Archive for violence
I have been called many things since I began writing in 2003 about the immoral, unjust invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the menacing warfare state, the U.S. evil empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe, the depravity of U.S. foreign policy, and the iniquitous institution of the military.
But whether the designation is traitor, coward, appeaser, anti-American, liberal, leftist, Democrat, un-American, isolationist, hippy, peacenik, Quaker, anti-war weenie, America-hater, brain-dead dope-smoking moron, or limp d**k sorry communist a**hole, it is usually supplemented by pacifist or the more intensive pacifist dog.
At least I am never called a Republican.
Of all the epithets that have been hurled my way, the least offensive is pacifist. After all, pacifists generally frown on rape, theft, assault, destruction of property, and murder—even when they are committed in a U.S. military uniform on foreign soil.
So, am I a pacifist? That all depends on what you mean by pacifist. If the essence of pacifism is opposition to war and the initiation of violence, then I proudly wear the label. However, if pacifism does not include the right of self-defense; that is, if it precludes using violence in defense of violence committed against one’s person or property, then count me out. Like a lot of things, it all hinges on how you define your terms.
I have stated my view of politics here. If you asked me what my overall philosophy or worldview was, I would not say that I was a pacifist. I would say in reply that I am a conservative Christian libertarian.
Contrary to warmongers who wrongly equate the slightest opposition to war with pacifism, libertarians are not necessarily pacifists. As Walter Block writes in the introduction to his book Defending the Undefendable:
Libertarianism does not imply pacifism; it does not forbid the use of violence in defense or even in retaliation against violence. Libertarian philosophy condemns only the initiation of violence—the use of violence against a nonviolent person or his property.
This doesn’t mean that retaliatory violence should be employed, only that its use shouldn’t be condemned. Among the minority of libertarians who would shun the use of retaliatory violence altogether, some would refrain because of some personal motivation. Others, however, would say that it is not only immoral to aggress against the person or property of another but that it is likewise immoral to use violence in defense of violence committed against one’s person or property; that is, they reject even self-defense. These libertarians, I believe, are inconsistent, as Murray Rothbard wrote of Robert LeFevre:
Absolute pacifists who also assert their belief in property rights—such as Mr. Robert LeFevre—are caught in an inescapable inner contradiction: for if a man owns property and yet is denied the right to defend it against attack, then it is clear that a very important aspect of that ownership is being denied to him. To say that someone has the absolute right to a certain property but lacks the right to defend it against attack or invasion is also to say that he does not have total right to that property.
Nevertheless, although LeFevre is inconsistent, “he is far more consistent than socialist-pacifists in his opposition to force, and ranks as a kind of right-wing Tolstoyan.”
Christians are not necessarily pacifists either. This may sound strange to those whose knowledge of Christians is limited to Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, God and country Christian bumpkins, and other Religious Rightists that have no problem draping the cross of Christ with the American flag. But as I say whenever I speak about Christianity and war:
If there is any group of people that should be opposed to war, torture, militarism, the warfare state, state worship, suppression of civil liberties, an imperial presidency, blind nationalism, government propaganda, and an aggressive foreign policy it is Christians, and especially conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who claim to strictly follow the dictates of Scripture and worship the Prince of Peace.
Since aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the nature of biblical Christianity, it is reasonable to surmise that biblical Christians might be pacifists, depending on how you define the term. Nevertheless, I don’t see “absolute pacifism” prescribed for Christians in the New Testament. Using Block’s statement on libertarianism and pacifism as a model, I would say:
Christianity does not imply pacifism; it does not forbid the use of violence in defense or even in retaliation against violence. Christian philosophy condemns only the initiation of violence—the use of violence against a nonviolent person or his property.
I do see self-defense prescribed for Christians in the New Testament. Three verses in particular come to mind:
Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. (Matthew 24:43)
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath; he did not tell him to get rid of it.
In Christ’s illustration concerning the goodman of the house, the man takes defensive action to protect his house.
If a man denies the faith by not providing for his own house, then he is certainly worse than an infidel if he just stands there and lets someone kill him since he can’t very well provide for his family if he is dead. And if a man denies the faith by not providing for his own house, then he is certainly even more worse than an infidel if he stands by and lets his family be raped and murdered and his house robbed.
Whether one is a Christian or not, subscribing to the libertarian non-aggression principle clearly makes one an aggression pacifist. As stated by Block:
Libertarianism is a political philosophy. It [is] concerned solely with the proper use of force. Its core premise is that it should be illegal to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property without his permission; force is justified only in defense or retaliation.
But consistently adhering to the non-aggression principle also makes one a war pacifist. This doesn’t rule out defending one’s country against a legitimate attack or invasion, but it does rule out the use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons because they are inherently immoral. It rules out “good wars.” It rules out U.S. foreign policy for at least the last hundred years. And it also rules out almost everything the U.S. military has ever done.
There is one respect, though, in which I believe Christians should be absolute pacifists. Christians should be, for lack of a better term, theological pacifists; that is, they should suffer for righteousness’ sake without retaliating, as the Apostle Peter says:
For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Peter 2:19-21)
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:13-18)
To be persecuted for Christ’s sake is a badge of honor of far more eternal value than receiving the Medal of Honor for fighting in some unnecessary and unjust foreign war.
So yes, in some respects I am a pacifist. It all depends on how you define your terms.
Tags: Bible, christian libertarianism, libertarianism, pacifism, self-defense, violence
The Catholic Patriarch of Syria has recently stated that a United States attack on Syria would be a “criminal act,” highlighting how U.S. government interventionism not only affects millions of innocents negatively but also has a drastic effect upon the church in those countries.
Quoting Patriarch Gregory (from CNSNews.com):
“We must listen to the Pope’s appeal for peace in Syria,” said Patriarch Gregory III. “If Western countries want to create true democracy then they must build it on reconciliation, through dialogue between Christians and Muslims, not with weapons. This attack being planned by the United States is a criminal act, which will only reap more victims, in addition to the tens of thousands of these two years of war. This will destroy the Arab world’s trust in the West.”
Tags: catholicism, Christianity, church, ethics, Syria, violence, war, war on terror
Just war theory is not perfect, but insofar as it can be used as a “bludgeon” against war I am not entirely against it. To that end, here is an image to share around Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you feel necessary. Credit goes to the Libertarian Party of Tennessee for putting this together.
Tags: ethics, just war theory, justice, Libertarian Party, libertarianism, middle east, News, Syria, violence, war
Is it okay to kill? I don’t mean a bug in your house, a snake in your garage, or a deer in the woods. Deer tastes good; you may not know if that snake in your garage is poisonous; and bugs are home invaders.
I mean is it okay to kill a man, a human being, a person? Again, I don’t mean someone trying to kill you, rob your business, rape your wife, harm your children, or break into your house. Killing someone might be perfectly justified in those circumstances if it involves defense against aggression.
Specifically, is it okay to kill someone who has not threatened or committed violence or aggression against you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, anyone you know, or any American you don’t know? Read More→
Tags: aggression, ethics, freedom, militarism, military, self-defense, violence, war
Is killing another human being ever justifiable? Is committing acts of violence ever permissible? Is murder ever legitimate?
In an otherwise good article on self-defense, "The Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense," a Christian writer in the Berean Searchlight looses his way when he brings up the subject of killing in war. Here are the relevant paragraphs:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God. When the soldiers asked John the Baptist, "And what shall we do?" it is true that John advised them to "do violence to no man" (Luke 3:14). However, these instructions must be considered in light of the fact that he did not insist that these soldiers quit being soldiers. This means that the violence in which he forbad them to engage must have had to do with some sort of illegal violence. The Greek word for violence here has the idea of shaking, and just might be the idea behind our modern word shakedown, the illegal use of power or authority to extort money from people. The rest of John’s words here would suggest that this is what he had in mind, as he went on to tell them to "be content with your wages."
We know from Ezekiel 45:9 that the orderly execution of judgment and justice by soldiers in the line of duty is not considered violence, for here God says to "remove violence" by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice. In addition, David said, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" (Psa. 144:1). Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
The writer’s opening and closing statements are not only irresponsible and careless; they are also evil and dangerous.
On John the Baptist and soldiers, since I have written an entire article on the subject here. I will just say:
1. Is not killing in an unjust war the highest form of violence?
2. Too much should not be read into John the Baptist not telling soldiers to quit since the Apostle Paul likewise never told slave owners to free their slaves (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).
3. Nothing said or not said by John the Baptist or done or not done by Roman soldiers can justify the actions of the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The context of the passage the writer refers to in the book of Ezekiel speaks of a future time when the princes of Israel shall no more oppress the people of Israel (Ezekiel 45:8). It has nothing whatsoever to do with soldiers, then or now. Just read it: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 45:9). It also doesn’t say anything about how anyone is to "remove violence," although it seems clear that stopping the committing of violence is what is meant. One thing is for sure, it certainly doesn’t say to "‘remove violence’ by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice."
It does not follow that because the Lord taught David to fight and war for him as the leader of the Old Testament Israelites that the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin.
It is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against their enemies as a justification for the actions of any government and its military. Although God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, it does not follow that God sponsors other wars, any country is God’s chosen nation, any country has a divine mandate to wage war, any leader is like King David, or that any army is the Lord’s army.
The LORD commanded the children of Israel to "destroy" the altars of the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, "to break their images, and cut down their groves" (Exodus 34:11-13). Does this mean that the U.S. military should invade Muslim countries and destroy their mosques? Only to imperial Christians.
And besides, David obviously abused his skill set because the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
I said that the writer’s opening and closing statements were evil and dangerous. Take a look at them again:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God.
Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
Notice that the writer did not offer any caveats; killing in war is legitimate and is not sinful.
This means that not only are U.S. troops off the hook for killing tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and millions in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam), but that German soldiers who killed Polish, Russian, British, French, and American soldiers in World War II did nothing legitimate. It also means that Japanese soldiers in World War II did not sin when they killed Chinese or American soldiers. The writer’s blanket and careless statements mean that no soldier who ever has taken the life of "the enemy" while engaged in war has ever done anything illegitimate or sinful. This is ludicrous.
Killing in a war that is unjust or not a war of genuine self-defense is wholesale murder. And yes, that goes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wearing a government uniform doesn’t make it legitimate. Using a government weapon doesn’t make it legitimate. Getting a government paycheck for doing it doesn’t make it legitimate. Flying a government plane or helicopter doesn’t make it legitimate. Sailing on a government ship doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-declared enemies doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-demonized foreigners doesn’t make it legitimate. Following a government order doesn’t make it legitimate. Fighting under a government flag doesn’t make it legitimate.
Murder can never be legitimate.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on December 11, 2012.
Tags: Bible, ethics, murder, theology, violence, war