God love Dennis Prager. He’s got basic moral sense, and a good sense for how the very idea of morality works on people’s minds. Take for example, this quote from his current column:
This preoccupation with good and evil is a primary reason America is hated. If people demonstrating against the American-led war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq cared about peace or about good and evil, they would have been rioting against China, against Sudan, against North Korea, against Iran’s mullahs, and against Saddam. But America, precisely because it is good, and precisely because it fights evil, shames all these people. And you never hate anyone as much as he who forces you to stare at evil and at your acceptance of it.
Because America talks about good and evil and does something about it, those nations and individuals, including many Americans, that have other priorities resent this America, and some even wish it “a million Mogadishus.”
Back in Culpepperland, I have become increasing skeptical of “morality” for fear that it is just a tool for political bludgeoning. I don’t have much truck with Bill Bennett or Jesse Jackson either one. People pimping “morality” can do some mighty crazy damage- it gives them cover to do almost anything. The emotional nature of feelings about morality makes it especially vulnerable to being shanghaied by baser instincts.
That morality can be abused by politicians and demagogues does not mean that morality is impossible or unnecessary, however. You need some moral goalposts to know what you are aiming at, and how to judge what to do. You can usually see the difference between great public displays of MORALITY (preacher/politicians are especially good at this) versus quiet and simple explanations and straightforward behavior. You need some moral goalposts to know what you are aiming at, and how to judge what to do.
People are complicated critters, sophistication in understanding others and subtlety are important considerations if you want to get all the disparate people of the world to behave decently and get along.
Yet the fancier understandings must ultimately be grounded in basic truths and simple values. The US is the good guy. Not always 100% perfect in all times ever, but we are certainly the leaders of the free world, coping with the nastiest customers on the globe in order to secure our own safety. Ultimately the rest of the world benefits. The world is a little bit better place without the Iraqi Baath Party.
The allegedly more sophisticated State Department international balancing act that Bush the First pursued resulted in an additional ten years of misery to the world by leaving Hussein in place. Sometimes “That son of a bitch is wicked and evil. He needs whacked” is exactly the right call. It don’t take a genius to know to whack a goddam poisonous snake. In fact, that’s both the moral and smart thing to do.
Now there are some complicated mathematical and logical checks to follow through, but if your compasses are not way out of whack, US = good guys. Hussein = nasty tyrant with nasty weapons who has killed over a million people but will no longer be oppressing his country, nor supporting terrorists abroad. Advantage good guys.
You may have issues with US foreign policy, domestic policy, whatever. You may think George Bush is a dirt bag rich kid. But if you can’t look at the fear lifting from the people of Iraq and concede that good guys are winning on the ground in a critical way, then your political and ethical judgment is seriously out of whack somewhere.
Ya, team! The good guys won, whether anyone likes it or not!