Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Root, Root, Root Against the Home Team

Normblog knocks it out of the park today (hat tip: Roger L. Simon), demolishing the (il)logic of the "root cause" doctrine promulgated by the enemy's apologists on the Left. Here's the play by play:

Rounding first, he points out how any true empathy for the victims of terrorism is crowded out by a self-congratulatory (dare I say narcissistic) intellectualism:
No words of dismay or regret, let alone sorrow, mourning, could be allowed to pass these people's lips without the accompaniment of a 'We told you so' and an exercise in blaming someone else than the perpetrators.
Sailing past second, he notes the "selectivity" of the apologists' empathy, which somehow never attaches itself to Westerners, especially Jews (Is there a word for that? Hmmm...):
Did you ever hear a Jenny Tonge who empathizes with the Palestinian suicide bomber also understanding the worries of Israeli and other Jews - after the Holocaust, after the decades-long hostility of the Arab world to the State of Israel and the teaching of hatred there against Jews, after the acts of war against that state and the acts of terrorism against its citizens?

In a previous post, I said that "evil cannot be reduced to a set of physical properties or sociological phenomena." Hot-dogging it around third, Norm makes an outstanding analogy to illustrate this point:

In circumstances he judges not too risky, Bob, an occasional but serial rapist, is drawn to women dressed in some particular way. One morning Elaine dresses in that particular way and she crosses Bob's path in circumstances he judges not too risky. He rapes her. Elaine's mode of dress is part of the causal chain which leads to her rape. But she is not at all to blame for being raped.

The fact that something someone else does contributes causally to a crime or atrocity, doesn't show that they, as well as the direct agent(s), are morally responsible for that crime or atrocity, if what they have contributed causally is not itself wrong and doesn't serve to justify it. [emph added]

As he charges home, Norm brings this critical philosophical point back to the familiar Bush-bashing ground of the Left (see here):
To shift part of the blame for the London killings and maimings on to Blair and further have to reckon that what was wrong about the war not merely caused the anger of those bombers but made their response, in some sort, morally appropriate rather than (what it in fact was) criminally excessive.

In the our Oprah-fied culture, we have seen all sorts of sociologic, economic, and psychological explanations of behavior, used as excuses for criminal and deviant behavior. These explanations may have some degree of relevance as description, but it is a fallacy to replace these descriptions for moral judgment. In the field of neuroscience, this form of fallacious reasoning actually requires two steps: first, the observed correlation between criminal behavior and certain biological variables (such as prefrontal brain volumes), must be seen as causal; second, this "causation" (which is really just a description of explained variance) is allowed to crowd out any conception of personal responsibility, free will, or moral agency.

As this has been a long post on a theme to which I will return, I will give the last word to the always-pithy Dr. Sanity:
Psychological health requires that adults take full responsibility for their behavior and actions.


Blogger Goesh said...

Our political sepsis is causing boils that nobody seems capable or willing to lance. Virulent imams are left to preach and organize, known terrrorist training camps are left standing in Sudan, the Bekkah Valley in Lebanon, in Syria and Iran. Known terrorist cell leaders are left alive because they keep themselves surrounded by civilians whose few deaths are more important than the potential deaths of many more non-terrorist civilians. Mosques and other buildings that housed terrorists and their organizations and provided the physical shelter for their depredation are left standing after arrests and convictions of the inhabitants. A fundamentalist regime is building a nuclear arsenal and diplomacy is expected to dismantle it. Significant portions of civilized society are unwilling to accept the fact that the history and stated intentions of islamic jihadis clearly demonstrates they and are forever beyond the pale of reason and compromise and will not cease in their efforts to destroy Western civilization. Indeed, what if there was a war on terrorism and nobody was willing to pull the trigger?

4:41 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Roger Simon had a link to another great Norm post, which I used to talk about the third category of mindlessness he mentions, a group I think of as the mindlessly sincere:

On Discerning Your Elbow From Your Gluteus Maximus

4:33 PM  

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