21 June 2010

Proof from Hollywood's Golden Age: No One Likes a Contrarian


Anonymous said...

"The Best Years of Our Lives" a very good movie about men coming back from the horrors of war.

StGuyFawkes said...


This scene depicts the "contrarian" views of a partisan of the "America First" committee or perhaps just an ordinary guy who thought "we could have done business with Hitler" after he "re-organized Europe" as Pierre Laval and the Vichy collaborationists put it.

In any case "contrarian" has come to mean everyone who looks at World War II with unsentimental eyes. That term might include Alexander Solsynitzyn who blamed the West for allowing half of Europe to go Red at Yalta, or Patrick Buchanan who blames Churchill for the War.

I hasten to point out that the term "contrarian" is also used to describe the Holocaust revisionism of David Irving.

It's a dangerously elastic term.

My question is this.

How does this relate to "St. Louis Catholic", or more importantly, being Catholic?

Because this post, unfortunately, comes with no written material indicating your complete views, it's not entirely clear that your blog isn't just a little sympathetic to the "just the facts" partisan of this movie scene.

I don't think that your blog supports the old "America First" views of World War II. But many would wonder after seeing this just where YOU stand on World War II.

And here's another question. To be a traditionalist Catholic must one have certain "contrarian" views on WOrld War II and if so what are they?

Traditionalist Catholicism was saved in large part by the Society of Pius the X (SSPX). And many of those folks, at least in France, had VERY "contrarian" views on World War II.

Paul Touvier for instance.

THis is an old discussion we've had before.

My position is that orthodox Catholicism should not get itself TOO entangled in passions surrounding any particular views of history.

I believe it was Pius XII (correct me some oneone) who warned Hilaire Belloc to, "Beware embracing a purely political Catholicism."


St. Guy

X said...

LOL, Peggy, I think you missed the point of the clip. This scene is a preemptive propaganda strike against the inevitable historical revision (AKA what really happened.) When the guns of the First World War stopped the Government propaganda stopped and a flood of books articles and movies poured in revealing and exposing the grotesque lies our leaders had fed us. Thus the lesson learned then was not to stop the lying but rather to NEVER stop lying.

As for St. Guy. Catholicism is truth and truth is Catholicism. Let me give you a standard to live by, if your driving your daughter to serve mass as an altargirl, you're not a traditionalist Catholic, or what we used to call in the old days, a Catholic.

thetimman said...

St. Guy,

I thought what was post-worthy was the fact that disagreeing with the established opinion gets a violent response instead of a reasoned counter argument.

This trend of eschewing argument for violence is growing. We see this all the time. Homosexuals counter Catholic teaching with intimidation, threats and violence. Campus so-called liberals counter a conservative speaker by shouting her down and intimidating those who would hear her. The Leader wants to brand political opponents as terrorists and tax alternative media outlets out of existence. And so on.

You paint a very broad brush with your comment, and I suppose it is a shadow of this problem. I suppose one cannot think that Stalin was a murdering, Communist thug without it being insinuated that he is a secret Nazi sympathizer? Just because there are two sides in a conflict doesn't mean one of them is morally justified in every respect. Churchill and Roosevelt did give away half of Europe to totalitarianism and the gulags, as the decidedly non-Nazi Solzhenitzyn rightly pointed out. The US bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki aren't exactly things to be proud of. None of this lets genocidal dictators of any country off the hook. They're just facts.

I don't think a traditional Catholic has to espouse any particular political opinion, as long as their political opinion does not conflict with Catholic teaching. And I wouldn't punch someone for disagreeing with me, nor expect applause if I did.

StGuyFawkes said...


You have addressed my first concern with your answer. My point is that had you couched the video in your complaint that "contrary" views attract violence and not reason -- whether today or in the past -- your video selection would have elicited a different reading. My complaint is that you just posted the video and let folks guess at your meaning.

My humble advice: You should have introduced the scene with your second paragraph above and even the dullards like me would have understood what you meant.

As for your paragraph three above I quite agree. The agony of (soon to be Saint, I pray) Pius XII is that he understood that the Second World War was a destruction of Catholic Christian Civilization led by two armies, one directed from Berlin, the other from Moscow. He was also wise enough to see the dangers coming from the army of Washington, D.C. Your third paragraph in some ways is a rough approximation of what I suspect His Holiness thought. It is what I think and I am in total agreement.

In your last paragraph you write "I don't think a traditional Catholic has to espouse any particular political opinion as long as their opinion does not conflict with Catholic teaching.

I entirely agree. Who's religion is the "Big Tent" politically? Ours is!

As for my old friend "X", he or she wrote. "Catholicism is Truth and Truth is Catholicism." Quite right! However, truth in politics is almost a contradiction in terms. Where Catholic Truth meets the political realm the waters get choppy.

Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas all recognized this. You'll find in Aristotle the craft of politics described as "second science" because its subject is human and material and thus less agreeable to the penetration of reason.

Where America's entry into a war comes up I'm not sure there is a Catholic Truth that is apriori and metaphysically certain in every case.

Now as for my daughter and my Novus Ordo wife's insistance that she serve at Mass let me say that I'll wait for Archbishop Carlson to tell me I'm not Catholic although I'm flattered that you want to save my soul before he does.

I'm especially flattered that you actually follow my postings closely enough to remember a stray personal comment from a post several years ago.

I feel so much a celebrity. I have to be after all I have a stalker.

Yes, "X" I could be a better Catholic no doubt. Thanks for giving my scribbles a closer reading than most.

St. Guy

Jane Chantal said...

The film from which the clip was taken certainly has a political point of view. The impact of the scene in question, however, imo derives from the fact that it illustrates a powerful human truth: a fight that engages the heart will be defended more passionately than a fight that merely engages the head -- and of the two, is the nobler enterprise.

thetimman said...

St. Guy,

You are not a dullard, as I guess you know. As for the ambiguity, it may not come as a surprise that I like to poke the odd hornet's nest from time to time.

As for X, I think he reads this blog for you and Latinmassgirl, and not for my posts.

Jane Chantal, I agree with your first point, but I don't know about the second. Interesting point, I'll think it over.

Anonymous said...

X--Yes, that was deliberate on my part. I think I'm kinda with St Guy to some extent. While some arguments for US involvement were over-romanticized, I am not ready to champion all that the contrarian says in this scene. Interesting thoughts from jane as well.

StGuyFawkes said...

Jane Chantal,

You wrote: "...the scene in question....illustrates a powerful human truth: a fight that engages the heart will be defended more passionately than a fight that merely engages the head -- and of the two, (the second I think you mean to say) is the nobler enterprise."

I wish I had written that.

YES! As the movie "contrarian" grouses about the "facts" the viewer secretly hopes the man with the hooks will ask him "Were YOU in the WAR? What did YOU sacrifice?"

Indeed, the scene IS about sacrifice and the heart. The opposition is between a cold hard intellectual reading of the facts and the heart (and hands) that suffered for "the facts".

I agree with your interpretation.


I'm well aware of your tendancy to see every hornet's nest as God's pinata just waiting for a broomstick.

In this case I'm glad you let fly with the stick. The whole business of World War II needs going over again and again.

St. Guy