Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jonah Goldberg lays the basic theme of his new book, “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas”. Some examples:
[From Obama's inaugural address, “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”
‘Diversity is strength’
‘Violence never solved anything’
‘The living Constitution’
‘Social Darwinism’
‘Better 10 guilty men go free . . .’
Most conservatives have noticed this inability of liberals to give reasoned arguments for their views. Rather, they tend to repeat "facts" whether they are real or not and whether they prove general principles or not. Often they just sound good or as if they ought to be true, but don't bear close examination. One particular one is that the law requires mercy, that fairness means sharing. These go bad to childhood. We call on fairness on both sides of an issue. If an older sibling gathers more candy on Halloween, it's not fair, we say, not to share with a younger brother or sister. But when you're the older one, it doesn't seem fair to be forced to give up part of the fruits of your efforts. So which is it? Since religion extols atonement and commands us to forgive, we begin to think that religious values are justice, but we fail to understand that this is only true if we assume that God has exercised mercy upon us. Jesus' parable of the debtor whose debt is forgiven by the ruler, and then has a fellow servant sent to jail for a debt owed to himself, illustrates this point. Having received mercy, we are in ethically required to show mercy to others, but that is no justification for a society in which crime goes unpunished. Issues of government, foreign policy, etc. turn on careful balance of logical consideration and research, and shouldn't be reduced to mere cliches.

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