Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quote of the Day: Niebuhr Week

"Nations find it even more difficult than individuals to preserve sanity when confronted with a resolute and unscrupulous foe. Hatred disturbs all residual serenity of spirit and vindictiveness muddles every pool of sanity. In the present situation even the sanest of our statesmen have found it convenient to conform their policies to the public temper of fear and hatred which the most vulgar of our politicians have generated or exploited. Our foreign policy is thus threatened with a kind of apoplectic rigidity and inflexibility. Constant proof is required that the foe is hated with sufficient vigor. Unfortunately the only persuasive proof seems to be the disavowal of precisely those discriminate judgments which are so necessary for an effective conflict with the evil, which we are supposed to abhor."
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Niebuhr was of course talking about Communism not Islamism, and would express the hope that an underlying kinship between the two ideological blocks facing up to each other in his times, might perhaps allow Americans to somehow 'forgive' the waywardness of the Soviet system.

With Islamism it is surely harder to arrive at the conclusion that Niebuhr himself reached, namely "America now confronts a system exhibiting 'evils' which were distilled from illusions not generically different from our own"...unless of course you factor in the 'evils' of Pentecostalism.

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