Charles Moore's Mailbag

Yet More 'Dueling Civilizations' Letters

Charles Moore - 2002.10.01 - Tip Jar

This can't be good...

From Pat

Comments: Mr. Moore. I don't have your special insight, but this can't be good . . . "Too Rich" . . . What the hell does that mean?

Friday, Sept. 13, 2002 1:08 p.m. EDT

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien's suggestion during a TV interview Wednesday that the U.S. is partially to blame for the 9/11 attacks has officials on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border fearing a "meltdown" in relations between the two countries. In remarks carried by the Canadian Broadcasting Company as part of its 9/11 anniversary coverage, Chretien seemed to be saying that the U.S. got what it deserved on 9/11.

"You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others," he told the CBC. "That is what the Western world - not only the Americans, the Western world - has to realize."

Chretien added that the West "is getting too rich in relation to the poor world" and that...

To read the rest of this article, go to

Hi Pat,

This has been a hot topic in Canada since Mr. Chretien's comment, which was actually recorded back in July, was recently rebroadcast.

He also said much the same thing at the United Nations this month.

Chretien has announced that he will step down in early 2004, and after accomplishing little of note in his nine years in power (his government did manage to balance the budget after decades of gushing red ink, but that was mainly thanks to Chretien's arch rival and Finance Minister, Pul Martin, who he fired last May), he is now scrambling to establish a "legacy" during his long lame duck tenure. For a lifelong Liberal who was first elected to Parliament in the early 1960s, that means hewing to the left and political correctness.

You may have correctly inferred by now that I'm no fan of Jean Chretien, who I consider to be an intellectual lightweight, although I concede that he's a clever politician.

Jean Chretien's one-time political mentor Mitchell Sharp remarked in a CBC radio interview in 1993 that he didn't think Chretien "has ever had an original thought in his life." Indeed, it is difficult to remember a single memorable piece of legislation Jean Chretien steered through Parliament under the many cabinet portfolios he held under other Liberal Prime Ministers. Ideologically Jean Chretien appears not to stand for anything, other than that he "loves Canada" and that the Liberals are the natural "government party?"

According to Maclean's Magazine editor Anthony Wilson-Smith, Jean Chretien not only hates to lose, but hates to admit it when he does. Smith reported a while back that when Mr. Chretien hits a bad shot in golf, he will accept the penalty, but also frequently insists on dropping another ball and hitting it from the same lie, just to prove he can do it.

Canada's baffling infatuation with Mr. Chretien is perhaps explained by American philosopher Richard Weaver in "Ideas Have Consequences," where he describes "the adulation of the regular fellow, the political seduction of the common man, and the deep distrust of intellectuals, whose grasp of principles gives them superior insight. This society may even pay tribute to the exemplar of easy morals, for he is the 'good fellow,' who has about him none of the uncomfortable angularities of the idealist." Certainly, idealism and intellectualism are not qualities the "common man" needs to worry about in Jean Chretien.

However, rest assured that a lot of Canadians are upset about Chretien's unfortunate remarks on CBC and at the UN.


Art - Dueling Civilizations

From: Phillip Blancher

Dear Sir,

I am a Canadian and not ashamed of the fact that many think the US is partly to blame. However my letter is not to go into the Proxy wars that the CIA used countries to fight, and so on. The point of my letter is to congratulate you on a well written piece. One of my college art professors once said.

Whatever you create is only art if you manage to get people to hate it and people to love it. So long as you have a combination of the two, your item will be talked about, and that is the point of creating art, and the definition of art.

Sir, your piece was art!

Thank you for the insightful piece,


Hi Phillip,

Glad you enjoyed the article. I'm humbled by your effusive approbation.


Dueling Civilizations

From Julian Skidmore

Hello Charles,

As a British Christian, I find it always encouraging to hear your Christian standpoint. Having read an interpretation of the Qur'an, I must agree with you about the overall consensus of what the book teaches and advocates. Under Islam, life would be tough for Christians, and, unfortunately, tougher still for people without any Semitic faith. I agree there really is a deep clash between an Islamic view of life and a Christian view (and for that matter a faithless view).

Nevertheless, if I may make a couple of comments. Basically I think it's worth pointing out the difference between Islam and being a Muslim - the primary difference being that if the Gospel message is right about people, then it is right about Muslims, too, and therefore Muslims (though like everyone else, fallen) are still made in the image of God - and from a Christian view, still capable of being reached by Jesus. These things are known.

Secondly, it's worth remembering what Jesus said about retribution and revenge: "Love your enemies, Bless those who curse you, Pray for those who persecute you." Jesus himself being God's ultimate symbol of justice by giving up his life, even for the sake of his enemies, praying for us while he died.

Yet to my shame I have found that the west (or at least the Western media) and even the church (almost) is silent when considering this as an appropriate response. Or am I wrong? Does the Canadian/US media/church contain a lot of "loving your enemies" rhetoric? Does it contain any? Or did Jesus only intend that message for kids and Martin Luther King? Is "loving your enemies" a good antidote for Islamaphobia, on the grounds that the Muslims you see in your local neighbourhood aren't your enemies and are therefore deserving of just as much love? Or did I imagine the bit in 1 John where it says "there is no fear in love, perfect love drives out all fear."?*

To finish - thanks again for your occasional Christian articles in Low End Mac and your forthright stance.

God bless, from Jules @P.

* er, I'm not trying to imply you don't take Jesus seriously when it comes to loving your enemies, I'm just wondering whether you think the west or the church in the west is noticeably silent in this regard.

Hi Jules,

I hope that my comments on this topic have not been broadly misconstrued as a demonization of Islamic people.

I unreservedly affirm that Jesus died for Muslims as much as for anyone else, and that God loves everyone equally. I don't know very many Arab/Muslim people personally, but the few that I have gotten acquainted with I genuinely liked, despite disagreement on political and theological issues.

There is an unfortunate tendency in our time, which has been nurtured and fostered by the political correctness enthusiasts, to equate negative critique of ideas or ideologies or behavior disagreement with "hatred."

To answer your question, at least here in Canada, I would say that many churches emphasize "love your enemies" to a fault, in the sense that they discount the significance of real theological dissonance, and the fact that Christianity teaches that repentance must precede forgiveness, and that if we take the Bible at its word, then a "one religion is just as true as another" notion simply will not do. However, that doesn't justify hating or denigrating adherents of other religious convictions as individuals.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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