The FBI’s Targeting of Traditional Catholics Recalls … the Inquisition

By John Zmirak Published on February 11, 2023

As an American, I am outraged by the FBI’s plans to target, investigate, and perhaps even infiltrate “traditional” Catholic groups. As FBI veteran turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphim reported:

The FBI’s Richmond Division would like to protect Virginians from the threat of “white supremacy,” which it believes has found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass. An intelligence analyst within the Richmond Field Office of the FBI released in a new finished intelligence product dated January 23, 2023, on Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) and their interests in “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” or RTCs. The document assesses with “high confidence” the FBI can mitigate the threat of Radical-Traditionalist Catholics by recruiting sources within the Catholic Church.

Seriously, go read the whole report.

The FBI’s document (reprinted there) relies on the fact-challenged anti-Christian hate group the Southern Poverty Law Center for its data points, and lazily smushes together completely unrelated political stances. Of course, the FBI author leads with “white supremacy,” in order to get the reader’s blood boiling — though there is little to no evidence that Catholic groups, however “far-right” on other questions, care a fig about race. Our Church has never condemned ethnically mixed marriages, for instance, so long as both parties were … Catholics.

The “Racism” Card Is Like Five Shots of Tequila

But once you’ve made the “racism” charge, the average Progressive throws out the window any concerns about free speech, religious liberty, freedom of association, or political pluralism. You know, the whole “It’s a free country” thing. It’s like giving a liberal five shots of tequila: her inhibitions decay.

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Then you can start pretending that the federal government has any legitimate interest whatsoever in policing people’s opinions on other, completely unrelated questions. For instance, one’s views on the relationship between the sexes, on marriage, sexual morality, or the ethics of abortion. It should be obvious that the government has absolutely no right to intervene in such issues. Sadly, it no longer is, as the Woke movement spread its totalitarian influence everywhere through the culture.

Suddenly, an amorphous “extremism” becomes the enemy … and the term is defined by which ever Fed happens to be writing the report, or which leftist anti-free speech group he’s relying on for his pabulum.

Tearing Down the Founders, and Our Freedoms

Did you wonder why the stormtrooper thugs of Antifa and Black Lives Matter targeted statues of our Founders? Not because some of them owned slaves, or held antiquated opinions on race. No, the goal was to tear down and de-legitimize the Constitution those men put in place, which guarantees free speech, free religious exercise, and the rule of law. Those limits on the power of overweening bureaucrats have stuck in the craw of Progressives since Woodrow Wilson explicitly condemned the U.S. Constitution as “antiquated,” for putting too many barriers in the path of paternalist government.

As I wrote back in 2018, defending Confederate (yes!) monuments:

The angry activists and elitists who drive the Democrat agenda? They don’t want us to learn from history. Like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, they want to hit the “reset” button. To start the calendar again at Year Zero. To paint the past as a dark and appalling void from which we can learn absolutely nothing, except the pre-cooked and pre-packaged mini-lessons that our new masters distribute to us. They’ve read their George Orwell. They know that to control the past is to dominate the future.

They want to shove the past, the entire past, into the memory hole. To delete it. To leave the pedestals empty, the statues beheaded or wrecked, the inscriptions sandblasted and vacant. In that bleak empty space where history once stood, they’ll scrawl instead the crude and easily memorized slogans they would force us to live by.

The Attack Dogs Will Be Back

The campaign the FBI planned against traditional Catholics was so crude and obviously unconstitutional, it provoked a public backlash. That has thankfully acted like a rolled-up newspaper across the nose of a nasty attack dog: the Deep State curs retreated, for the moment. But they will be back.

The sniffy paternalist inquisitors of the administrative state will come up with some genuinely racist quote from some guy who goes to a traditional Catholic parish. Or a crude remark about Jews. Or intemperate words about the Nuremburg-style punishments that abortionists really deserve.

Count on it, the SPLC is sniffing around for scraps of red meat like a starving jackal right now. And we must be ready to smash the Deep State’s snout again. We must make it blindingly clear that the Constitution still applies, that “Hate Speech,” whether real or pretended, is absolutely legal. So is “extremist speech,” however defined. Even bigoted and foolish views that merit our scorn deserve the full protection of the law. Why?

Because (as our Founders realized) giving a government staffed by fallen, sinful men the power to censor, sift, and pass judgment on our opinions is vastly more dangerous than letting all speak freely. The tyrannies of the 20th century would vindicate our ancestors, murdering some 170 million civilians from 1914 to 1990. 

Every American Has the Right to Spread “Hate Speech” and “Misinformation”

It’s profoundly un-American, and dangerous, for the government to appoint itself as the arbiter of what is and isn’t “misinformation.” That’s a totalitarian aspiration, of the kind that prevails now in China. No wonder that during the COVID panic so many advocates of a public health dictatorship openly envied the Chinese Communist Party its absolute power to censor and persecute its critics.

I’ve been the leading Catholic in the world in criticizing the Integralist movement, which tries to revive the intolerant, paternalistic systems that persecuted Protestants. No doubt, some of the groups the FBI targeted favor just such a theocratic arrangement … and wish for a government that silenced dissenters from their own authoritarian system. That makes it nicely ironic that I must defend such people, based not on their perverse principles, but America’s sound and humane ones.

“Hate Speech” Means “Speech That I Hate”

Even Catholics who favor the Inquisition, or Muslims who favor sharia, or radical Protestants who preach that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon deserve free speech, free exercise of their faith, and the unbiased protection of law.

The best definition of “hate speech” is “Speech I hate!” or “Speech by people I hate!” Anyone who tries to weaponize such a term deserves our contempt and ridicule … and should be kept far, far away from a job in government, especially at the FBI.

Because any one of us could be labeled an “extremist” who “hates” by our political enemies. If we don’t stand for freedom now, there will be none left when the witch-hunters come looking for us.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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