Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moral relativism

Pres. Barack Obama spoke at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin, where Pres. John F. Kennedy spoke 50 years ago during the Cold War, and reflected on the changes that the world has undergone since then.  I can remember in my lifetime the speech when Pres. Kennedy spoke the ringing words "Ich bin ein Berliner."  Perhaps Obama could never match the drama of that phrase, the world has become a much safer, more peaceful and affluent place since then.  After the defeat of Nazism, Germany and Berlin were divided.  Then Russian Communism was vanquished, and Berlin was reunited in 1989.  Since that time perhaps 30 nations have joined the side of democracy, including the East European nations which were formerly behind the "Iron Curtain" (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, etc.) as well as the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union (Russia, the Baltic nations, Ukraine, etc.) and the 6 countries that formerly constituted Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc.), and Albania, and so on. 
Moral relativism equates both sides in a conflict, allocating blame equally.  But, in real life that is rarely if ever the case, one side or the other bears most blame.  Were Germany and Britain equally responsible for WWII? Of course not.  When Communism controlled East Germany, did equal numbers of people try to flee to the East as well as to the West.   Thousands of people risked and lost their lives, as Obama mentioned, by jumping, swimming, running and tunneling over and under the Berlin Wall erected by the Communists, in order to escape to freedom.  In hindsight it is too easy to equate two sides.  They say that the victor writes the history, but that doesn't make the two sides morally equivalent.
So it is with Israel and the Palestinians.  Many western liberals casually cast blame equally on both sides, because it's easy to do this.  At a conference now being held in China under the auspices of the UN Council for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians (why is there such an organization?), it is considered axiomatic that Israel is guilty of causing the Palestinians to suffer and to be without a state of their own.  According to this analysis the Palestinians share no blame in the current situation, although they were supported by their Arab allies, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, who invaded the nascent State of Israel in 1948, and then again threatened the annihilation of Israel in 1967, and then again attacked Israel in 1973.  No, all this guilt is forgotten, according to them the Palestinian's plight is all due to the Israeli "occupation." 
Now Barack Obama states that the war in Iraq is over and that the war in Afghanistan is coming to a close and all will be well with the world.  But, these statements are untrue, Iraq is entering meltdown, as well as Lebanon, as the Syrian civil war spills over into their territory.  Sunni and Shia are killing each other everywhere in the Arab world and a new crisis is gripping the world as Russia continues to support the Assad regime, together with Iran and Hizbollah.  In Syria, moral relativism is alive, even though the regime is using all means, rockets and chemical weapons, to kill civilians and to destroy cities.  Assad cannot be allowed to play a role in the future of Syria, whatever Putin says.  So all is not right with the world and we must keep our moral compasses intact. 


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