MORALITY VS. SANCTIMONIOUSNESS
by Thomas Sowell
There are so many substitutes used in our society-- substitutes for eggs, substitutes for wood, substitutes for diamonds-- that perhaps we should not be too surprised to find substitutes for morality as well. One of the most widespread substitutes for morality, especially among intellectuals, is sanctimoniousness.
How do you tell morality from sanctimoniousness? For one thing, morality is hard and sanctimoniousness is easy. Anyone who has succumbed to temptation, and then felt deeply ashamed long afterwards, knows how hard morality can be.
Sanctimoniouniousness is easy. There are editorial writers who are sanctimonious every day of the week, without any visible sign of fatigue. As far as they are concerned, those who disagree with them are not merely in error, but in sin. Morality means being hard on yourself. Sanctimoniousness means being easy on yourself-- and hard on others.
There are organizations whose very names proclaim the self-congratulation of the sanctimonious, the joy of being one-up on those with different opinions. For example, there is an environmentalist organization calling itself "Friends of the Earth," as if people who disagree with its opinions are enemies of the earth. There is another organization calling itself "The Union of Concerned Scientists," as if other scientists with different opinions were calloused and insensitive. There are groups who favor disarmament and call themselves the "Peace" movement, as if those who favor a policy of deterence instead just don't care about the dangers and horrors war...
The full article is HERE.
I recently came across an article Tammy Bruce did about Barbara Streisand, called "Funny Lady" I certainly found it funny! The article is dated Oct. 2002, but still amusing to me, I love Tammy's sense of humor. I've just finished reading Tammy's new book, "The New American Revolution", It's wonderful, I hope to be printing some excerpts from it here in future posts.
From the Wall Street Journal Editorial pages:
'Do Some Soul Searching'
Why aren't the media telling the whole story about Iraq?
BY DONALD RUMSFELD
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
(Editor's note: Mr. Rumsfeld delivered this speech Monday at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.)
I'm not one to put much faith in opinion polls. But the other day, I came across an interesting set of statistics that I want to mention. It seems that the Pew Research Center asked opinion leaders in the United States their views of the prospects for a stable democracy in Iraq.
Here were some of the results: 63% of people in the news media thought the enterprise would fail. So did 71% of people in the foreign affairs establishment and 71% in academic settings or think tanks. Interestingly, opinion leaders from the U.S. military are optimistic about Iraq by a margin of 64% to 32%. And so is the American public, by a margin of 56% to 37%.
And the Iraqi people are also optimistic. I've seen this demonstrated repeatedly--in public opinion polls, in the turnout for the elections, and that tips to authorities from ordinary Iraqis have grown from 483 to 4,700 tips in a month.
This prompts the question: Which view of Iraq is more accurate? The pessimistic view of so-called elites in our country--or the optimism expressed by millions of Iraqis and by the roughly 158,000 troops on the ground? But, most important is the question: why should Iraq's success or failure matter to the American people? I'd like to address these questions today.
First, should we be optimistic or pessimistic about Iraq's future? The answer may depend on one's perspective. Indeed, one of the reasons that views of Iraq are so divergent is that we may be looking at Iraq through different prisms of experience and expectation.
For starters, it must be jarring for reporters who have never covered the Middle East to leave the United States and arrive in a country that is so different, where they consistently have to worry about their personal safety, then are rushed to the scene of car bombs and shootings, and have little opportunity to see the rest of the country.
By contrast, the Iraqi people see things somewhat differently: They can compare as it is Iraq today, to what it was three years ago--a brutal dictatorship where the secret police would murder or mutilate a family member sometimes in front of their children, and where hundreds of thousands disappeared into Saddam's mass graves. From that perspective, Iraq today is on a vastly different, and a greatly improved path.
If one is viewing events through a soda straw, one should know that one is by definition selectively focusing on facts that may highlight one's perceived view and not seeing other perspectives. A full picture of Iraq comes best from an understanding of both the good and the bad, and the context for each.
Among the continuing difficulties are:
* Bursts of violence, including continued assassinations and attempts to intimidate Iraqi leaders and those supporting the legitimate Iraqi government.
* Continuing U.S. and Iraqi casualties.
* Iran and Syria continue to be notably unhelpful.
However, there are also a number of positive developments to be seen, if one looks for them:
* The political process is on schedule. Iraqis have a Constitution they wrote and voted for, and hundreds of candidates are politicking for the elections.
* There seem to be growing divisions among the enemies of the Iraqi people, particularly after the bombing of a wedding reception in Amman, Jordan.
* More of Iraq's neighbors now seem to believe this new democracy might succeed and are moving to get right with the Iraqi people by being more active in their support.
* A vital and engaged media is emerging, with some 100 newspapers, 72 radio stations, and 44 television stations.
* Sunnis are increasingly taking part in the political process, further isolating those who still oppose the legitimate Iraqi government.
To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks. As Sen. Joe Lieberman recently suggested, a better measure of success might be that a vast majority of Iraqis--tens of millions--are on the side of the democratic government, while a comparatively small number are opposed. This gives the Iraqi people an enormous advantage over time.
The other question I posed is of critical importance: why does Iraq's success or failure matter to the American people?
Consider this quote: "What you have seen, Americans, in New York and Washington, D.C., and the losses you are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of all the media blackout, are only the losses of the initial clashes."
The speaker is Ayman al-Zawahiri, a senior member of the terrorist group al Qaeda and a top leader in the effort to defeat U.S. and coalition forces around the world. The terrorists' method of attack, simply put, is slaughter. They behead. They bomb children. They attack funerals and wedding receptions.
This is the kind of brutality and mayhem the terrorists are working to bring to our shores. And if we do not succeed in our efforts to arm and train Iraqis to help defeat these terrorists in Iraq, this is the kind of mayhem that a terrorist, emboldened by a victory, will bring to our cities again--let there be no doubt.
Indeed, the most important reason for our involvement in Iraq--despite the cost--is often overlooked. It is not only about building democracy, though democracies tend to be peaceful and prosperous and are in and of themselves good things. It is not about reopening Iraqi schools and hospitals or rebuilding infrastructure, though they are proceeding apace and are desirable and essential to ensure stability.
But, simply put, defeating extremist aspirations in Iraq is essential to protect the lives of Americans here at home.
Imagine the world our children would face if we allowed Zawahiri, Zarqawi, bin Laden and others of their ilk to seize power or operate with impunity out of Iraq. They would turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was before 9/11--a haven for terrorist recruitment and training and a launching pad for attacks against U.S. interests and our fellow citizens. Iraq would serve as the base of a new Islamic caliphate to extend throughout the Middle East and to threaten legitimate governments throughout the world . This is their plan. They have said so. We should listen and learn.
Quitting is not a strategy. Quitting is an invitation to more attacks and more terrorist violence here at home. This is not just an hypothesis. The U.S. withdrawal from Somalia emboldened Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. We know this. He has said so.
The message retreat in Iraq would send to the free people of Iraq and to moderate Muslim reformers throughout the region would be that they can't count on America. The message it would send to our enemies would be: that if America will not defend itself against terrorists in Iraq, it will not defend itself against terrorists anywhere.
What is needed is resolve, not retreat; courage, not concession. Rather than thinking in terms of an exit strategy, we should be focused on a strategy for success. The president's strategy focuses on progress on the political, economic, and security tracks. You can read that strategy paper on the White House's Web site.
On the security side, some 214,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped. Working with coalition forces, they are steadily improving in experience and capability:
* Coalition forces have handed over military bases to Iraqi control and a complex of palaces in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
* Iraqi forces are improving their control of the Western borders of Iraq, with coalition support.
* The Shiite areas of Najaf, Karbala and Sadr City, the scenes of battles last year, are considerably more peaceful.
* In Tal Afar, 5,000 Iraqi troops took a key role in liberating and securing what had been a base of operations for extremists' networks and foreign networks.
I began these remarks by mentioning the jarring contrast between what the American people are reading and hearing about Iraq and the views of the Iraqi people. I don't think we can close a discussion on Iraq without mentioning the media coverage and the current political debate.
Recently, a member of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association recounted intense discussions within the AP over whether or not their coverage of Iraq has been slanted. For my part, almost every time I meet with troops, I am asked the same question. They ask, why are the American people being given a pessimistic, inaccurate picture of what is happening in Iraq?
But let me say something in defense of the media. They have a tough job. Many reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq have done excellent reporting, and some have lost their lives.
And consider what would result if the federal government had to put out a daily newspaper or a daily television program. You can probably imagine what the bureaucrats would come up with: conflicting rules and regulations, an army of lawyers to sort through all the conflicts, a multitude of auditors to check up on everyone, a mammoth bill to the taxpayers, followed by congressional investigations of why they missed their daily deadline.
The media serves a valuable--indeed an indispensable--role in informing our society and holding government to account. But I would submit it is also important for the media to hold itself to account.
We have arrived at a strange time in this country when the worst about America and our military seems to be so quickly taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world--with little or no context or scrutiny--let alone correction or accountability--even after the fact. Speed, it appears, is often the first goal--not accuracy, not context.
Recently there were claims by two Iraqis on a speaking tour that U.S. soldiers threw them in a cage with lions. Their charges were widely reported--still without substantiation. Not too long ago, there was a false and damaging story about a Koran supposedly flushed down a toilet, and in the riots that followed people were killed. And a recent New York Times editorial implied America's armed forces--your armed forces--use tactics reminiscent of Saddam Hussein.
I understand that there may be great pressure on them to tell a dramatic story. And while it is easy to use a bombing or a terrorist attack to support a belief that Iraq is a failure, that is not the accurate picture. And further, it is not good journalism.
Consider this: You couldn't tell the full story of Iwo Jima simply by listing the nearly 26,000 American casualties over about 40 days; or explain the importance of Grant's push to Virginia just by noting the savagery of the battles. So too, in Iraq, it is appropriate to note not only how many Americans have been killed--and may God bless them and their families--but what they died for--or more accurately, what they lived for.
So I suggest to editors and reporters--whose good intentions I take for granted--to do some soul searching. To ask: how will history judge--if it does--the reporting decades from now when Iraq's path is settled?
I would urge us all to make every effort to ensure we are telling the whole story. To take a moment for self-reflection and reassessment.
Further it is worth noting that there are 158,000 Americans in uniform who are sending e-mails back to friends and families, telling them the truth as they see it. And much of it is different than what those in the United States are seeing and reading about every day.
Our country is waging a battle unlike any other in history. We are waging it in a media age unlike any that war fighters have ever known. In this new century, we all need to make adjustments--in government and in the media. And change is hard.
But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, we are all Republicans. We are all Democrats. We are all Americans. We are all in this together. And what we do today will not only impact us, but our children and our grandchildren, and the kind of world they will live in.
Mr. Rumsfeld is secretary of defense.
source URL: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007644