2002 October 05 Saturday
Identity Of Oppressor Most Important

Charles Jacobs, writing in the Boston Globe, advances a hypothesis to explain why some massive human rights violations are unimportant to the progressive Left:

''Not in my name'' is the worthy response of moral people. South African whites could not be allowed to represent ''us.'' But when we see evil done by ''others,'' we tend to shy away. Though we claim to have a single standard for all human conduct, we don't. We fear the charge of hypocrisy: We Westerners after all, had slaves. We napalmed Vietnam. We live on Native American land. Who are we to judge ''others?'' And so we don't stand for all of humanity.

In this view the moral indignation of the progressives is not exercised for the benefit of the victims. Its exercised as a sort of therapy for the self. This begins to make it seem rather narcissistic.

Seeking expiation instead of universal justice means ignoring the sufferings of these victims of non-Western aggression and making relatively more of the suffering of those caught in confrontation with people like ''us.'' If the Israelis are being ''profiled'' because they are like ''us,'' the slaves of Sudan are ignored because their masters' behavior has nothing to do with us.

Another refinement of this interpretation is available: selective moral indignation directed at people who one identifies as members of one's group (effectively one's tribe but on a larger scale) is a technique that some Western intellectuals use to bolster their claim that they are morally superior to other Westerners. Finding a way to feel superior to other people who are very like oneself is a way to place one self at a higher level of the moral pecking order of one's own civilization.

(found on Little Green Footballs)

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 05 03:05 PM  Civilizations Decay


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