Michael Joseph Sobran Jr.
February 23, 1946
|Died||September 30, 2010 (aged 64)|
|Alma mater||Eastern Michigan University|
|Political party||Constitution Party|
Life and career
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 also had a monthly column that appeared in Catholic Family News, and 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.
Departure from National Review
Norman Podhoretz wrote that "Joe Sobran's columns [...] [are] anti-Semitic in themselves, and not merely 'contextually'", but 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 that 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 comparison 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, denying that he had the "scholarly competence" to be a Holocaust denier, while also falsely claiming that the number of victims of the Holocaust was inaccurate and that the Nazi regime was not intent on racial extermination.
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".
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.
Books and other publications
Sobran is also the author of the following books:
- Single Issues: Essays on the Crucial Social Questions – Human Life Press – 1983
- Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time – Free Press 1997
- Hustler: The Clinton Legacy – Griffin Communications 2000
Sobran has produced a number of published articles and speeches, including:
- Anything Called a Program is Unconstitutional – Griffin Communications – 2001
- The Church Today: Less Catholic Than the Pope? – National Committee of Catholic Laymen – 1979
- How Tyranny Came to America, Sobran's, n.d.
- Pensees: Notes for the reactionary of tomorrow, National Review, December 31, 1985. (extended essay)
- Power and Betrayal – Griffin Communications – 1998
- "The Free Market | Mises Institute". Mises.org. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- "Joseph Sobran, 1946-2010". Blog.mises.org. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- W. James Antle, III (October 4, 2010). "Remembering Joe Sobran". Enter Stage Right. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- McDonald, Michael (June 2011). "Wills Watching". The New Criterion. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- William F. Buckley Jr."In search of anti-Semitism: what Christians provoke what Jews? Why? By doing what? – And vice versa Archived 2006-02-23 at the Wayback Machine", National Review, December 30, 1991.
- Jim Naureckas, "The Philadelphia Inquirer's New Spectrum: From Centrism to Anti-Semitism", FAIR, November/December 1995.
- Ralph Z. Hallow, "War of words raging at National Review," The Washington Times, October 7, 1993.
- "In Pursuit of Anti-Semitism," National Review, 16 March 1992.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "For Fear of the Jews". ihr.org. 2002-06-22. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- "For Fear of the Jews". Sobran's: The Real News of the Month. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- Deborah Lipstadt "'Skeptical' on the Holocaust?", The New York Times, October 5, 2010.
- Matthew Scully, "Bard of the Right", National Review Online, October 16, 2010.
- Timothy Stanley, The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan (New York City: St. Martin's Press, 2012), p. 359; ISBN 978-0-312-58174-9
- "Sobran's - The Reluctant Anarchist". Sobran.com. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2007-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-11-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Grimes, William (October 1, 2010). "Joseph Sobran, Writer Whom Buckley Mentored, Dies at 64". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "The Church and Jewish Ideology". Sobran.com. Retrieved 2016-07-25.