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"Oops, maybe we should have shut up!"
The following text contains some criticisms of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP). I'm putting forth these fraternal criticisms in the hope that they will help the CHP, and therefore eventually help my country. I'm not doing this to hurt the CHP! If that can make you feel better, I also criticize the provincial equivalent of the CHP here in Quebec, my Catholic religious leaders, and the list just keeps getting longer!
On August 3, 2006, the CHP sent an e-mail called "CHP Speaks Out - You must see Obsession". Basically, that e-mail just reminds us of several common sense truths which are obvious to everybody, except anti-Christian journalists:
2.1) Hezbollah is not made up of choirboys;
2.2) Negociating with terrorists is like giving civility courses to a rock, in the hope that it will stop falling;
2.3) Israel has a right to defend itself;
2.4) The objective of the jihadists is not to have their own team in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, or their own seat at the United Nations, it's to destroy Christendom;
- etc., etc.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of that, quite the contrary! The problem is an omission. The text says we mustn't use restraint in our struggle against the terrorists:
"Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, twice asserted his government's belief in Israel's right to defend itself - which, of course, is the right thing to say.
But twice he also called on Israel to "use restraint". In that, Mr. Fast was very, very wrong."
In my opinion, if such a declaration had been made during an electoral campaign, the CHP would have been sunk here in Quebec.
You don't need a big torpedo to sink a Christian political ship, all you need is a little omission. In this case, you just need to omit statements like:
3.1) Deliberately killing innocent civilians is always a serious sin, even if you have the very good intention of neutralizing terrorists (in other words, the end doesn't justify the means);
3.2) Killing innocent civilians, even without having the intention to do so, can be a serious sin, if you didn't take reasonable precautions to avoid it (the concept of criminal negligence);
3.3) Like good policemen, good soldiers who want to respect justice will have a more difficult task (bad guys, by definition, don't have to play by any rules). This "asymmetry" will always be part of the job description of the good guys;
3.4) Even if you're fighting in a just war (i.e. that you're defending your country against an unjust aggression), you can still commit injustices (the traditional distinction between the just war, and justice in war);
- etc., etc.
Please note I'm not asserting that the CHP is against these statements! On the contrary, I'm sure the whole CHP, from the Leader right down to the smallest member, is totally in accord with these statements. Except if we don't mention them explicitely at the right moment, we run the risk of being wrongly interpreted, especially by journalists who hate us in advance!
In my opinion, avoiding this kind of problem isn't very difficult. We just need to "team-think". When a political party wants to make a declaration on some current issue, the leaders write up a draft, then circulate it internally. The party members add their comments, and send everything back to the leaders. With the wonders of Internet and e-mail, it's easy, almost free, and fast.
There are other good reasons to make more efforts to "team-think". To start with, democracy isn't like our genetic code. By the very fact we're the child of our father and mother, we have their genes. But we don't necessarily have the democratic mindset and skills, just because we were born in a democratic country. These things must be acquired by a long and patient effort. A good political party is a very good place to teach these things. See also "How To Make A Web Site For A Political Party: Part 2", especially paragraphs 2.2 to 2.4.
A third good reason to make more efforts to "team-think" is that it's compelling! The Christian Heritage Party must attract new members, but one of the best ways of doing so is to be a very vibrant venue for reflexion and debates. "Team-thinking" doesn't exclude the idea of also thinking with players from the other teams! (And we all know just how popular games between opposing teams can be!) An example, which in my opinion would be very interesting, would be to have discussions with representatives of pro-choice groups, as is described in "Abortion: Have We Done Our Homework?". We could carve out a small special section in the "CHP Party Link", or any other official and regular CHP publication. My suggestion for such a publication is in "Who Speaks Truly?"
Satan has no power, just the power of marketing. If evil is gaining ground in this world, it's among others because Satan is clever enough to make evil look good. We must must be pure, as opposed to Satan, but we must also be clever, in order to make good look good!
The initial "Loose Lips, Sink Christian Ships" article got me some feedback. I'll try to answer some of those questions here. Please remember I don't have the time or skill to give perfect rebuttals. Also, this is only one side of the story. I'd love to go through the same process, but this time criticizing left-wing Christians and pro-Palestinian articles (such as can be found on Common Dreams and elsewhere).
Hum, I'm the guy who claims the Province of Quebec needs a "good and joyful inquisition" to kick the left-leaning, pro-abortion and pro-sodomy Bishops and Priests out of the Catholic Church. Moreover, if you read this whole text carefully, its conclusion is looking more and more like a call for a good and joyful Crusade!
Not exactly your typical watered-down approach!
From what I can see, there is a difference between watering down our message (which is an anti-Christian approach), and making our message more clear. I'm advocating the latter, not the former. Notice that I claim the error that was made is an error of omission, and that the solution according to me is to add more information.
This argument is based on a nice article by Albert Jay Nock called Isaiah's Job:
"The main trouble with all this [i.e. making our message understandable by the masses] is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one's doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo."
It depends. If you don't do your job right, yes, you will dilute your message. But that is avoidable.
"If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins."
Albert Jay Nock needs to make some distinctions here. There are three possible options, not just A or B:
(A) Tell the corrupt crowds what they want to hear
(B) Tell the corrupt crowds the truth, i.e.:
(B.1) Tell the corrupt crowds the truth, but not all the truth
(B.2) Tell the corrupt crowds the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Albert Jay Nock seems to be implying that if you're avoiding (A), then you're necessarily doing (B.2).
The author is absolutely right, if we're talking about prophets who are sent by the Lord, and who are told what to say by the Lord (inerrant Word of God, etc.).
The Bible is filled with examples of prophets who were in (B.2) (of course!). Except when we do Politics, we are simple men, and we can unfortunately avoid (A), only to fall into (B.1)...
The rest of the article is based on this mistake made by the author. Or should I say: this article becomes mistaken, if you use it out of context (i.e., in Politics, and not just in the context of the Bible).
This refers to an article by Mounir Herzallah [Broken link: judeoscope.ca/article.php3?id_article=0429], in which he claims that Hezbollah stored rockets in bunkers in his town and built a school and residence over it:
"A local sheik explained to me laughing that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them or, if they attacked the rockets depots, they would be condemned by world opinion on account of the dead civilians. These people do not care about the Lebanese population, they use them as shields, and, once dead, as propaganda."
Have I ever lived in Lebanon or Israel? No. Do I have any first-hand accounts of what is happening over there? No. Can I prove that Hezbollah uses human shields? No. That being said, I wouldn't be surprized at all if that were the case.
Anybody who is crazy and immoral enough to put bombs inside school buses filled with young Israeli children, is crazy and immoral enough to use their own civilians as human shields.
Except that it's irrelevant to this discussion. Our moral standards don't depend on the moral standards of others. We are supposed to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, not just less nasty than the bastards we are currently up against!
The fact that some bad guys use human shields just means that the good guys have to work harder. For example, when a bank robber uses a hostage to shield himself from the police, that just means the police have to call in the sharp-shooter, who is equipped and trained to avoid the hostage and neutralize the bank robber.
In a military context, if there is a school and a residence built over an enemy munitions depot, that just means you can't use the standard 155 mm G-5 howitzer firing HE shells to blow it away from 50 km out (i.e., the easy, inexpensive, safe solution). You need to get closer, and use more precise means of delivering less firepower.
By the way, if someday we want to open a totally different "can of worms", we could have a debate on "Whether the Israeli Army has become sloppy". The Israelis used to be the best of the best, the "brain surgeons" of lethal force.
Now, some military bloggers [broken link: www.defensetech.org/archives/002589.html] claim Israel has become too dependent on fancy technology, and have lost some traditional soldiering skills. One IDF (Israeli Defense Force) brigadier general said: "With all due credit to technology and the capabilities it provides, we cannot neglect basic soldiering and discipline. But time and again, we've seen our training budget gutted to allow for full-bore investment in Tzayad [the IDF's digital Army program, a rough equivalent of the U.S.' very expensive Future Combat Systems]. And now we're seeing the results blowing up in our faces."
This refers to an article published in the National Post, dated 2006.07.29, called "Suez's lesson", by David Frum:
"What Westerners think of as goodwill, Middle Easterners often interpret as weakness. Westerners expect their concessions and compromises to be met with concessions and compromises in return. Instead, Western moderation often intensifies Middle Eastern radicalism - as Eisenhower's goodwill intensified Nasser's radicalism, as Jimmy Carter's intensified the Ayatollah Khomeini's, as Ehud Barak's at Camp David intensified Yasser Arafat's. And (I'd argue) as George Bush's moderation toward Iran since 9/11 has intensified the Iranian regime's intransigence, extremism and violence."
I'm not a competent historian or a skilled geo-political expert, so I can't really agree or disagree with Mr. David Frum's analysis of all those very complex events. But, if you read my article carefully, you'll notice I never say we should be nice to the terrorists, on the contrary. See #2.2 above.
This refers to an article published in the National Post, dated 2006.07.29, called "Lebanon according to Hezbollah", by Robert Fulford:
"Hezbollah grants or withholds permission for any journalistic visit, then supervises it. [...] Robertson admitted that Lebanon stories should be treated with "more than a grain of salt." But that's what he and others [journalists] don't provide. During this entire crisis I have not once heard anyone on TV say: «All facts and pictures I have just delivered are Hezbollah-approved, so treat them warily»."
I have never claimed that the figures for civilian casualties in Lebanon were reliable! Also, nowhere in my article to I assert I can prove Israel did anything wrong! I can't make any definite claims about those topics (and almost every other aspect of this war between Israel and Hezbollah). I have no first-hand information.
But I can prove that the statements 3.1 to 3.4 are true, have been true, and always will be true.
"Israel showed restraint for six long years, waiting for someone to stop Hezbollah from collecting armaments. Perhaps the "international community" considered that restraint admirable, but it meant that this summer about a third of Israelis are within range of a ferocious enemy's 12,000 rockets. That may explain why the word "restraint" no longer plays a large part in the vocabulary of Israel."
I never said it was a good idea to let terrorists accumulate weapons! Like all words, the word "restraint" can have several meanings. Failure to distinguish those meanings can lead us to make statements that will sound true to us, but that will be interpreted differently by others, leading to more hatred and violence.
This refers to an article called "The difference between us and the terrorists is clear: We endanger ourselves to protect their civilians. They endanger their own civilians to protect themselves.", by Moshe Yaalon:
"If the world were now blaming Hezbollah, Syria and Iran for the innocent Lebanese killed, hurt or displaced in this conflict, then it would be sending a powerful message to every terrorist group on the planet: We will not tolerate the use of human shields. Period."
"Instead, those who condemn Israel have sent precisely the opposite message. They have told every terrorist group around the world that the use of human shields will pay huge dividends, thereby providing them with a powerful weapon that endangers innocents everywhere."
Firstly, do you detect any anger in what I've written so far?
Secondly, where, in my article, do I "condemn Israel", as you say?
Thirdly, I'm a bit confused! You claim that Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are devoid of any sense of morality, and then you want to entrust to those very same entities the responsibility of fixing this mess? Isn't that a bit like firemen who would blame the arsonist for starting the fire, and who would then expect the arsonist to put it out?
Ideally, taking reasonable precautions to avoid endangering civilian lives would be the joint responsibility of the good guys and the bad guys. Except bad guys, by definition, are not reasonable. Therefore, it's not reasonable to wait for the bad guys to start behaving well. We just have to do our duty, now and forever.
Has Israel taken all reasonable precautions? As I've said above, I'm amazed at just how many journalists know exactly what is going on in the Middle East! I've never been there, and I have no first-hand information. Therefore, as we speak, I can't speak either for or against Israel. But I can defend eternally valid moral principles.
This refers to an article called "Advocates of 'proportion' are just unbalanced" [broken link: www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn06.html], by Mark Steyn, Sun-Times Columnist:
"Let's say 150 missiles are lobbed at northern Israel from the Lebanese village of Qana and the Israelis respond with missiles of their own that kill 28 [civilians]. Whoa, man, that's way «disproportionate».
But let's say you're a northwestern American municipality -- Seattle, for example -- and you haven't lobbed missiles at anybody, but a Muslim male shows up anyway and shoots six Jewish women [...] Well, that's apparently entirely «proportionate», so «proportionate» that the event is barely reported in the American media"
Dear Mr. Mark Steyn: Two wrongs don't make a right.
Yes, there are some Muslim males who thirst for Jewish blood out in Seattle (and elsewhere), but their crimes are not some sort of moral "Liquid Paper(tm)" which can whiten mistakes made by others elsewhere on the planet. Good is good, and evil is evil. If my car is stolen by some punk who happens to be your cousin, that doesn't give me the "right" to go and steal your wallet. Did the Israeli army just make an honest mistake in Qana? I don't know, but whether or not it was an honest mistake doesn't depend on the behavior of some maniac in Seattle.
This refers to an article published in the National Post, dated August 8, 2006, called "Selective outrage", by Lorne Gunter:
"If Israel kills, that's awful, a war crime. Rush in camera crews and openly emotional reporters to collect the anguished reaction of survivors. Yet when Hezbollah kills civilians ... Hey, wait a minute! You mean to tell me Hezbollah is killing civilians? Nah. Who ever heard of such a thing?"
Once again, I never said all journalists were perfect, or all coverage of the Middle East was unbiased. Can some anti-Christian journalists doctor up pictures and reports to make Israel look bad? Sure! Men are sinners. Nothing surprises me anymore.
That being said, does Mr. Lorne Gunter have first-hand experience of the Middle East? Is he reporting things he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears? Apparently not. Does he carefully describe what his sources of information are? Apparently not. Does that mean what he says isn't true? How could I know? I'm just trying to draw your attention to the fact it's very easy to make all kinds of assertions on events in the Middle East, but far more difficult to prove them.
This refers to an article published in the Ottawa Sun, dated August 6, 2006, called "Fightin' Words!", by Jordan Michael Smith.
I do not claim the State of Israel is a mistake. I claim Original Sin is a mistake.
Some people think the world would be peaceful, if only the Jews would get out of the Middle East. As far as I'm concerned, that's like saying a sick man would be cured, if only we took him out of his bed made of wood, and put him in a bed made of solid gold!
The problem is far more fundamental that the presence or absence of a few Jews here or there. The problem is the heart of man, wounded by sin. Even if Jews didn't exist, there would still be wars, hunger, terrorism, etc. We have to eradicate sin, not Jews (or Arabs, or anybody else).
This refers, among others, to an article published in the WorldNetDaily, dated August 11, 2006, called "Why it is a war on terror", by Alan Keyes:
"So although terror is a tactic, their willingness to make use of it establishes the moral difference between them and the people they attack. Our sense of that moral difference is indispensable to maintaining the clear conviction that our fight against them is right and proper."
Yes, fighting against terrorists is "right and proper", but that is not enough. It's not because we are engaged in a just war, that everything we'll do in that war will be necessarily just. See #3.4 above. It's a sad truth that wars don't always have a "good guy" and a "bad guy". Both sides can often be more or less wrong.
Think about it. If Paragraph #3.4 is not true, then Israel could wipe out Canada with nuclear weapons, since there are probably sleeper cells of terrorists, right here! I'm not saying Israel would do that. I'm saying that logically, if you remove Paragraph #3.4, nuking Canada becomes totally consistent! You've just torpedoed your credibility, and sunk a Christian ship. Which is why I claim we have to avoid "loose lips", i.e. policy statements that are missing some pieces.
I would also be very careful with expressions like "Islamo-fascists". We are Christians, and we firmly believe that even the very worst Muslim terrorists are potential Christian saints. Yes, terrorists are very evil and God will send them to Hell if they don't repent. But terrorists are also men who can change their minds and mend their ways. Yes, we are justified to use lethal force against terrorists, when no other means are available. But every terrorist has a guardian angel that sees the Face of God continually [Mt 18:10], an angel who works overtime to try to convert that terrorist. Yes, there are some stupid Catholic Priests who use God's Mercy as an excuse to gloss over horrible crimes. But the fact God is infinite Justice doesn't eliminate the fact God is also infinite Mercy [Lc 15:4]. Yes, in a way, "terrorists are monsters". But we mustn't forget that today's terrorist is often yesterday's innocent child who was raised into a totalitarian politico-religious system, which made it more difficult (but not impossible) for him to accept God's Grace, later on in life. Yes, we have to fight against terrorism. But we also have to remember Christ who told us: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" [Mt 5:44].
Terrorism is bad. Very bad. I was once in the military, and if the Israeli army invites me to come and fight by their side against Hezbollah, I'll probably enroll again. That being said, I must never forget that when I see a bloodthirsty terrorist on TV, I should always say:
"There, but for the Grace of God, go I."
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