Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is Batman like George W Bush?

This opinion article from the Wall Street Journal definitely captivated me. It talks about Batman and Bush, and brings up some really interesting moral questions. I think the article is well-thought out, and I believe that the article is more or less accurate when it refers to right-wing morals vs. left-wing morals as basically moral absolutism vs. moral relativism.

The author argues:

"Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms.

"Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless."

But although the author favors moral absolutism, he does acknowledge a sizable gray area:

"The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love."

"When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve."

The author is saying that, like Batman, our soldiers in Iraq and the prison guards at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo face a lot of resentment from the general public, despite them taking on difficult tasks for a good cause (helping America).

So I'm really confused now. Are right and wrong relative or absolute? Should I be left wing or right wing? Is it OK to torture/incarcerate indefinitely without habeas corpus in order to preserve American liberties? Is it OK to kill people to save people? Are our public villains today actually going to be remembered as our "silent, watchful guardians?"