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Zoom Memorial: Gerhart Niemeyer

June 8, 2021

M E M O R A N D U M

DATE:    June 9, 2021

TO:        Niemeyer Students

FROM:   Dick Bishirjian

RE:        A Zoom Celebration of Gerhart Niemeyer 

This is a follow-up to an idea I’ve been kicking around for three years that a “Confab” with former students of Gerhart Niemeyer makes sense. Below I’m submitting the outline of a seminar along with a request that Niemeyer’s former students consider making presentations via Zoom.

I conducted two Zoom discussions, the most recent with two Notre Dame colleagues–Angelo Codevilla and Chris Manion–and I propose that we conduct a celebration of Gerhart via Zoom. 

Published essays on Niemeyer’s influence:

Gregory Wolfe, Discerning the Spirits. Gerhart Niemeyer as Culture Critic, Theimaginativeconservative, March 4, 2020.

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Wisdom of Humility: Gerhart Niemeyer’s Recovery of Political Theory” Political Science Reviewer, Fall, 2002, Vol. 31, No. 1.

Dr. Angelo Codevilla, “Thank You, Gerhart Niemeyer,” University Bookman, 5.5.2013

Dr. Robert Smith, “‘Love Divine’: Remembering Gerhart Niemeyer,” University  Bookman, 2.23.2014

Dr. John Willson, “Gerhart Niemeyer, Refugee,” The Imaginative Conservative, 1.30.2014

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Presence of a Teacher,” University Bookman, Spring 2008

Dr. John Gueguen, “A Student’s Teacher: Gerhart Niemeyer,” Political Science Reviewer, Fall,  1998 – Vol. 27, No. 1

Conservatism and Spiritual and Social Recovery, Richard Bishirjian, Voegelinview, October 25, 2018.

Program Concept: A Memorial Seminar

At a time of crisis in American higher education, former students of Gerhart Niemeyer are planning a seminar to memorialize his personal influence, his work and to give some attendees a space to address issues that represent Niemeyer’s influence.

In the mid-50s, Notre Dame was “home” to émigré scholars from East and Western Europe who were expelled from their countries during WW II. 

What was Europe’s loss was America’s and the University of Notre Dame’s gain and American scholarship was enriched by their presence. Waldemar Gurian, Eric Voegelin István Kertész, Gerhart Niemeyer and others on the Faculty from 1950-1970 “made” Notre Dame’s Government Department.

That time, also, was the beginning of the American conservative movement and Gerhart Niemeyer joined Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk and others in writing fortnightly columns in National Review. Even back then, that close an association with “conservatism” was frowned upon in Academe. Their students from that era, however, enriched scholarship, American politics and Catholic higher education.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, the Soviet Union threatened the United States with a “Cold War” and the American nation sought understanding of Communist Ideology.  Dr. Niemeyer met that need with a rigorous two semester course on Communist Ideology and important essays and publications about Soviet Communism.

A Civil Rights movement began to challenge inequalities imposed on African-Americans by slavery and post-Civil War Reconstruction and required steady and reasonable responses by activists, advocates of “States Rights” and the U.S. government. Stanley Parry and Gerhart Niemeyer developed a strategy for the Eisenhower Administration to address the demands for full civil rights of African Americans.

The recovery of ancient Greek philosophy had begun in the work of Bruno Snell, Werner Jaeger, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss, and Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in the recovery of that philosophy from modern ideology.

Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in all these developments in mid-Twentieth Century America and attracted generations of students who wanted to understand the crisis of their times and participate in recovery of political and personal order.

Proposed Schedule

    9:00    Prayer

    9:15     Niemeyer’s Analysis of Modern Ideology (Dr. Bill Miller)  

    10:15   Voegelin: Recovery of Classical Philosophy (Klaus Vondung)

    11:30    Toward Recovery of  American Culture (Dr. Richard Bishirjian)

    12:45 —  “My Colleague, Gerhart Niemeyer”

                Professor Walter Nicgorski

    1:45    Niemeyer, Notre Dame and the Catholic Church (Dr. Christopher Manion)  

    2:45     Niemeyer and Parry: the Civil Rights Movement (Howard Segermark)

    3:45    National Review and Modern Age (TBA)

    4:15    Niemeyer at Hillsdale College (Dr. John Willson)

    4:45    Gerhart Niemeyer: An Epitaph (Gregory Wolfe)

    4:45    Benediction       

Please text your reply to 757 639 0470 or send a message via e-Mail to academydl@gmail.com

Very truly yours,

Richard J. Bishirjian

Service to Christ and the Constitution

June 4, 2021

Religious conversions are common in Protestant dominated America. Billy Graham was motivated to convert people from sinful ways through belief in Jesus Christ. It is remarkable, however, when Roman Catholics become “Evangelical” Protestants.

The long history of the Catholic Church is rooted in national culture. Ireland and Italy are “Catholic” and shape Americans of Italian and Irish descent. For them, leaving the Church for “Protestantism” can be a wrenching experience.  It seems that when an undergraduate at Hanover College in Indiana, Mike Pence, former Vice President of the United States, left the Catholic Church and encountered consternation and anger from members of his Irish Catholic family.

“Religion” with a capital “R” is different from “faith.” Religions are “believed” while “faith” is experienced. All this is prefatory to examining why and how Mike Pence served President Donald Trump as his Vice President.

Selection of Pence as Veep is reported to have been on the strong recommendation of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. When Trump learned what Pence’s beliefs were, Trump at the last minute tried to reverse that decision.

During his four years of service as Vice President, Pence went beyond the requirements of loyal service and debased himself to the President he served.

In his six-page, 3,494 word, acceptance speech on August 26, 2020, Vice President Pence cited Donald Trump thirty-three times. At the conclusion of this speech given at historic Fort McHenry, to the notes of “Hail to the Chief,” President Trump appeared in person to greet his Vice President.

The entire performance saddened me, both for Mike Pence, a better man than his role of “First Sycophant” requires, and for the lime-light striving Chief Executive who demands that his appointees debase themselves with fulsome praise of their “Boss.”

Why would this former Governor of Indiana debase himself in that manner? I concluded that Pence’s spiritual conversion was based on actual, real experience of Christ’s presence in his soul, in life and human history. Pence believes that the election of Donald Trump was God’s Will.

Yet when directed by the divinely ordained President to betray his oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, Mike Pence chose to honor his oath.

After all that Mike Pence did to honor President Trump, the divinely ordained President unleashed a mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

Instead of attacking former President Trump, on June 3, 2021, Pence “said the two may never ‘see eye to eye’ about the Jan. 6 insurrection.” Only a Christian of deep faith would speak so meekly of an attempt to assassinate him.

Biden Puts PR First

June 3, 2021

If you read the transcript of the press conference in Helsinki on July 16, 2018 between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump you will see one responsible national leader and another who was outclassed.

President Trump’s statements indicate that he came unprepared to the Helsinki Summit and no preparatory meetings of any depth were conducted by sub-Cabinet executives at State, Defense, CIA, DNA or the U,S. Treasury.

That endangered American national interests vis a vis Putin’s Russia.

Another meeting with an American President and Vladimir Putin will be held in Geneva on June 16, 2021.  

Biden hasn’t had time to develop a team that meets with their Russian counterparts before the June 16 “Summit,” so this promises to be more PR than a serious discussion.

Video: Civil Unrest and the “Deep” State

June 1, 2021

On Mondaty, April 24, three professional political theorists, gathered via Zoom. Their discussion has been posted at YouTube.

Please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r52ngCdVL2o

Present were Dr. Angelo Codevilla, Dr. Christopher Manion and Dr. Richard Bishirjian.

They addressed questions about how America has changed, by what means, and what can be done to avoid the worst consequences in domestic and foreign relations.