For some reason I’m not certain I’d be happy to discover, some editor at the Washington Post thinks what our world needs at this disturbing moment in time is a new form of injustice to address, one that most of us never considered an injustice at all. Thus that helpful editor decided to give a megaphone to someone named, whom, we are told, is chief information officer of an NGO in Guatemala that promotes local governance in developing countries. This is itself interesting, because it provides a hint regarding why it is that developing countries have such a hard time developing. For Mr. , by the evidence of his opinion piece, deemed worthy of publication in a prestigious newspaper, is bats.
Essentially, his essay “Losing the Birth Lottery” asserts that life is unfair, so the only ethical thing to do is to make life chaotic and unfair. feels that it’s really, really mean that the United States doesn’t guarantee the same rights of U.S. citizens to every human being on earth, and insists that its refusing to do so is the moral equivalent of racism. He helpfully suggests the term “borderism” as the name for this heinous attitude, and writes:
“One could certainly argue that racial discrimination is worse than borderism because it excludes people from opportunities within their own countries. But how much worse? Many aspiring immigrants are born into nations where jobs are nonexistent, corruption is rife and indiscriminate violence plagues daily life. Being legally segregated into poverty and tyranny because of one’s ancestry is a cruel fate, regardless whether it’s because of race or citizenship.”
I was going to explore the raw insanity of this proposition, but is that really necessary? What the essay goes on to suggest, if its principle were valid, would require that anyone who wants to, anywhere in the world, should just move into the U.S., where he or she would be able to work, vote, receive government benefits, health care subsidies, the works., who might be a very nice man but is one whom I wouldn’t trust to figure out how to clean my gutters, sees no problem with this. It’s ethics, that’s all! Right is right! Presumably, it would also be ethical to him for the denizens of any planet cursed with a minimal natural resources and an unpleasant climate to just settle its population on earth, and we’d juts have to deal with it, being ethical and all. For Earthlings to oppose this would be “planetism.” The essay concludes,
“Still, while practical matters are important, both borderism and racism are ultimately questions of ethics. Inheriting the wrong genes is no longer punishable by law, but inheriting the wrong citizenship is. Borderism is thus a sibling of racism as it subjects our rights to the lottery of life. While many opportunities in life are unequally distributed, our legal rights must always be universal.”
Gibberish. Is he advocating global government? Anarchy? Ethics unhinged from the realities of existence are not ethical; indeed, they are dangerous. The mission guiding ethics is to make life as good as possible for as many as possible while embracing values that experience teaches us advance that goal. One of those values is responsibility, and whatthinks would be peachy keen is not responsible. ( airily concedes that practicality is “important,” but you can’t have everything.) Turning the world upside down, making cultures themselves impossible by turning society into an all-you-can-take, open invitation party, in the charming but naive belief that we have an obligation to foil the “lottery of life,” defies the evolution of civilization. It proposes that mankind retreat to the pre-tribal days of wandering souls, living off the land, unimpeded by law, playing global musical chairs. True, it would be Hell on earth, but it would be fair. Creating Hell on earth is not ethical, whether it cures “borderism” or not.
So I don’t want to debate‘s revelation, any more than I want to debate whether we should give Stalinism a try here in the U.S., allow everyone to appear in public naked, or declare Hillary Duff dictator for life. My real question is whether any idea, no matter how idiotic, fanciful, or impractical, is worthy of publication in the Washington Post. I say any idea, because I have a hard time thinking of a worse one that ‘s. Some publications now refuse to publish any rebuttals or skeptical essays regarding global warming. The Post isn’t about to publish a scientist’s theory that the races are unequal, or a historian’s screed arguing that the moon landing was a hoax. It wouldn’t publish a passionate warning about the hidden race of vampires waiting to pounce. Yet none of these propositions are any more invalid that ‘s “borderism” nonsense.
If the theory underlying the Post’s generosity with its website and Sunday edition is that any and all opinions are worthy of publication, then why not white supremacy? I’m not at all sure that a world where‘s borderless nirvana is entrenched would be any less horrible than David Duke Land, just horrible in different ways. Is there an editor at the Post that read this essay and thought, “Wow! What a good idea!” If so, I think the Post needs to reassess that intern program at the Home for the Bewildered. And if the Post editors realized how ridiculous the essay is—and seriously, if they didn’t, they are not smart enough to edit Weekly Reader—why did they allow it to be published? Every now and then, you know, really, really terrible ideas take root because ideologically driven individuals who are immune to reality embrace them with gusto, and tragedy ensues, sometimes for a very long time.
I don’t know where the line is or should be drawn regarding a bright, new idea that is too stupid to publish responsibly.
I do know that wherever that line is, “Losing the Birth Lottery” crosses it, and that one of the nation’s premier news organizations couldn’t figure this out is troubling.