There are words so ignominiously offensive that they ceaselessly reverberate in the chambers of you mind, shaking the very moral foundations of your being. One exchange in particular has redefined my concept of moral turpitude. May the characters in this morality play speak for themselves. The setting is the House of Commons of the British Parliament. The date is July 18th, 2016. The plot: Parliament is in session and debating whether to spend approximately £40 billion to renew the Trident Nuclear Missile Program. It is a time of austerity when the National Health Service has been subjected to endless spending cuts. One Member of Parliament poses a question to the Prime Minister, one unanswered by her predecessors out of personal shame:
Member of Parliament George Kerevan: “Is she presently prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that would kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children?”
Prime Minister Theresa May: “Yes! And… I have to say to the honorable gentleman that the whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies would know that we would be prepared to use it.”
These were not words tinged with the slightest bitter taste of consternation. In my opinion, these were words of spiteful insolence amplified by arrogance. They came from a woman who takes great pride in being a vicar’s daughter. Now if I had been entitled to a follow-up question, this would have been it:
“If the willingness to commit the mass murder of innocent men, women and children is a prerequisite for one to be a Prime Minister, what is the point of Parliamentary Democracy?”
As this unanswered question echoes through time, a remembrance of my childhood comes to mind. When I was a kid, Aesop’s Fables was one of my favorite books. I grew up only to realize that some human beings are willing to countenance monstrous acts, so unspeakably heinous, that no animal species would ever contemplate. What a child can teach a politician, a politician cannot teach a child. There is a modicum of decency to be learned from reading fables, but that requires a small measure of humility. In its absence, opening a dictionary also helps:
Genocide: The deliberate extermination of a national, racial, political or cultural group.