I’ve occasionally written about the great divide between Americans, a divide being exploited by our President and many others. In many respects, it can be understood as a fundamental difference in philosophy, both political and social. A more accessible and useful way to understand that divide may be to consider the difference between those that view the world through the lens of social justice, and those who believe in the rule of law.
I came across an article by John Fund in National Review Online, which provides just that sort of insight. It’s about our current racial strife, and the probability of a long, hot, violent, destructive summer. Here’s the important excerpt:
Other Democrats seem woefully ignorant about what Moynihan’s warnings mean for us today. At an April hearing of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald testified that while unjustified police shootings were an outrage, the problem of the black crime rate was an equal problem ‘at the very least.’ ‘There are young black men who are being killed at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic young men combined,’ she said. ‘Any discussion of policing crime and race cannot ignore the black crime rate, and if you want to look at causes, I think family breakdown is . . . the most salient.’
Commissioner Karen Narasaki, an Obama appointee, promptly dismissed Mac Donald’s analysis. ‘Communities need to feel like they’ve been treated fairly, and at some point it doesn’t actually matter whether the reality is of what police are doing. The perception becomes reality, and that’s what we have to address. So I don’t want to engage on that. I have other questions that I want to ask, but I just wanted to lay that out. And I’m sorry that I’m not giving you a chance [to respond].’ When another commissioner objected that Mac Donald wasn’t being given a chance to respond, the commission ignored her and went on to other matters.
Do you see the fundamental philosophical difference, gentle readers, the difference in worldviews that cannot be bridged?
Mac Donald, a believer in the rule of law, makes the entirely rational and logical point that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was right, when in 1965, he wrote that the dissolution of the black family was destroying black communities and badly harming American society, and that destruction continues today. The evidence is unassailable. Hence, if one wants to understand why there is such violence and social chaos in cities with large black populations, one must begin with Moynihan’s report. Obviously, that understanding isn’t a solution in and of itself, but any attempt at a solution that ignores that reality is doomed to failure. Blaming the police–the current craze–or insufficient government spending, or a lack of midnight basketball or free preschool, or white privilege is an exercise in futility.
Mac Donald’s world is constrained by the rule of law, by the Constitution and by society’s traditional values rewarding civilized behavior with good outcomes experienced by those who avoid criminal conduct, avoid drugs, educate themselves, believe in the importance of strong, loving families, defer instant gratification, treat others with kindness and sincerity, work hard and practice altruism. Her world is also based on logic and replicable, objective science.
Narasaki, a obvious social justice true believer, rejects MacDonald out of hand, and says, in essence: “shut up.” For her, perception is reality. What she believes to be true, absent any evidence or grounding in reality, must be true because she has good intentions and her philosophy must reject anything that does not support her continuing good feelings. Therefore it’s the fault of the police, and republicans who don’t want to spend huge amounts of money in unaccountable ways. The police are perceived–by her and those like her–to be racist and abusive and evil, and perception is reality, so there is no need to so much as consider alternative possibilities, and every need to shut them up.
Narasaki’s world is that of social justice, where reality is whatever social justice warriors say it is and should be. In such a world, there are no traditional values, only the progressive policies–which always cost huge amounts of the money of others, and which always require bigger and more powerful government and less and less individual liberty–they believe will obtain a more utopian society, a society run by benevolent, morally and intellectually superior beings such as themselves. Logic and replicable, objective science are acknowledged only to whatever degree they can be bent to support social justice policies and outcomes, which can never be wrong. Social justice is always non-falsifiable.
The truism that perception is reality is useful only in pointing out the danger of acting on unsupported perception, only in reminding us of a dangerous human failing and logical fallacy. Where public policy, where the lives of human beings hang in the balance, we dare not rely on perception, but on provable reality. This is why the free exchange of ideas is so important. Without it, perception rules; reality is ignored. This is the essence of the rule of law.
What worries me most is I can see no compromise. How does one compromise with people whose initial bargaining position demands absolute acceptance of their views, and their next position is “shut up”? Those who believe in the rule of law have civilization to surrender. What do social justice warriors have to surrender that those hoping to continue our representative republic could possibly want or need?
Civil war, of one kind or another, may be inevitable. The result of our next presidential election may accelerate it, delay it, or begin the process of reversal.