J.R.R. Tolkien and the Courage to Face Evil
Great books can be read again and again without losing their freshness.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s two famous novels – The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – reveal more and more layers of meaning on each reading. Critics like to argue about Tolkien’s real meaning, but he was perfectly clear about that: his allegories of war and peace are about our time, his and ours.
Tolkien’s generation saw the rise and fall of the Kaiser, Hitler, and Stalin, grim enemies about as close to Mordor and Sauron as we can imagine. And Tolkien clearly identified the first hobbits he was acquainted with – it was the small-town people of Worcestershire, where he had lived. These were the ordinary people who went to war and put their lives on the line when Dark Riders came to invade their peaceful Shire.
The famous Tolkien novels speak to us because they evoke our deepest dilemmas – most of all, the never-ending puzzle of ordinary people faced with unspeakable evil. If your parents and grandparents had to come to that moment of decision in their lives, you probably know all about it. They did not choose war; war chose them.
Sophisticated liberals tell us there is no such thing as evil, but those voices have been muffled since ISIS started to broadcast outright murder videos through the social media. Yet anyone who bothers to read history knows about murderous tyrannies and the struggle for freedom. That age-old battle can be found as long ago as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Tyranny, the abuse of power, and the quest for freedom keep happening over and over again.
Which is why J.R.R. Tolkien, a man steeped in the European past and ancient languages, never expressed any doubt about the reality of the Dark Side. If you’ve been reading about Boko Haram monsters kidnapping African children in Nigeria and claiming Allah’s justification to kill, enslave, abuse, and sell African children in the slave market, you have to confront the reality of evil – or junk any belief in your own morality.
All the preening moralizers who blackmail Americans by race-baiting through the media are awfully quiet about ISIS. Ever notice that? But ISIS is not at all different from the other holy war gangs. They are run by the same priesthood with the same war doctrines.
Hobbits are very ordinary people – gossipy, childish, folksy, mostly interested in good food and birthday parties. Tolkien delights in showing us their ordinariness, like the rustic folks of the English countryside in his younger years.
And then they encounter the reality of evil.
If there is a single overriding message in Tolkien’s novels, it is how ordinary people can find the strength and courage to face and fight evil, how some of them lose heart and try to run away, and how others are seduced and suborned, to become collaborators with the enemy. Tolkien saw it happen more than once. It is the greatest psychological theme of the 20th century, just as it is in the 21st. Those Americans who have not closed their eyes to evil can easily spot the same characters in our political life: the brave, the cowardly, and the sell-outs.
In the 1930s, nobody wanted to face Hitler. The British left betrayed its own country by covering up Lenin’s and Stalin’s decades of crimes. In the United States, the New York Times refused to expose both Hitler and Stalin when it knew all about them; its infamous Moscow correspondent, Walter Durante, received a Pulitzer Prize, when he and his editors were engaged in criminal collusion in the deaths of millions of victims of Soviet imperialism. If Western newspapers like the NYT had ever found the courage to tell the truth, the West could have stopped Hitler early on, without going to war. But our crummy media failed. Fortunately, in places like America and England, at the last moment, leaders like Winston Churchill were able to face reality and speak out against bloodthirsty tyrannies, to finally beat them down.
The “peace-loving” liberals of that time would not face reality, and their kind still won’t. The left covered up the evil of Saddam Hussein, of the Iranian mullahs whom Jimmy Carter allowed to grab power, of two decades of Sudanese Islamist genocide against native African tribes, of al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi war theology of Saudi Arabia.
The militant left tells us that conservatives are warmongers; we see threats when there’s nothing to see. In Freudian terms, liberals take their own private fears and anxieties and shift the blame to normal Americans. This is a kind of pathology. It is stunningly dishonest.
The single weirdest thing about Obama is his inability to face the reality of evil – like the Islamist gang Boko Haram in Nigeria, which is still today raiding defenseless villages, killing and kidnapping women and children, abusing them in every way possible, and selling them on the slave market to the highest bidder. Obama simply cannot face the fact that Boko Haram is a direct descendant of the Muslim slavers who kidnapped Michelle’s African ancestors to supply the Atlantic slave trade.
Amazingly, the United States today is actually in cahoots with the biggest sponsors of ISIS murder squads in the Muslim world: Turkey, Qatar, and the Muslim Brotherhood. For the first time in our history, we have knowingly taken the worst side.
There is an eerie parallel between Obama’s failure to face Boko Haram’s religiously sanctioned war against African civilians and the dismal failure of our “civil rights” establishment to fight inner-city gangs who kill children in Chicago every single week. Al Sharpton is hardly a model of moral probity, in spite of his demogogic war against the evil cops. He is a crook and an extortionist, and the preening liberal establishment has kissed his rear ever since the Tawana Brawley case, for fear of being smeared as “racist.” Al Sharpton is Bull Connor for these times, using exactly the same racial smears and scapegoating as any other mob leader.
By comparison to Obama and his kind, listen to Egypt’s President Al Sisi last week, speaking out against religiously sanctioned war at Al Azhar University in Cairo:
I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands.
Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema – Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.
All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this (war-making) mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.
Those words deserve to be carved in marble, like Martin Luther King’s speech sixty years ago. President Sisi is saying what Barack Obama has failed to say. Sisi is calling on Egypt and the whole Muslim world to reject the self-destructive theology of war and violence. His predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood for the sin of making peace with Israel forty years ago. Sisi is a man of courage. If the United States ever regains ordinary common sense, it will vigorously support the Sisis of the Muslim world and defeat the newest incarnation of Nazism.
A few weeks ago we heard that an EU “court” in Geneva took the side of the Hamas terror group and against Israel’s punitive expedition last year. But Hamas = ISIS = Boko Haram = Sudanese genocide = Khomeinist Iran. When the reigning imams of ISIS “officially” declared their theological justification for mass rape and torture, kidnapping, enslavement, and forced prostitution of Yazidi women and children, along with Christian civilians, Kurds, Shi’ites, and any other infidels their killer squads could catch, the Saudis had to admit that yes, ISIS is just implementing official Sunni theology. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has kept his own grown-up daughters imprisoned for years. ISIS reflects officially sanctioned Wahhabi doctrine in our good friend Saudi Arabia. The EU court may not know it, but it is clearing the way for ISIS-style attacks in Europe itself. Muslim imperialism must expand or die, just as Hitler’s imperialism had to expand or die.
Since the rise of Islamofascist Iran, Western media and politicians have knowingly colluded in historic crimes against humanity – just because they were committed by Muslims. We have failed the basic “Hobbit test” – of facing and defeating direct aggression against our homes and families, simply to protect our rosy peace of mind. Our most recent “allies” in the Muslim world are the worst offenders: Qatar pays for ISIS and Hamas; the Turks have provided logistics and recruitment centers for ISIS; and the Muslim Brotherhood, with tentacles all over the Sunni Arab world, has paid blood money to the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama. Muslim Brotherhood loyalist Huma Abedin is still Hillary Clinton’s “personal aide.” The Democratic Party seems to be for sale to some of the worst criminals in the world.
We can see leftist politicians selling out to Gulf oil regimes right in front of our eyes. Famous feminist Naomi Klein sold her soul to Al Jazeera, owned by the desert sheikhs of Qatar. Naturally, she had to deny ISIS snuff films as enemy propaganda – her enemies being the fictional “patriarchy” of America. None so blind as will not see. But the liberal “civil rights” establishment is no better. Nor are the LGBT ruckus-makers, the anti-cop “peace brigade,” or the other preening enablers of unmitigated evil.
The left constantly attacks good and decent people, just as it tries to smear the ordinary moms and pops of the Tea Party – while absolving Saddam Hussein and Iran’s Rouhani, who led the terrorist squad that killed almost 200 U.S. Marines and French peacekeeping troops in Beirut in 1981. Rouhani should stand trial for crimes against humanity – rather than being celebrated by the unbelievable, cynical New York Times.
Heroic NYT writer Nicholas Kristof just quoted a dubious source named “Angel Butts” with approval, saying, “And so, as Ferguson burns, I hear the voice inside me chant, 'Burn on…' Let the fires burn until every city, every town is on its knees.”
This is a man who advertises his easy availability (at a price) on Google, to give barn-burning speeches, who profits from hate-mongering via the august pages of America’s “newspaper of record.” Funny thing: he sounds exactly like those Saudi hate-preaching imams in Great Britain, in a recent undercover video exposé. Hate-mongering is now the “in thing” on the left, and they don’t act differently from other mobs. Democratic “leaders” from Obama on down have chosen sides – against the cops, and for the Al Sharptons of this world.
ISIS is unmitigated evil. But how close are the demagogues of the left?
Much too close for comfort.
Sauron and Mordor are never far away in human affairs. What ultimately makes life worth living is the Frodos and Bilbos – the normal people, when they’ve had enough and choose to stand up and defeat the Dark Side.