Where do we draw the line as to culturally acceptable and unacceptable behavior?

My-Big-Fat-American-Gypsy-WeddingMy sister has been watching My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding on Netflix.  She was describing to me an American subculture that few of us even know about, let alone think about.  As she described it, I felt as if she was describing an acid-colored version of a Regency romance set in early 19th century England.

According to my sister, the gypsies marry when they the girls are quite young (with the girls’ age at the time of the wedding hovering around 15).  Although social occasions such as dances are commonplace, girls and boys are never allowed to be together unchaperoned and it’s entirely possible for a girl to reach the altar without even having kissed her future husband.

The girls must be virgins when they marry, even though my sister says that they dress exactly like hookers during the courting phase.  The boys are expected to get sexual experience with non-gypsy girls.

This social structure considers housewifely virtues the highest calling for a girl, so they are taken out of school when they’re still very young.  They then settle down to a life of housekeeping and baby-making.  Meanwhile, the men, who are also usually high school drop-outs make their living in itinerant trades.  A profitable one is, apparently, selling paving services door to door.  Working hard, they can make as much as $10,000 a week — which is a good thing because the gypsy culture is very image oriented.  A wedding dress 6 feet across covered with crystals is commonplace.

As my sister was regaling me with this information, she said that she felt terribly sorry for the girls, because they had to cut short their education and are consigned to a life of domestic drudgery.  I understood what she meant, but I said “That’s their culture.  They don’t consider it a waste to be a somewhat educated homemaker.”

And with those words, I crashed right into cultural relativism.  If I think my culture is the best — with girls having the same academic and professional opportunities as men — why am I willing to let these American gypsy girls get herded into marital servitude?  And if that’s something I’m good with, why does it bug me when Muslim families swath their daughters in burqas?  The first I greet with a resigned shrug; the second with a frisson of fear and distaste.

I was struggling to figure out where the lines exist for me, and came up with two principles.  First, it depends if a moral absolute is concerned.  When 19th century Indian wives were forced by culture to climb upon their husbands’ funeral pyres, that was culturally sanctioned murder.  Lord William Bentinck was correct to end it on his watch.  A moral country cannot allow its female citizens to be murdered — something that makes honor killings beyond the pale too.  Taking a girl out of school to get married may be a waste of a good mind or promising talent, but education is not a moral imperative; it’s a cultural luxury.

Second, I’m more upset about differing cultures if I feel they pose a risk to me.  Unlike the gypsies, who keep themselves to themselves, my feeling when I see a Muslim man with his burqa-clad wife or daughter is that he’s eying me and my daughter as future burqa wearers.  While mine may be a tolerant culture, his is a conquering one, and there’s no doubt that he and his co-religionists think the world would be a better place if women and girls came neatly packaged in burlap.

Are there bright lines here that I’m missing or more nuanced arguments I could/should be making?  Please let me know.

Hospital bedside blogging, with my thoughts turning to evil

Mom’s in the hospital again and suffering greatly, not in body, but in mind. She’s mildly delusional, and very paranoid, angry and anxious. I can’t imagine how grim it is to live in her head.

I slipped away for an hour and had lunch with Don Quixote. Our conversation turned to evil. I believe evil exists. Don Quixote pointed out, correctly, that many people who commit evil believe in their own heads that they’re doing a good thing.  They believe in their revolution or their God, and believe that they are serving that revolution or God (and, therefore, the greater good) by torturing or murdering mass numbers people who “get in the way.”

I’m going for moral absolutism here:  I believe that my system, which is predicated on maximum individual freedom within a framework of stable laws, is the best.  If two systems, mine and another that is more repressive, find themselves clashing over physical or mental control of people, I believe my system must win, and the other system must be defeated, even if that battle spills blood and causes the death of innocents.  I justify these deaths on the ground that, over the long run, my system will provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people, while any other system (e.g., Communism or radical Islam) will force great suffering on people for an indefinite amount of time.

At this point in my thinking, I don’t care that the Islamist or the Communist things I’m the evil and he’s the good.  If I lie down right now and refuse to do battle, he wins, and I will have perpetuated what is, in my absolutist universe, the greatest wrong of all, which is to allow evil — admitted evil as I define it — to flourish.

What do you say?  Does evil exist?  Am I evil for taking an absolutist position and being willing to fight and kill to defend it?  (Or more accurately, given my armchair warrior status, sending others to fight and kill to defend it?)

I am very interested in what you have to say on the subject.

Incidentally, it’s worth thinking in this regard that part of my Mom’s continuing mental anguish is that she spent WWII interned in a Japanese concentration camp in a war the Japanese started and that she spent the Israeli War of Independence getting shot at by Arabs who refused to recognize the Jewish state.  Those events created a lifelong anxiety that kept her alive during war, but that is slowly and depressingly killing her in old age.

Mike McQueary — poster child for moral relativism?

I had in my car two fourteen year olds and one thirteen year old.  All were familiar with the Sandusky case, so I wasn’t exposing them to sordid information they didn’t already know.  None of them, however, knew about Mike McQueary’s involvement, or lack thereof.  I gave them a simple multiple choice question:

You walk into a room and see a 50 year old man raping a 10 year old boy.  Do you (a) attack the man and try to drag him off the boy or (b) sneak away and, hours later, ask your parents what you should do?

The roar from the back of the car shook the windows:  “I’d rip him apart!”  “Of course I’d attack him!”  “I’d kick him the balls!”  “That’s a really dumb question.”

As the response from these very young people demonstrates, McQueary’s young age (28) is no defense to his action.  Young people can and do know right from wrong, and child rape is wrong.

How to explain McQueary then?  I think the problem isn’t his young age, ’cause he, at 28, was no youngster.  The problem was his old age.  He’d been around long enough to be fully indoctrinated.  All those liberal pundits who are apologizing for McQueary’s behavior by pointing to his youth, his tribal loyalties, and his lukewarm, delayed response are hiding the ball.  For liberals, the uncomfortable truth is that McQueary probably didn’t act because, after a lifetime in America’s public education system, his moral relativism training had completely erased any absolute moral standards that might once have populated his pre-academic brain.

I was starting to compose a post on just that point, when jj saved me the effort.  Let me quote here his astute comment, written in response to an earlier statement I’d made about the law’s “reasonable man” standard for reacting to a situation:

The “reasonable man” standard?  The trouble with that particular fairy-tale is simple, obvious, and the same as it’s always been: who gets to define “reasonable?”

I’m afraid I’ll need to take a little issue with that.  Since the discovery of political correctness — which in my life first reared its head in the 1950s — the law not only expects us to conform to entirely unreasonable behavior, it requires us to, all day every day.

If you’re a rancher within reach of the Mexican border, you’re not allowed to defend your property or, come to that, yourself.  You can, however, be arrested for trying to do so.  “Reasonable?”  You not only can’t guard your property or yourself, you’re supposed to stand quietly by and watch your country be overrun, your way of life be buried and lost, and all that you believe defecated on.  “Reasonable?”

Snookie, or Pookie, or Moochie — or whatever the hell his name was — Williams was a murderer and founder of a collection of organized offal who have spread everywhere, cost society millions, and murdered a good many people.  Flushing him should have been a routine, reflexive act requiring no thought whatever, carried out with the same alacrity you’d flush anything else floating in the toilet.  Of course it wasn’t.  We — or I should properly say “you,” California — went into full coronary angst mode to spare his worthless life.  This was “reasonable?”

In Scotland not long ago the cops pulled over a speeding car.  The driver’s defense was that he was a Muslim, running late getting from wife #1 to wife #2.  The bewigged and ball gown-equipped jackass on the bench (and if he was a High Court jackass, he gets to wear a red ball-gown, woo-woo!) decided that this made it an excusable offense and dismissed him without a stain on his character, or even a speeding ticket — thereby putting paid to a thousand years of Anglo-Scottish law and custom.  “Reasonable?”  Even for a judge?

We are wound about with laws and enmeshed in requirements that are antithetical to our customs, beliefs, way of life, and the way this country was set up to be that I’m afraid I have to find the “reasonable man” standard laughable.  We have our own ball-gowned jackasses making it up as they go along, and referencing Bulgarian law, or Ukrainian law, or maybe Martian law to decide what our Constitution means when it suits them — Ginsberg outstandingly — and this is “reasonable?”

Instead of shunning NAMBLA spokesmen and placing them firmly beyond society’s pale, we invite their opinions on Oprah — because after all, don’t they have a right to be heard?  Dr. Phil engages them earnestly for his (large) audience of the brain-damaged, and sadly regrets that while he cannot agree, he does understand.  “Reasonable?”

So here we are, scrupulously multicultural, transnational, non-judgmental, standing for nothing — and everybody’s shocked when this McQueary kid doesn’t know what the hell to do when confronted by the situation that confronted him.  Everybody here turns into a militant ass-kicker, in no doubt of what we all would have done in the same situation.  (And if we’d done it, Sandusky would have lodged a suit for assault against us, and, win or lose, would have f***ed up our lives forever.)  “Reasonable?”

We won’t — and don’t — defend our culture and way of life.  We won’t — and don’t — defend the fundamental bases on which this nation was founded.  You’re surprised McQueary found himself paralyzed?  Why?  I’m sure he had a nice, politically-correct upbringing — I’m surprised he even reported it.  Who the hell knows what constitutes “reasonable” any more?

If my sampling of three youngsters has any validity at all, it shows that 13 and 14 year olds haven’t yet been infected by moral relativism, while a 28 year old man living in a university environment is utterly incapable of distinguishing right from wrong.  Let’s pray, long and hard, that we regain our cultural balance before the next generation of kids turns into ineffectual, self-doubting amoral McQuearys.

Context is everything, whether we’re talking baseball or borders

I don’t know how many others have noticed (probably no one), but absent context, your modern professional baseball team — bearded, dirty-looking, pot-bellied, standing around, spitting and brawling — is remarkably close in appearance to the crowd at a Hell’s Angel’s gathering.  Substantively, of course, they’re not the same at all, but a quick glance might prove confusing.

The same holds true in politics and, more specifically, in the world of moral equivalence that is the hallmark of the Left.  I’ve been grappling with this thought a lot the last few days, since I was unfortunate enough to catch the first five minutes of The Fence, an HBO “documentary” about the wall Congress authorized between Mexico and the U.S.  During those first five minutes, the narrator described Congress authorizing funds for the fence, and then said something along the lines of “although a fence doesn’t seem like a very American concept.”  To illustrate this, the film makers showed two clips:  Kennedy saying  our nation does not need walls and Reagan say “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these walls!”   At that point, I turned the show off.

Mr. Bookworm was shocked:  “How can you make up your mind about a show in the first five minutes?”

“Because,” I said, “those first five minutes told me everything I needed to know about the film maker’s understanding of the border wall.  Anyone who is incapable of understanding the difference between walls aimed at imprisoning ones own citizens and a wall intended to protect citizens from criminals, is too dumb to waste my time.”

That same willingness to ignore context in order to create a false moral equivalance holds true for the Leftist view of war.  To people alive around the Vietnam era, the paradigm was set:  all wars are evil.  There is no possibility that there might be an enemy that can be destroyed only through war.  Witness the Oliver Stone revisionism that seeks to cast Hitler in a good light and show America as the bully.  I’ll acquit Stone of Hitlerian desires for ethnic cleansing.  This is simply a Leftist’s desperate attempt to create a moral equivalence proving that there is no such thing as a “good war.”

I don’t have much more to add.  I’d love your examples of moral equivalence on the Left, of the type that involves jettisoning meaning and context in order to falsely pair completely unrelated moral or practical concepts.

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely tuned in to the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is completely tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists starting submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the Administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt but that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

Neither Five Nor Three Cover

Can it happen here? *UPDATED*

In an earlier post, I directed your attention to the incredibly disturbing footage of Pakistani village authorities brutally whipping a teenage girl before a throng of men, because she violated Sharia norms by being seen in public with her father in law.  The footage is disturbing on many levels, not the least of which is the fact that the whole spectacle has a pornographic smell to it, one that makes clear how much of Sharia law is driven by Muslims’ deep fear of female sexuality — but that’s a rumination for another day.

What I want to talk about is whether this could ever happen here.  Certainly Muslims want it to happen here.  Their oft stated goal is a Sharia-compliant world, with every nation having as its one and only law Sharia law.  Given this goal, and given the Islamists’ willingness to steal planes and acquire bombs and lust after anthrax, it’s more than just a hypothetical possibility.

But I don’t think we need to worry right now about Sharia appearing in the West courtesy of a mushroom shaped cloud or virulent bacteria.  The more immediate concern is the fact that, through political correctness, the Western world is already reading itself to deal with creeping sharia law.

Leading the way, as always, is England, which is allowing sharia courts, even though there is every indication that this will trap Muslim women in a British sharia hell; routinely banning pigs from public discourse (Oh Piglet, Piglet, wherefore art though Piglet?); slavishly redesigning innocuous packaging to avoid ruffling Muslim sensibilities (ice cream, anybody?); protecting men from being charged with dangerous traffic violations so they can speed from one wife to another; etc.  The list is endless.

In America, we periodically hear stories about accommodations for Muslims who don’t want to drive people carrying alcohol (as if it could leap out of the bottle spontaneously and attack the driver); about Muslims refusing to share public university prayer spaces; about Muslims demanding special foot baths at public universities (and weren’t those high tech “required” foot baths a popular item in the vast Saudi Arabian desert in the 7th Century); or about Muslim women insisting that their driver’s license show nothing more than their eyes, rather than conceding that, if they want to practice the extreme Islamic tradition of a hijab, maybe driving is not an option.

On the whole, we in America are a solicitous people and, with our pluralist religious history, we’re willing to make reasonable accommodations.  Generally, we like it that people are able to live religious lives — as long as they don’t impinge on our own lives.  What’s different about the Muslim demands is the impingement that goes with them — you may not drive in our publicly licensed taxis unless you change your behavior; you may not worship in this public space unless you worship our way; you must abandon the commonly accepted public safety feature of a photo ID card so our women can be anonymous; and so on and so forth.

Each of these Islamic incursions on the public space has resulted in a hoo-ha (otherwise we wouldn’t know about them), and most, when they become known, have been reversed.  The fact remains, however, that there cumulative effect from these sharia attacks on our culture that is akin to water dripping on rock.  One drop has no effect.  Two drops, no effect.  A thousand drops, no effect.  But you get enough drops and the shape of the rock — in this case, the shape of the American body social and politic — begins to change and to conform to the water’s ceaseless demands.

I have an Irish friend who firmly believes that America’s deep rooted sense of liberty cannot be so easily drip-dropped away, whether the drops fall from the Sharia cadre or from the statists in the Obama administration.  He believes that a deep, long-lived history focused on individualism and independence will rebel.  I wonder.

I’d like to think that, if I were that teenage girl about to get flogged, I’d fight and fight and fight.  I’d be hurt anyway, but at least I wouldn’t just yield to barbarity.  But even if I fought, even if I waved the flag of independence, and humanism, and freedom, would it matter if everyone stood around me and stared, as those men in the crowd watching the beating stand and stare.  I’d be willing to bet that, in that crowd, many were true believers, and many were men whose stomachs churned at the horror, but who said nothing, because they were trained to accept. Whatever their reason, they stood and they stared.

In this regard, it’s worth noting that, when Hitler came to power in 1933, he did so with just barely more than 50% of the popular vote.  There was never a time when the majority of Germans were members of the Nazi party.  For most Germans, right through the end of the War, their crime wasn’t active complicity with Nazi atrocities, it was passive complicity.  From a mixture of fear and brain washing, they just went along.

As I said, my Irish friend thinks Americans won’t just go along.  But when I look at what passes for education in our public schools, I’m very worried that we’re raising a generation that will be so compliant and so lacking in a non-relativistic sense of right and wrong that, first, they’ll allow creeping sharia to become dominant sharia (so un-PC to object) and, second, once it’s dominant they, through a mixture of fear and braining washing, will just go along.  And they too will stand their silently and watch when one of their school mates is flogged bloody or hanged or decapitated for having violated sharia norms.

The 2010 election matters.  It matters not just because I don’t like Obama’s economic and social policies.  It also matters because it is the last election in which Americans will have a chance to renew their sense of individualism and liberalism.  You see, while Obama thinks he’s paving the way for a wonderful socialist state, I think he’s unwittingly grooming the population to be the passive recipients of law laid down by true believers who make Obama and his progressives look like impotent little children.

UPDATE:  I was spurred to write the above post because of the video I watched showing the girl getting beaten.  Turns out, though, that creeping sharia is on other people’s minds — not how we might respond to the more extreme demands, but how we are responding to the “reasonable” demands.

Getting subliminal messages to our kids

What our kids hear, day in and day out, is moral relativism.  It’s the top note to their lives, whether it comes on TV, in cheesy movies, on the news or, most commonly, at school.  That might not be the only lesson they’re learning, though.  The other lesson, the subliminal one, might be about good old fashioned values of good versus evil, and the need to save the former by fighting the latter.

As you may recall, two years ago I wrote a lengthy article about the moral lessons in the hugely popular Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter and Narnia books and movies.  Others have caught the strong whiff of Christianity in the last Harry Potter book, and I have noted that, while Rowling has announced that Dumbledore, an almost saintlike character is gay, the unhappy personal history she gave him is not an advertisement for the free and easy gay lifestyle.  In other words, each of these hugely popular literary and movie franchises advances profoundly conservative values.

In keeping with this theme, Andrew Klavan has now opined that the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, is a powerful moral tale supporting Bush’s often lonely battle against Islamism:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that these conservative messages resonate so strongly with movie goers.  A good story is about tension, and the best stories are about moral tension.  In a completely relativistic world, where all people — no matter what they do — are accorded precisely the same level of moral respect, how the heck are you going to have a compelling story?  Batman — good.  The Joker — good.  Harry Potter — good.  Voldemort — good.  And if you concede that The Joker and Voldemort are doing bad things in this vapid world of moral relativism, you’re still obligated to explain their acts away by pointing to their genetics or their bad childhoods.  Really, under those circumstances, it’s downright cruel for Batman or Harry Potter to hunt and hound to death these poor victims of society.

Moral relativism demands that we respect their choices

There are no good people or bad people. There are only people who have different cultural values. My deep and abiding respect for the multicultural principles underlying moral relativism demand that I accept as culturally reasonable the fact that terrorists in Iraq strapped a remote-controlled bomb to an eight year old girl in order to demonstrate their resistance to Western imperialism by blowing up an Iraqi commander.

Aw, the heck with it. These people are monsters. This is subhuman behavior that is the antithesis of anything resembling civilization. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the “masterminds” sacrificed his own daughter to this plot.  Nothing can be said to excuse this act.