How a Moral Code Outrages the Secular Left
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published September 5, 2014 on The Washington Times website.
Have you ever noticed that people who worry most about someone “imposing your morality” on them are often the same folks who speak almost entirely in moral terms?
Statistics, logic, historical perspective and even biology are no match for the moral-heavy vernacular of victimhood.
How else to explain the lunacy spreading through the federal judiciary like kudzu regarding voter-approved marriage laws, which the courts are striking down with mad abandon. Seventh Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner spoke for many of his colleagues in the bin, er, on the bench, when he characterized laws that recognize natural marriage solely as products of “hate” and “savage” discrimination.
There are ways to address this kind of nonsense. The late, great William F. Buckley got away with employing a blizzard of logic against liberal opponents by seasoning it with gentle, disarming ridicule. He regularly exposed their lunatic notions without appearing to call them crazy or immoral.
But I’m willing to go out on a limb and call some of today’s public figures and commentators certifiable.
Historian Carol Anderson was given a half page in The Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section on Aug. 31 for an article titled “Ferguson isn’t about black rage.” The Emory University professor insists that the police shooting in the St. Louis suburb of unarmed robbery suspect Michael Brown, which was followed by days of rioting and looting, was triggered by “white rage against black progress.” Say what?
She cited the Jim Crow era and linked it to current conservative efforts to “slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment.” So, if you worry that the federal government’s nearly $18 trillion debt and millions of lines of government red tape pose a serious threat to America’s future, you must be a white racist. Even if you’re black.
She also cited “a rash of voter-suppression legislation,” such as state photo voter-ID laws and other reforms aimed at ensuring that everyone’s vote counts. She quoted the NAACP’s claim that 25 percent of black Americans lack a government-issued photo ID. If you believe that, you must conclude that literally millions of black citizens are driving without licenses and are unable to obtain one. That sounds like a libel cooked up by the Klan, if you ask me.
Two weeks ago, The Post featured an essay by former Emily’s List Communications Director Janet Harris titled, “Stop calling abortion a ‘difficult’ choice.”
Ms. Harris says there is a “pernicious result when pro-choice advocates use such language: It is a tacit acknowledgement that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue requiring an ethical debate. To say that deciding to have an abortion is a ‘hard choice’ implies a debate about whether the fetus should live, thereby endowing it with a status of being.”
Substitute the terms “Christian” or “Jew” in place of “fetus” and you have roughly the Islamic State’s code of conduct unfolding now in Syria and Iraq. Or Boko Haram’s view of non-Muslims in Nigeria. Sub-humans do not qualify for mercy.
On a somewhat lighter note, former George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg kicked a hornets’ nest when he opined on National Public Radio’s “The Diane Rehm Show” that young women on campus should avoid getting drunk because it makes them more vulnerable to male predators. “They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. [P]art of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much.”
This is advice that mothers and fathers who love their daughters tell them, but it unleashed a feminist backlash of moral outrage. Fellow panelist Atlantic writer Caitlin Flanagan, took “a real exception to what Dr. Trachtenberg is saying about how if young women are sober they have a better chance of protecting themselves from rape by being able to punch the guy in the nose. That’s not a realistic strategy for protecting ourselves from rape.” No, better to get soused and hope for the best.
On the online petition site change.org, a demand appeared for Dr. Trachtenberg to apologize, accompanied by comments such as “I am furious at his remarks” and “10 out of 10 rapes are caused by rapists, not survivors who were drinking too much, wearing ‘too little’ or walking alone at night.”
We can agree that no attack is ever justified. Still, we all take precautions, such as not walking in gang-infested areas at night. The larger question, for another column, is how things got this bad.
To his credit, the good doctor didn’t exactly apologize for speaking truth, but assured everyone that “the rapist is culpable. I don’t care if the woman is dead drunk and wearing the most provocative gown you ever saw.” Then he elaborated that “sober is safer; that someone who is drunk is more vulnerable to attack.”
Such common sense could earn him an unflattering depiction on a sign wielded by marchers in the next “Slut Walk.” That’s the parade in which young women in various stages of undress march to protest having to take men’s attraction to women into consideration when dressing to go out.
The Slut Walk epitomizes liberal moral outrage against morality itself. It’s also a tragic metaphor for our era’s weird revolt against sanity and time-tested truth about human nature.