Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Moral Equivalence

Joseph Shumpeter once said that the first thing a man is willing to do for his ideology is lie. It follows that when a man makes a fact-based statement that is consistent with his ideology, there is some probability that he is lying; but of course there is some probability that he is not. So when confronted with a portrayal of factual events that go against one's ideology, you have really two options - refute the facts convincingly, or paint the guy as an ideologue, with the implication being that he must clearly be lying. The writer of The Path to 9/11 got the second treatment, as you can read in his opinion piece for the WSJ: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008958

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It never ceases to amaze me how the left can find moral equivalence of some sort between the institutions of the West, and most especially America and the Catholic Church, and the forces of barbarism in this world. In my post on Monday, in the comments section, Anonymous feels compelled to take a dig at the Catholic Church in response to the admittedly off-topic query of pbryon as to whether or not the Pope's remarks were considered infallible by the Church.

Now, normally I wouldn't be so sensitive about such a dig, but when the post itself is pointing out some pretty damning differences between Islam and Christianity, I think that a comment directed at the supposed comparative hubris of the Catholic Church is really quite revealing. If the worst that can be said about the Church, as is said by Anonymous, is that the Cardinals always assume they speak with infallibility, than in my eyes you are praising them with very faint damnation, but I suspect Anonymous doesn't see it this way. When an Imam says take a machete to the head of the infidel dog and someone does, and the Pope tells us to love your neighbor and someone does, is it appropriate to take a dig at the Pope for presuming he is speaking infallibly versus the ever so humble and fallible Imam?

As the contrarian Catholic apologist that I tend to be, I'd point out that the ability of the Pope to speak infallibly, which as Professor Vic points out, has to be invoked for the occassion (and my understanding is that this has happened a limited number of times in history), is actually refreshingly humble in comparison to most people, who feel that they speak infallibly all of the time. Because they feel that way, they do not feel the need to designate whether a statement is being delivered with a requisite amount of humility, which the Pope implicitly does whenever he does not invoke his infallibility.

In any event, the day was almost done when Pulvarizer jumped into the fray in an even more offensive "moral equivalence" mode, listing positions or comments made by select Christians that were supposed to make me more tolerant of jihadists. I suspect, and more importantly I hope, that these were intended more to get under my skin than to depict his true view of the comparative value of the two religions. But if that is not the case, my suggestion to the Pulvarizer is that he'll have a valid comparison if a comment made by Pat Robertson leads directly or indirectly to the Pulvarizer's losing his head, at which time I'd be prepared to give his comments full consideration, as they are likely to be far more sensible.

Granting the Pulvarizer the benefit of the doubt, I must nevertheless say that there is still a wide swath of extremely deluded people on the left in this country who think that there is no difference between extreme Moslems and politically conservative Christians; or even further, that the Moslems actions are somehow excusable because Pat Robertson occasionally inserts his foot in his mouth. And they have influence in the Democratic Party. The thing about the Democrats is this - they're way too afraid to alienate the wacko elements of the left, who generally hate America. This costs them with the moderate middle, who share no such animus. Maybe they are too large of a population to ignore while holding onto any chance at electoral success.

4 Comments:

Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Come on Hatcher, if my responses to your last blog were not just lame, but “really, really lame,” then your latest response is not just absurd, but really, really absurd (and I mean that in the most respectful way, or course). You couldn’t point to a single credible politician, activist, celebrity or intellectual person, let alone a “wide swath” on the left, that has said anything remotely close to as “there is no difference between extreme Moslems and politically conservative Christians; or even further, that the Moslems actions are somehow excusable because Pat Robertson occasionally inserts his foot in his mouth.” My so called moral equivalence argument certainly wasn’t an attempt to persuade you to be more tolerant of radical Muslim terrorists, but to point out that every religion has questionable and morally corrupt lead figures.

The whole tone of your last blog, intended or not, suggested that the Muslim (we can’t even agree on how to spell, you say potato, I say po-tat-o) religion was evil and inhumane, or at least leads to evil and inhumane acts. At a minimum that argument is incredibly simplistic, and at most it is simply wrong. How can you say religion leads people to commit inhumane acts when the vast majority of the adherents to that religion don’t practice or preach inhumane acts? Your 5 percent figure is way, way, way off. Islam currently has the most followers of any religion. For arguments sake, let’s say it has a following of 1 billion people (out of approximately 6 billion living today). Now, how many radical Muslim terrorists, meaning those willing to commit murder or act as suicide bombers, do you think there are? To be generous, let’s say there are 50,000 worldwide (hell, Rumsfeld and Cheney said there were only a few thousand in Iraq, and that’s the so called front line of the worldwide terrorist battle). That equates to 0.005 percent, a tiny fraction, which means 99.995 percent aren’t jihadists. To say that because 0.005 percent of a population commits murder or terrorist acts, and to blame it on their religion when 99.995 percent of the followers of that religion don’t commit such acts, doesn’t make much sense, to me at least. Religion simply isn’t a useful indicator when the numbers are so skewed.

Religion doesn’t lead otherwise normal and sane people to commit heinous acts, it’s the people themselves that make that choice. Personal choice is a mantra of the Republican party, and it applies here as well. Religion, in whatever form, provides a false justification for inhumane acts, as every religion has its radicals which commit inhumane acts in the name of their religion. That is what I disagreed with in your last blog.

One other thing, please provide direct quotes from 3 or more credible members of the left who have said they “hate America.” They may hate some of the things that we do as Americans, just as many members of the right, but not all, hate the idea that abortions are legal in this country, but that doesn’t mean they hate the country as a whole. It’s these types of broad and baseless statements that create an incredibly partisan political environment, which I’m sure you don’t intend given some of your blogs about comparing Bush to Hitler. Why can’t we just (disagee, but) get along?

5:39 PM  
Blogger pbryon said...

I'm with Pulvarizer on this one.

To be honest, this last posting about infallibility and humility made me thing more of the assorted pundits on both sides of the fence (but seemingly moreso on the right) that speak with hints of infalliblity and no humility.

The whole political discourse has gotten ridiculously frustrating. Everyone gives the appearance of caring more about "their side" than the good of the country. (Granted, I assume that they think that their side is what's best for the country.)

Someone recently said that you can't call someone a nigger, spic, or kike anymore, so we've shifted that to calling people a liberal or conservative.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If given a choice between the Catholic Church and Islam, I'd the Cat holism any day. Islam forbids me to drink Chartreuse, Catholic monks keep me supplied.

Hatch, looks like you owe me your college fund.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

PBryon- What's a kike?

Did you ever see "Dirty Harry", & if so, was "kikes" listed in the demographs that Harry allegedly hates? ("'Specially spics")

6:45 AM  

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