It was good that President George W. Bush visited the Auschwitz crematory during his European trip. The Holocaust museums in Washington and Jerusalem remind visitors of what happened 60 years ago, but not until people set foot in places where history's greatest atrocity occurred can they fully know. The president said that good came to Europe because "there were people willing to take up arms against evil." In a guest book, the president wrote, "never forget."
Evil ceased being a concept, except when politically convenient, sometime in the '60s. Some of the same theologians, politicians, educators and pundits who dismissed evil as a proper metaphor for our "modern time" were quick to invoke the word when it came to policies (mostly Republican) they disliked. Words such as "racism" and "homophobe" have replaced evil in our contemporary lexicon. Those same people who reject evil (as well as its companion and even more "outmoded" word, "sin") ask us to accept that certain things they do not like are wrong, while rejecting a standard - other than opinion polls - by which right and wrong can be measured.
It is puzzling, therefore, that President Bush - fresh from his visit to Auschwitz - now asks Israel to trust its future to the ideological descendants of the architect of the death camps.
One might expect that a people so close to getting what they want would modify their rhetoric and mollify their deeds to show the world how they plan to conduct themselves in a Palestinian state. One might also expect Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to think more clearly about the "final solution" that Hitler failed to achieve but that his Arab disciples see as their mandate. In both cases, one would be wrong to think this way.
On the eve of Mr. Bush's visit to the Middle East, Egyptian government newspapers unloaded invective on the president. Some samples: "Bush is like Saddam, a murderer, tyrant and oppressor" (Muhammad Nafi', writing in Al-Gumhuriya); "Bush suffers from Oedipus Complex" (Anis Mansour in Al-Ahram, the main government daily); "The removal of sanctions against Iraq require the Iraqi people to fight the Americans" (Al-Ahram editorial). This is from a nation that has a peace treaty with Israel and is an "ally" of the United States.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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