- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Harold Pinter does not mind equating George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler or the United States to the collapsed Soviet Union, and so I don’t see why I should mind pointing out Mr. Pinter is a moral moron.

The English playwright just recently received the Nobel Prize for Literature less because of his art, apparently, than because the Swedish judges are addicted to claptrap politics of the sort he espouses. They seem intent on making their prizes in nontechnical categories more a joke than something any self-respecting person would desire to win.

Mr. Pinter, it has been noted, wrote his most praised theater-of-the-absurd plays years ago. He would scarcely attract anyone’s attention these days if it wasn’t for a radicalism that imitates those plays in their absurdity.

In his Nobel acceptance speech, for instance, he likened the United States to the Soviet Union during the Cold War as if it were equally genocidal and equally oppressive. And America, he said, is “more dangerous than Nazi Germany.”

We are responsible for transgressions. During the Cold War, we supported dictatorial regimes in Latin America and elsewhere that were in some cases brutal, as Mr. Pinter alleges. We should not rush to make excuses for all our acts. But let’s do keep in mind that the Cold War was a war, that the enemy was almost always more brutal and murderous than those we supported, that victory in that war was never a given, and that much of what we did was beneficent, such as giving aid for the rebuilding of Europe.

Still, go ahead, focus on the worst of what we did, but then put it next to Josef Stalin’s killing of 5 million people during the last seven years of his life or Mao Tse tung’s killing of maybe 70 million people in China. Those numbers come from a commentary on Mr. Pinter written by Professor Niall Fergusson of Harvard, who also points out “only a fool or fraud” would compare American prisons to the Soviet gulag. Mr. Pinter says the two are pretty much the same thing.

It takes something worse than a fool or a fraud to compare the United States to Nazi Germany and Mr. Bush to Hitler. There are so many ways to demonstrate the idiocy of this assertion that it is almost impossible to know where to start. But how about the treatment of homosexuals? In this country, some are upset because there is just one state that allows same-sex “marriages” and one other that allows gay civil unions. In Nazi Germany, it was, shall we say, worse? Homosexuals were sent by the thousands to concentration camps — and thousands perished inside them.

When it comes to Iraq, Mr. Pinter goes from dumb to dumber. To him, our being there is “a bandit act… intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading — as a last resort, all other justifications having failed to justify themselves — as liberation.” The United States, he says, is responsible for “the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people” there.

So even though Saddam killed as many as 300,000 of his own people and we deposed him, and though the Iraqi people have risked death by going to the polls in extraordinary percentages, and despite the fact our opponents there are autocracy-advocating terrorists killing mostly their fellow Iraqis, and though the U.S. will obviously get out of Iraq as quickly as there is any hint of stability, this whole idea of liberation is a joke?

Mr. Pinter and leftists like him invariably grant themselves a moral insight most of the rest of us supposedly lack. They see themselves as courageous and superior. But most people really can measure a wrong over here against a wrong over there and which is most grievous, or whether one is wrong at all.

Anyone who thinks Hitler and Mr. Bush are equally evil is someone whose moral compass does not function at all, someone who himself might be susceptible to committing or at least abetting evil, so frail is his ability to distinguish the real thing from something not remotely like it.

If Mr. Pinter is a hero to some, what should we conclude? Just this: They are as morally moronic as he is.

Jay Ambrose is former Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard News Service.

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