The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Sunday, November 21, 2004

              Love or Hate
In his column on the death of Arafat, Jeff Jacoby stepped into a theological debate by questioning how President Bush could have said "God bless his soul" upon being told of Arafat's death. Apparently, he received a number of letters in response, as well as a column by Pat Buchanan, justifying Bush's response in term of Christian doctrine. In today's column he responds to those letters.
IS HATRED of others always a sin? Are we obliged to love every human being, even those who do great evil or behave with unspeakable cruelty? Must we believe, as one reader wrote to me last week, that "God loves even the bad people" -- even the very worst people -- and that we must strive to do the same?
Jewish tradition holds, with Ecclesiastes, that there is a time to love and a time to hate. The Hebrew Bible enjoins us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) and to love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19), but that love has its limits. We are not expected to love savage thugs or to ask God's mercy on them. On the contrary, we loathe the unrepentantly cruel because we believe God loathes them too.

It defies reason and upends morality to claim that God loves both Saddam Hussein and the innocent Kurds he gassed to death -- that He bestows His love on Osama bin Laden no less than on the 3,000 souls he butchered on 9/11. Of course we should pray that an evildoer will repent and atone for his crimes. But to love him even when he hasn't? To bless him when he dies? God forbid! To bless the Hitlers and the Arafats of this world is to betray their victims. That we must never do.
It seems to me that the fight against evil, that Bush has undertaken in the form of the GWOT, is diametrically opposed to the idea of loving your enemy. How can one love something that one acknowledges to be evil? What redeeming qualities does a suicide bomber, who looks in the face of children before murdering them, actually have? I understand the Christian ideal that we are all God's children, but by committing an act such as that, or by sanctioning the murder of thousands of innocents - as Arafat did - one takes oneself outside of the community of God, and binds oneself inextricably to the work of Satan. If a religion acknowledges the existence of evil, how can it bless that evil? The only response to evil can be hatred. And
"Hate allows us to keep our guard up, to protect us. When we are facing those who seek nothing but our destruction, our hate reminds us who we are dealing with. When hate is appropriate, then it is not only virtuous, but essential."
|| Nudnik 9:40 PM
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