Saturday, July 19, 2008

More about Chesterton's beliefs from Dale Ahlquist

After someone commented that the official statement from the Weiner Library was not strong enough proof that Chesterton wasn't anti-Semitic, Dale responded:
I certainly agree it could have been better written, but if you read it again, it is clear enough. They don’t think he is anti-Semitic, but they admit he has a reputation of being anti-Semitic. This is pretty much 180 degrees opposite of what Gopnik says, who claims that “Jew-hating” is part of Chesterton’s very fabric. As much as we’d like the statement to be better, the point is that it comes from what can be considered the most “authorized” mouthpiece on anti-Semitism. And there are plenty more testimonials on Chesterton’s behalf – the greatest being his own life and words in which he abhors racial theories and defends the dignity of all human beings.

The controversy largely exists because Chesterton had the gall to also hold people accountable for their actions, and he did not give any exemptions to the Jews. Chesterton criticized everybody, but not for who they were but for things they said and did. No one got a free pass, and his criticisms of the Americans and the Germans and especially the English go much farther than anything he said about the Jews. Joseph Pearce sums it up in his biography of GKC, that Chesterton defended the Jews when they were oppressed, but criticized them when they were the oppressor (which is basically how he dealt with anybody).

Obviously, there are people – both Jews and non-Jews – who cannot abide the characterization that Jews were ever the oppressor and who regard any criticism of the Jews as anti-Semitism. The accusation in such cases is meaningless.

We’re going to have to devote an issue of Gilbert Magazine to this topic, and we will refute the charge on all accounts.
I wanted you to know this, and to know we'll do a future issue of Gilbert on this topic.

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