Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times today, offers a refreshingly honest view of "slutgate", moral equivalency, and double standards. It is, in fact, a bold statement of what we’ve always imagined the Progressive view is, though they have, in the past, been ever so careful not to admit it. It is, frankly, nice to see such honesty. As Mr. Fish explains:
Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.
There you have it. Conservatives are evil, progressives are good. It follows, therefore, that because progressives are good, then what they do in combating conservatives is right. Conservatives, being evil, deserve no respect and no attempts at courteous disagreement. They deserve nothing more than to be driven from the public sphere by any necessary means. Progressives are good, and if they commit what would otherwise be questionable acts, it is only the depravity of their political opponents that drives them to it.
Make no mistake: If the Stanley Fishes of this country could imprison you for holding contrary political beliefs, they’d do it in a second. After all, you are "on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy". This is, of course, justification for a tyranny of the very worst sort. As C.S. Lewis pointed out:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Progressivism, for all its puffing about equality and justice, is nothing more than totalitarianism cloaked in modern, politically-correct pieties.
It’s nice to see a progressive honestly admit it.
The thing is, it is not possible to have a sustainable, self-governing polity when a substantial portion of the electorate denies the fundamental morality or legitimacy of their opponents. The ultimate outcome of such a belief in a society has historically been an inevitable slide to civil unrest, resulting in either totalitarian repression, civil war, or dissolution into competing states.
I am increasingly beginning to wonder which of those three outcomes is most likely in our case.
First up on the “thee but not me” list of being for “civil discourse” but not practicing it, is our old buddy from a show which should be called “Beanball”, Chris Matthews.
Chris is a great proponent of “civil discourse” unless you try to apply it to him. He is apparently attempting to repeal Goodwin’s law or to so cheapen the term “Nazi” that it no longer carries the horror it should. Mr. Moral Equivalence’s latest? Here’s his intro:
Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: Glenn Beck shoots off his mouth. Today Jared Loughner pled not guilty. So has the right wing to the charge it promotes trouble with its endless rants about guns and hatred of government. Take Glenn Beck — please. He targets what he calls radicals in Washington who, quote, "believe in communism," and "you’re going to have to shoot them in the head." Gotcha!
We’ve got a Republican member of Congress out there going full bore on this stuff, saying he wants him and his fellow members of Congress to carry guns at the Capitol. Welcome to the State of the Union 2011. The violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop. It’s our top story tonight.
There’s your set up – the “violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop”, and it’s his top story. Lead with a discredited Glenn Beck story. Got it.
Commercial break and what do we see and hear? A few vids of Obama, McConnell and Cantor – discussing each side’s take on Obama economic policy.
And Matthews next statement? The next one after seeing the three vids noted?
MATTHEWS: Don’t you just love the new Republican Party? We have the Tea Party people with the placards and the Nazi stuff, and then you have these two Junior Chamber types representing them in Washington.
The irony bug hasn’t yet found Matthews apparently. The guy (and much of the left) are walking, talking hypocrites. Palin is lambasted for putting crosshairs on a campaign map months ago and 3 days ago, what does Matthews and company do? Yeah, put crosshairs on the US Capitol with the title “Fire on the Right”. Uh, the word “on” is significant when used in conjunction with a crosshairs graphic, wouldn’t you say – using the left’s standard for this sort of thing and all. Notice it isn’t “fire from the right” or “fire of the right” or even “fire by the right.”
It is “Fire on the Right” which, one assumes, given their instant pop analysis of the Tucson shooting would mean that if any assassin of a left leaning persuasion should shoot at a politician (or anyone) on the right in the next, oh, 6 months or so, it’s Matthews fault. Because his graphic and its title told them to do so.
Oh, and how did Matthews use the graphic? Hypocritically, of course:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Leading off tonight: Words and actions. Are people affected by what they hear? If not, why do people speak? If the messages people get day after day have no effect on their behavior, why do big corporations spend millions on advertising? Why do politicians? Does the daily climate of attack, the constant torrent of angry attack and questioning of loyalty, of legitimacy, of Americanness, stir people up? Does it trigger the zealots, the unstable, those who are a bit of both?
The politically correct judgment is that we can`t blame anyone for what we`ve seen recently, that words don`t matter in this discussion of people`s violent actions. But do we really believe words don`t matter, that they don`t incite, that they don`t cause trouble? Do we really believe you can say anything you want about someone and not expose them to the actions of a zealot or a nut?
Well we’ll see, won’t we Chris, now that using the left’s standards, you’ve done more than enough to incite “a zealot or a nut”.
Meanwhile down in GA, we have a different and appallingly ignorant revocation of Goodwin’s law and even more moral equivalence:
A Spanish-language newspaper in Georgia has drawn bipartisan criticism for publishing a doctored photograph depicting the state’s new governor as a Nazi.
Some whackado editor of a Spanish-language paper depicts a governor who has been in office all of a week as a Nazi. Why?
But Navarro said the picture represents the fear immigrants in Georgia feel with the arrival of Deal to the state’s top office, because of Deal’s strong anti-immigrant rhetoric during the last campaign.
Well there you go. He disagrees with Deal’s political approach to the issue – which is, btw, not “anti-immigration”, but against “illegal immigration” (I refuse to let the left conflate the two). So what do you do? Depict your political opponent as a Nazi obviously.
And here’s the irony – the boob depicts Deal as a Nazi (and everyone knows how they dealt with opposition press) and then says:
Navarro, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, said he printed the picture knowing he didn’t have to fear retaliation from the governor because of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Yeah, that happened all the time in Nazi Germany Mr. Navarro, you ignorant jackwagon.
Yeesh … you just can’t make some of this stuff up.
In fact, he nails it. A wonderful excerpt, then go read the whole thing:
For a decade, from the election of Bush 43 forward, the Left has lied and cheated as it tried to return to power. Al Gore made a mockery out of the American electoral system by being a spoilsport over Florida, which Bush indeed won by 537 votes. Dan Rather forged a document to try to derail Bush’s re-election. Twice Democrats stole U.S. senators from the Republicans. After voting to support the war to get by the 2002 election, many Democrats quickly soured on the war. The profane protests were cheered by liberals who misattributed “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”to Thomas Jefferson; the words belong to the late historian Howard Zinn.
Once in power, liberals were the opposite of gracious.
For two years now, I have been called ignorant, racist, angry and violent by the left. The very foul-mouthed protesters of Bush dare to now label my words as “hate speech.”
Last week, the left quickly blamed the right for the national tragedy of a shooting spree by a madman who never watched Fox News, never listened to Rush Limbaugh and likely did not know who Sarah Palin is.
Fortunately, the American public rejected out of hand that idiotic notion that the right was responsible.
Rather than apologize, the left wants to change the tone of the political debate.
The left suddenly wants civil discourse.
The left wants to play games of semantics.
The left wants us to be civil — after being so uncivil for a decade.
I feel this great sense of release after reading Surber’s words and this overwhelming desire to yell “bite me!” into the night. Because his post just answers the left’s "civil discourse" demand so well. Surber very nicely nails the hypocrisy of the left as well as the tactic they attempt to employ when things aren’t quite going their way (see November and see the horrific misfire after the Giffords shooting) and they want to shut the other side up.
Yup … Surber’s right. If "civil discourse" means I have to write in a way acceptable to the left, then "I don’t want civil discourse" either.