Ambushed- your repeated cites of Gandhi suggest that you know little of Gandhi beyond what you saw in the sanitized Ben Kingsley movie. Gandhi was a dangerous ignoramus, not the plaster saint Richard Attenborough showed you.
Gandhi’s techniques work just fine when your enemy is a flawed but fundamentally decent person who’s failing to live up to his own highest ideals. They work not at all if your enemy is bent on your destruction.
Do you know what Gandhi said when asked how Hitler could have been stopped non-violently? The supposedly saintly Mahatma said that the Jews of Europe should have committed suicide, to protest anti-semitism. If that sounds like a swell strategy to you, there’s probably not much I can do to convince you otherwise.
I found Orwell’s post both on the mark and prescient, because it’s been my experience that people who call themselves pacifists are rarely unequivocally opposed to all violence, but only (as Orwell put it) to violence committed by nations they disapprove of… usually the U.S.A.
Peace groups are currently condemning U.S. action in Afghanistan in no uncertain terms. No ifs, ands or buts! No nuances, or shades of gray. Pacifists oppose any and all U.S. military action.
But when it comes to the terrorist attack that spawned the current U.S. military actions… all you get are shades of gray, nuances, and weasel words. When I hear anti-military rhetoric, I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s monolgue about O.J. SImpson (“I’d never kill my wife, of course… but I UNDERSTAND!”). Peacenik pronouncements on the WTC bombing invariably follow the format of
“Nobody condones what happened, but…”
“What happened at the WTC was a tragedy, but…”
“We all want Osama bin Laden brought to justice, but…”
ALWAYS, there’s a “but.” And usually, the “but” implies that, well, the terrorists DID have a good point. NOT that peaceniks (fully) condone blowing up innocent people, you understand, but they still think that maybe if this tragedy leads to a change in U.S. policy (the abandonment of Israel, the rebuilding of Saddam Hussein’s economy), some good may yet come of the terrorist attack.
I’ll re-evaluate my stance if someone can point to a pacifist who ever issued an unconditional condemnation of the Sandinistas, the PLO, or the Mau-Mau for taking up arms against their enemies (and no, if words like “regrettable” or “counterprouctive” appear in a statement, that statement does NOT count as a condemnation).
Until then, I remain convinced that Orwell was right- that the chief motivation of most self-proclaimed pacifists is not humanitarianism, a desire for peace, or an abhorrence of violence, but rather an unrelenting hatred of the United STates.