Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Imagine if We All Did It

In a thought-provoking article, Amit Ghate argues for the importance of moral judgment and decisive action particularly when a person is of such vile and treasonous character. He suggests one should shun and ostracize extremely loathsome people as civilized society once did. Many have qualms about such actions believing that the modern notion of rights makes social ostracism obsolete.

The law, properly implemented, is neutral with regard to the content of speech no matter how odious and equally respective of rights of each individual regardless of the failings of character. It is limited to the protection of liberty and property, in a just society, while leaving the individual responsible for developing worthy character or sinking into personal depravity. Only when one steps beyond the line and violates another’s right to life, liberty and property – i.e. commit a crime – does the law step in.

With freedom comes moral responsibility. First of all, there is the responsibility for one’s own character. Rights protect the minimal moral percepts in a social context thereby insuring individual sovereignty. It leaves open the whole question of how one should lead one’s life and what kind of person is one to become.

Not only must one be concerned with one’s own character but one also has the responsibility to judge the character of others for the sake of one’s own well-being and the well-being of one’s family, friends, and community. This is where Ghate has a point. Today there is pressure to suspend moral judgment.

Ghate asks: why is Ward Churchill, instead of being shunned, invited everywhere to spew his anti-American propaganda and hate? Let’s add the example of Michael Moore. Here is unabashed liar, who champions the terrorists that target and kill Iraqi civilians and our troops. Yet, during the Democratic Party convention, we see him sitting in the guest of honor box next to Jimmy Carter. Any suggestion that he be shunned results in charges of intolerance and censorship. This is nonsense, and Mr. Ghate does a good job exposing the absurdity of today’s promiscuity:
"All it takes is a society of individuals who value morality and who have the right to act in accordance with it. The Greeks had both. They valued honor and acting for the good above all else. And they had no government regulations to prevent them from honoring those whom they found noble nor from shunning those whom they found immoral.

In today’s world both requirements for successfully ostracizing people are not only lacking, but even reversed. Consider that the subjectivists on the Left continuously cry that free speech means not just respecting a person’s right to voice his opinion, but actually respecting the opinion itself – no matter what its content (“everyone’s opinion is equally valid”). In so doing they don’t just deprecate morality, they actually eradicate it completely. For if every opinion is equally valid (which means that there is no truth), there can be no science aimed at discovering and defining the proper code of values necessary for man to succeed and prosper on earth – i.e. there can be no morality or ethics."

There is one man today that does have moral standards and won’t go along with the crowd. As everyone was turning yet another cheek to show their willing to forgive and forget, Rudy Giuliani stood alone. Jason Moaz’ recalls when Rudy kicked Arafat out of an invitation-only Lincoln Center affair of U.N. representatives ... to the shock of nearly everyone. Rudy was right.

Arafat, the “father of modern terrorism,” was rewarded with control of territory in the West Bank after the Oslo Accords by promising to reform. In the decade of his rule, he systematically trained a generation to embrace terrorism. The result of this process was the recent wave of suicide bombers. Arafat is proof that terrorism works (because of our appeasement.) And rewarding terrorism only encourages more. Character and culture are created over a long period of practice. Neither can be suddenly discarded with the rare exception of vast and utter defeat. Reform and redemption require a long period of thought and deeds before the cultivation of a new character or culture is achieved.

A healthy culture requires private citizens to cultivate incentives, values, moral stature, and honors appropriate to civilized society. It also requires the disincentives and condemnations – and in extreme cases, ostracism – when evil presents itself. Liberty is valuable if we use it wisely to do the right thing. Rudy suggests it can be done. Imagine if we all did it.


Blogger Cubed © said...

"Imagine if we all did it"--you bet. Problem--those whose moral codes are a 180 from the valid one, which holds "human life" to be the "standard of the good," have been working since the mid-1800s to seize control of what is taught in our schools, and hence, to the next generation. These people, who fall under the umbrella of Postmodernists (who descended from Plato via the Three Stooges of Philosophy--Kant, Hegel, Marx), succeeded in reaching a "critical mass" in the fifties; the first major demonstration of their success became evident in the '60s, and has been gaining speed ever since.

We have to take back the future. By teaching a proper philosophy, which is REALLY EASY (Aesop's Fables, often read to kindergarteners, were conceived as philosophy lessons), we can do it.

Obviously, this will never happen in the current government-run behemoth characterized by the current philosophy which promotes all sorts of collectivist ideals--multiculturalism, political correctness, moral equivalency, yadda-yadda, blat-blat.

The answer is to re-establish a private system. For more on this, I refer you to Andrew Coulson's "Market Education: The Unknown History."

Just let me point out that the difference in legacies between a government-controlled system and a fully private system is the difference between Sparta and Athens.

We need to choose--quickly

11/1/05, 11:22 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...


I think a lot of 'liberals' – including me at at one time – are stuck in the past and are worried about inquisitions and so forth. We learn a little about the European Enlightenment in college and think we are still fighting that battle. Or that a vote for a 'religious conservative' will bring back witch hunts and the scarlet letter.

The other thing that bothers me, as a fan of Eastern wisdom, is how certain British colonialists once simply assumed that Indian philosophy was worthless. (I might note that other British deeply appreciated the cultures in their colonies and studied them in great depth.)

In other words, I am in favor of selective and intelligent multiculturalism, than gleans the best of East and West. This is quite different from cultural or moral relativism.

My overall conclusion: We must above all use our reason rather than follow simplistic formulas.

11/2/05, 10:56 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

You conclusion is valid. Of course, reason, as a fully developed concept, is a Hellenic contribution. The supremacy of reason, where all matters are potentially subject to its test, is the core of the Western approach and our contribution to world civilization. And it includes the evaluation and adoption of what is of value in other cultures. It’s only reasonable to examine other cultures for insight. But Multi-culturalism is a rejection of that concept.

Let’s go back in history, for a moment, to Marxism. Marx held that logic was class dependent. The workers think one way and the capitalists another – both were a product of their position. There was no “right way” that resolves the issues – only history that determines the outcome of the power relationships. Hitler replaced workers/capitalists with Germans/Jews. Today’s multi-culturalists see a plethora of groups. But to make all equal they have to tear down the achievement of the West and the supremacy of reason.

Naturally, enjoying other cultures and having an eagerness to learn from them is desirable. But as you note, this is not relativism. That cuts too deep. Relativism really says everything is equally good because nothing really matters. Any outcome is as good as the other. But, instead of this multi-cultural approach, the best of the West is being adopted in the East in a kind of synthesis that aims to achieve the best of both. Obviously it matters to people elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Benjamin, the term Multi-Cultural doesn’t mean what it literally sounds like it means. That’s the intention – a bait-and-switch – to start with a valid interest in exploring and selecting reasonable elements from different traditions, but change that to the blind uncritical acceptance of everything of foreign traditions and by bringing down what we’ve achieved to sweeten the comparison. It’s like socialism: it started by saying let’s raise the lowest but it ended up with trying to tear down the greatest. Egalitarianism required a leveling and that was to be achieved no matter how. Relativism requires the same and results in the same destructive ethos.

It’s unfortunate that words get co-opted.

11/2/05, 12:26 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi Jason,

I quite agree with everything you just said. I might point out something else. The 'multi-culturalists' have a curious tendency to appreciate anything that is non-Western and to despise what is Western. So they are not even true multi-culturalists in a relativistic and wishy-washy sense. They just don't like the West - and with that goes racism against so-called white men.

11/2/05, 1:40 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Your right again. That’s a clue that they aren’t really about respect for the contribution of others but more interested in disparaging our culture. Mutual respect only comes from honesty and standards.

11/2/05, 1:53 PM  
Blogger Rancher said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/2/05, 5:28 PM  
Blogger Rancher said...

"Yet, during the Democratic Party convention, we see him sitting in the guest of honor box next to Jimmy Carter."

Don't think for a moment that didn't cost them. Whoopi helped elect Bush too. Moral relativism also cost allot of votes in fly over country. The left can't even bring itself to shun Farrakhan or distance itself from his most racist comments. They do seem to have the ability to ostracize anyone evangelical however

11/2/05, 5:32 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I come from Brethren/Mennonite stock on my father's side; these denominations practiced (or used to) shunning. Actually, the method was quite effective: the warning was given, and the threat of shunning ensued at the next infringement. Maybe shunning sounds primitive, old-fashioned, and simplisitic; but as I saw it practiced, it was not spiteful and was very effective. I saw unacceptable behaviors curtailed and character built.

We do nobody (ourselves, society, the world, etc.) any favors by appeasing failings of character. As Guiliani pointed out in his book Leadership (a book which I encourage my students to read), the quality of leadership often requires that one stand alone. I recall the saying, "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."

And, as you said, Jason, With freedom comes moral responsibility. Has America forgotten that truth?
Mustang had a good post on this related topic, and I saw, Jason, that you commented there.

11/2/05, 10:51 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...


I couldn't have said it better myself! "Multiculturalism" isn't a simple appreciation for delightful variations in dress, cuisine, language, but rather, the insistence that the values of one culture are just as valid as those of another.


There is no way that totalitarianism is just as valid as capitalism, or that collectivism is just as valid as individual rights, or that life is just as good as death.

Words have meanings, which is something else our educational system would prefer that we not know.

11/3/05, 10:30 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Rancher raises an excellent point. The left’s hypocrisy is huge. Relativism is invoked to dismiss others’ position while politically correct dogma brings down a fierce ostracism of anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. Take Hollywood as an example. Or take the atmosphere in universities towards anyone who is pro-Capitalist or a devout and open conservative Christian.

AOW reminds us that character is alive and well. Yes, in the Red States, it isn’t out of fashion. Also, I’m often stuck by the sense of honor among men and women in the military – they take character seriously.

Thanks, cubed, undoubtedly “sixth column” had the article that prompted this discussion of multi-culturalism. Also, some good comments on the education system in comment #1. Did you read Alex’s article on Front Page Magazine? When I was in public school, political indoctrination was considered as wrong as religious indoctrination.

11/3/05, 2:55 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

"Marx held that logic was class dependent. The workers think one way and the capitalists another – both were a product of their position."

Oh, yes, and it was one of the many intellectual failures of the Soviets. This whole concept--that genetic changes could be wrought by environmental (e.g."class" here) differences in a single generation--suffused the entire spectrum of Soviet collectivist society.

It was based entirely on the so-called "thinking" of a so-called "scientist" named Lamarck, who proposed that if an organism (including human beings) was born under a set of circumstances different from those of its parents (e.g. Communism), he would be biologically different from his parents as a result.

This was this absurd notion that genetic changes could be "acquired" by all individuals of a species all at once, rather than selected through the genetic ability of an individual member of the specie to reach reproductive competence in a given environment that made Lamarck the laughing stock of the entire scientific community, especially members of the life science community.

There were quite a few Soviet scientists who were mortified at their country's stance, but they had to endure in silence.

The Soviet authorities loved him, and made him a hero; obviously, anything that proposed that their collectivist ideal could become a genetic "trait" in a single generation was seen as favorable.

11/7/05, 1:58 PM  

<< Home