Over the last few days I've been on a big hip hop kick. That doesn't happen for me all too often, which means that I don't personally own much hip hop to speak of. So I've scratched that hip hop itch primarily through the Flobots (of "Handlebars" fame), both in a friend's car and now through their myspace.
Trouble is, while I appreciate a lot of their musical originality and think the rapping is pretty solid (but then, what do I know about that, really?), I quickly tire of just how extremely anti-war they are. It's great that some Christians are out there caring about social justice (seriously, I mean it), but is the last section of "Handlebars" really comparing the Iraq War with the Holocaust?
Seriously- the Holocaust? You know, that time when 6 million Jews died and World War II started? The evil to which we now compare all other evils- that Holocaust. Is the Iraq War really on par with the Holocaust? I hope I'm misunderstanding the Flobots lyrics.
Trouble is, even if I am misunderstanding the Flobots, this is the kind of language I hear from anti-war folks all the time, most certainly including Christians. I addressed this issue originally in my first post as one of the bloggers at Christians in Context, so I don't want to simply regurgitate that material. But I do want to note a few thoughts I've recently had on the Iraq War and war in general (some of which you have come across before) that, for me at least, need to be addressed before I'm willing to become an Iraq War hater specifically or a full bore pacifist more generally.
Just because I am not a pacifist (or that I may support the Iraq War specifically) does not mean that I love killing people. I lament it, in fact. But I may think it is a necessary evil to achieve a greater good.
Further, why should we not look at this in a somewhat more utilitarian way? This is a question I have raised a number of times and have never had satisfactorily answered. That is, if the idea is to kill the least amount of human beings possible (not just Americans, but all human beings, as we are members of the Kingdom first and the state second, and we of the Kingdom recognize all humans, Iraqi, American, Kurd or otherwise, to be made in the image of God), isn't it reasonable to think that the war was a good idea if in fact it removed a dictator who was torturing and murdering so many of his own people that those deaths did and would have outnumbered the number of war casualties? It may feel cold to just compare numbers, but I honestly cannot think of a better way to evaluate it if the controlling criterion is dying people.
That comparison, I think, is exactly why most of us not only approve of, but even applaud America's entrance into World War II. Hitler's atrocities were so glaring that going to war, with all of the deaths that it brought, appears to have been a good idea. So I ask the obvious question to those who are opposed to war in principle: was it or was it not a good idea or even morally virtuous for America to enter into World War II? And for argument's sake, what if Pearl Harbor had not happened? Would it then have been a good idea for us to enter WW II?
I suppose what I am getting at is the same thing that bothers me a lot of the time in popular Christian thinking, namely a lack of real thoughtfulness. All of the extreme language of a group like Flobots is provocative, but ultimately does not lead at least me to action, because it just feels too extreme and not well thought out. I (and I think many others) are actually turned off by language that seems reactionary and I try not to change my beliefs until they are confronted by ones that are more carefully thought through and presented. If you are, in this case, a thoughtful pacifist, I respect that. But if you're out there calling the Iraq War a new Holocaust, I cannot take you seriously.