Not Out Of Context: Four Decades Of American LiberalismApr 25, 2008
Readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch are familiar with Michael Paul Williams, its Metro section columnist. He's very much to the left and does not hesitate to excuse rampant leftism while calling conservatism racist. For those who think the T-D is some type of whack-job right-wing organ, witness only Bart Hinkle, its editorial page second-in-command. Not only does the editorial page take a soft view on certain social issues, the paper's section front columnists, recent past and current, clearly steer to the left. Michael Paul Williams is Exhibit A. His column today (click here) dismisses the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy as snippets of sermons taken out of context, played over and over on YouTube, for example. (Just to oblige him, here is a YouTube snippet of Rev. Wright!)
Williams pleads for us to put things into context. He cites Marxist Princeton University Professor Dr. Cornell West's speech at Richmond's Union Theological Seminary-PSCE Wednesday. Writes Williams about Dr. West, then quoting him:
America is becoming incapable of self-criticism. Anyone who tries is branded unpatriotic — even a guy (Wright) who gave up his student deferment to join the Marines and later, the Navy.
"It takes more courage for us to examine the dark corners of our soul than it does for a soldier to fight on the battlefield," he said.
Nothing taken out of context there. It's just as Williams reported it. Apparently, Rev. Wright is more patriotic for his disrespectful tirades about our country than those facing death in Iraq and Afghanistan protecting the rest of us from terrorist attacks — and Williams wonders why many in America have a problem with those who think like Dr. West, Rev. Wright and himself. The sadly ironic illogic here is that when people do want to have a serious conversation about America's fault's, half the crowd is called racist simply for having another view. Or worse: Leftist blacks save their most vile comments for conservative blacks, such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. How can you have a conversation with the intolerant?
Williams continues about Dr. West:
He accused the U.S. of being in the throes of "spiritual malnutrition" and warned that our nation endangers itself by down playing its injustices.
"Right now, we're seeing the decline and slow fall of America," West said, describing the last four decades as "a political ice age where it's become fashionable to be indifferent to the suffering of other people."
As in, what country is as generous as America? We know the litany, going back at least to the Marshall Plan; whether Europe or Japan after World War II, during a tsunami or to the starving in drought and war torn countries, it is America who comes to the rescue. Which country sacrifices its men and women to liberate others, whether Muslims in Kuwait or Bosnia or Kosovo; or African nations in the midst of civil war? America is not perfect, but who has a more gracious or generous instinct? Even now, the man the left venomously hates more than anyone whoever lived, President Bush, has done more to relieve suffering in Africa than any of his predecessors with his HIV/AIDS initiative as well as reformed food and medicine distribution policies, and political pressure on African dictators for free and fair elections, such as going on now in Zimbabwe with longtime Communist dictator Robert Mugabe.
Dr. West claims the last four decades as ineffectual. So, he would rather be a black man in the 1960s and '70s than now? He thinks there have been no changes? This cry of constant victimization is nothing less than ludicrous, superseded only by those who give it credence. However . . .
For the sake of argument, let's give him the point. America has descended to the pit these last 40 years . . . . What has changed in that time to make it so? In fact, every policy change, every social more, every cultural value has shifted to the left! Name it: abortion on demand, prayer out of school, tolerance and acceptance of drug use, the sexual revolution, and statist approaches to education, welfare and housing to name a few. In sum, the acceptance of the what Pope Benedict XVI calls the "dictatorship of relativism."
The left has incrementally foisted upon us the last 40 years a moral relevance that anything is okay; if it feels good do it, and let no one pass judgement as any lifestyle, any decision is as good as the next. That attitude inherently conflicts with its determination to eliminate injustice. Is there any wonder why commonsense thinking people (the "bitter" ones who "cling" to guns and religion, supposedly) find the left nothing more than secular elitists? The left's inherent conflict inevitably fuses into coerced uniformity. Thus, the rise of campus speech codes, political correctness and such; a codifying of thought ostensibly to alleviate injustice, but rather culminating into the dictatorship of relativism.
If the disregard for standards is not enough then, finally, there is this irony: While Williams, West, Wright and Obama whine about injustice to the living, nary do they mention what has most coarsened society these last 40 years: The devaluation of innocent human life.
Who, Dr. West, can claim injustice with a straight face when innocent life itself is considered nothing more than "a mistake" (according to Sen. Obama)? How can grown people be treated with the respect you demand and say is lacking when the beginnings of life itself are treated as worthless? Respect for life cannot be obtained while contempt for it at its most innocent and vulnerable stages are accepted, even encouraged.
Until the left recognizes differently, its cries are hollow. Quite simply, this is the point to which the left has brought us over the last 40 years: A frightening coarseness of culture and a paralyzing of the discourse. That is the context in which we find ourselves in America today. Oh, to be taken out of it.