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The Religious Left’s Silence on Qaddafi’s Rampage

Posted By Mark D. Tooley On February 25, 2011 @ 12:11 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 17 Comments

The Religious Left was befuddled in 1989 and 1991 when the old Soviet bloc crumbled, having invested so much in urging accommodation of it, while having actively supported many of its client states and proxy revolutionaries around the world.

Though the situation is not wholly comparable, left-leaning church groups are somewhat similarly puzzled by the recent fall of Middle Eastern dictatorships.  For 30 years, the Religious Left ignored human rights abuses everywhere in the Middle East except for Israel, while insisting Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, abetted by the U.S., was the centrifuge of all discontent.

Some Religious leftists, like Jim Wallis of Sojourners, were belatedly able to celebrate Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in Egypt, since he was a U.S. ally and a semi-partner to Israel.  Dealing with the revolution against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, a rabid anti-American, will be more difficult.  That Gaddafi is a cartoonishly stereotypical despot and rogue who’s brutalized and robbed his nation for 42 years is beside the point.

So far, the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) is nearly alone on the Religious Left in addressing the current Libyan revolution, where possibly more than a 1000 have died so far, with many more likely to follow. Impartially, the WCC’s central committee “condemns the use of force on all sides” and called “all parties to respect the human rights of all people in Libya and we urge that ways be found to establish a peaceful dialogue to end the violence, and that efforts be made to ensure a future that brings peace with justice and security for all people.”  This is the same WCC that routinely denounces every Israeli bulldozer on the West Bank as a grievous outrage.  So far, the National Council of Churches has not spoken. Jim Wallis’ Sojourners has posted a sympathetic article about the Libyan revolt on its website.  But much more typical is the story headlined:  “When Will 3.5 Million Palestinians Get Their Chance For Freedom?”  When Libya’s 7 million people get their freedom from a far more despotic regime has not much interested the Religious Left.

There have been times in the past when  the Religious Left responded to events in Libya with outrage and alacrity.   When the U.S. bombed Libya in 1986 in response to a Libyan terror attack on a German night club frequented by U.S. military personnel, the World Council of Churches condemned the U.S. act as “immoral” and “seriously violating laws and norms governing international relations.”  The WCC expressed “profound sympathy for all those who have suffered as a result of the U.S. raid on Libya,” without shedding too many tears over the victims of Libyan terror, except  being “deeply concerned about the spread of international terrorism,” which could not be “solved by acts of war or violent retaliation.”

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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