An Apologist for the Second World War?

Because I believe that good can come out of horrible evils like slavery, I’ve been accused of defending black servitude and — this nonsense is still going on — of being an “apologist for slavery.”

I’ve also argued that good came out of the persecutions of my Mormon forebears in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, and, even, to some extent, out of the incomprehensible and unfathomable horror of the Nazi Holocaust.

While I don’t expect to be accused of being an apologist for the anti-Mormon mobs on the nineteenth-century American frontier — that wouldn’t be even remotely plausible, since I’m supposed to be an (unscrupulous and mean-spirited) defender of Mormonism — I do await with confidence claims that I’m justifying the Nazi Final Solution of “the Jewish problem.”  I know my critics well.  I know their implacable hostility, and the dishonesty of which they’re capable.

KZ-Mauthausen, May 1945

They’ll be bearing false witness, of course.

Although they won’t care, I’ll mention, once again, that my father participated in the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria, early in May 1945; that it was a pivotal experience in his life and that, since he regarded it as a moral imperative, I grew up hearing about what happened there; that I’ve made several pilgrimages to that camp in honor of my father and the camp’s victims, going back to 1974; that I’ve also gone out of my way, specifically, to visit such places as Washington DC’s Holocaust Museum, for the same reasons; and that I’ve visited Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, annually for years.

6 May 1945 reenactment of the liberation of KZ-Mauthausen

Now, though, I’m going to supply yet another example of, from the perspective of a faithful believer in God and in the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, good emerging from evil:

I believe that good came out of the Second World War as a whole.

For one thing, it weakened the grip of emperor-worship in Japan and opened that country up to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Tokyo Temple
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(c) Scott Miller, 2008

The Fukuoka Temple
(c) Edward C. Williams 2004

The Sapporo Temple, under construction
artist’s rendition, (c) Intellectual Reserve 2011

But, more generally, it created several decades of American ascendancy and of what might be called, on the analogy of the Pax Romana or “Roman Peace” that permitted the spread of Christianity along the Roman roads and across the basin of what the Romans sometimes called Mare Nostrum (“Our Sea,” the Mediterranean), a Pax Americana.  Under the exceptionally favorable economic, political, transportation, and other conditions of that era of American dominance, missionaries and members of the US-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were able to share their message in a way not previously open to them.

This is, from my perspective, a good that emerged out of World War Two.  And there were a few others.  Could it have emerged in some other way?  Possibly.  But, owing to human evil, it didn’t.  Was the Second World War a horrific thing?  Was it, over all, a terrible evil?  Absolutely.  It should not have happened.  It brought death and suffering to tens of millions of people, most of them quite innocent.

Am I an enthusiastic fan of the fact that there was a World War Two?  Am I an apologist for it?  No.  Not even slightly.  No more than I’m a defender of slavery or of Hitler’s attempted genocide of the Jews.  Will I be accused of thinking that World War Two was a cool blessing from God designed to help the Church grow?  Absolutely.  It’s inevitable.

Print Friendly


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X