Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Flap over Byrd

Much has been said in the blogosphere comparing Sen. Chris Dodd's praise of (former Klansman) Sen. Robert Byrd to Trent Lott's praise of (former Dixiecrat) Strom Thurmond. I first heard about it here via a link from Instapundit. Glenn Reynolds has been on top of this story (here, here, here and here) so thoroughly that I haven't felt the need to comment. Moreover, the meta-story in all this seems to be that the media is much slower to take a Democrat to task for racial insensitivity than they were when the perpetrator was a Republican. Yawn. This is such a dog-bites-man-ism that my feet fall asleep just thinking about it. Of course the press won't cover this. Of course the Democrats will ignore it, or try to claim that the parallel isn't correct if they are forced to comment at all. When will conservatives get the point that we are not dealing with a simple difference of opinion but with a fundamentally different approach to reality.

For decades the left has been at war with the concept of moral responsibility. When a traditioanlist calls an action or idea morally wrong, he means that it fails to live up to a standard to which everyone ought to adhere. But for the left such a disinterested standard does not exist, in fact they claim that the very concept was invented by the powerful to consolidate their control over the weak. Right and Wrong do not exist, only Equality, and Equality does not mean equal treatment but equal outcomes. So the notion that Republicans should be treated equally with Democrats is not merely incorrect, it is actually counter-productive since Republicans represent privilege and want to take us back to the bad old days of objective standards.

And they have been fairly successful in instilling this relativistic perspective in most of the culture through their dominance in the fields of education, journalism, the arts and a good portion of the church, so that most of the people who advocate this view, do not even do so consciously but rather instinctively. I don't say this in their defense because I believe that even people who have been lied to by their teachers and other authority figures have a moral responsibility to seek truth and justice. But we need to be clear about the issues so that we know how to combat it.

Sadly, many conservatives have adopted the very assumptions that we should be questioning. When confronted by unequal treatment by the press, we have taken to complaining that it is unfair. True as this may be, it is essentially a leftist tactic: playing on public sympathy for our status as victims. I realize that there is a place for documenting hypocrisy as part of the general goal of undermining the leftist vision, but we really should be focusing on our strengths, not their weaknesses.

But we will never be seen as victims and really shouldn't covet that dubious status. We ought, as often as we can work it into the conversation, be advocating real justice for people who are really oppressed, real honor for people who are genuine heroes and real respect for a truth that is not politically defined. If it we win the culture war it will be because we are better than them, smarter than them, and doggone it, it just doesn't matter if people like us.

No comments: