Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reason Magazine Mentions the Cecil Chesterton Society

Today, I attended the much anticipated press conference held by Ron Paul at the National Press Club. To be clear, I am a supporter of Ron Paul. Its my belief that he is a congenial and intelligent man - an opinion confirmed by an encounter I had with him after the press conference.

It may be known by the readers of this blog that Dr. Paul authored the Foreword to Cecil Chesterton's and Belloc's book The Party System for the edition published by the notorious IHS Press. It also may be known by anyone who read the "End-Notes" of that book that some odd comments were made regarding the "true" instigators of the Boer War and the economist David Ricardo. The latter note reads that: "(The Anti-Corn Law League's) arguments were founded on the theories of the Jewish economist, David Ricardo." page 155 note 21

John Sharpe - chairman of IHS Press - related to me in an email that the discussed end-notes were written by IHS Press' in-house editors. It seems calling Ricardo Jewish is gratuitous and inappropriate as Ricardo renounced Judaism and married a Quaker and that the use of the description edges on the pejorative as the discussion of the Corn Laws by the "IHS Press in-house editors" is anti-capitalistic.

Being a supporter of Dr. Paul, I was curious if he had any knowledge of the described "notes." Thus, capitalizing on the occasion, I decided to pose a question to the Congressman. The scene was described by Reason Magazine's David Weigel - whom I met at the press conference - in the following manner:

Max Anthony, the head of the Cecil Chesterton Society, confronted Paul on why he'd written the introduction to a Chesterton anthology that included anti-Semitic footnotes and jokes about Jews. "The best economists are Jewish!" Paul laughed. "Ricardo was Jewish! Von Mises was Jewish!" Anthony pressed the issue. "I'm not familiar with this," Paul said. "I'm not going to get caught in that trap."

Far from being "confrontational" I thought my discussion with Dr. Paul was completely civil - why would I want to be rude and "confront" a man for whom I have much admiration and respect? In addition, far from pressing the point to an answer that I felt was totally sufficient, I merely continued the discussion, which, though, did end with Congressman Paul saying he did not want to be caught in the trap of - I presume - guilt by unintentional association.

Was I trying to trap Congressman Paul? Of course not. Did I want to know if there had been any discussion between Congressman Paul and IHS Press regarding the end-notes? Certainly. In fact, that fear of being caught in a guilt by association was the impetus for my wanting to bring the issue of IHS Press' language to Dr. Paul's attention. I assume I am not the only person who purchased The Party System and that I am not the only person who has perused the book's end-notes.

The Reason Magazine article does not discuss the rest of my discussion with Congressman Paul. In a hallway of the National Press Club, I approached Dr. Paul and told him I am a supporter of his and that I was just trying to bring the questionable "end-notes" his attention so that he would not be linked unfairly to the sad language IHS Press chooses to use.

Dr. Paul replied with thanks for "tipping him off", hands were shook and the event - for me - ended on a very positive note. Not quite as truculent an exchange as the Reason Magazine article could cause someone to believe.