Beware the modern-day moral crusaders

The moral high ground is a slippery place

Last Sunday’s episode of geo-political thriller Homeland was a particularly interesting and timely examination of moral relativism.

Taliban commander Haizan Haqqani stages a terrifying siege of the American embassy and in the midst of the massacre claims the moral high ground accusing, the Americans of atrocities in the region. This from the man who set his own family up for slaughter and then personally put a bullet in his nephew’s head for good measure.

The episode reminded me of a curious quirk of the human character. Violence committed by a foreign power or outside community is often greeted with far greater righteous indignation than violence perpetrated internally, neighbour on neighbour. This is true both for those who suffer the violence as well as those thousands of miles away who read about it in the news and purport to care.

In the case of Pakistan, the full-scale civil war that jihadists have been waging against non-Deobandi Sunnis, secularists, Shia and Christians has barely registered in the Western media, despite the fact that 5,000 Pakistani soldiers have died fighting the Pakistani Taliban since 2008, while reports of American drone strikes have provoked outrage both in Pakistan and in the West. Local voices that supported drone strikes against the Taliban did not penetrate the anti-drone narrative.

It took the murder on Monday of 132 school children and nine adults in Pakistan to bring the Pakistani Taliban back into Western headlines – but its reappearance was brief. Despite the magnitude of attack, by Thursday the story was relegated to the inside pages of The New York Times. And somehow I doubt that the feisty anti-war group CodePink will be adding the Peshawar bloodbath to its list of war crimes.

We find examples closer to home. While the IRA and their American supporters were executing a strategy of violence against the “oppressive” British state, the Catholic Church in Ireland was – aided and abetted by the Irish government – carrying out what the UN has called “arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls.

My father, who grew up on the Falls Road, was always deeply skeptical of republican mythology. Perhaps that’s because he wasn’t beaten up by the British Army until he was in his 20’s. By that point, the Christian Brothers had been beating him for years. (As a working class Catholic boy growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the hierarchy of violence he had been subjected as a youth to would have looked something like this: 1) clerics 2) working class Protestant boys, with Brits a distant 3rd.)

The last few weeks have brought the grim news from the United States of several police killings of unarmed African American men across the country. The perception is that there is an epidemic of violence perpetrated by white cops on black men. This perception has brought people out to show solidarity and demand an end to racially motivated police brutality. Social media is full of emotionally charged images of protestors of various races, staging “die-ins” on the street and in schools. Yet these deaths take place against a backdrop of shockingly high murder rates for black men. There were over 6,309 black homicide victims in the US in 2011, 86 percent of whom were men, and the majority of whom were shot by people they knew,  according to the pro-gun control Violence Policy Center. Somehow these appalling statistics don’t end up on placards.

At the heart of protest movements is moral indignation and the belief that *my* side is morally correct. This fervour is infectious among a wider circle of well meaning people with no direct connection to or experience of the heart wrenching issues at hand, but who take as gospel the underdog narrative.  It just so happens to be our peculiar and historically unprecedented zeitgeist that the urge is to identify with the victim, rather than the victor. And it’s a powerful urge, so powerful that any questioning of the underdog gospel is drowned out in a chorus of condemnation, not unlike the more socially conservative moralising of times past.

The amplification that results inevitably distorts, making it difficult if not impossible to discuss, analyse and therefore solve the real underlying problems. Beware the modern-day moral crusaders.

  • Joe Logue

    brilliant piece shows how immune we have become to violence

  • Korhomme

    The US doesn’t keep full figures on the number of people killed by the cops, but it seems to be about 500/year. Many of these people seem to have been entirely innocent of any crime—when, for instance, the cops do a drugs bust and go to the wrong house.

    And aren’t something like 20% of young black men in prison for what we might think of as trivial offences? And of course, as a convicted felon, you can’t vote on release.

  • Abucs

    “,,,,,, the Catholic Church in Ireland was – aided and abetted by the Irish government – carrying out what the UN has called “arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls……..”

    umm your link says hat the UN wanted fuller INVESTIFTIONS into the ALLEGED CLAIMS of“arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls.
    Not that I have that much respect for UN bodies anyway but that’s a different point.

  • Abucs

    “,,,,,, the Catholic Church in Ireland was – aided and abetted by the Irish government – carrying out what the UN has called “arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls……..”

    umm…… your link says that the UN questioned the independence of interviews regarding the INVESTIGATIONS into the ALLEGED CLAIMS of“arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls.

    That’s quite a difference to what your commentary says.

    Not that I have that much respect for UN bodies anyway but that’s a different point.

  • kalista63

    Speaking of NCIS, my partner loves it and I don’t mind it. One of the character is Siva (I’m sure that’s spelt wrong)” a former Mossad agent with the most pronounced widows peak since Dracula. they have intermittent plots where her israeli connections come in to play and what’s interesting is the cooling of their attitude to the Israelis. Now, that could be reflective of Mark Harmon becoming executive producer or reflective (as I’ve observed on C-SPAN) of the changing attitude in the USA.

    The attack on te school in Pakistan was beyond inhuman but we know who else attacks schools and have a history of doing so. American exceptionalism is very much the term of the day and it expands to all of the english speaking nations and some of their continental friends.

  • chrisjones2

    There were over 6,309 black homicide victims in the US in 2011, 86 percent of whom were men, and the majority of whom were shot by people they knew

    ……most of whom were of the same race.This is social not racial

  • chrisjones2

    This perception has brought people out to show solidarity and demand an end to racially motivated police brutality.

    one of them had just robbed a convenience store holding the Korean owner in mid air with his legs dangling while his friend stole drink and cigarettes – the friend who was the main witness against the police officer

    The Jury got it right I am afraid

  • Morpheus

    Bummer, I read the headline and thought this might finally be something to do with the DUP’s despicable “Conscience Clause” and their proposed workaround for Equality legislation. Nolan’s show from yesterday says it all really:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/nolan#playepisode1

  • carl marks

    Surely your not trying to deny the vile Magdalene laundries and the cruelty that took place in them! and the role both the state and the Catholic church played.

  • kalista63

    Is she not a Goth? I think her character reflects the modern american acceptance that odd people are often the ones with the real talent in certain technical spheres.

    Harmon has used his position to soften the light and camera to hide his liver spots on his coupon. I do the same by sandpapering my partners contact lenses.

  • kalista63

    On Slugger? Wash your keyboard out with soap.

  • aber1991

    You seem to be anti-Catholic.

  • aber1991

    “the Catholic Church in Ireland was – aided and abetted by the Irish government – carrying out what the UN has called “arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment” of women and girls.”
    Is that statement true? Did Catholic institutions send out snatch squads to grab women and girls and drag them kicking and screaming to those institutions? The phrase which I have copied and pasted smacks of anti-Catholic propaganda – and pretty vicious propaganda at that.

  • carl marks

    so are you denying the abuses of the catholic church as well,
    and no i am not anti catholic, i am however anti the Uber catholics who like yourself and Abucs throw wild claims and accusations around (that have no reality outside their own minds) and close their eyes to the horrors that the catholic church has visited on the most vulnerable parts of our community!
    and i have learnt one thing from Abucs posts and that is,
    check his facts and his deductions,( he make things up to suit his argument and claims they are facts ) this has proved so effective against his musings that he rarely has the bottle to reply to my posts and then only with personal abuse and never with a rational argument showing the fact’s behind his claims!

  • aber1991

    Can you prove that you are not anti-Catholic? You have posted a lot of anti-Catholic propaganda on this and other threads.
    What did YOU do for the pregnant single women? The Catholic Church did not dispatch snatch squads to haul women from their homes or from the streets and drag them to Magdalene Homes. (And the homes were not exclusively Catholic or exclusively Irish) The only women and girls detained against their will were those who had been placed in the Homes by the institutions of the State as an alternative to prison. Perhaps you think that the nuns should have turned them away and let them serve their prison terms. I think that they should. Perhaps, the nuns should have turned away those who were being deposited in the Homes by their families and let them sleep on the streets. Perhaps, if the nuns had done so, YOU would have provided them with a roof over their heads. On the other hand, you might not. It is always easier to do nothing and attack those who did something – however inadequate.

  • carl marks

    I was brought up a catholic (a product of the school system you support) and as regards as to what i did, well i am afraid i was not the priest or non who abused the mothers and children.Nor was i a senior member of the church that covered it up.
    are you now claiming that the girl who were so shamefully treated were there of their own free will.
    and are you also claiming that the abuse was ok because the girls you refer to were kept out of prison.
    as i said you and people like you are a bigger danger to catholic children than the vast majority of protestants.

  • delphindelphin

    The UN Human Rights Committee, in a 2014 report, accuses the Catholic Church of putting the interests of the church before the needs of children( and much more).

    http://documents.latimes.com/un-human-rights-committee-report-vatican-policies-toward-sex-abuse/

  • aber1991

    The fact that a UN Committee accuses anyone about anything probably means that the accused party is not a Leftie.

  • aber1991

    “and i have learnt one thing from Abucs posts and that is,
    check his facts and his deductions”

    I am not responsible for the posts of Abucs.

  • aber1991

    “I was brought up a catholic (a product of the school system you support”

    Are you now a practising Catholic?

  • aber1991

    “well i am afraid i was not the priest or non who abused the mothers and children. Nor was i a senior member of the church that covered it up.”

    You have stated what you have NOT done. Now, please state what you DID do for those women – other than attack those who did provide shelter when invited to do so.

    “as i said you and people like you are a bigger danger to catholic children than the vast majority of protestants”

    So you have resorted to personal abuse. I thought the rules of this forum said something about playing the man and not the ball. If you are not a practising Catholic, please refrain from pontificating about the dangers to the children of Catholics. We, Catholics can decide about those matters for ourselves.

  • delphindelphin

    You left out ‘trendy’ before ‘Leftie’- your argument would have been more more cogent with this addition.

  • aber1991

    Point taken. On second thoughts, some of the Lefties favoured by the United Nations are anything but Trendy.

  • Kevin Stewart

    Moral crusaders are not a new problem. The problem regarding the murder of black guys in the USA lies in black guys killing black guys at an alarming rate. But it is always easier to express outrage that the ‘other side’ doesn’t do something about it. The ‘Gentle Giant’ of Ferguson was the wrong example to illustrate police brutality toward black guys.

  • carl marks

    i know that you seem to think we are still in the seventies but we are not, i was a teenager then and the Catholic Church was working hard to make sure we didn’t know what was going on, so i was not in a position to do anything
    the welfare of children is the responsibility of us all and catholic children are as entitled to protection as any other children,
    The history of the catholic church in this matter is terrible and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, Its history in child welfare means only a lunatic would leave it alone with children!

  • carl marks

    Atheist if you must know, the catholic school system produces quite a few of us! (wonder why)

  • aber1991

    Please leave it to Catholics to decide where their children will be safe. Thank you.

  • aber1991

    In what case, please refrain from interfering with Catholics.

  • carl marks

    No, thats not going to happen, i pay taxes, vote and am resident in NI, so i will interfer where i see fit!

  • carl marks

    I believe in my post above i told you that was not going to happen and why!

  • Sergiogiorgio

    One death a tragedy….one thousand deaths a statistic. Our annoited media cherry pick their faux shock. Now I remember why Spitting Image always portrayed the hacks as pigs.

  • aber1991

    So you intend to continue with your campaign of aggression against Catholics. That being so, perhaps we Catholics should attack your integrated schools and expose what is happening in them.

  • aber1991

    So you admit to having no manners.

  • carl marks

    i am not in a aggressive campaign against anybody, and please expose what is happening in integrated schools (of course it has to be actual facts and not wild ravings) I await your revelations with bated breath!

  • carl marks

    no! how did you make that one out?

  • aber1991

    If you are not in an aggressive campaign against Catholics, please explain your previous posts on this thread.

    P.S. I will wait until you post on a thread about integrated education before taking up your challenge to expose how Catholic children and teachers are treated in mixed schools. I have already touched on it on another thread.

  • aber1991

    Your interference with Catholic families.

  • aber1991

    “the welfare of children is the responsibility of us all and catholic children are as entitled to protection as any other children”

    If you really believe that, why are you trying to bully Catholics into letting their defenceless, little children fall into the clutches of Protestant teachers and Protestant children?

  • aber1991

    I pay tax, vote and reside in Northern Ireland. I do not interfere with your private life. So why are you interfering with Catholics?

  • carl marks

    did you miss the bit about me paying taxes (which pay for the education system) and having a vote which gives me a say! .
    I don’t know how to break it to you but i have as much say as you do but why don’t you head back to your bunker and think upon it. Maybe read up a bit on the democratic process and how decisions are made in democracy’s,

  • carl marks

    so that explains the systematic rape of young boys, forced labour of unmarried mothers, the beatings and the cover-up’s it was just the leftie’s in the UN having a go!
    And your the person claiming that you care about catholic children.
    the CEO of a certain trendy sportswear company probably cares about the kids who stitch his very expensive trainers in the same way!

  • aber1991

    So you are getting tetchy? You have never been the same since I put questions to a Protestant teacher on how he behaved towards Catholic children.
    I also pay tax. I do not interfere with your choice of school for your children. Why do you interfere with the schooling choices of Catholics?
    P.S. Your spelling of “democracies” could be better.

  • carl marks

    now there is a thread on integrated education open at the moment, strange you do not know this as you and I have been posting on it, but now that has been cleared up for you we await you shocking expose of integrated schools (should be a eye opener, surprised you have not produced it so far).
    I as i have said before i am not anti catholic (you are aware that your views do not represent most catholic’s)
    I am opposed to your sad worldview,

  • carl marks

    not the same? you mean when you asked someone had they ever covered up gang rape of a catholic in a state school,
    well up till then i thought that you might be strange after that i knew it! is that what you mean?
    as to my spelling, what can i say; catholic school system, gotta judge it by its products!
    and i am glad you pay taxes this is good you get a say as well.

  • aber1991

    “And your the person claiming that you care about catholic children.”

    Do you mean “you are”?

    Your anti-Catholic bigotry has reinforced my long held suspicions about the supporters of integrated education.

  • aber1991

    “most Catholic’s”

    Do you mean “most Catholics”?
    How do you know that my views are not shared by most Catholics?

  • carl marks

    being brought up a catholic and having went to a catholic school, having many catholic friends and relatives expose’s me to the opinions of catholics and i can tell you now, i don’t know another catholic who thinks like you. how did you think i knew?

  • aber1991

    Do you mean “exposes?” Perhaps, you associate only with tame Catholics who trust Protestants.

  • carl marks

    I am from Ardoyne, not a lot of “tame” catholics there mate so none of the oul castle catholic crap please!

  • carl marks

    when people resort to filling up there posts with spell checks, it is generally regarded as the sign of a lost argument, discuss

  • aber1991

    I do not believe that you are a Catholic from Ardoyne. The Catholics of Ardoyne have suffered more than Catholics anywhere in Northern Ireland. How could any Ardoyne Catholic have your trusting attitude to Protestants? But there is a Protestant enclave in Ardoyne. I seem to remember that it is called “Glenbyrn”. The Protestants of that area abused the Catholic children on their way to school. No, you are probably a Catholic from the leafy suburbs of Belfast, a rugby type.

  • carl marks

    so im not from Ardoyne, well if it makes you feel any better you believe that, of course you will be the only one who does which will make it fit perfectly with the rest of the things you believe in!
    Bye ABER, thanks for sharing it all with me truly a experience talking to you and if you ever get any facts to back up your claims then be sure to let us know, in the meantime could i remind you of the words of a wise man,
    “Better to keep quiet and let people think you are a fool than speak and remove all doubt”
    think upon this before you post again!

  • aber1991

    So you have resorted to personal insult. So very typical of anti-Catholics in general and supporters of integrated education in particular.

  • carl marks

    well you did call me a liar, typical tactic of those who have closed minds!

  • aber1991

    You did tell a lie about Cardinal O’Fiach.

  • carl marks

    no i didnt!

  • aber1991

    So you are repeating the lie.

  • carl marks

    well i didn’t, are you denying that he was informed about Father Sean Fortune and took no action resulting in more boys being abused (in the catholic education system), this is a matter of public record.

  • carl marks

    im bored now Bye.

  • aber1991

    You alleged that he was involved in coercing a child to sign an undertaking of non-disclosure. Where is your evidence for that?
    As for Fr Sean Fortune, Cardinal O’Fiach had no authority on that matter. He was not the bishop of that diocese.

  • aber1991

    Your conduct on this thread, on which you have revealed your anti-Catholic bigotry, means that your demands for Catholics to be financially bullied into allowing their defenceless little children to fall into the clutches of Protestant teachers can be seen for the anti-Catholic plot that it is.