Wednesday, January 12, 2011

War is Peace: We are All Pacifists Now

By Nicholas Stix

April 26, 2002
A Different Drummer/Toogood Reports

“What’s going on,” I asked the young, black female police officer. “An anti-war demonstration,” she responded. “Who’s sponsoring it?” I asked a white cop about 30 years of age. “The PLO,” he answered.

That was on a Friday, three weeks ago. Arab marchers shouted, “Free, free, Palestine!” and “Stop killing our children!”

But it is Arab parents who are sending their children out to die. They need only stop killing their own children.

One Arab demonstrator told me of the Jews, “They need to go back to Europe.” A Palestinian, who gave his name as Aref, and who said he had been living here for 21 years, told me he was “family” of a leading Palestinian (terrorist), whose wife and two of whose three children the Israelis had accidentally killed with a missile, thinking that he was driving the family car alone. Aref said that he wants a Palestine “from the sea (Mediterranean) to the river (Jordan). “Not where Israel is?” He insisted, all maps be damned, that he did not mean all of Israel, in addition to the territories.

Back in September, 2000, when the “Palestinians” launched their guerilla war, young Arabs demonstrated in Times Square against Israel. The local New York TV stations reported that the demonstration was, “against the violence in the Mideast.”

Diogenes, who searched high and low for an honest man, might as well have taken his lamp in search of a pacifist. As opposed to those who disguise themselves as such, in America, real pacifists are almost as rare as virgins in a whorehouse.

Every aggressive pacifist I have ever come across, understood pacifism to mean, ‘My friends and I can kill, but our enemies may not.’

It is in the nature of political conflict, that the belligerent parties will abuse language to suit expediency. Terrorists’ twisting of language is backed up by Kalashnikovs and bomb belts. Seventy years ago, many Nazis clothed themselves in the language of humanitarianism and pacifism, as did many of those who appeased them. And one of today’s most notorious neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers, Ernst Zundel (1939-), who currently lives in Tennessee, describes himself as a “pacifist.”

Following my April 14 column, “A Jewish Nazi? The Adam Shapiro Story,” I received no less than three e-mails from Adam Shapiro’s brother, Noah. Noah Shapiro hurled insults at me, impugned my manhood, and charged me with having misrepresented his brother, all the while insisting that I NOT quote him.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Noah Shapiro’s letters, was that he had no compunctions about quoting his own brother’s statements in support of suicide bombers, while insisting that his brother was OPPOSED to suicide bombers.

In political debate, the terms “pacifism,” “non-violence,” and “anti-war” are usually functionally equivalent. The difference in their application, is that “pacifism” and “anti-war” are used in cases of shooting wars pitting different nations or guerillas against a nation, while “non-violence” is usually reserved for domestic turbulence, and in one case, Gandhi’s India, an independence movement in a colonized country. Today, the term “humanitarian” is also often used in the same way, and with the same degree of hypocrisy, as the preceding terms.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell (1871-1970), called himself a pacifist, but usually forgot his pacifism, once the bombs began to drop. Like most folks, he was a peacetime pacifist. While Russell supported the Brits and the Yanks in both world wars, he got himself arrested, protesting America’s war effort on behalf of South Vietnam. By then, Russell had jumped on and off the pacifist bandwagon so many times, his ankles were shot.

During the Vietnam War, “pacifists” and “peace protesters” cheered on the communist Viet Cong guerillas, who thought nothing of murdering newborn babies by booby-trapping them with explosives. The Viet Cong knew that American soldiers would not ignore the sobs of an abandoned newborn. A G.I. would pick up the baby, and be blown to bits for his troubles.

When I was a student at SUNY Stony Brook in 1980, and Jimmy Carter was reinstituting the draft, a communist classmate who was “counseling” students on claiming conscientious objector status, told me, “I wouldn’t be able to counsel you, because you’re not a pacifist.”

My classmate was speaking in code: Neither he nor any of the students he was “counseling,” was a pacifist. I knew everyone who was politically active on campus; the only pacifists were two West German exchange student friends of mine. (Hitler succeeded in turning some Germans into pacifists.) However, I was a “liberal” and a notorious America-lover, which made me a rightwinger in the circles that the counselor traveled in. What the fellow really meant was, ‘I won’t counsel you, because you’re not a communist.’

One year later, in Tübingen, West Germany, I had a similar conversation with an American classmate, who was demonstrating against the installation of American Pershing missiles. (It seemed to me poor manners for a foreigner to engage in protests.) The fellow gave the example of a university student “strike,” in which the strikers lock arms, in order to keep other students out of classroom buildings. I told him, that under the circumstances, I would break through the line, to reach class. He responded that the strikers would then pummel me, in “self-defense,” and in response to my “violence.”

Some “pacifists” conscript G-d to fight their battles. Daniel J. (1921-) and Philip Berrigan (1924-) are radical, Catholic brothers (Daniel is a Jesuit priest; Philip was a Josephite priest who gave up the priesthood, and married former nun, Elizabeth McAlister.), who have always represented themselves to be pacifists. Circa 1983, one of the Berrigans came to Tübingen; I managed to talk my way into a small audience he gave to local Marxists. One brother was in jail, for allegedly having broken into a defense installation, and attempted to destroy documents. The brother I met was publicizing the family business, of attacking the American military. At one point, he said to me, “I think it’s terrible for Christians to be killing other Christians.”

One of my regrets in life is not having asked Berrigan, “So, does that mean it’s alright for Christians to be killing Jews?”

During the Gulf War, and now during the “War on Terrorism,” we have frequently heard from “peace” and “anti-war” activists, whose concern is not with preventing bloodshed, but with helping America’s enemies kill us. The most notorious “anti-war” activist during and after the Gulf War was Ramsey Clark, Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general, who convened a kangaroo court, charging the U.S. with “war crimes.” Clark had no problems with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whose invasion of Kuwait had caused the war, and who had murdered thousands of his own countrymen.

In my next column, I’ll look at some abstract philosophy and two famous, flesh-and-blood exemplars of pacifism/non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

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