Please don’t feel that way, at least not on my account (I’m Jewish). And thank you for writing this article and bringing this to people’s attention. I haven’t read Chesterton except for a handful of Father Brown stories.

The antisemitism evidence against him is complicated to parse, in my opinion. He’s not a rabid hater of Jews, but his prejudice – or «after-judice», as he seems to want to explain it – is typical of comments I’ve heard in my lifetime from people who I wouldn’t necessarily consider Jew-haters, but that were ignorant or biased or both. (For example: «You see? This is why people don’t like Jews.» Context: the person saying this had a bad experience that occurred more than once with people who happened to be Jewish.)

Antisemitism comes in many forms and degrees, and GK seems to have moved around the spectrum at different points in his life. Which is not to say I’m dismissing the thrust of your main argument. I’m just trying to adopt a nuanced stance.

Chesterton died before Vatican II, which helped change the views that many Catholics had about Jews. Although deicide was never an official doctrine of Catholicism, Jews had been called “Christ killers” for nearly 2,000 years, a claim used to attack and destroy entire communities. Maybe that centuries-long unofficial teaching colored Chesterton’s views.

As you mentioned, GK died before WWII, so we don’t know how he would have reacted in its aftermath. Compare him to Ezra Pound, for example, and Chesterton comes off very tame in his antisemitism.

Again, thank you for writing this, and no apologies needed.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ― Albert Einstein ▹ My logophile column:

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