The Reactionary Utopian
                    October 6, 2005

by Joe Sobran

     William Bennett has caused another uproar, far from 
his first, by noting that the crime rate might be reduced 
by aborting all black babies. He has defended this 
comment by reminding us that he called this reprehensible 
idea "reprehensible."

     Which should hardly have been necessary, since it 
would only have been put in the words he used by someone 
who considered it reprehensible. Most people who want to 
promote black abortion call it something vague, like 
"giving choice to poor women," and nobody accuses them of 
saying what they actually mean.

     Still, though Bennett had a point, it was a point 
about certain kinds of crimes -- street crimes. But there 
are other kinds of crimes, crimes we tend to forget are 
criminal, because the government sanctions them.

     Just after Bennett made his comments, I watched the 
absorbing film FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY, a dramatization of 
how a group of brilliant men, during World War II, 
created a weapon that would murder thousands of people in 
a couple of seconds. This, of course, was the Manhattan 
Project, the U.S. Government's crash program to make the 
atomic bomb. The scientists succeeded all too well, but 
some of them later had qualms about what they had done.

     I couldn't help noticing that all the characters, in 
the movie as in real life, were white. I suppose you 
could say -- and here I want to stress that the idea is 
reprehensible -- that if all white babies had been 
aborted, far fewer nonwhites, from Japan to Iraq, would 
have been killed by American bombs.

     When you look at it that way, you begin to see what 
the late Susan Sontag meant when she wrote, in her 
precocious days, that the white race is "the cancer of 
history." She later apologized for this observation, but 
it was still quoted in her obituaries. It had all the 
brutal logic of youth.

     Highly civilized white men have produced the world's 
most terrible weapons of mass murder, but they prefer to 
call these "weapons of mass destruction," a phrase that 
slightly disguises their nature. It would sound absurd to 
say that "we mustn't allow weapons of mass murder to fall 
into the wrong hands," since there can be no "right" 
hands; but if you substitute "destruction" for "murder" 
it sounds almost reasonable to people who don't stop to 
think what you are saying.

     Well, war in our time -- whatever was true in the 
days of the crossbow -- can mean only mass murder, and we 
ought to face the fact. Oddly enough, it's peace, not 
war, that has a bad name in some circles, where 
"peacenik" is a term of sneering contempt, but there is 
no such thing as a "warnik."

     In 1991 William Buckley remarked, more in sorrow 
than in anger, that I had become a virtual pacifist. At 
that point I'd opposed two consecutive American wars, so 
in his eyes it was already starting to look like an 
alarming habit. He went on to intimate that he and other 
conservatives were praying for me.

     I wasn't actually a pacifist, nor am I one now, and 
I'm well aware that the word "peace" can be abused. 
Still, it's a holy word to me, as in "Peace on earth," 
"Blessed are the peacemakers," and "the Prince of Peace." 
If war can sometimes be justified, it can be only as a 
regrettable necessity, not as a thing warranting pride or 
enthusiasm or self-congratulation.

     War is the most destructive of human activities, and 
because it destroys everything worth conserving, I marvel 
that it has come to be associated with "conservatism." 
Yet conservatives who oppose war find themselves isolated 
like lepers among "mainstream" conservatives, who regard 
them as puzzling eccentrics -- charitably seen, perhaps, 
as in some spiritual peril requiring prayer. I guess if 
you find yourself preferring peace, at least your 
conscience should be troubled about it.

     I really don't want to preen my fine conscience; I'd 
rather say simply that war offends my reason. I dislike 
sappy platitudes about brotherhood; peace and harmony are 
often difficult achievements. Making war can be easier 
than loving your neighbor, and it's always easier than 
loving your enemies; but loving your enemies needn't mean 
pretending they are your friends. Sometimes the best you 
can do is swallow your pride and cut a deal with them 
instead of killing them. When you choose war, you may 
become your own worst enemy.


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