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 Confessions of a Right-Wing Peacenik 

October 6, 2005 
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 Today's column is "Confessions of a Right-Wing Peacenik" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.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.

[Breaker quote for Confessions of a Right-Wing Peacenik: How is war "conservative"?]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.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2005 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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