Brian O'Connell

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06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002
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12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
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03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004

Response to Prominent Americans (Not in Our Name)

Complexity and Universal Truth

From Multiculturalism to Anti-Americanism in Six Easy Steps

Andrew Sullivan

A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice

Armed and Dangerous

Asymmetrical Information

Beauty of Gray

Belmont Club

Bjørn Stærk blog


Cinderella Bloggerfeller

Cold Fury




Dr. Weevil

Eject! Eject! Eject!



it comes in pints?


Little Green Footballs

LILEKS (James)

Man Without Qualities

Matt Welch

Michael J. Totten

My Two Cents

Natalie Solent

Oliver Willis


Public Nuisance

Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing

Shadow of the Hegemon

Steven Chapman

The CounterRevolutionary

The Machinery of Night


The Truth Laid Bear

Tim Blair

Twisted Spinster

USS Clueless


Winds of Change.NET


The Reality Dysfunction

Steven Den Beste has posted a rant about the familiar absence of objectivity from the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The particular instance he commented on is the just-released Human Rights Watch report on the war in Iraq. You know the drill- they report that US has committed so many war crimes and human rights violations, while giving short shrift to actually evil countries, like Saddam-controlled Iraq.

Den Beste came up with five reasons why he thinks this is so (and I largely agree). But the third reason is what he calls compassionate racism and he quotes a post of his from two years ago, shortly after 9/11:
The philosophic justification for the "root causes" argument that we've heard so much about is the idea that the people who attacked us were motivated by what we ourselves had done to them earlier. But it goes deeper than that: if we are responsible, then they cannot be. And that can only be because they are not capable of being responsible. They are not truly adults; they are children or beasts who respond to conditions in predictable ways. We do not hold children to the same standard of responsibility as we hold adults, and these racists don't hold the people of the world to those standards either.

If by our acts we brought this tragedy upon ourselves, then had we acted differently we would not have. Which means that we have a paternalistic obligation to control how everyone else in the world behaves, through our acts towards them. They will merely react to us; all responsibility is here. We are the only moral thinking people on earth and thus the only ones who can sin. If we can only bring ourselves to be sufficiently kind and generous to them, then they will live good lives. They are innocent, they cannot know sin, for they are not sufficiently sophisticated to do so. They are less than we are.

This is deeply loving and compassionate chauvinistic contempt.

And he concludes, "Even if Saddam and his government committed massive atrocities, wogs like him aren't expected to live up to the same standards as real humans do."

Den Beste does not provide a reason why leftists tend towards chauvinistic contempt, or in the more common formulation, the soft bigotry of low expectations, which I suggest is synonymous. I think I have some insight on this matter. Back in January, I posted From Multiculturalism to Anti-Americanism in Six Easy Steps. Please read it if you haven't, but if you can't be bothered, here are the six steps:
1. We Cannot Judge Other Cultures

2. Therefore, All Cultures Are Equally Good

3. If Another Society Is Seen to Have Problems, It Cannot be Because of the Local Culture

4. Therefore, the Problem Must Have an External Origin

5. We Can Judge Western Culture, and it Obviously has Many Problems

6. Therefore, If Another Society Is Shown to Have Problems, it Must be Because of Western Culture

You're really missing out if you don't read it. But anyway.

It's multiculturalism that explains why the US must be responsible for what goes on in the world and why others cannot be. I'm not suggesting that the six steps above are a conscious process for the left. But when a person has a mindset that shies away from criticizing 'the other' (who are we to judge?), whether it's with an idea towards promoting equality and diversity, or, more darkly, Chomsky's reticence in criticizing America's foes, one will eventually arrive at that place where all criticism finds its proper target in the US.

One closely related aspect which I don't get into in Six Easy Steps, but is there right next door, is the fact that taking a non-judgmental view of other cultures reduces them all to something like Skinner's black box. B. F. Skinner was the father of behaviorism, a school of thought in the science of psychology. This way of looking at living things says that we can only know (measure) stimulus and a response. What goes on inside an organism that turns a received stimulus into a given response should be treated like a black box; that is, it's unknowable, unmeasurable. The point was that anything we think we know about what goes on inside an organism's mind is pure theory, and largely untestable.

Returning to the realm of geopolitics, the analogous thought says that if you put this US action in (stimulus), you'll get this foreign response out. Nothing else is measurable because we have no way to measure a foreign culture or foreign politics. This is not only artificially simplistic, but it accords volition only to the US. Others are unthinking victims, people who can only react and never act; they are not fully human and are not moral actors. If a million Muslims are now supportive of fascist ideals, it can only be because of policies decided here, and therefore the blame belongs here. There are no decisions or choices to be made there. No culture that informs them, no political thought that guides them, no leaders that lead them. They exist only as objects that respond to US stimuli.

That is the logical outcome of applied multiculturalism, and that is the reason why the left cannot properly assess reality. It's the root cause of the left's tendency to assign minimal responsibility to 'the other' and to blame the US first. You can see examples of this thinking in the papers and on the news every day.

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© 2002-2004
Brian O'Connell,
for what it's worth.