Friday, March 13, 2009

Morally Unserious

Charles Krauthammer, a journalist and longtime advocate of federally funded stem cell research, criticized President Obama's address last week at the signing ceremony for overturning the Bush executive order on stem cell research.

Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values."

This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.

The irony in the statement, of course, is that Obama is deeply ideological. (One could make the didactic statement that pragmatism is iself an ideology.)

Pragmatism, as a tendency in philosophy, signifies the insistence on usefulness or practical consequences as a test of truth. -- Catholic Encylopedia

Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily. -- Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy

His influences can be seen in personal and public sources such as Communist party member Frank Marshall Davis (the poet and mentor in Obama's book), political fundraisers with Bill Ayers, Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, "Call to Renewal" liberation theology with the Rev. Jim Wallis, black nationalist liberation theology from Jeremiah Wright, socialized medicine aka "universal health care", abortion on demand, war philosophy, the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr, and so on.

All of these things are definitively ideological; that they are orthogonal to a number of his predecessor's views is undeniable -- but they are ideological. The tools and methods that he employs to implement that ideology may be labeled pragmatism -- a label Obama loves -- but it's still his world view in favor of someone else's.

It does no good to claim, "If a tree falls in the forest, it's because my predecessors had an unscientific belief that it would."

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