No contest

Mar 28, 2005

My relative silence last week was caused by two forces – a continuing cold that had my sinuses and ears pressurized, and a family debate about the merits of Congress getting involved in the Terri Schiavo case, the credibility of murder and abuse allegations against Michael Schiavo and whither the nation in a time of moral relativism. In much of this debate, I’ve chosen to remain quiet and let the pundits and blowhards and media psychiatrists blister and blather.

A few of my family members argued passionately for Terri. I don’t doubt their deep conviction that all life is sacred – a conviction I, too, hold – but I do question whether they’ve been played, and whether the politicians and corporate media managers and would-be theocrats have tried to manipulate this country into ignoring a war in Iraq, immoral national debt (at the same time that Congress rolled over for the credit industry and their desire for new bankruptcy laws) and ever-growing numbers of Americans without health care coverage.

And then there’s David Brooks, whose column this weekend infuriated me. Brooks is a very smart person, but his insistence on dividing the world in two camps finally hit the end of its usefulness. He ends his column with this:

What I’m describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn’t accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force. No wonder many of us feel agonized this week, betwixt and between, as that poor woman slowly dehydrates.

Close, Brooks, close. Why he can’t slow down and actually try to describe the middles of his world, and see that most of us have the ability to think through the issues and find the intersections of moral high ground and pragmatic decisions? Saying we are “agonized” demeans our intellect. His one camp/other camp vision betrays his (and other conservative idealogues’) elitist attitude that people just aren’t smart. That, I’m afraid, truly does lack moral force.

Anton Zuiker

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