Joseph Sobran

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Joe Sobran
File:Joseph Sobran.jpg
Personal details
Born Michael Joseph Sobran Jr.
(1946-02-23)February 23, 1946
Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Fairfax, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Constitution
Alma mater Eastern Michigan University

Michael Joseph Sobran, Jr., known as Joe Sobran (February 23, 1946 – September 30, 2010), was an American journalist, formerly with National Review magazine and a syndicated columnist. Pat Buchanan called Sobran "perhaps the finest columnist of our generation".[1]

Life and career

Sobran was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan. 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 anti-semitism. 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.[citation needed]

From 1988 to 2007, Sobran wrote a column for the Roman Catholic newsweekly The Wanderer entitled Washington Watch. He had a monthly column that appears in Catholic Family News. He 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 Ludwig von Mises Institute.[2][3]

Departure from National Review

In 1993, Sobran was fired from National Review for a series of columns that the then-publisher William F. Buckley, Jr., considered "contextually anti-Semitic";[4] Norman Podhoretz wrote that "Joe Sobran's columns ... [are] anti-Semitic in themselves, and not merely 'contextually.'" Buckley disagreed with Podhoretz's accusation but instead "deemed 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."[5] One such comment was that The New York Times "really ought to change its name to Holocaust Update."[6] Sobran claimed that Buckley told him to "stop antagonizing the Zionist crowd," and Buckley accused him of libel and moral incapacitation.[7] Sobran also complained of "a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway socialist ethnocracy," meaning Israel.[8] In his syndicated column for The Wanderer in August 1993, Sobran had defended Pat Buchanan against charges of anti-Semitism and concluded that comparisons of anti-Zionism to anti-semitism is a non sequitur.[9]

Sobran was named the Constitution Party's vice presidential nominee in 2000, but withdrew in April 2000 because of scheduling conflicts with his journalistic commitments.[10]

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. In 2002, he spoke at the Institute for Historical Review's annual conference.[11] In his speech, which he also reprinted in his newsletter, Sobran addressed the subject of Holocaust denial:

I am not, heaven forbid, a “Holocaust denier.” I lack the scholarly competence to be one. ... Why on earth is it 'anti-Jewish' to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination? Surely these are controversial conclusions; but if so, let the controversy rage.[12]

Referring to his appearance at IHR 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."[13] Writing in National Review, Matthew Scully said, "His appearance before that sorry outfit a few years ago ... remains impossible to explain, at least if you’re trying to absolve him."[14]

Sobran also wrote:

What, exactly, is “anti-Semitism?" One standard dictionary definition is “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group.” How this applies to me has never been explained.[15]

Ann Coulter, who called Sobran the world's greatest writer ("the G. K. Chesterton of our time"),[16] quoted Sobran's critique of Buckley's book In Search of Anti-Semitism:

Its real message is not that we should like or respect Jews; only that we should try not to hate them. But this implies that anti-Semitism is the natural reaction to them: If it’s a universal sin, after all, it must be a universal temptation. … When he defends Jews, I sometimes feel like saying: ‘Bill! Bill! It's all right! They’re not that bad!’[17]

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.[18]

Political philosophy

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 U.S. 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.[19] He referred to himself as a "theo-anarchist."[20] In the 2008 presidential election, Sobran endorsed Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin.[21]

Sobran said Catholic teachings are consistent with his opposition to abortion and the Iraq War. He also argued that the 9/11 attacks were a result of the U.S. government's policies regarding the Middle East. He claimed those policies are formed by the "Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States."[22]

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.[23]

Shakespeare authorship theory

In his book entitled Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time (1997), Sobran espoused the Oxfordian theory that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of the plays generally attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon.

Books and other publications

Sobran was the author of many books. At the time of his death, he was working on two books: one concerning Abraham Lincoln's presidency and the United States Constitution and another about de Vere's poetry.

He is also the author of:

  • 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:

At the 1994 Costs of Wars conference at the Mises Institute, Sobran presented a speech on "Shakespeare on War and Empire" and the first American Renaissance conference, he gave a talk on "Race, The State, and the Constitution".[24]

Personal life

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.[18][25]


  1. W. James Antle, III (October 4, 2010). "Remembering Joe Sobran". Enter Stage Right. Retrieved 2011-06-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Free Market | Mises Institute". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Joseph Sobran, 1946-2010 | Mises Wire". 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. McDonald, Michael (June 2011). "Wills Watching". The New Criterion. Retrieved 2011-06-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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, 30 December 1991.
  6. Jim Naureckas, "The Philadelphia Inquirer's New Spectrum: From Centrism to Anti-Semitism," FAIR, November/December 1995.
  7. Ralph Z. Hallow, "War of words raging at National Review," The Washington Times, October 7, 1993.
  8. "In Pursuit of Anti-Semitism," National Review, 16 March 1992.
  9. "David Irving's Action Report On-line". 1993-08-12. Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-08. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "'For Fear of the Jews'". 2002-06-22. Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Sobran's - "For Fear of the Jews"". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Deborah Lipstadt, "'Skeptical' on the Holocaust?," The New York Times, October 5, 2010.
  14. Matthew Scully, "Bard of the Right", National Review Online, October 16, 2010.
  15. "Sobran's - "For Fear of the Jews"". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Not your average joe". 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. [1]
  18. 18.0 18.1 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
  19. "Sobran's - The Reluctant Anarchist". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2007-01-15. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-11-04. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Ronald N. Neff. "Sobran's - The Real News of the Month - April 2002 (electronic version)". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "The Church and Jewish Ideology". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "First American Renaissance Conference (1994) | American Renaissance". Retrieved 2016-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "William Grimes, "Joseph Sobran, Writer Whom Buckley Mentored, Dies at 64," October 1, 2010". October 1, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Herb Titus
Constitution nominee for Vice President of the United States

Succeeded by
Curtis Frazier