- - Saturday, February 11, 2023

It turns out that the once respected and admired FBI — not wanting to limit itself to merely destroying the political life of the nation — has started to watch the dangerous radicals who attend the Tridentine Latin Mass on the regular.

Subverting freedom of religion would be an impressive addition to an already extensive record that includes efforts to undermine the rule of law, twist the election process and generally damage the American republic.

We know that some in the FBI and the Department of Justice tried to select the president in 2016 and 2020 and helped fabricate evidence (the Steele dossier) to do so. We know that some in law enforcement and the intelligence community have committed perjury before Congress and the FISA courts.

The FBI has used the CIA and National Security Agency to surveil U.S. citizens. The intelligence community has surveilled congressional offices. The Department of Homeland Security surveilled reporters and others. The FBI surveilled presidential campaign staff in 2016.

Multiple elements of the federal government worked diligently with social media companies to silence their opposition and vitiate the First Amendment. FBI agents have violated the bureau’s own rules almost 750 times in recent years while conducting investigations involving individuals engaged in politics, government, the news media and religious groups. Federal law enforcement has ignored crimes propagated by one side of the political spectrum (think firebombing pregnancy centers or the 2020 riots).

The FBI essentially kicked the door in at Mar-a-Lago to search for classified documents, while Team Biden was allowed to conduct its own search on its own timetable (two months!) for illegally stored classified documents.

After all that, the FBI is finally getting serious about addressing the real threat facing the United States: the collection of desperadoes, old ladies and families with crying children that go to the Latin Mass on Sundays.

The Richmond, Virginia, field office of the FBI offered up a memo about how members of the traditionalist strain of Roman Catholicism (“radical traditional Catholics” to the bureau) could be fertile recruiting grounds for “violent extremists” and the usual gang of suspects. The reason given? Well, these Latin Mass folks are apparently not wild about the outcome of the Vatican II Council and so are susceptible to all kinds of craziness.

Here’s some full disclosure: This columnist attends the Latin Mass in Richmond and can say without hesitation that no one in the Richmond field office must have ever been to one of these Masses. For the most part, the congregation is young families, most of whom struggle to even get their kids dressed and in the pews before the start of Mass. The idea that they could add “conduct violent revolution against the United States” to their list of chores is comical.

Moreover, the idea that having an intramural disagreement with co-religionists over doctrine and liturgy leads to being susceptible to recruitment by the crazies may be the least bright thing ever written by a federal bureaucrat (think about that for a moment).

It is good to be the center of attention, but it might be better for the federal law enforcement leviathan to reset its priorities. These people haven’t secured the border or prevented the 70,000 deaths from fentanyl trafficked by Mexican drug cartels. Nor have they done anything about the strong scent of lawlessness that characterizes our major cities. No one is safe: Just last week, a congresswoman was attacked in her apartment building in Washington.

Here’s a thought. Instead of trying to manage the political process, surveil innocent citizens, or hunt down daily communicants, maybe federal law enforcement should just do its job, catch a criminal or two, and try to repair its shredded credibility.

For their own sake, they should also get in the habit of going to one of the three Latin Masses held every Sunday at St. Joseph’s in Richmond.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, co-hosts “The Unregulated Podcast.” He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

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