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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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Nothing Worth Fighting For? - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 00:00

 

Nothing Worth Fighting For?

David C. Stolinsky, MD
Oct. 14, 2010

Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.
– John Lennon, “Imagine” (1971)

Recently fans observed what would have been John Lennon’s seventieth birthday. His iconic song “Imagine” was played. But I never liked the lyrics. The song captured the spirit of the anti-war sixties and seventies. Its theme still appeals to many on the Left. They see his desire to abolish nations and religion as a way to prevent war. But they don’t explain how a world government – with no restraints from rival governments or religious values – could avoid becoming tyrannical.

We all agree that the desired result is a peaceful world. But we disagree on how we can achieve it.

● What will happen if we decide that nations are obsolete, but our enemies remain fiercely chauvinistic.

● What will happen if we decide that religion is outdated, but our enemies remain fanatically religious?

● What will happen if we select peaceful texts from our holy book, but our enemies select warlike texts from theirs?

● What will happen if we beat our swords into plowshares, but our enemies keep their box-cutters razor-sharp?

● What will happen if we give up nuclear weapons, but our enemies continue building theirs?

● What will happen if law-abiding citizens are disarmed, but criminals and terrorists aren’t? In fact, what did happen when John Lennon dreamed of a peaceful world, but his murderer, Mark David Chapman, had more violent dreams?

President Obama imagines a world without nuclear weapons, but he does nothing while fanatics in Iran build nukes. On the contrary, Obama reversed longstanding U.S. policy, promising not to retaliate with nuclear weapons against an attack using chemical or biological weapons. We do not have chemical or biological weapons, so the threat of nuclear retaliation was the most effective deterrent we had.

What is the result of Obama’s peaceful imaginings? He made chemical or biological attacks more likely, while doing nothing about the ongoing nuclear threat. Liberals confuse imagining something good with actually doing something good. In this, liberals resemble small children, who have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality.

In contrast to Lennon’s lyrics, consider this:

Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right.
− Hilaire Belloc, “The Pacifist”

A good way to evaluate people is to discover what they are willing to speak up or fight for. Lennon’s dream is of a world where there is nothing worth fighting for. Some people find this dream beautiful. To me it’s a nightmare.

Nonviolence is good only if it produces good results. Gandhi used it successfully against British colonialists in India, and King used it successfully against racists in America. But they were lucky in their choice of enemies.

Gandhi’s error was to generalize his success against the British into a universal principle. He advised the Jews not to resist the Nazis, believing that their suffering would affect Hitler. It did – it thrilled him.

Gandhi went on to advise Britain to surrender when it stood alone. This could have allowed Hitler to conquer all Europe, while Japanese fascists dominated Asia. The world would have descended into a new Dark Age. If bad advice were an Olympic event, this would be a gold-medal winner.

Gandhi advocated nonviolent resistance, but at least this is a form of resistance. Nonviolence is often confused with pacifism, in which one does not resist evil at all. Indeed, many people have trouble recognizing evil, much less resisting it. These people ridiculed President Bush’s characterization of terrorist states as an “axis of evil.” It wasn’t that they didn’t think these states were evil, but that they couldn’t recognize evil in the first place. They now call terrorism “man-caused disasters,” a term that is devoid of moral content − which is the basic problem.

In a few, easy steps we go from nonviolent resistance to evil, to no resistance, to not even recognizing evil. What will happen if this view becomes common? What will happen if terrorists plan even more destructive attacks, and attempt to obtain nuclear, biologic or chemical weapons?

Pacifists tell us to do nothing. Liberals tell us to wait for definite proof – which amounts to the same thing. We sit and wait until Los Angeles is nuked, or nerve gas is released in the New York subway, or smallpox is spread at the Super Bowl. And then we do something?

The bomb squad can’t examine pieces of a nuclear bomb to determine its origin. There are no pieces of the bomb, or the truck it came in, or anything else in the area − everything was vaporized. Study of the radioactivity may reveal the origin of the uranium or plutonium.

Say the Russian mafia sold it to terrorists, and tests showed it came from a Russian reactor. We still wouldn’t know who planted the bomb. But what if we blamed Russia? America and Russia might destroy each other in a nuclear war, while the terrorists remained safe – unless they laughed themselves to death.

Even if Los Angeles were nuked, critics still might say that we lack definite proof. What do you call people who would allow hundreds of thousands to die, but even then might not be satisfied that force is necessary? Homicidal pacifists?

Critics of President Bush complained bitterly that 9/11 wasn’t foreseen and prevented. But then they tried to block efforts to prevent another attack. This is self-contradictory to the point of being irrational.

Liberals opposed going into Afghanistan to root out those who planned 9/11. They complain of “racial profiling” if airline passengers are searched. They criticize detention of suspected terrorists. They do this after 9/11. Can you imagine their screams if President Bush did any of this before 9/11, and the attack was prevented? Of course, if 9/11 had been prevented, these security measures would have been called unnecessary, paranoid and even “Nazi.”

In a huge contradiction, liberals oppose arming pilots, for fear a stray bullet might injure a passenger. Then they scramble jet fighters to shoot down a hijacked airliner if necessary. That really is irrational.

In another contradiction, liberals try to disarm law-abiding citizens, for fear the mere presence of a gun will turn their neighbors into murderers. But when fanatics build nuclear weapons, liberals advise doing nothing, in the hope that the weapons won’t be used. This crosses the line into insanity.

Isn’t freedom worth fighting for? Aren’t the lives of our families and fellow citizens worth protecting? Isn’t there anything worth dying for, even human dignity? If our ideals aren’t worth fighting for, what are they worth?

Lennon’s dream was impractical, but he meant well. Are leftists equally well-meaning? After all the evidence of history, can they really believe that the best response to dangerous fanatics is to do nothing?

Imagination is a wonderful gift. But don’t confuse the world you imagine with the real world. If you want to imagine a better world, don’t imagine one that is perfect, and thus unattainable. This absolves us of responsibility to do anything except sit in smug self-righteousness. Instead, imagine a world that is somewhat better, and thus attainable through our hard work.

● Imagine a Middle East with representative governments, where women have equal rights, and where all people are free to practice their religions, or not practice them.

● Imagine a Middle East that is peaceful, because free nations rarely make war on one another, and because hate-filled propaganda will no longer be spread.

● Imagine a Middle East that is prosperous, because free people are more productive, and because military expenditures will be much smaller.

● Imagine a Middle East that no longer threatens the world, because terrorist networks have been rooted out.

Now there’s something worth imagining. In fact, it’s worth fighting for. Can it be achieved? We’ll never know unless we try.

Many people, especially leftists, share the ideals of Lennon’s song. But I prefer more traditional music:

Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming,
Can’t you see their spear points gleaming?
– “Men of Harlech” (Welsh traditional)

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: dstol@prodigy.net.

www.stolinsky.com