"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Friday, August 16, 2002 Cosseted Suburban Yogis Deserve a Good Fisking
My morning drive to work takes me through Sherborn, Mass., past the Peace Abbey, with its Pacifist Memorial statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and where this week, prominently displayed to capture the attention of all motorists at the busy intersection of Routes 16 and 27, has been placed a billboard-style banner:
I’m not sure what reaction the Peace Abbots are seeking. But the banner does not stir in me the dewy glimmer of pacifist feeling. Quite the opposite.
It gets me thinking about the Hansons, of Groton, Mass., and their beautiful little two-year-old daughter, Christine, heading on vacation to California aboard United Airlines Flight 175 on Sept. 11.
It gets me thinking about Neilie Heffernan Casey, Holy Cross '90, a passenger on American Flight 11 that day, and about the six-month-old daughter she left behind.
It gets me thinking about Dan McNeal, Boston College '94, lost at the World Trade Center, who was remembered in the Baltimore Sun this month, and in whose childhood photos I see my own sons.
It gets me thinking about Welles Crowther, Boston College '99, lost at the World Trade Center, an equities trader and former college lacrosse player who was a volunteer fireman. Friends sometimes teased him about his longstanding habit of always carrying a red bandana in his back pocket. Survivors who escaped from the 78th floor of the South Tower told of an unknown man who stepped out of the smoke and horror and shepherded them to safety – a man with a red bandana wrapped around his mouth.
The banner gets me thinking about little Gal Aizenman, five years old, killed at a Jerusalem bus stop. It gets me thinking about Daniel Pearl, whose newborn son will never know his father.
The banner gets me thinking about my own three precious children. And that there are madmen afoot who would harm or kill them – and who no doubt are planning attacks right now intended to kill or maim thousands of innocents like them.
And then I think of how the people who hung that banner would have done nothing to respond to the murder of 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11 and would do nothing to prevent any further attacks planned. They would do nothing to stop psychotic death cultists who, for twisted reasons beyond understanding, want to kill your children and mine.
Meantime, they degrade the sacrifice and bravery of this nation’s men and women in military service.
The people who hung that banner are equating self-defense against assassins with the murderous acts of the assassins. They promote not justice, not peace, but a lie.
Perhaps the Peace Abbots can’t discern between darkness and light. Perhaps they can, but see sanctimony and appeasement as the responses to brutal aggression. Perhaps they are irretrievably afloat in cloud-cuckoo land mulling their passages from Dorothy Day, John Lennon and Samantha Smith.
Or perhaps these suburban Sufis are the East Coast version of Johnny Walker’s Marinated Mahatmas, animated by a leftist loathing for the American society that allows them to freely voice their opinions from a cozy ashram in one of the priciest communities (average property value $505,621) in Massachusetts.
Whatever the case, what they’re preaching is not noble. It is not brave. It is contemptible.
Chesterton put it well when he described pacifists as "the last and least excusable on the list of the enemies of society."
They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.
The Peace Abbots are entitled to their opinion, of course, this being a free country (though it would not be for long, one imagines, if their counsel were followed).
But since they have seen fit to foist their position on thousands of motorists daily, a public response in the form of a thorough e-Fisking would be appropriate.
Here’s the Peace Abbey’s contact page. E-mail and tell them they ought to be ashamed of themselves. And suggest what they can do with that sign.