The Cross and the Swastika
February 5, 2002

by Joe Sobran

	When the Communist Party seized control of Russia 
more than 80 years ago, it tried to eliminate two things: 
Christianity and "anti-Semitism." Tens of thousands of 
priests and bishops were murdered, ancient churches were 
razed to the ground, believers were forced to worship 
secretly, and atheism was taught to children in the state 
schools. Though "anti-Semitism" was never precisely 
defined -- like many key terms in the Soviet vocabulary 
-- whatever it was, it became a capital crime.

	In the democratic West we are seeing a renewed 
conflation of Christianity and "anti-Semitism." A flood 
of books and articles have tried to blame anti-Semitism 
(still vaguely defined) on Christian doctrine, especially 
Catholic doctrine. Many of the attacks focus on Pope Pius 
XII, who has been called "Hitler's Pope." Some actually 
blame Christianity for the murder of six million Jews.

	The latest and most audacious entry in the 
campaign to equate Catholicism and anti-Semitism is that 
of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of the forthcoming book 
HOLOCAUST AND TODAY, to be published by Knopf. A long 
excerpt has just appeared in THE NEW REPUBLIC.

	Goldhagen goes far beyond the now-routine charge 
that Pius XII was culpably "silent" during the Holocaust. 
This charge, by the way, falls under the heading of 
Virtual Truth -- a falsehood repeated so often that it 
becomes futile to refute it. During World War II, the NEW 
YORK TIMES praised Pius for being the only major figure 
in Europe who was *not* silent about racial persecution: 
"a lonely voice crying out in the silence of a 
continent." Today you get the impression that he was the 
only one keeping silent -- though "heroes" like Winston 
Churchill, who was silent on the subject even in his 
postwar memoirs, are given a pass.

	But Pius XII isn't Goldhagen's ultimate target; 
Christianity is. He contends that the central Christian 
doctrine -- the doctrine of the Crucifixion -- is anti-
Semitic! After all, the Gospels mention a Jewish role in 
that event. Goldhagen seems to imply, without 
explanation, that this is factually false.

	In Goldhagen's mind, the Cross begot the Swastika. 
Nazism was the updated spawn of the earliest Christian 
teachings and the Holocaust was their fulfillment.

	If this is true, it would seem that the Communists 
were right to try to eliminate Christianity. Goldhagen 
never quite says this, but it follows from what he does 
say. He notes that the oppression of Jews in Russia ended 
when the Communists came to power; but he also resents 
any suggestion that Jews played any role in Soviet 
Communism (that's anti-Semitic too). You get the 
impression that Communism was led by well-meaning 
gentiles. (One gets that impression about many things 
these days.)

	Goldhagen uses the word "anti-Semitic" so loosely 
that his charges can't be falsified. How can you disprove 
a charge when you don't even know what it means? This too 
is a principle of Soviet jurisprudence: an impossible 
burden of proof falls not on the prosecution, but on the 

	If Christianity has always been anti-Semitic "at 
its core," as Goldhagen says, why didn't the Holocaust 
occur when Europe was still Christian? And if anti-
Semitism is a Christian doctrine, why was it so fervently 
embraced by people who rejected or were indifferent to 
all other Christian doctrines? The Church taught that 
fornication was immoral, but that didn't seem to stop 
people from fornicating, especially after they lost their 

	True, the Church also condemned murder, which 
would seem to rule out the mass murder of Jews, but 
Goldhagen actually says that this teaching was "barely 
known"! The Ten Commandments -- "barely known"? Some 
Protestant bigots have charged that Catholics are 
forbidden to read the Bible, but Goldhagen takes the cake 
for malicious ignorance.

	You would think that an anti-Semitic Church would 
at least censure the Jews in its creeds, its formal 
doctrines, its papal encyclicals. You would expect its 
leaders to warn the faithful against Jewish influence. 
You would certainly expect its official condemnations of 
Communism to mention the Jewish role in Bolshevism, as 
such Catholics as Hilaire Belloc and Father Charles 
Coughlin did.

	But none of this happened. In fact, the Second 
Vatican Council specifically repudiated the notion that 
all Jews bear the guilt of the Crucifixion. Goldhagen, a 
virtuoso of aspersion, finds even this anti-Semitic!

	Self-absorption can go no further. Goldhagen has 
produced a monument of intellectual ethnocentrism and 
paranoid slander.


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