Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Forgiveness and Guilt: Retreat from Evil II

I emailed Wretchard and asked him to elaborate on his comments that I excerpted in my below post, here's what he said:
That's the saddest thing about guilt. It really is our fault and we know this because we accuse ourselves of it. There's a retarded guy who lives down the street. He doesn't have this guilt and never will. Those who genuinely cannot reproach themselves really don't have a problem. Sarte once said, "we are condemned to be free", by which he meant in part that we are condemened to be responsible. The Left offers one way out of this dilemma by creating the machinery of historical determinism. There is always something else to blame. Today it is called America but it would have another name if America didn't exist. It's a comforting thought, but it isn't true. Rachel Corrie thought herself righteous for supporting Palestinian 'militants'. The news yesterday reported her parents are suing Israel for running her over and Caterpiller for making the bulldozer. It is the Caterpillar part that is really revealing. I often ask myself whether I would have the guts to shoot someone running towards a schoolbus with a bomb even if that person were a retarded child -- or whether I would ask someone else to do it. A Down's syndrome boy was used as a suicide bomber not long ago. I would shoot him, I hope. And hope for forgiveness.

Regards, W.

Perhaps this is why so many on the left did not want Saddam deposed, because with it comes responsibility and of course guilt. This was revealed in an email debate I was having with a lefty war opponent for whom I have a lot of respect. I said something along the lines of 'no matter what happens, Hussein killed more Iraqis than we ever will,' he responded with "yes, but now we are the one's doing the killing." So it's not the dead bodies that matter, but where the fault lies. It might be comforting to write off Hussein types as simply a result of 'historical determinism' and turn away, but there is nothing moral about that. And while I do feel the sting of guilt when I hear about the deaths of coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians, I can live with it. Because ignoring the death cult of the Middle East and leaving a tyrant like Saddam in power while pretending that he is not doing unimaginable things to human beings on a daily basis is worse.

Obviously not everyone feels that way, as we (America) have been constantly learning. Even when we use violence in a good cause, it appears the fact that we use violence at all is enough to undermine said good cause in the eyes of many. In the case of Iraq we are using violence with the hope of improving the fate of an entire people by eliminating those who threaten their peace and stability. As the violence escalates in response to the brutality of the enemy, we come face to face with Wretchard's dilemma where the 'devil defeats the prospect of free moral lunch.' Either we continue using violence until those demonic head hackers are finally defeated, or we simply stop (or never start) and abandon those who desperately need help to those with the least scruples about using brutality to advance their own objectives.

Neither of these choices are particularly attractive, but reality is not dependent on our acceptance of it - this is the world we face. If you want to see what the second 'non-intervention' option looks like, you need only to look to Hitler's Germany, Rwanda in 1994, Saddam's first 30 years in power, or the Sudan today. I'll leave the reader to make the personal decision as to which choice is more forgivable as I know mine.


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