Monday, March 27, 2006

Nick Cohen: Shrivelling of the liberal conscience

Nick Cohen writes,
Christian Peacemaker Teams greeted the news of its missionaries’ release by saying that ‘they knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers’.

Actually, their only protection turned out to be the SAS.

Yet at least Kember and his colleagues made a commitment to Iraq. They may have done no good, they may have put better and braver men in danger, yet they strike me as preferable to the majority of European liberals who have sat out the conflict.

Civilians are massacred at random: silence. Al-Qaeda hits as many Shia mosques as it can in the hope of provoking a civil war: silence again. No condemnations of barbarism are offered for fear of giving the smallest support to George W Bush and Tony Blair.

The price that has already been paid is a shrivelling of the liberal conscience. If you refuse to take sides in Iraq, you can’t take them anywhere else. From Burma to Darfur, crimes against humanity that would have produced outrage in the Nineties are met with indifference today.
People use God to sit out conflicts. Rather than have to pick between Bush and Blair, and the Baath and Al-Qaeda, they just throw the whole thing onto God's lap.

They should remember JFK's closing words in his inaugural,
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
God didn't free them and their conscience should be asking them how their work put many at risk to win their freedom. I am convinced someday God will ask those questions.

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