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A sidewalk embarrassment

Bill Rinner | Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pop quiz: what do you get when you combine peace activists, chalk and a self-righteous urge to sell out one’s intellectual gifts that led to a place at Notre Dame? The answer, of course, is a campus defiled by tacky sidewalk artists that causes more people to pray for a graffiti-cleansing rainstorm than to pray for peace.

If this home football weekend follows the same pattern as the last two, then these rogue artist-activists will scrawl powerful messages in chalk across campus like “Thou Shalt Not Kill – God” or “Love thy Enemy,” which undoubtedly resonate in the minds of those with an equally puerile understanding of global affairs.

Now, before the peace activists put a ransom on my head and my name becomes synonymous with “ironic death,” I offer the following disclaimer: I savor the ideal of peace as much as any deodorant-averse Dennis Kucinich supporter. My neoconservative bent does not preclude me from praying for an end to war, and those who claim the moral high ground without knowing its location may freely condemn my approach.

While one could write volumes about the misguided advocates of non-violence, their underlying flaw is an utter failure to comprehend the nature of the enemies facing America. We face terrorists who have hijacked a peaceful religion, silenced the moderates and are willing to strap bombs on young children, and no amount of American love can cure their virulent strain of hate.

Some may argue a more peace-oriented approach to foreign policy could serve American security and add stability to the Middle East with varying degrees of success, but presuming that a tolerant approach to sworn jihadists who routinely indoctrinate their young with a matching hatred for Western society is precisely the mindset that prevailed up until the events of Sept. 11.

After President Clinton’s legacy-building attempt to reconcile Yasser Arafat with Prime Minister Ehud Barak dismally failed, lost was the notion that the PLO would be willing to settle on dual Israeli and Palestinian states. Clinton convinced Barak to offer so many concessions to Arafat that he claimed the deal was “so good [he] couldn’t believe anyone would be foolish enough to let it go.”

Palestinian terrorists now celebrate their fourth year of the Arafat-condoned Intifada against Israel that has claimed thousands of innocent lives and prompted the construction of Israel’s security fence in retaliation. Arafat represents one of the only Palestinian representatives willing to negotiate prospects for peace, but his dismissal of the offered terms lends credence to the notion that the PLO will only accept a Palestinian state that pushes Israelis out into the sea.

Most galling about the peace activist rhetoric is their naïve linkage of religious tenets to complex foreign policy issues. An argument for following the Catholic just war doctrine is admirable and compelling, but viewing the multi-colored question “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” on the sidewalk should insult the sensibilities of anyone who graduated the fifth grade. Holding the teachings of Christ in mind when weighing the costs and benefits of military actions abroad is a noble endeavor, yet a blanket condemnation of using military force is so dangerously irresponsible that I sleep safe at night knowing a strong level of insulation exists between strict religious and political interests.

Local campus activists would benefit to realize that peace can be attained without discontinuing nuclear programs or replacing guns with bouquets of flowers. I offer a variant of a traditionally employed phrase: if you want peace, fight for victory. Simple enough, this approach ensures peace through superior strength, a successful concept not foreign to modern American history.

No doubt, the prospect of utilizing American military power to ensure domestic safety and international peace may cause Notre Dame’s peace advocates to cringe like a Frenchman at the Republican National Convention, but the simple truth of the international system is that a large part of the world exists under the security umbrella of American supremacy.

Peace activists can sleep comfortably tonight because the evil military industrial complex exists not only to defend the country from immediate threats, but also to prevent the formation of challenges to the American-enforced peaceful order.

What to do if a terrorist camp has acquired plutonium through the black market and hopes to sneak it across the U.S. borders? According to the chalk-yielding peaceniks, we must embrace these enemies to somehow deter their insidious plots.

Both political candidates have converged to similar rhetorical stances on American military power, with each attempting to outmuscle the other with promises of more troop funding and the traditionally leftist party ensuring “A Stronger America.” Perhaps these developments are a fleeting sign of the times, but the sensible ones who shake their heads at the sight of sidewalk chalk can take comfort knowing that the perpetrators deserve little more than a pat on the head for their efforts that will prove about as effective as the invention of New Coke.

Bill Rinner is a senior economics major. He can be contacted at wrinner@nd.edu, and his column appears every other Friday.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.