The danger of moral relativism

[HT: Little Green Footballs]

Timothy Sandefur, at Freespace, has some interesting thoughts on the contrast between today’s “secular liberal intellectuals” as he puts it and the same crowd in the 1930s and 1940s.

As Germany fell deeper and deeper into the black hole, scientists like Leo Szilard felt themselves obligated to defend the human values of civilization: free inquiry, personal security, freedom of speech and belief and scholarship. And in August, 1939, knowing how close German scientists were to constructing a uranium bomb, Szilard drafted a letter to Franklin Roosevelt urging him to start an American bomb project; a letter he persuaded Albert Einstein to sign. In the years that followed, virtually every great name in physics took some part in creating the atomic bomb, a weapon of unimaginably devastating power. The roster of scientists involved in the Manhattan Project reads like a list of the world’s greatest scientists. Oppenheimer. Bohr. Fermi. Szilard. Rabi. Feynman. Teller.

In other words, back then the secular intellectuals realized the threat of fascism to freedom, free expression, and science.  He then goes on:

Today, the west is confronted by an ideology of dogma, chauvinism, nationalism, and brutality—an ideology whose practitioners brutalize women and children, commit unimaginable acts of savage brutality, and who, if they had the power, would wipe away all free scientific inquiry, all freedom of speech, all dissent. This ideology is the aggressive Islam-inspired ideology loosely termed Islamofascism.

What is the reaction of the secular liberal community? While there are a good many of them who have spoken out eloquently and powerfully in defense of the same human values their fathers defended—people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens—a [great] many others refuse to do so. They point their accusatory fingers instead at the west. They condemn American society as fundamentally racist and exploitative, and a pro-democracy foreign policy as “imperialistic” because it is “forcing” “our way of life” (i.e., freedom) upon other nations. Many of them even hesitate to use words like “terrorist” when describing terrorists. One rarely hears expressed the view that scientists and other secular intellectuals have any obligation to oppose the forces of barbarism—a word many of them would indignantly refuse to employ.

Among other conclusions, he points out that the secular Left in America is blinded by their hatred of George Bush and does not want to oppose something that he opposes, saying that the secular left “so thoroughly associate the Bush Administration with the religious right that they simply cannot accept the idea that the Administration is waging a war in defense of secular values against theocratic despotism.”

One can only hope that they will be able to see things more clearly once one of their own (or so they thought?) takes office and perhaps they can stop being such idiots.  But their Rousseauian moral relativism my stand in the way of that.

Read his entire post here.

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