As a teenager reading Orwell for the first time, one of the most disturbing scenes in 1984 was when Winston Smith, finally broken, was able to see that 2+2=5. To think of a free-thinking individual debased to the point of conceding the truth of things that were self-evidently untrue was chilling to me.
The same chill ran down my spine when reading this account of a group of college students unable to see the self-evident evil in that infamous Time magazine cover photo of an Afghani woman who had her nose cut off (and subsequently restored by evil Jew doctors, no less).
Because, you know, it’s wrong to judge other cultures:
“The picture is horrific. Aisha’s beautiful eyes stare hauntingly back at you above the mangled hole that was once her nose. Some of my students could not even raise their eyes to look at it. I could see that many were experiencing deep emotions.
But I was not prepared for their reaction.
I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.” One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff .”
Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”
“While we may hope some are capable of bridging the gap between principled morality and this ethically vacuous relativism, it is evident that a good many are not. For them, the overriding message is “never judge, never criticize, never take a position.”
“We’ve reached the limits of multiculturalism when a group of kids can stare a photo of a woman with her nose sliced off and reply blankly at the horror, ‘It’s just wrong to judge other cultures,’” writes Ed Driscoll.
Our nation was founded on self-evidence truths. Indeed, the founding battle cry of our republic begins with that very phrase. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” etc, etc.
America was founded in an age of enlightenment, with our founders being people dedicated to discerning (not always perfectly, to be sure) certain universal truths. These days the search seems to be for relative truth. It’s not about what is always true, but what is true in the moment.
And from that stems a great deal of evil.