Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 71-74
As World War III continues, a global broadcast begins to all the people of the Earth:
“Ladies and gentlemen, from an unknown location, we bring you, live, Global Community potentate Nicolae Carpathia.”
Generally speaking, when world leaders are set to make a somber pronouncement, you don’t want to make the introduction sound like the next act in a variety show.
Before Nicolae begins his big speech, Jerry Jenkins wants to make it clear to readers that this man –the Antichrist, who has just slaughtered tens of millions of people by nuking London, New York, Chicago, Washington and assorted airports — is the Bad Guy. To underscore that point, Jenkins gives us this:
The potentate looked amused as he was being introduced and winked at a couple of his ambassadors. He pretended to lick his finger and smooth his eyebrows, as if primping for his audience. The others stifled chuckles. Rayford wished he had a weapon.
Rayford seems to have forgotten that he is flying a weapon, but the point there is about his wishes, not his actions. That’s meant to remind us that he’s the Good Guy. And it’s true –Good Guys don’t chuckle while cities get vaporized. They probably wouldn’t just sit around, idly letting it happen, either, but Jenkins is not wrong about the not-chuckling.
What follows here is Nicolae’s big speech. This speech is awkwardly phrased and bland — so much so that it takes a page or two before one realizes how impossible and unbelievable it is. This passage manages to be both dull and bafflingly weird at the same time.
To appreciate just how weird, let’s recap where we are in our story. Nicolae Carpathia has been global potentate for more than a year. This position of unchecked global power was created just for him, unanimously and voluntarily, with every nation on Earth (except Israel) cheerfully surrendering its sovereignty and every individual cheerfully surrendering their rights, begging to be ruled by him with no further say in their own government.
This happened, we were told, because Nicolae is a pacifist — a champion of nonviolence and global disarmament. Specifically, he championed the dismantling of all nuclear weapons. This was what people wanted, what they demanded, because they had been led to believe that nuclear weapons, somehow, had been the cause of the calamitous disintegration of all of their children.
That’s a deliriously weird premise for a story, but it’s the story we have been given. All the children, everywhere, evaporate instantaneously. The people of Earth come to believe that this was due to “electromagnetism” caused by unused nuclear weapons and so they all decide to dissolve their national governments and appoint a pacifist as global “potentate” to rule over the entire world with absolute power.
Can such a story be convincing? Is it possible to imagine such a string of events actually happening in any realistic world meant to seem anything like our own?
Well, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins think this is perfectly plausible and true-to-life. More than that, they think this is not just a believable story, but something that will actually happen, soon, in real life, just the way they describe. They say the Bible says so, somewhere, if you study it in just the right way.
So if you find this unrealistic or implausible, boy will your face be red when it all occurs just exactly this way according to prophecy.
And but so, we arrive at this point in the Left Behind saga. Nicolae Carpathia, fiercely anti-nuclear pacifist, is the beloved and benevolent ruler of the entire world (except Israel). He is so very beloved and so very benevolent that he has been ceded unlimited power, constrained by nothing other than his own beloved benevolence. That’s how things have been for more than a year.
Until now. Now, suddenly, in the last 24 hours of our story, everything has completely changed. The benevolent pacifist has been unmasked as a murderous tyrant. This same Nicolae has just nuked London, New York, Washington, Chicago, and various airports. These attacks are still taking place — aerial assaults carried out by the only air force in the world. Tens of millions of people are dead and dying and the whole world knows that it is Nicolae who is killing them.
And now, for the first time since being unmasked, Nicolae is about to speak to his subjects:
“Ladies and gentlemen, from an unknown location, we bring you, live, Global Community potentate Nicolae Carpathia.”
What will he say? There is nothing to say, nothing that he can say, except the hideous truth. “Mbwahahahaha,” he must say, “I am evil, evil, eeeee-vil! Submit or die, puny humans. All will love me, and despair!”
But he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say anything like that. The newly unmasked Nicolae just tries to pretend he’s still wearing the mask — tries to pretend that the whole world hasn’t just seen his true self revealed without it. And everyone plays along with that.
“Brothers and sisters of the Global Community, I am speaking to you with the greatest heaviness of heart I have ever known. I am a man of peace who has been forced to retaliate with arms against international terrorists who would jeopardize the cause of harmony and fraternity. You may rest assured that I grieve with you over the loss of loved ones, of friends, of acquaintances. The horrible toll of civilian lives should haunt these enemies of peace for the rest of their days.”
I’m sorry if you knew anyone in New York, but I had to nuke it in “the cause of harmony and fraternity.”
“As you know, most of the ten world regions that comprise the Global Community destroyed 90 percent of their weapon hardware. We have spent nearly the last two years breaking down, packaging, shipping, receiving, and reassembling this hardware in New Babylon. My humble prayer was that we would never have had to use it.”
In the aftermath of any mass-casualty event, it’s always important to praise the brave men and women who serve in Shipping & Receiving.
“However, wise counselors persuaded me to stockpile storehouses of technologically superior weapons in strategic locations around the globe. I confess I did this against my will, and my optimistic and overly positive view of the goodness of mankind has proven faulty.”
Every time I try to read that last sentence it seems to mean something different. This whole speech reminds me of Bilbo’s birthday farewell — “I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
“I am grateful that somehow I allowed myself to be persuaded to keep these weapons at the ready. In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined that I would have to make the difficult decision to turn this power against enemies on a broad scale.”
Keep in mind as we slog through this rambling, vacuous speech, that the authors have insisted all along that Nicolae Carpathia is the greatest orator in the history of the world. This is a recurring theme in our journey through these books (see “Meet the GIRAT” and “Oratory“). The authors make superlative promises, then follow up with less-than-average examples.
If you are writing a story that requires a character to be a great orator, then you have two choices: 1) Either you are going to have to write great oratory of the sort that will make readers think, “Wow, no joke, that’s some great oratory;” or 2) You are going to have to write around it, by portraying how others respond to this character’s oratory, showing its effects without ever showing the thing itself lest your own writing fails to do it justice.
Jerry Jenkins here is giving us his best shot at that first approach. This three-page speech of Nicolae’s is what it looks like when that approach utterly fails.
Nicolae attempts to blame most of the death and destruction on these terrorist-enemies, saying they were “trained by the American militia” and used “secretly stored weapons” from Britain and Egypt. The authors intend this to be a plausible-sounding claim. In their minds, apparently, American militia groups would be an effective source of training for aerial attacks and the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
“While I should never have to defend my reputation as an antiwar activist, I am pleased to inform you that we have retaliated severely and with dispatch. Anywhere that Global Community weaponry was employed, it was aimed specifically at rebel military locations. I assure you that all civilian casualties and the destruction of the great populated cities in North America and around the world was the work of the rebellion.”
So I’m still a pacifist despite nuking all those cities, and I only nuked those cities because I had too, and it wasn’t me who nuked those cities, it was those other guys who don’t have nukes.
Again, this speech is presented not just as great oratory, but as persuasive. The people of the world accept this nonlinear and unreasonable line of reasoning.
Nicolae finishes off with what the authors regard as a stirring, inspiring crescendo:
“I know that in a time of global war such as this, most of us live in fear and grief. I can assure you that I am with you in your grief but that my fear has been overcome by confidence that the majority of the global community is together, heart and soul, against the enemies of peace. … You may rest assured that as we reconstruct and reorganize, we will enjoy the greatest prosperity and the most wonderful home this earth can afford. May we all work together for the common goal.”
Tens of millions dead and the authors imagine that this speech is adequate to the moment. They imagine that it will comfort all who seek comfort, reassure all who need reassurance, and answer every concern of those demanding answers after this epic slaughter.
The authors typed up this speech, skimmed it over, and thought, “Yep, that ought to do it. That’ll convince the entire world to rally behind Nicolae.” Remarkable.
The piece of this I want to focus on here is Nicolae’s insistence that none of this alters his status as a strict pacifist. Despite his retaliatory overkill and his enthusiastic employment of lethal violence against millions of civilians, he insists he remains a pacifist and “an antiwar activist.”
That’s the giveaway word, “activist.” Nicolae Carpathia is the global potentate — he is the sovereign, the emperor, the monarch. No monarch thinks of himself as an “activist.” If the potentate wants something done, he doesn’t engage in “activism” — he just commands it to be done.
But antiwar activists are what Tim LaHaye thinks of whenever he hears the word “peace.” And Tim LaHaye does not like antiwar activists. He is certain they are all lying about their true intent.
Most of us read Nicolae’s speech and we find it ludicrous that he still claims to be “a man of peace.” You can’t say you’re a pacifist, then resort to massive lethal violence, and then still say you’re a pacifist.
But LaHaye doesn’t see that as a contradiction. This is what he believes all pacifists are really like. They are all sneaky and disingenuous. None of them truly rejects violence, that’s just a ruse — a trick to get us to let our guard down so that we will be defenseless when they attack. For LaHaye, Nicolae isn’t a fake pacifist, but the archetype of a genuine one.
LaHaye’s odd notion of “peace” and “pacifism,” comes from two sources. First, and most importantly, is the thing that shapes his identity — and the theology of these books — more than anything else: the John Birch Society. LaHaye isn’t just a Bircher, he’s a frozen-in-amber 1960s, Southern California Bircher.
This means that, for LaHaye, everything is filtered through the lens of the Cold War. The conflict between the free, Christian West and godless Soviet Communism is the most important moral struggle of all. But that doesn’t mean that the godless Soviets are the most important enemy. Birchers like LaHaye were never all that worried about the Soviets themselves, whose moral and military inferiority seemed obvious. No, what they were most worried about was the possibility that treasonous Americans might weaken our superiority by talk of peace. LaHaye never feared that the Communists could win. He feared that the hippies and “antiwar activists” would make America lose.
That danger, then, required the greatest vigilance. True Americans must always be watchful against the dirty hippies with their sneaky, subversive talk of “peace.” Such enemies within might accomplish what the Soviet Army never could, tricking America into letting down its guard.
No surprise, then, that Tim LaHaye’s portrait of the Antichrist is someone who calls himself an “antiwar activist.”
The other source of his misunderstanding of pacifists is Tim LaHaye’s misunderstanding of Jesus. In LaHaye’s mind, Jesus is just exactly like this too. All that talk of blessed peacemakers, cheek-turning, and greater-love-hath-no-man and such was also just a ruse. The whole time he was talking like that, Jesus was just keeping his powder dry, biding his time until what LaHaye calls the “Glorious Appearing.” At that point, Jesus will return in spectacularly violent fashion to wipe out all his enemies in an orgy of blood and death.
That is how Tim LaHaye thinks of the Prince of Peace. That is what he imagines is the real agenda of anyone who calls themselves peacemakers or pacifists. Just like Jesus — and just like Nicolae — they’re only putting on an act until the day when they reveal their true agenda.
So to LaHaye, it’s not at all strange that Nicolae continues to call himself a pacifist even as he kills everyone in Chicago and plans to kill everyone in San Francisco. The only thing that’s strange about that to LaHaye is that anyone would ever expect a pacifist to do otherwise.