Your average Chesterton fan

As the Divine Mrs. M.Z. Hemingway has been demonstrating, the mainstream press has shown quite a bit of interest in the religious roots of the anti-ACORN video reporter Hannah Giles and, in particular, the social and political views of her minister father and, to a lesser degree by inference, their home Clash Church.

Strangely enough, less ink has been poured out on the background of the video mastermind himself, James E. O'Keefe III. He has, by the way, grown from being a "filmmaker" in to video provocateur (no quotation marks). At least, that is what he's called in a interesting New York Times piece with the headline, "A Political Gadfly Lampoons the Left via YouTube."

Readers find out all kinds of information about how O'Keefe broke into the world of conservative newsmaking, in part through his college escapes mocking political correctness. The "Lucky Charms" video anecdotal lede is a classic. And you may recall his gotcha job on Planned Parenthood?

When he called a Planned Parenthood office in Columbus, Ohio, and said he wanted to finance abortions for minorities, saying "there's way too many black people in Ohio," the administrative assistant on the phone laughed and agreed to his terms. When he called an Idaho branch, a helpful development official told him he "absolutely" could restrict his donation to abortions of African-American babies, raising no objection even after he explained that his goal was to shield his son from future competition for college admission under affirmative action.

But what you want to know, of course, is the answer to a simple question: Where did this guy come from? Why is he doing this? The story does contain some interesting information, such as:

Three years ago, Mr. O'Keefe said, he read "Rules for Radicals" by the left-wing icon Saul Alinsky, the Bible for many community organizers, including those at Acorn, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. He absorbed in particular Rule 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." ...

Gregory Walker Levitsky, a friend at Rutgers, said "what disturbed James as a student was the double standard applied to conservative groups and conservative causes."

Critics get their say, of course, as they should. We also find out that he majored in philosophy -- interesting course of action at Rutgers University -- and did some training at the conservative Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., and, thus, started a conservative campus newspaper.

And his religious views? They do not appear to interest the Times, even though there is this one fascinating hint:

Mr. O'Keefe said he considers the British writer G. K. Chesterton his "intellectual backbone" and called himself a "progressive radical," not a conservative, because he wants to change things, "not conserve them." But his pro-market, anti-government views, as he described them, sounded like mainstream conservatism.

Once again, what about his religious and moral views? And that writer? This is, of course, THIS guy -- G.K. Chesterton. He is, by all means, a "British writer." Then again, he is also one of the most important Christian intellectuals, apologists and journalists of the last century or two. Reading G.K. Chesterton was one of the things that helped lead that C.S. Lewis guy -- another British writer -- to faith.

Now, does Chesterton fit into your image of this YouTube activist with a degree in philosophy? Just asking. Do you think the Times would have made a bigger deal out of this religious hook if O'Keefe had said he was inspired by, oh, the "Left Behind" duo?

My guess is "yes."

Please respect our Commenting Policy