Bloggers and activists on the left are furious when anyone suggests that the religion of Islam leads to violence. But on Thursday, bomb-throwing secularist Barrett Brown on the Daily Kos (and also on the blog True/Slant) compares the Catholic Church – unfavorably – to the atrocities of Stalinism and Maoism.
He even wrote, more broadly, that "Next to the Christian God, Stalin was a piker" – in that, Stalin only killed your body, while God torments the souls of unbelievers like him for eternity. Brown argues that the Catholic Church was a remarkable slaughterer without modern technology:
To smile upon the Church for reigning [sic] in its excesses is to smile upon the Soviet hardliners for reigning in its own. Both were dragged into an age of individual liberty by way of other ideologies. Look back upon the road on which they were taken, and one sees the marks made by fingernails grasping frantically at the ground in an effort to stop the process.
Ah, but the Soviets! Stalin! The Chinese Communists! Mao! Atheists all, we are often reminded - and the most accomplished mass murderers in history. Of course, these particular atheists cheated by virtue of chronology; they had more people to kill, and better methods by which to kill them. Look at what the Catholics did without the convenience of unprecedentedly large populations, to say nothing of machine guns, railroads, telegraphs, tanks, poison gas, mass propaganda, flight, and other staples of the 20th century - and wonder at what they might have accomplished in the course of their own long attempt at world domination had they had access to any of these things.
Is Stalin a worse fellow than the Grand Inquisitor by virtue of having inquired after so many more people than the Inquisitor could hoped to have reached? It is worth noting that not even the most viscous of secular totalitarians could devise a torture as effective as the eternal suffering to which so many Catholic bishops attempted to consign each other by way of the excommunication of whole populations and other weapons of mass damnation. In the eyes of the communist, the damage extends only to death, and is at any rate allowable by virtue of atheistic materialism and the allowances he supposes it to make in pursuit of utopia; in the eyes of the Catholic, the damage was forever, and just by virtue of the morality established by God - and of course he looks down upon all atheists for having no similar source of universal morality of the sort by which the Church has sought to consign so many millions to infinite despair in service to their own, even less probable utopia.
The finest one can say about such a Catholic as actually ascribes to Catholicism is that at least his deranged vision of what ought to happen to those victims of his own Leader's ever-present purge is entirely imaginary. At least, I hope it is; otherwise, I myself shall be subjected, by virtue of having written a few lines and having held the wrong thoughts, to something of infinitely worse degree than anything that occurred at even the height of Stalin's reign.
Next to the Christian God, Stalin was a piker. Of course, simply believing in God does not make one responsible, even rhetorically, for the crimes of the Catholic Church. But neither does being an atheist make one responsible, even rhetorically, for the crimes of the Soviet Union. Before there was any such thing as communism, there were atheists, deists, and agnostics who pledged their allegiance to the Enlightenment - something which never quite took hold in Russia, incidentally.
I took the liberty of imposing some paragraph breaks, since Brown was on such a sulfurous roll that he couldn't find a place to break up his thoughts. Brown is, unsurprisingly, not a fan of Pope Benedict and the current church. These were his dismissive words before he began ranting about the Soviets, complete with Star Wars analogies of evil:
There was a time in which the Catholic Church was not simply the buffoon institution it is today, an enterprise run to an unusual extent by mystical pederasts and mediocre semanticists and good for a few laughs here and there. In our relatively pleasant era, when the Church gives itself over to the leadership of a former Nazi who claims that he had no choice but to give in to his Nazis, we may chuckle at the absurdity of this fellow's demonstrably nonsensical defense, noting that one need only look at the previous officeholder to find an example of someone who chose not to give in to the Nazis.
We may also remark upon how this new fellow resembles Emperor Palpatine, and we may Photoshop an array of bright blue Force lightning bolts coming from his fingers, and we may call it a day. The Catholic Church is still in a position to do great damage to humanity's interests, of course, but we need not worry about it to the same degree that, say, the population of Central and South America would have been back in the 15th century, had said population known what was to come from the ideological and material direction of the Vatican and its most loyal and thus viscous adherents, the Spanish and Portuguese arrivals.
That Apocalypse is over and done with, and even if its echoes may still be felt to some extent by those residing in the countries that later emerged, we may at least be confident that the Church is no longer in a position to assist in such grand ventures by way of its operational agency, the priesthood.
Who is Barrett Brown? He's "mainstream" enough to report he's a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Skeptic, and The Onion. He also boasts of serving as director of communications for "Enlighten the Vote," a political action committee dedicated to "the advancement of the Establishment Clause."
He touts a 2007 book called "Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny." He has a new book that he claims is titled " Hot, Fat & Clouded: The Amazing and Amusing Failures of America’s Chattering Class (Being a Partial Record of the Incompetence of Our Republic's Mainstream Pundits, Most of Whom Deserve to be Exiled or at Least Have Their Cars Vandalized)."
[Hat tip: Tom Johnson]