Skip to comments.Thomas Sowell: "Us" or "Them"
Posted on 10/25/2005 2:24:39 AM PDT by RWR8189
A reader recently sent me an e-mail about a woman he had met and fallen for. Apparently the attraction was mutual -- until one fateful day the subject of the environment came up.
She was absolutely opposed to any drilling for oil in Alaska, on grounds of what harm she said it would do to the environment.
He argued that, since oil was going to be drilled for somewhere in the world anyway, was it not better to drill where there were environmental laws to provide at least some kinds of safeguards, rather than in countries where there were none?
That was the end of a beautiful relationship.
Environmentalist true believers don't think in terms of trade-offs and cost-benefit analysis. There are things that are sacred to them. Trying to get them to compromise on those things would be like trying to convince a Moslem to eat pork, if it was only twice a week.
Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them.
The man apparently thought that it was just a question of which policy would produce which results. But many issues that look on the surface like they are just about which alternative would best serve the general public are really about being one of Us or one of Them -- and this woman was not about to become one of Them.
Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.
T.S. Eliot understood this more than half a century ago when he wrote: "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
In this case, the man thought he was asking the woman to accept a certain policy as the lesser of two evils, when in fact he was asking her to give up her sense of being one of the morally anointed.
This is not unique to our times or to environmentalists. Back during the 1930s, in the years leading up to World War II, one of the fashionable self-indulgences of the left in Britain was to argue that the British should disarm "as an example to others" in order to serve the interests of peace.
When economist Roy Harrod asked one of his friends whether she thought that disarming Britain would cause Hitler to disarm, her reply was: "Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?"
In other words, it was not really about which policy would produce what results. It was about personal identification with lofty goals and kindred souls.
The ostensible goal of peace was window-dressing. Ultimately it was not a question whether arming or disarming Britain was more likely to deter Hitler. It was a question of which policy would best establish the moral superiority of the anointed and solidify their identification with one another.
"Peace" movements are not judged by the empirical test of how often they actually produce peace or how often their disarmament tempts an aggressor into war. It is not an empirical question. It is an article of faith and a badge of identity.
Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace -- not for actually producing peace but for being part of what was called "the peace process," based on fashionable notions that were common bonds among members of what are called "peace movements."
Meanwhile, nobody suggested awarding a Nobel Prize for peace to Ronald Reagan, just because he brought the nuclear dangers of a decades-long cold war to an end. He did it the opposite way from how members of "peace movements" thought it should be done.
Reagan beefed up the military and entered into an "arms race" that he knew would bankrupt the Soviet Union if they didn't back off, even though arms races are anathema to members of "peace movements." The fact that events proved him right was no excuse as far as members of "peace movements" were concerned. As far as they were concerned, he was not one of Us. He was one of Them.
Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate
The man writes with a scalpel.
They deal in what they perceive to be moral absolutes - except that their absolutes are devoid of both morality and reality.
They support CAFE standards (which kill thousands) while bemoaning the loss of American lives in Iraq.
They are opposed to war unless their pet cause is involved (which typically has nothing to do with American national security).
And they preach about First Amendment rights while supporting McCain-Feingold.
They walk about in deliberate ignorance - the uncurable kind - while proclaiming us conservatives to be uninformed rubes. They'd be comical if their views weren't so friggin' dangerous.
That cuts like a chainsaw.
And he has razorsharp wits.
Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.Truer words have rarely been spoken.
Back during the 1930s, in the years leading up to World War II, one of the fashionable self-indulgences of the left in Britain was to argue that the British should disarm "as an example to others" in order to serve the interests of peace.One needn't go back to the 1930s to find this. One can look to the "nuclear freeze" movement of the 1980s. Or the violent pacifists of today.
Dr. Sowell cuts to the quick with very few words.
I find this article by Sowell to be spot on, and if you step back, his analysis also applies the the current rift among conservatives.
The eminent Dr. Thomas Sowell, articulating what many of us see in the blank stares of liberal idealogues.
Sowell even quotes people better than anyone else.
LOL. When was the last time you saw "Moslem" instead of "Muslim?" For some reason "Muslim" is the PC version. I have no idea why that is but I'll bet Sowell does, so he writes "Moslem."
And with piercing insight.
He's one of the clearest thinkers ( and writers ) I've every run across- I just wish the larger public were more exposed to his work. He has a way of clearing the decks and framing whatever issue he's discussing in simple, stark terms.
I rank Dr. Sowell right up there with Mark Steyn.
Well, this explains a lot...
I think the best description of Sowell's work is 'sobering'.