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Ramsey Clark's Divine Moral Equivalence By: Chris Weinkopf
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, January 16, 2003


It may soon be necessary to write a column chronicling the many appeals to moral equivalence from the American left in its war against the War on Terror. Almost daily, some “peace activist” attempts to compare the alleged excesses of John Ashcroft to those of al Qaeda, or Saddam Hussein’s leadership to that of George W. Bush, as though, in the grand scheme of things, there really are no good guys or bad guys in the War on Terror.

The examples abound, but the latest—courtesy of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark—stands out in its asininity.

At a press event for an anti-war rally in Washington last weekend, Clark took moral equivalence to the level of the divine. In apparent reference to Jerry Falwell’s notorious description of the prophet Mohammed as a “terrorist” and a “man of war,” Clark noted that those “who choose to call Mohammed a terrorist … could call Jesus a terrorist too. I mean, he was pretty tough on money lenders a time or two.”

You see, Mohammed was a brutal conqueror, and Jesus chased money changers out of the temple. Ergo, there’s nary a hint of difference between the two, and—depending on one’s point of view—both bear some likeness to the hijacker who crashes a jetliner into a skyscraper.

Clark’s point, of course, was not to label Christ a terrorist, but merely to play one of the left’s inane language games. Leftists tend to frown on moral judgments or labels of any kind (except when applied to the United States), on the grounds that there are no universal truths on which to base them. Depending on how you define the word, Clark was saying, anyone could be labeled a terrorist, even Christ Himself.

Yet more remarkable than Clark’s ham-handed foray into comparative religion has been the remarkable response (or lack thereof) following it.

Although Clark offered his comments before more than 20 international reporters and camera crews, CNSNews.com was the lone news agency to report them—itself a telling development, given the media feeding frenzy that followed Falwell’s controversial remarks. And unlike Falwell’s anti-Mohammed smack-talk, Clark’s artless take on Christ failed to elicit international demands for an apology, let alone a thinly veiled White House rebuke.

Nor did Clark’s slur of Jesus result in murderous mobs of angry Christians taking to the streets of American cities. In that respect, it—like the innumerable slurs on Christ and Christianity that are commonplace in the mainstream American entertainment media—stands in stark contrast to the “Miss Universe” riots in Nigeria, where angry Muslims killed more than 100 innocents to protest one editorialist’s suggestion that Mohammed might have used the pageant to bolster his stockpile of wives.

Finally, as of this writing, no Christian clerics anywhere have called for a death sentence for Ramsey Clark or put a price on his head. The former Johnson Administration official can continue with his protests and his outlandish statements without fearing for his life like Salman Rushdie.

That fact singularly demolishes the sort of moral equivalence that Clark and his fellow travelers regularly try to peddle. In Islamist societies, a blasphemer like Clark would be left for dead beneath a pile of stones. Here, he was able to rise to the level of the president’s cabinet, and now maintains some degree of credibility in left-wing circles as a “peace” activist. When it comes to the very virtue that leftists most celebrate—tolerance—there’s no moral equivalence whatsoever between the west and the Islamist world.

Clark’s comments were on behalf of a group calling itself International ANSWER—Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism—which seemingly objects not only to an invasion of Iraq, but also the weapons inspections that most “peace activists” say should continue in lieu of an invasion. According to CNSNews, the group plans to stage a rally in Washington this Saturday, at which it will demand access to the White House and the Washington Naval Yard to search for weapons of mass destruction. It’s encouraging its members to show up at the rally “dressed up like United Nations weapons inspectors.”

Get it? The U.S. government is no better than Iraq’s, because, after all, we, too, have weapons of mass destruction. Sure, Saddam uses his WMDs to gas his own people and may well pass them onto terrorists, while we have merely used ours to keep the peace for the last six decades, but to the champions of moral equivalence, such details don’t much matter. Both countries have WMDs, so both are equally culpable. How dare the world violate Saddam’s sovereignty and dignity by searching through his opulent palaces?

To the morally blind promoters of moral equivalence, there’s no real difference between a weapons inspection and a full cavity search, a democracy and a tyranny—or Jesus Christ and a terrorist.


Chris Weinkopf is an editorial writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. To read his weekly Daily News column, click here. E-mail him at chris.weinkopf@dailynews.com.


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