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Dying for a Little Peace

The belief that reason can prevail over inveterate savagery, “smart power” over jungle power, is the same psychology, for example, that animates Toronto’s annual Spirit of Hope Benefit, which tackles issues such as human rights, freedom and democracy, and the Middle East. Partnered by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, it too has fallen prey to the ideological opiates of the day, fostering the values of love and compassion among schoolchildren and teaching them, in the words of Spirit of Hope’s president Avi Benlolo, about “tolerance and respect” and “the tragic consequences of hate.” A program of this nature will ensure that these children become sitting ducks for the murderous hordes that deserve -- and need -- to be hated with undeviating vehemence. Love of humanity, no matter how well-intentioned, is suspect unless we are prepared without compunction -- and without compassion or tolerance -- to liquidate those who kill, torture, enslave and oppress and for whom the values of love, respect, tolerance and compassion are a risible farce to be enjoyed and ruthlessly exploited.

One sees how deep this dreary burlesque of accommodation can sink when one examines the antics of the Nobel Committee, which has been so thoroughly addled as to award the coveted Nobel Peace Prize to an arch-terrorist like Yasser Arafat, a social-justice fraudster like Rigoberta Menchú or an unqualified and out-and-out political disaster like Barack Obama whose notion of peace entails deceit, weakness and appeasement. Indeed, for the sake of peace (ostensibly, at any rate) Obama has pursued negotiations and serially extended deadlines with Iran -- a terror-sponsoring and genocidal rogue regime that has threatened to incinerate Israel and bring down the United States -- that would allow it to achieve the nuclear means to carry out its bruited purpose. Iran has been very clear about its intentions. But such comminations, apparently, are only harmless bluff and bluster. After all, the mullahs are human like the rest of us and men of faith whose putative desire for peace can be trusted.

Aside from the liars and political operators in public office whose malign agenda we have come to know only too well, the nub of the issue is this. The PeaceQuesters and their ilk work variously under the assumption that human beings are fundamentally moral and rational, that human nature is basically good, and that hatred, misunderstanding and war are the products of poverty, social maladies, economic disparities and pernicious educational theories and practices. (Though if human nature is intrinsically benign, where these ills might conceivably have come from is an argument-defeating enigma.)

In effect, we are dealing with an assortment of latter-day Rousseauians who cannot see that cruelty, envy, greed, resentment and aggression are inherent aspects of human nature no less and perhaps even more than kindness, sympathy and love; that the baser elements of our nature may be fought and managed but never abolished; that human beings are ethical mongrels; that conflicts between individuals are inescapable; and that physical nature in its harshness and unpredictability will ineluctably create conditions in which amiable fellow-feeling is inevitably checked or turned into its opposite. Such are both human nature and physical nature, neither susceptible to remedial transformations nor maudlin illorications. We can hope for the best, but it is pure folly not to expect the worst -- and be prepared for it. Life is not an idyll; it is damage control.