Stop It

I’ve literally spent nearly all day trying to write a sensitive and thoughtful response to this article in the WaPo rehashing with Sojourners’ Jim Wallis and President Carter and other liberal religious types how the Left needs to reach out to people of faith. I’ve gone through it and through it, and tried to be both productive and eloquent in expressing my frustrations with it. I’ve probably written more words trying to pull my thoughts together than the actual article, but, in the end, it’s no more than this: Stop It.

I normally like Wallis, but this kind of stuff just sends me 'round the bend:

Wallis insists that an openly religious Democratic candidate will win the presidency only when the party's liberal base becomes more centrist on issues such as abortion, more at ease with religion in the public sphere, and able to reconcile itself with the "failures of moral relativism."
The failures of moral relativism. Uh-huh. The failures of a nuanced world view, full of messy grays, on which secular progressives like me rely to make sense of a complicated world.

Wallis may strike a more conservative tone on family values and the need for personal responsibility -- he opposes legalized abortion, except when the life of the woman is in danger and in cases of rape and incest, but believes the issue should be left to state legislatures.
That’s exactly the same position on abortion as John McCain’s, about which I just said not a week ago:

I’d just like to point out how fundamentally shitastic this position is. If someone asserts that abortion is morally wrong because it is murder, there’s no logistical gymnastics they can do to justify exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. At least no justification that would make a woman unwillingly pregnant by a rapist or family member free to “murder” the fetus, but not free to murder that child any time during its life. If you believe that killing a fetus is murder, but it’s okay in cases of rape, then surely a woman who changes her mind five years in should have the right to murder her child if it’s the product of rape. And surely, it makes just as much sense to let her murder the guilty person who caused the pregnancy, if it’s okay to let her murder the innocent “baby.”

Of course, no one’s arguing that women should have a right to kill their rapists, nor 5-year-old children who were born as the result of a rape, so how, if someone genuinely believes that abortion is murder, can they reasonably argue that abortion exceptions for rape or incest are okay? They can’t—not without acknowledging that a fetus is not the same thing as a living human being.
Gee—that sounds a lot like moral relativism. Except, ya know, moral relativism used to ease your own conscience, not to develop wise and fair policy for the people said policy will actually affect. Which is really less moral relativism and more total bullshit.

I’m not angry at Wallis, and people like him, for being moral relativists; I’m angry at them for pretending they’re not, and using this mythical contradistinction to argue that the Left has lost its moral credibility because of secular progressives who eschew a black-and-white world view. The Left has lost its moral credibility because of people who perpetuate the fallacy that religion is the singular genesis of morality, and because of people who refuse to defend the radical notion that it isn’t.

The difference between Wallis and me isn’t that I’m a moral relativist and he’s not. The difference is that I’m honest about it. And I'm tired of being lectured on my supposed moral failings by people who can't even do the same.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus