March 28, 2007

Outing ‘Homo Pomo’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 7:08 pm

Marty Kaplan, The Huffington Post, March 28, 2007

The oddest role reversal has occurred in the culture wars: we have switched sides. Those on the right — the supposed defenders of moral absolutes, eternal truths and personal responsibility — are now singing the postmodern anthem, “Everything is political.” Those on the left — long denounced by the right for secularism, relativism and moral decay — are now saying that truth is more than merely “my truth,” that the rule of law is more than some arbitrary social construction, and that people should be held accountable for their actions.

Who would have thunk it?

Example: the Administration’s defense of its firing of US Attorneys. Their argument has two pillars. One: Butt out — this is politics, these are political appointments, and we have the pleasure of exercising our power. Two: Everyone does it. The first sounds like something you might learn from Nietzsche or Dostoevsky, but surely not in ethics class at Regent University, alma mater of Fifth-pleader Monica Goodling. The second — “But Bill Clinton did it, too!” — is hardly the kind of moral warrant that you’d expect conservative values vigilantes to invoke.

By contrast, it’s supposedly permissive progressives who want prosecutors to weigh the evidence, and to keep the political hacks’ thumbs off the scales of justice. It’s the liberals, not the conservatives, trying to conserve the tradition of prosecutorial independence. It’s the left, not the right, rejecting situation ethics and demanding personal accountability.

Example: science. In the last part of the 20th century, it was avant-garde lefty theorists who called for an end to the “privileged” position held by science; they claimed that scientific knowledge was no less tribal than shamanism, no more free of politics than politics. It was conservatives — “reactionaries,” “hegemonists,” they were called — who contested the demotion of science to the realm of opinion.

But today, it’s the left that invokes the scientific consensus on climate change, evolution, mercury pollution, abstinence education. It’s the right that funds conflicting theories, floats outlier data, confects one-percent dissent, and urges us — in the name of scientific openmindedness — to “teach the controversy.”

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