Sloppy Thinking

This edition of Sloppy Thinking is brought to you by Michael Medved.

Conservatives approach every challenge with a determination to approach the question (as far as possible)as a choice between right and wrong, good and evil. Liberals, on the other hand, look for nuances, subtleties or extenuating circumstances. They feel reluctant to denounce any action or position as unequivocally wrong, or to endorse any alternative as quintessentially right.

I guess I would just be showing my liberal-ness by pointing out that not all conservatives (or liberals) are alike. That’s probably excessive nuance. Or that people might not be “looking for subtleties or extenuating circumstances” so much as those might actually already be there. But I digress.

The main criticism is this: liberals have plenty of moral absolutes. They are just ones Medved doesn’t agree with: e.g. environment, minorities, opposition to Bush. I mean what are the tenets of progressivism if not moral absolutes? You might think they are particularly bad absolutes, but they certainly aren’t wishy washy. And hey, aren’t Townhall types always warning me that environmentalism is some faux-religion? That’s absolute yes? Hell even the emotionally crazed Bushitler stuff is nothing if not absolutistic. Calling somebody Hitler does not imply typically one has a hard time with non-nuance concerning The Fuhrer.

Equally plenty of conservatives are quite comfortable with their own “nuance”–for example those who support the current torture/executive privilege regime do not want moral absolutes (like many a liberal does) around say No Torture (as in No Exceptions).

In other words, depending on the context liberals and conservatives can either be morally absolute or nuanced. And depending on the circumstance one of the other of those positions might be more correct. Sometimes nuance is better than absolutes–sometimes conservative nuance is better than liberal absolutism or vice versa. Sometimes absolutes are called for. The key is to figure which out which one a given set of circumstances calls for and therefore would be more appropriate. [This insight to me seems pretty non-difficult, so much so I think it’s sorta sad it needs mentioning, but then again I’m not a radio talk show host/commentator now am I?]

Medved’s test case of his theory is the Georgia-Russia Crisis. With (not surprisingly) McCain as the New Reagan pounding back against the New (Old??) Soviet Un.., er Russia. Could be Medved is right or it might just be that McCain has a history of hysterical foreign policy pronouncements. [The obvious downside of turning everything, even when inappropriate, into a black/white moral absolute].

Update I: Medved might want to consult a conservatism that takes doubt seriously, for example.


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