Saturday, February 26, 2005

Zeitgeist surfing

The underlying story Via Dawn Eden I learned today that Planned Parenthood is so much in love with abortion that it is opposed to a bill being put before the US Senate that is intended to make aborting a child for being gay illegal. No such technology exists today, and I'm not sure there are any gay genes waiting to be found. Nevertheless, PP is making it clear that killing based purely on any principle (or none) is it's policy:
The bill is called “An Act to Prevent Homosexuals from Discrimination.” I’m all for that. I just sort of thought it might be done by giving “homosexuals” [sic] the right to marry, protection from employment and housing discrimination, parental rights, maybe some new reality television shows about gay people that don’t involve fashion. Not by limiting the rights of women to terminate pregnancies.
It's tough to enjoy any of the rights the author says she favours when you don't make it into the world at all. At least we know which they think is the "higher value" here. For them, there is no person or group of higher worth than one person's choice. Minority, gay, female, etc., none of it matters. National Review's Jonah Goldberg is also on the story, as is Eternity Road. Both use the story to make the point that the new is never purely the good (despite what reading some progressive material might lead you to think). And that means that saying "no," as conservatives are more prone to doing, is not always bad. In this case, choice, a good thing when deciding between Coke and Sprite, is not such a good when the matter is choosing life or death for another person based soley on our own preferences. In another life story, I read in the National Post this morning that Hunter S. Thompson was on the phone with his wife when he shot himself in the head. She says she's trying to put her own feelings aside and view this as a triumph, as he would have wanted her to. This strikes me as an old creep dominating this woman from beyond the grave. First he inflicts the violence of hearing the fatal shot (all the while indifferent to how painful this will be for her), and then he attempts to deny her the validity of her own feelings on the matter. Wiser people than me have said that leftist thought is dominated through and through by the desire for power. These stories appear, to me, to back that up. None of the rhetoric about "triumph" and "choice" overcomes the underlying theme of domination. If you're in the left camp and you're not all about domination, you may want to sit down and have a deep re-think. The right is not without its problems, but the rhetoric of victimology is not widely found here, as they are in the story of the parent and the suicide above. The classic left tropes are shot through with it, however. Hitler and Marx used it against the Jews. Yes, Marx was a Jew hating Jew. If you're unaware of that you are missing much about Marx and the anti globalization movement that is his heir. The fact that Hitler used it counts as one reason why I think he properly should be thought of as leftist. In essence what this is about is using the right's largely Christian scruples against it. It is much more difficult to do this to the left because their principles are so plastic. So it was when Stephen Harper tried to show the Liberal party's loyalty to minorities is not exactly sacrosanct. His points were quite valid but I doubt if many in that party were given to much introspection as a result. Logical consistency about ends is not what they're about. The consistency of the modern left lies in using one virtue to attack the rest in a way that suits them. Call it zeitgeist surfing. Today's zeitgeist is equality; yesterday's was liberty. Conservatives must remember that neither is a virtue in of itself, but is so only in balance and harmony with other possibly conflicting values. As conservatives we can and ought to argue vigorously over what the proper balance is, but what we can't do is fall into the trap the left invites us to trip into, and that is choosing one virtue over and above all the others. They can do so because they're foolish or cynical, and we ought to be neither. G.K. Chesterton commented on this phenomenon in Orthodoxy, where he wrote:
The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues do more damage. The modern world is full of old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from one another and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians care only for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful... What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful of himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.

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