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Pacifists or Parasites?

David C. Stolinsky, M.D.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Some people are sincere pacifists. For religious or philosophical reasons, they really believe that all use of force is immoral and unnecessary. To me, these people are mistaken and ignorant of history. They live in a dream world, but they are sincere.

In contrast, the majority of pacifists believe themselves to be sincere, but they’re not. They would deny it if someone called them hypocrites, but they are.


Pacifists, as well as many other liberals, support strict gun-control laws. If use of force by nations is wrong, then use of force by private citizens – even in self-defense – is even more wrong.

First, we have the obvious hypocrites. We have the politicians and media stars who don’t trust "ordinary" citizens to own a gun, but who themselves have permits to carry guns, or who can afford armed bodyguards.

Then we have the liberals who live in gated communities or upscale suburbs, and who work in elite office buildings. They feel no need for self-defense, so they can’t empathize with those who live or work in high-crime areas – especially the poor and minorities. They feel no need for guns, so they can’t understand those who do.

Lack of empathy and understanding is not an admirable quality in anyone, but it is especially unsuitable in those who call themselves liberals.

Anti-gun zealots claim that the mere presence of a gun at home makes one more likely to be murdered. But if they really believed what they claim to believe, they would post signs in front of their houses stating "There are no guns in this home."

For years, I have walked dogs almost daily through some of the most liberal and affluent residential areas in the nation. Not once did I see a home with such a sign.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell coined the phrase "Sunday truths," meaning platitudes that people mouth in church on Sunday, then ignore for the other six days of the week. The majority of pacifists and anti-gun zealots are doing just that – loudly declaring slogans they claim to believe, but really don’t.

If keeping a gun at home makes one more likely to be murdered, why don’t many activists put "no gun" signs in front of their houses? Why don’t a few? Why don’t any?

Clearly, these people recognize that if criminals don’t know who is armed, they take great care to select unoccupied homes to burglarize.

This fact is demonstrated by data showing that "hot" burglaries, where criminals intentionally break in while people are at home, are much more common in nations where few people are allowed to own guns, and much rarer in the United States.

Criminals admit that they are more afraid of being shot by homeowners than of being shot or arrested by police. Moreover, victims of "hot" burglaries are more likely to be killed, raped or injured than are victims of street robberies. And obviously, if the occupants are away when a house is burglarized, they are never hurt.

That is, strict gun control makes life more dangerous for the law-abiding and safer for the criminals. Of course, pacifists and anti-gun activists would never admit this verbally. But they do acknowledge it by their actions – they never post a "no gun" sign.


Pacifists object to any use of force. Paradoxically, though, they object more strongly to defensive force than to aggressive force.

To them, it is "gun control" to further restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to own guns. But somehow it is not "gun control" to jail armed criminals. Thus they favor banning guns, but they often oppose "use a gun, go to jail" laws. This is illogical.

Pacifists argue that resisting a criminal will only get you killed. But in fact, one who uses a gun to resist a criminal is least likely to be injured or killed. One who does not resist is more likely to be hurt, and one who resists unarmed is most likely.

Similarly, opponents of a missile-defense system object strenuously that our ability to stop incoming missiles will only make things worse. Yet they object less strongly, or not at all, when terrorist states like Iraq and North Korea develop biologic, chemical or nuclear weapons.

Weapons of mass destruction don’t upset them, but our ability to block the weapons really frightens them. This is not merely illogical; it’s preposterous.

Perhaps a psychiatrist could explain this opposition to self-defense, both for individuals and for nations. Perhaps guilt feelings evoke a need to be punished, or a sense of unworthiness to be defended.

But whatever the cause, it is irrational to oppose the right to self-defense while – at the same time – finding every conceivable excuse for criminal behavior.


Recently I saw a new Mercedes SUV with a bumper sticker reading "War is not the answer." It was parked near the campus of a major university. I wondered if the owner had given a moment’s thought to why he enjoys the right to protest against his government, why he has access to a center of learning and free inquiry, or why Mercedes now makes SUVs instead of tanks.

The answer to these questions lay just a mile away, in the National Cemetery. But what are the odds that the bumper-sticker man goes by there every Memorial Day to say thanks, as I do? Does he understand that he owes his freedom to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who fought and bled to preserve it?

Of course you think war isn’t the answer, if you never ask the right questions.

Evasion of Responsibility:

Crime is a national problem. But it’s easier and more politically correct to ignore crime and concentrate on guns. If you doubt this, ask the Democratic Party.

Weapons of mass destruction are a world problem. But it’s easier and more politically correct to ignore them and worry about global warming. If you doubt this, ask Hans Blix.

In this way, you can shirk your duty, accomplish nothing – and still pose as a humanitarian.

How safe for the cowardly. How useful for the dishonest. How helpful for the careerist. How ego-gratifying for the self-absorbed. How comforting for the deluded. But how dangerous for all the rest of us.


Worst of all, pacifists and anti-gun activists are parasitic. They enjoy the benefits without doing the work. They reap the rewards without taking the risks:

They wouldn’t dirty their hands by touching a gun. But they enjoy a low rate of "hot" burglaries because an unknown number of their neighbors own guns.

They hold police in disdain as would-be fascists. They favor laws and court decisions that hamper the police. But they phone 911 whenever they sense danger – and then complain if the cops don’t arrive promptly and act effectively.

They belittle our military as crude Neanderthals. They oppose funding for better equipment or adequate pay. But they sleep soundly, dreaming peaceful dreams, while our troops face discomfort and danger to keep them safe.

They assume a smug self-righteousness, looking down with contempt on those who support gun ownership, support the police, or support our troops. But they enjoy the benefits of the policies that these "contemptible" people uphold.
Sincere people, people with integrity, are grateful for what benefits them. But freeloaders can benefit from something and still despise it.
If anti-gun zealots were sincere, they would post "no gun" signs in front of their homes, rather than benefit indirectly from their neighbors’ guns.

If anti-police activists were sincere, they would either refrain from calling 911, no matter what, or live in rural areas many miles from the nearest police.

If anti-military fanatics were sincere, they would move to a nation with a weak military – preferably next to an aggressive nation with a strong military.

But most of these people aren’t sincere. They would never follow these suggestions. It would be too dangerous – physically dangerous, and dangerous to their unrealistic belief system.

Instead, they proclaim their high-sounding ivory-tower slogans, while acting in a more selfish and practical fashion.

Instead, they bask in the safety provided for them by those they insult and oppose at every step.

If there is a better description of hypocrites and parasites, I have yet to hear it.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He may be contacted at
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