The moral idiocy of moral equivalence, or why I loathe self-loathing
I love the Gosford Anglican Church. Itâ€™s the church I would be attending if I wasnâ€™t interested in the actual religion but my favourite pieties were political. Which is why the latest from Fr Rod Bower didnâ€™t particularly surprise me:
â€œI have heard it said by the religious right that â€œwe are not throwing homosexuals off buildings like radicalised Muslims areâ€. This is true in one sense only. What radicalised Christianity does is send an injurious message of marginalisation to young gay and lesbian people. The result is an extreme and unacceptable suicide rate in this demographic. The difference between radicalised Islam and Christianity in their effect on young gay and lesbian people is only by degree.â€
In other words, radical Islam throws homosexuals off buildings and radical Christianity makes them throw themselves off buildings. Got that? To quote George Orwell, â€œSome ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.â€ Or lumpen-intellectuals, as the case may be.
I hate moral equivalence. Itâ€™s one of the reasons I can never take this particular strain of leftist thinking seriously. I was born and grew up under if not exactly a totalitarian than certainly an authoritarian government and I have lived my adulthood in a liberal democracy. I have spent the first fifteen years of my life under socialism and the next twenty-nine under capitalism. I know that the world is complex and that nothing is perfect, but I can tell the difference.
Which is why the moral blindness and the intellectual idiocy that conflates and equates all the world’s problems and wrongs, and is incapable of seeing any meaningful gradation and making any useful distinctions drives me absolute bonkers, whether itâ€™s from people who used to argue that the communist East and the democratic West are just as bad as each other, or from people who today argue that the difference between the ISIS Caliphate and Australia is â€œonly by degreeâ€. As Jonah Goldberg wrote yesterday:
The essence of serious thinking is the capacity to distinguish s*** from shinola, by which I mean that intelligence boils down to the ability to make meaningful distinctions. Thereâ€™s a reason Barack Obama had to go back to the Crusades to compare the West to Islam in his notorious effort to talk Christians down from their â€œhigh horseâ€: Because in the world we actually live in right now, and by the standards of not just modernity but also of the secular Left, the West is simply better. Thatâ€™s right, better, by which I mean superior.
There are two sides to this pathetic moral equivalence coin. The first is self-loathing. The people who like to say that when youâ€™re pointing your finger at someone the other four fingers are pointing back at you would love the fist even more if only you could make the thumb somehow also point back at you. Oh, the ecstatic joys of self-flagellation! The belief that your own society is some sort of a cross between a gulag and a Bosch painting makes you not just unwilling but actually incapable ofÂ seeing in a rational way â€œall the trouble in the worldâ€ outside your comfortable hair-shirt cocoon. It’s turning Matthew 7:3 on his head: “hey everyone! look at the huge log in my eye! I can’t see anything; isn’t it great?”
The other side of the coin is the religiously held belief that â€œthe Otherâ€ is never to blame. Even when â€œthe Otherâ€ does something objectively bad â€“ like gun down 50 people at a gay nightclub â€“ itâ€™s because the devil made him do it, and the devil is us. Always us. It’s the left’s chaos theory – behind every hurricane in the world isÂ some Western butterfly flapping its wings.
A few days ago, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I put together â€œTen Commandments of Social Justice Warriorsâ€. I wish I could say it was a parody, but for the left itâ€™s deadly serious. Itâ€™s the perfect Ten Commandments for the Gosford Anglican Church.