Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Why we need to kiss moral relativism goodbye

I'm reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy : the Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror (see sidebar), and I really urge every one of you who has not yet read this book to read it. It's incredible, and those in the MSM who are snide about the fact that this is one of Pres. Bush's favorite books either haven't read it, or are too debased in their thinking to understand it. The book is also outstanding for having one of the best arguments against moral relativism that I can remember reading in a long time. After writing about the huge battles being waged in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) over fairly marginal issues, Sharansky has this to say:

Among those who have always lived in a democracy, this story [of the Knesset battles] will raise few eyebrows. After all, in the free world, the competition of ideas and of parties flourishes, and allegiances are often based on a single common principle or purpose that struggles against a competing point of view. Thought generally healthy for a society, this competition can be quite dangerous if we lose sign of the fact that there is a far greater divide between the world of freedom and the world of fear than there is between the competing factions within a free society. If we fail to recognize this, we lose moral clarity. The legitimate differences among us, the shades of gray in a free society, will be wrongly perceived as black and white. Then, the real black-and-white line that divides free societies from fear societies, the real line that divides good from evil, will not longer be distinguishable. A lack of moral clarity is why an Israeli journalist compared a kippah [yamalkah] to a prison. It is why people living in free societies cannot distinguish between religious fundamentalism in democratic states and religious terrorists in fundamentalist states. It is why people living in free societies can come to see their fellow citizens as their enemies, and foreign dictators as their friends. (pp. xvii-xviii)
Powerful stuff there and it boils away all the layers of "compassion" that hide the true evil behind moral relativism. Indeed, with specific regard to the "I feel your pain" school of moral relativism (Carter's and Clinton's speciality), Sharansky has this to say:
[T]oday, detached from the concept of a free society, human rights have no reference point. The concept of human rights has come to mean sympathy for the poor, the weak, and the suffering. To be sure, this sympathy is essential if we want to live in moral societies and should be encouraged and cultivated by families, faiths, schools, and governments. Yet without moral clarity, sympathy can also be placed in the service of evil. A world without moral clarity, is a world in which dictators speak about human rights even as they kill thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, and even tens of millions of people. It is a world in which the only democracy in the Middle East is perceived as the greatest violator of human rights in the world. It is a world in which a human rights conference against racism, such as the one that took place in Durban, South Africa a few years ago, can be turned into a carnival of hate. (pp. xviii-xix.)
Did I mention that this is a must read book? UPDATE: If you have already read, are reading, or plan to read Sharansky's argument at the morally indefensible position of allowing dictatorships to exist so as not to rock the point, you must also read this National Review article about Ahmad Batebi, an Iranian dissident who is, at enormous risk to himself, working to bring down the tyrannical mullahs. Sharansky's point, graphically illustrated through Batebi's efforts, is that detente, or the modern equivalents, simply prop up corrupt dictatorships a bit longer, allowing a few more hundreds, thousands or millions of innocent citzens to be killed or oppressed. Contrary to Chamberlain's idiotic statement, there is no "peace with in our time" or "peace with honor" when a dictatorship is on the other side of the bargaining table. All appeasement proves to be is rolling onto your belly, and hoping that the bloody thirsty monster you're dealing with doesn't eviscerate you right away.