When I hear that kind of accusation made by anyone, of anyone, I want to know: does this person raise this issue because he thinks it is serious, or because he thinks it is trivial?
Is it because it is so easy to make the accusation? And it is. Making it provides the accuser with a kind of first-mover's immunity from criticism, endowing him with an immediate aura of virtue, whereas the victim is going to look shifty and defensive regardless of what they say. Davis provides absolutely no evidence for his claim: the 'traditional Catholic' is left guilty until proved innocent, but how can you even argue against evidence which has not been specified?
Or is it, instead, because, the accusation is such a weighty one? Is Davis so concerned about this semi-hidden menace in the bosom of the Church that he feels that, painful as it may be, it must be probed fearlessly and confronted?
The Christmas issue of the Catholic Herald provided the answer. One of the star turns of the US edition of the Catholic Herald which is Davis' specific responsibility, but whose article also appeared in the UK edition, is Taki, as in Taki Theodoracopulos: or, as Private Eye calls him, 'Takealotofcokeupthenos' (he once spent 3 months in prison for possession of cocaine).
|Catholic Herald 21 Dec 2018|
But Michael Davis and whoever else is responsible at the Catholic Herald let this go through. Why? It is presumably because they have taken on the attitude which has protected Taki, now in his eighties, during decades of outrageous remarks in columns and, no doubt, private conversation, in establishment right-wing circles. The cartoon decorating this column appeared in Private Eye in 2003: this isn't exactly new news.
What is the attraction? Taki's columns have been floating past my ken for about a quarter of a century, mostly in The Spectator. They are consistently and intensely boring. Never once, I think, have I read anything which could be described as perceptive, or even particularly well-expressed. What he offers readers, instead, is a glimpse into his 'High' life (the name of his long-standing Spectator column is, of course, a pun). Taki moves in a circle with other rich, famous, and outrageous people. Political ideas or personalities are condemned if Taki and his chums make boorish jokes about them, because they don't fit in to their glittering life-style. If you, the reader, laugh along, you may have a fleeting sense that you can be part of the star-dusted gang. All you need, it would seem, is to adopt their amusing prejudices and you can pretend you drink champagne out of high-heel shoes and snort coke with rolled-up hundred dollar bills: just like the beautiful people.
I have always found this kind of political and social 'conservatism' nauseating. It is completely lacking not only in spirituality, but in even the pretence of intellectual seriousness. It seeks to adopt classical culture and religion as a thin disguise of its venality and selfishness, and leaves them tarnished by the association. It lurks at the heart of politically conservative groups and publications like the rotten centre of an apple. No one who wants to showcase Taki, who thinks 'oh but he's terribly amusing and glamorous', has the remotest idea of what conservatism really means. Conservatism, if it has any place at the table of debate, is not about the attempt to preserve the privileges of the decadent by defensive snootiness, but the restoration of the living springs of society--the family, spirituality, culture of all kinds--which cannot function effectively when morally corrupted.
Does it come as any kind of surprise to find that Taki is a casual anti-semite? Not at all: no one who has been paying attention for any part of the last thirty years has any right to be surprised. What is surprising is that the editors of the Catholic Herald, so self-confidently accusing others, who cannot respond, of anti-semitism, cannot recognise the phenomenon when they see it in the pages of their own magazine.
But then it was never serious, after all, was it? Accusing people of anti-semitism, for Michael Davis, wasn't about getting to the bottom of a serious problem. It's about flinging around a nice long word, feeling the warm glow of a borrowed virtue, and getting on the right side of one of the neuralgic issues of the day.
Michael Davis never apologised for accusing 'older traditionalists' of anti-semitism. I wonder if he will apologise for publishing anti-semitic rants in his own magazine. I suspect he will prefer to sit the issue out without comment. After all, how serious is it?
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