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Moral relativism rears its ugly and uninformed head in condemnation of US soldiers

Posted By McQ • [August 13, 2012]

So I’m over at Zero Hedge, which is a great blog to read concerning economics, when I run across a “guest post” by some guy named James Miller of the Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada.

Now let me say upfront, I’m an admirer of the Austrian school of economics of which von Mises was a founder.  But we end up not dealing with economics in this guest post, but instead morality.  And the morality in question, or at least the morality in question at the beginning of the post deals with killings by remote control.  I.e. UAVs.  Or, “how can you condemn Al Qaeda for killing innocent women and children at funerals when we do the same thing to funeral goers with our UAVs, etc.”.

I actually have some sympathy for that line of interrogation.

But then Mr. Miller loses me completely.  He makes a completely ill-informed logical leap that, well, just doesn’t stand up to rational scrutiny:

There is little denouncement of the civilian casualties that are a product of the U.S.’s foreign policy.  The narrative presented by Washington lawmakers and the press is that of a struggle between the forces of good and evil.  The terrorists of the Middle East are ruthless barbarians while the troops and Pentagon officials are goodhearted protagonists trying to liberate an oppressed people.  The blood of innocent women and children on the hands of Al Qaeda is damming evidence of their depravity.  That same blood on the hands of the U.S. defense establishment is a sign of triumph.  It is moral relativism on a national scale; slaying of the innocent is terrible on one hand while honorable on the other.  As LRC columnist Laurence Vance notes in regard to how atrocities committed by private individuals are perceived differently than those committed by the military:

“I don’t know if there are theaters in Afghanistan, but if U.S. soldiers enter a building in Afghanistan and kill twelve and wound fifty-eight – like James Holmes allegedly did in Colorado – they are lauded as heroes.”

Military officials frequently go on television and tell not just Americans but the rest of the world that they are making a sacrifice for maintaining safety and freedom around the globe.  They invoke patriotism to justify their actions.

Yeah, just like US soldiers were lauded as “heroes” at My Lai, right Mr. Miller?  Just like Sgt. Paul E. Cortez was lauded as a hero for raping and killing a 14 year old Iraqi girl.

This is nonsense on a stick.  While there is some validity to Miller’s questioning of killings done via UAV on wedding or funeral parties, there’s absolutely no justification to the claim that  if a US soldier entered a building in Afghanistan and killed 10 and wounded 58 innocent people he’d be “lauded” as a hero.  If that were true, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who allegedly massacred 16 Afghanistan civilians, would be a triumphal tour of the US and likely up for a medal instead of sitting in prison on murder charges … wouldn’t he?

It’s pure moral relativism and unmitigated ignorance to link US soldiers in such a way to the murders committed in Aurora, CO.  And, it is a claim without foundation or factual support.  But more importantly, it destroys the essence of what Miller was trying to get across.  Instead of sticking with a valid but limited moral point, he tried to use this bit of moral relativism to stretch his moral condemnation to a broader one of the US military effort in Afghanistan and thereby the US as a whole.  You suddenly figure out what the real reason for his “guest post” was.  Pure, fictionally based anti-American bilge.

No sale, Mr. Miller.

You blew it.

Big time.

Oh and Zero Hedge?  Stick with economics.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


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