Wassup at America?

by Michael Sean Winters

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It was painful enough to read an article at the Jesuit-run magazine America in which David Carroll Cochran wondered if soldiers could be killed on the field of battle, using the example of a young Joseph Ratzinger during World War II. Newsflash to Mr. Cochran: The morally troubling aspect of warfare in WWII was that the fighting was not confined to combatants. 

But, worse than painful is this article by Margot Patterson which rehearses the tired moral equivalence of days gone by, making excuses for Vladimir Putin's thuggery in Ukraine and elsewhere. Patterson writes, "Warnings of the provocation to Russia engendered by NATO's continued expansion eastward have gone unheeded for 15 years." Of course, NATO was invited in to Poland and the Baltic States, it did not invade them. She asks: "Should we see the crisis in Ukraine as the Western powers of light arrayed against the Russian powers of darkness?" Well, I do not think it is so much the "Western powers" as it is the Ukrainian people themselves who wish to stay as far away as possible from Putin's oligarchy, where basic democratic rights are trampled, and embrace the West. That is what got this whole crisis started, yes, the refusal of the pro-Putin regime to embrace the West more fully? 

The moral equivalence Patterson floats is typical of the "blame the West" foolishness I associate with the worst ideological excesses of the twentieth century. It is a thing I had hoped we had gotten past. But, it is worse than that. Putin is a thug by any standards and if Patterson wants to speak to some Russian civil rights activists, they are a bit hard to find because so many are in prison, but they can be found. Making excuses for Putin (by invoking Toynbee no less!)  is itself a moral failure. I am unsure why America would publish this and I fear what is next? "My friend Assad, a misunderstood man." "Boko Haram - They're nice to their pets!" "Hugo Chavez - we miss you!" 

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