“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
-President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015
President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast are being criticized from all quarters. Some have said the president is “throwing Christians under the bus.” Others have argued that the president’s remarks are historically inaccurate, dated, or serve to trivialize the heinous acts being carried out by groups like ISIS in the name of Islam. While these criticisms may very well be valid, most commentators are ignoring the more important significance of Obama’s remarks. His remarks serve as a reminder of the liberal mindset when dealing with enemies of the state – empathize with those whose actions deserve no empathy, try to reason with those who are unreasonable, search for explanations when no rational explanations exist, search for common ground when there is no common ground, and, when all else fails, blame oneself for failing to reign in evil using peaceful means.
How many of us have seen a three-year old toddler engage in a temper tantrum in a public place, only to find a (usually liberal) parent ignoring the situation or quietly trying to “reason” with the child? Naturally, this approach almost always fails. Three-year-old children have not yet developed the capacity for reason, so any attempt to rationally “reason” with them is bound to end in frustration for the child, the parent, and any other poor soul in the vicinity. The only actions to which a child of that age is likely to respond is a firm voice commanding him to stop, or a swift swat on the behind. Trying to “reason” with a three-year-old is about as productive as trying to teach a dog the principles of quantum physics.
Similarly, throughout history, there have been individuals, groups, and nations that have engaged in actions so heinous; they defy any reason or rational explanation. Pol Pot wiped out 25% of Cambodia’s population in his attempt to create an agrarian Communist Utopia, Stalin thrust the Ukraine into famine in the 1930’s in his attempt to force collectivization of agriculture. Japan ravaged China and the rest of Asia in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Hitler killed over 17 million people, and that number doesn’t even include war casualties. We can go further back in history to find nations and rulers who engaged in wholesale torture, genocide, and repression. None of these inhumane regimes were stopped by reason, empathy, or appeasement. Either someone else stepped in and intervened militarily, or the evil rulers died of their own accord.
In conducting his foreign policy, Obama is attempting to apply reason where reason doesn’t exist. It is not reasonable for a group of middle-eastern terrorists to behead foreigners, summarily execute individuals of different faiths or denominations, or burn prisoners of war alive. No amount of reason will convince Kim Jong-un to abandon his quest for nuclear weapons or to provide his nation with even the rudiments of freedom. Gathering the leaders of Europe together to sing “Kumbaya” will not stop Vladimir Putin’s quest to unite all Russian-speaking people under his dictatorship, even if those Russian speakers live in other sovereign states. We can empathize with those who wish us ill all we want. But no amount of empathy will prevent evil men from perpetrating evil deeds.
Diplomacy and compromise have an important role in international relationships. When two civilized nations have a disagreement about a civilized issue, negotiation is often an effective way to resolve the issue. But when a nation engages in conduct outside of the norms of acceptable civilized behavior, no amount of negotiation will ever be successful. Perpetrators of evil will continue to engage in evil activities until their actions are stopped by another nation. No amount of talking, understanding, self-criticism, empathy, or appeasement will reign in an evil regime. Look at recent history. Neville Chamberlain touted his appeasement of Hitler as guaranteeing “peace in our time.” But it took Winston Churchill’s steadfast leadership and determination of physically attacking Germany to finally end the horror of the Nazi regime.
Barack Obama can continue to engage in all of his self-criticism about the past evils of Christianity, or even the United States. But none of his self-reflection will stop organizations and nations like ISIS or North Korea from continuing to threaten United States citizens. When a Jordanian pilot was immolated by ISIS thugs, King Abdullah II of Jordan, a 43rd-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, didn’t wring his hands trying to understand or empathize with ISIS. He recognized pure evil as evil, and immediately took action – executing ISIS terrorists and conducting air strikes against their strongholds. King Abdullah recognizes that the only way to defeat evil is to eradicate evil. Trying to reason with evil is about as effective as trying to reason with a three-year-old.
Liberals live in a world of delusion. They are so certain of their own moral righteousness, they can not even begin to comprehend the reasons others may not share their opinions. They believe talking to opponents, even those who seek nothing other than to do us harm, will eventually convince purveyors of evil to change their ways. And if talking out the problem fails, which invariably occurs when dealing with evil, liberals shrink back into self-reflection and self-hatred – believing that they must somehow be responsible for the evil actions of others. This leads to attempts at appeasement – another failed strategy for dealing with evil.
Evil can only be overcome by force. It may be economic force, such as Reagan’s policy to increase defense spending which almost bankrupted the Soviet Union as they strove to keep up. It may be military force. Japan wasn’t going to surrender in World War II until they were subjected to certain nuclear annihilation. Had Churchill followed Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, Europe would likely still suffer under the Nazi yoke. Regardless of the type of force used, only an unshakable resolve to directly confront threats to our citizens will be successful in defeating those who wish us harm. Unfortunately, our current president believes that empathy for our enemies and endless self-criticism will convince them to stop their evil deeds. Although Obama may pride himself on historical comparisons of Christianity to the Crusades and slavery, he shows an abject ignorance of the more important lessons of history.