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The Loony 'Christian' Left By: Bruce S. Thornton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 03, 2002


The mainstream media never tire of warning us against the dangerous machinations of the Christian right, typically caricatured as a wild-eyed cabal of homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic creationists itching to destroy our civil liberties and institute a theocratic rule. Yet we seldom hear about the Christian left, whose positions on public issues have little to do with Christian doctrine or values and everything to do with the stale, anti-American fundamentalism of the sort that used to festoon the pages of Pravda and these days can be found in The Nation or the loony fantasies of Noam Chomsky.
 
I have before me a perfect example, a flier put out by something called the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, a coalition of "over eighty Southern California religious, civil liberties, and civic organizations." The first few words tip us off about the mentality behind this document: "With impassioned and burning anguish we . . . reject President Bush's calls for waging war against Iraq." Such emotional hyperbole, redolent of a bad teenaged poet, clues us that self-righteousness and the conspicuous display of superior sensitivity will be driving the argument rather than coherent principle. Sure enough, the ensuing positions against the war are long on attitude and utopian idealism, and short on any awareness of the hard realities defining our world.
 
So why shouldn't we attack Iraq and remove a tyrannous thug with the blood of thousands on his hands and the means for murdering thousands more? The ICUJP starts by repeating the arguments it put forth the previous September in opposition to the war on terror, without any apparent awareness of how wrong those predictions turned out to be. So we're told that "war will kill tens of thousands of innocent people." Wrong then, of course-- the innocent Afghanis killed in the last year number at most in the low hundreds, while millions have been liberated from a psychopathic regime that had murdered tens of thousands. As for the current conflict, it is up to the Iraqis themselves how many innocent Iraqis die, up to the generals and officers and soldiers who can either carry out Hussein's orders and risk Iraqi lives, or seize the opportunity to free their families and countrymen from a despot.
 
Then we get this discredited argument: "war does not address the root cause of the terrorists' desperate [sic!] acts," which are "poverty, injustice, and wrongheaded U.S. policies in the Middle East." Even a year ago this interpretation was literally incredible, a result of a Western ethnocentric parochialism that believes only in material causes and so discounts the power of religious fervor to drive behavior. Since to the materialist religion is a form of neurosis, one must look below the surface to find the root material causes, an old reductive idea that combines the worst of Freud and Marx. But as we know, poverty has little to do with Islamist terrorism, which is in fact driven by a religious vision compelling believers to institute, with force if necessary, a divine order superior to every other.
 
Likewise with the red herring of "U.S. policies in the Middle East." Israel and the oil reserves could disappear tomorrow and the holy warriors of Allah would still be carrying on the fourteen-centuries-long fight against the Western infidels. The Arabs didn't occupy Spain for seven centuries, or the Turks twice march to the gates of Vienna, because of Western foreign policy. And who is responsible for the "injustice" found everywhere in the Middle East? Does "colonialism" or "imperialism" account for the 200 dead in Nigeria over a newspaper story, or the Iranian intellectual condemned to death for insulting Islam, or the millions of women subjected to genital mutilation, or the millions more mired in poverty and illiteracy while their elites, awash in oil wealth, shop in Beverly Hills and gamble in Monte Carlo? Or could these injustices rather reflect an unholy alliance of a dysfunctional medieval religion with a debased Western socialism?
 
The rest of the document continues in this vein, a mishmash of therapeutic utopianism and naked anti-American appeasement.  So we are told that "the way to peace lies through the transformation of structures of injustice and the politics of inclusion." Given that just about every such "transformation" in history has been achieved by force or the threat of force, one wonders how else the "structures of injustice" in Iraq that have murdered and brutalized thousands are going to be transformed. And the phrase "politics of inclusion" masks the therapeutic imperatives of identity politics, which hold that nasty Western exclusion and denigration of the dark "other" is the root of all evil. In actual fact, no society in history has been as inclusive of cultural and ethnic differences as America, the blessings of tolerance that will be enjoyed by Iraqi Shiites and Kurds once Hussein's ethnically exclusionary regime is destroyed.
 
More revealing, however, are the old bromides generated by the false neo-leftist narrative of globalization as the new imperialism designed to bring the world under America's hegemonic sway. The ICUJP warns us against the "mobilization of jingoistic nationalism to undergird economic imperialism abroad." Once more, the old cardboard villains of "jingoism" and "imperialism" are trotted out to play their roles in the leftist melodrama of oppressed neo-colonial subjects sweating their lives away to fatten the wicked capitalists. Only in the fevered imaginations of pampered Americans could such a lie be remotely believable. What the real world and recent history alike teach us is that free markets and liberal democracy are the engines of material improvement and political freedom. Or is it just a coincidence that countries like South Korea that are integrated into the global economic order are infinitely more prosperous and free than those like North Korea that are not?
 
Buried within this sort of coffee-house-radical chatter lies the true goal of this organization. One of its "strategic principles" is a "reduction program" for weapons of mass destruction, "a program including the U.S." Such a program would include "open[ing] up U.S. facilities to parallel inspections." In case you have any doubts about what this all means, a later proposal demands "U.S. disarmament." Now it all becomes clear: the greatest threat to the planet is not Islamist terrorists or a psychopath like Hussein, but the United States, which must be disarmed before the brave new world of universal peace, prosperity, and tolerance can exist. And you thought Christianity prohibited suicide.
 
If the media are worried about fundamentalist superstitions, they should focus more on such groups and their fossilized dogmas. A few schools here and there that want to teach alternatives to Darwinian evolution don't worry me as much as these mainstream religious organizations whose time and money are dedicated not to saving souls or alleviating the suffering in their own backyards, but rather are spent on crude propaganda that, in effect if not in intent, weakens our national security and gives comfort to our enemies.
 
The mainstream media never tire of warning us against the dangerous machinations of the Christian right, typically caricatured as a wild-eyed cabal of homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic creationists itching to destroy our civil liberties and institute a theocratic rule. Yet we seldom hear about the Christian left, whose positions on public issues have little to do with Christian doctrine or values and everything to do with the stale, anti-American fundamentalism of the sort that used to festoon the pages of Pravda and these days can be found in The Nation or the loony fantasies of Noam Chomsky.
 
I have before me a perfect example, a flier put out by something called the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, a coalition of "over eighty Southern California religious, civil liberties, and civic organizations." The first few words tip us off about the mentality behind this document: "With impassioned and burning anguish we . . . reject President Bush's calls for waging war against Iraq." Such emotional hyperbole, redolent of a bad teenaged poet, clues us that self-righteousness and the conspicuous display of superior sensitivity will be driving the argument rather than coherent principle. Sure enough, the ensuing positions against the war are long on attitude and utopian idealism, and short on any awareness of the hard realities defining our world.
 
So why shouldn't we attack Iraq and remove a tyrannous thug with the blood of thousands on his hands and the means for murdering thousands more? The ICUJP starts by repeating the arguments it put forth the previous September in opposition to the war on terror, without any apparent awareness of how wrong those predictions turned out to be. So we're told that "war will kill tens of thousands of innocent people." Wrong then, of course-- the innocent Afghanis killed in the last year number at most in the low hundreds, while millions have been liberated from a psychopathic regime that had murdered tens of thousands. As for the current conflict, it is up to the Iraqis themselves how many innocent Iraqis die, up to the generals and officers and soldiers who can either carry out Hussein's orders and risk Iraqi lives, or seize the opportunity to free their families and countrymen from a despot.
 
Then we get this discredited argument: "war does not address the root cause of the terrorists' desperate [sic!] acts," which are "poverty, injustice, and wrongheaded U.S. policies in the Middle East." Even a year ago this interpretation was literally incredible, a result of a Western ethnocentric parochialism that believes only in material causes and so discounts the power of religious fervor to drive behavior. Since to the materialist religion is a form of neurosis, one must look below the surface to find the root material causes, an old reductive idea that combines the worst of Freud and Marx. But as we know, poverty has little to do with Islamist terrorism, which is in fact driven by a religious vision compelling believers to institute, with force if necessary, a divine order superior to every other.
 
Likewise with the red herring of "U.S. policies in the Middle East." Israel and the oil reserves could disappear tomorrow and the holy warriors of Allah would still be carrying on the fourteen-centuries-long fight against the Western infidels. The Arabs didn't occupy Spain for seven centuries, or the Turks twice march to the gates of Vienna, because of Western foreign policy. And who is responsible for the "injustice" found everywhere in the Middle East? Does "colonialism" or "imperialism" account for the 200 dead in Nigeria over a newspaper story, or the Iranian intellectual condemned to death for insulting Islam, or the millions of women subjected to genital mutilation, or the millions more mired in poverty and illiteracy while their elites, awash in oil wealth, shop in Beverly Hills and gamble in Monte Carlo? Or could these injustices rather reflect an unholy alliance of a dysfunctional medieval religion with a debased Western socialism?
 
The rest of the document continues in this vein, a mishmash of therapeutic utopianism and naked anti-American appeasement.  So we are told that "the way to peace lies through the transformation of structures of injustice and the politics of inclusion." Given that just about every such "transformation" in history has been achieved by force or the threat of force, one wonders how else the "structures of injustice" in Iraq that have murdered and brutalized thousands are going to be transformed. And the phrase "politics of inclusion" masks the therapeutic imperatives of identity politics, which hold that nasty Western exclusion and denigration of the dark "other" is the root of all evil. In actual fact, no society in history has been as inclusive of cultural and ethnic differences as America, the blessings of tolerance that will be enjoyed by Iraqi Shiites and Kurds once Hussein's ethnically exclusionary regime is destroyed.
 
More revealing, however, are the old bromides generated by the false neo-leftist narrative of globalization as the new imperialism designed to bring the world under America's hegemonic sway. The ICUJP warns us against the "mobilization of jingoistic nationalism to undergird economic imperialism abroad." Once more, the old cardboard villains of "jingoism" and "imperialism" are trotted out to play their roles in the leftist melodrama of oppressed neo-colonial subjects sweating their lives away to fatten the wicked capitalists. Only in the fevered imaginations of pampered Americans could such a lie be remotely believable. What the real world and recent history alike teach us is that free markets and liberal democracy are the engines of material improvement and political freedom. Or is it just a coincidence that countries like South Korea that are integrated into the global economic order are infinitely more prosperous and free than those like North Korea that are not?
 
Buried within this sort of coffee-house-radical chatter lies the true goal of this organization. One of its "strategic principles" is a "reduction program" for weapons of mass destruction, "a program including the U.S." Such a program would include "open[ing] up U.S. facilities to parallel inspections." In case you have any doubts about what this all means, a later proposal demands "U.S. disarmament." Now it all becomes clear: the greatest threat to the planet is not Islamist terrorists or a psychopath like Hussein, but the United States, which must be disarmed before the brave new world of universal peace, prosperity, and tolerance can exist. And you thought Christianity prohibited suicide.
 
If the media are worried about fundamentalist superstitions, they should focus more on such groups and their fossilized dogmas. A few schools here and there that want to teach alternatives to Darwinian evolution don't worry me as much as these mainstream religious organizations whose time and money are dedicated not to saving souls or alleviating the suffering in their own backyards, but rather are spent on crude propaganda that, in effect if not in intent, weakens our national security and gives comfort to our enemies.

Bruce Thornton is the author of Greek Ways and Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide (Encounter Book}. He is 2009-2010 National Fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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