#MeToo, Borders, and the Tyranny of Empathy

#MeToo, Borders, and the Tyranny of Empathy October 8, 2018
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The Brett Kavanaugh circus is officially over. Our news and social media feeds can now gradually revert back to their usual levels of hysteria and toxicity—still high, but please God, not quite this high, thank you.

Yet even while life in 2018 returns to as close to normal as life in 2018 can be, the memory of these last few weeks will fester in the American mind for a long time to come. For ideologues on the left, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the archetypal manifestation of power-hungry Man’s triumph against vulnerable, dispossessed Woman. It is the injustice to crown all injustices, they say. It is a damned spot on the American conscience which nothing will wash out, and in which all Americans who disagree with them are complicit. For who but a callous partisan hack could entertain the slightest doubt in any part of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony? And who but an absolute monster could believe that even if Ford was wronged in the past, justice had been done in the present?

Me, for one. I hope and pray I am neither callous, nor partisan, nor a hack. You may read my own recent take on Kavanaugh’s confirmation and judge for yourself on that score.

Nevertheless, I do not share the vision of the anointed—not of Kavanaugh’s appointment, not of #MeToo as a whole, not of any fraught social controversy where the left has informed me there is only one decent place to stand.

This phrase, “vision of the anointed,” is the coinage of Thomas Sowell, whose book by that name was a seminal work in my high school civics education. Elsewhere, he has referred to it as the “unconstrained” vision. Against this anointed, or “unconstrained” vision of the left, he sets up the “constrained,” or tragic vision of the reasonable right. Contrary to the leftists’ caricature of conservative-thinking people, this tragic vision does not lead me to say unjust things never happen. On the contrary: It leads me to conclude that life is fraught with injustices, large and small. It leads me to conclude that, to quote everyone’s favorite psychologist, life is suffering, tainted by malevolence. At the same time, it leads me to conclude that not all injustices will be rectified in this life. A utopia of social justice is unattainable. Indeed, the harder we strive to achieve such a utopia, the more injustices are engendered.

I am not prepared to say that I know Christine Blasey Ford was lying or mistaken. From the beginning, I was open to the possibility that her account was both genuine and accurate. I remain open. I also put little stock in the fact that she’s declining to press further now that Kavanaugh is confirmed. It’s what I would do if I were her.

Likewise, when I scrolled through the many stories under the hashtag #WhyIDidn’tReport, I kept an open mind. I read what felt like authentic, psychologically believable accounts. When journalists like Kirsten Powers wrote at more length about their long-buried assault memories, those accounts also had the ring of truth (though their pertinence to the case at hand was another matter).

We have insufficient evidence to conclude that the young Brett Kavanaugh was a bad player. But it is a hard truth that men who are bad players will abuse women and get away with it if their victims cannot build a case that will stand up in court. When those women raise their hands decades after the fact to say “Me, too,” we can listen to their stories. We might even deem many or most of them credible. But it is one thing to listen sympathetically to a story. It is another thing to make it the basis for jurisprudential reform. (Yes, I am aware that Brett Kavanaugh was not on trial, but as we have been told with tedious relentlessness over the past few weeks, this is Not Just About Kavanaugh, so please, focus.)

To be sure, in some cases, there is a serial predator to be caught, and one voice can justly swell to a choir in the course of due process (see: Larry Nassar). In other cases, there will only ever be one victim and no witnesses. And if that one victim doesn’t seize her window of opportunity, she may have to live on with the knowledge that it is closed forever. This sounds harsh, yet it is a necessary consequence of holding two truths in balance: that bad men can hurt vulnerable women, and that malicious or mistaken women can hurt innocent men.

It’s true: Our justice system will not perfectly catch every perpetrator of injustice. But the moment we begin tilting towards the side of believing all allegations is the moment we risk toppling over the cliff’s edge into something far worse than imperfection. Pointing this out is not sociopathy. It’s sanity.

In the screed I linked at the beginning of the post, Jennifer Rubin connects the Republican Party’s blatant (to her) woman-hatred with its increasingly blatant (to her) immigrant-hatred. Ah! Another issue where Jennifer Rubin tells me to jump, and I’m supposed to ask how high.

She doesn’t mention it, but under the past couple weeks’ Kavanaughphony, a story broke in The New York Times reporting that roughly 1,600 migrant teenagers were being relocated to a Texas tent city in Tornillo due to overcrowding in child refugee facilities. In breaks between howling over Kavanaugh, leftist outlets have paused to make sure we don’t miss this “new horror” in “the already terrifying story” of Trump Torturing Refugee Kids. Never mind that CBS was forced to conclude while teens in the tent city stick to a strict regimen, they are well nourished, well exercised, and generally “doing well.” Among other atrocities, we are informed that the children are not receiving mandatory schooling during their temporary stay in the tent city. Teen boys playing soccer instead of doing Common Core algebra? The horror! What fresh hell is this?

Still, histrionic concentration camp analogies aside, conservatives can acknowledge that our immigration system is tangled, ponderous, and oversaturated. The initial decision to separate families was legally understandable, but it had complex and messy consequences, in the course of which innocent people may well have fallen through the cracks. Further delays are being caused by the addition of yet more bureaucratic red tape to child sponsorship procedures.

So where is a humane person to stand? Once again, the left has marked out the spot for us, and once again, the circle is drawn around themselves. Any reservations one might express, any suggestion that admission into this country is a privilege rather than a right, any hint of a suggestion that in some cases the parents of these children might bear some blame (as appeared to be the case with TIME’s last poster child), will mark you as the enemy of all that is decent and good.

Thus the tyranny of empathy rears its ugly head once more to announce the rules of the game: Whoever makes the greatest emotional display of pity when confronted with large-scale, multivariate problems wins, because emotion is now synonymous with moral virtue. But the question at hand is not who feels the most compassion for children, just as the question at hand in assessing #MeToo is not who feels the most compassion for women.

It was the same way with the Syrian toddler washed up on the shore. A single snapshot, like the snapshot of the crying little girl on TIME magazine. Our hearts went out, as anyone’s hearts naturally would. We feel compassion when children suffer or die in the tragic course of tragic events. This makes us not sociopaths. But does that make us right? Does that make us wise?

Bluntly, the evaluation and shaping of complex social policy is not a game of empathy one-upmanship. It is an endeavor in which feelings are no substitute for knowledge, and empathy is no substitute for wisdom.

I have touched on just two third-rail topics: #MeToo and Mexican immigration. I could name more: Islamic immigration, gun control, racial violence, disparate impact. The same pattern of leftist discourse holds across them all. Any stick will do with which to beat the conservative for his cardinal sin: believing that some stories have no happy endings, and that for some problems, trade-offs and compromises must suffice in the absence of solutions. And may I just say, since I’m writing as a Christian as well as a conservative, the only thing worse than a leftist is a Christian leftist. Self-congratulatory brow-beating is nauseating enough, but self-congratulatory brow-beating for Jesus, that just takes things to a whole new level.

For the millionth time: It’s not that Christians and conservatives don’t feel angry when we see injustice done. We do. It’s not that we don’t believe there are any villains. We do. It’s not even that we don’t believe there can ever be a legitimate call for systemic reform. When it comes to violent police overreach, David French does.

At the same time, we believe human nature, human structures and human institutions are complicated. We believe borders, literal and metaphorical, exist for a reason. We believe due process exists for a reason. We hesitate to ascribe to villainy what can be ascribed to error, incompetence, or the tragic vicissitudes of life.

Yet despite these fundamentally opposed paradigms, these radically disparate visions, there are conservatives willing in principle to extend their hand in good faith across the aisle. They are willing to have conversations. They are willing to work towards shared goals.

Or perhaps I should say, there were such conservatives. After the events of the past couple of weeks, there may be fewer than ever before. Can we really blame them?

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Raven Belote

    For me, its the fact that he’s lied more than once under oath.
    Also, he is partisan. This was obvious.
    Both are characteristics that are not good in a judge of any kind.

  • RustbeltRick

    As a lefty, I want to comment, but I get the impression from your article you don’t really care for input from us sanctimonious, judgmental liberals and our tyranny of empathy.

  • Comrade Carrot-Blog Vegetarian

    I’m a conservative-leaning moderate myself, (or, as modern conservatives call me, a “far left libtard cuck”). So, you and I are right next to each other on the political spectrum – and by “right next to each other”, I mean “at opposite sides of the political spectrum”.

    I thought it was odd to see no mention of the elephants in her review of the “circus” I saw plenty of elephants at the circus, and I thought their performance was particularly noteworthy…jumping through hoops and everything.

  • Atheisticus

    The problem with Kavenaugh’s partisanship is that he is the only kind of candidate Trump will nominate and the only kind Senate Republicans will approve. Their goal is to pack the court with young conservatives who will never allow anything from the left to stand for the next two generations.

  • Atheisticus

    Don’t forget the “God will sort things out in the next life” attitude that does nothing to solve problems in this world, Typical Evangelical.

  • Gilbert

    Show as a justice that isn’t partisan.

  • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

    Perhaps conservatives who think this treatment humane welcome their own children being ripped from them to being doing fine without them. Empathy is what tyranny is without, when one cannot understand why what they are doing is hurting people as real as they are. Tyrants only see it as harm if someone does it to them, but they still see no problems doing the same to others.

  • swbarnes2

    Indeed, the harder we strive to achieve such a utopia, the more injustices are engendered.

    What a splendid distillation of evangelical Christian morality. You must think Martin Luther King quite a pile of garbage for making such abominably high mountains of injustice.

    Any reservations one might express, any suggestion that admission into this country is a privilege rather than a right,

    Sigh. This takes an honest person 5 seconds to find.

    The basic principle of refugee law, non-refoulement refers to the obligation of States not to refoule, or return, a refugee to “the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Non-refoulement is universally acknowledged as a human right.

    https://ijrcenter.org/refugee-law/

    This also took me 5 seconds to find, because I am honest.

    Can I Still Apply for Asylum Even if I Am in the United States Illegally?
    Yes. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status as long as you are not currently in removal proceedings and so long as you file your application within one year of your last arrival or demonstrate that you are eligible for an exception to that rule.

    https://www.uscis.gov/faq-page/asylum-eligibility-and-applications-faq#t12802n40267

    in the course of which innocent people may well have fallen through the cracks.

    Well, clearly this child was guilty of something. She deserved to burn in hell unless she fully accepted Jesus’ love, right?

    According to the VICE story, which cites a review of the toddler’s medical records as well as interviews with her mother, Mariee developed a cough, congestion and fever in the facility. After being released from Dilley, Mariee went to three hospitals in the Northeast and died after being unhooked from a respirator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    https://www.texastribune.org/2018/08/27/toddler-died-ICE-custody-vice-news-dilley/

    But addressing any of this would inconvenience straight white Christians, and that clearly is the only injustice anyone on the planet should care about.

    Chin up. When the revolution comes and you get dragged away from your sobbing children, it will just take a bit of schooling and a soccer ball to make everything alright for them. They won’t feel a bit of trauma.

  • Widuran

    Mee too and feminism is a massive fraud. They do not give a monkeys about persecution of women under Islam.

  • Steve Smith

    Lying under oath is perjury and is a crime. It must be very frustrating for you to be told by Democrat Senators that Kavanaugh committed perjury and then you have to watch those same Democrat Senators refuse to petition the justice department for a criminal perjury investigation. If one thinks logically, one can only conclude that Democrat Senators are spineless and care nothing about justice or that they know no perjury actually occurred and therefor don’t want the matter cleared by investigation but still know that many of their devotees will drink whatever koolaid they dispense and thus be able to sully a persons character not by actual investigation but only by rumor.

  • Steve Smith

    And when this “revolution” comes, whose side will you be on?

    Your assessment of “straight white Christians” is one of ignorance. You should actually get to know some. You will find that there are many that agree with what you have said and perhaps you will find reason to let go of your bigotry concerning them.

  • Steve Smith

    You are correct. The solution to problems in this world does not come through the idea that “God will sort things out in the next life”. The solution to problems in this world comes from Christ’s words, “Love one another as I have loved you” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

  • UWIR

    It couldn’t possibly be because proving that he lied about things that happened decades ago would be incredibly difficult to prove. There’s absolutely no possible interpretation other than yours. And it’s the Left that’s “drinking the ‘koolaid’ [sic]”.

  • UWIR

    How dare any woman accuse a man of rape without first eliminating all oppression of women everywhere! The *nerve* of these women!

  • UWIR

    “For who but a callous partisan hack could entertain the slightest doubt in any part of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony? And who but an absolute monster could believe that even if Ford was wronged in the past, justice had been done in the present?”

    Looks like a strawman to me. You present no quotes supporting your claims, and the link you give is to an article behind a paywall unless I want to play games evading their article limits.

    “We have insufficient evidence to conclude that the young Brett Kavanaugh was a bad player.”

    Nonsense. Multiple witnesses have come forward.

    Oh, and as for David French: he pulled his kids out of public school because he didn’t want them being taught that gay people should be treated with respect. Not exactly the best example of a conservative Christian acting with decency.

  • Steve Smith

    It does not matter if it is difficult to prove or not. Proof is often only found after the investigation begins anyway. If they think Kavanaugh committed perjury then they owe it to the nation to have it investigated. There is no excuse for them to ignore such a crime. The Democrats have absolutely nothing loose by requesting an investigation, except, of course, their rumors may be debunked which will give them less power over people like Raven Belote who are willing to convict people by rumor.

  • UWIR

    “The Democrats have absolutely nothing loose by requesting an investigation”

    Such a statement shows either vast ignorance of politics, are deliberate dishonesty. As well as a lack of understanding of basic English spelling.

  • Widuran

    I never said that. But they are hypocrites

  • Cordyceps sapiens

    So you don’t have to fight against injustice in this world because “it’s complicated”? How convenient.

  • LastManOnEarth

    Apparently Jesus came to save us from the tyranny of empathy. Getting radical wasn’t really his bag, man.

    “Blessed are the meek for they shall receive lip service.”

    Evangelical Christianity is about saving your own ass and letting the least among us rot.

  • The Antagonizer

    Mr. Jew, how many are you housing? Desperate to belittle Whites into becoming a US minority?
    Prick.

  • Statistics Palin

    Since when are idiots like you white suprmacists ever in the minority?

  • I experienced Christ as the consciousness of the Sun. I wrote an ebook about my experiences that is free to download in pdf form, and the ebook is also available on blogger, links are below

    link to my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ”
    http://www.mediafire.com/file/riox16d87g86626/Messages_10.pdf/file

    link to the ebook on blogger: https://messagesftsg.blogspot.com/

    blog http://www.jesuschristsungod.com

  • Statistics Palin

    It’s Doctor Jew to you!

  • Atheisticus

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, Unless I’m mistaken, something along those lines has existed in nearly every religion and society with a recorded history of which we know. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration. But it does exist in some form in the writings of Socrates and the Analects of Confucious, both long predating the Sermon on the Mount. So, yeah,it’s pretty good advice.

  • Something has gone horribly wrong when you decry empathy as tyranny.

  • [citation needed]

  • UWIR

    You made a blanket statement about “mee [sic] too”, which consists of woman claiming to have been raped, saying that they don’t care about Muslim women. It follows that you think that claiming to have been raped shows a person to not care about Muslim women. So “People shouldn’t claim to have been raped until all oppression against Muslim women is eliminated” is a reasonable interpretation of your statement.

  • Widuran

    You are wrong. Me too is about about women saying they have been sexually abused in some way this includes wolf whistling not just rape and yet these same women are silent on women being raped in the Muslim world. This is what I said. Your interpretation is a logical fallacy

  • Pennybird

    “I also put little stock in the fact that she’s declining to press further now that Kavanaugh is confirmed. It’s what I would do if I were her.”

    What do you want her to do, take it all the way to the Supreme Court? The men in charge have proven without a doubt they don’t care what happened to her, as she is a Democrat and her alleged assailant a Republican. How much punishment should she take when she’s still getting death threats and still can’t move back into her home?

    And for what? An entitled, partisan little prick is sitting on the Supreme Court because Republican politicians – those arbiters of the morality we hear so much about during Democratic administrations – don’t give a tinker’s dam about anyone’s sexual assault, unless of course the perpetrator isn’t one of them.

  • Pennybird

    Right you are. However many who are given megaphones and blog pages are conservative long before they are Christian. If Jesus didn’t have nice things to say about liars, crooks, money changers and adulterers when Democrats are in charge, he’d have no nice things to say when Republicans are either, but too many American Christians are unclear on that point.

  • Pennybird

    You are clearly not well read in feminist literature. They’ve been talking about the persecution of Middle Eastern women at least since the 70s when I began reading it. It’s fine to criticize, but please know what you’re talking about.

  • Pennybird

    Not true at all. You can’t just look at right wing media and believe you have an idea of what anyone else is talking about.

  • swbarnes2

    Straight white Christians are everywhere, and they have all the power to make their views and wishes known. I’m reading one right now, remember? I know what Roy Moore thinks and does. l I know what Pat Robertson thinks and does. And Andy Savage and Paige Patterson. I understand that you are absolutely sincere in think that that all those people are examples par excellence of what good white Christian morality should be, so I will absolutely defer to your expertise.

  • Widuran

    I look at all media

  • Widuran

    Not these days

  • UWIR

    You have failed to identify any logical fallacy. You made a blanket statement about #metoo. #metoo includes women that have claimed to have been raped. Therefore, your statement is about women who have claimed to have been raped. That it also includes other women does not refute that, and the fact that you think it does shoes how little grasp on logic you have.

    Your claim that no one involved in the #metoo movement or feminism has ever made comments about women being raped or otherwise oppressed in the Muslim world is absurd.

  • UWIR

    I read this as saying “If someone were to make an argument based on the fact that she’s declining to press further now that Kavanaugh is confirmed, I wouldn’t find that convincing”.

  • Widuran

    No my statement is correct

  • Pennybird

    Yes, that’s how I understood it as well, but disagree. Dr. Ford is cutting her losses, that’s all.

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  • srh1965

    “any suggestion that admission into this country is a privilege rather than a right” conveniently ignores the obvious response: what gives anyone a right to live in any particular place? It’s so very easy to pontificate from the relatively fortunate position of being born on one particular patch of earth that people you regard as inferior shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near you and your privileged family. And when the nation you want to defend so callously creates chaos and poverty in nations nearby and far away (see: The War on Drugs. the WTO, USA interference in sovereign states’ elections, weapons sales to Saudi Arabia… continue ad nauseam), you self-righteously declare that the people who seek a better life around your patch of earth are criminals to be incarcerated then returned as soon as possible to the places of violence and poverty you keep sustaining.

  • swbarnes2

    An of course, this poster is almost certainly benefiting from the violent displacement of people who were living in this country for more than 10,000 years. Sure. Europeans had a right to live here, no one else does.