The Big Peacenik
February 25, 2003
Ive always believed theres really no
such thing as a double standard. When people appear to apply a double
standard, it means they are actually applying a hidden single standard
one they dont want to admit.
President Bush says he wants to
rid the world of evil regimes that threaten the world with weapons
of mass destruction. Thats his justification for war on
Iraq, despite the absence of evidence and even much evidence that Iraq
doesnt, cant, and wouldnt dare to pose such a threat.
Just as Bushs tough talk
reaches a new crescendo, dear little Kim Jong Il fires a missile into the
Sea of Japan. Weve been told that he has nuclear weapons
the weapons of mass destruction par excellence and
missiles that can reach our West Coast. Bushs response? Calm
restraint and promises of new food shipments to North Korea.
Since Kim openly and insolently
boasts his credentials for membership in the Axis of Evil, and is not
punished but, on the contrary, is rewarded for it, we may be pardoned for
suspecting that Bush isnt giving us his real reasons for attacking
Even Bushs hawkish
supporters seem more hostile to France than to North Korea. They think
its clever to call the French childish names (cheese-eating
surrender monkeys is one of their most brilliant epithets) but they
spare Kim their invective. (He may like French cheese, but hes no
Another of the hawks
favorite epithets, applied not only to the French and Germans but to
millions of peace marchers, is appeasers. The plain fact is that the
French and German governments are staunchly refusing to appease the
greatest power on earth: the U.S. Government. If anyone deserves to be
called an appeaser, youd think it would be Britains Tony
Blair, Bushs shameless lackey.
hear the hawks tell it, the peace marchers all ten
million of them are nothing but aging Sixties hippies, trying to
relive those thrilling days of yesteryear, albeit many of them are
cunningly disguised as housewives. All these people are nothing but
hypocrites, Rush Limbaugh informs us.
I wish the hawks would direct
some of their scorn at the dope-smoking left-wing hippie peacenik who
currently occupies the Chair of Peter. Pope John Paul II says that war on
Iraq would be nothing less than a crime against humanity.
Even the cheese-eating Jacques Chirac has said nothing approaching that!
This is only the Popes
judgment, not an official Church teaching binding on Catholics. Still, it is
something more than a mere personal opinion. The Pope speaks with all the
gravity of a long moral tradition, a Christian culture that treasures peace
and has reflected carefully on the conditions of just war
conditions that are rarely met.
In a world of fads and
enthusiasms, the papacy is a voice of restraint, above the fray, summoning
us back to the permanent truths we are always apt to forget in moments
of passion. The Pope has no territorial ambitions or oil interests. He
invites the world to examine its conscience in the light of Christs
teaching. And he sees this war as a moral horror.
Even most of the hawks
dont dare to speak derisively of John Paul II. They recognize his
courageous leadership against Communism, for which he will be honored
forever. They must respect, even if they reject, his uncompromising
opposition to the immoral trends of our time, which he has summed up as
a culture of death.
Nor is he a knee-jerk pacifist. He
has come to terms with the inevitability of evil in this world; but
surrendering to evil or appeasing it is not his style. He has
never been anti-American, but he knows that Americans, like all other
men, are sometimes tempted to do evil. And he is convinced that his
pastoral duty is to warn us, not in slogans, but in grave and measured
words. When he says crime against humanity, he means it.
At one time such a papal
statement would have been sensational worldwide news, and politicians
everywhere would have had to pay attention to it. But this one has hardly
been reported at all.
The modern world has cut its
moorings to Christianity, and even conservative Christians
often obey the pressures and passions of the moment rather than the voice
of conscience. In every age we must learn to recognize new temptations.
They arent always liberal. The devil has many