Quayle Says Soviet ‘Hatred of God’ Causes Much of World’s Evil
“Hatred of God” is the fundamental cause of “much evil” propagated by the Soviet Union throughout the world, Vice President Dan Quayle told a convention of religious broadcasters Monday.
Saying that Americans must “be realists” about the extent of change in the Soviet Union under President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Quayle said that official atheism has doomed the Soviet state from its earliest days to a system that denies human freedom and “proclaims that even in the most intimate recesses of the human soul, the will of the state must reign supreme.”
Quayle’s remarks--reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s one-time denunciation of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire"--were the harshest criticism of the Soviet system heard from official Washington since Gorbachev ascended to the leadership in Moscow.
Words Have Harder Edge
Quayle coupled his remarks with a statement implying some doubt about current U.S. plans to attend a human rights conference in Moscow in 1991. He did not directly contradict recent Administration statements on that subject, but his words did have a notably harder tone.
A Quayle aide confirmed that the remarks were intended to send a signal. Prominent conservatives outside the Bush Administration have said they are looking to Quayle to advocate their positions on such issues.
Seeking to reassure them, Quayle is positioning himself “a little more” to the right of Bush on U.S.-Soviet relations, the aide said, just as Bush “positioned himself to the right of Reagan.”
The United States, Quayle said, “must continue to advance the cause of democracy and human rights at home and abroad.”
“Here at home,” he added, “we must ensure that all the First Amendment freedoms . . . are accorded their just and proper due.” That defense of freedom, he said, will be the message of the trip he will take later this week to El Salvador and to Venezuela, where he will attend the inauguration of that country’s new president, Carlos Andres Perez.
Separately, however, Quayle aides announced that journalists from most of the nation’s major media outlets will not be allowed to accompany Quayle on the trip.
Although journalists covering such trips pay the full cost of their travel, Quayle press secretary David Beckwith cited the cost in announcing Monday that only three of the more than 40 newspaper and television correspondents who had planned to follow Quayle will be allowed to go. The trip will be the first official assignment for Quayle, whom Bush aides often tried to shield from extensive press coverage during the fall presidential campaign.
Quayle’s attack on the Soviets closely paralleled Reagan’s 1983 “evil empire” speech. Both speeches were delivered before a conservative religious audience--the National Assn. of Evangelicals in Reagan’s case, the annual National Religious Broadcasters’ convention for Quayle’s speech--and both cited the Soviets as not only a powerful adversary but as a world center of “evil.”
Quayle talked of the religious beliefs that inspired many of America’s Founding Fathers and contrasted them with Soviet state founder V. I. Lenin who, Quayle claimed, once said that “every religious idea” and “every idea of God, even flirting with the idea of God, is unutterable vileness.”
“Look how much good has come into the world as a result” of the American Revolution “and how much evil has entered the world because of” the Russian Revolution, he said. Reagan, similarly, in 1983 had called the Soviets “the focus of evil in the modern world.”
Reagan, however, seemed to change his views markedly in the last few years in response to Gorbachev’s policies. That shift was dramatized on Jan. 4 when Reagan announced that the United States would attend the 1991 international human rights conference in Moscow, a major foreign policy objective for the Soviets, unless human rights conditions deteriorate there in the interim.
Both Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III have said that the United States would abide by that decision. Quayle, striking a tougher rhetorical note, said that “if there is to be a human rights conference,” the Soviets “must” meet the appropriate conditions.