Lord Acton, Anthony Bradley, and Me

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Important Update: For a limited time, Canon is offering a free download of Black & Tan here, and it is available here on Kindle for 99 cents. For those who really care what I think on these subjects, it is all in this book. And yes, Canon emailed a copy to Dr. Bradley.

Important Update #2: Anthony Bradley recently tweeted: “There is such bloodthirst amongst some conservative evangelicals for arguing & ‘debates.’ Verbal gladiator competitions. #NotInterested.” I replied that I was equally not interested in unnecessary collisions, and that if he took down his post, I would take this one down. If it disappears, that’s why. In the meantime it is a little disingenuous to take the first swing, and then announce yourself to be suddenly #NotInterested. He was interested yesterday.

Important Update #3: Anthony Bradley is doubling down here. But it is really hard to play the race card when you find out you brought your kids’ Go Fish pack instead of the right one.

Original  Post:

Anthony Bradley is a professor at King’s College and a research fellow at the Acton Institute. From some of his tweets, I gathered over the course of this last week that he was getting concerned about confederacy stuff (mentioning me specifically), and so I contacted him by email, asking if we could talk on the phone.

“Would you be willing to have a phone conversation with me about this?”

In a follow-up email, I reiterated it.

“I would be happy to visit with you any time by phone or in person. Judging from what you have written here, and what I know myself to believe, I think you would be surprised . . . Please feel free to call me anytime.”

Those offers were declined.

“Thank you for the standing offer. I don’t see that as necessary at this point.”

As Dr. Bradley had mentioned he had been on the receiving end of some racial ugliness from people he believed to somehow be connected to me, I also wrote, “please get their names to me. I will do whatever I can to get them to stop it and, failing that, I will do what I can to disassociate myself from them. Racial animosities have no part in Christ’s kingdom.” This of course, assumes genuine racial ugliness, which is out there, and not the kind that is sometimes falsely implied, as in this instance.

So now he has posted something more extensive about me on the web, and has engunked himself in a sticky substance that a simple phone call would have prevented. I did try, and my failure in this regard is the reason for this post now. Sorry about that.

Depending on how this unfolds, I may have to interact in more detail with some of the “facts” he passes on from leftist sources, and so those quotation marks around “facts” are there on purpose. I mean, a fellow at the Acton Institute quoting the Southern Poverty Law Center as an authoritative and reliable guide? I mean, really? Bradley is citing a SPLC piece that identifies us as as the “Taliban on the Palouse” when, if those same gents wrote a piece about King’s College, it would be all about “Taliban in Manhattan.” We’ll see how that kind of thing goes, and I’ll return to it later if necessary. I hope he drops his junk sources, and it won’t be necessary.

My point at this juncture is a simpler one. I mentioned above that Dr. Bradley works with the Acton Institute. Who was Lord Acton? I know, I know, power corrupts, that guy. But he said some other things too. For example, Lord Acton once wrote this, in a letter to Robert E. Lee (11/4/1866):

“I saw in States Rights the only available check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. I deemed you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization and I mourn for that which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”

My point is not the accuracy of Acton’s point, which I would be happy to talk about another time. My point has to do with Anthony Bradley’s one-sided theology of taint. What would happen if I were a research fellow at a joint called the Robert E. Lee Institute? Shoot, what would happen if I were the one working for a place named after Acton? What would Mark Potok at the SPLC make of that? So let it suffice for the present for me to simply express my grave concern that Anthony Bradley is willing to be associated with an organization that is named after a person who expressed open sympathy to Robert E. Lee over the loss of the South.

In the meantime, I have asked Canon Press if they would be willing to make a free e-copy of Black & Tan available this week, and they are going to try to get it available for you all asap. We will beat the drum when that happens.

That book is a hot little read, and is well worth your time, though it’s myself that says it, though I shouldn’t. At any rate, the book is at least clear about what I think on these issues, which is more than can be said about certain slipshod summaries that Dr. Bradley relied on, to his professional discredit. Did Dr. Bradley read my book before starting this kerfluffle over the views expressed in it?

One of America’s premier historians of that period of America’s history, Dr. Eugene Genovese, blurbed my book, and he said (incidentally, you can insert 2 Cor. 11:23 anywhere around this point) the following:

“The Reverend Douglas Wilson may not be a professional historian, as his detractors say, but he has a strong grasp of the essentials of the history of slavery and its relation to Christian doctrine. Indeed, sad to say, his grasp is a great deal stronger than that of most professors of American history, whose distortions and trivializations disgrace our college classrooms. And the Reverend Mr. Wilson is a fighter, especially effective in defense of Christianity against those who try to turn Jesus’ way of salvation into pseudo-moralistic drivel.”

And last, fully consistent with everything above, let me conclude by issuing Dr. Bradley a cordial invitation to come out to Moscow in order to speak at an event we will organize for him. We will pay for travel, lodging, and an honorarium, and the topic will be of his choosing. We will be flexible as to the time in order to accomodate his schedule and ours. We can go out for a beer at Bucer’s afterward.

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