Moral Equivalency at Buchenwald?!?

So I’m watching President Obama at the site of the former concentration camp Buchenwald. He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke along with Nobel laureate and former prisoner at Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel. The President’s comments were well on the mark, detailing the horror of the concentration camps and relating a story about his great uncle who was one of the first American soldiers to see the inside of one of these camps. The horror was overwhelming for his great uncle and many of those who had seen what the condition of these camps was; the feeling of horror so intense that they did not want to speak of it; how Eisenhower began a project of getting films and photos of these places so that no one could say it didn’t happen. A real slap in the face to the holocaust deniers from Obama himself. Good stuff!

He then makes what I’m sure most people would consider an off handed comment that probably no one took much notice of – except me of course. Maybe I’m making too much of this, but tell me what you think this means:

“And just as we identify with the victims, it’s also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves.”

I may be wrong, and as I write this, I’m already considering that I may be reading more into this than there is. But this is why I feel the need to write about it. Here’s what I thought he was saying with this statement:

“Even though we feel sorry for the victims, the perpetrators were people too. Therefore, we should guard against being too mad at them or we become just like them.”

This is known as moral equivalence. In other words, they’re no different than us, they just did bad things. Well, to me that makes them different and worthy of scorn. This is something that has come up often during the war on terror. Some say, “We must find a way to understand what makes the terrorists mad at us. After all, they’re no different than us, they just do bad things.” I don’t agree with this line of thought. I think they are quite different than us AND do bad things. This doesn’t mean that if a Muslim terrorist commits an act of violence that all Muslims are terrorists, just as a bunch of Germans doing bad things during WWII doesn’t mean all Germans are bad. However, we do have a right to judge the bad Germans and the bad Muslims!

As I write this though, it occurs to me that there might be another interpretation of his sentence which I must consider. That is this:

“The people who comitted these acts were people who became consumed with hate and we must guard against being consumed with the same hate.”

This is not a bad idea and a good admonition and maybe I’ll just accept that this is what he meant and be done with it. However, I want to be on guard against moral equivalence, lest we all become consumed by it.

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5 Comments

Filed under politics, Terrorism

5 responses to “Moral Equivalency at Buchenwald?!?

  1. themadjewess

    While it is ‘thoughful’ if thats the word for Hussein Obama, he did it to gain his Jewish leftists ‘friends’ attention, so that they wont be ‘too’ upset as he sends tiny Israel out to pasture, which he IS doing.

  2. fancybeggar

    To me, President Obama’s comment points out that pride goes before a fall, and if we do not consider ourselves capable of harming others, we (humans) can open ourselves to a path that can lead to unspeakable cruelty, done by our hands, against those we have framed as our enemies. Thanks for reminding us of that biblical principle, Obama. It demonstrates your own humility.

    As a comment to the writer of this blog, I’d love to see you write about the things Obama (or anyone, for that matter) is doing that you like instead of what you don’t like. Please note that criticizing, harming, or challenging people you feel are bad or wrong is not what I’m talking about that I would like to read. Here is an example: “Joe really put that bad person in his place” is not what I want to see you write about. “Joe is an excellent speaker, and often makes convincing arguments, even to people who are not entirely in agreement with him” is an example of the kind of writing that uplifts people, and that I’d love to see you focus on in your blog. Here’s a better example: “Bill Clinton’s policies contributed to a period of tremendous growth in the American economy.” I’d love to hear you write about that… without saying anything about what Bill Clinton or others did that you did not care for.

    If you focus on uplifting others, the world will be better for you and those who are around you. Please write about the good things that are happening in your world. As we focus on the good in ourselves and others, that goodness often manifests itself and becomes our reality. Since you are clearly such a thoughtful, concerned person, I know that is something you would like to be a part of. You have the power, through what you write here, to spread a lot of positive energy. I’m sure that such a good person as you are has a lot of good things in his world. I can’t wait to hear about them.

  3. themadjewess

    Thats nice to say, however, the only visitors I get on my blog are neo-nazis, kkk, and Stormfront people, so, my ‘niceness’ has all worn out :(
    Sorry.

  4. reedkeys

    Again Fancy, thanks for your contribution. I do allow for your interpretation of Mr. Obama’s statement in my blog. However, since I know liberals and I know how they think, I’m sure it was the moral equivalency one. Again, that’s just my opinion. I’m sorry if my subject matter is not to your liking. The internet is a big place and while I hope you continue to read my blog, I’m sure you can find someone to read who shares your world view. I have many blogs which I consider to be affirmative in nature, like “Somehow, ‘loser’ seems so inappropriate,” and “Blog Project 2009” (which i haven’t really followed up on), both from March. Then there’s, “Oil Prices Sticker Shock” and “Would the Last Honest Reporter. . .” both from October of last year and both praising the work of others. And there are more but you get the idea.

    While I agree that the overwhelming majority of what I write about is generated by my frustration with something, I think I usually try to put a positive spin on it. Even if I can’t, I don’t simply say, “Hey this really bugs me and we should hate these people for doing this.” I try to offer solutions for the problems I see and point to past experiences as a guide to future success. I believe that my experience as a white man in this society makes me better able to see the possible solutions to our problems without having to deal with the stress of oppression by society. LOL Hope to hear from you in the future Fancy!

  5. fancybeggar

    Well, I’m sorry to hear that the “overwhelming majority” of what you write is generated by frustration. I hope you see in those words that doing so focuses you on the things around you that you find frustrating. If you want to replace your feelings of frustration with feelings of satisfaction (the antonym of frustration, according to my thesaurus – but I think peace is another good one), I have a suggestion. Why don’t you let the overwhelming majority of everything you write from now on be motivated only by your love for humanity, and your desire to let that love flow through you, into those around you?

    As we seek to magnify emotions within us like love, compassion, and acceptance, we grow ever more to realize the true power these positive energies possess. At the same time, by removing emotions like frustration and anger from our thoughts – or, rather, by restraining them when they arise – we expose them as the feeble sources of power they truly are. C’mon, what have you got to lose (except your frustration)?

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