Just two weeks ago, I breathlessly announced that Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, against all odds. had pulled into a lead over Donald Trump for the 2016 Unethical Rationalizations Championship by giving us a perfect #22, the worst rationalization of them all. That’s this one:
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
If “Everybody does it” is the Golden Rationalization, this is the bottom of the barrel. … It is true that for most ethical misconduct, there are indeed “worse things.” Lying to your boss in order to goof off at the golf course isn’t as bad as stealing a ham, and stealing a ham is nothing compared selling military secrets to North Korea. So what? We judge human conduct against ideals of good behavior that we aspire to, not by the bad behavior of others. One’s objective is to be the best human being that we can be, not to just avoid being the worst rotter anyone has ever met.
Behavior has to be assessed on its own terms, not according to some imaginary comparative scale. The fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct. “There are worse things” is not an argument; it’s the desperate cry of someone who has run out of rationalizations.
Now, Donald Trump never runs out of rationalizations; as I wrote in the Albright post, “Trump is capable of hitting the entire list of rationalizations, all 68 of them (including the sub-rationalizations) given the opportunity.” He also rose to the challenge posed by Albright quickly, for he not only gave America a Full 22, he did so in the context of arguing for an unconstitutional government breach of First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights on a massive scale! Bravo!
On Face the Nation yesterday, talking about the Orlando shooting, this idiot—sorry, sorry!—Mr. Trump said..
“Well I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country.Other countries do it, you look at Israel and you look at others, they do it and they do it successfully. [DINDINGDINGDINGDING! There are two more rationalizations right there:#1, Everybody Does It, and #3, Consequentialism, or “It Worked Out for the Best”! I mean,this guy is a rationalization machine! ] And I hate the concept of profiling but we have to start using common sense and we have to use our heads. It’s not the worst thing to do.”
Of course, Trump is right. Profiling Muslim Americans based on their religion isn’t as bad as just locking them up, like FDR did to Japanese Americans. And locking them up isn’t as bad as shooting them on sight, just to be safe.
Come to think of it, that’s not the worst thing to do, either. We could order the deaths of all Muslim-Americans’ first born, like Herod did with the Jews. Or we could invite all of the them to big parties, then lock the doors and set fire to the buildings, like Vlad Tepes did. Now that would be really bad, much worse than profiling. Vlad Tepes, of course, is the Romanian despot who was the model for Dracula. Dracula might be one of the few theoretical Presidential candidates whom I would consider voting for Donald Trump to keep out of the running, just as Trump himself is one of the few public figures so unfit to lead that I am ethically obligated to vote for the most corrupt and untrustworthy Presidential candidate in U.S. history (Aaron Burr doesn’t count) to stop him.
The man is an idiot, you know, and a dangerous one. Over the weekend, there was a namby-pamby Facebook post circulating from someone about how the author would still respect her Facebook friends no matter whom they supported for President. (Imagine me reading those words in a whiny, high-pitched voice.) I can respect anyone’s decision to vote for Trump, based on their intense distrust of Hillary Clinton (which I share), though I believe that this is an emotional rather than a rational position and will be trying my damnedest over the next few months to explain why.
However, I cannot respect the judgment, intelligence, common sense or patriotism of anyone who actively supports Donald Trump, as in really wanting him to be President. It is not a respectable position, and is a position no respectable, informed or rational person can reach.
The statement above is just #673, 989, 321 on the growing list of reasons why.
Yet I digress. Congratulations to Donald Trump for proving his superiority in the rationalizations field.
I never should have doubted him