Sunday, May 15, 2005

TCRNews - Moral Clarity . . . or Confusion?

Last week Greg Mockeridge and Shawn I. McElhinney had challenged Stephen Hand of TCRNews regarding his portrayal of Catholics who believed themselves conscience-bound to support the war -- examples being Fr. Neuhaus, George Weigel, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, et al.

At the end of private and public exchanges over the past week, some of which were undoubtedly heated (as any talk of this issue tends to be), I confess I had entertained the faint hope of his coming to a recognition of the criticisms expressed in Greg's editorial.

Having read Carol O'Reilly's latest screed on Stephen Hand's blog ("TCR Musings"), I realize how mistaken I was, for it is readily apparent that Mr. Hand intends to continue in the same pattern as before. Case in point:

"How dare anyone sanction the utter incineration of humans and their lands in the name of Christian decency or goodness when it is not an absolutely necessary and unavoidable conflict, whether that sanctioner be George Bush, George Weigel, Frank Pavone or the hierarchy. War is never more noble than abortion -- it is abortion with incendiaries in place of scalpels. . . .

. . . this was no war, this was and is some massive evil new holocaust behind which Satan is howling in glee -- to be stealing little children's faces as well as soldiers' limbs.. to be slaughtering whole families at checkpoints upon orders (or was it? Seems total fear = total violence. We're allowed total fear reactions, but the insurgents are not, they are evil?) The beast has raged out of control, and we're feeding him day in and day out. . . .

. . . Do we honestly believe God falls for the anti-Saddam spin, too? What about when He asks what's our criteria, Catholics? Different from Christ's? Our criteria is above Christ's, apparently, which is why the Holy Fathers have to shout at us. There was one day we were under attack. That day happened over three years ago. One day of a one-hour attack vs 1500 days' super-retribution on our part.. 3,000 deaths of innocents vs 100,000 deaths of innocents --and counting. That's just in one country. . . .

. . . How dare anyone calling themselves Catholic beat their chests and cry, "God bless America" and then slam Catholic peacemakers as unpatriotic. When any one of these 'more honorable' Catholics (while they righteously await the next American execution) can do that while beholding an olive-skinned baby with blood streaming from her shrapnel-sliced eyes, let me know.

I do not doubt the sincerity of Ms. O'Reilly's concern for Iraqi children and civilian casualities in the war, but I would ask whether this kind of speech is truly a reflection of Christian morality? -- It seems to me that the absolute pacifism of Carol's remarks, the wholesale condemnation of violence without distinction, rules out the very possibility of moral distinction. This is what inevitably leads to the vulger equasion of Saddam = Bush, suicide bomber = American soldier, the United States as perpetrators of "a new holocaust."

Ms. O'Reilly's insinuations are an insult to every American soldier who has died in battle -- in liberating Iraq from the brutal tyranny of Hussein and the Batthist regime. An insult to every civilian worker kidnapped and beheaded by "insurgents" while assisting the Iraqis in rebuilding their country. An insult to every volunteer Iraqi policeman and soldier who has given his life in defense of his nation, including Capt Abdul Amir Khadam -- a 29 year old Iraqi policeman who hurled himself atop suicide bomber heading for a line of Iraqi voters on election day, giving his own life in protection of innocents.

Notably absent from her account of atrocities are the tales of the Iraqi people about life under Hussein -- stories of brutality, torture, rape, fear and death -- as if these were no consequence, or had no role in the Bush administration's decision to call for an end Saddam's reign, and carry out the liberation of Iraq with international support dubbed the "Coalition of the Willing (see the link to Trevor Stanley's excellent page on this subject).

This is not a coherent argument. This is simply rhetoric. This is pacifism and blustering self-righteousness barely-concealed by a thin veneer of Christianity -- I would expect this kind of diatribe from the likes of Michael Moore, or the Democratic Underground. There was a time where I would have been shocked to see it on . . . that it now appears with Stephen Hand's acknowledgement and personal support, speaks for itself.

Is this a case of moral confusion or moral clarity? -- I'll let my readers be the judge.

Further (Corrective) Reading:

  • "War and the Eclipse of Moral Reasoning", by Dr. Philip Blosser. Presented at the Tenth Annual Aquinas/Luther Conference held October 24-26, 2002 at Lenoir-Rhyne College, and reprinted with his kind permission.

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