2002-06-01 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

Those who saw the HBO special about the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center last Sunday night know now that there is no such thing as moral relativism.

Those who believe in moral relativism believe that moral standards are grounded in social custom, varying greatly from culture to culture. One culture’s evil might be another’s good deed.

That thinking allows for Kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers and even for those who kill thousands of civilians by flying airplanes into buildings.

Most of us know that is blatantly ridiculous. I would use another word, but this is a family newspaper.

Despite what some in the media believe, the attack on people who were simply trying to earn a day’s pay, was evil, an act directed by a madman and carried out by Muslim fanatics.

Those who try and balance the morality of the attack on the trade center with America’s support of Israel of with our actions in the Gulf War, or with the "evil" way that we live should know that, despite what they continue to see on American television and what they read in its newspapers and periodicals, that the vast majority of Americans do not believe for a moment that we were attacked for any reason other than we are who we are.

And, although the term of the moment – "Moral Clarity" – has been taken over mostly by the conservative wing of government, the vast majority of Americans know what it means.

One conservative wag asked a commentator if "America would respond to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center with the same moral clarity that our grandfathers did when Pearl Harbor was attacked."

There is no confusion in the general public about that he meant. The great majority of us want Bush to respond to terrorism today just as Roosevelt did in 1941 with his "Day of Infamy" speech, a ringing speech that rallied Americans to a grand cause and became a declaration of war that eventually destroyed the fascists.

Today, however, Bush is worried about coalitions and how the Saudi’s would respond to any move in the area.

He is worried that the Arab world will take action against us because of our support of the lone democratic nation in the area.

He puts pressure on that government to go easy on terrorists at the same time he gives ringing speeches here at home about "routing out terrorism wherever it is found."

Well, George, terrorism is found in Saudi Arabia (the place where the majority of suicidal plane hijackers came from and where the government held fundraisers for suicide bombers who killed Israeli citizens), it can be found in Libya, in Iraq and in the refugee camps that surround Israel.

If Bush were really interested in routing out terrorism, that is where we would be going.

Moral relativism leads to political correctness and that leads to disaster.

When FBI agents in the Midwest asked their bosses in Washington to allow them to check the computer hard drive of a known Muslim fanatic who had been taking flying lessons to "fly a large plane, not to land or take off," they refused permission because of political correctness. They were afraid that it would be "racial profiling" to allow the computer check.

Well, guys, I have news for you. If you know that 25 left handed Jewish extremists are going to attack the White House, you had damned well better check all the left-handed Jews heading for Washington D.C. If you are not willing to do that, get out of the way and let somebody who will do it take your place.

Otherwise, we will continually become the target of militants. You can’t assuage them and you can’t defeat them by playing by a set of rules that are yours alone.

Remember that great old black-and-white movie, "The Thing?"

This giant carrot is moving towards a group of U.S. Air Force personnel who have found its spaceship. It has already killed lots of people. The Americans have rigged up an electric trap for the monster.

It moves towards the trap. A scientist runs forward, yelling," Don’t kill it. We don’t understand it. It is only doing what its instincts tell it to do. I can talk with it. It will listen to me"

The scientist runs forward, protecting the monster. The monster kills the scientist. The Americans fry the monster.

There is a lesson to be learned from The Thing.

Moral relativism aside, sometimes you have to destroy those things that are trying to destroy you.

We also have to begin to once again teach citizenship in our schools.

What we teach now is that most of those men who built America were not very good people. We are told that their conquest of the continent was bad for other, more indigenous people. We let the kids decide for themselves what is moral and what is immoral.

We teach in the fifth grade that there are many communities around the world and that they all have the same needs and wants, but that they go about finding them in different ways. That is OK, the kids are taught. That leads to a discussion on the mistreatment of women in some Middle Eastern nations.

Is that OK?

There is no right or wrong, kids are told. That is their culture and we have to respect that.

The president probably agrees. When an American woman pilot was stationed in Saudi Arabia, she had to wear Muslim garb in the street and had to be driven by a man, even though she piloted A-10 Warthogs, the most powerful ground support aircraft in the world.

American agreed to those rules. Why? Because it was the Saudi custom and we were in their nation.

Bologna! We were protecting them. Without American protection, there would now be no Saudi Arabia to mistreat women.

There is a right and wrong.

Killing thousands of civilians at the World Trade Center was wrong.

Rooting out terrorism is right.

See how easy it is. Moral clarity at its best.

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