Several months ago, I listened to a lecture by former Washington Post columnist, Colman McCarthy. He is the founder of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., and a professor of peace at Georgetown University as well. As more and more people protest or question President Bush’s Iraqi policy, McCarthy’s lecture has become more significant to them.
Mr. McCarthy began his lecture with the usual platitudes about how Americans do not talk about peace. He then did what any professor of peace would do; he disparaged President Bush and the Republican Party. McCarthy’s diatribe included the stolen 2000 election, Enron and the Republicans, and the military action in Afghanistan, which he believed to be courtesy of President Bush. Of course, McCarthy never mentioned the Taliban providing sanctuary for Al-Qaeda terrorists.
With all the vitriol he spouted for those who are not in concert with his ideology, McCarthy did not sound like a philanthropic person. He sure did not give me the impression of someone who loved thy fellow human being.
McCarthy continued his talk by reciting a list of American military actions this century. Once again, he neglected to mention why America was involved in any of these military actions. McCarthy simply implied there were nefarious reasons for doing so. McCarthy informed us about the amount of military ordnance used during those military “interventions” as he called them. He said that this was all part of a conspiracy by the military-industrial complex. McCarthy neglected to mention America’s reluctance to be involved in both World War I and II. Where were the military industrial conspirators then?
As part of his lecture, McCarthy posed a question to the audience. He named ten people: U. S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, William Westmoreland, Jane Addams, Jeannette Rankin, A. J. Muste, Adin Ballou, and Dorothy Day. He asked if anyone could identify each of those names and would pay one hundred dollars to anyone who knew all ten. The first five every one could identify. However, I was the only one who recognized a name in the second group of five. The name I recognized was Jeannette Rankin. She was the only person to vote no to declaring war after Pearl Harbor. The others were people who had protested American military involvements at various ties in history.
McCarthy claimed that not identifying any or all of the second group was typical for college campuses. The first five were generals. The members of the second group were all practitioners of peace. According to Mr. McCarthy, Americans are not taught about peacemakers. This is why no one knew their names.
McCarthy once again precluded the possibility of another explanation. It is possible that nobody knows about the second group because they are relatively insignificant to history. After all, what was the historical effect of Rankins vote.
After the lecture, Mr. McCarthy answered questions from the audience. I asked McCarthy if the world would have been a safer place if everyone in Congress would have voted as Jeanette Rankin did on December 8,1941. Would there have been less people killed? Would there have been fewer incidents like there was in Nan King? Would there have been less Dachau’s?
McCarthy mulled it over for a while and then responded, “ You could talk about World War II all day if you wanted to.” He then referred to a village in the south of France where the population engaged in passive resistance and the same in Denmark. Unfortunately, I was not able to ask him if, in his opinion, did he not believe that those people really just relied on the Allies to do what they would or could not do. In his opinion, did he not believe that the Danes furnished the Nazis with supplies and access to transportation, however inadvertently that might have been? Did McCarthy not think that the actions of the Danes and those French may have actually contributed to casualties not less.
The sophistry and anti-Americanism of McCarthy’s lecture is standard fare of those who consider themselves pacifists. Most pacifists are not really pacifist as much as they are anti-capitalist. They believe capitalism is the root of all evil in the world. The United States being the symbol of capitalism is therefore the root of the world’s ills.
My impression of McCarthy is that he is typical of the liberal intelligentsia. He honestly believes that there is such a thing as democratic socialism. He has not yet figured out that the term itself is an oxymoron. McCarthy is not so much a pacifist as he is a liberation theologist though.
Liberation Theology is an ideology that could be called “Commies for Christ.” Liberation theologists believe that heaven is a workers paradise and they are instruments of God’s will to create that paradise on Earth. Such people are most closely associated with the Peoples Democratic organizations in Central America. They consider American foreign policy in Central America inimical to democracy. They routinely protest the School of the Americas and were fervid advocates of the Sandinistas. I wanted to ask Mr. McCarthy if he believed in liberation theology and if he believed he was doing the Lord’s work. However, I never was given the opportunity.
Colman McCarthy may believe he is doing the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, he only is doing Iraq’s.