James Hitchcock, Please Call Your Office!

As the Trump Administration continues to defend unborn life, indeed innocent life at all stages; as it fights in the courts against the massive forces of the abortionists and population controllers; as it defends families and children from school union thugs and enemies of religious freedom…

As this welcome change of direction for our country continues, Jim Hitchcock is silent.

Jim – please, as your generation’s preeminent Catholic historian, we need you!

You complain that we don’t recount your errors – well, here we have space to do just that. Here are a few of the questions we’d like you to address – questions which indicate some fairly strategic errors in your new book, “Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics.” We ask them because – well, your book avoids quite a bit of the history that the title suggests you will masterfully address.

Here are some of our questions: please – answer them! We’re here for you, and we’re here to help!
Why does Hitchcock adopt the left’s version of political reality expressed by the reductionist “Left-Right” spectrum, which demands that all opinions be forced to fit somewhere along a unidimensional line between two “extremes”?
Why does he assume that the fateful choice to embrace USCCB leader Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” ideology was the only possible means of forging a pro-life political alliance in the 1980s?
Why does the ace historian ignore the USCCB’s decisive move to embrace that doomed approach because, as former USCCB official Mark Gallagher has confirmed, key leaders in the conference had already shelved the priority of pro-life issues in favor of pursuing their welfare-state agenda? How did Hitchcock miss that?
Why does Hitchcock assume that Cardinal Bernardin had no choice but to approach Sen. Ted Kennedy (not a misprint!!) in 1983 to forge a political pro-life alliance with Democrats because an alliance with the pro-life Sen. Jesse Helms (and President Ronald Reagan) was “unthinkable”? Is Hitchcock unaware that Helms’ entire senior staff was Catholic, and included Carl Anderson, now the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and a champion of the pro-life movement?
Why does Hitchcock pretend to discover “a tangled and sometimes obscure thread” (2007) or manufacture insights that are “largely unrecognized even by most Catholics” (2016)? What might these secrets reveal, other than the disgruntled, resentful animus that permeates this work, pretending to be analysis?
Why does Hitchcock assert that the welfare-state proposals of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal have something to do with “charity”? Isn’t charity by necessity voluntary? And doesn’t the welfare state depend on government force — in Roosevelt’s case, taking the money of private citizens (by seizing their gold) or creating it (through government printing presses)? And, more fundamentally, can charity (love, “caritas”) truly be made mandatory — as in, “He loved Big Brother”?
Why is Hitchcock so obsessed with the Barry Goldwater? He complains that my HLR remarks failed to report how, in our Wanderer interview, the self-described liberal Democrat Hitchcock of 1964 considered Goldwater to be “a bum”? Is that really news? He goes on to complain that Goldwater supporters (including me) in 1964 did not foresee Roe v. Wade, the nationalization of the abortion issue, and Goldwater’s eventual pro-abortion record 20 years later.
Why the ire? After all, today, after 35 more years, Hitchcock now praises the USCCB’s Bernardin for romancing the murderous Ted Kennedy as a prospective pro-lifer in 1983, but blames conservatives of 1964 for not seeing 20 years into the future. He calls this “analysis”?
Repeatedly, Hitchcock attacks Wanderer contributors for periodically writing about other issues than abortion. Well, as Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker used to say, “That door swings both ways.” Let’s apply the Hitchcock rule to Hitchcock. Months after this book went to press, in May 2017, he conducted a friendly interview in which he was free to describe his various interests and priorities — as a Catholic, a historian, a teacher, and a loving husband. Yet in almost 4,000 words, he never brings up the issue of abortion. Is Hitchcock still pro-life? Or were President Trump’s historic pro-life policies just too much for him to deal with?



James Hitchcock Fans, Please Get Him To Answer Some Questions, And Let Us Know What He Says

By Dexter Duggan

There’d be no need for elections if everyone already agreed about everything. But despite people’s disagreements, everyone should agree that vote fraud should get a failing grade. If a paper ballot clearly is marked for Smith, the vote counter better not say it’s for Jones.

Not everyone agrees about who’s good at doing a job, either. At the ratemyprofessors.com website for students expressing their views on their instructors, St. Louis University historian emeritus James Hitchcock received grades ranging from “awful” to “awesome.”

One “awesome” rating said, in part, “He is a wonderful teacher and a very kind person. I would certainly take him again.” Another “awesome” said, “He is an awesome professor and a very kind man.” A third said, “Dr. Hitchcock is a fine scholar and respected professor… He not only [sic] a good teacher but also a helpful mentor willing to spend time discussing concerns and helping to hone ideas.”

A “good” rating said, “He looks mean but he is actually nice if you pay attention and participates [sic].” A “poor” said, “Terrible teacher. He does not use technology in his lectures, but simply walks around and spurts his knowledge from memory. Impressive, but awful to learn from or take notes.”

An “awful” said, “I heard he used to be an awesome professor when he was younger. He went to Princeton and is very knowledgeable. However, now he is old and does not interact with students.”

As admirable as some students may rate him, they probably would get failing grades even from Hitchcock if he discovered they repeatedly took published, easily verified remarks by one person and wrote a paper mistakenly attributing the statements to a different person. Or distorted easily accessible facts to suit themselves. Or omitted important facts that would disprove their arguments.

It’s a tribute to Hitchcock that some students praised his kindness. However, he showed me no kindness or charity when he twisted, distorted and manipulated easily verified statements and even simply dreamed up assertions to suit his purposes. He never contacted me to doublecheck even his worst blunders. Did he fear I’d point out his errors before he could get them into print in his book Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics (hereafter, ARFCP)?

Perhaps some of his students could bring examples of his errors here to his attention and then let me know of his replies. I can be reached at duggan_dexter@yahoo.com.

Purely by chance on the Internet, about a half year after it was published in late 2016, I learned of this book where he attacks me and other writers for The Wanderer national weekly Catholic newspaper. Other writers can speak for themselves, but I know myself best, and I can see where Hitchcock betrays himself and his profession as historian with his tactics.

Hitchcock said I’m a “Paleoconservative” who considered “fanatically pro-abortion” U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater to be “worthy of unqualified support,” and that I was among “Paleoconservatives” wanting “to persuade pro-lifers to transcend their narrow outlook and support a wider agenda.” However, he couldn’t cite any articles or speeches by me or witness testimony at all that I urged pro-lifers to vote as Hitchcock alleged.

It’s hard for me to believe that someone of his reputation could mess up this badly, but his book is irrefutable evidence.

I gave some examples in my two earlier posts at this blog. To recall one quickly here: In the 27thparagraph of a Dec. 17, 2015, Wanderer story about black activist Ted Hayes speaking on the 14thAmendment to the Constitution, I wrote: “U. S. blacks ‘are moving toward Donald Trump’ because they recognize ‘he’s speaking more to our interests’ on the 14th Amendment, Hayes said.”

However, Hitchcock took Hayes’ words and wrote (p. 172): “Blacks too, Duggan said (Dec. 17), were opposed to immigration and would flock to Trump’s banner.” Hitchcock got the speaker wrong, the verb wrong (moving, not flocking), and misrepresented Hayes’ reference to illegal immigration as being only about “immigration.”

It’s astounding to see a veteran historian messing up so seriously time after time when working from clearly printed newspaper stories as sources, but that’s what happened, with his name on the book as author. Did Hitchcock quietly farm out at least some of the preparation for ARFCP but had the bad luck to hire an incompetent to do his research?

When Hitchcock misattributed remarks, they may well have been deeply within my article (recall Ted Hayes’ comment on Trump being in the 27th paragraph), so Hitchcock had to read quite a bit to get there, and should have been perfectly aware of the substance of the article by then.

Here’s the 46th paragraph of a 48-paragraph story I did in The Wanderer dated for Jan. 7, 2016, about the Omnibus budget deal passed by Congress before Christmas 2015 that continued to tax-fund Planned Parenthood and other Democrat priorities. At this point I’m quoting conservative Republican Rob Haney, a Catholic and retired chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, based in Phoenix.

“‘My sense is that the Republican base believes it is payback time for all the acts of treachery that the Republican hierarchy has committed in order to defeat conservative politicians and policies,’ Haney continued. ‘They recognize with visceral antipathy that once more they have been played for fools by the Republican establishment. It has reached the point where the Republican base believes that they have nothing to lose, and will even vote for a Democrat in order to get rid of a heretic Republican’.”

And how did Hitchcock describe Haney’s comment? “…Duggan (Jan. 7) thought conservative Republicans were so outraged at party leaders that they might even vote Democratic” (ARFCP, p. 172).

This wasn’t the first time in the book that Hitchcock put conservative Republican Haney’s words in my mouth. The words of clearly identified Haney (ARFCP, p. 62) were in the 30th paragraph of my Sept. 19, 2013, Wanderer story after I had quoted conservative political consultant Constantin Querard defending U.S. Sen. John McCain’s motivations. (Hitchcock ignored Querard’s remarks.) I wrote:

“Asked why McCain would rush to help a flailing Obama, Haney, a longtime foe of McCain, replied, ‘McCain is like a mad scientist. No one can figure him out, and he likes it that way. He revels in it, and the mainstream media grovels at his feet for want of a sound bite or interview from the mad scientist. The best that can be said for McCain is that he is unstable, irrational, and incredibly vindictive’.”

But how did Hitchcock present this comment by Haney? “In 2013 (Sept. 19), Duggan said ‘McCain is like a mad scientist…. The best that can be said for McCain is that he is unstable, irrational, and incredibly vindictive’.” Hitchcock was careful to use quotation marks and ellipsis here, but entirely erred regarding the clearly named speaker.

Another example: Beneath the Wanderer headline “Upstart Virginia Strategists Think John McCain Will Lose Arizona Primary Election,” I wrote about two successful young political strategists speaking in Phoenix in December 2015 about disgust with the established political system. They contended this would lead to McCain’s defeat for renomination to the Senate the following year. They’d successfully managed the campaign of Virginia’s Dave Brat, who remarkably upset Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014.

And how did Hitchcock describe their words? “He [Duggan] predicted (Dec. 24) that McCain would be defeated for renomination by discontented conservatives” (ARFCP, p. 170). Hitchcock made the actual speakers simply disappear.

Hitchcock’s method of operation seemed to assume that whatever I wrote was an expression of my own words and ideas, no matter whom I quoted or what the topic was.

When I reported a talk by a conservative activist who liked U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, I myself allegedly “seemed to favor Cruz.” When I interviewed former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum about a new Christmas movie from his entertainment company, Hitchcock imagined that I “enthusiastically proposed Santorum for president” (Oct. 31, 2013, Wanderer; p. 161 of ARFCP). (Wait a minute, how could an alleged pro-abortionist like me favor a strong pro-lifer like Santorum?)

On p. 172 of ARFCP, Hitchcock wrote, “At first (April 16 [2015]) Duggan seemed to favor Cruz for president, but by the late summer (Aug. 13), he thought the idea of a third-party candidate (presumably Trump) was appealing.”

My April 16 story (“Political Researcher Offers Idea For Winning Team in 2016”) was about a talk in Phoenix given by New Zealand conservative activist Trevor Loudon on strategy and candidates. Loudon was impressed by Cruz. At no point in this story did I write of my own preferences for candidates. Why not read this story at The Wanderer’s online archives then tell me how in the world anyone, much less a university historian like Hitchcock, could read it and say that “Duggan seemed to favor Cruz for president.”

As for the second part of Hitchcock’s sentence, about a supposed Aug. 13, 2015, story where I thought the idea of a third-party candidate appealing, there was no such story. I had three articles in that issue, about the continued release of damning videos by the Center for Medical Progress about selling aborted-baby parts (p. A1), about urban planning (p. A3), and about Timothy Cardinal Dolan condemning opposition to “the immigrant” (p. A5).

There’s plenty more to write, including on Hitchcock’s skewed assessment of The Wanderer and Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, but let’s close this blog post with another incident of Hitchcock’s magisterial mistakes about what The Wanderer did, or didn’t, print.

By supporting Trump, Hitchcock said (ARFCP, p. 172), “The Wanderer once again revealed that indeed it [abortion] was not” a crucial issue for it. After all, Hitchcock went on, the name of passionately pro-life presidential candidate Rick Santorum “went unmentioned” in 2015 in The Wanderer, “except in one last-page article by an unfamiliar writer (June 11).”

Actually, a quick online search in Wanderer archives reveals that Santorum was mentioned in eight articles in 2015, usually briefly, but also including a prominent three-column-wide story I wrote on p. A3 in the Oct. 15, 2015, issue that Hitchcock completely ignored.

Santorum’s name was in the “kicker” part of that article’s headline (“Santorum urges making difference”), and he was mentioned in the first three paragraphs of the story as the highlighted speaker at a pregnancy center’s annual dinner. After writing about the pregnancy center’s efforts, I returned to reporting on Santorum for the final 10 paragraphs.

As for the June 11 Santorum story “by an unfamiliar writer,” supposedly on the “last page,” that was written by Ben Johnson, of the well-known LifeSiteNews.com, about Santorum announcing his bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. This stretched across the top half of the back page (p. A8) of the first section of a two-section newspaper. It wasn’t a paragraph or two at the bottom of the page.

Can there be another historian who sounds as if he knows so much but is as ill-informed as James Hitchcock? Hitchcock fans, please get answers from him. And let us know.



James Hitchcock’s Magical Mind Ignores His Own Advice

By Dexter Duggan

In a long Q-and-A interview in Catholic Business Journal, historian James Hitchcock mentioned his most recent book, Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics, published late in 2016, and said he hoped soon to finish his next one, Religion and the Liberal Society.

Hitchcock made some comments about how to attain accuracy, such as: “Historians should try to establish the basic facts. What really did happen? It’s not always clear and there are misconceptions about it. It’s much like a scientist who has to make sure his experiments are correct before he tries to generalize from them. So that’s the historians’ primary duty. To the extent that a historian sees patterns, the historian must point them out in his work.” [Emphasis in the original.]

     Hitchcock added later:The historian is bound by his sources. Any statement you make, someone can challenge by asking, ‘How do you know that?’…

“The sources are usually documents,” he continued, “and we have to judge these sources, as historians, by the age and reliability of the document and by other documents that might cast a different light on the original source being examined. You can do this about the past or you can do it about the present-day Church. You have to read widely until you get a fairly balanced picture of what’s happening.” [Emphasis in the original.]

              +       +       +

     This is fascinating. Hitchcock’s own words in a long Q-and-A show that he thoroughly violated even the most basic standards of accuracy and fairness that he professes when writing Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics (hereafter, ARFCP for brevity). He had the exact words of articles I wrote in The Wanderer national weekly Catholic newspaper right in front of him. But he didn’t even attribute some direct quotations accurately, and wasn’t able – or wasn’t willing – to state correctly material in the articles. This isn’t a matter of whether he agreed with articles, but of his incapacity to place before readers what they said.

     And when he didn’t see what he wanted, Hitchcock also made up assertions from thin air, without providing citations. You can’t, of course, give a citation for what doesn’t exist.

     Whoever the publisher is to be for that next book, Religion and the Liberal Society, its editor had better pay far more careful attention to Hitchcock’s manuscript than Transaction Publishers did for ARFCP. (Taylor & Francis Group shortly thereafter acquired Transaction Publishers but has not corrected the book’s numerous, serious errors, despite repeatedly being informed of them.)

     Maybe you’ll be a target in his next book. Who knows? He never told me I was a target in ARFCP, before or after it was published. I just happened to learn of the book online in late April 2017. And Hitchcock has never even acknowledged critical articles I’ve written pointing out his errors, or a total of six letters – three of them certified – I mailed to him and to his publisher. Does he seem to prefer dirtying up a target, then running for cover instead of facing up?

     Thinking things over, I even pondered whether Hitchcock just had some student intern slap together something for ARFCP that Hitchcock could put his name on as author. That wouldn’t have been ethical, but at least it would have absolved Hitchcock of direct responsibility for the numerous flabbergasting errors that appear under his name — a long-time, well-known historian. Sometimes guys get bored with their jobs and just start going through the motions while others do their work. That’s not an adequate excuse for his mess, but at least we wouldn’t have to judge him as consciously creating deceptions.

     I’m hardly the only target in ARFCP. Considering that almost everything he wrote about me is false, misleading or otherwise erroneous, it hardly seems likely Hitchcock was scrupulously accurate when making his other attacks.

     I’ve previously noted that among Hitchcock’s appalling errors was his baseless assertion that I considered “fanatically pro-abortion” U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater to be “worthy of unqualified support.” However, Hitchcock was unable to cite any article or speech by me – or provide the testimony of any other witness – that I urged voters to support Goldwater either because of, or despite, his pro-abortion radicalism. Indeed, in his final successful race for the U.S. Senate, in 1980, Goldwater had the official endorsement of Arizonans for Life, the state’s largest pro-life political group – not of Planned Parenthood.

Goldwater later vocally turned against moral traditionalists, and we conservative Arizonans denounced his harsh attacks then, but he never again faced voters.

Hitchcock tosses off magisterial-sounding pronouncements that easily are exposed as false. Even shockingly false and propagandistic. What sort of reputation as historian can he hope to have when he is so easily disproven?

I had reported on the Republican Party’s “annual meeting of GOP precinct committeemen in [John] McCain’s home county of Maricopa” (Phoenix is county seat) as the top story in the Wanderer dated for Jan. 28, 2010. (Like some other publications, Wanderer issues are dated one week after the publication date, which, in this case, was Jan. 21, 2010.)

But Hitchcock altered my writing and said that “Duggan reported” on a gathering of “Tea Partiers and other true conservatives in Arizona” (p. 154). (“True conservatives” is a term he uses to mean people who look down on pro-lifers.) These people I reported on, Hitchcock continued, “were ecstatic over newly elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts.” Hitchcock immediately added his own parenthetical sentence: “(Brown was pro-abortion.)”

Some Tea Partiers certainly were present, but this was an official annual GOP meeting. Here’s an opportunity Hitchcock had to give credit to the Republican Party, which he claims The Wanderer shirks. Why would he remove the GOP identification and write something else?

Attendees of the Jan. 16, 2010, meeting were excited at the growing possibility that Democrat Martha Coakley, a firm leftist and pro-abortion extremist, would lose a special election scheduled for Jan. 19 in Massachusetts to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

I wrote that Coakley had suggested Catholics shouldn’t work in hospital emergency rooms because of their moral views, and I quoted Arizona political consultant Shane Wikfors that Coakley’s comment “was a stick in the eye…. That may have been one of the nails in the coffin” for Coakley’s campaign. But Hitchcock ignored this vital backgrounding.

I didn’t even mention her Republican foe, Scott Brown, until the last two paragraphs of a 44-paragraph story about the Jan. 16 Arizona meeting that I was writing on the evening of Jan. 19, when the Massachusetts election results started coming in to produce Brown’s victory.

Confused as he often is, Hitchcock said the Arizonans celebrated “newly elected” Brown at their gathering, even though the election wasn’t until three days later.

And as the results sank in, Brown’s victory was widely interpreted as a shocking upset of Democratic Party power and repudiation of President Barack Obama’s strenuous fight to ram through Obamacare. Even regarding the abortion issue, Brown was less pro-abortion than loser Coakley, which led pro-lifers to hope they could find some cooperation with Brown.

Although Hitchcock mentioned the desirability of examining other documents during his interview with Catholic Business Journal, he entirely ignored the front-page article I wrote for the following week’s Wanderer that looked into important aspects of Brown’s victory.

I soon was in Washington, D.C., to cover the annual national March for Life on January 22 for The Wanderer, which spread my story across most of the top of the front page of the Feb. 4, 2010, issue, then continued it on p. 7. Pro-lifers were overjoyed at Brown’s victory.

I wrote: “Brian Darling, director of Senate Relations for the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, expressed optimism about people being able to work with Brown. Although Brown isn’t a predictable conservative in a liberal state like Massachusetts, ‘He definitely has a more friendly feel toward him’ than the liberal Coakley, Darling told The Wanderer. ‘I think everybody has high hopes to work with Scott Brown,’ Darling said, adding that Massachusetts Citizens for Life and other pro-life groups supported him.”

Hitchcock falsely wrote that the Arizona gathering celebrated Brown’s victory as a pro-abortionist before the election was held, then Hitchcock entirely ignored the following week’s lead story from Washington, D.C., about the facts of the victory.

Your misrepresentations are so shameful, Dr. Hitchcock.

On p. 57 of ARFCP Hitchcock wrote, “…The Wanderer also did all in its power to discredit the Republican Party in general and Sen. John McCain in particular. A regular Wanderer author named Dexter Duggan identified Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas as being pro-life (Dec. 13, 2007), but Huckabee was the only mainstream Republican candidate about whom that fact was acknowledged, and it was not repeated.”

Without needing to do an intensive investigation of the validity of Hitchcock’s assertion, an online search in Wanderer archives (the same kind of search Hitchcock could have done, but apparently did not) quickly reveals that I subsequently mentioned Huckabee’s strong pro-life record in three additional articles – need we say “repeatedly”? — before he dropped out of that presidential race in early March 2008.

This included the top story I did for the Feb. 14, 2008, Wanderer. It said the National Right to Life Committee gave Huckabee its strongest rating for any of the GOP candidates still in the 2008 race, and “is also grateful for the strong pro-life voting record on abortion” of McCain, and “also appreciates the pro-life position taken in this presidential campaign” by Mitt Romney.

So much for Hitchcock’s claim in the very same sentence that “Huckabee was the only mainstream Republican candidate about whom that fact was acknowledged.”

For some reason, Hitchcock wants readers to think that permissive abortion wasn’t a crucial issue for The Wanderer or me as one of its writers. He hid evidence to the contrary. What was that he claimed in the Catholic Business Journal interview about having to examine other documents?

He simply ignored positive articles I wrote about McCain in The Wanderer during the 2008 presidential campaign season, even ones on the front page. He also ignored prominent pro-life articles I wrote, so, I guess, nothing would contradict his claim I favored “fanatically pro-abortion” Goldwater. And Hitchcock removed some positive references to the Republican Party in The Wanderer rather than acknowledge them – because he declared that The Wanderer did all it could to discredit the party.

In the Aug. 6, 2009, Wanderer, I cited Washington Times reporter Ralph Hallow writing up the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, saying that “she is eager to campaign for Republicans, independents, and even Democrats who share her values on limited government, strong defense, and ‘energy independence’.”

Note, Palin explicitly mentioned eagerness to campaign for Republicans. Yet how did Hitchcock describe her campaign plans? He totally garbled this by pretending that I was writing instead about my own preferences. Said Hitchcock:

“In 2009 (Aug. 6) Duggan placed his hopes in either conservative Democrats, a possible third party, or Sarah Palin” (p. 68 of ARFCP).

And where did the reference occur here to the third party that I supposedly hoped for?

In the same Wanderer article, I reported my interviews with the vice president of Family Research Council Action and the president of Concerned Women for America, as well as quoting from a Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan. Only the Concerned Women president noted possible voter interest in a third party, and this didn’t occur until starting with the 28th paragraph of my story. So Hitchcock had to read deeply into the story to find the third-party reference, but it wasn’t made by either Palin or me, and still he messed it up.

So deceptive, Dr. Hitchcock.


From Out Of The Blue, James Hitchcock Flies In To Mangle And Kill Off Facts

By Dexter Duggan

In late April 2017, I learned by chance on the Internet that James Hitchcock had a book published late in 2016, Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics, that includes baseless and erroneous attacks on me as a writer for The Wanderer, a newspaper Hitchcock regards with disgust (pp. 184, 194). He had never warned me such misleading material was being prepared for publication as a history book, avoiding an opportunity to check it for accuracy.

He repeatedly attributes other people’s statements directly to me as if I’d spoken them, even though the actual speakers are clearly identified. Also, without providing any substantiation, he disgracefully asserts that I’m a “Paleoconservative” admirer of “fanatically pro-abortion” Barry Goldwater, and that I “considered the pro-abortion Goldwater worthy of unqualified support.”

He asserts that I “scarcely acknowledged … embarrassing facts” about Goldwater and his friend Sandra O’Connor, Ronald Reagan’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is fiction. I put together a thick folder of material with facts. Hitchcock completely ignores reporting like a 42-paragraph story — yes, 42 paragraphs, not 42 words — that I wrote about O’Connor’s pro-abortion record in Arizona after Reagan selected her. This story started on Page One of the National Catholic Register of Aug. 30, 1981.

In that very same issue of the Register, Hitchcock wrote an opinion column that referred favorably to a different Register story I wrote against “country club” Republicans who look down on pro-lifers. He and I both were contributing editors at the Register, but these days Hitchcock lets his narrative override recent history.

Although people could only speculate at that time about who brought the nationally unknown O’Connor to Reagan’s attention, I wrote that “a snarling Goldwater has been heaping insults recently upon pro-lifers….”

How bad is Hitchcock? One wonders at his comprehension. Here is a paragraph I wrote in the Dec. 17, 2015, Wanderer about black activist Ted Hayes speaking to a Tea Party group on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution: “U. S. blacks ‘are moving toward Donald Trump’ because they recognize ‘he’s speaking more to our interests’ on the 14th Amendment, Hayes said.”

And how did Hitchcock describe this statement by Hayes? “Blacks too, Duggan said (Dec. 17), were opposed to immigration and would flock to Trump’s banner.” Hitchcock got the speaker wrong and the verb wrong — “moving” toward Trump, not flocking to him. Also, Hayes referred to illegal immigration, not simply “immigration,” as Hitchcock would have you think.

By the way, this statement about moving toward Trump was far down in the text, the 27th paragraph of a story on a talk about the 14th Amendment. So Hitchcock had to read deeply into the article to find this, and would have to have seen the actual content and context of the article.

Neither Hitchcock nor his publisher made any effort to apologize or correct this startling lack of scholarship after I mailed them repeatedly, so I engaged an attorney. Here are links to two articles I wrote in The Wanderer after I had time to obtain and read the book. Although one might think Hitchcock is an avid reader of The Wanderer, he has never replied to either of them.




The Conversation Begins: Questions For Hitchcock, re: His New “History”

Catholic historian James Hitchcock has been one of my favorites. When I first read his Catholicism and Modernity, I invited him to address a groundbreaking conference called to defend the family, held 40 years ago in Rockford, Ill. Several of his books line my shelf, and warm memories abide of his leadership roles in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, where his erudition was always appreciated.

Some ten years ago, Dr. Hitchcock published a series of articles in the Human Life Review (HLR) which have now been developed into a book-length account (Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics, Transaction Publishers [now the Routledge imprint of Taylor and Francis]. Routledge currently lists these prices: Hardback $100 [sic]; Paperback $44.95.)

In this book, Hitchcock offers his thumbnail analysis of the pro-life movement since before Roe v. Wade, with a parallel focus on two publications which he considers central to that history, the National Catholic Reporter and The Wanderer.

Hitchcock’s 2007 HLR article attacked The Wanderer with vigor. Its rancorous tone surprised this longtime admirer, so I immediately called and offered him an open-ended interview, resulting in a 3,000-word front-page Wanderer article where he calmly aired his views in his own words. A year later, he launched another attack in HLR. At that point, Maria McFadden, the editor of Human Life Review, graciously offered me the opportunity to reply. Hitchcock’s third article, addressing my response, appeared some months later, entitled “I Object.”

His new book indicates that nothing happened in the intervening ten years to change Hitchcock’s mind. In fact, his ire burns ever hotter, saving his most unvarnished invective for the last page: “The Trump movement was in many ways an ecumenical manifestation of the Wanderer Catholic underground of conspiracy theories, old religious and ethnic grudges, economic ignorance, resentment, and alienation from the entire modern world, an amalgam that for a time saw Ron Paul as its messiah and that above all yearned for the emotional release that a demagogue could provide.”
With this final word, Hitchcock leaves in the dust the persona of the professional to indulge in a flight of fancy worthy of the best (meaning the worst, of course) in today’s Fake News industry.

But believe me, dear reader — Hitchcock is telling us what he really thinks.

continue reading

Uncle Dick’s Last Funeral

Here’s my tribute to veterans on 11-11-17, from my column five years ago.


Apparently, Uncle Dick died a lot. He had more funerals and memorial services than Franklin D. Roosevelt had inaugurations. But war is Hell, and Uncle Dick went through more than his share.


Richard C. Suehr, my wife’s great-uncle, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941. During the next two years, he flew 142 missions in the Pacific Theater as a fighter pilot. In frequent air battles, he shot down five Japanese warplanes, earning the “Ace” sobriquet that is rare among even the best of combat pilots. But it didn’t come easy.


In February 1943, Dick’s P-40 aircraft malfunctioned and he crash-landed in the Australian jungle. He had no idea where he was, but decided to head for the coast. In the height of Australia’s summer, the jungle was alive day and night. He trekked days, and slept in trees at night — Uncle Dick said it was a lot safer than sleeping on the ground. But it wasn’t that comfortable: one day, he heard a noise in the distance that approached rather quickly. He saw a herd of wild water buffalo coming toward him. One of them apparently saw him and figured him to be a danger to her calf – so she charged. So did the rest of them. Uncle Dick fired a shot from his service revolver and that did the trick – the herd stampeded off in the other direction – for the moment.


Back to the trees. In this one, however, he found a huge colony of Australian jungle ants. He decided they were safer than the angry herd, so he stayed in the tree all night. The next morning, he had them for breakfast. “It was delicious,” he said.


Still totally lost in the jungle, Dick had to swim a lake. As he reached the other side, he felt his supply pack slip from his grasp and saw it sink to the bottom. He reached shore, left his other gear, and dove for the pack – twice – in vain. He was about to go for a third time when he saw the surface of the water shimmer. There swam an 18-foot crocodile, waiting for Dick to try again. He didn’t.


By the tenth day his strength had given out. He came upon a railroad track and collapsed. Within a few hours a train came by, picked him up, and brought him to a jungle hospital. There the local doctor told him he had gangrene and said, “the only way to save you is to amputate of both your feet up to the knees. “ Dick’s legs were tired and severely bruised, but he knew he didn’t have gangrene. Yes, his legs were green – but that was because he hadn’t taken off his green army socks for ten days.


He pulled out his Colt 45 and said, “over my dead body will you amputate my legs.” Well, they didn’t, but they were so vexed by his recalcitrance that they wouldn’t feed him, either. Other patients at the hospital donated the food that kept him alive.


Meanwhile, Dick’s family was told that he was missing in action. And, while he was lost in the jungle, the Japanese attacked the air base at Darwin, wiping out virtually the entire 33rd Air Squadron. Only two flyers there survived.


Round Two


In May 1943, Dick became an ace, shooting down his fifth Japanese warplane. He came home, married his wife, Ruth, in June, and was stateside training pilots for over a year. In October 1944, 27 years old and having won the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, Air Medal, and Oak Leaf Cluster, he left for his second tour in the Pacific to join the 7th Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group.


On January 1, 1945, Dick was escorting bombers from Leyte to Clark Airfield in the Philippines, a task he had performed so often that it had almost become routine. Five Japanese planes surprised him, and he found his guns would not fire. Instead of turning for home, he stayed to protect his wingman – his responsibility – until eventually his engines gave out, and his P-38 crashed into the water at 250 miles per hour. His wingman returned safely to Leyte and reported the incident. Dick was a favorite of everyone there, and they immediately sent out a rescue party but, after a lengthy search, they could find no sign of life. They returned to base, and arranged a memorial service for their fallen comrade.


Within days, in Crafton, Pennsylvania one Wednesday morning, two officers appeared at the door of Dick’s parents’ home, where Ruth was staying. One of the officers read to Dick’s family a telegram: “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deepest regret that your husband Captain Richard C. Suehr was killed in action on one January in Southwest Pacific area confirming letter follows. [Signed] J A Ulio, The Adjutant General.” A personal letter of condolence from General Douglas MacArthur soon followed.


Dick’s family arranged a funeral at Saint Philip’s Catholic Church in Crafton. It was filled to overflowing, not only with family and friends, but with neighbors who had been following Uncle Dick’s adventures in the Pittsburgh press. A U.S. Army detail accorded full military honors throughout. After the moving ceremony, Dick’s exhausted parents, Harry and Ethel Helena, and his wife, Ruth, returned home from the funeral.


When they got there, they found a letter. From Dick. Dated weeks after he had crashed.




Dick never knew how he managed to survive after his plane dove into the Pacific, but he woke up and found himself on the surface with no one in sight. He began swimming, and nine hours later washed up on a small island. After two days, some Philippine fishermen picked him up (after deciding not to kill him), and delivered him to pro-American guerrillas, who kept him in their jungle camps until they could hand him over to American forces.


Ruth Suehr later described how she felt on the day Dick came home from the war. “You know, when you read the biblical account of Jesus and the Resurrection, you have this sense of excitement of how the apostles felt. The joy that Jesus died but now He is alive, you have s sense of the feeling that I experienced.”


Even Catholic higher education played a role in his revival. Uncle Dick used to say that he wouldn’t have survived, had he not been cut from the Marquette football team because he was too small. He wanted to compete in a varsity sport, so he joined the swimming team instead. “Without that training,” he said, “I never would have made it.”


On Thursday, July 9, 2009, Uncle Dick was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. He was carried to his final resting place by a horse-drawn caisson, accompanied by a mounted U.S. military honor guard, followed by Ruth and his extended family. As they reached his gravesite, four supersonic jets from his old unit roared low over the Pentagon towards us. They passed overhead and saluted, rocking their wings, and without warning one of them made a breathtaking, roaring leap, breaking the sound barrier as he headed into a majestic cloud at ten thousand feet.


Uncle Dick had finally come home.


( Special thanks to Omoviekovwa Nakireru, a Methodist minister, who was so impressed on having met Lt. Colonel Suehr late in life that he chronicled his heroic career in The Fighter Pilot Who Refused to Die [Chicago: iUniverse, 2003])