Frank Borzellieri was the principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a predominantly black and Hispanic Catholic elementary school located in the Bronx,New York. This past summer, in spite of having had a stellar record during his tenure, Borzellieri was abruptly terminated from the office that he held for two years.
Unlike those sexually abusive priests who the Church harbored for decades, Borzellieri is not guilty of any crime. In fact, he isn’t so much as suspected of having engaged in any criminal activity whatsoever. Nor is it the case that Borzellieri, a committed Catholic, was deemed to have deviated from Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Catholic mission.
Still, Borzellieri was judged, and justly, of holding quite heterodox views. But the orthodoxy from which he deviated is not that of Catholicism, but that of “Political Correctness.”
Borzellieri, you see, dared to defy the conventional dogma on race. For this, he was essentially branded a “white supremacist” by the New York Daily News and fired by the Archdiocese of New York. In early August of this year, the Archdiocese of New York released a statement in which it said that Borzellieri’s views were “incompatible with the philosophy and practices of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, and with Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese.”
Borzellieri, I hope to show, is up against an immovable object, on the one hand, and an irresistible force, on the other. It is with the twin titans of Idiocy and Cowardice that he has to contend.
First, to know that someone is an advocate of “white supremacy” is to know practically nothing. To know that a person is a “jerk” is to know more. Like the term “racist,” “white supremacy” is a rhetorical mechanism by which some groups of individuals have sought to neutralize those racially-oriented ideas that the politically dominant group deems threatening. Like the terms “jerk” and “idiot,” it is an all-purpose device. However, for all of the latter terms’ ambiguity, most of us haven’t any difficulty spotting jerks and idiots when we encounter them. Such can not be said of “white supremacists” and “racists.”
Second, while the task of identifying “white supremacy” is indeed formidable, the challenge of determining what “white supremacy” is not is more readily surmountable. One would think that a “white supremacist” is a white person who either seeks to be as far away from non-whites as possible or to hold a position in which either he or other whites can perpetually weaken the social standing of non-whites—all non-whites.
Yet not only does Borzellieri fail to satisfy this description of “the white supremacist”; he blatantly defies it. For one, Borzellieri has chosen to spend his professional life in the company of blacks and Hispanics—his students and their parents. Moreover, he has labored incessantly, as a principal, an educator, and an elected member of the New York City school board, to guarantee that his black and Hispanic students get a first-rate education.
Borzellieri has more than a little experience interacting intimately with large non-white student populations: he taught English prior to being a principal and worked at other predominantly black and Hispanic schools before assuming responsibilities at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is absolutely no evidence, or at least none that his accusers have as yet to supply, that Borzellieri ever so much as remotely mistreated any students. Moreover, no less a figure than Father Eric Rapaglia, the man who initially hired him as principal at Mount Carmel two years ago and who now expresses regret over having done so, admits that “there was never any complaints from parents or students about him sent to the Archdiocese.”
This hardly sounds like the workings of a raving, hate-filled “white supremacist.”
But there is another consideration that puts the lie to the charge that Borzellieri is a “white supremacist.” In the very same writings in which he notes—correctly—that, measured by such indicia as rates of crime and academic performance, blacks and Hispanics are at a disadvantage with respect to whites, he also observes—again, correctly—that relative to the same standards, whites are at a disadvantage relative to Asians.
To put it simply, by the same criteria that his critics judge him a “white supremacist,” we could just as easily—and much more consistently—judge him an “Asian supremacist.”
Of course, Borzellieri has done or said nothing to suggest, much less establish, that he is any sort of “supremacist.” In addition to his own writings, his detractors cite Borzellieri’s relationship with “American Renaissance” as the basis for their claim to the contrary. In so doing, however, they only convict themselves further of gross illogic.
To argue that Borzellieri is a “white supremacist” because he associates with American Renaissance and the latter champions “white supremacy” is like arguing that theism is true because the Bible claims that it is. The problem here is that the very reasons one has for doubting the truth of theism are precisely the same reasons that one has for doubting the claims of the Bible. Similarly, we first have to show that “white supremacy” has any meaning within the context of American Renaissance before we can use Borzellieri’s association with it to show that he is a “white supremacist.” To argue otherwise is to beg the question.
According to American Renaissance’s website, since “race and racial conflict are at the heart of the most serious challenges the Western world faces in the 21st century,” it seeks to ameliorate misunderstandings by analyzing “all aspects of race, whether historical, cultural, or biological.” That whites would organize for the purposes of calling into question the conventional egalitarian vision of race relations is alone more than sufficient to condemn them in the eyes of the self-appointed guardians of our Politically Correct orthodoxy. That they would dare to note IQ differences between blacks and themselves, and that they would argue that such differences are predominantly hereditary, is enough to insure their reduction to non-persons.
One needn’t agree with American Renaissance’s findings in order to recognize, and respect, the fact that it seeks to address issues of real importance. That is, one needn’t agree with its positions in order to recognize that the fury with which its nemeses attack it is entirely undeserved, the function of a raw anti-intellectualism. And that the charge of “white supremacy” is as unwarranted when made against American Renaissance as it is when hurled against Borzellieri is obvious once we consider that while American Renaissance observes that whites as a group have a higher IQ than blacks as a group, it just as quickly notes that northern Asians have a higher IQ than whites. It is a strange sort of “white supremacist” that affirms the intellectual superiority of non-whites over whites.
Logically, the case against Borzellieri is fatally flawed from the outset. Perhaps his detractors realize this. Thus, they decided to resort to brute force and fire him instead of engaging reason.
The logic—or illogic—of Borzellieri’s situation aside, the real story here is the ungodly treatment to which he has been subjected by his fellow Christians.
As the Christmas season dawns upon us once more, Christians the world over are busying themselves preparing for the advent of Christ. Through church attendance, prayer, meditation, Scriptural and devotional readings, moments of silence, and, most importantly, acts of charity, the disciples of Jesus seek to renew their minds and hearts in joyful anticipation of the coming of their Lord.
The duty to love one’s neighbor as oneself is no less “great” than the duty to love God Himself. On this score, Jesus was unequivocal. He was equally clear, by way of His parable of “the Good Samaritan,” that one’s neighbor is any person in need.
Frank Borzellieri is in need. Yet not only has the Church within which he has spent his life and to which he has provided tireless service refused to attend to his needs; Borzellieri is in the situation that he is because of it.
The profession of an educator, especially a Catholic school educator, is not known for being particularly remunerative. Those of us who pursue a career as educators do so, then, not for the money, but because of our desire, our passion, in some instances, to supply other human beings with a priceless good: an education. We are ministers of the mind, bearers of the gift of the civilization—the ideas, the skills, and the traditions—of which our students are the proper heirs.
The Catholic Church in which Borzellieri was reared gave him this opportunity to minister to the young. Yet it just as swiftly snatched it away from him. The Archdiocese’s position that Borzellieri’s views on race are “incompatible” with Catholicism is not only nonsense; it is, to quote Jeremy Bentham, “nonsense on stilts.” As the great Catholic writer G.K Chesterton remarked, contrary to popular opinion, Catholicism not only admits of variety of thought, there is far greater intellectual diversity among Catholics than among any other group, including and especially those secularists who pride themselves on “independence of thought.” Catholics agree on a couple of theological doctrines. Beyond this, there is no consensus.
Borzellieri undermined no theological doctrines. Even the Catholic notion of “the inherent and inviolable dignity of every human being, from conception until death,” isn’t in the least bit imperiled by anything that Borzellieri had said. This belief is no more incompatible with the acknowledgment that differences in intellect and conduct vary among racial groups than it is incompatible with the acknowledgment that there are intellectual and behavioral differences amongst individuals. If, say, the assessment that blacks as a group have higher crime rates than whites as a group can be said to undermine the Catholic teaching of inherent and equal human dignity, then the assessment that Adolph Hitler was a worse human being than Mother Teresa—a normative, not a descriptive, judgment—can more easily be said to do the same.
No, Borzellieri violated the doctrines of Political Correctness, not Catholicism. It is for this transgression that the Archdiocese threw him out in the cold.
It isn’t just the Church, though, that has abandoned Borzellieri. He has connections with prominent conservatives in the media who have turned their backs on him as well. Not a single self-avowed “conservative” who once associated with Borzellieri, media personalities who are much more known, and much more professionally and financially well off, than I, has uttered a single word in his defense. More shamefully, most of these same people also consider themselves Christian.
Frank Borzellieri is the victim of a great injustice. He is also a man in need of help. If ever his fellow conservatives and his fellow Christians had reason to be ashamed, their treatment of Borzellieri is it.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.