Skip to main content

The Lesson

June 2024
1min read

MARK HELPRIN’S “THE LESSON OF THE Century” (“Summing Up,” February/ March) is an excellent reminder that when men believe that they can act as gods in reshaping society—as both the fascists and communists did—the result is terror and bloodshed. He might also have stated that when men believe that they are acting in the name of God, the outcome is often equally bloody. Consider the Crusades and the Inquisition, which justified killing infidels and nonbelievers in the name of God. Unfortunately the examples are not limited to the distant past. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the fundamentalist regime in Iran, and the Hamas terrorist group share a belief that repression and killing are mandated by their God. Even closer to home, some white militia groups and fundamentalist Christians are quite prepared to impose their vision of heaven on earth in the name of their conceptions of God and to use violent means to achieve their goals.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.