Sunday, July 16, 2006

Moral Inversion

I recently read an interview on with British journalist and author of "Londonistan", Melanie Phillips. Here's the interview:Melanie Phillips interview. In it I came across a phrase she used that was like an epiphany to me in that it seemed to perfectly state a condition so prevalent in modern society as to be ubiquitous. But it has also proven to be a tool with which to diagnose the ideological underpinnings of mainstream news articles, political statements and even films and teleplays from popular media. The phrase is "moral inversion". I hope you'll read the interview with Ms. Phillips, but let me here quote her use of the phrase to clarify my meaning:

"Multiculturalism has turned Britain'’s values inside out – and the root cause of the problem is the deconstruction of Britain'’s identity. For decades, the British elite has been consumed by loathing of its national identity and values which it decided were racist, authoritarian and generally disagreeable. Much of that was due to our old friend, post-colonial guilt. The elite was therefore vulnerable to the predations of the left, which had signed up to Gramsci'’s insight that a society could be suborned by replacing its normative values by the mores of those who transgressed them or were on society'’s margins.

This gave rise to multiculturalism and minority rights, which held that all cultures were equal to each other and which thus provided minorities with an enormous weapon with which to force the majority to give in to their demands. One of the consequences of this was moral inversion, which holds that since minorities are weak they must always be victims of the majority because it is strong. So even when minorities behave badly, it'’s always the majority'’s fault. Translate that onto the world stage, and you arrive at the view that even when third world people commit terrorist outrages against the west it must be the west which is to blame. That'’s why multicultural Britain said, after 9/11, that America '‘had it coming to them', and why, after the London bombings last July, it said the reason British Muslim boys had blown up the London transit system was because of Britain'’s support for the US in Iraq."

A most timely example of what Ms. Phillips is talking about can be seen in almost any mainstream news report on the fighting going on now between Israel and the proxies of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas: no matter what the provocation of Palestinian terrorist or the degree of moral outrage (intensionally targeting civilians, abducting and torturing soldiers, the terrorists using their own families and children as human shields by staging their ordinance and planning headquarters in civilian housing), when Israel retaliates, it is invariably Israel that is painted by the press as a bloodthirsty agressor and cold-blooded murderer of innocent civilians. Moral inversion.

Consider a couple of issues that are benchmarks in defining Leftist from Conservative thought: the death penalty and abortion. Leftists accuse consevatives of hypocrisy for defending the Judeo-Christian definition of the sanctity of human life by opposing abortion yet supporting the death penalty, but fail to see the complete moral inversion of their own stance in equating the life of a convicted murderer and the very definition of innocence--the life of an unborn child. Leftists accuse conservatives of devaluing human life by supporting the death penalty; again, moral inversion. In reality the death penalty upholds the value of human life. The state, by taking the life of a murderer no more devalues human life than imprisoning a kidnapper (in effect, taking away his freedom) devalues freedom. Just the opposite: it's a testament to how much society values freedom that freedom is taken away from one who robs someone else's freedom.

So try it yourself. The next time you hear a politician say something that doesn't seem quite right, or read a news article that strikes you as biased or just plain chuckle-headed, apply the moral inversion test.