Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

On moral relativism

Keith Thompson, another refugee from the Left, wrote an interesting article about his transformation. As someone who has made the same journey Thompson did, I appreciate and empathize with much of what he says. I was particularly struck by his attack on the moral relativism that characterizes the modern Left, especially with respect to the current wars. He was first struck by it when Stalin's sins were forgiven, on the Left, while Reagan committed the ultimate faux pas when he had the temerity to term that conduct "evil" (in his "Evil Empire" speech). Here's Thompson:

Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations. Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics. Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.
I haven't, couldn't, and didn't say it better myself. Thompson also has a clear-eyed view of the hypocrisy that characterizes the liberals when they view the changes the Bush Doctrine is bringing about in the medieval Middle East:
All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.
The Left is a party of the past, blinded by 19th Century industrial horrors that no longer exist, antiquated Marxist economic notions that have long since proven to be wrong, and romantic fallacies about those in the world who are not white American males. It's heartening to see that at least some on the Left are able to reorient themselves to the present -- to its benefits and burdens -- and to move forward with information about the world as it is, not as it was in some 20th Century Marxist demagogue's worldview. Incidentally, there's much more that's good in Thompson's article, since he also attacks the thought-police approach to education that was an inevitable result of the Left's obsession with controlling equality of outcome. (If you'd like to see the reductio ad absurdum of this approach, get a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's "Welcome to the Monkey House," and read the story "Harrison Bergeron".)