Somehow, somewhere I got on
the email list for the Thomas More Law Center, which describes its
mission as “Defending the religious freedom of Christians, restoring
time honored family values, and protecting the sanctity of human life”.
I generally don’t read messages that have been
forwarded to me, unless they are from Kirk Kramer, who always sends
something interesting, but recently when scanning my email I noticed a
Thomas More Center message about a Lt Col Chessani. I vaguely recalled
the name in association with the alleged American atrocity at Haditha
in Iraq, where 24 civilians were killed by marines.
I read that message and was surprised to see that the Thomas More Law Center had come to Col Chessani’s defense.
am puzzled by this. In a war that has been called unjust by two
successive popes, and in an age that the same two popes have suggested
has rendered all war unjust, why is a Catholic legal foundation
defending a man accused of complicity in war crimes?
is accused of failing to investigate the incident, and his defense
indicates that the killing of civilians is so unremarkable that he saw
no need report it.
Indeed, I have read two books by Iraq war veterans, The Last True Story I Will Ever Tell, by John Crawford, and The Deserter’s Tale, by Joshua Key, who deserted the Army after a tour of Iraq, that suggest that American war crimes are a commonplace.
it would be remarkable if they are not: urban insurgency is perhaps the
only type of warfare that is more stressful than the rural insurgency
this nation faced in Vietnam. Soldiers are daily faced with the threat
of death, delivered anonymously by an enemy that fades into the
civilian population of which he is a part. The stress must be
unbelievable, and according to Mr Key, who participated in it until his
conscience awoke, troops express this in brutality to the civilian
However sympathetic we may be to
soldiers in such a situation, it does not excuse this brutality and it
ought not diminish our sympathy for its innocent victims.
Surely a putatively Catholic legal center is betraying its mission in defending an accused war criminal.
hint at why this has come to pass may be found in the logo they chose
for their website: a giant American eagle against the background of a
giant American flag.
Apparently, like so many right wing Catholics, their Catholic identity has been absorbed in their nationalism.