Monday, February 05, 2007

Inconsistent Liberalism and Political Correctness

The London Times recently featured a column by William Rees-Mogg on a UK law requiring adoption agencies to permit homosexual couples to adopt children and the opposition to consider an exemption for agencies of the Catholic Church.

Mr Rees-Mogg argues that the politicians who would deny allowing the exemption are inconsistent their party’s historic core beliefs. Referring to one of the politicians opposed to the exemption, he comments, “Mr Cameron understands that he is attacking multiculturalism. He does not seem to understand that multiculturalism is the basis of liberalism.”

“If liberalism has a core of meaning,” Mr Rees-Mogg goes on to note, “it is that different people, different groups, different churches, different religions, have a right to hold different views. Society has the overriding right to protect itself against anarchy and terrorism, but so far as possible society should leave people free to make their own judgments and decide on their own actions.” Therefore, in regards to the adoption debate, “All voluntary agencies could and should have been left to make their own rules for adoptions. The State could decide the rules for state agencies.” He goes on to argue that the “view that there should be no exceptions in law to allow for differences in religious beliefs is neither liberal, nor workable. It is illiberal because liberty depends on pluralism and therefore has to accept multiculturalism.”

What is interesting is that the “illiberal” British policies, which Mr Rees-Mogg notes are explicitly aimed against multiculturalism, are ultimately water from the same stream as American policies that claim to protect multiculturalism. The denunciation of what many consider to be traditional American customs and values is a product of the very same principles that ground the British politicians’ attacks on multiculturalism.

In the United States, the promotion of multiculturalism as a central right and goal for social progress has evolved into what may be called the "doctrine" of political correctness. In theory, political correctness has the protection of diversity as its equitable goal, yet the very diversity it champions is diminished by the intolerance it shows to certain opinions, individuals, groups, institutions and beliefs. It enforces an artificial pseudo-diversity in which anything but the relativity of truth is cast as ignorant, barbaric and intolerant.

In fact, when viewed objectively from the perspective of its accomplishments, political correctness does not have diversity as its goal; it endorses weakening traditional values, silencing of the Church and refuting any belief that proposes the existence of objective truths. Political correctness seeks to transform society and establish a culture based on hedonism and narcissistic irrationality. In essence, political correctness seeks to devalue the Western intellectual tradition and place it on a less than an equal level with other traditions, or presumed traditions, that are contrasted to oppose or refute it.

In the politically correct ethic, a spirit of mistrust, animosity and loathing must greet any act or argument that is put forward in support of Western culture or traditionally Western, and especially Christian values. The attack is typically couched in terms of the necessity of being fair and equitable regarding a position or situation that is in principle opposed to traditional values.

This is not to say that everyone, or even a large minority, of those who espouse political correctness have a conscious desire to devalue or replace Western culture. On the contrary, an appeal to fairness and equity is fundamental to Western society; it is consonant with Christian belief in the basic dignity of each human being understood as a child of God. But intellectually cut off from Western values and Christian principles, political correctness has imbibed too much of the mystical irrationalism of the Far East and flirted too oten with the socialism of the twentieth century.

In its essence political correctness is unconsciously propelled by a relativism that can only lead to materialistic utilitarianism. Reason has no place in the simplistic universe of political correctness and all truth is ultimately contextual. Facts must bend to fit ideal, and principles must bend to follow imposed solutions. Thus it is categorically incompatible with Christianity.

Christianity’s claim to Truth, and the basic values it upholds arising from that claim, are essentially inconsistent with an ethic that denies the objective reality of truth. It is the Christian understanding of Faith and reason working together that relativism and its child political correctness cannot abide. Mr Rees-Mogg gives evidence to this in his column and is to be commended for his candor in speaking about it with alacrity.

Thanks to Catholic World News for the reference.

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