Siding With the Enemy

by David C. Stolinsky, 2/4/2002

       Note that I did not use the cliché “sleeping with the enemy.” This, after all, implies some degree of passion and personal involvement. True, personal involvement with the Tabilan and al-Qaeda was demonstrated by former American John Walker, by British shoe-bomber Richard Reid and by a few other Western hangers-on. Of course, they also demonstrated a colossal lack of judgment and a totally broken moral compass.
       But they are rare exceptions, worthy to be studied by psychiatrists and squabbled over by lawyers. No, I am speaking of a much more numerous variety of Homo stupidissimus—the professors, dilettantes and self-proclaimed intellectuals who express sympathy for the terrorists. These people would not dream of missing a meal, much less risking their lives, to demonstrate the sincerity of their beliefs. Their “support” for the Taliban and al-Qaeda amounts merely to criticism of America. That, of course, is the whole point. They care nothing for the Taliban and al-Qaeda—hatred of America is their real motivation.
       Did thousands of office workers and maintenance personnel die in the Twin Towers? They were “lackeys of the capitalists,” weren’t they? The same goes for the hundreds who died in the four downed airliners. And did hundreds of military and civilian personnel die in the Pentagon? They were “imperialists” bent on furthering America’s domination of the world. Were scores of American tourists killed or injured in terrorist attacks on Israeli markets, discos and pizzerias? No matter; their dollars were supporting Israeli repression of the Palestinians, after all.
       If ingratitude for America’s freedom and abundance is vitriolic enough, there is no reason to favor Americans over anyone—even over people who beat women with sticks for wearing improper clothing, who crush gays to death with stones, and who make Hindus wear the equivalent of the yellow stars that the Nazis made the Jews wear. And if the moral fog is thick enough, every person and every action appears as an indistinguishable gray. We aren’t perfect, so who are we to criticize anyone? Who are we to judge? Aggressors are indistinguishable from defenders, terrorists from soldiers, and murderers from their victims.
       Of course, this line of reasoning absolves us of all responsibility for recognizing evil, much less combating it. Indeed, the very words “evil” and “evildoers” bring sneers and derision from the “enlightened.” After what the Nazis, Communists and miscellaneous tyrants did in the 20th century, one would think that anyone with half a brain would recognize the existence of evil and evildoers. One would be wrong.
       Denying the existence of evil is so convenient for the cowardly, so effortless for the lazy, and so uninvolving for the indifferent. Indeed, it is easy to cloak cowardice, laziness and indifference in the mantle of nonviolence and objectivity. But from time to time, the mantle slips, revealing what lies beneath. It is not a pretty sight.
       Empathy begins with our immediate family. As a child grows, empathy enlarges to encompass friends and schoolmates. Later, empathy extends to our co-workers, and then to our community and homeland. Finally, it may encompass all humanity. But empathy grows like an enlarging circle, never like a doughnut. It cannot exist with a hole at its center. Regardless of what some may claim, we cannot “love the whole world” while at the same time neglecting our spouses, mistreating our children, despising our neighbors and turning our backs on our fellow citizens in their hour of suffering and peril. Empathy for everyone except our own is not empathy at all. It is a cold and egocentric indifference to the needs and suffering of those around us, but disguised as “love for all humanity” and the ability to see the other side’s “point of view.”
       What point of view, specifically? Would a refusal to assist in World War II be justified by a claim that the Nazis’ grievances had to be “understood”? Would one have heard “One man’s concentration camp guard is another man’s freedom fighter”? If moral relativism had been as strong then as it is today, would opponents of the Nazis have been told, “Don’t be judgmental”? Would a refusal to condemn the Sudanese government today be justified by an assertion that we had to see the “point of view” of those who enslave blacks? Does “multiculturalism” mean that all cultures are equal, even those that practice slavery?
       There is a saying that to understand everything is to forgive everything. But even this is too optimistic. In fact, what the apologists for terrorism reveal is that a minimum of understanding can coexist with a maximum of forgiveness—that is, forgiveness for everyone except our own people.
       Do the prisoners at Guantanamo live better than most prisoners in America? Do they, in fact, live better than many American military personnel? Never mind—call us “inhumane.” Were the civilian casualties in Afghanistan amazingly few, considering the extent of the campaign? Never mind—concentrate on them, not on the dead and wounded Americans. And never ask if any of those Americans were killed or wounded because of our efforts to minimize Afghan civilian casualties.
       Of course, the prisoners wouldn’t be prisoners, and the Afghan civilians wouldn’t be casualties, were it not for the mass murder of Sept. 11 that was unleashed by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But never mind—blame us for responding, not them for attacking.
       In short, side with our enemies at every opportunity. Emphasize their grievances, real or imagined. Ignore their bloodthirsty actions. At the same time, criticize America at every opportunity. Ignore our grievances, even the murder of thousands of our innocent citizens. Emphasize our misdeeds, real or imagined. But never risk discomfort, much less danger. Never demonstrate passion or personal involvement. Don’t sleep with the enemy—it takes too much effort. Just side with them.
       This helps the elitists feel superior to us ordinary people, who are trying to make the world safe for other ordinary people to go to their offices or eat pizza.