May 30, 2006

The Mid-Twentieth-Century Template...

I was bothered by this post by Eric Muller criticizing the Pope's Auschwitz speech (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds)

His points are cogent, and they may be right...I'll have to think about them--I might even agree with some of them. And I may blog about it, though I'm not trying to turn this into a religion blog. BUT, this is very much a blog about leftism, and especially the way leftist ideas are imposed upon us as if they are already things we all agree about.

Which they were when I was younger. "Big government liberalism" was the dominant idea, and conservatism was the realm of a few "kooks" like Barry Goldwater, who were scorned by the liberal establishment in a way it's hard to even imagine now.

And most leftish discourse still assumes that their mid-20th Century template is accepted by all, and that all arguments are to be framed with that template as a premiss. And since the template has become increasingly divergent from reality, much leftish argument consists of holding actions, with, "Don't you dare change the subject" as their theme.

An example is how we are all supposed to remain firmly in the Civil Rights Era. (My daughter once said, of her trendy school, "Black History Month comes four times a year.") If one points out that liberal Democrats today are pushing policies that hurt inner-city minorities, you don't get an answer based on the merits or the facts, you get: "Don't you dare change the subject! We ARE the Civil Rights Movement!" Another example of the template is that Christians are forever "crusaders," and should forever grovel and apologize. But for some reason it's not done to point out that Arabs were crusaders too, when they conquered the Holy Land, and when they booted the Christian crusaders out again. (And that they were in fact the stronger military power of the time.) Imagine suggesting they apologize! Wooo, wouldn't that break the template.

And another major part of the template says that Nazi Germany was the worst thing that ever happened in the world, that the Nazi's were the only bad guys worth mentioning, and anyone who opposed them can be pretty much assumed to be the good guys. And Nazis = Germans (except German leftists) who should apologize for their sins forever. And Germans = Western Civilization (except leftists) which should apologize for its sins forever.

And if one points out that Communism killed far more people than Nazism, and that no one is asking Russians or Chinese or leftist-fellow-travelers to do much apologizing, the response is "Don't you dare change the subject!" Arnold Kling has pointed out that the template says that, in relation to Christians, Jews = victims, but in relation to Arabs Jews = oppressors. We see arguments crammed into that odd mold every day.

I think there's a lot more to this matter than the template assumes, and I think that the danger of the world forgetting about the evils of Nazism and the Holocaust is far less than the danger of the template we use for the subject being a tool to help the world to forget about a great many other things. Muller's post seems to be very much in the "Don't change the subject" category. Maybe he's correct in this case, but it's long past time to stop just assuming that that's true.

Posted by John Weidner at May 30, 2006 10:32 AM
Weblog by John Weidner