Last week, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by a Marine captain titled, “I killed people in Afghanistan. Was I right or wrong?”
The column by Timothy Kudo, who is now a graduate student at New York University, is a fine example of the moral confusion leftism has wrought over the last half century. Captain Kudo’s moral confusion may predate his graduate studies, but if so, it has surely been reinforced and strengthened at NYU.
The essence of Mr. Kudo’s piece is that before he served in Afghanistan he was ethically unprepared for killing, that killing is always wrong, and that war is therefore always wrong.
“I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary?”
The statement, “killing is always wrong,” is the core of the captain’s moral confusion.
Where did he learn such nonsense? He had to learn it because it is not intuitive. Every child instinctively understands that it is right to kill in self-defense; every decent human being knows it was right to kill Nazis during World War II; and just about everyone understands that if Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had been killed early enough, about 100 million innocent lives would have been saved.
How is it possible that a Marine captain and graduate student does not know these things? How can he make a statement that is not only morally foolish, but actually immoral?
The overwhelmingly likely answer is that Captain Kudo is a product of the dominant religion of our time, leftism. And one important feature of the Left’s moral relativism and moral confusion is a strong pacifistic strain.
“Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible.”
I give Captain Kudo the benefit of the doubt that he does not know that the commandment in its original Hebrew reads, “Thou shalt not murder,” not “Thou shalt not kill.” The King James translators did an awe-inspiring job in translating the Bible. To this day, no other English translation comes close to conveying the majesty of the biblical prose. But the Hebrew is clear: “lo tirtzach” means “Do not murder.” Hebrew, like English, has two primary words for homicide — “murder” and “kill.”
Murder is immoral or illegal killing.
Killing, on the other hand, can be, and often is, both moral and legal.
In order to ensure that no more Marines share the captain’s moral confusion, the Marine Corps should explain to all those who enlist that the Bible only prohibits murder, not killing. It should further explain that killing murderers — such as the Nazis and Japanese fascists in World War II and the Taliban today — is not only not morally problematic, it is the apotheosis of a moral good. Refusing to kill them means allowing them to murder.