Trent and Joe have pulled up the story of teachers abusing the children of military families by accusing their serving parents of being war criminals.
Abuse is abuse, and I’ll let others talk about specifics and actions.
But the underlying attitude is the schoolmarmish (yes, I use that advisedly) tone of moral superiority so often adopted by the Left.
It isn’t only a matter of not liking being lectured. There are some real issues with this attitude which have to be confronted…even by those who may agree with the lecturers on issues.
People are divided into two camps, the old joke goes. Those who divide everything into two camps and those who don’t.
Looking at it, I’ll make a division here and talk about some American political and cultural history as a part of it.
On one hand, we have the ‘pragmatists’. Pragmatists are concerned with things that work. On the other, we have ‘moralists’. Moralists are deeply concerned with making the world as they think it ought to be.
In making this statement, I’m vastly simplifying both positions. Moralists devoid of practical skills are at best ascetic hermits. Pragmatists without a moral compass become very good at getting nowhere at all…or go into managing campaigns. The reality is that people’s motivations are complex. But looking at American political history in the last fifty years, it’s useful to look at these two impulses, and the conflicts between them and see what we can learn from it.
America in the fifties was a highly moralistic country, or superficially so. The easy moral superiority of the white, Protestant mainstream, and their exclusion or diminishment of everyone from Harry Bridges to Medgar Evers as tools of “the Communist conspiracy” opened the door to an underground which acknowledged the injustice of racial exclusion, attempted to tip the balance of power toward the ‘progressive’ underground,
Today, the progressives occupy the seats of superficial morality. The 1950’s vision was a perfect, hardworking, churchgoing America was a strong but shallow myth. It was made brittle by its reluctance to recognize its own hypocrisy in matters of sex, race, and economic power. The current liberal myth of a morally perfectible America is equally shallow and made equally brittle by the left’s reluctance to recognize the hypocrisy of SUV’s with ‘No war for oil” bumperstickers, and of the cruel intolerance of PETA.
And intolerance…intolerance not as opposed to “anything goes” tolerance, but as opposed to tolerance that acknowledges that people can differ but still have moral standing; that people can be wrong but remain fellow humans…is the ultimate Achilles heel of both the moralistic Left and the moralistic Right. Not only does each one lead to an increasing isolation of its adherents, but it ultimately weakens the position of each camp.
Why weakened, you ask?
Because as I noted below, the ability to be wrong – to acknowledge that reality is more complex than our understanding of it, and to adapt our understandings to reality – is the root of Western power. And, more than that, the similar ability to love the sinner and hate the sin – to forgive and absorb – is the root of Western morality.