March 25, 2005

THE DEMORALIZED LEFT (via Robert Schwartz):

Will the Left Finally Talk About What Matters? (Joshua Halberstam, March 18, 2005, Forward)

For years I've tried to get my students to talk about "it." "It" can be almost any controversial issue, but we never get there; my students, like most of my academic colleagues and New York City Upper West Side friends, and the American left in general, have long ago ceded actual moral judgments to others, i.e.,moral conservatives. And all of us , red and blue, pay the price.

Say the topic is pornography. I gamely ask my class: "Do you think pornography is degrading? Ignoble? Liberating?" The hands go up: "People have a right to see what they want." Three other hands: "Who decides what counts as porno anyway?" I say: "Okay, let's agree, censorship is absolutely wrong: Now about pornography... what do you think about it? " Another hand: "According to the First Amendment...."

This refusal to address "the thing itself," has been going on for decades and is systemic, ranging over issues of sexual morality and moral education to ascriptions of good and evil, dignity and decency. But if social liberals are to regain their moral voice, they need to examine how it became so muted.

Perhaps the most common form of moral reticence is the liberal habit of transforming value judgments into legal judgments. Consider, for example, the asymmetry in our long-standing national dispute about abortion. "Right-to-
lifers" seek legal restrictions on abortions, but also declare the procedure a moral wrong. In contrast, the liberal side of this debate refuses to render judgments about abortion itself, preferring to withdraw behind the barrier of legal rights. But suppose we acknowledge, insist even, on women's sovereignty over their bodies. What then of abortion itself? Is it ever a moral imperative to have an abortion? Is it ever morally wrong? Do liberals have anything to say that is not about the "right to choose" but about the choice itself? Similarly, assuming that prostitution should not be illegal, is its moral opprobrium deserved? Are there circumstances in which prostitution should even be encouraged? Again, what moral, not legal, reflections are appropriate here? You'll find further examples of this legalistic turn away from moral judgments with regard to hate speech, drugs, gambling, chastity, privacy, security policy... the list is painfully long.

Here's all we really need to know about the modern Left: they'll greet the coming news of Terri Schiavo's death with a sense of vindication, if not outright joy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 25, 2005 5:42 PM

Judging from the picture of the protestor holding a sign that says: "JEB is brain-dead, just like Terri", it's even worse than that.

When the law becomes unmoored from morality (for lack of a better word), then it's tooth and claw, baby.

Even though the Federal Courts refused to re-insert the feeding tube, I think it would be very interesting to have the 'de novo' hearing after Terri's death. Sort things out, eh?

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 25, 2005 9:55 PM

my prediction: this is the last generation of leftists in this country. no one will mourn their passing. good riddance to bad dna.

Posted by: cjm at March 25, 2005 11:37 PM

cjm -- selfishness is the human condition. A major source of morality is peer pressure and leadership from a few people. Remove those and "leftists" will suddenly reappear. All it takes is time.

Posted by: Randall Voth at March 26, 2005 10:41 AM

The mentality is so confusing. There is no basis for anything. Non-judgementalism is simply judgement without reason or context. On what grounds can abstract 'choice' trump actual innocent human life unless there is no greater value than convenience or money while the 'other' is nothing. Pure ego-driven selfishness. Like modern liberals who defend an activist court on ideological grounds the left doesn't seem to understand that that when all is relative their lives are as valueless as any.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 26, 2005 1:10 PM

The Left always keeps its eyes on the omlet, never, ever, the egg.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 28, 2005 1:06 PM