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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Standing on principle.

From Timothy Burke, on the silence of anti-terrorist right-wingers when it comes to Eric Rudolph:

It is not because I believe being “in the middle” is somehow an intrinsically good thing, or that everyone should seek balance, or that neutrality and objectivity are desirable and achievable. Strong sentiment and distinct philosophical positions are a good thing. Bland, safe, calculatedly moderate arguments carry no necessary virtue.

I am viscerally repelled, however, by the profusion of thinkers and speakers, bloggers and otherwise, who seem unable to recognize that once you make a stand on principle, your flag is planted there for all to see. If you’re going to surrender your principles and lower that standard, then have the guts to say so. If you’re going to continue to hold other people accountable for moral and philosophical inconsistency, then have the courage to hold the line when the fault lies with people you normally count as allies. In fact, that’s when it matters most to speak up and be counted. . .

There are two absolutely basic things that a public intellectual is obligated to do. The first is to seek out issues, questions and problems which are highly relevant to your basic principles and philosophies , and apply those philosophies with rigor and honesty, making your core views as transparent as possible in the process. The other is to seek out those problems and questions which your own philosophies cannot deal with adequately, to expose and confess your own contradictions and limitations. Most public thinkers fail both tests, often badly, pursuing only the easy chance to score points for their own team.

Will someone with delegate credentials please make this point during the UUA's General Assembly "social justice" plenary sessions later this month? Please?

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 10 June 2003 at 5:53 PM

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