In his most recent post on the Confederate battle flag, Rich said something that should give us all pause when we speak of the actions of people long-dead, living in cultures so different from our own:
The fact is that if anyone banging on about the Confederacy at the moment on Twitter were born in the 1840s in the South, outside of a few select areas, they, too, would have fought for the Confederacy. That should lend a measure of modesty to this debate.
It should, but it likely won’t. Moral outrage is just too good a drug for most people. It allows one to feel righteous in the complete absence of any personal risk. Indeed, there are great social benefits to joining the online mob. Good guys win, bad guys get shamed, and “social justice” wins a round. What’s not to like?
Moral judgments about the past are of course valuable (indeed, that’s one reason why we preserve history rather than bulldozing it), but in the absence of humility and knowledge, we can blind ourselves to its true lessons for our present. You would think that given the righteous anger at the dehumanizing institution of slavery — followed by the dehumanizing, racist institution of Jim Crow — that our nation would have its fill of telling some human beings they are less valuable than others. You would think our nation would have no tolerance for deadly violence systematically directed against the most vulnerable in our society. And, yes, you would think that the righteous outrage of the Twitter machine would roll down from the cyber-heavens until our nation formally and legally acknowledged that #BlackLivesMatter — indeed #AllLivesMatter.
But you’d be wrong. Many of the same people who are most enthusiastically behind the latest round of social justice warfare — centered around flags and symbols that kill no one — also zealously defend an abortion-on-demand regime born in racism and the racist quack “science” of eugenics. They not only defend the practice of brutally killing innocent human life, they often work — especially on campus and in pop culture – to censor, silence, and shame those who seek to protect innocent life. They even want it subsidized by the state. It’s all well and good that a person can join with the 99.99% of their fellow Americans and condemn the past injustice of slavery and segregation, but God forbid that same person risk the scorn of their peers to utter even one word for life.
Do we really want to be free — as a nation — from deadly dehumanization and discrimination? Do we really want to do the hard thing — the thing that requires a measure of self-sacrifice and at least some professional or social risk? When your descendants look back at the indefensible present, do you want them to view you with unmitigated pride, or will you do what people have done throughout all of human history — follow their own crowd until you can follow it no longer? One of the key lessons of the Civil War isn’t, “my ancestors were right, and yours were wrong,” but rather that human beings will build, maintain, and justify cultures of exploitation – right up until the moment that culture crumbles. It’s something that fallen man has been doing since the beginning of time, and it’s something that our nation does today.
Dear social justice warriors, if the abolitionists inspire you, then apply their principles to your own life and your own times. Abolish abortion now.