This past Saturday the New York Times published an article, “Behind Flurry of Killing, Potency of Hate,” on the roots of monstrous evil. The article largely concerned a former paramilitary member of the Irish Republican Army, and as such was informative.
But when it ventured into a larger discussion of evil, the moral confusion and contempt for America that characterize leftism were on display.
The article contains a breathtaking paragraph that exemplifies both qualities. After noting that atrocities against groups of people are often the result of the dehumanization of the victimized group, the writer gives four such examples:
The Hutus in Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches, the Nazis depicted the Jews as rats. Japanese invaders referred to their Chinese victims during the Nanjing massacre as “chancorro,” or “subhuman.” American soldiers fought barbarian “Huns” in World War I and godless “gooks” in Vietnam.
This paragraph is noteworthy for its use of false moral equivalence to justify its anti-Americanism.
Let’s begin with the moral equivalence — taking how the Hutus viewed and treated the Tutsis, how the Nazis viewed and treated the Jews, and how the Japanese viewed and treated the Chinese and then equating those examples with the Americans’ views and treatment of the Germans in World War I and Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.
In 1994, over the course of about 100 days, Hutus slaughtered between half a million and a million Tutsis. This was not a war between armies but against a civilian population marked for extinction.
The Nazis murdered about 6 million Jews, all of whom were civilians. Indeed more than a million were children. The Nazis had targeted the Jews for extinction.
The Japanese likewise slaughtered Chinese civilians en masse and regarded the Chinese as so subhuman as to be worthy of being systematically experimented on in ghoulish medical experiments that completely paralleled those of the Nazis.
What do any of those examples have to do with Americans fighting in World War I or in Vietnam?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing about these other three examples applied to America in World War I or in Vietnam.
Nicknames — even derogatory ones — for enemies have probably been used in every war by every nation’s soldiers. That is not at all the same as a serious view of another racial or national group as unworthy of life, as subhuman.
Unlike any of the other examples, Americans did not have a term that — like “cockroaches,” “rats,” and “subhuman” — by definition meant that Germans or Vietnamese were not members of the human race.
Unlike any of the other examples, all the killing by Americans in World War I and Vietnam was confined to war. No war, no killing. The Nazi and Hutu examples had nothing to do with waging war. The Tutsis and Jews were targeted for annihilation, period. And the hundreds of thousands of instances of rape, torture, and medical experimentation on Chinese civilians — such as cutting them open without anesthesia or freezing people’s limbs and then cutting them off, also without anesthesia — committed by the Japanese had nothing to do with war aims.
Moreover, what does “godless” have to do with subhuman categories? Again, nothing. Why, then, was it included in this article — “godless ‘gooks’”? Because the Times writer wanted to render the term “godless” as offensive as the term “subhuman.” Being largely godless itself, and aiming for a godless West, the Left detested the Right’s calling Communism “godless” — even though Communists were vocal and proud of their godlessness.
Lumping America’s actions in those two wars with the other three examples is typical of the Left’s defamation of America and of facile use of false moral equivalence.
But that is how a generation of Americans who have attended college — including most likely the Times author herself — have been taught to think. And that is what is taught to your child today at the Left’s seminaries — our universities:
Nazis, Hutu murderers, Japanese rapists, Americans at war: All pretty much the same.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.