Moral Cowardice

We've seen a few articles dealing with false accusation of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct on college campuses and the rather lax criteria for determining the 'guilt' of the accused by college administrations, in many cases ignoring the evidence presented and even the findings of police investigations that show the accused is innocent. It elicited a response from a Dartmouth alumni who suffered under just such an accusation even though the accuser was found to have lied about the alleged assault.

That in and of itself is a miscarriage of justice. But it was his experiences and observations that were more telling, especially observations about those who chose to judge him guilty despite overwhelming evidence that no such assault ever took place.

Dartmouth is one of the Ivy League schools, institutions of higher learning that supposed to be a cut above the rest. However, as we have seen over the years, their reputations for churning out the “best and brightest” are showing themselves to be less deserved than in decades past.

One observation of Gonzalo Lira's that struck me as being dead on.

What I didn’t realize at the time—because I was too young—and which I would slowly come to realize over the years, was what the episode taught me, about America’s elite. About the cowardice of the American elite. A moral cowardice that, I understand now, is far more significant than practically anything else that I learned at Dartmouth College.

The members of the Committee On Standards who sat in judgment of me in the Fall of 1991 were not some lofty group of my “betters”, draped in gowns and wearing the wigs of English jurists: They were my peers—run-of-the-mill students of a small liberal-arts college in New England.

But that particular group of run-of-the-mill students is exactly the sort of individual who winds up running the United States. The current Secretary of the Treasury is a Dartmouth alum—Geithner ‘83. So was the last Treasury Secretary—Paulson ‘68—as well as a whole boatload of his partners at Goldman Sachs. The current head of General Electric (Immelt ‘68), the most influential Surgeon General in American history (Koop ‘37), the current junior senator from New York (Gillibrand née Rutnik ‘88), the senior White House correspondent for one of the major networks (Tapper ‘91), the soldier/writer who’s experiences in Iraq formed the basis for a major television series on HBO (Fick ‘99)—

—all Dartmouth alums.

The kind of men and women Dartmouth enrolls and graduates are the bright men and women who find places for themselves in the gears of America society. The men and women on the COS hearing in the fall of 1991 were no different.

And they showed me how fundamentally corrupt the American leadership class really is.

Moral cowardice. I think that sums up the problem we have with those in power. It's more about feelings that about what's right or wrong. They are not willing to take a stand against something that is wrong because of how someone else might feel about it. It seems feelings have replaced morals, have replaced critical thinking. But what do we expect when over the past few decades education has twisted the meaning of right and wrong and replaced it with how one feels about something. (And if you notice, it's never about what someone might think about some event or issue, it's how the feel about it.)

Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with “How do you feel about it?” as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide. And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.

Could this be why Gonzalo Lira was 'convicted' and suspended by the Dartmouth Committee On Standards for an offense he didn't commit? Was he being punished for the alleged misdeeds of Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill (the Thomas confirmation hearings were ongoing at the time). Did they see him as a proxy for all of those out there that had committed such offenses and gone unpunished because they felt it was right thing to do, regardless of the fact that an innocent man was going to pay the price for others' transgressions?

Along this line are the replacement of morals with feelings which is the reason behind such odious things as political correctness, college “speech codes” that violate the First Amendment in an effort to prevent anyone from being offended by anyone else (except of course those on the Left being allowed to offend those on the Right because they feel it's necessary to show them their place), and a whole host of other actions that cast aside traditional notions of right or wrong. By extension, this also means they have no way of recognizing evil because to them it's all relative. (“There is no right or wrong.”) It appears they do not believe that some act or some one can be so totally effin' evil that they do not have a right to exist. They explain away the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and a host of other outright evil persons by claiming others drove them to it (the blame usually laid upon Western Civilization). They truly have no inkling that evil does indeed exist, that it can exist in the form of a single person willing to kill as many people as necessary to get their way. It is that moral cowardice that allows many of the aforementioned genocidal despots to do what they do with nary a protest from the enlightened, “feeling” ruling elite.

And we somehow expect these very same people to have our best interests at heart?