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The Religious Left, serenely safe in its mostly middle class protective cocoon within the U.S., likes to imagine that global violence and suffering would end, if only America behaved better. This better behavior largely involves unilaterally disarming, responding to terror and aggression with apologies and dialogue, and paying out larger amounts in foreign aid, preferably to repressive enemy states, in atonement for unspecified past national sins.
A domestic version of this remedy would seek the elimination of crime by emptying all prisons, closing police agencies, and quadrupling the welfare state, with hopes that murder, rape, robbery and burglary then would happily recede in the face of such good will.
The Religious Left plans to commemorate the impending 9-11 tenth anniversary with its usual demands that America simply stop defending itself and instead listen more cordially to our justifiably aggrieved enemies. One of the more esoteric, and popular voices, of the Evangelical Left is Philadelphia “Simple Way” pacifist activist Shane Claiborne. Joining with his patron, ice cream mogul Ben Cohen of “Ben and Jerry’s,” Claiborne plans to host a 90-minute “variety show” to air “questions of violence and militarism… and sharing stories of reconciliation and grace.” The “multimedia presentation” will include other “artists and storytellers.” Will it include sock puppets? Will there be paper mache mounted skulls, which have adorned anti-war protests for decades?
Claiborne is a leading younger voice for increasingly popular neo-Anabaptists who erroneously insist that faithful Christianity demands complete pacifism. He authored the 2008 book Jesus for President that apocalyptically likened America to the Roman Empire, the Third Reich, and the Anti-Christ. Oddly, repressive and militaristic police states around the world never seem to merit these unflattering comparisons. Not even Saddam Hussein’s murderous reign is portrayed so darkly.
And Saddam Hussein’s Iraq should be very familiar to Claiborne. As he boasted in a recent column for Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, he was in Baghdad in 2003 with the notorious Christian peacemaking teams. They were focused on ostensibly protecting Iraq from America’s “shock-and-awe” attack. Of course, they were not interested in protecting Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, who killed far more Iraqis than America ever did. Claiborne recalled an Iraqi doctor, confronted by a wounded child, confronting Claiborne: “Has your country lost its imagination?”
Maybe more imaginative dreamers could have explained how better to remove a despot like Saddam, who had already slain hundreds of thousands of his own people and was perfectly willing to slaughter many more. But anti-war pacifists are never willing to suggest plausible alternatives for the real world. Instead, they prefer the illusions of their own moral posturing. “In a country that is going bankrupt as it continues to spend $250,000 a minute on war… it is clear that it is time to re-imagine things,” Claiborne recently penned, explaining his upcoming “Jesus, Bombs, & Ice Cream” extravaganza.
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