In the more Leftist oriented areas of the Blogosphere, the accusation of “moral equivalence” is usually roundly denounced whenever brought up. The only problem is that this denunciation always comes without any real rationale behind it, save for apparently suggesting something along the lines of “Oh, you always say that. Get a new line, will you?” This is one of the standard dismissals one will find over at places such as WarBlogger Watch. In a comments section of one post, one of the WBW supporters responded to accusations made about the talk of “jihad” and killing Americans and Jews, statements which daily come out of the Arab world, spouted from the mouths of what are considered the most mainstream and respected religious, political and cultural figures, by mentioning the “jihad” rhetoric of people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al.

I pointed out that this was, on its face, completely idiotic. Suggesting that saying we must defend ourselves from violent extremist elements of a culture and a religion is simply miles away from declaring that Jews are descended from pigs, drink the blood of children, that you should kill Jews wherever you find them, and that America is the Great Satan is the height of moral and intellectual blindness. Not only is it ugly, it’s just stupid.

The WBW fellow laughed (“LOLL!!!!!111”) and said something along the lines of “There you go, with your stupid moral equivalence,” as if it was some kind of mantra that folks like myself parroted no matter what idea we were confronted with. For some reason, this kind of idiocy seems to actually be pretty common. What these people never seem to realize however that the fact that we keep accusing them of moral equivalence doesn’t mean that we’re just pulling a pat answer out of our bag of racist WarBlogger tricks, but rather that their continual inability to make basic moral distinctions (like that of purposefully murdering 3,000 civilians and of deliberately avoiding civilian casualties for the sake of a defensive military objective) necessitates the continual use of that accusation . They’re like a career criminal who, being brought before the judge for the 23rd time, scoffs, “Breaking the law? Pshaw… you always say that. Don’t you have any new ideas?” When an idiot keeps making the same mistake, you keep correcting him on it. You can’t be blamed for their repeated stupidity.

With that in mind, you should read this, which is moral equivalence at its obtuse best. Elaine Scarry writes “A Nuclear Double-Standard;” it rehashes the same grade-schooler accusation of “What moral authority do we have to keep Saddam from having nukes, when we have more than anyone else in the world?”

US nuclear weapons exist; Iraqi nuclear weapons don’t. US nuclear weapons number in the thousands; Iraq’s count is zero. US weapons are (in the official view of the country) compatible with all international laws; Iraq’s not yet acquired weapon is monstrous .

An instructive analogy to this statement was offered by Steven Den Beste: the United Sattes has had significant stoickpiles of chemical weapons since the 50’s. Number of times those weapons have actually been used: zero. Iraq acquired chemical weapons in the 80’s and has since used them several times, both against external enemies and internal dissidents. The simple “Well, duh” response to this nonsense is to say “We’re not them.”

We don’t use nuclear weapons for the wrong reasons, because we’re not an aggressive country. We don’t have imperialistic aims. We don’t want to rule the world. If we could swing it, we would be perfectly happy with the rest of world leaving us the hell alone and we would be all too content to do the same. That’s the commonsense answer, but too often common sense tends to give arguments like these quite a wide berth. I know from experience . I try to get him to come and join the fray, but he only shakes his head and backs off. “Whoa whoa, hey man, don’t involve me in this. It’ll only make ’em mad.”

So the Blogosphere at large is forced to make sundry arguments about the fallacy of moral equivalence, and end up sounding as if they’re repeating themselves.

last update : 23-5-2018

Comments are closed.