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 The Big Peacenik 

February 25, 2003

I’ve always believed there’s 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 don’t want to admit.

President Bush says he wants to rid the world of evil regimes that threaten the world with “weapons of mass destruction.” That’s his justification for war on Iraq, despite the absence of evidence and even much evidence that Iraq doesn’t, can’t, and wouldn’t dare to pose such a threat.

Just as Bush’s tough talk reaches a new crescendo, dear little Kim Jong Il fires a missile into the Sea of Japan. We’ve been told that he has nuclear weapons — the “weapons of mass destruction” par excellence — and missiles that can reach our West Coast. Bush’s 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 isn’t giving us his real reasons for attacking Iraq.

Even Bush’s hawkish supporters seem more hostile to France than to North Korea. They think it’s 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 he’s no surrender monkey.)

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, you’d think it would be Britain’s Tony Blair, Bush’s shameless lackey.

[Breaker quote: The dove the hawks don't sneer at]To 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 Pope’s 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 Christ’s teaching. And he sees this war as a moral horror.

Even most of the hawks don’t 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 aren’t always “liberal.” The devil has many masks.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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