Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity
“Reversing the Charges” first appeared in the July/August 2004 issue of Touchstone.
Reversing the Charges
Much of fallen man may be seen in children at play, where what moves the life of nations appears in germinal form. I am thinking in particular here about the rule that a wrongdoer may relieve himself of his guilt by transferring it to another, particularly to an innocent who is in a position to judge him for his wrong.
Every game has rules, advantage may be gained by breaking them, and there are always those who will do it to gain that advantage. When challenged as a cheater by his playmates, and the action cannot be denied, the rule-breaker will attempt, if it can be done with any degree of plausibility, to re-define the game.
If, however, the breach is egregious, and the cheater is caught red-handed with no reasonable possibility of defense, then his guilt must be transferred. The accusation is turned in any possible way on the accusers in an attempt to rob them of moral leverage, thus to relieve the accused of the burden of guilt—for guilt is only experienced in the face of a moral superiority with the authority to judge. The malefactor will find some way to say to his accusers, “You do it too—in fact, you are worse.” This must be done in defiance of reason, for his guilt, and the relative innocence of the accused, is obvious to any unbiased observer.
This occurred to me after listening to a particularly vitriolic attack on supporters of the traditional moral order as monsters of iniquity, broadcast as respectable political opposition on a national news program, in which the speaker seemed to have quite unapologetically taken leave of his senses. Since the program is known for its leftward tilt, one must presume it was not attempting to undermine the speaker’s credibility or cause by airing his rant. Once again I was left trying to puzzle out the essential irrationality of the moral culture of liberal America—the America represented by the dominant news and entertainment media, the political homosexualists, and the educational establishment.
It appears to me that the irrationality of this group and its fellow-travelers is displayed most distinctively in two ways, in the favor shown to life other than human life in the face of their practically unanimous approval of abortion, and the shrill hyperbole of their attack on the opposition. Those who oppose them are accused at every possible occasion of hatred, violence, and murder, when a more rational assessment would be that they are doing things like trying to keep morbid and perverse preoccupation with sex from undue influence on society, suppressing criminal activity, and waging war against the nation’s declared and proven enemies.
Their liberal detractors look far less like reasonable people with a different political philosophy than a new, contrarian moral order, driven by a cultural death wish, and supremely intolerant of those whose idea of the rules under which a society must operate to survive is for the most part what has been believed “by everyone, everywhere, at all times.”
This change came quickly—in a single generation. What was the turning point? I believe its great symbol to be Roe v. Wade, the decriminalization of abortion. It was at that point that the rules of the game on the American playing field were broken, and known to be broken, by the players who now form the dominant left and are trying with haste and desperation to force its brand of morality on the nation.
This decision, justifying in law the killing of the unborn children to whom life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had always been presumptively granted, was an attempt to claim that the rules of the game by which we had always been playing included a woman’s choice to abort her child. But this is difficult to maintain as an American ideal in the face of placards showing the body parts of dismembered children—as difficult, perhaps, as viewing photographs of lynched black men in the face of our belief in equality under the law.
The lie becomes impossible to maintain when it becomes clear that those who support destruction of the human fetus in the early stages of development are for the most part also committed to the procedure in which a full-term child is partially delivered, then killed by having the brain sucked from its skull. At this point the philosophy and intent of those who support abortion rights become clear, the blood on their hands is impossible to hide, and it becomes an absolute necessity for the portion of the nation that supports “choice” to accuse, however irrationally, those who oppose them of the sort of truly terrible things that they themselves are doing.
Thus also the necessity for them to impose, where and when they can, a new moral order by which those who hold to the old, common order, its rules and its goods, are constantly accused of the most vicious acts and intentions. The fundamental evil pursued in the new order—the killing of innocence in pursuit of liberation—is supported not only by elevation of ancillary virtues into cardinal moral laws (as in cultic environmentalism) and feigned liberality (the “diversity”-as-virtue votaries), but also by unremitting attacks of transparent prejudice, breathtaking fury, and shameless mendacity on those who hold to the traditional moral order.
The media of the new order is on constant alert to search out, identify, and advertise as gross hypocrisy the least divergence of its enemies from their own ideals. It presents the execution of justice as brutality, opposition to sexual perversity as perverse, and the protection of the nation from its enemies as the murder of its soldiers. I suggest that these irrationalities, these inversions and perversions of the old moral order, are best understood as the shrieking tu quoque of people burdened with the terrible knowledge that their hands are covered with the blood of little children.
—S. M. Hutchens, for the editors
S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor of Touchstone.
“Reversing the Charges” first appeared in the July/August 2004 issue of Touchstone. If you enjoyed this article, you'll find more of the same in every issue.
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