December 30, 2010

The New McCarthyism

An arresting poster making the rounds of the Internet depicts American soldiers shielding an Afghan man and child above the legend “HONOR” (view it here). The point being that the dishonorable make others involuntary human shields while the honorable voluntarily make themselves human shields. This concept is apparently far too common and crude for the elite who imagine themselves, in the exclusive company of like-minded souls, to be the epitome of courage for denigrating the truly honorable.

Comes now Colman McCarthy, billed as ”a former Post columnist” who “directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools,” writing in the Washington Post what he and those like him no doubt consider a very courageous denunciation of ROTC, apparently in the hope of establishing new, compelling justifications for keeping ROTC at arm’s length. McCarthy’s article may be accessed here.

Mr. McCarthy opens with a charming tale of lunch with Father Theodore Hesburgh who served as Notre Dame’s president for 35 years. Fr. Hesburgh, in McCarthy’s telling, was proud of Notre Dame’s long relationship with ROTC, with patriotism, and with the university’s role in preparing capable, Christian officers for service in the military. McCarthy is clearly one of those progressives who is absolutely certain of their intellectual and moral superiority, and he boldly flounces in where angels fear to tread. To wit:

“I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ's teaching of loving one's enemies?

The interview quickly slid downhill.”

No doubt.

Let us, for the moment, put aside the juvenile presumption of accepting the hospitality of such an accomplished man, a man of God, and crudely insulting him and all for which he has labored in a life of distinguished, selfless service, the like of which McCarthy can’t possibly imagine or equal should he live ten thousand lifetimes. For one supposedly versed in issues of peace, he shows a revealing lack of understanding of history, just war theory, scripture, theology, rhetoric, common sense and simple good manners.

Fr. Hesburgh is a priest, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of God and of God’s creation. In this, he shares many qualities in common with the lowest ranking enlisted man or woman, for they too have voluntarily dedicated their lives to the service of others and are willing to give their lives in that service. Fr. Hesburgh and our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines create peace every day. Untold millions live today because of them and because of all they have followed on the martial path. McCarthy and those like him create ephemeral utopias that have never existed and never will. In this, they perpetuate the fundamental progressive failing: The studious ignorance of the realities of human nature. Fr. Hesburgh surely recognized that he was in the presence, not only of a boor, but of a fool, a man who could not be reached through reason, kindness or fact. No wonder the interview “slid downhill.”

As one who “teaches peace,” what might McCarthy believe? “It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of ‘don't ask, don't tell.’ They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.” McCarthy goes on to argue that maintaining a military is costly and impractical and that some colleges “teach alternatives to violence.” Hmm. This has to be formally taught? On the college level? Don't most people have mothers?

And what, according to Mr. McCarthy, constitutes academic, institutional greatness? “ Only one of the eight Ivy League schools - Cornell - offers a degree in peace studies. Their pride in running programs in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies is well-founded, but schools have small claims to greatness so long as the study of peace is not equal to the other departments when it comes to size and funding.”

One might roam the halls of the Pentagon for many years before finding a member of the military who would prefer to go to war rather than first exhausting all other reasonable avenues toward peace. Ronald Reagan was prescient in observing that none of the major wars in his lifetime occurred because America was too strong. Again, understanding human nature provides an inconvenient--for the Progressive--reminder that the strong will inevitably attempt to prey upon the weak unless restrained.

And of what, pray tell, might an undergraduate degree in “peace studies” consist? Heaven forbid that a graduate degree might be offered in such ephemera. No doubt it is of the same academic rigor as “women’s studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies,” in which Mr. McCarthy takes ill-founded pride. Do such courses of study teach one to be more feminine? More black? More gay or lesbian? Perhaps they teach those enrolled to appreciate peace? Do they primarily produce lobbyists for those causes? Should a given university elevate the study of “peace” to the same exalted level of the study of gays, lesbians, blacks and women, that is a mark of greatness in higher education? Why? Diversity? Inclusiveness? Elevating the oppressed over the oppressors? Being invited to the right parties?

An honest man would, upon careful--yet easily accessible--study, have to conclude that few institutions in history have done more good than the American military. The military was one of the first major institutions to abolish racism and to give minorities the opportunity to succeed on merit, and this certainly includes women. Throughout more than two centuries, when the weak have been oppressed, when tyrants have murdered millions, the US Military did not talk about peace, but made it happen by stopping those who wanted to impose the peace of the grave on sensitive souls like Mr. McCarthy, and in so doing, have always paid an enormous price. When disaster struck in Indonesia and New Orleans, the U.S. Military was first on the scene, saving lives from the first possible moment while UN bureaucrats spent weeks securing first class accommodations and feckless politicians wildly tossed blame. But of course, Mr. McCarthy cannot acknowledge this and must denigrate such self-sacrificing, real accomplishments while exalting victim-group navel gazing cloaked in the “greatness” of higher education.

Like Senator John Kerry who believes that if one isn’t Ivy League, they end up in Iraq like all the weak-minded, little people in fly-over country, McCarthy deigns to gaze down from his peaceful, Olympian heights to cluck his tongue at the great unwashed: “At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn't afford ever-rising college tabs.”

Ah. Considering what Mr. McCarthy sees as laudable academic rigor, he may be somewhat less than uniquely qualified to pass judgement on the academic rigor of an ROTC curriculum, but allow that to pass. Mr. McCarthy reveals the lack of depth of his character by sneering at the lowly, the stupid, the unenlightened who might wish to jump on the military gravy train for “free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college.” Oh yes, and they were tricked, perhaps forced into ROTC because they were poor and couldn’t afford ever-increasing tuition.

Is it not a contemporary progressive article of faith that everyone should go to college, and on the public tab? How then does Mr. McCarthy justify sneering at someone who is accepting government money to attend college? But more, is Mr. McCarthy really so dense as to fail to realize that in return for such “free” tuition and stipends, each officer candidate is willingly giving up months of their time in college, time that might be otherwise spent in important college pursuits such as various “studies” classes, or waking up in pools of their own vomit after nights of high-minded debauchery? Doesn’t he know that in return, each ROTC student is being guaranteed a government job, a job that will consume six years of active duty service and might very well cost their life and that will, day in and day out, require that they willingly surrender the kinds of liberties and choices with which Mr. McCarthy would never voluntarily part? Indeed, ROTC students get financial aid, but the nation is getting, by far, the better part of the bargain. Surely Mr. McCarthy knows this, or does he merely think the public too stupid to understand the true nature of the ROTC and the military? Surely no enlightened being would think so poorly of his fellow citizens?

Ah, but Mr. McCarthy is not anti-soldier, no. He admires “those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home.” There apparently is, in Mr. McCarthy’s moral universe, absolute moral equivalence. There is no difference between our warriors and the Taliban, the Taliban who recognize no laws of war and torture (the real thing, not progressive imaginings) and murder prisoners and innocents, who murder women for being women, who murder gays and lesbians for being gay and lesbian, who wantonly destroy priceless treasures of antiquity, who seek to murder all infidels--that’s you, Mr. McCarthy--and who even murder other Muslims when it suits them as it often does. The American Military and the Taliban are equally worthy of Mr. McCarthy's esteem and respect. Is one who does not understand that evil exists worth anything? Is one who recognizes that evil exists, yet ignores it and attempts to convince others that it does not exist worth even less?

Mr. McCarthy admires the Taliban for their loyalty to their principals. The principal of absolute, perverse, deranged, blood-thirsty, unrestrained evil? Perhaps it is this that Mr. McCarthy wishes elite universities to study? Perhaps this will elevate them to greatness? And yes it’s a sacrifice to be away from home, as so many American soldiers wish to return to their families so that they can love and support them, and see that their wives and daughters have every opportunity for education and self-actualization. And the Taliban, in Mr. McCarthy’s imagining, want the same: To return home, to beat their wives and to mutilate the genitals of their wives and daughters, to keep them covered, to never allow them out of the presence of a male relative, to keep their daughters equally terrorized and uneducated, and to reserve the right to murder any female relative who, in their fevered brains, brings the slightest dishonor to the family. Such is the peace of the Taliban, 7th century barbarians all.

Even so, Mr McCarthy’s appreciation for the ethic of the warrior remains undiminished: “In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.” Hmm. Perhaps Mr. McCarthy might want to consider that those who are truly resolved and daring tend to involved themselves in callings and endeavors where resolve and daring are required and appreciated, endeavors such as actually fighting for peace rather than talking about it. Could this be why Mr. McCarthy finds himself surrounded by weak-minded milquetoasts?

Mr. McCarthy saves his big guns--please pardon the military metaphor; I can’t help myself--for last: “ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace.”

“The intellectual purity of a school?!” No. That’s too easy. Readers who wish to discover the level of intellectual purity on contemporary “elite” campuses have only to research names such as Bill Ayers, Cornel West or Ward Churchill.

No, Mr. McCarthy, nations can’t kill and destroy their way to peace. They can kill and destroy their way to conquest, misery and subjugation. There have always been tyrants whose imagined destiny was doing just that; such men will always exist. America is based on a different hope, that all men deserve what God has intended for them: The ability to live in peace and to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

History teaches us that peace is not Man’s natural state. Mankind has never enjoyed universal peace for there will always be those who seek the subjugation, even the extermination, of others. Such men are evil, and evil must be destroyed, person to person, institution to institution and nation to nation. It cannot be reasoned with, enticed or dissuaded, bought off, or changed through “smart diplomacy,” hope, change, "engagement" or good intentions. It must be destroyed, so that peace has a chance. That is why the U.S. Military exists and why its support is money well spent. That is why ROTC exists. In the most down and dirty sense, our military is the last, best hope of the last, best hope on Earth. Without those willing to give their lives for the hope of peace for millions they will never know, without those willing to sacrifice to lead them, there will be only death, destruction and abject misery, a state of nature where life is, as Thomas Hobbes put it, "nasty, brutish and short."

In his unfortunate dealing with Mr. McCarthy, Fr. Hesburgh surely knew this. Mr. McCarthy will never acknowledge it, for this simple fact of human nature utterly undermines his field of "study." But you know it, and now you know where the study of "peace," as Mr. McCarthy would have it, inevitably leads.

Posted by MikeM at December 30, 2010 11:20 PM

Ideological Purity? I guess diversity is a smoke screen.

Posted by: Wild Bill at January 1, 2011 07:42 PM