“Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, director of its Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation…” — from this article
The very words “Global Justice” and “Reconciliation” reek of self-righteousness, and reek too of what we have come to realize such words, and the men who employ them approvingly, will always reek of: an attitude of sweet reason that goes beyond reason, a belief that “everyone has a point” and that if only we “listen to one another,” “if only we engage in dialogue,” “if only this” and “if only that” then all manner of things shall be well. In the mental universe of such people, it is inconceivable that hatred could be embraced, hatred could be taught, hatred could be sacred, and that there can be no compromise with those who uncompromisingly divide the world between Them and Us.
There was no negotiation, no treaty, no forum to which Hitler or more likely Goebbels could have been invited, which would have meant a thing. It would only have offered yet one more way for the terminally naive to believe that somehow it was all based on a misunderstanding, or still worse, of the wicked. (Wicked: do such words still come up, not in the Biblical quotes, but in the their own words, the words of these Canons to the left and so seldom to the right of us?) All of these people refuse to make distinctions based on such silly ideas as Good and Evil.
“Global Justice” means, of course, that wherever there is economic backwardness then there must be a reason. The reason must always be sought in the advanced, wealthy West. (Yet some of us in that world are not wealthy at all. We are far less wealthy than, say, Canon John L. Peterson, whose cathedral for the busy rich and influential fittingly boasts gargoyles with briefcases.) The reason is never found or even sought in, for example, the inshallah-fatalism of Islam that explains, like nothing else does, the failure of Muslims to create wealthy societies, despite the fact that so many of them (and why don’t they share that loot with other Muslims?) have been the recipients of the greatest unearned transfer of wealth in human history, some ten trillion dollars since 1973. That won’t be part of any hint of “Social Justice” from Canon John L. Peterson.
And “Reconciliation” — here we go again: the “Fellowship of Reconciliation,” and all the rest, and the seizure of official Quaker organizations by the professional anti-Israel brigade, with Joe Gerson’s name leading all the rest. There is so much of this, so much that makes no sense in a world where some people rant like Azzam Tamimi or Ahmadinejad (whose regime has enjoyed killing all kinds of people, including nice Iranian intellectuals, such as that elderly couple who bravely continued their opposition, and for their pains were both decapitated, husband and wife, and their heads left on either side of what passed for a mantelpiece in their house).
What is it about the atmosphere at the National Cathedral? Instead of being a place of common sense and common decency, ever since Dean Francis B Sayre first started expressing his support for those conducting the Lesser Jihad against Israel more than 30 years ago (in one speech describing Jerusalem as “the capital of the religion of the Arabs” which must have startled the Guardians of the Two Holy Places, and at various times equating the Israeli victims of terrorism with Arab terrorists or those who supported them), it has been a place of — well, a place like so many soft-headed places where the clergymen themselves have lost their faith, and replaced it, so often, by becoming Defenders of another Faith — the faith of “everyone is the same” and “why can’t we get along,” the faith of the Church of Diversity and Tolerance, or even more to the point, Defenders of the Faith with that Faith being not Christianity but Islam. So it is not surprising to discover Canon John L. Peterson treating Khatami as a respectable interlocutor, as if some kind of useful “dialogue” could conceivably ensue, and not merely a boost to Iranian prestige, and repetition, in a softer vein, of the same sentiments that Ahmadinejad expresses every day. One cannot help wondering: if such people had been around in the 1930s, would they have invited, if not a big-shot Nazi, then at least Harvard-educated Putzi Hanfstaengl, the one sent over to convince the American ruling class that Hitler and the Nazis were their sort, or perhaps Fritz Kuhn of the Bund (no, he would have been too crude)?
Give us that old-time religion. Give us Holy Living and Holy Dying. Give us Magnalia Christi Americana. Give us Donne in St. Paul’s. Give us anything, but not this etiolated Christianity that would spend some of whatever moral capital it may still possess or claim to possess on offering a forum for those who would not, for one minute, ever permit such tolerance for non-Muslims. Nor, furthermore, would he permit any works of art — including those gargoyles with briefcases — or of science, or the freedom to choose various means of artistic expression, or to engage in the free and skeptical inquiry that make science possible and which form much of our civilizational legacy. That legacy, one has reason to suspect, is one which Canon John L. Peterson has not carefully considered, is insufficiently grateful for. He will not allow himself to consider the proposition that just possibly Khatami, his putative guest, has no interest in that legacy either. He will not consider the spread throughout the Western world and elsewhere of the belief-system (not “religion”) of which Khatami’s colleague and successor Ahmadinejad is the fanatical embodiment, Islam, and what that spread will mean for that art, that science, that essential mental freedom.
Long ago Peter De Vries wrote a funny book, “The Mackerel Plaza,” about a thoroughly-modern minister, the kind who combines Updikeian adulterous liaisons with a non-belief in God. This book was written long before the Are-You-Running-With-Me-Jesus with-it boys, the harvey-coxes of the age, came on the scene, the ones who would prefer that they not be embarrassed by too much talk about God.
Well, here we are. Hold the God. Hold the Christianity. Hold the defense of Christians. Hold the defense of the Holy Land from Muslims who, were they to gain control, would certainly kill or expel every last Jewish resident, and probably the Christians as well. Skip it. Give us “Social Justice.” Give us “Reconciliation.” Give us the man known to have murdered other Iranians not quite as fanatical as he — the smiling and sinister Khatami, once official head and splendid exemplar of that hideous regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran.