2009 is certainly coming in with a bang; read, the Israel-Gaza war. Need clarity amongst the confusion? You simply need some Krauthammer. (Happy New Year, by the way.)
Here’s Krauthammer in The Necessity of Israel (my emphases):
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons. — Associated Press, Dec. 27
WASHINGTON — Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis — 6,464 launched from Gaza in the last three years — deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage — or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb — will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.
For Hamas the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children’s program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey’s path to martyrdom).
At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible — also on both sides. It’s a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.
That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza — peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.
What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza’s Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base — importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.
The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There’s only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel’s very existence.
Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world’s opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire — exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d’etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.
Meanwhile, pro-Hamas sympathizers in the media and in the US and other parts of the world persist in their altered version of reality in condoning Hamas’ unhinged and terrorizing brutality. Nevermind the story of a Palestinian girl whose family was killed in a bombing raid who said amidst her brokenness, “Hamas is the cause of all wars.” A Palestinian girl whose entire family was killed understands the brutal way in which Hamas terrorizes and kills their own people.
It always used to confound me when something that is so clear-cut would consistently be taken and completely reversed by the far-left and the media in their pocket. I have, over time, become accustomed to the practice, realizing that reasoned, logical thinking is not a practice that ideologically fundamental people (on the far left or the far right) generally display. At heart, this can be explained by a complete disregard for human life and a twisted moral view of the world, in that they believe there really isn’t one; nothing is right or wrong, because such things do not exist. This is also known as moral relativism. It’s a very dangerous personal philosophy that is even more dangerous because its adherents think they’re being compassionate or open-minded in ascribing to it. Other favorite key-words are “nonjudgmental” and “caring”. If something is only “right” because its rightness is solely dependent upon its rightness to each individual, then anything can be right. And nothing can be wrong. And nothing can ever truly be right. One could justify anything according to that, and they have (Hitler) and do (abortion supporters.)
Moral relativism is what allows a person to make ridiculous, morally unequivalent comparisons between the Iraq war and abortion. Or argue that the endangerment or extinction of some animal is just as important as the routine, consistent, brutal, and unceasing destruction of thousands of human babies—with souls—each and every day in the US and across the world. Or compare Bush, a liberator of millions from brutal regimes around the world, with Mao or Hitler because of Guantanimo Bay.
Here is what Mary Beth Bonacci has to say about such things:
Some atrocities are worse than others.
The Gulag was worse than Gitmo. And abortion is worse than just about anything in America today.
Guantanamo Bay is the new Gulag.
So says the Secretary General of Amnesty International, a woman named Irene Khan, comparing the Soviet Union’s labor and extermination camps to the U.S. prison for Al-Quada detainees. Never mind, of course, that residents of the Gulag were placed there for “crimes” such as growing too much grain or refusing to sleep with Soviet officials, while Guantanamo (or “Gitmo”) is populated with militants waging war against America.
Never mind that millions were starved to death in the Gulag, while the United States not only feeds the inhabitants of Gitmo but also provides them with food that meets the strict requirements of their religion. Never mind that, while millions died in the Gulag for the simple “crime” of professing their faith, the U.S. provides the detainees at Gitmo their own copies of the Koran, the same “sacred” document that many of them used to justify their violence against the U.S.
And, of course, never mind that literally every story I’ve seen about the alleged “abuses” at Gitmo, when probed, turns out not to be abuse at all. (For instance, the “desecration” of the Koran, which turned out to be a case of a prison guard inadvertently relieving himself too close to an air duct. The prisoner whose Koran was “desecrated” immediately received a new uniform and a new copy of the Koran. Try that in the Gulag.)
William Schultz of Amnesty International USA, in backing off the story, said that the comparison wasn’t intended to be “literal” but that certain similarities existed.
Yeah, like the fact that both the Gulag and Gitmo were located on planet Earth.
This is not generally a political column, and I’m not writing one today. But Schultz’s comment goes to the heart of what I see as a larger problem in the world — and in the Church. People make comparisons that make no sense, and then they build entire belief systems around those comparisons.
Let’s take, for instance, the abortion issue. I wrote a series of columns about that subject last fall, and received an avalanche of mail — much of it angry. The thing is, not one person attempted to defend abortion. Instead, they adopted what I call the “Yeah, but . . .” position. “Sure abortion is bad. But what about . . .” You can insert any issue into the sentence. The unemployed, the uninsured, the homeless — anything to steer the topic away from abortion.
So what about them? And what do they have to do with abortion?
I’m not in favor of homelessness, or joblessness, or any other “-lessness.” Nor do I, contrary to what Howard Dean may say, want children to go to bed hungry at night. I work to rectify the injustices I see in the world, to the extent that I am able.
But when it comes to injustice, nothing going on in this country comes close to the abomination which is abortion.
Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt summarized the problem in a nutshell when he said, “scale matters.” There is a difference between Gulag and Gitmo. There is a difference between losing your job and losing your life. There is even a difference between one person unjustly losing his life and 45 million people unjustly losing their lives. Both may be bad, but one is a whole lot worse than the other.
45 million innocent unborn Americans have lost their lives since 1973.
And those lives have been lost in particularly brutal ways. They were torn limb from limb. They were burned. Their skulls were pierced with scissors and their brains were sucked out. And it all took place in the clean, sterile environment of our medical centers. It was legally sanctioned, and happened for no other reason than that those lives were inconvenient to us.
Who could dare to compare that to a round of layoffs?
As I said, many of the “yeah, but . . .” people I hear from are angry. I suspect that not a few of them are angry because they have personally been involved with an abortion somehow. They don’t acknowledge the horror of abortion because they can’t bear to acknowledge the horror of abortion. So they change the subject — to anything and everything else they can find.
That’s understandable. Not constructive, but understandable. Each of those 45 million abortions represents a mother who was violated — whose child died violently inside her own body. It represents a father, grandparents — an entire extended family who will never see that child in this life.
We have a whole lot of walking wounded here. And many of them are using their anger as a shield to protect themselves from facing the unfaceable.
But we do ourselves no favor when we refuse to face reality. We deny God the opportunity to forgive and restore us. And we deny our nation the opportunity to face and address our deepest problems.
It’s quite simple: anyone who says that Gitmo is the Gulag of our times doesn’t understand the Gulag. And anyone who says, “Sure, abortion is bad, but . . .” doesn’t really understand abortion.
Because some things are worse than others.
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