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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

David Duke Writes Cover Article for NYT MAGAZINE



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Former KKK leader David Duke published a cover story in Sunday's NYT Magazine, in which he suggested that the hyper rich have a moral duty to alleviate the worst poverty in the world by giving away up to one-third of their fortunes. Despite Duke's motive of seeking to alleviate poverty, observers were outraged. "I don't care how worthwhile the ideas expressed in this article were," declared Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Racists do not deserve the respect that is accorded by having such a prominent article published in the nation's leading newspaper." The Times issued a quick apology and blamed the decision to publish Duke on "a distortion in the editorial process."

Wait a minute. I got the names mixed up. It wasn't David Duke. It was Peter Singer. And even though Singer advocates the right of parents to kill infants who are disabled by such conditions as Down syndrome or hemophilia (and in fact, under personhood theory, any infant who did not serve the interests of the family), there were no outraged press releases from Senator Clinton or any other major public figure decrying the Times, nor, needless to say, was there any Times apology.

This brings up a disturbing dichotomy within the Liberal Establishment, of which, I think it is fair to say, the Times is a leading member. Does anyone think the Times would have published the very same article if it were authored by Duke? Of course not because Duke is considered (properly, in my view) a racist who is beyond the pale of respectability. Yet, here is an irony: As far as I know, Duke has never suggested that it would be okay to kill minority babies. But Singer has, the minority category being disability, which makes his advocacy at least as pernicious as Duke's--just aimed at different victims.

Here is another example of this paradox involving Singer: I once spoke at Princeton and decried America's premier university giving Singer a tenured chair. A faculty member spoke up and stated that Singer had sterling credentials and having someone like Singer on campus provided a diversity of views. I asked the professor if Nobel Prize winner William Shockley--who clearly had sterling credentials but who was also a racist--would ever be allowed to teach at Princeton. No, the professor admitted, which means I guess, that being racist is not an acceptable diverse view at Princeton, but advocating eugenic infanticide is.

Here is what I think: Liberalism used to be about protecting the equal worth of all human beings. No longer. The respect for and acceptance of Peter Singer by such Capital-E Establishment institutions as Princeton University and the New York Times offers disturbing evidence of this proposition.


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