“Every time a liberal institution hires or fires someone because of their group identity rather than their individual abilities, it is embracing a principle designed to undermine the liberal part of the institution. Every university that denies a place to someone because of their race is violating fundamental principles of liberal learning. Every newspaper and magazine that fires someone for their sincerely-held views, or because their identity alone means those views are unacceptable, is undermining the principles of liberal discourse. Every time someone prefers to trust someone’s subjective “lived experience” over facts, empiricism and an attempt at objectivity, liberal society dies a little. And every student who emerges from college who believes that what matters is whether you are on “the right side of history” rather than whether your ideas can be tested by the ruthless light of open debate is a student who does not have the ability to function as a citizen in a liberal society. The ability to respect and live peaceably alongside people with whom you vehemently disagree is a far harder skill than cheering on one of your own. And yet liberal institutions are openly demonstrating that it is precisely this kind of difficult toleration they will not tolerate….[I]f we remove the corner-stone of liberal democracy — the concept of a free, interchangeable citizen using reason to deliberate the common good with her fellow citizens, regardless of any identity — then it is only a matter of time before it falls….”
—Andrew Sullivan, in his essay “Removing The Bedrock Of Liberalism: What the “Critical Race Theory” debate is really about.”
Do read it all.
Andrew is spot on this time.
3 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan”
Not completely spot on. We never had labor gulags in the U.S. who’s aim was to exterminate people of any race. True, slavery was a dark period in America’s history especially in the South where families were separated and blacks were forced to stay on the plantation and do back breaking work day after day. Still, unlike Nazi Germany where a systemic effort was made to exterminate Jews and others across occupied Europe. They same thing happened in Stalin’s gulags except that it was not generally based on race but whether you were consider to be a class enemy by very loose criteria. There was no attempt to exterminate black slaves in the U.S. After all a dead slave on the plantation was of no use to the plantation owner.
“After all a dead slave on the plantation was of no use to the plantation owner.”
Indentured servants were, in many cases, treated worse than their African slave counterparts. Slave owners had a monetary investment in their chattel and it wouldn’t be prudent to work that investment to death, which would render it “nonperforming.”
Indentured servitude was not the same. Holders of an indenture could work that servant to death and not lose their investment because until the sum total of the debt was retired (often pushed well beyond the originally agreed upon time-frame), the indenture would be “passed on” to the progeny/next of kin; “inherited,” if you prefer.
Let’s toss it over to the talented Frederick Olmsted to come at it from a different angle:
“In 1855, Frederic Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park, was in Alabama on a pleasure trip and saw bales of cotton (weighing ~ 500 pounds/226.796 kilos) being thrown from a considerable height into a cargo ship’s hold. The men tossing the bales somewhat recklessly into the hold were Negroes, the men in the hold were Irish. Olmsted inquired about this to a shipworker.
“ ‘Oh,’ said the worker, ‘the niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything.’ ”
When a co-worker tells you that he’s never heard you say a racist word or seen you do one racist thing in 16 years, but it’s no longer good enough just not to be racist, you have to be actively anti-racist, that’s a chip at the pillar of freedom. When that same guy tells you you need to swap out your 9/11 lapel pins for ones that say “Black Lives Matter,” because the one cause has superseded the other, that’s another strike. When he tells you that you need to be an ambassador back to your fellow Italian Americans UNICO and the Sons and Daughters of Italy telling them it’s time to step aside and cede the public square and the celebration to other races that are now considered more important, that’s yet another strike. I haven’t been told yet that I have to show up for the “real” independence day on June 19th, and go tell the DAR and other patriotic groups to put away the tricorn hats and fireworks, they’ve been superseded, but I’m sure that’s coming. This country is headed down the path of the USSR in different colors if we don’t straighten up soon.