“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” It’s an old joke, but, on the other hand, so is John Kerry. This past weekend, Sen. Kerry met with American and British troops in Iraq. He claims it helped clear his thoughts about what needs to be done to stabilize the country. Kerry also commented that he looked forward to hearing ideas from Iraqis.
Why do I have this nagging feeling Iraqis aren’t similarly interested in Kerry’s?
Question: Don’t most people do their research before forming an ironclad opinion? I could have sworn Sen. “I voted for the war before I voted against it” already knew what was best for Americans and Iraqis. It was just a few weeks ago he told us our stupid troops needed to admit defeat and go home as soon as they could figure out which way home was. And hasn’t Kerry already embraced the suicidal Baker-Hamilton idea that working with Holocaust-denying Iran and their puppet Syria is a necessary step for peace in Iraq?
I am no fan of John Kerry, but there is something I would like to hear him comment on: Why is it the morale of American troops in Iraq remains so high, and why are re-enlistment rates so strong? Elie Wiesel may shed some light on this important question. First, some background on Mr. Wiesel:
In the summer of 1944, as a teenager in Hungary, Elie Wiesel, along with his father, mother and sisters, were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz extermination camp in occupied Poland. Upon arrival there, Wiesel and his father were selected by S.S. Dr. Josef Mengele for slave labor and wound up at the nearby Buna rubber factory. Daily life included starvation rations of soup and bread, brutal discipline and a constant struggle against overwhelming despair. At one point, young Wiesel received 25 lashes of the whip for a minor infraction.
In January 1945, as the Russian army drew near, Wiesel and his father were hurriedly evacuated from Auschwitz by a forced march to Gleiwitz and then via an open train car to Buchenwald in Germany, where his father, mother and a younger sister eventually died. Wiesel was liberated by American troops in April 1945. After the war, he moved to Paris and became a journalist, then later settled in New York. Since 1976, he has been Andrew Mellon professor in the Humanities at Boston University. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial.
Wiesel gave a speech at the White House in 1999 about the indifference that lead to the Holocaust – and other great tragedies. This speech applied as much to the West in the 1930s ignoring the rise of Hitler, as it does to the West today ignoring the plight of the average Iraqi, and ignoring the ascension of Radical Islam – which has as it’s chief aim the destruction of Israel first and civilization, as we know it, next. From Mr. Wiesel’s speech:
Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe’s beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again. Liberated a day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful to them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know – that they, too, would remember, and bear witness.
So, I ask again, why is the morale of our troops in Iraq so high? Is it because of the people and the evil they witness on a daily basis – bombs blowing up women and children?
In that same speech,Wiesel spoke eloquently about what he considered the real cause of the Holocaust – the indifference to the evil of Hitler. The blurring of the lines between good and evil to avoid confronting evil:
What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means “no difference.” A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil. What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one’s sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?
Wiesel dug in deeper to the true menace of indifference. In the end, indifference is always the friend of the enemy. Enemies like Radical Islam and Fascism depend on our indifference.
In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy.
The Iraqi people are getting blown up by people who don’t want them to succeed. And the men who desire to protect their women and children and join the security forces – they too are targets of this evil. That is why our soldiers’ morale is high. They see the human events unfold on the ground. They see the nature of the enemy, and see the Iraqi people struggling to live normal lives.
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century’s wide-ranging experiments in good and evil. In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simple categories: the killers, the victims and the bystanders. During the darkest of times, inside the ghettoes and death camps we felt abandoned, forgotten. All of us did.
I recommend Mr. Wiesel’s thoughts to people like John Kerry who think a whirlwind trip to Iraq will provide all the wisdom and information necessary to satisfy their own agendas and, as a side issue/benefit, determine the fate of the people of Iraq. I also believe Sen. Kerry should ponder the vexing question, “Why has the morale of our troops in Iraq remained so high?”
I know one thing, it isn’t because of their indifference.
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