G. U. L. A. G. – A Look at Ethnic Cleansing and Abortion
Rev. Fred Toppe
Do you know these initials? They stand for Glavnoe upravlenie ispravitel’no-trudovykh lagerei, the Russian words for Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps. The GULAG was in operation in the former Soviet Union from the early 1920s until the early 1990s. Its stated purpose was to imprison the enemies of the state in camps where they might be productive workers for the good of the country. Its real purpose was to terrorize the population of the country by keeping them in perpetual awareness that they might be the next slaves of the camps.
People were sent to the camps for all kinds of reasons, but often for no reason at all. The Soviet Empire needed workers, so the police arrested people and then sentenced them to years and years of work in camps that ran factories or mines, or built roads or railroads or canals, or cut down forests and built frontier towns. They were invariably terrible places, where people barely survived harsh living conditions, agonizingly hard work, lack of food, sickness, disease, cruelty and torture, and indifference. Stories of life in the camps are painful to read because of the constant suffering of the prisoners. Over 20 million people entered the Gulag to serve out their sentence, but only a portion of them survived, perhaps a half or two thirds of those who once lived in the camps. Millions upon millions died in the Gulag, in one of the great horrors of the 20th century.
But when Anne Applebaum writes about the Gulag in her recently study of the camps, she notes that these camps were but one of the horrors of those years. She reminds us that the Gulag camps of Russia were imitated in many countries that took up communism, in China and South East Asia and in Eastern Europe and yet today, in North Korea. The prison camps of the Soviets became the concentration camps and death camps of the Nazis and the killing fields of Cambodia. Ethnic cleansing of undesirable peoples was practiced by the Soviets as they allowed millions of Ukrainians to die through deliberate famine in the 1930s, but also by the Turks as they exterminated Armenians during the First World War, and by Serbs and Bosnians slaughtering each other in Yugoslavia and by Hutus and Tutsis slaughtering each other in Central Africa a decade ago. The human race, even the educated and civilized human race of the 20th century, has a continuing ability to dehumanize and to destroy those it does not want.
But add up all of the people destroyed in all of these horror stories of man’s cruelty to man in the 20th century and they do not add up to the number of unwanted children destroyed in just our country by the legalized murder of abortion. Add up all of the people killed in every way, by wars and murders and death camps throughout all the world over the past 100 years, and that number does not come close to equaling those destroyed in our world by abortion alone. Because the human race, even the educated and civilized human race of the 20th century, has a continuing ability to dehumanize and to destroy those it does not want.
We rightly condemn the Gulag of the Soviets and the death camps of the Nazis and the ethnic cleansings of a 100 different nations, and we grieve as we read the stories of those who are their victims, but we have hardened our hearts to the children who are the victims of the massacres of abortion and we scarcely give them a thought, because they are quietly disposed of before we ever see them. But they are real, and they do live, till their lives are snatched from them. New mothers now routinely have ultrasounds of their expected children already at about four months after conception and they look at pictures of the children they are carrying. Their unborn children are real, as are all the children who die through abortion at the hands of the educated and civilized people of our world.
How can we dehumanize and destroy one another? And how can we let this go on? And what will God do to us for this evil? “Do you not fear God as you face His judgment?” said one thief to the other as they were crucified next to Jesus. Do we not fear God as we face His judgments for this evil alone, much less all the other evils we commit? Whether the initials are G.U.L.A.G. or H.O.L.O.C.A.U.S.T. or E.T.H.N.I.C. C.L.E.A.N.S.I.N.G or A.B.O.R.T.I.O.N., we are staring at the face of evil, and it is we who do the evil and it is we who shut our eyes to the evil and so it is we who are responsible for the evil
God judges, and His judgments fall already in this world and time, as the history of even the chosen people of Israel continuously demonstrates. Rightly do we confess in each service, “we are by nature sinful and we have disobeyed God in thoughts, words, and actions, …doing what is evil and failing to do what is good. For this we deserve your punishment both now and in eternity.” And then we sing, “Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.” We must continue to ask God to not look upon our sins, for without God’s mercy through His forgiveness in Christ there is no hope for us. We cannot survive God’s anger on our own. We must have Christ’s blood covering our sins and the sins of the whole world, even these horrible sins when we destroy one another.
God, for Christ’s sake forgive us, forgive us all.