Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

Podhoretz's Revised View of Military Service

October 25, 1986

Podhoretz maligns two worthy concepts: pacifism and survival. By linking the two he does disservice to both. Pacifism's highest value is not survival, but a willingness to die rather than kill. It seeks a unity of ends and means, lest a bad method corrupt a good purpose. It is persistent good will in action, seeking to convert the evil-doer nonviolently.

Podhoretz confuses pacifism with conscientious objection. One can subscribe to the latter without being committed to the former. Thus ex-heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali applied for conscientious-objection status, though he certainly did not practice nonviolence in his professional life.

I talked to many draft-age men in the 1960s who claimed they would have fought in World War II, but who refused to become involved in the Vietnam fiasco. It was conscientious objection, not pacifism, that led to our nation's withdrawal from that arena.

However, to denigrate pacifism, which literally means "peacemaking," may be to deny the world what it most desperately needs.

VANCE GEIER

Highland Park

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|