Moral Clarity

In this chiling interview, a retired CIA agent describes the capture and murder of Che Guevera.  The agent, Cuban-born Felix Rodriguez, “was present at some of the most notorious events of US anti-communist involvement in Latin America during the Cold War, including training the Nicaraguan Contras and advising the Argentine military government during the 1980s.”

Given that Rodriguez was born in Cuba and came to work for the CIA, it’s a relatively safe assumption that he or his family suffered from some kind of oppression at the hand of Castro’s government.  Rodriguez apparently decided that because of the sins of communists, he would fight for the other side— which, by virtue of its inherent moral righteousness, could and should do anything at all to oppose communism alongside the contras and the Argentine junta.

Che, of course, had his own moral clarity: “The great lesson of the guerrillas’ invincibility is taking hold among the masses of the dispossessed. The galvanization of the national spirit; the preparation for more difficult tasks, for resistance to more violent repression. Hate as a factor in the struggle, intransigent hatred for the enemy that takes one beyond the natural limitations of a human being and converts one into an effective, violent, selective, cold killing machine.”

Che, like today’s neoconservatives, sought to respond to a real and serious moral crisis.  Che was moved by the terrible problem of poverty; neoconservatives were right that Saddam was a barbarous thug, and are right that Iran is a horrible dictatorship.

They’re both wrong, though, because killing a lot of people doesn’t automatically just make everything better.

Moral clarity creates amorality.  As Reinhold Niebuhr put it (as quoted by Al Gore quoting Michael Novak), “[t]he final enigma of history is therefore not how the righteous will gain victory over the unrighteous, but how the evil in every good and the unrighteousness of the righteous is to be overcome.”

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One Response to “Moral Clarity”

  1. linda Says:

    Elvis just want to send you a heads up on this one. I’ve been e-mailing the folks on the Hill. This has to constitute a Hate Crime.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/9/224358/287

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