Peter Brimelow writes: We are cross-posting with American Renaissance this mordant reflection on Frank Borzellieri’s recent disgraceful firing as principal of a Bronx Catholic elementary school after he was attacked for his political views by New York Daily News reporter Corinne Lestch (email her). AmRen’s Jared Taylor posted a definitive account of this atrocity here. We published an excerpt from Borzellieri’s memoir Lynched: A Conservative's Life on a New York City School Board in 2009.
It is important to note that nothing Lestch alleged against Borzellieri’s political activities was new or even recent. Nor, even more to the point, were Frank Borzellieri’s views unknown to his superiors, who had twice confirmed that they did not conflict with Catholic doctrine. Indeed, Borzellieri was a colorful public figure in New York, where he was three times overwhelmingly elected to the school board until it was abolished as part of government schooling’s protracted death throes.
Obviously the Archdiocese of New York simply panicked when confronted with a left-wing flash mob.
One day, this sort of thing must stop.
I see Jack Kerwick has bravely defended Borzellieri on Beliefnet.com. But meanwhile, Borzellieri’s career has been destroyed. No mention, needless to say, on the “once-Catholic, now respected” National Review, which last mentioned him in 1997.
I was appalled when Frank Borzellieri was fired as principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School over his ties to a “white supremacist” group. Not only did the newspaper account that led to his dismissal [White supremacist principal running Bronx school with majority black and Latino students, By Corinne Lestch, NY Daily News, July 31, 2011] wrongly call American Renaissance “white supremacist” but his firing violates a core principle of American law: “bad thoughts” are not yet a crime. No one even suggested that he had harmed the black and Hispanic students in his care.
The article concerned only Frank’s past writings, not his current behavior. Just being a white “racist”, which was never defined, was sufficient grounds for dismissal.
Even more surprising was how this obscure incident was widely picked up by the press—even in England—though it lacked any sex or violence, the usual elements that bring notoriety.
A day later, however, I experienced a Eureka moment and not only grasped the significance of Frank’s firing but understood it in the context of the recent upsurge in anti-“white nationalism” campaigns. Examples would include AR’s troubles with its conferences, the coolness of mainstream publishers towards “white nationalist” books etc. etc.
(I use “white nationalist” for lack a better term. As Jared Taylor points out, much of what today’s “racists” say was broadly accepted until recently, and there was no word for what was then mainstream thinking.)
Here’s the insight: “white nationalism” has replaced homosexuality in America’s Pantheon of Horrific Sins. Just as adults once sought to protect children from homosexuals, who were assumed to be irrepressible child molesters, the great new fear is exposure to white “racists” who might corrupt impressionable youngsters by warning them about the dangers of diversity or, heaven forbid, teach them that race really does exist and that not all racial groups are equally talented.
Out with the old, in with the new. The headline of the article that got Frank fired could have been “Pervert Found Teaching Young Children”.
Not surprisingly, this incident occurred in a Catholic school. The nervous local Archbishop probably imagined future lawsuits in which adults would come forward with lurid tales of how Father Frank instilled racial hate and inflicted permanent psychological damage: “I still dread talking to African Americans and thus cannot get a job in today’s workforce”. There could be yet more million-dollar settlements and parish bankruptcies.
All societies ensure social cohesion by establishing “official” sins and stigmatizing offenders. Sanctioned hate objects may be foreigners or unsavory subgroups, such as Gypsies, but front and center are moral strictures regarding good and evil. Moral orthodoxy is the essence of religion, and without strictures society is impossible.
To be sure, the sin catalogue varies from place to place and shifts over time. As we all know, except among certain religious fundamentalists, homosexuality has gone from being a vile, legally punishable sin to a mere preference, even one celebrated by the New York Times.
This transformation is hardly atypical. Alcoholism, illegitimacy, sloth, promiscuity, gluttony, adultery, pre-marital sex, pornography, habitual mendacity, and fornication, to name just a few, have all been downgraded from grave moral violations to treatable illnesses or just harmless personal life choices. You can now buy books on how to masturbate. Some past unacceptable behaviors, such as public begging and public profanity, are now legally protected rights.
Our stock of moral offenses is declining, and social cohesion requires that we find new ones. Even in an age of moral relativism there must be something, something that indisputably offends the orthodoxy. And what better choice in today’s times of ethnic/racial turmoil than “white nationalism”, “hate”, and all their variants?
I do not exaggerate: to be accused of “white nationalism” or white “racism” is quickly becoming the equivalent of being charged with atheism in 16th century Europe or being a communist during the Cold War. It is the perfect candidate for demonization because “white nationalists” do not riot when persecuted, lack any powerful lobbying group that could get them included in the latest Hate Crime law, and never insist that school textbooks highlight their contributions to American history. Can you imagine a 9th grade US history textbook claiming that a “race realist” wrote the Declaration of Independence?
This designation as a moral evil is full of consequences. Choices regarding policy permit rational debate. One can, for example, safely discuss tax policy; by contrast, debates over moral issues are emotional and are settled by a quick, “That’s just bad!”
Imagine someone trying to defend gay marriage in 1955? Such a person, no matter how plausible his arguments, would not only be judged wrong but mentally ill, a threat to society, or worse. Today, of course, the opposite is true in some settings.
It is not a question of bad information or incorrect analysis. Those who defend certified evils are bad people to the core, not just misinformed. Would you buy a used car from a white racist? Frank Borzellieri’s lack of respect for Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrated an inability to teach black and Hispanic children. Those who doubt this “fact” have only to read his evil books. [VDARE.com note: Available from American Renaissance.] Once he was tagged a “racist”, Frank could have said that 2+2 equals 4, and many educators would disagree.
That today’s “white nationalists” are treated like homosexuals when homosexuality was a criminalized sin does, however, offer some useful parallels. Most depressingly, it means it is pointless to try to refute moral judgments with facts. It is the equivalent of bringing up the biological basis of homosexuality at a time when sodomy was a capital offense. Second, many “white nationalists” have to learn how to cover up, just as gays did. They may decorate their offices with multicultural books, or take a page from the anti-immigration, anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party of the mid-19th century: When asked about the party, members were told to say, “I know nothing”. It may also help to become a skilled liar and toss around false accusations of “racism” to demonstrate commitment to multiculturalism.
But even if you are outed, there is hope. Just admit that, “Yes, I am a white nationalist, a racist, even a white supremacist, but this is because my kindergarten teacher read American Renaissance and now I’m undergoing therapy, and my therapist says that in a few years I’ll be normal”.
Don’t laugh—this was the Catholic Church’s approach to homosexual priests who molested children: push them into therapy and then get a certificate certifying a cure. Counseling also rehabilitates Hollywood celebrities caught shoplifting or taking drugs.
It is essential to make confession, beg for forgiveness, and repent. No doubt, if Frank had apologized, gone into therapy, and confessed to Reverend Eric Rapaglia who hired him, he would be rehabilitated within a year. He would be back on the job, announcing that all of his students were going to Harvard.
Be optimistic. Perhaps in time white nationalists and racists will be able to hold teaching jobs. Some day they may even be able to marry, and their engagements will be prominently featured in the New York Times. And, naturally, people will be shocked to see how many of them come out of the closet.
Robert Weissberg [email him] is Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana and currently Adjunct Professor of Politics (Graduate), New York University. He is author of Bad Students, Not Bad Schools. (For Steve Sailer’s review, click here)