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On Leadership and Courage

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.”--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

A woman and boy were shot in the head yesterday in Baltimore, making this the deadliest month in Baltimore history with 38 murders; we have a President who actually espouses the potential for rational negotiations with Iranian anti-semitic zealots; and China, meanwhile, is building artificial islands in the South China Sea (a region that the US has kept open to shipping since WWII) and orders our military aircraft to leave international airspace.


When debating issues such as these with liberals, one is confronted with the same general defense: “You (the conservative) don’t understand the complexity of the issue. The issue has no clear cut right or wrong answer. It is much more nuanced than any conservative can grasp.” Poppycock.

In the final analysis, the arguments from liberals on this and many other issues require something that they themselves are not capable of…moral clarity. The positions they take are not about nuance, they are about cowardice. They are a reflection of the continued refusal by the left to see even the problem of Islamic extremism in anything resembling a realistic way. Better to pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or that appeasement isn’t appeasement, than to be forced to make courageous decisions to confront it.

The man quoted above, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, was a brilliant Christian writer who lived under the thumb of a different evil, Soviet Communism. He spent years in a gulag because he spoke out against that evil. In a 1978 speech to Harvard University, he warned this nation about this pattern of cowardice that he had already noticed developing in our leadership. In that same speech he also said this:


A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West. The Western world has lost its civil courage…Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals (our military and a handful in Congress) but they have no determining influence on public life...”

How prophetic Solzhenitsyn was. At a time such as this, when the world can be said to be dangerous in more different places than at any time since WWII, we are living in a culture rife with political correctness (another term for cowardice). As a citizen I long for political leaders who demonstrate valor over expediency and who do not seek nuance within issues that are quite black and white. ISIS should have been destroyed weeks ago and Iran should have been properly dealt with thirty-five years ago. Rather than shrink our navy in the face of a grave Chinese threat to shipping, we should be building it up and modernizing it. Many of the problems facing this nation could be corrected if only they were approached with solutions that were as straightforward as the threats. We need to elect leaders who will do so…and soon.


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