Too Fearful of Man to be Fearful of God

Of the many memorable scenes and sequences from the film, “Casablanca¸ one that stands out for both its subtlety and its continuing resonance comes when the Bulgarian Bride—her name is Annina Brandel in the script—sits down with Rick Blaine and asks for some very important advice. Let’s watch the scene first before discussing it:

The young woman, played by Joy Page, wants to know whether she can trust Captain Renault to deliver exit visas for her and her husband, Jan, if she sleeps with him. She poses her question to Rick as a hypothetical, but we know the central moral issue of her query cuts deep: it’s basically the same choice Rick’s lost love, Ilsa Lund, made when she left him standing the rain in Paris at the train station in order to rejoin her husband. She doesn’t know that, of course; when Rick abruptly excuses himself, she has no idea that he’s going to rig the roulette wheel in Jan’s favor in order for them to win enough money to afford the visas and then get the hell out of North Africa for America.

It’s a quandary to which we can all relate. One of her lines of dialogue, however, has an especially timely meaning: “The Devil has the people by the throat.” In the context of the film, the Devil is Hitler and the Nazis; the Brandels were lucky to escape with their lives. Today, the Devil is much closer to home. I’m speaking, of course, about the recent “Reproductive Health Act” passed by the New York State legislature and signed into law by a nominal Catholic governor, Andrew Cuomo. It is the greatest moral disgrace in American history and, if we don’t stop it, it’s just the beginning of what Ramesh Ponnuru has called, correctly, “the infanticide craze.”

In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that makes abortion legal, even after the unborn child is viable, so long as the abortionist makes a “reasonable and good-faith judgment” that abortion will protect the pregnant woman’s health. In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo has pledged to sign legislation that also makes abortion legal after viability to “preserve . . . health.” In Virginia, state legislator Kathy Tran has introduced legislation that would, she has explained, make abortion legal even at term and in the middle of birth. Governor Ralph Northam supports that legislation.

Does he ever: “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way,” Northam said on WTOP radio in Washington. “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion.”

Northam, of course, is a Democrat; a member of a criminal organization masquerading as the political party of slavery, segregation, secularism, socialism and sedition. If there is any meaningful distinction between his sentiments (for which he was roundly roasted by decent Americans) and those of any national-socialist murderer—other than perhaps his assurance that the victim would be “kept comfortable”—I would like to hear them.

Let’s be clear: the Empire State’s new law, and the one proposed but luckily so far tabled in Virginia, where it never got out of committee, has nothing to do either with reproduction or health. In fact, diabolically, it is the exact opposite. For it is meant to allow what amounts to infanticide right up to the moment of birth, thus preventing reproduction, and it has little or nothing to do with a woman’s “health”—unless you, like the Democrats, define pregnancy as a disease.

Shamefully, the New York legislature erupted in cheers when the bill passed, and the governor—his sainted father, Mario, was an unctuous phony, but Andrew is the real thuggish deal—said, “this is a victory for all New Yorkers” and ordered the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan to glow pink in the celebration of homicidal “feminism’s” latest burnt offering to Baal and Moloch.

The Devil has the people by the throat, indeed. And a pussy hat on his horns.

Meanwhile, those who actually are in the business of devil-fighting, instead of devil-worshipping, are AWOL. That would be the Catholic Church (the rest of the Christian sects are too far gone to care, or care about), in the form of the Irishman, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and the Argentine-born Italian pope, Francis. If any single public figure has richly earned public excommunication from the Church, Andrew Cuomo is him. And yet, where are Francis and Cardinal Dolan?

It’s been a rough time for faithful Catholics recently in our state government’s frantic rush for “progressive” ideas.

I’m thinking first of the ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law, which allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scissors, scalpel, saline and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of health care professionals not to assist in the grisly procedures. All this in a state that already had the most permissive abortion laws in the country.

Those who once told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal and rare now have made it dangerous, imposed and frequent.

So, what are you going to do about it, Your Eminence? Nothing: “Notable canon lawyers have said that, under canon law, excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion,” he said in a statement.

This is not only wrong, it’s cowardly, which is what we’ve come to expect from the American bishops, who have been so busy trying to bury their gay clergy scandal without getting the hems of their skirts dirty that—since many of them have no skin in the game in more ways than one—they don’t have time for matters of faith and morals any more.

As I’ve often asked, what would Dagger John do?

In 1844, faced with a Nativist threat to burn down St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (at Prince and Mott streets), John J. Hughes, the Irish-born bishop (and later first archbishop) of New York, gathered several thousand of his mostly Irish parishioners and deployed them around the church. Any attack on the cathedral, warned the man known as “Dagger John,” would be repulsed with force. The Nativists backed down.

During the Civil War, Hughes undertook a secret mission to Europe at the personal request of Abraham Lincoln, to rally support for the Union cause and keep Britain from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy. This he did in part by explaining the facts of life to the English: that they’d have no luck in raising troops in restive, famine-stricken Ireland to fight against America, and a great deal of trouble if they tried.

Those were the days of the two-fisted Irish clergy, who understood their dual American roles as both the spiritual leaders of their people and—when necessary—political figures as well. But those days are long gone (Cardinal O’Connor was the last of the line).

In other words, Archbishop Dolan and his confreres ought to ask themselves, What Would Dagger John Do? No need for mobs this time, just morals. But if they’re not going to vigorously defend their own faith, in a Church Militant sort of way, who will? 

I wrote that in 2012, when the public threat to private morals came from another notional Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius, implementing Obamacare’s mandatory birth-control coverage at government gunpoint. Over the next two years, I wrote three more articles in this series, concluding with this:

So I’ll tell you what Dagger John would do. (For more on Dagger John Hughes, please consult the first three articles in this series herehere, and here.) He would simply refuse to comply no matter how the courts rule, announce that no Catholic institution will either obey the mandate or pay the fines, stand on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and dare Eric Holder to arrest him in front of every TV camera in New York City.

With just a few changes of words, the same sentiment could and should be expressed today:

Ah, but the Dagger Johns of the Church Militant are long gone, and in their place have come the mincing social-justice warriors in cassocks and mitres, too fearful of man to be fearful of God, false to their faith and false to their mission. Andrew Cuomo and his gloating, murderous, ilk are bad enough, but these whited sepulchers are even worse, because they know better and don’t care.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

That’s Jesus talking, not me. The hell with them all.

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Photo credit:  Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

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About Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and foreign correspondent for Time Magazine, for which he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints (winner, 2004 American Book Award for fiction), and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the recent nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. A sequel, The Fiery Angel, was published by Encounter in May 2018. Follow him on Twitter at @dkahanerules (Photo credit: Peter Duke Photo)