During World War II and the Cold War

…we were smart enough to know that the way to fight wars was to divide the population against its leaders.  So we broadcast into enemies countries and presented a picture of the Allies and the West that made subjects of the Nazi and Soviet regimes envy their country’s enemies.  It relied on a belief latent in Christian culture that even your enemy is a moral being capable of reason.  That’s why the Tradition commends “admonishing sinners” as a work of mercy.

But one of the consequences of our de-christianizing culture is the growing conviction that our enemies are, as the saying goes, “animals”.  You can’t reason with animals.  You can only threaten or bribe, carrot and stick.  So moral admonishment like “Keep America Beautiful” degrades to “Litter and it will hurt.”  “Buckle up for Safety” becomes “Click it or Ticket”.  “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” becomes “Dirve Hammered, Get Nailed”.  People are animals to be stampeded, not moral beings capable of reason or persuasion.

This works in our foreign policy too.  We use violence and torture and indefinite detention against vaguely defined foreign “combatants” when we have no evidence they are guilty of doing anything worse than standing in the wrong place during a police sweep.  We murder civilians with drones.  Because those people are “animals”.

And because have abandoned the Christian belief in moral suasion of enemies, we succeed only in multiplying enemies–then tell ourselves that their enmity only proves they are animals.

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