Michael Joseph Sobran Jr.
February 23, 1946
|Died||September 30, 2010 (aged 64)|
|Alma mater||Eastern Michigan University|
|Political party||Constitution Party|
Michael Joseph Sobran Jr. (; February 23, 1946 - September 30, 2010) was an American journalist. He wrote for the National Review magazine and was a syndicated columnist. Pat Buchanan called Sobran "perhaps the finest columnist of our generation".
Sobran was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan into a devoutly Roman Catholic family. He graduated in 1969 from Eastern Michigan University in his native Ypsilanti with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He studied for a graduate degree in English, with a concentration on Shakespearean studies following his graduation. In the late 1960s, Sobran lectured on Shakespeare and English on a fellowship with the university.
In 1972, Sobran began working at National Review. During the 1970s, he frequently used the byline M. J. Sobran. He stayed for twenty-one years, eighteen as senior editor, before he was removed from the publication amidst controversial charges of antisemitism. Aside from his work at National Review, Sobran spent twenty-one years as a commentator on the CBS Radio Spectrum program series. He was a syndicated columnist, first with the Los Angeles Times and later with the Universal Press Syndicate. In 2007, he discontinued circulation of his newsletter by mail.
From 1988 to 2007, Sobran wrote the column "Washington Watch" for the Catholic weekly The Wanderer. He had a monthly column that appears in Catholic Family News. He wrote the "Bare Bodkin" column for the paleoconservative Chronicles magazine. Additionally, his essays have appeared in The Human Life Review, Celebrate Life! and The Free Market. Sobran was a media fellow of the Mises Institute.
Norman Podhoretz wrote that "Joe Sobran's columns [...] [are] anti-Semitic in themselves, and not merely 'contextually'" and Buckley disagreed with Podhoretz's accusation, instead "deem[ing] Joe Sobran's six columns contextually anti-Semitic. By this I mean that if he had been talking, let us say, about the lobbying interests of the Arabs or of the Chinese, he would not have raised eyebrows as an anti-Arab or an anti-Chinese".
One such comment was that The New York Times "really ought to change its name to Holocaust Update". Sobran claimed that Buckley told him to "stop antagonizing the Zionist crowd" and Buckley accused him of libel and moral incapacitation. Sobran also complained of "a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway socialist ethnocracy", meaning Israel. In his syndicated column for The Wanderer in August 1993, Sobran had defended Pat Buchanan against charges of antisemitism and concluded that comparisons of anti-Zionism to antisemitism is a non sequitur.
In 2001 and 2003, Sobran spoke at conferences organized by David Irving and shared the podium with Paul Fromm, Charles D. Provan and Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, a leading Holocaust-denying group. In 2002, he spoke at the Institute for Historical Review's annual conference. In his speech which he also reprinted in his newsletter, Sobran addressed the subject of Holocaust denial:
I am not, heaven forbid, a "Holocaust denier." I lack the scholarly competence to be one. [...] Why on earth is it 'anti-Jewish' to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination? Surely these are controversial conclusions; but if so, let the controversy rage.
Referring to his appearance at the Institute for Historical Review conferences, historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote: "Mr. Sobran may not have been an unequivocal [Holocaust] denier, but he gave support and comfort to the worst of them".
Sobran also wrote:
What, exactly, is "anti-Semitism?" One standard dictionary definition is "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group." How this applies to me has never been explained.
Sobran critiqued Buckley's book In Search of Anti-Semitism:
Its real message is not that we should like or respect Jews; only that we should try not to hate them. But this implies that anti-Semitism is the natural reaction to them: If it's a universal sin, after all, it must be a universal temptation. [...] When he defends Jews, I sometimes feel like saying: "Bill! Bill! It's all right! They're not that bad!"
After his removal from National Review, Sobran penned columns for paleoconservative journals such as Chronicles. In 2001, Pat Buchanan offered Sobran a column in Buchanan's new magazine The American Conservative. Editor Scott McConnell withdrew the offer when Sobran refused to cancel his appearance before the Institute for Historical Review.
Throughout much of his career, Sobran identified as a paleoconservative like his colleagues Samuel T. Francis, Pat Buchanan and Peter Gemma. He supported strict interpretation of the United States Constitution. In 2002, Sobran announced his philosophical and political shift to libertarianism (paleolibertarian anarcho-capitalism) and cited inspiration by theorists Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. He referred to himself as a "theo-anarchist".
Sobran said Catholic teachings are consistent with his opposition to abortion and the Iraq War. He argued that the 9/11 attacks were a result of the United States government's policies in the Middle East. He claimed those policies are formed by the "Jewish lobby".
Sobran considered communism to be at least in part a Jewish phenomenon, writing:
Christians knew that Communism - often called "Jewish Bolshevism" - would bring awful persecution with the ultimate goal of the annihilation of Christianity. While the atheistic Soviet regime made war on Christians, murdering tens of thousands of Orthodox priests, it also showed its true colors by making anti-Semitism a capital crime. Countless Jews around the world remained pro-Communist even after Stalin had purged most Jews from positions of power in the Soviet Union.
In a book entitled Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time (1997), Sobran espoused the Oxfordian theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was the true author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon.
Sobran was twice married and divorced. He had four children and was survived by ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He died in a nursing home in Fairfax, Virginia on September 30, 2010 as the result of kidney failure spurred by diabetes.
At the time of his death, Sobran was working on two books, namely one concerning Abraham Lincoln's presidency and the United States Constitution and another about de Vere's poetry.
Sobran is also the author of the following books:
Sobran has produced a number of published articles and speeches, including the following: