Subjective morality or Relativism.
For a long time I have accepted the argument that subjective moralists can somehow discern right and wrong even though they deny the existence of right and wrong. But this is obviously not the case. Subjective moralists, relativists by another name, have consciously decided not to carry a compass and therefore frequently get lost. The president is a subjective moralist and frequently lost.
Once the premise of no knowable right or wrong is recognized as the subjective moralist’s underpinning, this drone stuff shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, it’s an improvement. With a threatening or obnoxious teenager there’s always cause. This is never the case with a defenseless child in the womb, who the president already advocates killing.
So my prior naiveté and these reactions in the press lack gravity and are a sad affirmation of a wise man’s observation that “the world is suffering from a lack of thought.” The Times and other mainstream media clearly don’t understand the implications of the philosophy they so regularly espouse. Because the subjective moralist rejects the existence of rock, he must build his house on sand.
So let’s drop the pretense that such a person can know the difference between right and wrong; that without objective standards his decisions are anything but the imposition of his will; and that he is principled due to his stated good intention. These courtesies have been extended for too long and make no sense because one cannot reach good decisions based on a slippery and purely self-centered view of the world.
Subjective moralists, both Democrat and Republican, are deprived of a healthy and normal recourse to conscience because conscience cannot be purely personal. It must make “reference to that which is outside itself, to the objective moral law,” to what is wrong and what is right.
In a nutshell if there is no higher moral guide to follow, man is left to his own devices and often those devices are powered by greed, ignorance and arrogance. Like we’ve been warned about before. The founding fathers attempted to thwart this human weakness, but more and more we are seeing those EXACT people in leadership positions assuring us that they can govern morally- or in their vision of morality at least.
To have a conscience is to detect this law and to hold oneself accountable to it. It is not “to create values or to evade the law,” whether by clever or not so clever arguments. It is to be humbly and prudently “guided by objective norms.” Prudence requires an orientation to the good, without which only tactics remain. John Yoo explains,
Rather than capture terrorists — which produces the most valuable intelligence on al Qaeda — Mr. Obama has relied almost exclusively on drone attacks, and he has thereby been able to dodge difficult questions over detention. But those deaths from the sky violate personal liberty far more than the waterboarding….
Prudent decisions of a moral character require correspondence with objective truth, whereas a dialog with oneself is just a monologue. A corollary is that sycophants only make for echoes, and these echo chamber monologues sound pretty silly when exposed to the light of day. This brings us back to the President’s drone gobbledygook. The New York Times wasn’t done: “The white paper ‘is a confusing blend of self-defense and law of war concepts …. Its due process analysis is especially weak.” And from Bloomberg:
The most troubling question the administration’s strategy against terrorism raises is whether its reliance on drones is eroding the principle that collateral damage to innocents be minimized…. it hasn’t disputed a New York Times report that it simply presumes that ‘all military-age males in a strike zone’ are combatants. Liberals, moderates and conservatives should all raise their voices against this practice.
When the individual person is the source of his own moral understanding, anyone, for any reason, can become a drone target, even on American soil. But the point is bigger. It is that subjective moralists will frequently make bad decisions because the necessary connections just don’t get made:
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor observed that, “Roe. . . is clearly on a collision course with itself…. [It has] no justification in law or logic.” Whereas, Justice Harry Blackmun “argued that the right to terminate a pregnancy is in the penumbra of privacy rights” of the Fourteenth Amendment. A little polysyllabic nonsense and “pro-choice” has become the “linguistic switch [by which] real human beings can be consigned to fiction.”
Today cheap and free contraception is plentiful and readily available, yet subjective moralists have justified forcing Catholics and other Christians to violate deeply held religious beliefs so that “millions of American women” may not be “denied” their contraception. This despite the positive correlation between the increased availability of contraception and unintended pregnancies.
Philadelphia Boy Scouts “retain the commonsense notion that it is not wise to bring boys into close contact with men who are sexually attracted to boys… that if … such men were scoutmasters, the boys would check out.” However, for this commonsense notion, the Philadelphia city council insists on forcing the Boy Scouts from their headquarters.
A Houston woman, who recently aborted and left her child in a garbage can, will be forever scarred and her soul seared by the reality of that last look before she closed the lid. Hillary Clinton calls abortion “the most basic of human rights.”
Afghans know too well the sight of charred human remains. President Obama assures us of his diligent read of St. Augustine, consideration of just war doctrine and concern over “collateral damage.” Although just war logic certainly may be applied to drone tactics, the incoherence of the white paper indicates no real attempt to do so. And Hillary Clinton would hasten to ask, “What difference does it make?”
Yes, what difference does it make when you believe your acts in this world have no consequences because there is no “next world” to deal with?
For all those who hate people who believe in a higher order because of their antiquated view of things I offer this- “Would you rather be lead by a person who believes in humility and a greater good beyond himself, or a person who believes that what matters is what matters only to them?”