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In 1986, after some initial naval skirmishes between the U.S. and Libya, the National Council of Churches’ chief expressed “profound distress” and ominously linked it to the Reagan Administration’s sinister “policy of support for the Nicaraguan contras” and “renewed verbal attacks on the USSR.” Weeks later, the same NCC official denounced the U.S. air retaliation as “not merely an attack on Libya” but an “attack on America” that would “corrode the soul of America.” At the same time, United Methodist Church officials somberly announced: “Today the United States is all muscle and no conscience.” The President of the United Church of Christ denounced the U.S. action as ”both morally questionable and fundamentally imprudent.” The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop warned of “long term consequences” resulting from “seeming immediate gratification.”
Five years earlier, some Religious Left church officials were similarly interested in Libya, when the U.S. shot down two Libyan air force jets that were asserting full Libyan authority over the Gulf of Sidra. One United Methodist official pronounced: “U.S. actions can only be seen as an attempt to isolate the Libyan claim in order to bully a weaker nation whose foreign policy supports causes not approved by the United States.” He further speculated that the incident was avoidable if only the U.S. had not earlier precipitously “torpedoed negotiations on the Law of the Sea” treaty.
For over four decades Gaddafi has been infamous for his brutal suppression of all dissent, his crazy brand of Arab collectivism, his aggression toward neighbors, his sponsorship of international terror, and his widespread thievery and brigandage, accompanied by outlandish costumes, chronically squirrely pronouncements, and a parade of mistresses disguised as “nurses” and “nuns of the revolution.” He is a slightly thinner and far more murderous version of Jabba the Hut. Questioning Gaddafi’s fitness for rule should NOT be difficult for anyone concerned about human decency. But the Religious Left has faithfully remained silent across 40 years and even now, as anti- Gaddafi demonstrators are slain in the streets by the hundreds, the sanctimonious prophets of social justice remain indifferent or uncertain.
Once again, the Religious Left is largely concerned about human rights only if the U.S. or Israel can be demonized. And faulting America or Israel for Gaddafi’s thuggery will be hard, even for the Religious Left.
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