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Rejecting Gandhi’s way

Posted by Richard on March 15, 2007

Sen. Mitch McConnell isn't the only Republican displaying a bit of spine and spunk for a change. Former Senator, actor, and possible Presidential candidate Fred Thompson sat in for Paul Harvey this morning, and he commented on the anti-war group Code Pink, which is camped out on Rep. Nancy Pelosi's lawn demanding that she defund the troops in Iraq.

Code Pink's encampment features a giant statue of Gandhi, and the organization was founded on Gandhi's birthday. Thompson noted that prior to the toppling of Saddam, the anti-war movement distributed a poster that read, "What would Gandhi do?" NRO has the transcript:

And that's a pretty good question. At what point is it okay to fight dictators like Saddam or the al Qaeda terrorists who want to take his place?

It turns out that the answer, according to Gandhi, is NEVER. During World War II, Gandhi penned an open letter to the British people, urging them to surrender to the Nazis. Later, when the extent of the holocaust was known, he criticized Jews who had tried to escape or fight for their lives as they did in Warsaw and Treblinka. "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife," he said. "They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs." "Collective suicide," he told his biographer, "would have been heroism."

The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi's way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won't cut it in this country. When American's think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein.

Gandhi probably wouldn't approve, but I can live with that.

I'm stunned by those quotes. I've never read all that much about Gandhi, but they don't entirely jibe with what I thought I knew about him. I certainly never deified the man, as many on the left have, but I also never suspected him of such vile thoughts.

Thank you, Fred Thompson, for clearly identifying Gandhi's way. All sane and decent people must forcefully reject it.

George Orwell, one of my favorite socialists, rejected Gandhi's way during World War II. I strongly recommend Orwell's essay, Pacifism and the War, which includes this (emphasis added):

Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. … Mr Savage remarks that ‘according to this type of reasoning, a German or Japanese pacifist would be "objectively pro-British".' But of course he would be! That is why pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both of them the penalty is, or can be, beheading) while both the Germans and the Japanese do all they can to encourage the spread of pacifism in British and American territories. The Germans even run a spurious ‘freedom' station which serves out pacifist propaganda indistinguishable from that of the P.P.U. They would stimulate pacifism in Russia as well if they could, but in that case they have tougher babies to deal with. In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.

UPDATE (3/19/07): Orwell's 1949 Partisan Review essay, "Reflections on Gandhi," is available online at ReadPrint. Quite interesting.

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