The Descent of Michael Matt

Has Michael Matt, self-selected exemplar of authentic Catholicism, become a casualty of self-regard? He presents himself as a Braveheart gathering the clans—that chosen Catholic remnant—for progress toward a resurgent Christendom. But the illusion draws on a mottled identity that does little justice to historic reality or contemporary history. And none to the house of Israel from which Jesus came.

Matt has been an effective critic of the disordered Bergoglian pontificate. It is all the more unsettling, then, to see him veer into a quasi-apology for Hamas. Matt’s November 12 podcast on Remnant TV, Cancelling Christ: From the Vatican to the Holy Land, maims his credibility as a truthful observer of events.

The segment begins with a justifiably skeptical look at the concluded synod and its circus of earnest pronunciamentos, each one as shallow as the next. The incoherence and inane double talk (“doing synod”; ”being synodal)” of the Vatican’s parliament of jacks-in-office (Jills too) deserves mockery. Matt, a practiced performer, is an entertaining scoffer.

At roughly the 35:00 mark on Cancelling Christ, Matt aims his sights on Israel. Suddenly the shtick darkens. Something fetid oozes up from below. Derision curdles into demagoguery in an eerie echo of Father Coughlin from the 1930s. A Catholic priest and zealous antisemite, Charles Coughlin reached a wide audience through independently financed radio broadcasts and mass rallies. Matt replicates Coughlin’s template. In addition to publishing The Remnant, his own newspaper and video network, Matt emcees the Catholic Identity Conferences and is U.S. coordinator of an annual pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres.

Matt prefaces what he is about to say with a disclaimer that he is not—not—an antisemite. He simply has the guts to censure Israel even in the wake of October 7. He is careful not to use the term Zionist entity but the animus of the Arab Muslim pejorative infuses his commentary. He turns history and politics upside down by advancing the delusion that the Gazans—“these little Hamas guys”—were goaded into butchery and mass abduction.


Palestinian students in Tehran
Palestinian students with Ali Khamenei in Tehran (January, 2023).

No disclaimer can muffle the echo of Coughlin’s antisemitic braying. In place of Jewish bankers—“modern Shylocks grown fat and wealthy”—Matt gives us what pro-Palestinian agitators call the Zionist war machine:

You have to ask the question: what led up to the bloodbath? Why did Hamas go against the Israeli nuclear arsenal with its massive military machine and the most powerful surveillance state in the world?

Why did these little Hamas guys do this? . . . It’s because they were desperate.

“I’m not defending Hamas. But I get why they’re triggered.” He gets it! By offering a rationale, Matt does indeed defend Hamas. Gazans were in despair, you see. Zionist oppression triggered that pogrom of slaughter, rape, mutilation, beheadings, and burnings alive. How else could they counter Israel’s “land grab”?


map of arab world
Map of the Muslim world. Israel is the tiny red speck between Egypt and Jordan.


With breathtaking obtuseness Matt bellows: “Hamas is under the ground.” They’re “safely” beneath the surface of aerial reprisal. “It’s the regular people” who are under attack. “But who cares? . . . We can afford to be patriotic with our war-mongering right.”

These little Hamas guys.

Matt takes October 7 as an opportunity to shed his image as a right-winger. He has ascended now to the sanctimony of a non-partisan Public Intellectual. No matter that the great majority of “regular people” voted to be governed by Hamas and raise their children to hate Jews and kill Jews. [A new poll conducted in Gaza and the West Bank by Arab World for Research and Development, shows that the vast majority of Palestinians support the October 7 pogrom. 75% of all Palestinians supported the massacre; only 12.7% opposed it.]

Hamas soldier-in-training.
Hamas soldier-in-training.

That’s 74% in favor of murdering, raping and kidnapping Jews and only 12% against. And some of that 12% is only mildly against it. [See Daniel Greenfield’s useful discussion of the AWRD poll: “The Myth of Gaza’s Innocent Civilians.” ]

Never mind that Hamas uses its own population as human shields or that it transports arms, materiel, and terrorists in a three-hundred mile nexus of tunnels under a strip of land some five miles wide and twenty five miles long. Tunnels snake beneath hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and mosques precisely to exploit Israeli reluctance to strike civilian targets. The inhumane cunning of this underground arsenal and military installation seems not to weigh on Matt’s good Catholic conscience. In his mind, the malice is understandable. It is the underdog’s last resort.

Rabid with misapplied irony, Matt rants: “Let ‘em die! Besides’ most of them are Muslims. . . . . Where did Jesus say ‘turn the other cheek—unless we are talking about Muslims? In that case, bomb the hell out them! , , , Carpet bomb Gaza! That’s what Jesus would do for sure.”

The vulgarity is off its hinges.

Matt’s signature aphorism is “God will not be mocked.” Yet mockery is inevitable when historical understanding of Gospel passages is distorted into tools of ideology.

Living under the heal of Roman occupation, Jews lived in servitude to their overlords. A slap on the face was a customary humiliation served to slaves. For a Jew to stand on his dignity and return the slap from a Roman could cost him his life on the spot. Jesus’ injunction to turn the other cheek was a prudent restraint on fellow Jews’ reflexive reaction to insult by sword-carrying Romans. It was not a universal command against self-defense. Yet Matt turns Jesus’ words against Israel as it fights for its own security

“Nuke ‘em all. Gas ‘em all!” Reference to gas chambers asserts an indecent analogy between Israel and Nazi Germany.

These little Hamas guys.

Matt enlists two dodgy talking heads cherry-picked from YouTube to support his stance. First up is the disgraced Scott Ritter, a weapons inspector in the 1990’s, and now a regular contributor to Russian state media: RT and Sputnik (formerly Voice of Russia). Keen to revive his expired relevance, Ritter recites the same canards memorized by undergraduates in any ivy league Palestinian Solidarity Committee. Ignoring the fact that tiny Israel was attacked by five Arab armies within days of its birth, Ritter intones:

Gaza became an open-air prison almost immediately after Israeli became a nation. . . . Israel had a policy of depopulating Palestinians. . . “Either killing them or driving them out.”

Arabs are the largest ethnic minority in Israel. And a fifth of Israeli citizens identify as Palestinians.  Nonetheless, Ritter accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” He touts the discredited two-state solution—which the Arab world violently rejected in 1948—as the only way to defuse Hamas’ reason to exist. Ritter appears not to have heard of Muslim Jew-hatred.

On November 13th, the day after Matt’s video aired, Ritter posted The October 7 Hamas Assault on Israel on his Substack page. His essay celebrates the attack not as terrorism but as “The Most Successful Military Raid of the Century.”


Bloodied Israeli woman abducted by Hamas. 10/7/23
Bloodied Israeli woman abducted by Hamas. 10/7/23


Matt’s second accessory culled from YouTube is Gabor Maté, an ambitious Hungarian-born Canadian physician who claims the identity of a Holocaust survivor. (He was a baby when his mother escaped the Nazis.) He has parlayed that identity into a career as an expert in addiction and childhood trauma.

Maté is showcased on the flawed premise that his family history is a moral credential that confers validity on his opinions about Middle East politics. Maté talks about the Palestinian children killed but ignores Israeli ones. Predictably, he calls for a ceasefire—the very thing desired by Hamas for strategic, not pacific, purposes.

What Israel is doing is not justifiable. It is not a response to what has happened. It is what Israel has always done when there was much less provocation. . . . It’s a war crime. It is genocide.

Double think reaches a crescendo in Matt’s cry that it is “time to stand up for Christians!” Matt runs pretty footage of Catholics at Mass but neglects to report that all Christian denominations taken together make up less than 1% of Gazans. In effect, Matt uses a nearly vanished population as an excuse to ease up on “these little Hamas guys.”

He derides Christian Zionists as apostates willing to “exterminate people in the name of Christ.”

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Matt is a seasoned communicator. He knows his audience. That, perhaps, is the most unnerving part of this despicable performance. It raises an unwelcome question: How many in The Remnant’s audience carry—however unwittingly—an historic strain of Christian hostility to Jews that predates Islam?

I hate to ask. And dread to know.