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Us and Them – by Steve Russell


We cannot deprecate good because it is American and embrace evil out of respect to different culture. Piloting airplanes into civilian workplaces is evil. Attacking all of your neighbors while killing hundreds of thousands of your own people is evil and invites intervention of justice—whether by global partners or single nations.

So what is their beef? Why do they hate us? What makes us right and them wrong? These are the kinds of questions that well-meaning Americans have asked in pursuit of answers to our current war on terror. While the questions are worth asking, they are not the main point. If the neighborhood in which one lives were to be overrun by thugs and miscreants, having a homeowners meeting to better understand the criminal viewpoint so that the neighborhood can be more accommodating and reduce crime is absurd. We would demand better police protection. We could justify the increased risk to our law enforcers and they would gladly shoulder it to protect the innocent. We would take a stand.

And yet, America has at times become apologetic for the mass murders committed on our own soil. Some believe we should measure truth with a rubber ruler, stretched to any viewpoint or situation. Our conscience however shouts above the din and tells us what is good and what is bad. There are major differences between what is good and right about the American way of life and why it is bad if we do not defend it.

Let’s look at the differences between what our country stands for and what the enemies of our nation stand for. Americans seek peace and justice. We go through great expense and pains to protect the innocent. We even shroud the accused in innocence until proven guilty. Our enemies seek jihad and enslavement of innocents. They go through no expense to protect innocent lives, willing even to blow up children if it achieves their goals. Their plots and plans center around the suffering and use of innocents to achieve their goals.

Americans often investigate and uncover unjust incidents within their own institutions, whether they are military or governmental. America discovers the wayward soldier or politician that has abused his authority, holding them to account, and most often it is not an outside agency making such discovery. Our enemies encourage unjust incidents that abuse the public trust by spreading fear and terror within this type of organization. And when the government or military attempts to uphold justice, officials in charge are targeted and brutally murdered along with their families.

America believes in a world that respects individual freedom. It accommodates other lines of thinking without giving up what makes us American. Our enemies hold no such views. They brutalize and restrict freedoms at every turn. They force individuals to conform to a narrow view or face the threat of death.

Americans extend tolerance to others, even when they know that such tolerance can get out of hand if abused. Our enemies put tolerance to the sword, justifying anything but their narrow beliefs as worthy of death and destruction.

The last thing we need to do is ‘put ourselves in the enemies shoes to better understand them.’ We must face our enemies and make no apologies when we defend our freedoms. Americans can be accommodating, but we can never accommodate evil on the premise that we are no better than anyone else. The American way of life is better than that of our enemies. If it were not so, there would be nothing worth defending.

If our enemies chose to hate us, that is their option. But it can never be our option to sacrifice what makes us magnanimous and free in the vain intellectual hope that our enemies will somehow like us if we do. As C.S. Lewis aptly observed, such pacifistic notions can only lead to “taking a straight road to a world in which there will be no more pacifists.” They would be dead at the hands of those to which they extend undeserved rights, liberties and kindness. We must recognize and make no apologies for the differences between ‘Us’ and ‘Them.’ -- SDR

Steve Russell is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He commanded a battalion that was central to the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein. He now serves as chairman and founder of Vets4Victory.


Used with permission of Center for a Just Society, Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved.

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