In a 40 year flashback to the glories of 1960’s anti-war outrage, infamously left-wing Riverside Church in New York City is hosting a “Truth Commission on Conscience in War” next month. This special hearing, in the spirit of “truth commissions,” will evidently “explore and investigate systemic injustices, political violence, and mass atrocities” by the U.S., presumably in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It will “receive testimony, process their findings, and recommend strategies for change, healing, and reconciliation,” while lifting “up the silenced and invisible voices of victims, offering survivors a public forum to testify to their experiences.”
The “commissioners” of this “truth commission” includes a who’s who of far-left religious activism. The testifiers are mostly a small circle of embittered veterans and conspiracy theorists, including former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who’s still pondering possible U.S. involvement in contriving 9-11.
So the March 21-22 spectacle at dramatically gothic Riverside Church on New York’s upper West Side will be an absurd theater of macabre conspiracy speculations, sanctimonious guilt trips about supposed U.S. crimes, and indignant condemnations of everyone not on the far-left who has failed to advocate full surrender to jihadist Islam. In short, it might be wonderful entertainment, if not treated too seriously. The ghost of the late William Sloane Coffin, former Riverside pastor, may even haunt the commission’s somber hearing, ghoulishly chanting old protest slogans from the Vietnam War era.
Among the testifiers will be Iraq War Veteran Logan Latuiri, who evidently left the military when he was not permitted to redeploy to Iraq without a gun. Recently active with Christian Peacemaking Teams [in Israel and “Palestine”] and his own anti-war group, Centurion’s Guild, Latuiri announced on Jim Wallis’ Sojourners blog that he is ”overjoyed” to join in the Riverside Church “truth commission” extravaganza. The former soldier pronounced himself a “strict pacifist” and opined hopefully that the Riverside hearing will “build bridges” between pacifism and Just War believers.
Given the locale and organizers, the “truth commission” is far likelier to become a Stalinist-style denunciation of and trial without jury of America’s supposed crimes against humanity. The project director oddly is radical feminist theologian Rita Nakashima Brock, who is more experienced in challenging the patriarchy and heterosexism than in exposing American militarism. Other commissioners include Princeton University’s George Hunsinger of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture [by the U.S.], former Riverside Church pastor James Forbes, former Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) President Richard Hamm, left-wing Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, United Methodism’s Drew University Theological School President Maxine Beach, and New York’s Union Seminary President Serene Jones.
Sponsors of the hearing include the Catholic Peace Fellowship, Yale Divinity School, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the United Church of Christ’s Justice & Witness Ministries, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the World Christian Student Federation, among many others. The nearly same caste could easily have been assembled 25 years ago for a church rally in Manhattan for Sandinista chief Daniel Ortega. Perhaps the causes change slightly with time, but the groups remain largely the same, seamlessly moving from one bash America cause to the next.
Defending the Riverside Church hearing over which she will preside, Rita Nakashima Brock recently denounced President Obama’s surge in Afghanistan as the “strongest evidence of his failure both as Commander-in-Chief and as a peacemaker.” After all, Afghanistan is just “another quagmire like Vietnam,” an equally “endless, poorly planned, losing war begun by one president and continued by his successors.” But Religious Left activists like Brock, who portray all of Western Civilization as a dark and patriarchal, oppressive manacle on suffering humanity, cannot imagine any war in defense of America with moral merit.
Supposedly the Riverside hearing, as Brock described it in an op-ed, will thoughtfully articulate how individual military personnel should, as a religious freedom, have the “right to object to a particular war.” After all, they “ undertake tremendous risks and hardship to protect the nation,” should not have to “sacrifice their consciences to serve,” and instead should be able to “continue serving, in good conscience, the country they love.” Those careful words sound nice. But in actuality, Brock and most of the others would like an emasculated military full of Christian Peacemaking Team activists, never willing to carry arms, but more than willing to perform as pacifist neutralists who obstruct all “violence.”
In his Sojourners blog, Logan Laituri gave a foretaste about the “truth commission’s” bent by bemoaning how in “our representative form of government, it is hard to escape even a fraction of complicity for the damage we are causing across the world.” Indeed, he knows that the “military as it exists today is a system that makes it difficult to do good and very easy to do evil.” Evidently, the guilt-laden spectacle next month at Riverside Church will help to ease his conscience about serving in Iraq. Even more importantly, it will help Religious left activists like Rita Brock smugly feign moral superiority not only over military personnel but most Americans, including most Christians, who are not intrinsically ashamed of their country.