Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Illiberal and un-American

In a post titled "Things Worth Fighting For," Bari Weiss considers American willingness to fight for our country and our fundamental convictions contrasted with what we are witnessing in Ukraine. It's a very good post, read it all. Eventually she asks, in our case, "What are the things worth fighting for?"
  • The first is individual liberty. Individual liberty is worth fighting for.
  • The second thing worth fighting for is America. America is worth the fight.
  • Civilization. Civilization is worth fighting for.
Elaborating on her first point, she notes the illiberal censorship of, and discrimination against, Russians and Russian culture, here, in reaction to Russia's crimes.
But this mob mentality—presenting itself now as anti-Russian bigotry, but as something entirely different a week or two from now—can never, ever be made normal. It cuts against the most foundational principle of liberal democracy: individual liberty.

As my friend Jacob Siegel put it in Tablet: “The notion that individuals should have their employment conditioned on the actions of a foreign government, or their willingness to denounce those actions, is frankly gross and authoritarian—the kind of thing I was raised to believe happened in Russia, not the United States.”

In free and just societies, we judge people as individuals, not as members of a group. We judge them based on their deeds, not based on the deeds of their parents. Or people of the same gender. Or ZIP code. Or skin color.

The fetishization of group identity, whether by religion or race or gender or whatever, is poison. It leads to a zero-sum war within groups, and the subjugation and, ultimately, the dehumanization of the individual.

The great achievement of America was to move beyond bloodline. It was to say—for the first time in human history—that we are not constrained by the circumstances of our birth or the sins or merits of our mothers and fathers. We are bound together not by clan or tribe but by a commitment to rights and principles. This distinction is core to what makes America exceptional—the prioritizing of the value of individual life over that of the kinship group.

That is why any ideology—by whatever name it goes by, no matter how seductive—that grants some people a demerit and others extra credit because of the circumstances of their birth, that denies our individual value and our common humanity, is illiberal and un-American. It needs to be totally rejected.

To build a strong home front in this new era requires us to recover the radical, world-transforming proposition that we are all created equal because we are all created in the image of God. .... (more)
Bari Weiss, "Things Worth Fighting For," Common Sense, March 16, 2022.

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