CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Selective Moralising

Mar 25, 2008

The Left likes to claim the high moral ground when it comes to things such as social justice and defending the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Now such causes are all very worthy, and the Left of course does not have a monopoly on them. But one wonders if there is a bit of selectivity going on when the Left finds a victim to champion.

For example, Lefties are usually deathly silent on one of the greatest of all cases of social injustice and oppression of the innocent: abortion. They seem more intent on seeking to rescue baby seals than unborn humans. Indeed, animals often fare better at the hands of the Left than humans.

Andrew Bolt recently commented on this selectivity and curious prioritising of the Left. He pointed out that when it comes to whales, the Rudd government is talking real tough. But when it comes to the killing of Tibetans, all Rudd can do is offer a few powder puff moralisms. Bolt lays out the case this way:

“Kevin Rudd is horrified by recent killings: I don’t have a magic wand, but the Australian Government will do everything within our power to put pressure on the …. …. to bring this slaughter to an end.
Fill in those missing two words. Did he damn the:
A: ‘Chinese Government’, now killing Tibetan protesters.
B: ‘Japanese Government’, now killing whales.
Now contrast those fighting words with this mild caution:
…from my point of view, I would call upon the … … to exercise restraint.
Again fill in the missing words. Was Rudd tut-tutting the:
A: ‘Chinese authorites’, for killing people protesting its occupation of Tibet.
B: ‘Japanese authorites’, for killing animals for food.
Does something seem seriously out of whack here? We’re almost at war with a democracy over whales, but are cosying up to an autocracy that kills people.”

As Bolt reminds us, if only the Tibetans were whales, then they might have some sort of chance. And given that most of the mainstream media is strongly of the left, we find the same selective outrage there as well. Dennis Prager offers another contrast, this time between the Palestinians and the Tibetans. The Palestinians, like the whales, get a pretty good run in the MSM. If only the Tibetans would be so favoured, both in the media and by our moralising Left.

Prager reminds us of the grim details: “Tibet, at least 1,400 years old, is one of the world’s oldest nations, has its own language, its own religion and even its own ethnicity. Over 1 million of its people have been killed by the Chinese, its culture has been systematically obliterated, 6,000 of its 6,200 monasteries have been looted and destroyed, and most of its monks have been tortured, murdered or exiled.”

Compare this with the situation in the Middle East: “Palestinians have none of these characteristics. There has never been a Palestinian country, never been a Palestinian language, never been a Palestinian ethnicity, never been a Palestinian religion in any way distinct from Islam elsewhere. Indeed, ‘Palestinian’ had always meant any individual living in the geographic area called Palestine. For most of the first half of the 20th century, ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Palestine’ almost always referred to the Jews of Palestine. The United Jewish Appeal, the worldwide Jewish charity that provided the nascent Jewish state with much of its money, was actually known as the United Palestine Appeal. Compared to Tibetans, few Palestinians have been killed, its culture has not been destroyed nor its mosques looted or plundered, and Palestinians have received billions of dollars from the international community. Unlike the dying Tibetan nation, there are far more Palestinians today than when Israel was created.”

He continues, “None of this means that a distinct Palestinian national identity does not now exist. Since Israel’s creation such an identity has arisen and does indeed exist. Nor does any of this deny that many Palestinians suffered as a result of the creation of the third Jewish state in the area, known – since the Romans renamed Judea – as ‘Palestine.’ But it does mean that of all the causes the world could have adopted, the Palestinians’ deserved to be near the bottom and the Tibetans’ near the top. This is especially so since the Palestinians could have had a state of their own from 1947 on, and they have caused great suffering in the world, while the far more persecuted Tibetans have been characterized by a morally rigorous doctrine of nonviolence.”

So why the double standards here? Prager suggests a number of reasons. One has to do with terror: “Some time ago, the Palestinian leadership decided, with the overwhelming support of the Palestinian people, that murdering as many innocent people – first Jews, and then anyone else – was the fastest way to garner world attention. They were right. On the other hand, as The Economist notes in its March 28, 2008 issue, ‘Tibetan nationalists have hardly ever resorted to terrorist tactics…’ It is interesting to speculate how the world would have reacted had Tibetans hijacked international flights, slaughtered Chinese citizens in Chinese restaurants and temples, on Chinese buses and trains, and massacred Chinese schoolchildren.”

Another reason has to do with China itself: “If Tibet had been crushed by a white European nation, the Tibetans would have elicited far more sympathy. But, alas, their near-genocidal oppressor is not white. And the world does not take mass murder committed by non-whites nearly as seriously as it takes anything done by Westerners against non-Westerners. Furthermore, China is far more powerful and frightening than Israel. Israel has a great army and nuclear weapons, but it is pro-West, it is a free and democratic society, and it has seven million people in a piece of land as small as Belize. China has nuclear weapons, has a trillion U.S. dollars, an increasingly mighty army and navy, is neither free nor democratic, is anti-Western, and has 1.2 billion people in a country that dominates the Asian continent.”

Another reason concerns the nature of the Left: “As a general rule, the Left demonizes Israel and has loved China since it became Communist in 1948. And given the power of the Left in the world’s media, in the political life of so many nations, and in the universities and the arts, it is no wonder vicious China has been idolized and humane Israel demonized.”

Indeed, the media has much to answer for: “Aside from its leftist tilt, television news reports only what it can video. And almost no country is televised as much as Israel, while video reports in Tibet are forbidden, as they are almost anywhere in China except where strictly monitored by the Chinese authorities. No video, no TV news. And no TV, no concern. So while grieving Palestinians and the accidental killings of Palestinians during morally necessary Israeli retaliations against terrorists are routinely televised, the slaughter of over a million Tibetans and the extinguishing of Tibetan Buddhism and culture are non-events as far as television news is concerned.”

Undoubtedly some on the Left are as concerned about the plight of the Tibetans as they are about the Palestinians and the whales. But many are not. Leftist morality tends to be quite selective, and leftist political causes can be very one-eyed indeed. I still look forward to large-scale protests in the West by Lefties who are concerned about the rape of Tibet. But somehow I don’t expect to see it any time soon.

www.townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2008/03/25/why_do_palestinians_get_much_more_attention_than_tibetans

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3 Responses to On Selective Moralising

  • I believe that what is happening here will, if Christians do not reach for their weapons of prayer and maybe some temporal ones as well, be repeated on a more universal scale with the introduction of laws that make it a criminal offence with the possibility of receiving a prison sentence of at least seven years for being found guilty of inciting hatred to sections of society that carry favoured protection orders. As soon as one picks out a species of animal or a section of society whereby even a critical comment can be interpreted as inciting hatred, it must be assumed that any species or section of society that does not carry a current human or animal rights card is fair game.
    The first thing to do is to make sure that the favoured group can be classed as victims of harassment, bullying, and violence and to identify the perpetrators of such crimes. We can confidently assume that it will be those who do not carry gold star human rights cards and who can be counted on for not defending themselves.
    Muslims use straightforward terror tactics. Evolutionary Humanists, materialists and Marxist use public humiliation, police harassment, fines, loss of job and imprisonment.
    However, perhaps, the final weapon of the evolutionary humanist who wants to reduce society to a well-oiled machine, where there is no dissent, where strong passions like hatred are not experienced is to introduce chemical engineering that dehumanises society by surgically removing the conscience.
    What the Chinese, Muslims and evolutionary humanists fear is not freedom of speech but the freedom of thought and the ability to hate evil.
    Perhaps I am repeating a quote made by someone already:
    “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” – Soren Kierkegaard
    David Skinner, UK

  • Nice points Bill. As usual, Prager and Bolt are right on the money.
    Damien Spillane

  • Socialism, I believe, had its roots in a little village close to where I live in Dorset -Tolpuddle – and I am sure that the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs is not unknown amongst my Australian brothers and sisters: http://tolpuddlemartyrs.online-today.co.uk/ It is a moving story of Christian courage.
    However, the socialism that I see in Britain, far from fighting poverty and disadvantage, thrives on it and needs it; indeed it generates it in order to justify the position of it Labour/Leninist ministers.
    When challenged about the poverty, deprivation and homelessness , invariably they will blame forces outside their control such as world markets and America, which of course is run by a right wing government.
    David Skinner, UK

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