For many mainline clergy, it's the '60s once more

Posted: Oct 03, 2002 12:00 AM
On the matter of Iraq, America's left wing is flapping more wildly around the dovecote than at any time since 45 of 55 Senate Democrats voted against the 1991 Gulf War resolution - and possibly since Vietnam. In certain sectors, it's hippie/peacenik time all over again. The academy and the press are somewhat subdued. Hollywood is less so. Barbra Streisand, the diva of dubious leftism, did crank up the other day (a) to raise $6 million for Democratic congressional candidates and (b) oh-so-cutely to blast President Bush: For all our miseries, she sang, "Blame the fellas in the White House. It's that too-far-to-the-Right House." Despite the LIDS (Liberal Intellect Deficiency Syndrome) virus infecting so much of Hollywood, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg have stepped up to support taking down Saddam - with Spielberg saying: "I cannot support the policies of his government." And Cruise: "I believe Saddam has committed many crimes against humanity and his own people." That message hasn't reached certain leftie lobbies, such as Common Cause. Recently, it ran a full-page ad in The New York Times deploring an attack on Iraq and heavily declaring: "War, as generals know and politicians sometimes forget, is hell" - and signed by such tired lions as Archibald Cox, Walter Cronkite, Arthur Schlesinger and Laurence Tribe. Nor, evidently, has the message reached members of the Democrats' peace wing such as Teddy Kennedy, who is still (way) out there regurgitating leftist pieties from the 1960s about American participation in Vietnam. He is especially upset about going into Iraq just to change the regime there, and never mind that regime-change was all the rage in 1963 when his brother (President Jack) sanctioned a coup against South Vietnam's president Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu - resulting in their Nov. 2 executions. Clearly, the message hasn't reached key clergyists in the nation's mainline religious denominations, either. For them, it's the '60s, as Count Basie's "April in Paris" notes, "one more once." -The same edition of a leading newspaper that grandly describes the Catholics' Rev. Wilton Gregory as a "centrist," quotes him - as president of the U.S. Congress of Catholic Bishops - as saying: "Given the precedents and risks involved, we find it difficult to justify extending the war on terrorism to Iraq, absent clear and adequate evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks of Sept. 11 or an imminent attack of a grave nature." -The Episcopalians' Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold issued a statement Sept. 6 opposing military action against Iraq. He defined the principal question facing the nation as: "What is our role in the community of nations?" He added that not only within our own nation but throughout the global community, "America has an opportunity to reflect the values and ideals that we espouse by focusing upon issues of poverty, disease and despair." -The Episcopal Bishop of Washington said: "History never lies! Justice seemingly gained through the use of violence only begets more violence and oppression. Nations using weapons of 'mass destruction,' and we are a nation possessing such weapons, only exacerbate the problems of alienation and hostility that define the human condition." -The Tweedledum/Tweedledee National and World Councils of Churches, which in the 1960s made careers signifying for Communist guerrilla movements intent on changing regimes throughout the colonial world, now are taking the opposite approach. A Sept. 12 NCC letter to President Bush opposing his "expressed purpose of toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein," notes that "unilaterally overthrowing enemy governments heightens concern in other countries about American respect for their integrity as nations, as well as for international law." -Two weeks earlier, the United Methodist Church's public policy office issued a particularly poignant - and particularly pointed - statement opposing military action against Iraq as "reckless." It said: "United Methodists have a particular duty to speak out against an unprovoked attack, (because) President Bush and Vice President Cheney are members of our denomination." Reading this stuff - so much of it naive, idiotic, or malign - some might feel themselves time-warped back to love beads, Pete Seeger, chicken-foot peace symbols, and "If it feels good, do it!" Barbra, Teddy, the clergyists, et al. just must not get it about Saddam. Are they into wish fulfillment? Do they believe the lies and evasions of Saddam and his apologists and rationalizers over the testimonies of those in their own government? Would they prefer that Saddam be fully armed with deliverable nukes and bio-chemicals - or disarmed and the weapons destroyed? Peace-wing Democrats just must not get what their LIDS does to their standing with the American electorate. And peacenik church leaders just must not get the degree to which their needless ideological postures (why can't they just maintain a scrupulous silence on political questions?) drive parishioners from the pews. President Bush - wonderfully - has deployed '60s rhetoric of his own. He says he wants "to give peace a chance." He adds: "I want the United Nations to work. I want Saddam to do what he said he would do." But knowing what he does about Saddam and his developing inventories, Bush thinks - with two-thirds of the American people - that waiting 11 years for a snake to relent is long enough. In the name of mankind, either the United Nations goes with us or we go alone. And soon.