Wednesday, August 02, 2017

From the Archives: NRO’s Jonah Goldberg finds witch hunts and inquisitions ‘fascinating’

NRO’s Jonah Goldberg finds witch hunts and inquisitions ‘fascinating’
August 2, 2012 3:40 PM MST

In writing his new book about progressive ideology, National Review Online contributor Jonah Goldberg discovered some surprising facts about the inquisitions of the Middle Ages.

Jonah Goldberg witch hunt inquisition RightOnline Rick Sincere
While conducting research for The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, Goldberg “became really fascinated with the history of the inquisitions and the witch hunts in medieval Europe.”

His book, a follow-up to the 2008 best-seller Liberal Fascism, includes a lengthy, four-part chapter on the Catholic Church, a result of what he uncovered.

Until he began looking into the topic more deeply, Goldberg said, he had “had no idea how incredibly screwed up our popular understanding of what the witch hunts were about and what the inquisitions were about.”

Misunderstanding witch hunts
Goldberg spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about his research during a break at the RightOnline conference in Las Vegas in June.

He noted that recognizing our misunderstanding of the nature of witch hunts is “not to say the witch hunts were good or the inquisitions were good, but they were far less the tragedies and travesties that the Left or the popular culture makes them out to be."

Moreover, he added, "the role the Catholic Church in these things was far different than what I had realized.”

Church as check
Jonah Goldberg Rick Sincere RightOnline Americans for Prosperity Las Vegas witches
Jonah Goldberg
What Goldberg learned is that “the Catholic Church was a check on [the worst of] these things. The real problems were with the people themselves -- the masses, They were constantly wanting to lynch people for being witches.”

At the same time, taking advantage of the peasants’ illiteracy “local, secular aristocrats and lords were constantly pandering to the mob and the Church would come in and say, ‘Calm down everybody, let’s figure out if this person is really a witch or not.’ and often, very often, would say, ‘You guys are nuts, leave this poor woman alone.’”

Pointing to an image from popular culture, Goldberg explained that “the role of the Catholic Church we get from Monty Python, ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’, is a much more complicated story. I found that fascinating and that’s why I have such a huge chapter on the Catholic Church” in The Tyranny of Cliches.

An audio version of the complete interview with Jonah Goldberg is available on Bearing Drift radio, "The Score."

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 2, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

No comments: