They Did It, So We Can Too.

They Did It, So We Can Too. March 9, 2018

I became involved in a discussion at Rod Dreher’s blog. He was discussing the type of cultural pressure that Christians will face over the next few years. It is a continuing theme for him and one in which I believe him to be right. It is one of the reasons why I am an advocate for building the Christian community. We will need that community to deal with the coming post-Christian society.

There is a type of response that some opponents of Dreher give and that I have run into from time to time as well. Here is an example of this response from one of the blogs. This is from a commenter who calls him or herself “Thomas Hobbs.”

“Rod says:
You don’t have to like Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, or any of that populist tribe to understand that they are not coming for your job, and they are not trying to drive you out of decent society.
What’s this now? DT, Huckabee, and the Republican congress is most definitely coming for my job and Huckabee at least would love to drive LBGT folks back out of decent society. There are a number of very good reasons academia is so liberal. The most obvious one is that every time Republicans are in power they try to shut off funding to science and academia. Every time Republicans take power, people in the bio-medical sciences (the best funded area of academia that is most likely to get public support from Republicans) have to cancel a bunch of previously funded lines of research and let people go…You complain about what has become of the Humanities in modern Universities, but Republicans spent 50 years demeaning and defunding them, so now you’re stuck with the leftists there.”
I quoted this person at length because this is a response I see quite often and I wanted to present it in context. Basically the commenter argues that it is okay to run conservatives out of jobs because that is what conservatives will do. By extension, it is okay to refuse to fund projects for conservative causes since they do the same for progressive causes. It is all right that the professors in the Humanities demean conservatives because conservatives have demeaned them.

I do not want to argue about whether the commenter is correct in the assessment of the actions of conservatives. I think one can argue that the commenter exaggerates, but that discussion is for another day. For the sake of discussion let’s just stipulate that he or she is totally correct. That conservative academics are just as eager, or even more eager, to demand, de-platform and deny employment opportunities to progressive academics as we have seen progressive academics do over the past decade or so. My question is whether that makes what progressive academics do right?

The clear answer is no. If scientific open inquiry apart from political bias is right, then it is right regardless of whether the results help progressives or conservatives. If non-partisan hiring is right, then it is right for both progressives and conservatives. If demeaning political opponents is wrong, then it is equally wrong to demean progressives and conservatives. I see no way around that reality and to avoid the charge of hypocrisy.

Too many individuals try to justify mistreating others because of the way their group was mistreated in the past. When this occurs, then we know that they do not have a universal value of fairness. What they have is a value of fairness for the groups that they like. They have every right to have that value, but I have every right to dismiss their claim to value fairness.

I am an African-American. My group has historically been enslaved and lynched. So according to the logic of this argument, I should not object if a bunch of blacks kidnapped a bunch of whites and enslaved them. I should be understanding if some blacks grabbed a white man accused of raping a black woman and lynched him without a trial.

If those things happened, I most definitely would not be all right with such actions. I would demand that the police and authorities punish the black slavers and lynch mob. The reason why I would do so is that for me, slavery and murder are universal wrongs. They were wrong when they were done to people of my skin hue, and they would be wrong done to those of a lighter skin hue as well.

You will not find me showing sympathy to individuals who engage in slavery or murder no matter their skin color because people should not be deprived of liberty or life without due process. You know I believe in due process because I want due process for everyone, whether I like them or not. “Thomas Hobbs” does not believe that people should be free from occupational discrimination because he states that such discrimination is okay when conservatives are the target. You can tell whether people believe in a right if they will support that right for those they do not like.

If we want to make this world a better place, then let’s make this world a better place. Past mistreatment does not justify current oppressions. I am not arguing that programs like affirmative action should be abandoned. We may need programs of correction to compensate those who were harmed due to past oppressions. But we should never allow those past oppressions to be used to mistreat others. Efforts to directly pay back groups we feel have wronged us in the past will just continue us down this path of alienation and polarization we have been on the last couple of decades.

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  • Salvatore A. Luiso

    You are speaking of holding people to a single ethical standard. Alas, it isn’t only people like “Thomas Hobbes” who need to be told that two wrongs don’t make a right. Here in America we have people who profess to be Christians who believe that they are in a war with “the Left”, and therefore believe that unethical behavior is not only permissible, but wise and right, in order to stop “the Left”. To hold all people to one standard is, to them, foolish and feckless.

    Hence, they never tire of talking about the corruption and scandals of “the Left”, but never speak a word of criticism about the corruption and scandals of “the Right”. They repeatedly point out and ridicule hypocrisy when they think they see it on “the Left”, but refuse to acknowledge any hypocrisy on “the Right”.

    Hence their ability to support the election of Trump and to condone every sinful thing he says and does–ignoring, excusing, and justifying behavior they would self-righteously denounce if it were committed by a Democrat. The ends justify the means. It is wise for the righteous to hire a rogue to protect them by playing dirty–that way they will be protected and yet still retain their moral purity.

    • George Yancey

      I only speak for myself. Look through my blogs. You find I am no supporter of Trump. I seek to hold all to a single standard of integrity.

      • Salvatore A. Luiso

        I did not think you yourself had a double standard. I myself DO hold people to a double standard–as does the Lord Jesus. From the Sermon the Mount, we see that He holds His disciples to a higher standard than He does other people (as recorded in Matthew 5:45-48). Paul did, too (as recorded in I Corinthians 5:9-13).

        My concern is that there are some Christians who will read this article of yours and they (not you) will think things like: “Those naughty leftists! They’re nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites!”. And yet not see that it isn’t only “leftists” who are hypocrites–and that we Christians ought to be concerned about whether we ourselves are hypocrites more than whether anyone else is.

        It seems to me that there are a distressing number of American evangelicals (not you) whose attitude toward many people, e.g. “the Left” is like that of Jonah toward the Ninevites: all enmity, no empathy.

  • Jim

    I don’t actually see your claim reflected in the portion of text you quoted.

    What I see there is a claim that academia is more liberal in response to conservatives who continually try and cut their funding, and force them to cancel experiments and let go of valuable researchers. I don’t see any reference to running conservatives out of academia.

    Presumably your best argument here is to argue that conservatives politicians are not more likely to cut funding, but anecdotal observation of the news, the situation in Wisconsin, etc., would suggest that you’re probably unlikely to find support for that counter-claim.