The Right Version of "They are going to have sex anyway"

June 28, 2006 § 32 Comments

One of the things that has become increasingly clear since September 11, 2001 is that the American Right and the American Left think a great deal alike. That may seem like an odd statement, because the acrimony and polarization between Left and Right has become increasingly shrill in that time. But despite the genuine polarization, September 11 has brought America together in some unexpected ways.

Left liberals like to tell those on the Right how unrealistic they are about morals. Kids are going to have sex anyway. It is just what happens. It is the natural course of events. It is wildly unrealistic to have a standard which will never be universally adopted in practice. So give them condoms. Make sure, because they are going to have sex anyway, that they have safe, educated sex. Make sure that abortion is legal and available to ensure that lives aren’t destroyed, because abortions are going to happen anyway. The Right’s take on morality may be nice in the abstract, but it doesn’t match up with reality. So deal with it: deal with reality instead of getting lost in silly ivory-tower morality that doesn’t apply to the Real World. The moralizing of the Right is not legitimate to Leftist eyes: it reflects a meddling pharisaical sanctimony faced with a real-world problem it does not wish to acknowledge. The lack of compromise on the Right is just smugness masking moral paralysis.

Right liberals – or at least some right-liberals (I am reluctant to use the word “conservative”, since a conservative today is, as far as I can tell, exactly the sort of person we would have called a “liberal” not too long ago) – will respond that this so-called “realism” is an abomination. When it comes to bedrock morality no facts or circumstances can change an evil act into a good act. It isn’t “realism” to define deviancy down, it is surrender to wickedness. It is in the fallen nature of our world that some men will not live up to the moral law some of the time: indeed all men will fail to do so some of the time. This does not mean that murder, or various forms of “murder lite,” putatively humane versions of murder, ought to be enshrined in our laws. A nation which has enshrined evil in its laws as though evil were good is on perilous ground. Whether such a nation is approaching imminent self-destruction because of its reversal of good and evil is of secondary concern: of primary concern is whether men of good will, noble inheritors of the treasures of Western Christendom, standing tall against the backdrop of the most technologically advanced human civilization of all time — whether those sorts of men can tolerate living their lives in such a morally compromised state. The confrontation is over whether good men can act as though evil were inevitable in service to a misguided pragmatism.

And this is all to the good. But this posture toward the moral law has become remarkably selective on the Right. September 11 has brought Left and Right together in an embrace of doing evil in the pursuit of the good; doing evil in the name of pragmatic realism. Left and Right have become the same sort of creature: different in the particulars of their compromises with evil, but not different in the fact of compromise with evil.

But we can’t compromise with evil. All we can do is become evil. Or not. The choice is ours.

It used to be that the job of the political Right was to stand astride History shouting “Stop!” with the admonition directed toward others. It is high time for that admonition to be directed inward.

“The day may come when the courage of men will fail; when we will forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. It is not this day.” – Aragorn, Lord of the Rings _The Return of the King_.

Our courage must not fail, in this hour of darkness. The courage we need is the courage to do the right thing: the courage not to give into the temptation to defeat the enemy by becoming the enemy. The courage we need is the courage not to do evil in the pursuit of the good.

Doing evil in the pursuit of the good may be understandably human in very hard cases. It may be something with which we can feel some empathy. The man who feels no empathy toward the single expectant mother at age fourteen, alone and facing the world, with everyone telling her not to ruin her life; the man who has no empathy for her is no man at all.

Courage can feel empathy. But it doesn’t compromise with evil. Not ever.

(Note: cross-posted at Enchiridion Militis)

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§ 32 Responses to The Right Version of "They are going to have sex anyway"

  • brandon field says:

    Zippy,Well said.

  • Step2 says:

    Hey! Congratulations on the posting at Enchiridion Militis. I read over there, but nothing has really compelled me to leave a comment.

  • William Luse says:

    Yeah, congratulations.

  • zippy says:

    Thank you, gentlemen.

  • The key to all this is what you say about “Right” Liberals. I have said for many years that George W. Bush is not a conservative; he’s a liberal. As Buchanan and others have pointed out, Bush’s philosophy is that of Wilson and Kennedy. Most of the mainstream “conservative” pundits are so taken with him that they’ve sacrificed their own conservatism.Only a few (mostly Catholic) voices like Buchanan, Noonan and occasionally Laura Ingraham have been willing to speak out against Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” as being nothing more than a disguised liberalism.

  • Rob says:

    “…nothing more than disguised liberalism.”Oh, horse apples. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” is nothing more than completely empty, ruthlessly cynical, campaign rhetoric.

  • zippy says:

    We’ve been around that one before Rob, and we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I think Bush sincerely means everything he says.

  • Tom says:

    <>Courage can feel empathy. But it doesn’t compromise with evil. Not ever.<>It seems to me that discussions on having the courage to not ever compromise with evil often and quickly devolve into discussions on whether the one proposing courage feels enough empathy.

  • Rob says:

    “I think Bush sincerely means everything he says.”Then why does he makes so little attempt to enact what he talks about? Why, just yesterday a saw a child who had been left behind.

  • zippy says:

    <>It seems to me that discussions on having the courage to not ever compromise with evil often and quickly devolve into discussions on whether the one proposing courage feels enough empathy.<>And is willing to face the facts in the real world, too. And isn’t just being hypocritical and sanctimonious. All of those things.

  • Step2 says:

    “I think Bush sincerely means everything he says.”Stop the presses. Based on what standard of sincerity? The reason the torture question is still up for debate is because of the signing statement Bush appended onto the McCain bill, which he claims allows him to ignore the law whenever he feels like it. This allows him to say with a straight face, “We don’t allow torture,” while at the same time authorizing its use when he thinks it is necessary.

  • zippy says:

    My conjecture is that Bush doesn’t believe it is “torture” unless there is permanent physical harm: that is, I think he believes in what I would call humane torture.You have a point though that “sincere” implies “forthcoming”, and while he is more forthcoming than most politicians he is a politician. So maybe I should modify it to say that I think he really does hold himself to what he believes to be a good standard of public honesty. Included in that is a belief that he is misunderestimated by his opponents, who think they can back him into lying, but nosirree they’ve got another thing coming to them. It isn’t that this excuses his actions: it is that you won’t understand him unless you understand this about him.

  • zippy says:

    In other words, back to Rob’s point, I don’t think Bush’s rhetoric about compassionate conservatism is empty or cynical, as Rob characterizes it to be. Bush’s ideas may be terrible, but he holds them sincerely: he really thinks that his approach is more compassionate than the approach of either his predecessor conservatives or his liberal opponents.

  • Step2 says:

    It is fair enough to say that I may not understand what Bush intends when he makes a statement. But isn’t this the exact same claim you charge against the Left and the Postmodern Right? I am willing to admit that Bush may be subjectively honest about his claims, but where does that leave objective truth?

  • Rob says:

    Zippy–Rhetoric aside, towards whom or what has Bush ever shown actual compassion? Or, more specifically, how has Bush used his presidential powers compassionately in a proactive way? In what acts of public policy have Bush’s professed evangelical Christianity been made manifest? On the basis of what tangible evidence am I to believe in his sincerity?

  • zippy says:

    You guys are absolutely right that my pop psychologizing isn’t necessarily helpful in terms of an objective evaluation. At the end of the day such things aren’t all that relevant, although I suppose they may have some impact on how we talk about things. But I do think that someone who thinks (e.g.) so-called compassionate conservatism is <>cynical<> on Bush’s part has made a mistake. Objectively Bush may not be either particularly compassionate or particularly conservative, but that doesn’t mean that he is being cynical, manipulative, conspiratorial, or whatever. The man is a true believer. Maybe that is too scary a thing to contemplate; maybe it is perceived as letting him off the hook or as being a backhanded compliment. It probably isn’t terribly relevant in general: after all, if true, what would we <>do<> with the information? But it is my own opinion that it is <>true<>.

  • William Luse says:

    <>…how has Bush used his presidential powers compassionately in a proactive way?<>He’s against abortion (except in cases of rape or incest). (Compassion)He’s flouted standing immigration law by ignoring its enforcement. (Compassion)His Justice Dept. did not protest but rather supported the Supreme Court’s U. Michigan affirmative action decision. (Compassion)He pushed and passed, in cahoots with Ted Kennedy, a multi-billion dollar educational boondoggle called ‘No Child Left Behind.’ (Compassion and the toe of Laura’s boot in his ass.)No Gitmo prisoners have been tortured to death on his orders. (Reluctantly compassionate.)There must be more. I don’t know how all this lines up with the bulk of Evangelical Christian believers, but I think Zippy’s right: George believes it lines up quite well with whatever <>he<> believes.

  • Rob says:

    William–The subtext of what you write seems to be that a) Bush’s compassion either remains, shall we say, “potential” (against abortion), or oxymoronic where it attempts to become one with “conservativism” (immigration law, No Child Left Behind, the U of M affirmative action decision).What, then, is it that the man believes in? He sincerely believes in chimeras and impossibilities? Isn’t that a rather dangerous situation for the rest of us, given the power he wields? Sincerity, it would seem to me, is not a good-in-itself. One can be sincere about wanting to be a consummate bluesman and end up selling one’s soul to the devil at the crossroads.

  • William Luse says:

    Well, it was all offered sort of tongue-in-cheek (which I’d hoped you’d pick up on), and the only thing I’m defending is Zippy’s contention that George is sincere. That the evidence for that sincerity may be ambiguous to a degree of incoherence is beside the point. George believes in the coherency of his own incoherence, and does a miserable job of trying to explain it to us. People like me are left to choose at election time between George’s position on abortion (for example) and Kerry’s. I have to go with George.

  • Rob says:

    “George believes in the coherency of his own incoherence…”William–In other words, Dubya really is as stupid as he seems.Who, then, do you believe to be actually directing the executive power of the Oval Office?

  • William Luse says:

    “Dubya really is as stupid as he seems.”I didn’t say that. He may be much smarter than he seems. The people who work for him seem to think so. I just cringe every time he opens his mouth.Incoherence is relative. I find Bush’s position on abortion, though inadequate, more coherent than Kerry’s. Now why don’t you go home, rest up, and find a sense of humor?

  • Rob says:

    William–You said something funny?

  • Rob says:

    Okay, how’s this for a grin?:“There’s room at the topThey are telling you still,But first you must learn How to smile as you kill,If you want to be like the folks on the hill”

  • zippy says:

    Rob, it occurs to me that you might appreciate < HREF="http://www.enchiridion-militis.com/?p=98" REL="nofollow">Josh Trevino’s piece<> at Enchiridion Militis.

  • Rob says:

    “To paraphrase William F. Buckley on Welch himself, if an act advances the agenda of X, it does not follow that the actor is a conscious agent of X.”Zippy–That, rather than the alleged viewpoint of the 50-something liberal/leftist profiled by the author of the article you directed me to, pretty much parallels my thinking about the neocon/business axis that I see as the ground from which springs our current dilemma.As as I said somewhere earlier: it may be less a conspiracy, than it is the fact that they *all think alike*. I believe that was also Buckley’s germinal insight about those who supported the Birchers, or the Commies–the duped, the ignorant, the Fellow Travelers, et al.My point would be that the danger lies in why they all think alike, whether they are thinking with a spin to the right, or with a spin to the left–clockwise, or counter-clockwise. They think alike because they are not thinking in pusuit of the Good. I read this just this morning in the book “Man Against Mass Society” by the French philosopher, Gabriel Marcel–a concert to Catholicism:“…it seems to me that to-day this double dissociation, of spiritual premisses from spiritual conclusions, and of materialistic premisses from materialistic conclusions, is coming to an end.”Alas, he published that in 1952, and it would seem to me that the cognitive dissonance of which he speaks is more firmly in force than ever before. What I see in men like George Bush is spiritual premisses that result, without fail, in materialistic conclusions. Not exactly a leap of faith, but a leap across an intellectual schism that disconnects nearly every act of public life from Reality.Marcel had said a couple of pages before, the chapter entitled “Technical Progress and Sin”:“But we can see at once *that a tchnical world, with its compass set in such a direction, can only end in despair [he had been writing against birth control and abortion, among other things]. For, by the very nature of such a world, it can offer us no possibility of help where techniques are useless–as primarily, and above all, they are useless…in the presence of death. How, from the point of view of such a world, could death appear as anything else than the flinging on the scrap heap of a being that has ceased to be of service… We have reached a point where it becomes possible to understand how techniques…can become techniques *of* sin and *for* sin–techniques at the service of sin.”

  • Rob says:

    That (which I just posted in fear that I would time-out and lose it all before posting) equates better to the place that I’m coming from than does the profile of the left/liberal in Trevino’s piece. (He should stick to golf.)I am a child of the ’60s; but I was one of the idealists in search of spiritual solutions to American’s quite evident angst. I was not an SDS type on the march for a socialist revolution. As I also said before, the liberals broke our heads in Chicago, and the conservatives shot us dead at Kent State–a plague on both their houses. The fix is the ingestion of the Word, which alone can *heal* the cognitive dissonance by which 80% of Americans claim to believe in God, but live their lives in the acceptance of Satan’s bargain.

  • Rob says:

    The quote that I offered up to William Luse, in response to his suggestion that I go home (I was home, it was Saturday) and cop a sense of humor, is from a John Lennon song, entitled “Working Class Hero”, written around 1970, I guess, just *before* the beginning of the Left’s fall from power. I used the quote because it contained the word “smile” and was otherwise appropriate. Lennon was not a Christian, nor was he a Marxist. He was just an artist who portrayed what he saw via the medium in which he worked.George W. Bush is certainly of “the folk on the hill”, born and bred. And if there is one thing that characterizes Mr. Bush’s public face it is his ability to win hearts and minds by his ability to “smile as [he] kills.” To that extent, I think the quote works with the rest of my position statement.

  • zippy says:

    See Rob, I knew I could get you to be more articulate and less flippant with the right goading 🙂

  • Rob says:

    Zippy–I don’t like to type. Flippancy covers of world of keystrokes.

  • Rob says:

    And since your response to all of my painful keystroking was a flippant one, I have been taught once again that all is vanity.

  • zippy says:

    Oh, I wasn’t being flippant Rob. I read every word. You often come off as though you believe in a conspiracy theory, but when I needle you enough you tend to say what you really think. It is a gift I have, needling people to get them to say what they really think. 😉

  • Rob says:

    Zippy–Sorry. I forgot to attach the three-keystroke indication that I possess, and had deployed, a sense of humor: ;-P

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