Hitchcock: Heedless Historian Of Hokum Still Hiding

This much we know from the book. Before the presidential election in November 2016 — which Hitchcock predicted Democrat Hillary Clinton almost certainly would win – Hitchcock assumed that neither Clinton nor Republican nominee Donald Trump in the White House would be a friend to the pro-life movement. “It was a tragic ending indeed to the long and courageous pro-life struggle,” Hitchcock lamented as his text ended.

By 2018, of course, abortion foes were proclaiming Trump to be the most pro-life president of all. “But,” as I wrote in my June 2018 ADI article, “Hitchcock maintained a sullen silence.”

Like many others uncertain about Trump’s trustworthiness and core beliefs after he announced his candidacy in June 2015, The Wanderer didn’t rush to endorse him. Still, encouraging signs by Trump emerged as months of campaigning passed. However, Hitchcock loathed The Wanderer. Its supposedly consistently supporting Trump, as Hitchcock imagined, apparently only served to condemn the multibillionaire more in his eyes. Did my years of writing for the newspaper make me equally deplorable, so that Hitchcock felt free to brew up his poisons?

Twice in the book, Hitchcock explicitly ranted against The Wanderer. Nearing his conclusion, the professor sputtered: “The Trump movement was in many ways an ecumenical manifestation of the Wanderer Catholic underground of conspiracy theories, old religious and ethnic grudges, economic ignorance, resentment, and alienation from the entire modern world, an amalgam that for a time saw Ron Paul as its messiah and that above all yearned for the emotional release that a demagogue could provide.”

Mary Ann Kreitzer, a fan of The Wanderer and Catholic blogger in Virginia (Les Femmes – The Truth), cited this rabid paragraph on April 17, 2018, as she wrote: “All I can say is, ‘YIKES!’ Is that what he really thinks about The Wanderer and her readers? It sounds unhinged to me.”

If the newspaper and I were so ripe for condemnation, why has Hitchcock hidden away for two years since I first wrote to him after I accidentally learned of the book in late April 2017? He and I both had been contributing editors at the National Catholic Register decades ago, so he knew my pro-life writing, but in late 2016 he went to press with accusations that turned my reputation on its head — although he never contacted me, before or after publication, to try to reconcile this disparity.

A scholarly friend of Hitchcock’s, Christopher Manion, Ph.D., repeatedly but futilely called on Hitchcock to explain his errors in a book being sold to universities for around $100 per hardcover copy. (Were taxpayer dollars doing the buying?) There also was a cheaper paperback edition. In The Wanderer in February 2019, Manion said that eleven months earlier Hitchcock said he had “been very busy for several months,” but he intended to get around to responding. But Hitchcock did not.

Missourian Hitchcock, however, found time and energy sufficient to do two interviews in January 2018 that I’m personally aware of, consuming 90 minutes, on the “Global Catholic Network,” EWTN, headquartered in Alabama – a half year after I wrote to warn him of his falsehoods. Not only did EWTN promote the book, but also offered to take orders for it directly from the EWTN audience. Hitchcock told EWTN that he was a regular reader of The Wanderer who marked it up as he read. Did he intend to convey an erroneous impression of his accuracy?

I mailed a total of eight certified letters to EWTN personnel, including four to EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw. Only one letter brought a reply. Warsaw told me that Hitchcock’s hour-long interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., would not be rebroadcast. However, neither Warsaw, EWTN President Doug Keck, Pacwa, nor producer Jason Addington replied to my repeated requests to come on the air for corrections. Hitchcock’s deceptions remained on the record.

Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics originally was published by the academic firm Transaction Publishers, at Rutgers University, but that company soon was acquired by the international academic publisher Taylor & Francis Group, which issued the book through its Routledge imprint. For the same two years that Hitchcock hasn’t even answered me, Taylor & Francis so far hasn’t confessed that he made very plain errors. Does it seem that we little “deplorables” whom Trump defends simply can’t be given the time of day by illustrious historians, networks, and publishers?

Almost everything that Hitchcock wrote about me on 20 pages listed in the index is false or seriously misleading. On p. 69 alone, which is packed with glaring, unsubstantiated errors, Hitchcock wrote that I’m among the “Paleoconservatives” who attempted “to persuade pro-lifers to transcend their narrow outlook and support a wider agenda,” and we decried Reagan Democrats being “oblivious to ‘true conservatism’.” Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater “showed himself to be fanatically pro-abortion,” but I “considered the pro-abortion Goldwater worthy of unqualified support.”

There’s the calumny against me as a Catholic. For a practicing Catholic to give “unqualified support” to a “fanatically pro-abortion” politician is a grave sin. Hitchcock tossed around this falsehood without citing any proof of my doing so — no articles or speeches by me or anyone else referring to me. Hitchcock was a professor at both the Jesuit St. Louis University and the Catholic Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for the St. Louis Archdiocese who presumably understood the gravity of his baseless accusations.

After I wrote about the annual meeting of Maricopa County, Ariz., Republican Party precinct committeemen in January 2010, where a Massachusetts pro-abortion Democrat was criticized, Hitchcock falsely claimed that “Duggan reported” on a gathering of Arizona “true conservatives” (people who look down their noses at pro-lifers) who “were ecstatic” over a “newly elected” Massachusetts pro-abortion Republican – whose election hadn’t been held yet.

Where Hitchcock pretended he was looking on the same page with me when he cited my articles, he wasn’t even on the same planet – or the same galaxy.

I’m a reporter. I quote people saying things, the same sort of presentation of other people’s views that historians do. But historian Hitchcock repeatedly took plainly identified people in my articles, deleted their identities, and said their words were my own views and thoughts – including my supposedly likening Sen. John McCain to “a mad scientist,” when in fact that was a quotation from McCain opponent Rob Haney, a retired chairman of the Maricopa County GOP.

The historian also attributed to me the words of former California GOP Cong. Robert Dornan, Virginia political strategists Gray Delany and Zach Werrell, New Zealand conservative activist Trevor Loudon, California black activist Ted Hayes, and, in a very garbled way, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

When I reported on a talk that Californian Hayes gave in December 2015 about the importance of the 14th Amendment to blacks, I noted in my 27th paragraph that Hayes in passing made a positive reference to Trump: “U.S. blacks ‘are moving toward Donald Trump’ because they recognize ‘he’s speaking more to our interests’ on the 14th Amendment, Hayes said.” Yet Hitchcock wrote: “Blacks too, Duggan said (Dec. 17 [2015]), were opposed to immigration and would flock to Trump’s banner.” Hayes and his talk disappeared, and his verb about blacks moving toward Trump magically became my saying they would flock to him. Hitchcock misrepresented Hayes’ reference to illegal immigration as being only about “immigration.”

After I factually reported on a talk that Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) gave at Arizona State University in 2015, Hitchcock said that I praised “his anti-interventionist foreign policy.” Hitchcock repeatedly claimed that when I covered someone else’s talk, reported a statement, or did an interview, I was thereby praising or favoring that person or even just simply stating my own thoughts.

Hitchcock’s bogus narrative not only was that I promoted pro-abortion politicians like Trump and Goldwater, but also that I was determined to undermine a pro-lifer like McCain. Here’s one example.

In the June 5, 2008, Wanderer, I noted that presidential hopeful McCain had invited some GOP vice presidential possibilities to his Sedona-area ranch for a barbecue, and that political speculation ranged from suggesting that McCain wanted to test his chemistry with them to the possibility he didn’t plan to select them but didn’t want to be seen as ignoring them. I wrote: “Conservatives could ponder whether a dedicated conservative activist and pro-lifer like [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal could enhance the ticket by influencing McCain to the right, or only be used as the Arizona senator’s yes-man to lure conservative voters to elect an administration dedicated to undermining their cause.”

How did Hitchcock describe this passage? “Duggan (June 5 [2008]) asked whether, if McCain picked a pro-life running mate, it would only be ‘to lure conservative voters to elect an administration dedicated to undermining their cause’.” The plainly stated speculation that McCain might have had a very different idea simply disappears under Hitchcock’s hand.

James Hitchcock’s book is a sad story that never should have been published. A person might perceive why he may be reluctant to face up to it now, but that doesn’t absolve him and his publisher of responsibility and making redress.

About Dexter Duggan Religion & Politics 15 Articles
Dexter Duggan has been a weekly writer for The Wanderer, a Catholic newspaper, since 1997.