Winston Churchill’s fans aren’t doing him any favors.
This morning’s serving of dilatory dialectic in the New York Post first refers to Churchill’s love of “what he calls [sic] Christian Civilization.” And then goes on to cheer Churchill for opposing the torture of Nazi prisoners on the basis of Christian values.
Then comes this gem of a rhetorical Rubik’s Cube: “But Churchill also understood that, if barbarism was one enemy of civilization, another was a moral cowardice disguised as moral qualms — an instinctive flinching in the face of danger, dressed up as ‘upholding our values.'”
Here the errant eye of the NYP’s beholder becomes apparent: when danger lurks, you’ve got to remove the “Christian” from “civilization,” and do your dirty work without regard to those pesky Christian moral values — even while you pretend to hold them high, of course. Otherwise, the NY Post will call you a coward.
This is both an ahistorical and an amoral view. The firebombing of Dresden, after all, killed thousands of civilians in the most tortuous conflagration imaginable. What allowed that lapse in moral virtue — the assertion that Hitler was “pure evil”? That is certainly the convenient vocabulary of today’s neocon: Saddam was “another Hitler,” a senator huffed at me as Bush invaded Iraq. Now Saddam is dead, but another Hitler has arisen, this time in Iran. Apparently, to the neocons, it will always be Springtime for another Hitler.
So our Churchill fan puts Winston in the curious position of opposing torture when it came to individual Nazi prisoners, but supporting it when it came to thousands of German civilians.
Christ told his disciples that there would always be wars and rumors of wars — in other words, danger would always threaten us. According to the neocon lexicon, that means that Christians will always have to put their morals aside to deal with all those barbarians and take an eye for an eye.
So there you have it. The choice for Christians is simple: will you cast aside your morality and be cheered by the NY Post? Or be a craven coward for Christ?
By the way, Christ had a couple of salutary terms for these guys: “hypocrites” and “whitened sepulchers.” (Matt. 23:27)8:14 am on May 5, 2009 Email Christopher Manion