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Jewish World Review
April 30, 2012/ 8 Iyar, 5772
There's no objective truth, least of all concerning behavior
Not so long ago, a woman with a doctorate informed me all truth was cultural and that all my notions of good and evil emanated from Western civilization, meaning they were invalid. As abstract and academic as the theory sounds, it may help explain Secret Service whoop-de-doo in Cartagena, Colombia.
Ideas have consequences, as a truly wise man -- also with a doctoral degree --taught me in my freshman year of college, and intellectual preachings about extreme relativism breed an anything-goes mentality.
Postmodernist gobbledygook has been around for a long time now, infecting huge numbers with the idea that there's no objective truth, least of all concerning behavior. To the fury of those who believe in this nonsense, it can easily be pointed out that the thesis would also rule out the possibility that it itself is true. If there is no truth, the proposition that there is no truth cannot be true.
Saying as much is not just a rhetorical game, but a logical demonstration of an absurdity that nevertheless has great sway with many who think you're preaching one culture superior over another when you assert there are such things as universal norms. A professor friend says most of his students contend all values are created equal until he asks them whether those of Adolf Hitler were the equivalent of theirs.
And yet not all professors ask that question, and there are lots of people insisting on an extreme multiculturalism that should have the loyalty of everyone not ignorant, prejudiced and intolerant. Mainly what the multicultural types believe in is being nonjudgmental except that they are not nonjudgmental. They reject certain rules of conduct and enwrap themselves in politically correct dogmas while often having contempt for religion, tradition and anyone to the right of Karl Marx.
"You cannot deny that capitalism is exploitative," said the same woman who informed me all truth is cultural. Yes I can. Some people will take advantage of others if they think they can get away with it, but free markets constitute an arrangement that more than any other allows people to make their own choices and evade exploitation. It is the opposite of socialism. You cannot deny that socialism is always oppressive.
Before getting to some Secret Service agents apparently having a wild, old time with prostitutes down in Cartagena, I've got to admit that America has forever had its fair share of scandals. But just as things once seemed to be getting better in some important ways, they have been loosening up more and more in a variety of respects. Has the Secret Service always been a little loosey-goosey, or is this newly arrived, a gift of postmodernism?
I cannot say for sure. We know that those who got in trouble were not the ones who guard the president, but who do advance work. Still, they know theirs is a major responsibility, that harm to the president would be tragic to the whole nation, and that they could contribute to the possibility through a night of wild, drunken carousing. Do they not have a sense that a special mission was entrusted to them because they are special people? Were we misled to think they once did?
Maybe I am wrong about postmodernism and the Secret Service, but I do not feel I am wrong about more and more people in all walks of life imbibing the idea that there is no truth about right and wrong and that therefore it is fine for them to just go with the flow. We see it in an increasingly decadent popular culture, in a socially ruinous increase in unwed motherhood, in a report of less industriousness among certain groups of Americans, in increased cheating in schools and on and on.
No single explanation is likely to wrap up any issue, and there are all kinds of factors needed to explain divergence from past norms. The sense nevertheless grows of us being morally adrift, thanks in part to an anchor taken away by postmodernism.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
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