Our side sometimes speculates that Leftists are secretly energized by their own unacknowledged guilt or shame for their personal sins. Conspicuous displays of righteous attitudes are a way to reassure themselves of their own goodness, scapegoat-hunting is driven by projected guilt, and so forth. The idea is that synderesis in humans is strong enough to override ideological obfuscation, at least enough to cause an uneasy conscience. I find such psychological explanations implausible because they ignore the basic sociological fact of Leftism being an established ideology. Like any established ideology, it enjoys greater support from “the best”, those most able and motivated to achieve their society’s ideal. The status quo usually has the best human material. Thus I take things more at face value–people who appear utterly sure of their own righteousness really are utterly sure of their own righteousness. And this is the most terrifying thing about Leftists: their absolute and vindictive moral certainty, a product of their Manichean worldview that casts themselves as pure good and their opponents as pure evil. They claim to be tolerant, but to those they really do disapprove they are pitiless. It occurs to me that Leftists may have a very different personal experience with morality than Christians. While Christians all to some extent fail to follow our own moral code, and are thus confronted with our own personal weakness and viciousness, Leftist morality, being a matter of attitudes, can be quite easy. It’s not hard to avoid having negative thoughts about blacks, especially if your only exposure to them is The Cosby Show. Nor am I impressed with so-called “liberal guilt” which always seems to mean condemnation of one’s ancestors for failing to meet one’s own standards. The fact that this is what passes for guilt with them just illustrates how different are their moral experiences. For us, morality usually means confronting ourselves; for them, it mostly means confronting evil others. What if many on the social justice warrior Left have never, or almost never, felt personal guilt or shame? Wouldn’t their personalities be very different from those of ordinary mortals?
Most Christians are not hypocrites in the sense of pretending to a level of virtue we don’t enjoy. On the other hand, when Leftists call us hypocrites they mean that we don’t privately live up to the moral code we publicly espouse, and that is certainly true. I think hypocrisy gets a bum rap. Of course, pure virtue is better, but there’s something admirable in not letting one’s vices dictate one’s beliefs. Don’t we admire it when a man allows himself to be convinced of a truth that it is against his interest to acknowledge? Don’t we usually trust testimony more when it is against the speaker’s own interest? (Perhaps we shouldn’t. It penalizes impartiality.) Suppose a public figure takes a public stand against homosexuality. Then suppose it turns out that he is a practicing homosexual. Most people would call this a score for the gay side and mean that the man’s arguments against sodomy should be weighted less; clearly he himself isn’t convinced by them. People think this way because with their easy morality they’ve never faced their own weakness, their own inability to persevere in sincerely held principles. Perhaps we should weigh the actively gay man’s anti-homosexuality testimony more highly, because it is testimony against interest.
These generalizations are probably even more true today, when most culture war battles have to do with Leftist morality on race or Christian morality on sex. More and more thorough purges of America’s white past don’t really cost Leftists anything. On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s our higher testosterone or what, but I suspect conservatives really do have stronger sex drives than liberals. “You conservatives are obsessed with sex!” is probably often true. It is for me! (For their own consistency, though, I think that liberals should be careful to avoid shaming language. Who are they to judge conservatives for being sex-obsessed?) This should count for us rather than against us in sex arguments. Few things would do more to make my Earthly life pleasant than to be proved wrong about nonprocreative sexual release. Being convinced by Catholic arguments has meant living with either sexual frustration or guilt most of my adult life. I’m obviously not using Catholic doctrine to promote my (worldly) interests. One of the advantages of focusing attention on nearly ubiquitous and generally approved sexual sins is this: we establish that we are not just laying burdens on small groups like sodomites and divorcees; we’re recognizing burdens on ourselves. We deserve the moral authority of being good hypocrites.
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