In passing...Leaving work the other night I turned on the radio to be greeted by the Republican candidates' debate on CNN. I figured I could tough it out for a few minutes. Self-described conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt was at that moment querying gentle Ben Carson on his willingness to kill "hundreds, maybe thousands" of children in order to prosecute a war to victory. Carson gave a rambling answer, at the end of which he mentioned being able to do "what is necessary" to protect America. (You can see the brief exchange here.) Hewitt, seeking clarification, said, "So you are okay with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians..." at which point the audience began booing the interrogator. To imply that the good doctor would be "okay" with it was to impugn the character and sensitivity of one who had spent his life trying to save children's lives and, further, to equate the unfortunate necessity of ordering such an act with indifference to its consequences. Several things occurred to me in the conversation's wake (after which I changed the station):
1. Hewitt's question was entirely unsubtle, lacking all necessary qualifiers that assist us in determining the morality of an act. For example, the word "intentional" was missing, e.g., would you intentionally wipe out a thousand children in order to achieve a military objective, as opposed to discovering after the fact that children you didn't know were in the area were in fact there. Thus...
2. ...the question was really a ticking-time bomb scenario disguised as a hard-nosed attempt to discover whether Dr. Carson was qualified to lead us in time of war. Hewitt was really asking: would you have dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima? Or: would you roast a live baby on a spit to save a city of millions?
3. Carson's answer served to acquit him not at all. You'd think he'd have noticed the absence of those subtle but essential qualifiers and have asked in return: Do you mean would I intentionally slaughter a bunch of children if I saw no other way to achieve an objective? Hell no. The question is wicked (entertaining the deliberate slaughter of innocents is always wicked, there being no greater corruptor of the minds of men) and, having been a guest on your show more than once, I must say I'm shocked to hear it coming from you. We conservatives should be the upholders of timeless moral prohibitions, not their destroyers.
But he didn't say that.
4. Hugh Hewitt the conservative yucks it up quite comfortably with his liberal panel pals at CNN. That is for the reason that he's not conservative at all, as neither are many of his fellows who also wear that label. He's a liberal. Okay, maybe a right-liberal, one whose mission on earth is to retard liberalism's growth, to prevent it from reaching critical mass, but not to reverse it. A sceptic might gasp: a liberal? How so? Many liberals oppose (for example) indiscriminate slaughter in war time, while we of the right embrace it like men.
Maybe. But they're just fine with it in the confines of a mother's womb. In fact, this latter might be worse, since the slaughter is not at all indiscriminate, but very personal and particular. The victim is carefully chosen, and utterly lacking all means of possible escape. He can't even dive for cover, or cry out in his agony. It's true that Hewitt opposes abortion (I'm supposing), but it cannot be for the reason that the victims are innocent.
But mostly I know that Hewitt and his ilk are liberal because they are consequentialists. And liberalism just is consequentialism. That's why I changed the channel. It's going to be a long and ultimately corrupting political season, especially for conservatism, unless something unforeseen happens.
[Addendum 1. - "unless something unforeseen happens." It won't]
[Addendum 2. - It may be that some conservatives think that they can stop liberalism from reaching "critical mass." But it occurs to me that this phrasing is probably inaccurate. A conservative doesn't know what liberalism's critical mass would look like, and thus cannot know with precision what he's trying to prevent. This is for the reason that liberalism is not a philosophy with clearly defined premises. It's a shape-shifting pseudo-doctrine ever concerned with justifying the means to its never-ending end of the moment. I can't even define liberalism, and so - if I were a politician - how would I know when I had achieved an identifiable victory? I'm not even sure that politics is the field in which this blight can be exterminated. If the cause is spiritual, then so probably is the cure.]