Politics & Policy

The Corner

Botching Aquinas in the New York Times

There’s hardly any argument to be found in Richard Parker’s op-ed in the Times (“Why Christians Must Support Gun Control”), and what little can be found is wrong.

Christianity demands action. It insists on the protection of the innocent. In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas justified war in self-defense, but he also opposed the killing of innocent civilians. “Aquinas holds that causing the death of innocents in a foreseeable manner, whether intentionally or indirectly,” according to the Cambridge divinity scholar Daniel H. Weiss, “is never justified.”

And yet Christian evangelicals, particularly white Southern Baptists, have generally parted ways with Catholics on gun laws.

It is not especially odd that white Southern Baptists have failed to go along with an obvious misinterpretation of Aquinas. If he had held the view attributed to him, it would mean that he had practically endorsed pacifism—since even a just war of self-defense entails foreseeably although unintentionally causing the death of innocents. You’ve never heard that Aquinas was a pacifist? That’s because he wasn’t one.

Anyway, you don’t need to cite Aquinas to show that public authorities should do what they reasonably can to protect innocent people from being killed—a proposition nobody involved in the debate over American gun policy disputes. What  is disputed is whether a prohibition on whatever guns Parker wishes to ban would be a sensible way to advance that end. It is a question that Parker, too busy suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence is an insincere Christian for disagreeing with him, almost entirely ignores.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More