National Catholic Register


Making Excuses

BY Mark Shea

| Posted 4/8/10 at 3:43 PM


In 1838, Abraham Lincoln said:

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?—Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!—All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

I think of that as I contemplate a weird defense (and not the only one) I have gotten for the godless, pro-abortion zealot Ayn Rand in my previous blog entry, especially as I read about how Westernized nations like South Korea, and post-Christian cultures like Western Europe (and, of course, we in the States) are busy aborting ourselves out of existence.  My correspondent wrote:

You’ve revealed your ignorance of both Rand and communism.
In the 20th-Century communist governments murdered 100 million civilians.
By contrast, Rand devoted her life to fighting for freedom - the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property.  She taught that once a government banishes the use of violence and physical coercion from private relations, capitalism is the spontaneous system of peaceful trade that develops between free and equal individuals.  She considered this ideal.  Is this what you consider so evil? And how does it compare to the slaughter of 100 million innocents? 
Shame on you for daring to compare an eccentric writer with whom you obviously disagree to the bloody nightmare that has been the history of communism.  Disgusting.

If, say, a terrorist group were to set off a bomb that killed 1.4 million people, we would regard it as a catastrophe and the greatest assault our nation has ever endured.  Had the Soviet Union attacked us and inflicted such casualties, we would have gone to war with them. And rightly so.

But because intellectual architects of this mass murder are ideologues dispensing a few bromides agreeable to our political allegiances with a particularly selfish species of libertarianism, we are supposed to overlook the fact that their philosophy directly aids and abets the quiet private murder of more people than the gulags consumed?

Yes, I’m fully aware that there are species of libertarianism that comport with Catholic faith.  But don’t kid me that Rand’s was one of them.  Until we in the West stop making excuses for our suicide and start confronting it, we will continue to talk as though being on the right side of the fight against communism confers sanctity and fail to recognize that western worship of the imperial autonomous self is quite as capable of damning souls and slaughtering bodies by the millions.