Rising nationalism a problem for Europe
The November 11, 2017 Wall Street Journal had a disturbing report about fairly large group of Polish nationalists marching in Warsaw’s Independence-Day procession. The National Radical Camp has its roots in a fascist movement of the same name active in the 1930’s. Back then this group supported and was active in the Nazi efforts to rid Poland of non-ethnic Poles, including Jews, Gypsies and other races considered “inferior.” There are other named groups aligning with them on this day.
Marchers shouted slogans echoing the Nazi horror including “White Europe” and “Clean Blood.” They are advocating the same sort of ethnic cleansing that resulted in the persecution, displacement and murder of countless millions. And these are not old and mature people. They are the country’s youth.
Hitler and his henchmen targeted Germany’s young to instill and perpetuate their evil and hatred. They did this knowing they were impressionable, angry could be used to intimidate and commit acts of violence. While the young are gullible they cannot be excused for adopting such ideas and committing sinful atrocities. All men are responsible moral agents. Evil hunts where the hunting is good.
It was also reported that the response in Poland was a bit mixed. The city could not prevent them from marching as a matter of law. Like us, Poland respects the right of free assembly and expression. Some people interviewed in the crowd seemed neutral on the issue. While not identifying with Nazism or belonging to these parties, they were not overly disturbed by the message. Others just refused to attend because of it.
It should be noted that like the demonstration in Charlottesville, VA, many of these marchers were flown in from elsewhere (in this case other countries). Although they numbered about 3000, it is small compared to the population of Poland (about 40 million) and Warsaw (1.7 Million). Given they had to dredge up supporters from far away, we should remember that this is a small vocal minority.
Yet, it is worrisome that throughout Europe these far-right groups espousing such ideology have gained some official representation via the electoral process. We always should take this seriously but balance our response based upon the real threat and in a manner consistent with our Democratic and Judeo-Christian morality.
There was one difference between the events in Warsaw and Charlottesville: no violent confrontation. This is worth noting because in Charlottesville there was violence and hatred expressed by two opposing groups. It is wrong to suppose that in Warsaw there is no opposition to this right-wing extremism. The absence of loud verbal and physical confrontation does not mean the absence of opposition.
It does suggest that people chose not to lower themselves to the hatred and evil they oppose. They are correct. It is one thing to use force in policing and war. It is another to use force as a vigilante or simply to express your positions. It is the difference between right and wrong, legal and illegal as well as good and evil.
Returning evil for evil is not justice or righteousness. It is evil that happens to differ in the details of whatever political or social position is expressed. We have long recognized that ends do not justify means. Evil is as evil does. If you choose to be a violent thug your ideas are no defense. You are little different than those on the other side who do likewise.
The proper response to these things is reason, justice and righteousness. Reason in that we evaluate the merits and demerits of ideas and opinions independent of identity politics. Reason holds out the possibility that your opponent may have legitimate ideas and complaints that warrant your attention and constructive engagement. Identity politics uses labels such as race, gender, social-economic and other factors instead of reason. Identity politics is irrational and simply a weapon that can be wielded by anyone. It must be rejected along with the violence it oft incites.
Justice in that we apply an objective and consistent standard of legality and ethic to the problem while not violating the law and the ethics. Justice is three-fold. First it declares guilt or innocence. Secondly, it dispenses proportionate punishment for wrongdoing. Third, it functions to order society through its laws and agents charged with the enforcement and administration of those laws. Justice is not a matter of individual opinion but of collective formal institution. It is blind and should be applied equally to all.
Righteousness in that what we say and do we glorify God. We reflect God’s righteousness which is always understood in terms of His mighty saving acts. Whether delivering Israel from Egypt, David and the nation from its enemies, or in greater purpose delivering us from the bondage of death and sin; God’s Righteousness is one of graciously restoring what is broken and corrupted. It is merciful, kind, undeserved and just.
In reflecting God’s righteousness, we must do more than pure reason and justice. We endeavor to restore. And this is most difficult. Yet we are told how God works through us in His purposes of restoration. It is in our Scripture.
We are taught to hate evil as God hates evil but not to seek vengeance. We are to use the appointed authorities and not individual vigilantism and violence. We are to return good for evil and this good largely consists of sharing and living the Gospel. We are to pray for our enemies – for their repentance and salvation – that their hearts are changed and they abandon Satan and follow the Lord. That is a greater victory than their destruction.
Finally, we must teach our children well. We must teach them reason, justice and righteousness. As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom we endeavor to raise our children in the Lord. When we speak and teach we do so fairly, firmly and lovingly. The unregenerate heart is evil and only the Lord can change it. Therefore, let us be in prayer always and in all we say and do show Christ.
Mitchel L. Galishoff, M.D.
& Surgical Clinic, PC