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A View from the Altar / Curious denial problem on the left
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Curious denial problem on the left

Christopher Hitchens, the famously aggressive atheist, has penned an article about North Korea which is a good read in every way but one.  He claims North Korea is a right-wing regime because it has become a military dictatorship and features racial purity as a unifying political theme.  He further bases his claim on the ground that the Norks have deleted the word “communist” from their constitution.

This reflects the denial problem on the Western world’s political left, which is their incapacity to acknowledge that most of the biggest mass killings of the 20th century were perpetrated by leftist governments upon their own people.  Going on chronological order, this was true of the Communists in Russia, the National Socialists in Germany, and the Communists again in China, North Korea, and Cambodia. Only the Japanese genocides in China and Korea can justifiably be said to have a right-wing origin.  All the rest came from some kind of socialism, which seems to be the fast track to mass death.

Maybe here is Hitchens’ most effective connection with rightishness: He warns that North Korea is busily radicalizing its population into a death cult not unlike what you can read from the kamikazes of Japan and that Western leaders will soon have to reckon with a nuclear-armed version of that.  We’re already all too familiar with the Islamic suicide cult.  It’s an interesting religious question as to why the enemies of the West so often seem to share this feature.

Further, it’s a conundrum for America’s fiercely secular left and for atheists like Hitchens.  On what basis do we judge a culture of life superior to a culture of death?  Clearly, our enemies don’t share that judgment.  In fact, the view of life as a divine gift to be protected and nourished is strongly Judeo-Christian.  The danger is that the West, only nominally Christian and rapidly losing even that, is confronted by enemies with really nasty beliefs.  Lurching leftward into doddering old academic secularism won’t give us what it takes to face down such a menace as radical Islam or North Korea, the country now wearing an atomic suicide vest.  Normally I avoid pragmatic arguments for Christianity since genuine faith has to stand on the truth.  Nonetheless I’ll offer one here: Only a return to the Christian faith will save the West in the long run.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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