"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God — Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"Ledeen says,
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?"
But I think the question is more properly directed at man rather than the Almighty, who gave us the ability to distinguish between good and evil and the obligation to make our own choices. It is the question we should ask ourselves, and our leaders, every day. Why is the West once again silent, in the face of a monstrous evil? Why do even the few leaders who recognize our menace, content themselves with words rather than the decisive deeds required to rid this world of the threat of a new Shoah?On this Memorial Day when we honor our fallen soldiers, who died in the service of human freedom and dignity, we must never forget what they died for and why they died.
Some say that the monstrous evil afflicting the world is the United States and western values. I have heard these arguments over and over again in the last few years from my peers; endlessly repeating the talking points that daily appear in the news. They have banners and slogans about Abu Ghraib and now the moral outrage is escalating about Haditha (before even all the facts are known, I might add). It is so easy and satisfying to condemn individual acts of atrocity, knowing full well that such acts are not part of official policy; nor do they reflect in any way the values of the West, particularly America. In fact, all those who place the highest premium on the sanctity of human life must be saddened to learn that human life is so cheap for some in our midst.
The triumph of the good lies in the West's relentless pursuit of justice and our demand that those in our midst who violate the fundamental values we stand for be held to account for their behavior.
This we will do. This we have always done, though not always as perfectly or with the necessary vigor in some cases. Since we are human, we make mistakes; but we are also capable of learning from them.
Only the morally bankrupt and relativistic political left are unable to appreciate this. They would like nothing better than to say that the actions of a few individuals reflect the values of the whole society. Yet, when it comes to condemning real, observable and institutionally-sanctioned brutality, murder, torture, oppression and crushing of the human spirit; when it comes to denouncing the hatred and vitriol that is stoked and manipulated against certain groups and countries; when it comes to confronting the mindset of the suicide bomber; the hatred of the religious fanatic; the societal humiliation and oppression of women as a matter of formal and "virtuous" policy--well, the silence of the left is so deafening, it shatters the eardrums.
And worse, it enables the real monsters who once again threaten to engulf the world in the flames of their madness. How those monsters must laugh at the idiots who obsess about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo; and who give the real threat to civilization their blessing to advance its objectives. The monsters understand full well that the moral relativists and cheapshot artists of the left will never willingingly call real evil to account--because they lack the fundamental courage to confront it.
To confront evil in the world, one must first have the courage to confront it within one's self; to be able to see the dark side of one's own nature and accept one's own imperfections. If you are able to do this, then you will easily recognize the pathetic behavior at Abu Ghraib--and other places-- for what it is: a manifestation of human imperfection--which each one of us are capable of under the right circumstances.
But this is something the left will not do--they dare not do--and so they will continue to encourage and enable that dark side of themselves; even as they tell themselves how virtuous and superior they are. They know they are not capable of such evil. Their motives are always pure; their actions are always perfect and have no negative consequences. They are the only truly morally superior beings on earth.
Hence they are blind and unable to recognize those who--like themselves--are capable of incredible atrocities on a scale beyond imagining, simply because they do it in the name of some"virtue" or "good". This blindness to their own nature renders them morally paralyzed and incapable of confronting the threat of evil.
I have quoted C.S. Lewis previously, but his words seem particularly applicable today:
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."The cruelty and inhumanity of this or that particular person is manageable--during war and during peace. The perpetrators of Abu Ghraib have been held to account, as will all others who allow their dark side to prevail.
But the real monsters who again threaten the world with their fantasies of a "pure race" or a "pure religion" or a "perfect" society are loose and once again we imperfect humans must confront the evil as best we can.
This Memorial Day, thank God that there are men and women in the world who are not morally paralyzed by the rabid nonsense currently being propagated by the left; and will not remain silent, but are willing to do what needs to be done to deal with the threat.
UPDATE: A good article by Owen West in the NY Times:
Somehow Operation Iraqi Freedom, not a large war by America's historical standards, has blossomed into a crisis of expectations that threatens our ability to react to future threats with a fist instead of five fingers. Instead of rallying we are squabbling, even as the slow fuse burns.
One party is overly sanguine, unwilling to acknowledge its errors. The other is overly maudlin, unable to forgive the same. The Bush administration seeks to insulate the public from the reality of war, placing its burden on the few. The press has tried to fill that gap by exposing the raw brutality of the insurgency; but it has often done so without context, leaving a clear implication that we can never win.
In the past, the American public could turn to its sons for martial perspective. Soldiers have historically been perhaps the country's truest reflection, a socio-economic cross-section borne from common ideals. The problem is, this war is not being fought by World War II's citizen-soldiers. Nor is it fought by Vietnam's draftees. Its wages are paid by a small cadre of volunteers that composes about one-tenth of 1 percent of the population — America's warrior class.
The insular nature of this group — and a war that has spiraled into politicization — has left the Americans disconnected and confused. It's as if they have been invited into the owner's box to settle a first-quarter disagreement on the coach's play-calling. Not only are they unprepared to talk play selection, most have never even seen a football game.
This confusion, in turn, affects our warriors, who are frustrated by the country's lack of cohesion and the depiction of their war. Iraq hasn't been easy on the military, either. But the strength of our warriors is their ability to adapt.
First, in battle you move forward from where you are, not where you want to be. No one was more surprised that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction than the soldiers who rolled into Iraq in full chemical protective gear. But it is time for the rest of the country to do what the military was forced to: get over it.
If we can put 2003's debates behind us, there is a swath of common ground on which to focus. Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq. The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.
Second, America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively. Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.
I agree. Let's move on and win this battle in the WOT and get on with winning the war.