This past weekend, the big news story was that the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA, Stephanie Wilkinson, had asked Whitehouse Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave her establishment because her boss is “inhumane and unethical.”
To which Mrs. Sanders politely replied, “That’s fine, I’ll go.”
According to Washington Post reporter Avi Selk, who spoke with Wilkinson:
Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn’t, so the servers cleared away the cheese plates and glasses.
Apparently, Sanders was the last in her party of eight to arrive at the restaurant that evening, and upon recognizing her, some of the employees had a little hissy fit.
The reason, according to the Post:
Several Red Hen employees are gay, she [Wilkinson] said. They knew Sanders had defended Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Wilkinson’s husband and son (see photo below) were among the employees in question, but that’s beside the point.
What really matters, at least insofar as this post in concerned, is how the predictably bad behavior of a morally bankrupt liberal compares to the actions of certain self-proclaimed defenders of Catholic tradition.
In a matter of days, the inaugural edition of The Catholic Inquisitor will be rolling off the presses. Over the long journey leading up to this point, I’ve encountered a few bumps in the road; some foreseeable enough, but others of a sort that I never would have expected.
There is an underbelly to the world of “traditional” Catholic media, the narrative of which is largely controlled by a relative few who, apparently, will stop at very little to protect their stronghold.
Brace yourself, folks, this story ain’t pretty.
It concerns at least two traditional Catholic writers, each an expert in their chosen field, who were pleased to accept my invitation to contribute articles to The Catholic Inquisitor beginning with the July 2018 issue.
One of these gentlemen had already submitted his article to me for publication. About a week after doing so, however, Michael Matt apparently got wind of it.
Having had a number of his articles published in the Remnant in the past, this writer thought he had a sincerely good relationship with Matt. That was all about to change.
Michael got in touch with our would-be contributor to say that he and others in the traditional Catholic media world (their identity should be obvious enough) found news of his association with the Inquisitor offensive. So much so, Matt informed him, that unless he disassociate from the Inquisitor, his days of collaborating with the Remnant are over.
Why? Well, because according to Michael Matt, he has been “personally attacked” by yours truly.
Now, we can debate to what extent that’s truly the case, or whether that’s even Matt’s real motive, but the bottom line is that his claim has nothing whatsoever to do with the Faith or defending tradition. By his own words, it’s strictly personal.
Though I am loathe to take up my time and yours doing so, I can make a good case – no, a far better case – for having been personally attacked as well. The bigger difference here is that I couldn’t possibly care less. This isn’t grade school. We’re supposed to be focused on a bigger mission.
Even so, Mr. Matt wasn’t finished leveraging his influence just yet.
The other writer that I mentioned is a man who prides himself on getting along with everyone in traditional Catholic circles; in spite of certain disagreements. He’s an extremely knowledgeable writer and speaker who desires nothing more than to edify Catholics wherever he may reach them; working with a broad cross section of apostolates.
I am certain that readers of the Inquisitor would have benefited greatly from his insights, but for now, that’s not going to happen.
Knowing very well that this gentleman wants to avoid exactly the sort of thing that I just described, I felt obligated to let him know what had happened so he could determine for himself how to proceed. He’s known Michael for some time and seemed taken by surprise by what I told him.
So, he picked up the phone and asked Matt directly if contributing to the Inquisitor would jeopardize his relationship with him and the Remnant moving forward.
If we can say nothing else positive, Michael Matt shows no favorites. He let this gentleman know as well that if he should choose to associate with the Inquisitor there would be no future collaboration between them.
Now, I don’t look down on either of these writers for backing down – they are my friends – but if it were me on the other end of Michael Matt’s bullying, I’d let him know exactly what he can do with his newspaper, and even offer to help him get the job done. Not everyone is like me in that regard and I will grant that perhaps the world is a better place as a result.
In any case, think for a moment about what these writers are being threatened with losing. It’s far more than just space in the pages of one publication; it’s really about being consigned to the fringes of the traditional Catholic media world in general.
In addition to publishing the Remnant, Michael Matt is one of the chief organizers of the Catholic Identity Conference. His right hand man of many years, Christopher Ferrara, has close ties with the Fatima Center – publisher of Catholic Family News and organizer of numerous traditional Catholic conferences of their own throughout the year.
Like it or not, folks, these men and their tightly knit network enjoy a practical monopoly on traditional Catholic media. Get on their bad side for whatever reason, and you’ll earn a place on the blacklist.
None of us – including both Michael and Chris – do what we do for either fame or fortune. Even so, all of us have families to care for and bills to pay, and God gave each of us certain gifts that allow us, not only to build up the Kingdom of Christ on earth, but to uphold our temporal obligations in the process.
Strong arming these two writers as Michael Matt has is like a grocer threatening to fire an employee for daring to take a part-time job at a store across town because the owner may have insulted him. I think we all realize that this sort of intimidation is just plain immoral.
To be clear: If Michael Matt is unwilling to publish me in the Remnant, or invite me to his conferences, fine. He has no right to do what he is doing to these Catholic writers. They are men of good will who have done absolutely nothing to invite this mistreatment.
All of this being said, if you sense that something more is going on here, you’re not alone.
There’s a reason you haven’t seen articles from Cornelia Ferreira and Peter Chojnowski in hard copy for quite some time now. It’s the same reason these one-time fixtures at traditional Catholic conferences are no longer invited to speak.
And guess what, folks – it has nothing whatsoever to do with “personal attacks.”
PLEASE NOTE: I heard via email from Brian McCall, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of CFN. He was contacted by a few of our would-be writers, and unlike Michael Matt, he assured them that simply having an article published in the Inquisitor would not render them banned from CFN.
Brian is a gentleman of the first order and I trust in what he said. Let us hope that those for whom he works agree with him on this point. That, however, remains to be seen.
My response to Brian was to say that I strongly believe that those of us who have a voice in so-called “traditional” Catholic media have a very serious obligation to avoid in any way misleading the naive about what is, and what is not, compatible with tradition. If we ever get to the point where the traditionalists “old boys club” doesn’t dare criticize its own when warranted, then we’re no better than the neo-cons who labor to build their own little empire at the expense of Christ’s Kingdom and the salvation of souls.
As such, I let Brian know that if any traditional apostolate or person publishes something questionable or that otherwise may lead one into error on an important point concerning the Faith, I intend to address it head-on. To ignore such a thing would be irresponsible; especially if the source is widely trusted, and I would expect, and welcome, the same from him and anyone else in traditional media if and when I might err.
I also want to let you know that I spoke with James Vogel, Editor at Angelus Press and organizer of the Angelus Press Conference for the Society of St. Pius X.
Jim Vogel is another gentleman of the first order, and even though we don’t see eye to eye on some important matters, he’s a valued friend. (Hey, it’s entirely possible!) He, like Brian, has no intention of severing ties with those who contribute to the Inquisitor.
Look, it’s no secret that I’ve had my disagreements with Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara in the past. As a review of my posts indicate, however, I do at least try to make it a point to engage other people’s thoughts and ideas and not the people themselves; not their deeper motives and not the interior disposition of their soul.
Have I always done so perfectly? Absolutely not. I can do better.
If you’re wondering where the personal nature of this dust-up began; it started the day that Matt decided to condemn me on social media for an article that I wrote about Antonin Scalia in February 2016; even going so far as to compare me to Fr. Paul Nicholson, who denigrated the memory of Fr. Nicholas Gruner following his death.
Readers can follow the links and determine for themselves if that comparison has merit.
Insofar as Mr. Ferrara is concerned, his animus came to light in May of 2017 when I invited him to join me in calling on Cardinal Burke to issue an apology to Fr. Gruner (one that I still insist is long overdue) in light of his Roman Life Forum presentation. That resulted in Chris accusing me (to his credit, only privately at this point) of simply wishing to “score points” and to “humiliate” Burke.
Last September, Ferrara went public, launching his own invective-laced assault on my character; using his Fatima Perspectives column to accuse me of seeking nothing more glorious in my writing than web traffic and attention. Go ahead, click the hyperlinks above if you wish, and decide for yourself if those accusations have merit.
As noted, this isn’t grade school; i.e., that’s not what really matters.
That is why, just two months later, I didn’t hesitate to come to Ferrara’s defense following his debate with Kevin Symonds at last fall’s Angelus Conference (HERE), and as recently as last month, I positively cited one of his Remnant articles in a post (HERE).
The point is, there is no room for competition here. Our work is not for our own glory.
What’s more, regardless of any personal attacks that have come my way, I would never even think to tell a writer that he or she must sever ties with the Remnant, or any other traditional Catholic apostolate, in order to contribute to the Inquisitor. The very idea is reprehensible.
Even Stephanie Wilkinson – the lunatic liberal restaurateur – was willing to continue serving Sarah Sanders’ party without demanding that they first renounce their relationship with her. It’s a sad day indeed when a rabid feminist can be outdone in heavy-handed intolerance by the publisher of “America’s oldest…” (you know the rest).
I reached out to Michael Matt directly last Wednesday; offering him an opportunity to explain himself. He has yet to respond.
In conclusion, while some readers may fault me for revealing the underbelly of traditional Catholic media, the facts are the facts, and closing one’s eyes to them won’t make the situation any prettier.
As for what will, I don’t really know for certain, but I do know that all of us (including me) are obligated to pray for our detractors and welcome any opportunity for reconciliation that may present itself.
I am all-in on both counts.