeons, sadistic churchmen, and excruciating tortures of the Spanish Inquisition. The rack, the iron maiden, the bonfires on which the Catholic Church dumped its enemies by the millions: These are all familiar icons of the Spanish Inquisition set firmly into our culture.

This image of the Spanish Inquisition is a useful one for those who have little love for the Catholic Church. Anyone wishing to beat the Church about the head and shoulders will not tarry long before grabbing two favorite clubs: the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. I have dealt with the Crusades in a previous issue of CRISIS (see « The Real History of the Crusades, » April 2002). Now on to the other club.

In order to understand the Spanish Inquisition, which began in the late 15th century, we must look briefly at its predecessor, the medieval Inquisition. Before we do, though, it’s worth pointing out that the medieval world was not the modern world. For medieval people, religion was not something one just did at church. It was their science, their philosophy, their politics, their identity, and their hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community. Medieval Europeans were not alone in this view. It was shared by numerous cultures around the world. The modern practice of universal religious toleration is itself quite new and uniquely Western.

Secular and ecclesiastical leaders in medieval Europe approached heresy in different ways. Roman law equated heresy with treason. Why? Because kingship was God-given, thus making heresy an inherent challenge to royal authority. Heretics divided people, causing unrest and rebellion. No Christian doubted that God would punish a community that allowed heresy to take root and spread. Kings and commoners, therefore, had good reason to find and destroy heretics wherever they found them — and they did so with gusto.

One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong. In truth, the Inquisition brought order, justice, and compassion to combat rampant secular and popular persecutions of heretics. When the people of a village rounded up a suspected heretic and brought him before the local lord, how was he to be judged? How could an illiterate layman determine if the accused’s beliefs were heretical or not? And how were witnesses to be heard and examined?

The medieval Inquisition began in 1184 when Pope Lucius III sent a list of heresies to Europe’s bishops and commanded them to take an active role in determining whether those accused of heresy were, in fact, guilty. Rather than relying on secular courts, local lords, or just mobs, bishops were to see to it that accused heretics in their dioceses were examined by knowledgeable churchmen using Roman laws of evidence. In other words, they were to « inquire » — thus, the term « inquisition. »

From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep that had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring those sheep back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

Most people accused of heresy by the medieval Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentence suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely departed out of hostility to the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to the secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Church did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

As the power of medieval popes grew, so too did the extent and sophistication of the Inquisition. The introduction of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the early 13th century provided the papacy with a corps of dedicated religious willing to devote their lives to the salvation of the world. Because their order had been created to debate with heretics and preach the Catholic faith, the Dominicans became especially active in the Inquisition. Following the most progressive law codes of the day, the Church in the 13th century formed inquisitorial tribunals answerable to Rome rather than local bishops. To ensure fairness and uniformity, manuals were written for inquisitorial officials. Bernard Gui, best known today as the fanatical and evil inquisitor in The Name of the Rose, wrote a particularly influential manual. There is no reason to believe that Gui was anything like his fictional portrayal.

By the 14th century, the Inquisition represented the best legal practices available. Inquisition officials were university-trained specialists in law and theology. The procedures were similar to those used in secular inquisitions (we call them « inquests » today, but it’s the same word).

The power of kings rose dramatically in the late Middle Ages. Secular rulers strongly supported the Inquisition because they saw it as an efficient way to ensure the religious health of their kingdoms. If anything, kings faulted the Inquisition for being too lenient on heretics. As in other areas of ecclesiastical control, secular authorities in the late Middle Ages began to take over the Inquisition, removing it from papal oversight. In France, for example, royal officials assisted by legal scholars at the University of Paris assumed control of the French Inquisition. Kings justified this on the belief that they knew better than the faraway pope how best to deal with heresy in their own kingdoms.

These dynamics would help to form the Spanish Inquisition — but there were others as well. Spain was in many ways quite different from the rest of Europe. Conquered by Muslim jihad in the eighth century, the Iberian peninsula had been a place of near constant warfare. Because borders between Muslim and Christian kingdoms shifted rapidly over the centuries, it was in most rulers’ interest to practice a fair degree of tolerance for other religions. The ability of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together, called convivencia by the Spanish, was a rarity in the Middle Ages. Indeed, Spain was the most diverse and tolerant place in medieval Europe. England expelled all of its Jews in 1290. France did the same in 1306. Yet in Spain Jews thrived at every level of society.

But it was perhaps inevitable that the waves of anti-Semitism that swept across medieval Europe would eventually find their way into Spain. Envy, greed, and gullibility led to rising tensions between Christians and Jews in the 14th century. During the summer of 1391, urban mobs in Barcelona and other towns poured into Jewish quarters, rounded up Jews, and gave them a choice of baptism or death. Most took baptism. The king of Aragon, who had done his best to stop the attacks, later reminded his subjects of well-established Church doctrine on the matter of forced baptisms — they don’t count. He decreed that any Jews who accepted baptism to avoid death could return to their religion.

But most of these new converts, or conversos, decided to remain Catholic. There were many reasons for this. Some believed that apostasy made them unfit to be Jewish. Others worried that returning to Judaism would leave them vulnerable to future attacks. Still others saw their baptism as a way to avoid the increasing number of restrictions and taxes imposed on Jews. As time passed, the conversos settled into their new religion, becoming just as pious as other Catholics. Their children were baptized at birth and raised as Catholics. But they remained in a cultural netherworld. Although Christian, most conversos still spoke, dressed, and ate like Jews. Many continued to live in Jewish quarters so as to be near family members. The presence of conversos had the effect of Christianizing Spanish Judaism. This in turn led to a steady stream of voluntary conversions to Catholicism.

In 1414 a debate was held in Tortosa between Christian and Jewish leaders. Pope Benedict XIII himself attended. On the Christian side was the papal physician, Jeronimo de Santa Fe, who had recently converted from Judaism. The debate brought about a wave of new voluntary conversions. In Aragon alone, 3,000 Jews received baptism. All of this caused a good deal of tension between those who remained Jewish and those who became Catholic. Spanish rabbis after 1391 had considered conversos to be Jews, since they had been forced into baptism. Yet by 1414, rabbis repeatedly stressed that conversos were indeed true Christians, since they had voluntarily left Judaism.

By the mid-15th century, a whole new converso culture was flowering in Spain — Jewish in ethnicity and culture, but Catholic in religion. Conversos, whether new converts themselves or the descendants of converts, took enormous pride in that culture. Some even asserted that they were better than the « Old Christians, » since as Jews they were related by blood to Christ Himself. When the converso bishop of Burgos, Alonso de Cartagena, prayed the Hail Mary, he would say with pride, « Holy Mary, Mother of God and my blood relative, pray for us sinners . . . »

The expansion of converso wealth and power in Spain led to a backlash, particularly among aristocratic and middle-class Old Christians. They resented the arrogance of the conversos and envied their successes. Several tracts were written demonstrating that virtually every noble bloodline in Spain had been infiltrated by conversos. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories abounded. The conversos, it was said, were part of an elaborate Jewish plot to take over the Spanish nobility and the Catholic Church, destroying both from within. The conversos, according to this logic, were not sincere Christians but secret Jews.

Modern scholarship has definitively shown that, like most conspiracy theories, this one was pure imagination. The vast majority of conversos were good Catholics who simply took pride in their Jewish heritage. Surprisingly, many modern authors — indeed, many Jewish authors — have embraced these anti-Semitic fantasies. It is common today to hear that the conversos really were secret Jews, struggling to keep their faith hidden under the tyranny of Catholicism. Even the American Heritage Dictionary describes « converso » as « a Spanish or Portuguese Jew who converted outwardly to Christianity in the late Middle Ages so as to avoid persecution or expulsion, though often continuing to practice Judaism in secret. » This is simply false.

But the constant drumbeat of accusations convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the matter of secret Jews should at least be investigated. Responding to their request, Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull on November 1, 1478, allowing the crown to form an inquisitorial tribunal consisting of two or three priests over the age of 40. As was now the custom, the monarchs would have complete authority over the inquisitors and the inquisition. Ferdinand, who had many Jews and con-versos in his court, was not at first overly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Two years elapsed before he finally appointed two men. Thus began the Spanish Inquisition.

King Ferdinand seems to have believed that the inquiry would turn up little. He was wrong. A tinderbox of resentment and hatred exploded across Spain as the enemies of conversos — both Christian and Jewish — came out of the woodwork to denounce them. Score-settling and opportunism were the primary motivators. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of accusations overwhelmed the inquisitors. They asked for and received more assistants, but the larger the Inquisition became, the more accusations it received. At last even Ferdinand was convinced that the problem of secret Jews was real.

In this early stage of the Spanish Inquisition, Old Christians and Jews used the tribunals as a weapon against their converso enemies. Since the Inquisition’s sole purpose was to investigate conversos, the Old Christians had nothing to fear from it. Their fidelity to the Catholic faith was not under investigation (although it was far from pure). As for the Jews, they were immune to the Inquisition. Remember, the purpose of an inquisition was to find and correct the lost sheep of Christ’s flock. It had no jurisdiction over other flocks. Those who get their history from Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I will perhaps be surprised to learn that all of those Jews enduring various tortures in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition are nothing more than a product of Brooks’s fertile imagination. Spain’s Jews had nothing to fear from the Spanish Inquisition.

In the early, rapidly expanding years, there was plenty of abuse and confusion. Most accused conversos were acquitted, but not all. Well-publicized burnings — often because of blatantly false testimony — justifiably frightened other conversos. Those with enemies often fled town before they could be denounced. Everywhere they looked, the inquisitors found more accusers. As the Inquisition expanded into Aragon, the hysteria levels reached new heights. Pope Sixtus IV attempted to put a stop to it. On April 18, 1482, he wrote to the bishops of Spain:

In Aragon, Valencia, Mallorca, and Catalonia the Inquisition has for some time been moved not by zeal for the faith and the salvation of souls but by lust for wealth. Many true and faithful Christians, on the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves, and other lower and even less proper persons, have without any legitimate proof been thrust into secular prisons, tortured and condemned as relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and property and handed over to the secular arm to be executed, to the peril of souls, setting a pernicious example, and causing disgust to many.

Sixtus ordered the bishops to take a direct role in all future tribunals. They were to ensure that the Church’s well-established norms of justice were respected. The accused were to have legal counsel and the right to appeal their case to Rome.

In the Middle Ages, the pope’s commands would have been obeyed. But those days were gone. King Ferdinand was outraged when he heard of the letter. He wrote to Sixtus, openly suggesting that the pope had been bribed with converso gold.

Things have been told me, Holy Father, which, if true, would seem to merit the greatest astonishment . . . To these rumors, however, we have given no credence because they seem to be things which would in no way have been conceded by Your Holiness who has a duty to the Inquisition. But if by chance concessions have been made through the persistent and cunning persuasion of the conversos, I intend never to let them take effect. Take care therefore not to let the matter go further, and to revoke any concessions and entrust us with the care of this question.

That was the end of the papacy’s role in the Spanish Inquisition. It would henceforth be an arm of the Spanish monarchy, separate from ecclesiastical authority. It is odd, then, that the Spanish Inquisition is so often today described as one of the Catholic Church’s great sins. The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with it.

In 1483 Ferdinand appointed Tomas de Torquemada as inquistor-general for most of Spain. It was Torquemada’s job to establish rules of evidence and procedure for the Inquisition as well as to set up branches in major cities. Sixtus confirmed the appointment, hoping that it would bring some order to the situation.

Unfortunately, the problem only snowballed. This was a direct result of the methods employed by the early Spanish Inquisition, which strayed significantly from Church standards. When the inquisitors arrived in a particular area, they would announce an Edict of Grace. This was a 30-day period in which secret Jews could voluntarily come forward, confess their sin, and do penance. This was also a time for others with information about Christians practicing Judaism in secret to make it known to the tribunal. Those found guilty after the 30 days elapsed could be burned at the stake.

For conversos, then, the arrival of the Inquisition certainly focused the mind. They generally had plenty of enemies, any one of whom might decide to bear false witness. Or perhaps their cultural practices were sufficient for condemnation? Who knew? Most converses, therefore, either fled or lined up to confess. Those who did neither risked an inquiry in which any kind of hearsay or evidence, no matter how old or suspicious, was acceptable.

Opposition in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to the Spanish Inquisition only increased. Many churchmen pointed out that it was contrary to all accepted practices for heretics to be burned without instruction in the Faith. If the conversos were guilty at all, it was merely of ignorance, not willful heresy. Numerous clergy at the highest levels complained to Ferdinand. Opposition to the Spanish Inquisition also continued in Rome. Sixtus’s successor, Innocent VIII, wrote twice to the king asking for greater compassion, mercy, and leniency for the conversos — but to no avail.

As the Spanish Inquisition picked up steam, those involved became increasingly convinced that Spain’s Jews were actively seducing the conversos back into their old faith. It was a silly idea, no more real than the previous conspiracy theories. But Ferdinand and Isabella were influenced by it. Both of the monarchs had Jewish friends and confidants, but they also felt that their duty to their Christian subjects impelled them to remove the danger. Beginning in 1482, they expelled Jews from specific areas where the trouble seemed greatest. Over the next decade, though, they were under increasing pressure to remove the perceived threat. The Spanish Inquisition, it was argued, could never succeed in bringing the conversos back into the fold while the Jews undermined its work. Finally, on March 31, 1492, the monarchs issued an edict expelling all Jews from Spain.

Ferdinand and Isabella expected that their edict would result in the conversion of most of the remaining Jews in their kingdom. They were largely correct. Many Jews in high positions, including those in the royal court, accepted baptism immediately. In 1492 the Jewish population of Spain numbered about 80,000. About half were baptized and thereby kept their property and livelihoods. The rest departed, but many of them eventually returned to Spain, where they received baptism and had their property restored. As far as the Spanish Inquisition was concerned, the expulsion of the Jews meant that the caseload of conversos was now much greater.

The first 15 years of the Spanish Inquisition, under the direction of Torquemada, were the deadliest. Approximately 2,000 conversos were put to the flames. By 1500, however, the hysteria had calmed. Torquemada’s successor, the cardinal archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, worked hard to reform the Inquisition, removing bad apples and reforming procedures. Each tribunal was given two Dominican inquisitors, a legal adviser, a constable, a prosecutor, and a large number of assistants. With the exception of the two Dominicans, all of these were royal lay officials. The Spanish Inquisition was largely funded by confiscations, but these were not frequent or great. Indeed, even at its peak the Inquisition was always just making ends meet.

After the reforms, the Spanish Inquisition had very few critics. Staffed by well-educated legal professionals, it was one of the most efficient and compassionate judicial bodies in Europe. No major court in Europe executed fewer people than the Spanish Inquisition. This was a time, after all, when damaging shrubs in a public garden in London carried the death penalty. Across Europe, executions were everyday events. But not so with the Spanish Inquisition. In its 350-year lifespan only about 4,000 people were put to the stake. Compare that with the witch-hunts that raged across the rest of Catholic and Protestant Europe, in which 60,000 people, mostly women, were roasted. Spain was spared this hysteria precisely because the Spanish Inquisition stopped it at the border. When the first accusations of witchcraft surfaced in northern Spain, the Inquisition sent its people to investigate. These trained legal scholars found no believable evidence for witches’ Sabbaths, black magic, or baby roasting. It was also noted that those confessing to witchcraft had a curious inability to fly through keyholes. While Europeans were throwing women onto bonfires with abandon, the Spanish Inquisition slammed the door shut on this insanity. (For the record, the Roman Inquisition also kept the witch craze from infecting Italy.)

What about the dark dungeons and torture chambers? The Spanish Inquisition had jails, of course. But they were neither especially dark nor dungeon-like. Indeed, as far as prisons go, they were widely considered to be the best in Europe. There were even instances of criminals in Spain purposely blaspheming so as to be transferred to the Inquisition’s prisons. Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time.

The inescapable conclusion is that, by the standards of its time, the Spanish Inquisition was positively enlightened. That was the assessment of most Europeans until 1530. It was then that the Spanish Inquisition turned its attention away from the conversos and toward the new Protestant Reformation. The people of Spain and their monarchs were determined that Protestantism would not infiltrate their country as it had Germany and France. The Inquisition’s methods did not change. Executions and torture remained rare. But its new target would forever change its image.

By the mid-16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. King Philip II saw himself and his countrymen as faithful defenders of the Catholic Church. Less wealthy and less powerful were Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England. But they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous « Black Legend » of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today. Quick: Think of a good conquistador.

Protestant propaganda that took aim at the Spanish Inquisition drew liberally from the Black Legend. But it had other sources as well. From the beginning of the Reformation, Protestants had difficulty explaining the 15-century gap between Christ’s institution of His Church and the founding of the Protestant churches. Catholics naturally pointed out this problem, accusing Protestants of having created a new church separate from that of Christ. Protestants countered that their church was the one created by Christ but that it had been forced underground by the Catholic Church. Thus, just as the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians, so its successor, the Roman Catholic Church, continued to persecute them throughout the Middle Ages. Inconveniently, there were no Protestants in the Middle Ages, yet Protestant authors found them anyway in the guise of various medieval heresies. (They were underground, after all.) In this light, the medieval Inquisition was nothing more than an attempt to crush the hidden, true church. The Spanish Inquisition, still active and extremely efficient at keeping Protestants out of Spain, was for Protestant writers merely the latest version of this persecution. Mix liberally with the Black Legend, and you have everything you need to produce tract after tract about the hideous and cruel Spanish Inquisition. And so they did.

The Spanish people loved their Inquisition. That is why it lasted for so long. It stood guard against error and heresy, protecting the faith of Spain and ensuring the favor of God. But the world was changing. In time, Spain’s empire faded away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century, new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that, they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church.

Because it was both professional and efficient, the Spanish Inquisition kept very good records. Vast archives are filled with them. These documents were kept secret, so there was no reason for scribes to do anything but accurately record every action of the Inquisition. They are a goldmine for modern historians who have plunged greedily into them. Thus far, the fruits of that research have made one thing abundantly clear — the myth of the Spanish Inquisition has nothing at all to do with the real thing.

Thomas F. Madden is associate professor and chairman of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including most recently A Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

Voir également:

Historiquement correct

Pour en finir avec le passé unique

Nous avons lu : Historiquement correct, Pour en finir avec le passé unique (Perrin, mars 2003, 452 pages, 21,50 euros), par Jean Sévillia, rédacteur en chef adjoint au Figaro Magazine.

André Larané
Hérodote
2018-11-27

Historiquement correct (Perrin) est un pamphlet dédié aux hommes politiques qui traitent de l’Histoire à tort et à travers.

L’auteur, Jean Sévillia, ne cache pas son aversion pour la gauche. Il a la dent dure contre les politiciens qui conjuguent leur ignorance de l’Histoire et leur parti-pris idéologique.

Faut-il des noms ? Ils sont connus de tous les lecteurs de la presse française et l’auteur de Historiquement correct ne se fait pas faute de les rappeler, citations à l’appui.

En journaliste plus qu’en historien, il montre comment on peut déformer l’Histoire pour la mettre à son service ou cacher des vérités troublantes.

Il rappelle le racisme de Voltaire, les crimes commis contre les Vendéens, l’idéologie colonialiste des dirigeants de la IIIe République, la contribution des leaders de gauche au régime de Vichy.

Historiquement correct comporte 18 chapitres qui chacun se rapporte à une phase de l’Histoire. Cela va de la féodalité à la guerre d’Algérie en passant par les Croisades, l’Inquisition espagnole, la Terreur, la Commune, la Résistance et la Collaboration… Autant de sujets polémiques sur lesquels se déchirent les néophytes et les idéologues mais sur lesquels s’accordent la plupart des historiens, attentifs aux faits et aux sources de première main.

Ainsi, à propos de la féodalité et du Moyen Âge, l’auteur a beau jeu de rappeler qu’elle ne mérite pas les clichés méprisants du XVIIIe siècle. Les médiévistes contemporains, de Régine Pernoud à Jacques Le Goff en passant par Jacques Heers, ont fait litière de ces préjugés et montré comment, sous l’égide du clergé catholique, les peuples de l’Occident ont jeté les bases de la démocratie, de la laïcité, de l’émancipation des femmes etc.

À propos des croisades, Jean Sévillia signale qu’elles furent avant tout une manifestation de foi populaire et une réaction de défense des Européens dans une époque très critique de leur Histoire. Les excès et les massacres qu’on peut leur attribuer ne sortent hélas pas de l’ordinaire de l’époque (et sont plutôt moins choquants que les horreurs du début du XXe siècle).

Pire que le Goulag ( *), l’ Inquisition ! Contre l’imagerie traditionnelle colportée par les protestants anglais et les philosophes français qui fait de l’Inquisition espagnole l’horreur absolue, on rappelle que ses victimes se comptent au nombre de quelques milliers en l’espace de trois siècles.

Venons-en au XVIIIe siècle français. «Voilà un aspect des Lumières qui est aujourd’hui soigneusement caché : le racisme», dit fort justement l’auteur de Historiquement correct. Voltaire, le grand Voltaire, écrit dans Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des moeurs : «Il n’est permis qu’à un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les nègres, les albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Amériques ne soient des races entièrement différents».

En écrivant cela, le pourfendeur du clergé prend le contrepied de l’enseignement religieux qui, depuis Saint Paul, n’a de cesse de souligner l’unicité de la condition humaine. Malheureusement, aux XIXe et XXe siècles, le triste enseignement de Voltaire sera mieux suivi que celui de Saint Paul. Faut-il insister ? Le Siècle des Lumières fut aussi le grand siècle de la traite atlantique et les «philosophes» ne furent pas les derniers à placer leurs économies dans le trafic d’esclaves.

Jean Sévillia a beau jeu de rappeler les crimes commis pendant la Révolution française, sous la Terreur, au nom de la Liberté, mais curieusement ne s’appesantit pas sur Napoléon Bonaparte, dont les actions ont peu de rapport avec la légende. De même, il ne manque pas de rappeler les exactions des Communards de 1871 mais néglige la responsabilité d’ Adolphe Thiers dans cette tragédie.

Plus près de nous, Historiquement correct témoigne de la grande confusion idéologique qui a conduit en France les républicains de gauche à se faire les apologues de la colonisation à la fin du XIXe siècle et à défendre la présence française en Algérie après la seconde guerre mondiale.

De la même façon, peut-on ignorer la contribution de plusieurs dirigeants socialistes ou communistes au gouvernement du maréchal Pétain (Doriot, Déat, Laval, Belin…), tandis que des officiers catholiques et parfois monarchistes s’engageaient dès les débuts de l’occupation allemande dans la Résistance (d’Estienne d’Orves, Leclerc de Hauteclocque, de Gaulle…) ?

Et quel est l’extrémiste qui confie les lignes suivantes à son journal intime, en juillet 1940 ? «J’espère que l’Allemand vaincra ; car il ne faut pas que le général de Gaulle l’emporte chez nous. Il est remarquable que la guerre revient à une guerre juive, c’est-à-dire à une guerre qui aura des milliards et aussi des Judas Macchabées. » C’est le philosophe Alain, radical et pacifiste, grande conscience de la IIIe République… (pages 367-368).

Discussions en perspective

Le ton de l’essai est vif. Les thèmes abordés sont aussi passionnants les uns que les autres et bien documentés. De quoi nourrir de passionnants débats entre amis. Mais ne prenons pas au pied de la lettre toutes les analyses de Historiquement correct.

Jean Sévillia se montre trop indulgent pour certains personnages (Thiers, Bonaparte…) et lui-même ne se gêne pas pour occulter des faits qui heurtent ses convictions. L’Histoire n’est ni à droite ni à gauche. Elle est tissée de compromis imposés par les circonstances.

Voir aussi:

Esclavage : « La célébration des victimes ne peut pas être une identité porteuse »

Le choix d’une date pour honorer la mémoire des victimes de l’esclavage et son abolition divise. Explication de texte avec l’historienne Myriam Cottias.

Propos recueillis par Clément Pétreault

Le Point

Pius, born in 1876 as Eugenio Pacelli, reigned as head of the Catholic Church from 1939 until his death in 1958. During the war, the Vatican remained neutral, as required by the treaty with German ally Benito Mussolini that guaranteed church sovereignty over a small sliver of the city of Rome. But the Vatican sympathized with the Allied powers, said William Doino Jr., a Catholic researcher and writer living in western Connecticut and a contributing editor to Inside the Vatican, an international monthly Roman Catholic publication.

Voir par ailleurs:

Lester LITTLE Religious poverty and the profit economy in medieval Europe Londres Paul Elek 1978 xi- 267p

Le thème de la pauvreté volontaire domine histoire de la spiritualité en Occident du xie au xiiie siècle. Il surgit en écho aux profondes transformations de l’économie et de la société: renaissance urbaine, essor des échanges et de l’économie monétaire, renforcement des inégalités sociales. Ces transformations déterminent une crise profonde de l’éthique traditionnelle et de la spiritualité: le vieux monachisme bénédictin se replie sur lui-même et les ermites fuient au désert Au contraire, chanoines réformés, groupes de pieux laïcs et bientôt religieux mendiants relèvent le défi de la ville mais les Pauvres du Christ refusent la propriété individuelle, prônent le travail manuel, se gardent du contact avec l’argent. Leur idéal contredit l’éthique de la ville dont pourtant ils sont nés: aussi ses tenants les plus rigoristes ne tardent-ils pas être éliminés tels les vaudois ou les spirituels franciscains condamnés pour hérésie. Au contraire, ceux qui s’adaptent, dominicains pour qui la pauvreté n’est pas une fin en soi mais un moyen, franciscains conventuels qui usent de biens fictivement possédés par un ami laïc en viennent paradoxalement à forger une éthique justifiant la ville, le commerce de l’argent et l’accumulation des richesses; ils définissent même pour les riches et les puissants une véritable idéologie urbaine.

Bien des aspects de cette évolution ont été depuis une vingtaine années étudiés de manière remarquable notamment par le Chenu, John Baldwin, Le Goff ou Little lui-même qui propose mainte nant et au bon moment une synthèse cohérente de tous ces résultats. La force de son étude tient abord à son immense érudition, elle tient ensuite au propos même de l’auteur qui est d’étudier en même temps l’évolution économique et sociale, une économie de troc, une économie de profit ou encore selon Marc Bloch du premier au deuxième âge féodal et celle de la spiritualité. Sa préoccupation majeure est d’analyser le rapport entre comportements et pensée (il n’use pas du terme mentalités) et société mais sans faire la théorie de ce rapport. De fait, l’empirisme lui réussit mieux que la théorie, sa comparaison finale du système intégré des relations entre guerriers et moines au premier âge féodal et entre marchands et frères des ordres mendiants dans la ville du xme siècle va bien au-delà de ses réflexions préliminaires et elle est moins convaincante sur les niveaux (levels strata) dont serait constituée la vie sociale. Notons aussi des pages lumineuses sur l’attitude traditionnelle de rejet, voire de dégoût à l’égard de la monnaie, comparée aux excréments (34) ou sur les débuts de l’antisémitisme présenté comme un exutoire aux doutes et la à mauvaise conscience des chrétiens au moment où eux-mêmes commencent se mêler du commerce de l »argent (54). En revanche, il me semble que l’étude de l’idéologie définie par les Mendiants aurait pu être poussée plus loin par l’analyse du contenu de leurs sermons: non seulement les religieux valorisent l’image de la ville qui remplace le monastère comme préfiguration terrestre du paradis) et justifient par leur utilité sociale les profits des riches mais ils prêchent la résignation aux pauvres réels. Les Mendiants ont digéré la ville certes mais parce que la ville ou plutôt sa classe dirigeante se les était d’abord ralliés.

Jean-Claude SCHMITT


Historiquement correct: Souvenons-nous des croisades ! (Blame it on the Scotts: guess who actually taught Islam to hate the crusades ?)

24 novembre, 2019
Image result for Rodney Stark Bearing false witness book cover"Image result for Walter Scott The Talisman"
Image result for ridley scott kingdom of heaven film poster Saladin"Ispread_of_religions600l nous faut entrer dans une pensée du temps où la bataille de Poitiers et les Croisades sont beaucoup plus proches de nous que la Révolution française et l’industrialisation du Second Empire. René Girard
Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless. Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it. Bill Clinton
Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’Inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié par le Christ. Barack Hussein Obama
Dès le second siècle de l’Hégire, les Arabes deviennent les précepteurs de l’Europe. Voltaire
Sans Charles Martel (…), la France était une province mahométane. Voltaire
Chanoines, moines, curés même, si on vous imposait la loi de ne manger ni boire depuis quatre heures du matin jusqu’à dix heures du soir, pendant le mois de juillet, lorsque le carême arriverait dans ce temps ; si on vous défendait de jouer à aucun jeu de hasard sous peine de damnation ; si le vin vous était interdit sous la même peine ; s’il vous fallait faire un pèlerinage dans des déserts brûlants ; s’il vous était enjoint de donner au moins deux et demi pour cent de votre revenu aux pauvres ; si, accoutumés à jouir de dix-huit femmes, on vous en retranchait tout d’un coup quatorze ; en bonne foi, oseriez-vous appeler cette religion sensuelle ? (…) Il faut combattre sans cesse. Quand on a détruit une erreur, il se trouve toujours quelqu’un qui la ressuscite. Voltaire (dictionnaire philosophique 1764)
Sa religion est sage, sévère, chaste et humaine : sage puisqu’elle ne tombe pas dans la démence de donner à Dieu des associés, et qu’elle n’a point de mystère ; sévère puisqu’elle défend les jeux de hasard, le vin et les liqueurs fortes, et qu’elle ordonne la prière cinq fois par jour ; chaste, puisqu’elle réduit à quatre femmes ce nombre prodigieux d’épouses qui partageaient le lit de tous les princes de l’Orient ; humaine, puisqu’elle nous ordonne l’aumône, bien plus rigoureusement que le voyage de La Mecque. Ajoutez à tous ces caractères de vérité, la tolérance. Voltaire
Il n’y a point de religion dans laquelle on n’ait recommandé l’aumône. La mahométane est la seule qui en ait fait un précepte légal, positif, indispensable. L’Alcoran [le Coran] ordonne de donner deux et demi pour cent de son revenu, soit en argent, soit en denrées. La prohibition de tous les jeux de hasard est peut-être la seule loi dont on ne peut trouver d’exemple dans aucune religion. Toutes ces lois qui, à la polygamie près, sont si austères, et sa doctrine qui est si simple, attirèrent bientôt à la religion, le respect et la confiance. Le dogme surtout de l’unité d’un Dieu présenté sans mystère, et proportionné à l’intelligence humaine, rangea sous sa loi une foule de nations et, jusqu’à des nègres dans l’Afrique, et à des insulaires dans l’Océan indien. Le peu que je viens de dire dément bien tout ce que nos historiens, nos déclamateurs et nos préjugés nous disent : mais la vérité doit les combattre. Voltaire
Le plus grand changement que l’opinion ait produit sur notre globe fut l’établissement de la religion de Mahomet. Ses musulmans, en moins d’un siècle, conquirent un empire plus vaste que l’empire romain. Cette révolution, si grande pour nous, n’est, à la vérité, que comme un atome qui a changé de place dans l’immensité des choses, et dans le nombre innombrable de mondes qui remplissent l’espace; mais c’est au moins un événement qu’on doit regarder comme une des roues de la machine de l’univers, et comme un effet nécessaire des lois éternelles et immuables: car peut-il arriver quelque chose qui n’ait été déterminé par le Maître de toutes choses? Rien n’est que ce qui doit être. Voltaire
Ce fut certainement un très grand homme, et qui forma de grands hommes. Il fallait qu’il fût martyr ou conquérant, il n’y avait pas de milieu. Il vainquit toujours, et toutes ses victoires furent remportées par le petit nombre sur le grand. Conquérant, législateur, monarque et pontife, il joua le plus grand rôle qu’on puisse jouer sur la terre aux yeux du commun des hommes. Voltaire
J’ai dit qu’on reconnut Mahomet pour un grand homme; rien n’est plus impie, dites-vous. Je vous répondrai que ce n’est pas ma faute si ce petit homme a changé la face d’une partie du monde, s’il a gagné des batailles contre des armées dix fois plus nombreuses que les siennes, s’il a fait trembler l’empire romain, s’il a donné les premiers coups à ce colosse que ses successeurs ont écrasé, et s’il a été législateur de l’Asie, de l’Afrique, et d’une partie de l’Europe. Voltaire
Votre Majesté sait quel esprit m’animait en composant cet ouvrage ; l’amour du genre humain et l’horreur du fanatisme, deux vertus qui sont faites pour être toujours auprès de votre trône, ont conduit ma plume. J’ai toujours pensé que la tragédie ne doit pas être un simple spectacle qui touche le cœur sans le corriger. Qu’importent au genre humain les passions et les malheurs d’un héros de l’antiquité, s’ils ne servent pas à nous instruire ? On avoue que la comédie du Tartuffe, ce chef-d’œuvre qu’aucune nation n’a égalé, a fait beaucoup de bien aux hommes, en montrant l’hypocrisie dans toute sa laideur ; ne peut-on pas essayer d’attaquer, dans une tragédie, cette espèce d’imposture qui met en œuvre à la fois l’hypocrisie des uns et la fureur des autres ? Ne peut-on pas remonter jusqu’à ces anciens scélérats, fondateurs illustres de la superstition et du fanatisme, qui, les premiers, ont pris le couteau sur l’autel pour faire des victimes de ceux qui refusaient d’être leurs disciples ? Ceux qui diront que les temps de ces crimes sont passés ; qu’on ne verra plus de Barcochebas [Shimon bar Kokhba], de Mahomet, de Jean de Leyde, etc. ; que les flammes des guerres de religion sont éteintes, font, ce me semble, trop d’honneur à la nature humaine. Le même poison subsiste encore, quoique moins développé ; cette peste, qui semble étouffée, reproduit de temps en temps des germes capables d’infecter la terre. N’a-t-on pas vu de nos jours les prophètes des Cévennes tuer, au nom de Dieu, ceux de leur secte qui n’étaient pas assez soumis ? Voltaire (préface au Fanatisme ou Mahomet, le Prophète, 1742)
C’est un des plus grands événements de l’Histoire: les Sarrasins victorieux, le monde était mahométan. Chateaubriand
Il faut rendre justice au culte de Mahomet qui n’a imposé que deux grands devoirs à l’homme : la prière et la charité. (…) Les deux plus hautes vérités de toute religion. Lamartine (1833)
Cette bataille n’a pas l’importance qu’on lui attribue. Elle n’est pas comparable à la victoire remportée sur Attila. Elle marque la fin d’un raid, mais n’arrête rien en réalité. Si Charles avait été vaincu, il n’en serait résulté qu’un pillage plus considérable. (…) Sans l’Islam, l’Empire franc n’aurait sans doute jamais existé, et Charlemagne sans Mahomet serait inconcevable. Henri Pirenne (historien belge, 1922)
Monsieur Dubois demanda à Madame Nozière quel était le jour le plus funeste de l’Histoire de France. Madame Nozière ne le savait pas. C’est, lui dit Monsieur Dubois, le jour de la bataille de Poitiers, quand, en 732, la science, l’art et la civilisation arabes reculèrent devant la barbarie franque. Anatole France (1922)
Si à Poitiers Charles Martel avait été battu, le monde aurait changé de face. Puisque le monde était déjà condamné à l’influence judaïque (et son sous-produit le christianisme est une chose si insipide !), il aurait mieux valu que l’islam triomphe. Cette religion récompense l’héroïsme, promet au guerrier les joies du septième ciel… Animé d’un esprit semblable, les Germains auraient conquis le monde. Ils en ont été empêchés par le christianisme. Hitler (1942)
Bien des voix se sont élevées pour tenter de ramener la bataille à sa juste place. En vain, car, érigé en symbole, l’événement est passé à la postérité et avec lui son héros Charles Martel. Il appartient à ce fonds idéologique commun qui fonde la nation française, la civilisation chrétienne, l’identité européenne sur la mise en scène du choc des civilisations et l’exclusion de l’Autre. Françoise Micheau et Philippe Sénac (historiens mediévistes)
Recent scholars have suggested Poitiers, so poorly recorded in contemporary sources, was a mere raid and thus a construct of western mythmaking or that a Muslim victory might have been preferable to continued Frankish dominance. What is clear is that Poitiers marked a general continuance of the successful defense of Europe, (from the Muslims). Flush from the victory at Tours, Charles Martel went on to clear southern France from Islamic attackers for decades, unify the warring kingdoms into the foundations of the Carolingian Empire, and ensure ready and reliable troops from local estates. Victor Davis Hanson
Je n’ai jamais entendu un Arabe s’excuser d’être allé jusqu’à Poitiers. Stéphane Denis (2001)
Aujourd’hui les bicots ont dépassé Poitiers. Tunisiano (groupe Sniper, 2003)
I was stunned that the president could say something so at once banal and offensive. Here we are now two days away from an act shocking barbarism, the burning alive of a prisoner of war, and Obama’s message is that we should remember the crusades and the inquisition. I mean, for him to say that all of us have sinned, all religions have been transgressed, is, you know, is adolescent stuff. Everyone knows that. What’s important is what’s happening now. Christianity no longer goes on crusades and it gave up the inquisition a while ago. The Book of Joshua is knee deep in blood. That story is over too. The story of today, of our generation, is the fact that the overwhelming volume of the violence and the barbarism that we are seeing in the world from Nigeria to Paris all the way to Pakistan and even to the Philippines, the island of Mindanao in the Philippines is coming from one source. And that’s from inside Islam. It is not the prevalent idea of Islam, but it is coming from Islam, as many Islamic leaders including the president of Egypt and many others have admitted. And there needs to be a change in Islam. It is not a coincidence that all of these attacks on other religions are happening, all over the world, in a dozen countries, two dozen countries, all in the name of one religion. It’s not a coincidence. And for the president to be lecturing us and to say we shouldn’t get on our high horse and to not remember our own path is ridiculous. The present issue is Muslim radicalism and how to attack it. (…) From Obama’s first speech at West Point in December 2009, ironically announcing the surge in Afghanistan, you could tell that his heart has never been in this fight, never. Charles Krauthammer
Il est important que nous démontrions que nous croyants sommes un facteur de paix pour les sociétés humaines et que nous puissions ainsi répondre à ceux qui nous accusent injustement de fomenter la haine et d’être la cause de la violence. Dans le monde précaire d’aujourd’hui, le dialogue entre les religions n’est pas un signe de faiblesse. Elle trouve sa propre raison d’être dans le dialogue de Dieu avec l’humanité. Il s’agit de changer les attitudes historiques. Une scène de la Chanson de Roland me vient à l’esprit comme un symbole, quand les chrétiens battent les musulmans et les mettent tous en ligne devant les fonts baptismaux, et un avec une épée. Et les musulmans devaient choisir entre le baptême ou l’épée. C’est ce que les chrétiens ont fait. C’était une mentalité que nous ne pouvons plus accepter, ni comprendre, ni faire fonctionner. Prenons soin des groupes fondamentalistes, chacun a le sien. En Argentine, il y a un petit coin fondamentaliste. Et essayons avec la fraternité d’aller de l’avant. Le fondamentalisme est un fléau et toutes les religions ont une sorte de cousin germain fondamentaliste, qui est regroupé. Pape François
La Chanson de Roland n’est pas le reportage détaillé d’un journaliste mais un poème épique rédigé au 11ème siècle et qui traite, 3 siècles après les faits, de l’histoire de Roland de Ronceveaux, un guerrier franc parti combattre l’envahisseur musulman en Espagne aux côtés de Charlemagne. Il s’agissait alors de ralentir l’invasion islamique qui menaçait la Chrétienté d’Occident et la France. Dans ce contexte, on ne peut qu’être stupéfait par la dénonciation bergoglienne des « conversions forcées » de mahométans par les Francs partis porter secours aux Espagnols, les seuls véritablement obligés de se convertir à l’époque. L’intention de l’occupant du Vatican est particulièrement perverse et vise à établir un parallèle surréel entre la campagne de Charlemagne et les massacres de masse perpétrés par les musulmans contre les Chrétiens au 21ème siècle. Les victimes chrétiennes, selon Bergoglio, deviennent les coupables, dans l’Espagne du 8ème siècle tout comme dans l’Europe et l’Orient du 21ème siècle. Cette nouvelle provocation du chef de l’Eglise Catholique s’ajoute à une longue série de propos incendiaires en faveur l’immigration de masse et de l’islam en Europe. Déclarations qui l’ont très largement marginalisé, y compris au sein des derniers pans de la population qui se dit catholique et pratiquante. Caricature du curé gauchiste octogénaire, Bergoglio ne choque plus tant qu’il ne lasse une Europe déjà saturée de sermons iréniques sur l’islam alors que le terrorisme musulman prend toujours plus d’ampleur. Breizato
Le 18 novembre dernier, le pape François a reçu en audience les participants à la réunion organisée par l’Istituto para el Dialogo Interreligioso de la Argentina (IDI), et il a notamment salué trois des dirigeants de cet organisme, le Père Guillermo Marco, le responsable musulman Omar Abboud et le rabbin Daniel Goldman, tous trois vice-présidents de l’IDI. Le Souverain Pontife a prononcé une allocution (…) Il ne s’agit pas là d’une improvisation du pape François, comme il en commet tant notamment en avion, mais d’un texte écrit et publié. Le moins qu’on puisse en dire, c’est que le Saint-Père prend quelques libertés avec la vérité historique et le texte même de la Chanson de Roland, pour appuyer ses affirmations. La Chanson de Roland s’inspire en partie d’un événement historique, l’expédition de Charlemagne en Espagne de 778, le siège avorté de Saragosse, la retraite de l’armée des Francs menacée d’une intervention de l’émir de Cordoue, la prise et le pillage, au passage, de Pampelune, puis le revers de son arrière-garde prise en embuscade, essentiellement par des Basques, à Roncevaux. Il n’est pas inutile de rappeler que cette expédition en Espagne fut décidée à la demande de plusieurs gouverneurs musulmans d’Espagne, en rébellion contre l’émir de Cordoue, et que l’Espagne fut conquise par les musulmans sans que les autochtones les y invitent… La Chanson de Roland n’est évidemment pas une chronique historique racontant des événements, mais un poème épique, une chanson de geste, dont le plus ancien et plus complet manuscrit, rédigé en anglo-normand remonte au tout début du XIIe siècle, quatre siècles après les faits qu’il est supposé raconter… Le souvenir du pape François évoquant la victoire des Francs sur les musulmans, est donc confus, car l’expédition ne fut pas une victoire. Le texte même de cette chanson de geste, ne corrobore pas le souvenir que le Saint-Père en a et qu’il évoque. L’affaire fictive du baptême de force des musulmans supposés vaincus après la prise de Saragosse – qui n’eut pas lieu – n’a rien d’historique mais est une pure imagination du poète. On trouve aux vers 3666 à 3674 cette invention littéraire : Le roi [Charlemagne] croit en Dieu, il veut faire son service ; et ses évêques bénissent les eaux. On mène les païens jusqu’au baptistère ; s’il en est un qui résiste à Charles, le roi le fait pendre, ou brûler ou tuer par le fer [l’ancien français ocire veut dire tuer, massacrer, assassiner pas nécessairement par le fer : il n’est pas question d’un chrétien tenant une épée dans le texte original]. Bien plus de cent mille sont baptisés vrais chrétiens, mais non la reine. Elle sera menée en douce France, captive : le roi veut qu’elle se convertisse par amour. Comment dès lors affirmer que « c’est ce que les chrétiens firent » ? Riposte catholique
L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme.Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxisme.  René Girard
Malgré eux, les islamistes sont des Occidentaux. Même en rejetant l’Occident, ils l’acceptent. Aussi réactionnaires que soient ses intentions, l’islamisme intègre non seulement les idées de l’Occident mais aussi ses institutions. Le rêve islamiste d’effacer le mode de vie occidental de la vie musulmane est, dans ces conditions, incapable de réussir. Le système hybride qui en résulte est plus solide qu’il n’y paraît. Les adversaires de l’islam militant souvent le rejettent en le qualifiant d’effort de repli pour éviter la vie moderne et ils se consolent avec la prédiction selon laquelle il est dès lors condamné à se trouver à la traîne des avancées de la modernisation qui a eu lieu. Mais cette attente est erronée. Car l’islamisme attire précisément les musulmans qui, aux prises avec les défis de la modernité, sont confrontés à des difficultés, et sa puissance et le nombre de ses adeptes ne cessent de croître. Les tendances actuelles donnent à penser que l’islam radical restera une force pendant un certain temps encore. Daniel Pipes
They are not expressions of an outburst in the West of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in the Middle East. It is truly modern, aimed against American imperialism, capitalism, etc. In other words, they occupy the same space that the proletarian left had thirty years ago, that Action Directe had twenty years ago. . . . It partakes henceforth of the internal history of the West. (…) It can feel like a time-warp, a return to the European left of the 1970s and early 1980s. Europe’s radical-mosque practitioners can appear, mutatis mutandis, like a Muslim version of the hard-core intellectuals and laborers behind the aggrieved but proud Scottish National party in its salad days. (…) In the last three centuries, Europe has given birth and nourishment to most of mankind’s most radical causes. It shouldn’t be that surprising to imagine that Europe could nurture Islamic militancy on its own soil. (…) In Europe as elsewhere, Westernization is the key to the growth and virulence of hard-core Islamic radicalism. The most frightening, certainly the most effective, adherents of bin Ladenism are those who are culturally and intellectually most like us. The process of Westernization liberates a Muslim from the customary sanctions and loyalties that normally corralled the dark side of the human soul. (…) It would be a delightful irony if the more progressive political and religious debates among the Middle East’s Muslims saved their brethren in the intellectually backward lands of the European Union. Reuel Marc Gerecht
Wherever it occurs, Occidentalism is fed by a sense of humiliation, of defeat. It is a war against a particular idea of the West – a bourgeois society addicted to money, creature comforts, sex, animal lusts, self-interest, and security – which is neither new nor unique to Islamist extremism. This idea has historical roots that long precede any form of ‘U.S. imperialism’ . (…) Blood, soil, and the spirit of the Volk were what German romantics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries invoked against the universalist claims of the French Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and Napoleon’s invading armies. This notion of national soul was taken over by the Slavophiles in 19th-century Russia, who used it to attack the « Westernizers, » that is, Russian advocates of liberal reforms. It came up again and again, in the 1930s, when European fascists and National Socialists sought to smash « Americanism, » Anglo-Saxon liberalism, and « rootless cosmopolitanism » (meaning Jews). Aurel Kolnai, the great Hungarian scholar, wrote a book in the 1930s about fascist ideology in Austria and Germany. He called it War Against the West. Communism, too, especially under Stalin, although a bastard child of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, was the sworn enemy of Western liberalism and « rootless cosmopolitanism. » Many Islamic radicals borrowed their anti-Western concepts from Russia and Germany. The founders of the Ba’ath Party in Syria were keen readers of prewar German race theories. Jalal Al-e Ahmad, an influential Iranian intellectual in the 1960s, coined the phrase « Westoxification » to describe the poisonous influence of Western civilization on other cultures. He, too, was an admirer of German ideas on blood and soil. Clearly, the idea of the West as a malign force is not some Eastern or Middle Eastern idea, but has deep roots in European soil. Defining it in historical terms is not a simple matter. Occidentalism was part of the counter-Enlightenment, to be sure, but also of the reaction against industrialization. Some Marxists have been attracted to it, but so, of course, have their enemies on the far right. Occidentalism is a revolt against rationalism (the cold, mechanical West, the machine civilization) and secularism, but also against individualism. European colonialism provoked Occidentalism, and so does global capitalism today. But one can speak of Occidentalism only when the revolt against the West becomes a form of pure destruction, when the West is depicted as less than human, when rebellion means murder. Wherever it occurs, Occidentalism is fed by a sense of humiliation, of defeat. Isaiah Berlin once described the German revolt against Napoleon as « the original exemplar of the reaction of many a backward, exploited, or at any rate patronized society, which, resentful of the apparent inferiority of its status, reacted by turning to real or imaginary triumphs and glories in its past, or enviable attributes of its own national or cultural character. » The same thing might be said about Japan in the 1930s, after almost a century of feeling snubbed and patronized by the West, whose achievements it so fervently tried to emulate. It has been true of the Russians, who have often slipped into the role of inferior upstarts, stuck in the outer reaches of Asia and Europe. But nothing matches the sense of failure and humiliation that afflicts the Arab world, a once glorious civilization left behind in every respect by the post-Enlightenment West. Humiliation can easily turn into a cult of the pure and the authentic. Among the most resented attributes of the hated Occident are its claims to universalism. Christianity is a universalist faith, but so is the Enlightenment belief in reason. Napoleon was a universalist who believed in a common civil code for all his conquered subjects. The conviction that the United States represents universal values and has the God-given duty to spread democracy in the benighted world belongs to the same universalist tradition. Some of these values may indeed be universal. One would like to think that all people could benefit from democracy or the use of reason. The Code Napoleon brought many benefits. But when universal solutions are imposed by force, or when people feel threatened or humiliated or unable to compete with the powers that promote such solutions, that is when we see the dangerous retreat into dreams of purity. Not all dreams of local authenticity and cultural uniqueness are noxious, or even wrong. As Isaiah Berlin also pointed out, the crooked timber of humanity cannot be forcibly straightened along universal standards with impunity. The experiments on the human soul by Communism showed how bloody universalist dreams can be. And the poetic romanticism of 19th-century German idealists was often a welcome antidote to the dogmatic rationalism that came with the Enlightenment. It is when purity or authenticity, of faith or race, leads to purges of the supposedly inauthentic, of the allegedly impure, that mass murder begins. The fact that anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism, and a general hostility to the West often overlap is surely no coincidence. Even in Japan, where Jews play no part in national life, one of the participants at the 1942 Kyoto conference suggested that the war against the West was a war against the « poisonous materialist civilization » built on Jewish financial capitalist power. At the same time, European anti-Semites, not only in Nazi Germany, were blaming the Jews for Bolshevism. Both Bolshevism and capitalism are universalist systems in the sense that they do not recognize national, racial, or cultural borders. Since Jews are traditionally regarded by the defenders of purity as the congenital outsiders, the archetypal « rootless cosmopolitans, » it is no wonder that they are also seen as the main carriers of the universalist virus. To be sure, Jews had sound reasons to be attracted to such notions as equality before the law, secular politics, and internationalism, whether of a socialist or capitalist stamp. Exclusivity, whether racial, religious, or nationalist, is never good for minorities. Only in the Middle East have Jews brought their own form of exclusivity and nationalism. But Zionism came from the West. And so Israel, in the eyes of its enemies, is the colonial outpost of « Westoxification. » Its material success only added to the Arab sense of historic humiliation. The idea, however, that Jews are a people without a soul, mimics with no creative powers, is much older than the founding of the State of Israel. It was one of the most common anti-Semitic slurs employed by Richard Wagner. He was neither the first to do so, nor very original in this respect. Karl Marx, himself the grandson of a rabbi, called the Jews greedy parasites, whose souls were made of money. The same kind of thing was often said by 19th-century Europeans about the British. The great Prussian novelist Theodor Fontane, who rather admired England, nonetheless opined that « the cult of the Gold Calf is the disease of the English people. » He was convinced that English society would be destroyed by « this yellow fever of gold, this sellout of all souls to the devil of Mammon. » And much the same is said today about the Americans. Calculation — the accounting of money, interests, scientific evidence, and so on — is regarded as soulless. Authenticity lies in poetry, intuition, and blind faith. The Occidentalist view of the West is of a bourgeois society, addicted to creature comforts, animal lusts, self-interest, and security. It is by definition a society of cowards, who prize life above death. As a Taliban fighter once put it during the war in Afghanistan, the Americans would never win, because they love Pepsi-Cola, whereas the holy warriors love death. This was also the language of Spanish fascists during the civil war, and of Nazi ideologues, and Japanese kamikaze pilots. The hero is one who acts without calculating his interests. He jumps into action without regard for his own safety, ever ready to sacrifice himself for the cause. And the Occidentalist hero, whether he is a Nazi or an Islamist, is just as ready to destroy those who sully the purity of his race or creed. It is indeed his duty to do so. When the West is seen as the threat to authenticity, then it is the duty of all holy warriors to destroy anything to do with the « Zionist Crusaders, » whether it is a U.S. battleship, a British embassy, a Jewish cemetery, a chunk of lower Manhattan, or a disco in Bali. The symbolic value of these attacks is at least as important as the damage inflicted. What, then, is new about the Islamist holy war against the West? Perhaps it is the totality of its vision. Islamism, as an antidote to Westoxification, is an odd mixture of the universal and the pure: universal because all people can, and in the eyes of the believers should, become orthodox Muslims; pure because those who refuse the call are not simply lost souls but savages who must be removed from this earth. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, among others, but did not view the entire West with hostility. In fact, he wanted to forge an alliance with the British and other « Aryan » nations, and felt betrayed when they did not see things his way. Stalinists and Maoists murdered class enemies and were opposed to capitalism. But they never saw the Western world as less than human and thus to be physically eradicated. Japanese militarists went to war against Western empires but did not regard everything about Western civilization as barbarous. The Islamist contribution to the long history of Occidentalism is a religious vision of purity in which the idolatrous West simply has to be destroyed. The worship of false gods is the worst religious sin in Islam as well as in ancient Judaism. The West, as conceived by Islamists, worships the false gods of money, sex, and other animal lusts. In this barbarous world the thoughts and laws and desires of Man have replaced the kingdom of God. The word for this state of affairs is jahiliyya, which can mean idolatry, religious ignorance, or barbarism. Applied to the pre-Islamic Arabs, it means ignorance: People worshiped other gods because they did not know better. But the new jahiliyya, in the sense of barbarism, is everywhere, from Las Vegas and Wall Street to the palaces of Riyadh. To an Islamist, anything that is not pure, that does not belong to the kingdom of God, is by definition barbarous and must be destroyed. Just as the main enemies of Russian Slavophiles were Russian Westernizers, the most immediate targets of Islamists are the liberals, reformists, and secular rulers in their own societies. They are the savage stains that have to be cleansed with blood. But the source of the barbarism that has seduced Saudi princes and Algerian intellectuals as much as the whores and pimps of New York (and in a sense all infidels are whores and pimps) is the West. And that is why holy war has been declared against the West. Ian Buruma
Il est malheureux que le Moyen-Orient ait rencontré pour la première fois la modernité occidentale à travers les échos de la Révolution française. Progressistes, égalitaristes et opposés à l’Eglise, Robespierre et les jacobins étaient des héros à même d’inspirer les radicaux arabes. Les modèles ultérieurs — Italie mussolinienne, Allemagne nazie, Union soviétique — furent encore plus désastreux …Ce qui rend l’entreprise terroriste des islamistes aussi dangereuse, ce n’est pas tant la haine religieuse qu’ils puisent dans des textes anciens — souvent au prix de distorsions grossières —, mais la synthèse qu’ils font entre fanatisme religieux et idéologie moderne. Ian Buruma et Avishai Margalit
La révolution iranienne fut en quelque sorte la version islamique et tiers-mondiste de la contre-culture occidentale. Il serait intéressant de mettre en exergue les analogies et les ressemblances que l’on retrouve dans le discours anti-consommateur, anti-technologique et anti-moderne des dirigeants islamiques de celui que l’on découvre chez les protagonistes les plus exaltés de la contre-culture occidentale. Daryiush Shayegan (Les Illusions de l’identité, 1992)
Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say « distorts » the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light. The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being « historically accurate » and designed to be « a fascinating history lesson ». Academics, however – including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain’s leading authority on the Crusades – attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as « rubbish », « ridiculous », « complete fiction » and « dangerous to Arab relations ». The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims. The script depicts Baldwin’s brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as « the arch-villain ». A further group, « the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians », is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship. « They were working together, » the film’s spokesman said. « It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar cause friction between them. » The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as « the baddies » while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a « a hero of the piece », Sir Ridley’s spokesman said. « At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct. » Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was « complete and utter nonsense ». He said that it relied on the romanticised view of the Crusades propagated by Sir Walter Scott in his book The Talisman, published in 1825 and now discredited by academics. (..) Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride. Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley’s efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. « It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. » (…) Sir Ridley’s spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. « It’s trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history. The Telegraph
[Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of heaven]  is not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality. Guy of Lusignan lost the Battle of Hattin against Saladin, yes, but he wasn’t any badder or better than anyone else. There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense. It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. Jonathan Riley-Smith
It does not do any good to distort history, even if you believe you are distorting it in a good way. Cruelty was not on one side but on all. Amin Maalouf
I recently refused to take part in a television series, produced by an intelligent and well-educated Egyptian woman, for whom a continuing Western crusade was an article of faith. Having less to do with historical reality than with reactions to imperialism, the nationalist and Islamist interpretations of crusade history help many people, moderates as well as extremists, to place the exploitation they believe they have suffered in a historical context and to satisfy their feelings of both superiority and humiliation. Jonathan Riley-Smith
For Christians . . . sacred violence cannot be proposed on any grounds save that of love, . . . [and] in an age dominated by the theology of merit this explains why participation in crusades was believed to be meritorious, why the expeditions were seen as penitential acts that could gain indulgences, and why death in battle was regarded as martyrdom. . . . As manifestations of Christian love, the crusades were as much the products of the renewed spirituality of the central Middle Ages, with its concern for living the vita apostolica and expressing Christian ideals in active works of charity, as were the new hospitals, the pastoral work of the Augustinians and Premonstratensians and the service of the friars. The charity of St. Francis may now appeal to us more than that of the crusaders, but both sprang from the same roots. Jonathan Riley-Smith
Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: “Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees. “I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it,” he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as “Crusaders.” Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the “Crusaders and Jews.” (…) Most people in the West do not believe that they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Catholics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as the Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both “nothing and everything,” a place filled with religion that “drives men mad.” (…) It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.” Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians. (…) One of the most profound misconceptions about the Crusades is that they represented a perversion of a religion whose founder preached meekness, love of enemies, and nonresistance. Riley-Smith reminds his reader that on the matter of violence Christ was not as clear as pacifists like to think. He praised the faith of the Roman centurion but did not condemn his profession. At the Last Supper he told his disciples, “Let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors.” St. Paul said of secular authorities, “He does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Several centuries later, St. Augustine articulated a Christian approach to just war, one in which legitimate authorities could use violence to halt or avert a greater evil. It must be a defensive war, in reaction to an act of aggression. For Christians, therefore, violence was ethically neutral, since it could be employed either for evil or against it. As Riley-Smith notes, the concept that violence is intrinsically evil belongs solely to the modern world. It is not Christian. All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187. In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’” But the Crusades were not just wars. They were holy wars, and that is what made them different from what came before. They were made holy not by their target but by the Crusaders’ sacrifice. The Crusade was a pilgrimage and thereby an act of penance. When Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095, he created a model that would be followed for centuries. Crusaders who undertook that burden with right intention and after confessing their sins would receive a plenary indulgence. The indulgence was a recognition that they undertook these sacrifices for Christ, who was crucified again in the tribulations of his people. And the sacrifices were extraordinary. As Riley-Smith writes in this book and his earlier The First ­Crusaders, the cost of crusading was staggering. Without financial assistance, only the wealthy could afford to embark on a Crusade. Many noble families impoverished themselves by crusading. Historians have long known that the image of the Crusader as an adventurer seeking his fortune is exactly backward. The vast majority of Crusaders returned home as soon as they had fulfilled their vow. What little booty they could acquire was more than spent on the journey itself. One is hard pressed to name a single returning Crusader who broke even, let alone made a profit on the journey. And those who returned were the lucky ones. As Riley-Smith explains, recent studies show that around one-third of knights and nobility died on crusade. The death rates for lower classes were even higher. One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character. It was the indulgence that led thousands of men to take on a burden that would certainly cost them dearly. The secular nobility of medieval Europe was a warrior aristocracy. They made their living by the sword. We know from their wills and charters that they were deeply aware of their own sinfulness and anxious over the state of their souls. A Crusade provided a way for them to serve God and to do penance for their sins. It allowed them to use their weapons as a means of their salvation rather than of their damnation. (…) The Crusader sewed a cloth cross to his garment to signify his penitential burden and his hope. Take away penitence and the Crusades cannot be explained. Yet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Protestants and then Enlightenment thinkers rejected the idea of temporal penalties due to sin—along with indulgences, purgatory, and the papacy. How then did they explain the Crusades? Why else would thousands of men march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory, if not for something precious? The first explanation was that they were fooled by the Antichrist: The Catholic Church had convinced the simple that their salvation lay in fighting its battles. Later, with the advent of liberalism, critics assumed that the Crusaders must have had economic motives. They were seeking wealth and simply used religion as a cover for their worldly desires. In the nineteenth century, the memory of the Crusades became hopelessly entangled with contemporary European imperialism. Riley-Smith tells the fascinating story of Archbishop Charles-Martial Allemand-Lavigerie of Algiers, the founder of the missionary orders of the White Fathers and White Sisters, who worked diligently to establish a new military order resembling the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller of the Middle Ages. His new order was to be sent to Africa, where it would protect missionaries, fight against the slave trade, and support the progress of French civilization in the continent. Drawing on money from antislavery societies, Lavigerie purchased lands on the edge of the Saharan Desert to use as a mother house for a new order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The order attracted hundreds of men from all social classes, and in 1891 the first brothers received their white habits emblazoned with red crosses. The dust cover of Riley-Smith’s book is itself a wonderful picture of these brothers at their African home. With palm trees behind them, they look proudly into the camera, each wearing a cross and some holding rifles. The Institut des Fréres Armés lasted scarcely more than a year before it was scrapped and its founder died, but other attempts to found a military order were made in the nineteenth century, even in Protestant England. All wove together the contrasting threads of Romanticism, imperialism, and the medieval Crusades. President Clinton is not alone in thinking that the Muslim world is still brooding over the crimes of the Crusaders. It is commonly thought—even by Muslims—that the effects and memory of that trauma have been with the Islamic world since it was first inflicted in the eleventh century. As Riley-Smith explains, however, the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage. Carole Hillenbrand first uncovered this fact in her groundbreaking book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize that the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory. In Europe, however, the Crusades were a well-remembered formative episode. Europeans, who had bound the Crusades to imperialism, brought the story to the Middle East during the nineteenth century and reintroduced it to the Muslims. Stripping the Crusades of their original purpose, they portrayed the Crusades as Europe’s first colonial venture—the first attempt of the West to bring civilization to the backward Muslim East. Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe’s assault on Islam—an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders. Arab nationalists made good use of the new story of the Crusades during their struggles for independence. Their enemies, the Islamists, then took over the same tool. Osama bin Laden is only the most recent Islamist to adopt this useful myth to characterize the actions of the West as a continual Crusade against Islam. That is the Crusades’ only connection with modern Islamist terrorism. And yet, so ingrained is this notion that the Crusades began the modern European assault on Islam that many moderate Muslims still believe it. In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality. Crusade historians sometimes try to yell across it but usually just talk to each other, while the leading churchmen, the scholars in other fields, and the general public hold to a caricature of the Crusades created by a pox of modern ideologies. Thomas F. Madden (Saint Louis University)
In 2001, former president Bill Clinton delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he discussed the West’s response to the recent terrorist attacks of September 11. The speech contained a short but significant reference to the crusades. Mr. Clinton observed that “when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they . . . proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount.” He cited the “contemporaneous descriptions of the event” as describing “soldiers walking on the Temple Mount . . . with blood running up to their knees.” This story, Mr. Clinton said emphatically, was “still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.” This view of the crusades is not unusual. It pervades textbooks as well as popular literature. One otherwise generally reliable Western civilization textbook claims that “the Crusades fused three characteristic medieval impulses: piety, pugnacity, and greed. All three were essential.”1 The film Kingdom of Heaven (2005) depicts crusaders as boorish bigots, the best of whom were torn between remorse for their excesses and lust to continue them. Even the historical supplements for role-playing games—drawing on supposedly more reliable sources—contain statements such as “The soldiers of the First Crusade appeared basically without warning, storming into the Holy Land with the avowed—literally—task of slaughtering unbelievers”; “The Crusades were an early sort of imperialism”; and “Confrontation with Islam gave birth to a period of religious fanaticism that spawned the terrible Inquisition and the religious wars that ravaged Europe during the Elizabethan era.” The most famous semipopular historian of the crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, ended his three volumes of magnificent prose with the judgment that the crusades were “nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.” The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged. But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. (…)  In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia. By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula. Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims. (…) The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them. The surviving central secular authority in the Christian world at this time was the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Having lost so much territory in the seventh and eighth centuries to sudden amputation by the Muslims, the Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack on Egypt, the first time since 645 that they had dared to come so far south. Between the 940s and the 970s, the Byzantines made great progress in recovering lost territories. Emperor John Tzimiskes retook much of Syria and part of Palestine, getting as far as Nazareth, but his armies became overextended and he had to end his campaigns by 975 without managing to retake Jerusalem itself. Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed, and the Byzantines barely managed to retain Aleppo and Antioch. The struggle continued unabated into the eleventh century. In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. He was soon deposed, and by 1038 the Byzantines had negotiated the right to try to rebuild the structure, but other events were also making life difficult for Christians in the area, especially the displacement of Arab Muslim rulers by Seljuk Turks, who from 1055 on began to take control in the Middle East. This destabilized the territory and introduced new rulers (the Turks) who were not familiar even with the patchwork modus vivendi that had existed between most Arab Muslim rulers and their Christian subjects. Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine: notable armed pilgrimages occurred in 1064–65 and 1087–91. (…) Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. In the early 1070s, the pope was Gregory VII, and he immediately began plans to lead an expedition to the Byzantines’ aid. He became enmeshed in conflict with the German emperors, however (what historians call “the Investiture Controversy”), and was ultimately unable to offer meaningful help. Still, the Byzantines persisted in their appeals, and finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade. (…) Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive. The crusades were simply one tool in the defensive options exercised by Christians. To put the question in perspective, one need only consider how many times Christian forces have attacked either Mecca or Medina. (…) One version of Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont in 1095 urging French warriors to embark on what would become known as the First Crusade does note that they might “make spoil of [the enemy’s] treasures,” but this was no more than an observation on the usual way of financing war in ancient and medieval society. And Fulcher of Chartres did write in the early twelfth century that those who had been poor in the West had become rich in the East as a result of their efforts on the First Crusade, obviously suggesting that others might do likewise. But Fulcher’s statement has to be read in its context, which was a chronic and eventually fatal shortage of manpower for the defense of the crusader states. Fulcher was not being entirely deceitful when he pointed out that one might become rich as a result of crusading. But he was not being entirely straightforward either, because for most participants, crusading was ruinously expensive. (…) One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown. The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther. Even by the thirteenth century, most crusade planners assumed that it would be impossible to attract enough volunteers to make a crusade possible, and crusading became the province of kings and popes, losing its original popular character. (…) In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations. (…) certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—beneath the obvious differences of technology and material culture, medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings. However (…) the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example. (…) It is hard to imagine a more conclusive way of proving one’s dedication to a cause than sacrificing one’s life for it, and very large numbers of crusaders did just that. But this assertion is also revealed to be false when we consider the way in which the crusades were preached. Crusaders were not drafted. Participation was voluntary, and participants had to be persuaded to go. The primary means of persuasion was the crusade sermon, and one might expect to find these sermons representing crusading as profoundly appealing. (…) In fact, the opposite is true: crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death. That this was the reality of crusading was well known anyway. (…) It worked because crusading was appealing precisely because it was a known and significant hardship, and because undertaking a crusade with the right motives was understood as an acceptable penance for sin. Far from being a materialistic enterprise, crusading was impractical in worldly terms, but valuable for one’s soul. There is no space here to explore the doctrine of penance as it developed in the late antique and medieval worlds, but suffice it to say that the willing acceptance of difficulty and suffering was viewed as a useful way to purify one’s soul (and still is, in Catholic doctrine today). Crusading was the near-supreme example of such difficult suffering, and so was an ideal and very thorough-going penance. (…) As difficult as it may be for modern people to believe, the evidence strongly suggests that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins, and put their lives at the service of their “neighbors,” understood in the Christian sense. (…) Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. (…) Up until quite recently, Muslims remembered the crusades as an instance in which they had beaten back a puny western Christian attack. (…) Most of the Arabic-language historical writing on the crusades before the mid-nineteenth century was produced by Arab Christians, not Muslims, and most of that was positive. There was no Arabic word for “crusades” until that period, either, and even then the coiners of the term were, again, Arab Christians. It had not seemed important to Muslims to distinguish the crusades from other conflicts between Christianity and Islam. Nor had there been an immediate reaction to the crusades among Muslims. As Carole Hillenbrand has noted, “The Muslim response to the coming of the Crusades was initially one of apathy, compromise and preoccupation with internal problems.” By the 1130s, a Muslim counter-crusade did begin, under the leadership of the ferocious Zengi of Mosul. But it had taken some decades for the Muslim world to become concerned about Jerusalem, which is usually held in higher esteem by Muslims when it is not held by them than when it is. Action against the crusaders was often subsequently pursued as a means of uniting the Muslim world behind various aspiring conquerors, until 1291, when the Christians were expelled from the Syrian mainland. And—surprisingly to Westerners—it was not Saladin who was revered by Muslims as the great anti-Christian leader. That place of honor usually went to the more bloodthirsty, and more successful, Zengi and Baibars, or to the more public-spirited Nur al-Din. The first Muslim crusade history did not appear until 1899. By that time, the Muslim world was rediscovering the crusades—but it was rediscovering them with a twist learned from Westerners. In the modern period, there were two main European schools of thought about the crusades. One school, epitomized by people like Voltaire, Gibbon, and Sir Walter Scott, and in the twentieth century Sir Steven Runciman, saw the crusaders as crude, greedy, aggressive barbarians who attacked civilized, peace-loving Muslims to improve their own lot. The other school, more romantic and epitomized by lesser-known figures such as the French writer Joseph-François Michaud, saw the crusades as a glorious episode in a long-standing struggle in which Christian chivalry had driven back Muslim hordes. In addition, Western imperialists began to view the crusaders as predecessors, adapting their activities in a secularized way that the original crusaders would not have recognized or found very congenial. At the same time, nationalism began to take root in the Muslim world. Arab nationalists borrowed the idea of a long-standing European campaign against them from the former European school of thought—missing the fact that this was a serious mischaracterization of the crusades—and using this distorted understanding as a way to generate support for their own agendas. This remained the case until the mid-twentieth century, when, in Riley-Smith’s words, “a renewed and militant Pan-Islamism” applied the more narrow goals of the Arab nationalists to a worldwide revival of what was then called Islamic fundamentalism and is now sometimes referred to, a bit clumsily, as jihadism. This led rather seamlessly to the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, offering a view of the crusades so bizarre as to allow bin Laden to consider all Jews to be crusaders and the crusades to be a permanent and continuous feature of the West’s response to Islam. Bin Laden’s conception of history is a feverish fantasy. He is no more accurate in his view about the crusades than he is about the supposed perfect Islamic unity which he thinks Islam enjoyed before the baleful influence of Christianity intruded. But the irony is that he, and those millions of Muslims who accept his message, received that message originally from their perceived enemies: the West. So it was not the crusades that taught Islam to attack and hate Christians. Far from it. Those activities had preceded the crusades by a very long time, and stretch back to the inception of Islam. Rather, it was the West which taught Islam to hate the crusades. The irony is rich. (….) Let us return to President Clinton’s Georgetown speech. How much of his reference to the First Crusade was accurate? It is true that many Muslims who had surrendered and taken refuge under the banners of several of the crusader lords—an act which should have granted them quarter—were massacred by out-of-control troops. This was apparently an act of indiscipline, and the crusader lords in question are generally reported as having been extremely angry about it, since they knew it reflected badly on them. To imply—or plainly state—that this was an act desired by the entire crusader force, or that it was integral to crusading, is misleading at best. In any case, John France has put it well: “This notorious event should not be exaggerated. . . . However horrible the massacre . . . it was not far beyond what common practice of the day meted out to any place which resisted.” And given space, one could append a long and bloody list, stretching back to the seventh century, of similar actions where Muslims were the aggressors and Christians the victims. Such a list would not, however, have served Mr. Clinton’s purposes. Mr. Clinton was probably using Raymond of Aguilers when he referred to “blood running up to [the] knees” of crusaders. But the physics of such a claim are impossible, as should be apparent. Raymond was plainly both bragging and also invoking the imagery of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. He was not offering a factual account, and probably did not intend the statement to be taken as such. As for whether or not we are “still paying for it,” (…)This is the most serious misstatement of the whole passage. What we are paying for is not the First Crusade, but western distortions of the crusades in the nineteenth century which were taught to, and taken up by, an insufficiently critical Muslim world. The problems with Mr. Clinton’s remarks indicate the pitfalls that await those who would attempt to explicate ancient or medieval texts without adequate historical awareness, and they illustrate very well what happens when one sets out to pick through the historical record for bits—distorted or merely selectively presented—which support one’s current political agenda. This sort of abuse of history has been distressingly familiar where the crusades are concerned. But nothing is served by distorting the past for our own purposes. Or rather: a great many things may be served . . . but not the truth. Distortions and misrepresentations of the crusades will not help us understand the challenge posed to the West by a militant and resurgent Islam, and failure to understand that challenge could prove deadly. Indeed, it already has. It may take a very long time to set the record straight about the crusades. It is long past time to begin the task. Paul F. Crawford
L’historiquement correct, c’est le politiquement correct appliqué à l’histoire : ce n’est pas une lecture scientifique du passé, une tentative de le restituer tel qu’il a été, c’est une interprétation idéologique et politique du monde d’hier, visant à lui faire dire quelque chose pour les hommes d’aujourd’hui, avec les mots et les concepts d’aujourd’hui. L’historiquement correct ne cherche pas à comprendre le passé pour éclairer le présent : il part du présent pour juger le passé. Dans cet état d’esprit, l’histoire devient un écran où se projettent toutes les passions contemporaines. A l’école, à la télévision ou au café du Commerce, l’historiquement correct règne en maître, proposant une histoire tronquée, falsifiée, manipulée. Et c’est ainsi que l’on voit tous les jours traquer l’obscurantisme, l’impérialisme, le colonialisme, le racisme, l’antisémitisme, le fascisme ou le sexisme à travers les siècles, même si ces mots n’ont pas de sens hors d’un contexte précis : l’historiquement correct s’en moque, car son but n’est pas la connaissance mais la propagande. L’historiquement correct pratique l’anachronisme (les événements d’hier sont évalués selon les critères de notre époque) et porte des jugements manichéens, le Bien et le Mal étant définis selon les valeurs qui ont cours aujourd’hui. Jean Sévillia
Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ? Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro, qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès la réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ». Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables. Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ». Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats. En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ». Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante. Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme. Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation. C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. (…) Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne [Dumézil] , nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi. Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle. Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église. (…)  En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier. Jean-Marc Bastière

C’est la faute aux Scott, imbécile !

Anitsémitisme, persécution des païens tolérants, sombre Moyen-Age, croisades en quête de terres, butin et convertis, monstres de l’Inquisition, hérésies scientifiques, bénédiction de l’esclavage, saint autoritarisme, archaïsme économique …

Moyen-Orient berceau du judaïsme et du christianisme, présence multi-millénaire et cumulée juive et chrétienne, 450 ans d’invasions et d’occupation musulmanes y compris jusqu’à Poitiers et au sac de Rome, décennies de provocations, incinération du Saint-Sépulcre, harcèlement et violences contre un marché pourtant longtemps lucratif de pèlerins chrétiens, « guerres justes » et croisades à la fois pénitentielles et défensives aux coûts humains et matériels prohibitifs, flux financiers massifs mais presque exclusivement dans le sens Europe-Levant, massacres occasionnels mais tout à fait dans les moeurs du temps, absence de tout projet d’attaque ou d’invasion de La Mecque ou Médine …

A l’heure où après un Clinton ou un Obama …

Et tant d’autres de leurs devanciers

Le pape nous ressort d’un poème épique, nouvelle petite merveille d’équivalence morale, les conversions forcées imaginaires de musulmans par des chrétiens pour mieux faire le parallèle avec les actuels égorgements de nos amis islamistes …

Pendant que massacre après massacre en Syrie, Irak ou Iran, l’islam montre son vrai visage …

Petite remise des pendules à l’heure ….

Avec la traduction française de l’ouvrage du sociologue des religions américains Rodney Stark …

Et sa recension des dernières recherches des historiens les plus reconnus …

Sur les préjugés antichrétiens en général et anticatholiques en particulier …

Et notamment comme le rappelle Paul F. Crawford …

Sur l’incroyable ironie dont l’Histoire a le secret …

Qui veut que comme souvent ça pourrait bien être l’Occident lui-même …

Via par exemple les Scott (Walter le romancier du 19e et son émule Ridley le cinéaste du 21e) …

Et leurs innombrables fans que nous sommes …

Qui ont appris à nos actuels Ben Laden à haïr les croisades !

Histoire de l’Église : pour en finir avec les clichés

La Croix

07/11/2019

Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ?

Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro,qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès. La réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ».

Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables.

De l’anticléricalisme au mépris

Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ».

Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats.

En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ».

Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante.

Des préjugés hérités du passé

Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme.

Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation.

C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. Dans le Baptême de Clovis : 24 décembre 505 ?, le médiéviste Bruno Dumézil (voir encadré p. 32) trouve « plutôt pas mal » cette démarche de lutter contre les idées fausses, en tout cas d’apporter de la « nuance ». Le sens de la nuance, que Verlaine applique à l’art poétique, est aussi le maître mot des historiens.

Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne, nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi.

L’Église n’est plus une forteresse

Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle.

Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église.

N’est-ce pas une tâche de Sisyphe, jamais achevée, de combattre des poncifs qui ont la vie dure ? Il est plus difficile, on le sait, de corriger des préjugés que de combler une ignorance. En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier.

À lire
L’Église en procès. La réponse des historiens
, sous la direction de Jean Sévillia, Tallandier.
Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques, de Rodney Stark, Salvator.
Le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, de Manfred Lütz, Éditions Emmanuel

Voir aussi:

Protestants et anticatholiques des “Lumières”, responsables des légendes noires contre l’Eglise

Salon beige

On lit souvent que l’Inquisition fut l’un des chapitres les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale ; que Pie XII, dit « le pape d’Hitler », était antisémite ; que l’obscurantisme a freiné la science jusqu’à l’arrivée des Lumières ; et que les croisades furent le premier exemple de l’avidité occidentale. Ces affirmations sont sans fondements historiques.

Dans cet ouvrage, Faux témoignages, Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques, l’éminent professeur de sociologie des religions Rodney Stark démontre que certaines idées fermement établies sont en réalité des mythes. Il s’attaque aux légendes noires de l’histoire de l’Église et explique de quelles façons elles se sont substituées à la réalité des faits. Son travail est d’autant plus méritoire qu’il est lui-même protestant. Et il écrit justement à propos de ces légendes :

Tout a débuté avec les guerres déclenchées en Europe à la suite de la Réforme qui a opposé protestants et catholiques et fait des millions de morts. A la même époque, l’Espagne apparaissait comme la principale puissance catholique. Par réaction, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas ont alors déclenché d’intenses campagnes de propagande qui décrivaient les Espagnols comme de fanatiques barbares assoiffés de sang. Jeffrey Burton Russel, éminent historien du Moyen Age, écrit :

D’innombrables livres et pamphlets furent édités par les presses du Nord accusant l’empire espagnol de dépravation inhumaine et d’horribles atrocités. […] L’Espagne était décrite comme un lieu de ténèbres, d’ignorance et de mal.

[…] Mais les protestants en colère n’étaient pas les seuls à inventer ces histoires ou à y acquiescer. De nombreux mensonges analysés dans les chapitres qui vont suivre étaient soutenus par des auteurs antireligieux, notamment à l’époque des “Lumières”.

Voir également:

Why is this non-Catholic scholar debunking “centuries of anti-Catholic history”?

An interview with Dr. Rodney Stark, sociologist and author of « Bearing False Witness »

The Catholic world report

Dr. Rodney Stark has written nearly 40 books on a wide range of topics, incuding a number of recent books on the history of Christianity, monotheism, Christianity in China, and the roots of modernity. After beginning as a newspaper reporter and spending time in the Army, Stark received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He later was Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington; he has been at Baylor University since 2004. Stark is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, and he has won a number of national and international awards for distinguished scholarship. Raised as a Lutheran, he has identified himself as an agnostic but has, more recently, called himself an “independent Christian”.

His most recent book isBearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (Templeton Press, 2016), which addresses ten prevalent myths about Church history. Dr. Stark recently responded by e-mail to some questions from Carl E. Olson, editor ofCatholic World Report.

CWR: You begin the book by first noting your upbringing as an American Protestant and then discussing “distinguished bigots”. What is a “distinguished bigot”? And how have such people influenced the way in which the Catholic Church is understood and perceived by many Americans today?

Dr. Rodney Stark: By distinguished bigots I mean prominent scholars and intellectuals who clearly are antagonistic to the Catholic Church and who promulgate false historical claims.

CWR: How did you go about identifying and selecting the ten anti-Catholic myths that you rebut in the book? To what degree are these myths part of a general (if sometimes vague) Protestant culture, and to what degree are they encouraged and spread by a more secular, elite culture?

Dr. Stark: For the most part I encountered these anti-Catholic myths as I wrote about various historical periods and events, and discovered that these well-known ‘facts” were false and therefore was forced to deal with them in those studies. These myths are not limited to some generalized Protestant culture—many Catholics, including well-known ones, have repeated them too. These myths have too often, and for too long, been granted truthful validity by historians in general. Of course secularists—especially ex-Catholics such as Karen Armstrong—love these myths.

CWR: The first chapter is on “sins of anti-Semitism,” perhaps the most divisive and controversial of the topics you address. How have your own views on this issue changed, and why? Why do you think there continues to be a wide-spread belief or impression that the Catholic Church in inherently anti-Semitic?

Dr. Stark: When I began as a scholar, “everybody” including leading Catholics knew the Church was a primary source of anti-Semitism. It was only later as I worked with materials on medieval attacks on Jews that I discovered the effective role of the Church in opposing and suppressing such attacks—this truth being told by medieval Jewish chroniclers and thereby most certainly true. Why do so many ‘intellectuals,’ many of them ex-Catholics, continue to accept the notion that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope,” when that is so obviously a vicious lie? It can only be hatred of the Church. Keep in mind that it is prominent Jews who defend the pope.

CWR: Why have various historians, such as Gibbons, presented the ancient pagans as either benevolent or mostly tolerant toward Christianity? What was the actual relationship between Christianity and paganism in the first centuries of the Church’s existence?

Dr. Stark: In those days, the safe way to attack religion was to let readers assume it was only an attack on Catholicism, so that’s what Gibbon and his contemporaries did. Perhaps surprisingly, once the pagans were no longer able to persecute Christians, they were pretty much ignored by the Church and by emperors and only slowly disappeared

CWR: How did the mythology of the “Dark Ages” develop? What are some of the main problems with that mythology?

Dr. Stark: Voltaire and his associates made up the fiction of the Dark Ages so that they could claim to have burst forth with the Enlightenment. As every competent historian (and even the encyclopedias) now acknowledges, there were no Dark Ages. To the contrary, it was during these centuries that Europe took the great cultural and technological leap forward that put it so far ahead of the rest of the world.

CWR: What relationship is there between the mythology of the “Dark Ages” and the myth of “secular Enlightenment”? How rational and scientific, in fact, was the Enlightenment?

Dr. Stark: The “philosophes” of the so-called “Enlightenment played no role in the rise of science—the great scientific progress of the time was achieved by highly religious men, many of them Catholic clergy.

CWR: The Crusades and the Inquisitions continue be presented as epochs and events that involved Christian barbarism and the murder of millions. Why are those myths so widespread and popular, especially after scholars have spent decades correcting and clarifying what really did (or did not) happen?

Dr. Stark: I am competent to reveal that the Crusades were legitimate defensive wars and that the Inquisition was not bloody. I am not competent to explain why the pile of fine research supporting these corrections have had no impact on the chattering classes. I suspect that these myths are too precious for the anti-religious to surrender.

CWR: In addressing “Protestant Modernity” you flatly stated that Max Weber’s thesis that Protestantism birthed capitalism and modernity is “nonsense”. What are the main problems with Weber’s thesis?

Dr. Stark: The problem is simply that capitalism was fully developed and thriving in Europe many centuries before the Reformation.

CWR:
 You emphatically state that as a scholar with a Protestant background working at a Baptist university you did not write your book as “a defense of the Church” but “in defense of history.” Why is that significant? And, finally, do you think most Americans actually give more credence to history than to the Church?

Dr. Stark: I think the distinguished bigots will have a hard time accusing me of being a Catholic toady, trying to cover up the sins of the Church. The only axe I have to grind is that history ought to be honestly reported. As to your final point: I don’t think ‘most Americans’ will ever know that this book was written. I can only hope that I will influence intellectuals and textbook writers—maybe.

Related CWR articles:

“The Story of the West: Who, Why, and How” (June 2014): A review of Rodney Stark’s book, How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity | Gregory J. Sullivan

“A Curious Mix of Sophistication, Sin, and Piety” (May 2011): An interview with sociologist Rodney Stark about the Crusades | Mark Sullivan

Voir de même:

An agnostic demolishes anti-Catholic myths

Michael Duggan

Bearing False Witness
by Rodney Stark
Templeton Press, £19

The Age of Reason began in the 2nd century AD. How about that for a claim? Rodney Stark is not a man to equivocate. In his judgment, the Catholic Church has been routinely traduced by “distinguished bigots” – historians who have twisted or ignored the evidence and polluted popular understanding. Hence Stark’s determination to put back by a millennium-and-a-half the dating of the Age of Reason, which really began, he argues, with certain Church Fathers and their decision to conduct theology; that is, formal reasoning about God. Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine: they all insisted on the power of reason and its place in God’s plan.

St Augustine went into raptures about the “sagacity” with which “the movements and connections of the stars have been discovered”. Man’s rational nature was an “unspeakable boon” conferred on us by God.

Hence also Stark’s fury about the term “Dark Ages”. It is remarkable how politicians and journalists wanting to convey disgust these days, whether for the actions of ISIS or for rules about wearing high heels at work, are liable to call such a thing “medieval” or “a return to the Dark Ages”.

And this darkness was, of course, the doing of the Catholic Church. Edward Gibbon said so. So did Voltaire. Daniel Boorstin, librarian of the United States Congress, wrote that the Church “built a grand barrier against the progress of knowledge”.

Rubbish, says Stark. The Dark Ages are nothing but a hoax invented by intellectuals to glorify themselves and vilify the Church. The period from 300 to 1300 was, in fact, one of the great innovative eras of mankind.

Technology was developed and put into use on a scale no civilisation had previously known: water mills, the three-field system, the horse collar, selective plant breeding, chimneys and much more. These things transformed productivity, increased the population, and widened horizons all over supposedly benighted Europe. But high-minded men of letters saw fit not to notice such things.

What else? Human dissection for scientific purposes began in medieval universities and without serious objections from the Church. Stark reels off clergymen-scientists who preceded Copernicus and who, among other things, fought and won the battle for empiricism in science.

There was moral progress too. The irony of ISIS comparisons, given that group’s recourse to abduction and enslavement, is that most of Europe had waved goodbye to slavery by 1300. Though not cited by Stark, Hugh Thomas, the great modern historian of the Atlantic slave trade, attributed the later resurgence of slavery to the memory of antiquity: “If Athens had slaves to build the Parthenon, and Rome to maintain the aqueducts, why should modern Europeans hesitate to have slaves to build its new world in America?” As for the treatment by some historians of the Church’s record on slavery, Stark accuses them of lying in plain sight.

And so, in Bearing False Witness, Rodney Stark takes aim at one “myth” after another about Catholicism. The Spanish Inquisition? A “pack of lies”, originally spread by English and Dutch propagandists. The Inquisition “made little use of the stake, seldom tortured anyone and maintained unusually decent prisons”.

The Crusades? Stark begins by saying, in effect, “the others started it”, and goes from there. He is particularly hot in attacking the idea that the Crusaders were driven by dreams of land and loot. Stark’s style is brusque and clear. He is like a man carefully setting up skittles before firing down bowling balls of fact and argument to send them scattering (though in a couple of cases he is, in reality, rebalancing rather than overturning the debate).

All of which means that Bearing False Witness is stirring, compelling, often convincing stuff. Some bits are especially fascinating, as when Stark makes the case for monasteries as the first true capitalist firms. One hopes that, as can happen when the pursuit of truth gets wrapped up in controversy, Stark is not carting more away from the evidence than he should. It would be fascinating to read a riposte.

And, of course, the greatest obstacle nowadays to perceiving the Catholic Church as a force for good is not the myth of the suppressed Gospels, or the myth of the Protestant work ethic, or whatever else. It is the anything but mythical abuse scandals.

Finally, a word on Professor Stark himself. He is co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, once a hotbed of militant anti-Catholicism. He grew up an American Protestant, “raised on the glories of the Reformation”. More recently, he has described himself as incapable of religious faith, an agnostic.

One thing Stark is not, therefore, is a Catholic: “I did not write this book in defence of the Church,” he states, looking possible critics straight in the eye. “I wrote it in defence of history.”

Voir de plus:

Lies, myths and patent frauds

Michael Duggan
Catholic Herald

‘Europe is a lot more religious than it appears to be’: sociologist Rodney Stark (Baylor University)

They all laughed at Columbus when he said the world was round,
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound.
Ira Gershwin

Professor Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, in the 1930s and 1940s. He was, in his own words, “an American Protestant with intellectual pretensions”.

Every October 12 – Columbus Day – he would look on at “throngs of Knights of Columbus members, accompanied by priests, marching in celebration of the arrival of the ‘Great Navigator’ in the New World”. The young Stark found the spectacle absurd. He knew that Columbus had acted in the teeth of unyielding opposition from Roman Catholic prelates who cited biblical proof that the world was flat. Any attempt to reach Asia by sailing west would mean ships falling off the edge of the world, they said.

Years later he found out that the whole story was a lie. Stark recounts all of this – and explains the real story of the opposition to Columbus – in the introduction to his latest book Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (reviewed in the Catholic Herald on June 3).

So how did he get his first direct experience of Catholicism? “I was about 16 when I first attended a Catholic service. I went with a girl I was dating. I found nothing remarkable about it.” Stark was raised as a Lutheran and was used to “highly liturgical services. So I did not find Catholic ritual strange. We stood when Catholics knelt.” He adds: “I don’t know that this had any influence on my historical views.”

The historical view that Stark sets out in Bearing False Witness is that a line of “distinguished bigots”, stretching from Gibbon to the present day, have created a common culture in which widely held assumptions about the Catholic Church are based on “extreme exaggerations, false accusations and patent frauds”.

Stark insists that he is not a whitewasher and that he is “simply reporting the prevailing view among qualified experts”. He also reminds his readers that he is not a Catholic. Though never an atheist, he was for some time primarily a “cultural Christian” or, as he has described it elsewhere, “an admirer but not a believer”. And now? “I have not been an agnostic for years. I wrote myself to faith.”

The process of writing himself to faith includes books such as The Triumph of Christianity, which records “how the Jesus Movement became the world’s largest religion”; The Victory of Reason, explaining how Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western success; and God’s Battalions, an incisive defence of the Crusades.

As a fledgling historian in the 1960s, though, Stark was still wedded to notions of the baneful role of the Church in history. In his first year of graduate school at Berkeley, he was asked to prepare a brief of research he had been doing on anti-Semitism to be distributed to bishops attending the Second Vatican Council. According to Cardinal Augustin Bea, this summary was influential in the production of Nostra Aetate, the Council’s statement on the Jews.

Stark glowed with pride. But over the years, as he carried out more work on ancient and medieval history, he became aware of “the extent to which the Catholic Church had stood as a consistent barrier against anti-Semitic violence”. A long analysis of all known outbursts of anti-Semitic violence in both Europe and the Islamic world from 500 to 1600 forced him to reconsider the entire link between Christianity and anti-Semitism. This was to become the theme of the first chapter of Bearing False Witness.

Turning to the current state of the Catholic Church, Stark is typically unequivocal. Shame among Catholics about scandals involving paedophile priests is (in America at least) “limited to a few intellectuals. Otherwise there should have been substantial declines in membership or in Mass attendance. And that hasn’t happened. There has been no decline in membership or mass attendance in the United States.

“The commitment of ordinary Catholics seems unaffected. In Latin America, rates of mass attendance have doubled and redoubled during the past 25 years. Catholic membership in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa is very far above that even claimed by the Catholic Almanac and continues to grow rapidly.”

But what about Europe? “Europe is a lot more religious than it is said to be or even than it appears to be. I have written a lot about this, most recently in The Triumph of Faith.” Stark has suggested in other interviews that the lack of attendance at church in Europe is down to “ineffective churches rather than lack of faith, since religious belief remains high all across the continent”.

This is typically trenchant stuff from someone who has spent decades understanding the past and present of Christianity. So what then does Prof Stark see as the future for the Catholic Church? “Continued strength.”

Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History

by Rodney Stark.
Templeton Press, 2016.
Hardcover, 280 pages, $28.

Rodney Stark, while doing research into the history of religion, discovered that the popular history of Catholicism is rife with errors, errors that have been repeatedly exposed as such by serious historians. However, the people who read pop history do not typically read serious historians, and so only a work of pop history can correct the errors in other works of pop history. Thus this book.

Each of the book’s ten chapters addresses a subject concerning which the Catholic Church has been held to have behaved badly. Each chapter begins with a number of examples of writers condemning the Church for some fault, which is useful in showing that Stark is not going after straw men. Nor does he claim that the Church, or those that claim to act in the Church’s name, are uniformly blameless. Rather, his debunk of the more extreme claims has a historiographical purpose: to show that the accusations against theChurch are themselves driven by an anti-Catholic animus rather than scholarly research or factual accuracy.

Stark, a professor of history at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University, first takes up the topic of Jews and the Catholic Church. Stark notes that while Christians sometimes attacked or killed Jews between 500 and 1400, the Church hierarchy consistently defended the Jews. For instance, during the First Crusade, some crusaders decided that, before they went all the way to the Middle East to fight “God’s enemies,” they should “take care” of those enemies who were living next door in Europe (i.e. Jews). And so a certain Emich of Leiningen set out to kill Jews in the Rhineland. Their first stop was Speyer, but:

The bishop of Speyer took the local Jews under his protection, and Emich’s forces could only lay their hands on a dozen Jews who had somehow failed to heed the bishop’s alarm. All twelve were killed. Then Emich led his forces to Worms. Here, too, the bishop took the local Jews into his palace for protection. But this time Emich would have none of that, and his forces broke down the bishop’s gate and killed about five hundred Jews. The same pattern was repeated the following week Mainz. Just as before, the bishop attempted to shield the Jews, but he was attacked and forced to flee for his life.

In the Second Crusade, St. Bernard of Clairvaux rode to the Rhine Valley—apparently the worst place in Medieval Europe to be a Jew—and, as told by a Jewish chronicler Ephraim, said, “Anyone who attacks a Jew and tries to kill him is as though he attacks Jesus himself.”

During the Black Death, rumors arose that Jews were poisoning wells and causing the plague deaths. But, “Pope Clement VI, who directed the clergy to protect the Jews, denounced all claims about poisoned wells, and ordered that those who spread the rumor, as well as anyone who harmed Jews, be excommunicated.” In short, attacks on Jews in the Middle Ages almost always arose from “the mob,” and were resisted by the Church hierarchy.

And so through today. Stark goes on to thoroughly debunk the idea that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope,” citing the hundreds of thousands of Jews saved by the Church during World War II, some of them sheltered from Nazis in the Vatican itself. In fact, in the years after the war, a number of prominent Jews, such as Golda Meir, praised Pius for his efforts.

Stark is somewhat less objective when it comes to the so-called “lost gospels.” These gospels are, to a great extent, “Gnostic” in character. The trait that characterizes gnosticism, in general, is that it is neither works nor faith that bring salvation, but knowledge. More specifically, it is usually secret knowledge, available only to spiritual adepts, that saves. And even more specifically, that knowledge is often held to be the knowledge that the physical world is a prison, trapping the adept in his or her body and blocking the adept from realizing the soul’s true nature, as a resident of a better, divine realm. Gnostic texts often set out an elaborate metaphysics of this imprisonment, involving multiple levels of divine beings. In particular, one divine being, the demiurge, had fallen from the Pleroma, the divine realm, essentially gone mad, and created a prison—the physical world—in which he could entrap other spiritual beings and garner their worship. Gnostics often identified this crazed divinity with … Jehovah, the Hebrew God.

This may seem mad or it may seem insightful, but Stark adopts an odd way to describe these beliefs: “[For Gnostics] God is the epitome of evil and the gleeful cause of human suffering.” But no gnostic would likely say that about “God” with a capital G: they always seemed to hold that the god who created the physical world was a distinctly lesser divine being, and that “God,” the ultimate divinity, is good and uniting with him is the true goal of Gnostic practice.

Over the nextfew pages, Stark demonstrates that he understands this quite well, and yet he (or perhaps an editor) continues to call the gnostic demiurge “God” with a capital G. It is as though someone took the fact that orthodox Christians believe that there is a fallen divine being, namely Satan, who epitomizes evil, and claimed that therefore Christians believe that God is evil! Gnostic beliefs seem nutty to Stark, and that is understandable: they have so seemed to many others, including the Church fathers. But the way these beliefs are presented is arguably misleading.

Stark’s next chapter debunks the notion that there were massive “forced conversions” to Christianity in late antiquity. His own work (The Rise of Christianity and The Triumph of Christianity) has shown that the main factors prompting conversions were social and doctrinal: “socially, Christianity generated an intense congregational life” and “doctrinally, in contrast to paganism’s belief in limited, unreliable, and often immoral gods, Christianity presented an image of God as moral, concerned, dependable, and omnipotent.” He demonstrates that the Christian emperors continued to employ large numbers of pagans as consuls and prefects. He quotes the Code of Justinian, from as late as the sixth century, declaring: “We especially command those persons who are truly Christians, or who are said to be so, that they should not abuse the authority of religion and dare to lay violent hands on Jews and pagans, who are living quietly and attempting nothing disorderly or contrary to law.” Of course, this means that there were Christians doing these things, but their acts were not official policy.

In another chapter, Stark shows how the belief in a “Dark Age” is essentially dead among serious historians. He quotes Warren Hollister: “To my mind, anyone who believes that the era that witnessed the building of the Chartres Cathedral and the invention of parliament and the university was ‘dark’ must be mentally retarded.…” And he demonstrates that, contrary to the myth promoted by “Enlightenment” thinkers, almost all of the major figures in the scientific revolution were religious, many of them very devout. Isaac Newton, for instance, devoted more time to biblical scholarship than to science or mathematics. The idea of a “Dark Age” was a piece of Enlightenment propaganda.

Stark relates how recent historical research has revealed the Crusades as largely a response to Muslim aggression in the Middle East. Most of the crusaders were motivated by a religious belief that they were on a mission from God, not by a desire to grab wealth from the Muslims. In fact, crusading was expensive and the Crusader states established in the Middle East had to be constantly subsidized by a flow of silver from Europe. The crusaders certainly committed what wetoday would regard as atrocities, but they were the standard for war at that time, and similar acts were committed by Muslim armies.

Stark next turns his attention to the Spanish Inquisition, today a symbol of oppression and persecution. But as Stark makes clear, by the standards of the day, the Spanish Inquisition was actually fairly innocuous. Torture, for instance, was a standard way of getting confessions at the time, and while the Inquisition employed it, it did so within strict guidelines secular courts often lacked. In fact, the Inquisition’s reputation was so much better than that of the secular courts that defendants would try to get their trials moved to an Inquisition venue.

Stark spends some time blowing apart the myth that having faith means rejecting reason. He quotes various Catholic thinkers, such as Quintus Tertullian: “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which he has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” Or, from Clement of Alexandria, we have: “Do not think we say these things [Christian doctrines] are only to be received by faith, but also that they are to be asserted by reason. For indeed it is not safe to commit these things to bare faith without reason, since assuredly truth cannot be without reason.”

The idea that faith is the opposite of reason is a fairly recent idea, and would have stunned most Christians from the time of Christ through the Middle Ages. It is based on a (willful?) misunderstanding of what was meant by “faith.” So, for instance, when Bertrand Russell writes, “We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence,” we should recognize this as another piece of propaganda and not a reasoned philosophical position. In fact, “faith,” properly understood, is every bit as necessary to science as it is to Christianity. We might see Michael Polanyi on this point, or consider this passage:

“I’ve found that a big difference between new coders and experienced coders is faith: faith that things are going wrong for a logical and discoverable reason, faith that problems are fixable, faith that there is a way to accomplish the goal. The path from ‘not working’ to ‘working’ might not be obvious, but with patience you can usually find it.” (Emphasis mine.)

Indeed, this is something I continually have to convey to my own computer science students: they must first believe that our whole enterprise is rational, and will make sense given time, before they will be able to commit to making the effort necessary to overcome all the obstacles to understanding they will face along the way. (Believe that they may know?) In any case, as Alfred North Whitehead has noted, science did not develop in Christian civilization by accident: the faith that creation is fundamentally reasonable was the basis for the whole scientific enterprise.

Stark runs into some problems when he attempts to address more technical aspects of the history of science. For instance, he writes, “To make his system work, Copernicus had to postulate that there were loops in the orbits of the heavenly bodies … However, these loops lacked any observational support; had they existed, a heavenly body should have been observed looping.” What are we to make of this? Copernicus introduced epicycles (Stark’s “loops”) precisely to get his system to fit with the observational data! The “observational support” was that, with the loops, Copernicus could predict where planets would appear reasonably well, but without them he could not. Stark writes that “a heavenly body should have been observed looping,” when in fact, for Copernicus, that is exactly what we are observing all the time.

Thanks to Kepler’s discovery of elliptical orbits, we now have a simpler system for explaining these apparent loops, but the point is that Copernicus introduced epicycles as the only way he could envision to explain the actual observations.

Furthermore, Stark seems to think that “loops” had to be introduced into the planets’ circular orbits to get the orbital period correct: “it would not do for the earth to circle the sun in only three hundred days.” But one can always change the diameter or speed of a circular orbit in one’s model and thus get the orbital period correct. The real problem with positing circular orbits instead of the actual elliptical ones has to do with the relationship of different segments of a planet’s orbit, as can be seen with a visual aid:

In the portions of a planet’s orbit where the ellipse is flatter than a circle, the planet will appear to move too fast for it to have a circular orbit. And in the portion of its elliptical orbit where the ellipse is more curved than a circle, the planet will appear to move too slowly.

So the problem is not that circular orbits show planets having years of too short (or too long) a duration—that problem could be trivially corrected. Instead, the problem is that if we mistakenly assume circular orbits, we are left with having to introduce “loops” to explain why some portions of a planet’s orbit proceed faster than other portions.

Stark next addresses the history of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis slavery. He notes that while slavery was hardly questioned in antiquity, the Catholic Church gradually eliminated it in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. When Aquinas condemned slavery as “contrary to natural law,” this soon became the official Church position. Recent controversies concerning Catholic colleges like Georgetown, which did own and sell slaves, make this a pertinent point, as well as the fact that slavery continues across wide parts of the non-Christian world.

Some Church officials, even some popes, continued to own slaves. (But some popes also engaged in fornication and had children out of wedlock, despite official Church opposition to sex outside of marriage: this shows that popes do not always follow Church doctrine, not that Church doctrine permits fornication.) And the Spanish and Portuguese imperialists often continued to enslave people, despite Church opposition. But when Spain colonized the Canary Islands in the early 1400s and started enslaving the islanders, the action prompted Pope Eugene IV to declare that “these people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without exaction or reception of any money.”

In the 1500s, Pope Paul II asserted that “the same Indians and all other peoples—even though they be outside the faith … should not be deprived of their liberty or their other possessions … and are not to be reduced to slavery.…” The Inquisition took up the matter in the 1600s, and asked:

Whether it is permitted to buy, sell, or make contracts in their respect Blacks and other natives who have harmed no one and have been made captives by force or deceit?

And it declared, “Answer: no.”

In fact, the papacy denounced slavery in 1462, 1537, 1639, 1741, 1815, and 1839.

Stark’s second-to-last chapter shows that the supposed close link between the Church and authoritarianism is actually rather flimsy; for instance, while the Church supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War, it did so because the Republicans were busily murdering Catholic clergy. Stark’s final chapter denies the link between the rise of capitalism and the Protestant Reformation, arguing that all of the necessary ingredients were already present in Scholastic economics, the large-scale enterprises run by monasteries, and the entrepreneurial Italian city-states.

Stark’s overall thesis, that popular history is frequently anti-Catholic in ways that serious historians today recognize as without factual basis, is certainly correct. And he is correct in suggesting that rectifying this bias is important: far too often, the Catholic argument against, say, abortion “rights” is dismissed with a “well, what does one expect from such a pro-slavery, anti-science, anti-Semitic, authoritarian institution?” But the importance of the project makes it unfortunate that Stark has been sloppy in his research in several sections of this work.


Gene Callahan is a Lecturer in Computer Science and Economics at St. Joseph’s College and a Research Fellow at the Collingwood and British Idealism Centre at Cardiff University, Wales. He is the author of Economics for Real People and Oakeshott on Rome and America.

Voir aussi:

A Baptist Scholar Debunks Anti-Catholic Historical Hogwash

In snappy prose, Bearing False Witness looks at the West’s Christian roots.It’s not exactly beach reading, but for those of a certain mind, Rodney Stark’s Bearing False Witness could prove a page turner. The subtitle — academics invariably include subtitles — makes plain that this is no potboiler: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. And true to academic form the book includes more than 20 pages of footnotes and citations. Stark, however, has written a wise and rollicking work of intellectual history that should be read by Catholics, non-Catholics, and, really, anyone who wants to comment on the Catholic Church’s proper place in some 2,000 years of history.

Stark is coordinator of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist University, and the author of several books: The Rise of Christianity; For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery; and One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism. In short, he’s a distinguished scholar with impeccable academic credentials, and he is working at the top of his game in Bearing False Witness. Of equal importance, he’s not a Roman Catholic. This is no polemic or tract. Stark’s overriding interest is the historical evidence and the most up-to-date scholarship, and he marshals that evidence and scholarship with a great and subdued power.

It all makes for a snappy and instructive read, because the professor actually writes in English, not academic jargon. He never minces words. He’ll tell you what’s historical hogwash and why, and who promoted anti-Catholic history — and who is promoting it today.

It also says something about Bearing False Witness that Stark does not spare himself scrutiny. Right from the start of the book, from the first chapter on “The Sins of Anti-Semitism,” he lets readers know when his past views were out sync with the historical record. He covers it all. In addition to the alleged anti-Semitism early on up to Pope Pius XII’s fabled complicity with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, he gives us chapters on the Crusaders and the Inquisition and the Dark Ages.

That is, the so-called Dark Ages, for Stark is at his best in showing how an era or age came by its name and how the vast historical evidence belies the easy — or intentionally hostile — handle. Enter the Dark Ages, which is said to have “fallen” over Europe following the fifth-century collapse of Rome and lasted to at least 1300, a benighted millennium hostile to progress and knowledge, thanks to orthodox Christendom. Even the most educated will be forgiven for accepting this view, which writers from Petrarch to Voltaire, Rousseau to Gibbon advanced for their own purposes. Yet, as Stark points out, “serious scholars” have known for decades that this organizing scheme for Western history is a “complete fraud” and, as Warren Hollister wrote, “an indestructible fossil of self-congratulatory Renaissance humanism.”

The Romans may have called the conquering Goths “barbarians,” but their chieftain (Alaric) had been a Roman commander, and many of the soldiers had served in the Roman army. It’s also the case that the “barbarian North” had been under the rule of Rome. While intellectuals have not been able to appreciate the technological, commercial, and moral progress that took place in the small communities of medieval Europe, that doesn’t mean the advances did not take place. On the contrary, revolutions in agriculture, weaponry, nonhuman power (water and wind power), transportation, manufacturing, education (the first universities in Paris and Bologna), and morals (the fall of slavery) occurred. Scholars have concluded that the flowering of science that followed during the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century was “an evolution, not a revolution.” As Stark writes: “Just as Copernicus simply took the next implicit step in the cosmology of his day, so too the flowering of science in that era was the culmination of the gradual progress that had been made over previous centuries.”

All this progress didn’t happen in spite of the Catholic Church or get started only in the fourth century or the 17th century. According to Stark, the rise of the West began late in the second century because of an “extraordinary faith in reason and progress” that originated in Christianity, which held that human reason could unlock God’s creation.

Bearing False Witness deserves a wide audience. It’s full of spunk and verve, wisdom and scholarship.

Voir également:

Catherine Pepinster sees points scored off historical sceptics

Catherine Pepinster

Churchtimes

16 June 2017

Bearing False Witness: Debunking centuries of anti-Catholic history

Rodney Stark

SPCK £14.99

(978-1-911096-62-7)

Church Times

UNTIL a visit to Louisiana a couple of years ago, I had always assumed that slaves were completely brutalised. But, on a tour of a New Orleans 19th-century home, I discovered that the lady of the house had worked closely alongside her slaves in the kitchen. Then I found out that slaves were forbidden to learn to read, and so their mistress had to read them the recipes. It might have not have been violent, but it was a deeply disturbing form of enslavement. Later, a friend told how the nuns at one of Louisiana’s most exclusive Roman Catholic convent schools, who had schooled the daughters of elite white families at that time, had also secretly taught the slave girls who accompanied them to read.

In reading Rodney Stark’s account of anti-Catholic history — a volume that debunks hundreds of years of prejudice, myth, and false allegations — I could set these stories in context. I now know that RC Louisiana’s treatment of slaves was rather different from the rest of North America’s; for it came under France’s Code Noir, influenced by papal teaching that insisted that Africans and Indians should be afforded the same dignity as anyone else.

Stark, an American sociologist as well as popular historian, guides the reader through some of the most controversial accusations that the Catholic Church has faced: its treatment of Jews, its hostility to learning during the so-called Dark Ages, its part in the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. With each chapter comes a useful list of historians who have explored the issue in more detail and are Stark’s key sources.

Protestants, as well as Voltaire and other Enlightenment intellectuals, are identified as the accusers-in-chief, claiming that the Roman Church suppressed truth and destroyed lives. The Crusades? Voltaire and others say they were caused by Catholic bigotry and cruelty; contemporary historians say that they were a response to Christians’ being robbed and enslaved by Muslims. The Dark Ages? Again, Voltaire and co., and also Bertrand Russell, say it was a time of barbarism and the stifling of learning thanks to the Catholic Church. Not so, says Stark, citing more historians: it was the age of building great cathedrals, developing universities and beautiful prose.

As an apologist, Stark seems on shakier ground over his defence of church treatment of Jews and of Galileo. After all, Pope John Paul II saw fit to apologise for the grievous harm that the Church did to them.

This is a story of a Church more sinned against than sinning. But Stark’s most significant conclusion is that papal authority has never been as strong as both its detractors and its most devoted adherents believe. Popes might denounce slavery and torture, but some powerful Roman Catholic monarchs ignored their teaching and carried out atrocities.

The story today is rather different. The RC Church still has its detractors, but in this ecumenical age, they tend to be ardent secularists rather than other Christians. The heirs of Voltaire, one might say.

Catherine Pepinster, a former editor of The Tablet, is UK Development Officer of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the author of a forthcoming book on the British and the papacy.

Voir de même:

Inventing the Crusades
Thomas F. Madden
First things
June 2009

The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam 
by Jonathan Riley-Smith
columbia university press, 136 pages, $24.50

Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: “Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees.

“I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it,” he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as “Crusaders.” Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the “Crusaders and Jews.” He later preached that “for the first time the Crusaders have managed to achieve their historic ambitions and dreams against our Islamic umma, gaining control over Islamic holy places and Holy Sanctuaries. . . . Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars and a beginning of the receding of their Zionist–Crusader tide against us.”

Most people in the West do not believe that they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Catholics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as the Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both “nothing and everything,” a place filled with religion that “drives men mad.”

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn’t stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, “How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?” I always answered: “They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.”

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven’t they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn’t it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas.

That answer is now contained in a book, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, written by the most distinguished historian of the Crusades, the Cambridge University scholar Jonathan Riley-Smith. A transcription of the Bampton Lectures he delivered in October 2007 at Columbia University, it is a thin book, brimming with insights, approachable by anyone interested in the subject.

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.”

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians.

So we continue to write our scholarly books and articles, learning more and more about the Crusades but scarcely able to be heard. And when we are heard, we are dismissed as daft. I once asked Riley-Smith if he believed popular perceptions of the Crusades would ever be changed by modern scholarship. “I’ve just about given up hope,” he answered. In his new book he notes that in the last thirty years historians have begun to reject “the long-held belief that it [the Crusade movement] was defined solely by its theaters of operation in the Levant and its hostility toward Islam—with the consequence that in their eyes the Muslims move slightly off center stage—and many of them have begun to face up to the ideas and motivation of the Crusaders. The more they do so the more they find themselves contra mundum or, at least, contra mundum Christianum.”

One of the most profound misconceptions about the Crusades is that they represented a perversion of a religion whose founder preached meekness, love of enemies, and nonresistance. Riley-Smith reminds his reader that on the matter of violence Christ was not as clear as pacifists like to think. He praised the faith of the Roman centurion but did not condemn his profession. At the Last Supper he told his disciples, “Let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors.

St. Paul said of secular authorities, “He does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Several centuries later, St. Augustine articulated a Christian approach to just war, one in which legitimate authorities could use violence to halt or avert a greater evil. It must be a defensive war, in reaction to an act of aggression. For Christians, therefore, violence was ethically neutral, since it could be employed either for evil or against it. As Riley-Smith notes, the concept that violence is intrinsically evil belongs solely to the modern world. It is not Christian.

All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187.

In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

But the Crusades were not just wars. They were holy wars, and that is what made them different from what came before. They were made holy not by their target but by the Crusaders’ sacrifice. The Crusade was a pilgrimage and thereby an act of penance. When Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095, he created a model that would be followed for centuries. Crusaders who undertook that burden with right intention and after confessing their sins would receive a plenary indulgence. The indulgence was a recognition that they undertook these sacrifices for Christ, who was crucified again in the tribulations of his people.

And the sacrifices were extraordinary. As Riley-Smith writes in this book and his earlier The First ­Crusaders, the cost of crusading was staggering. Without financial assistance, only the wealthy could afford to embark on a Crusade. Many noble families impoverished themselves by crusading.

Historians have long known that the image of the Crusader as an adventurer seeking his fortune is exactly backward. The vast majority of Crusaders returned home as soon as they had fulfilled their vow. What little booty they could acquire was more than spent on the journey itself. One is hard pressed to name a single returning Crusader who broke even, let alone made a profit on the journey. And those who returned were the lucky ones. As Riley-Smith explains, recent studies show that around one-third of knights and nobility died on crusade. The death rates for lower classes were even higher.

One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character. It was the indulgence that led thousands of men to take on a burden that would certainly cost them dearly. The secular nobility of medieval Europe was a warrior aristocracy. They made their living by the sword. We know from their wills and charters that they were deeply aware of their own sinfulness and anxious over the state of their souls. A Crusade provided a way for them to serve God and to do penance for their sins. It allowed them to use their weapons as a means of their salvation rather than of their damnation.

Of course it was difficult, but that is what penance is supposed to be. As Urban and later Crusade preachers reminded them, Christ Himself had said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As one Crusade preacher wrote, “Those who take the cross deny, that is to say renounce, themselves by exposing themselves to mortal danger, leaving behind their loved ones, using up their goods, carrying their cross, so that afterward they may be carried to heaven by the cross.” The Crusader sewed a cloth cross to his garment to signify his penitential burden and his hope.

Take away penitence and the Crusades cannot be explained. Yet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Protestants and then Enlightenment thinkers rejected the idea of temporal penalties due to sin—along with indulgences, purgatory, and the papacy. How then did they explain the Crusades? Why else would thousands of men march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory, if not for something precious? The first explanation was that they were fooled by the Antichrist: The Catholic Church had convinced the simple that their salvation lay in fighting its battles. Later, with the advent of liberalism, critics assumed that the Crusaders must have had economic motives. They were seeking wealth and simply used religion as a cover for their worldly desires.

In the nineteenth century, the memory of the Crusades became hopelessly entangled with contemporary European imperialism. Riley-Smith tells the fascinating story of Archbishop Charles-Martial Allemand-Lavigerie of Algiers, the founder of the missionary orders of the White Fathers and White Sisters, who worked diligently to establish a new military order resembling the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller of the Middle Ages. His new order was to be sent to Africa, where it would protect missionaries, fight against the slave trade, and support the progress of French civilization in the continent.

Drawing on money from antislavery societies, Lavigerie purchased lands on the edge of the Saharan Desert to use as a mother house for a new order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The order attracted hundreds of men from all social classes, and in 1891 the first brothers received their white habits emblazoned with red crosses. The dust cover of Riley-Smith’s book is itself a wonderful picture of these brothers at their African home. With palm trees behind them, they look proudly into the camera, each wearing a cross and some holding rifles.

The Institut des Fréres Armés lasted scarcely more than a year before it was scrapped and its founder died, but other attempts to found a military order were made in the nineteenth century, even in Protestant England. All wove together the contrasting threads of Romanticism, imperialism, and the medieval Crusades.

President Clinton is not alone in thinking that the Muslim world is still brooding over the crimes of the Crusaders. It is commonly thought—even by Muslims—that the effects and memory of that trauma have been with the Islamic world since it was first inflicted in the eleventh century. As Riley-Smith explains, however, the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage. Carole Hillenbrand first uncovered this fact in her groundbreaking book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize that the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory.

In Europe, however, the Crusades were a well-remembered formative episode. Europeans, who had bound the Crusades to imperialism, brought the story to the Middle East during the nineteenth century and reintroduced it to the Muslims. Stripping the Crusades of their original purpose, they portrayed the Crusades as Europe’s first colonial venture—the first attempt of the West to bring civilization to the backward Muslim East.

Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe’s assault on Islam—an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.

Arab nationalists made good use of the new story of the Crusades during their struggles for independence. Their enemies, the Islamists, then took over the same tool. Osama bin Laden is only the most recent Islamist to adopt this useful myth to characterize the actions of the West as a continual Crusade against Islam.

That is the Crusades’ only connection with modern Islamist terrorism. And yet, so ingrained is this notion that the Crusades began the modern European assault on Islam that many moderate Muslims still believe it. Riley-Smith recounts : “I recently refused to take part in a television series, produced by an intelligent and well-educated Egyptian woman, for whom a continuing Western crusade was an article of faith. Having less to do with historical reality than with reactions to imperialism, the nationalist and Islamist interpretations of crusade history help many people, moderates as well as extremists, to place the exploitation they believe they have suffered in a historical context and to satisfy their feelings of both superiority and humiliation.”

In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality. Crusade historians sometimes try to yell across it but usually just talk to each other, while the leading churchmen, the scholars in other fields, and the general public hold to a caricature of the Crusades created by a pox of modern ideologies. If that chasm is ever to be bridged, it will be with well-written and powerful books such as this.

Thomas F. Madden is chair of the department of history at Saint Louis University. He is author of The New Concise History of the Crusades and, most recently, Empires of Trust: How Rome Built—and America Is Building—a New World.

Four Myths about the Crusades

This article first appeared in the print Spring 2011 edition of the Intercollegiate Review.


In 2001, former president Bill Clinton delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he discussed the West’s response to the recent terrorist attacks of September 11. The speech contained a short but significant reference to the crusades. Mr. Clinton observed that “when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they . . . proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount.” He cited the “contemporaneous descriptions of the event” as describing “soldiers walking on the Temple Mount . . . with blood running up to their knees.” This story, Mr. Clinton said emphatically, was “still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.”

This view of the crusades is not unusual. It pervades textbooks as well as popular literature. One otherwise generally reliable Western civilization textbook claims that “the Crusades fused three characteristic medieval impulses: piety, pugnacity, and greed. All three were essential.”1 The film Kingdom of Heaven (2005) depicts crusaders as boorish bigots, the best of whom were torn between remorse for their excesses and lust to continue them. Even the historical supplements for role-playing games—drawing on supposedly more reliable sources—contain statements such as “The soldiers of the First Crusade appeared basically without warning, storming into the Holy Land with the avowed—literally—task of slaughtering unbelievers”;2 “The Crusades were an early sort of imperialism”;3 and “Confrontation with Islam gave birth to a period of religious fanaticism that spawned the terrible Inquisition and the religious wars that ravaged Europe during the Elizabethan era.”4 The most famous semipopular historian of the crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, ended his three volumes of magnificent prose with the judgment that the crusades were “nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.”5

The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

The surviving central secular authority in the Christian world at this time was the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Having lost so much territory in the seventh and eighth centuries to sudden amputation by the Muslims, the Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack on Egypt, the first time since 645 that they had dared to come so far south. Between the 940s and the 970s, the Byzantines made great progress in recovering lost territories. Emperor John Tzimiskes retook much of Syria and part of Palestine, getting as far as Nazareth, but his armies became overextended and he had to end his campaigns by 975 without managing to retake Jerusalem itself. Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed, and the Byzantines barely managed to retain Aleppo and Antioch.

The struggle continued unabated into the eleventh century. In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. He was soon deposed, and by 1038 the Byzantines had negotiated the right to try to rebuild the structure, but other events were also making life difficult for Christians in the area, especially the displacement of Arab Muslim rulers by Seljuk Turks, who from 1055 on began to take control in the Middle East. This destabilized the territory and introduced new rulers (the Turks) who were not familiar even with the patchwork modus vivendi that had existed between most Arab Muslim rulers and their Christian subjects. Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine: notable armed pilgrimages occurred in 1064–65 and 1087–91.

In the western and central Mediterranean, the balance of power was tipping toward the Christians and away from the Muslims. In 1034, the Pisans sacked a Muslim base in North Africa, finally extending their counterattacks across the Mediterranean. They also mounted counterattacks against Sicily in 1062–63. In 1087, a large-scale allied Italian force sacked Mahdia, in present-day Tunisia, in a campaign jointly sponsored by Pope Victor III and the countess of Tuscany. Clearly the Italian Christians were gaining the upper hand.

But while Christian power in the western and central Mediterranean was growing, it was in trouble in the east. The rise of the Muslim Turks had shifted the weight of military power against the Byzantines, who lost considerable ground again in the 1060s. Attempting to head off further incursions in far-eastern Asia Minor in 1071, the Byzantines suffered a devastating defeat at Turkish hands in the battle of Manzikert. As a result of the battle, the Christians lost control of almost all of Asia Minor, with its agricultural resources and military recruiting grounds, and a Muslim sultan set up a capital in Nicaea, site of the creation of the Nicene Creed in a.d. 325 and a scant 125 miles from Constantinople.

Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. In the early 1070s, the pope was Gregory VII, and he immediately began plans to lead an expedition to the Byzantines’ aid. He became enmeshed in conflict with the German emperors, however (what historians call “the Investiture Controversy”), and was ultimately unable to offer meaningful help. Still, the Byzantines persisted in their appeals, and finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade. Whether a crusade was what either Urban or the Byzantines had in mind is a matter of some controversy. But the seamless progression of events which lead to that crusade is not.

Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive. The crusades were simply one tool in the defensive options exercised by Christians.

To put the question in perspective, one need only consider how many times Christian forces have attacked either Mecca or Medina. The answer, of course, is never.7

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Again, not true. One version of Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont in 1095 urging French warriors to embark on what would become known as the First Crusade does note that they might “make spoil of [the enemy’s] treasures,”8 but this was no more than an observation on the usual way of financing war in ancient and medieval society. And Fulcher of Chartres did write in the early twelfth century that those who had been poor in the West had become rich in the East as a result of their efforts on the First Crusade, obviously suggesting that others might do likewise.9 But Fulcher’s statement has to be read in its context, which was a chronic and eventually fatal shortage of manpower for the defense of the crusader states. Fulcher was not being entirely deceitful when he pointed out that one might become rich as a result of crusading. But he was not being entirely straightforward either, because for most participants, crusading was ruinously expensive.

As Fred Cazel has noted, “Few crusaders had sufficient cash both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade.”10 From the very beginning, financial considerations played a major role in crusade planning. The early crusaders sold off so many of their possessions to finance their expeditions that they caused widespread inflation. Although later crusaders took this into account and began saving money long before they set out, the expense was still nearly prohibitive. Despite the fact that money did not yet play a major role in western European economies in the eleventh century, there was “a heavy and persistent flow of money” from west to east as a result of the crusades, and the financial demands of crusading caused “profound economic and monetary changes in both western Europe and the Levant.”11

One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown.

The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther. Even by the thirteenth century, most crusade planners assumed that it would be impossible to attract enough volunteers to make a crusade possible, and crusading became the province of kings and popes, losing its original popular character. When the Hospitaller Master Fulk of Villaret wrote a crusade memo to Pope Clement V in about 1305, he noted that “it would be a good idea if the lord pope took steps enabling him to assemble a great treasure, without which such a passage [crusade] would be impossible.”12 A few years later, Marino Sanudo estimated that it would cost five million florins over two years to effect the conquest of Egypt. Although he did not say so, and may not have realized it, the sums necessary simply made the goal impossible to achieve. By this time, most responsible officials in the West had come to the same conclusion, which explains why fewer and fewer crusades were launched from the fourteenth century on.

In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations.13

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

This has been a very popular argument, at least from Voltaire on. It seems credible and even compelling to modern people, steeped as they are in materialist worldviews. And certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—beneath the obvious differences of technology and material culture, medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings.

However, like the first two myths, this statement is generally untrue, and demonstrably so. For one thing, the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example.14 The statement of the thirteenth-century crusader Robert of Crésèques, that he had “come from across the sea in order to die for God in the Holy Land”15—which was quickly followed by his death in battle against overwhelming odds—may have been unusual in its force and swift fulfillment, but it was not an atypical attitude. It is hard to imagine a more conclusive way of proving one’s dedication to a cause than sacrificing one’s l