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Based on inspiration from the Iraqi doctor, Claiborne described his pre 9-11 “variety show.” It will include a 9-11 victim who will “share about why she has insisted that more violence will not cure the epidemic of hatred in the world.” And it will include a “veteran from Iraq [who] will speak about the collision he felt as a Christian trying to follow the nonviolent-enemy-love of Jesus on the cross… while carrying a gun.” It will also feature a welder tying an AK-47 “in a knot…while a muralist paints something beautiful on stage.” There will be a “Skype call with Afghan youth working for peace [to] hear their dreams for a world free of war and bombs and other ugly things.” And there will be a juggler doing an “original anti-violence routine,” plus some singing of “some old freedom songs.” Apparently Ben Cohen himself, as co- “ringmaster of the circus,” will stack Oreo cookies to demonstrate how many billions of dollars America needlessly wastes on the military. All of this entertainment supposedly will foreshadow a “world with fewer bombs and more ice cream.”
Amid the ice cream and jugglers, maybe Claiborne should expand the circus with additional acts. There could be a mutilated survivor from Saddam’s torture and rape chambers to explain what continued Baathist rule might have looked like. Various amputees could explain how al-Qaeda bombs crippled them and what Iraq may have endured had the U.S. retreated before the surge. Stretching back some years, Claiborne could invite survivors of the Cambodian holocaust, or Vietnamese boat people, to explain how U.S. “peace” activists surrendered their countries to unspeakable horrors. Aging refugees and veterans from the Korean War might share how U.S. military forces protected them from enslavement by North Korea. Some Taiwanese might recall how the U.S. 7th Fleet spared their people from Mao’s various mass murders and famines. Aging Berliners might explain how the U.S. Air Force rescued them, and most of Western Europe, from starvation and surrender to Joseph Stalin’s gulag ridden Soviet Union. Holocaust survivors could recall how they, and a remnant of European Jewry, are only alive because U.S. tanks liberated their camps, and U.S. bombs flattened the Nazi terror machine.
How might the world look today if America over the last 70 years chose ice cream over bombs, and if America were to treat its military spending, only 20 percent of the total federal budget, as the moral equivalent of Oreo cookies? Pacifist activists like Shane Claiborne would deserve more respect if they acknowledged the brutal reality instead of clownishly pretending the world is merely a circus, interrupted only by the unpleasantness of American militarism.
Unlike rigid pacifism, mainstream Christianity has always readily admitted that evil pervasively stalks the world, and that legitimate governments must defend the innocent, even if always with flawed instruments and tragic aspects. There’s nothing about 9-11 that is circus-like. Claiborne should set aside his jugglers and confections in favor of sober reflection about a potential world in which 9-11’s perpetrators prevail.
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