Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Cost of Overcoming Shame

I’ve been writing about this seemingly forever, so I feel obliged to point out that two Axios reporters have finally gotten shame right. As you know, led by dimwits and halfwits our intelligentsia has decided that shame is bad and that we should immediately overcome it. They do not understand that shame involves how other people see us, and thus, that ridding our minds of it entails either ignoring the way we look to others, that is, our public reputation or actively embracing shamelessness.

People who insist that we must overcome shame are recommending that children sext images of their genitalia to other children. When they say that we should all expose our most shameful secrets they do not understand what that implies. If so, they should stop talking about shame.

Eliminating shame has cost us something. It has certainly cost us our moral compass. Because having a sense of shame means having a moral sense. So said Confucius, and you are not going to dispute Confucius.

Axios reporters David Nather and Scott Rosenberg note sagely that our leading public figures have gotten the message. If they refuse to take responsibility they can simply hunker down and wait for public attention to move on. They have overcome their sense of shame. 

Meaning: public figures who have been derelict in their duties no longer do the honorable thing. They no longer resign in shame… and therefore they refuse to spare the public the agony of having to watch them trying to pretend that nothing happened. They set a bad moral example and help produce a culture where what matters is what you can get away with. 

Their actions imply that they did nothing wrong. This means, as happened in the notably shameless former president Bill Clinton, that sexual harassment and sexual assault were acceptable behavior… if you supported the right policies.

The authors count the ways:

  • You see it with [Virginia Governor Ralph] Northam (D) insisting he's going to stick it out in office after the discovery of a racist photo in his medical school yearbook — which prompted him to acknowledge that he wore blackface in 1984 to impersonate Michael Jackson.

  • You see it with Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) insisting he won't resign after sexual assault allegations by two women.

  • You see it with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) keeping his seat in Congress despite accusations that he knew about sexual abuse of athletes at Ohio State University and didn't do anything about it.

  • You see it with Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) running for re-election — and winning — even though they're facing federal indictments.

  • You see it with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) being re-elected after his highly publicized trial on corruption charges. (He was acquitted on seven counts, and the Justice Department dropped the rest of the charges.)

They also mention Once-Great Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May who keeps losing Parliament votes on her Brexit plan and who refuses to take the hint and resign.

The authors point out that Bill Clinton and his band of enablers led the way toward a culture of shamelessness. But, it’s not just that his supporters did not hold him to account. They defended him to the death.

But, if we are looking for the origin of this bad cultural habit, this sign of ethical decline, we should go back a little further and consider a point that I have made in my book on Saving Face. 

The Vietnam War was arguably the biggest foreign policy failure in our history. It was the first war America lost. And yet, not one of the leaders of that failed operation was really held to account. Not one apologized in a timely fashion. Most of them, from Robert McNamara to Walt Rostow to McGeorge Bundy went on to distinguished careers. 

Why were they allowed to get away with it? Simply put, they were Democrats. They were liberals. They were working for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. They had been brought into government by the sainted John Kennedy. Thus, they did not need to apologize for their manifest failure. Worse yet, no one even thought that they should. Better to shift the blame to the troops and to the Nixon administration.


sestamibi said...

Sorry, but none of those mentioned has a duty to resign. They have committed no crimes, or at least have not yet been convicted of any, and they are due the presumption of innocence until they are.

On the other hand, their situations say much more about the electorates that still ratify their behavior--sometimes overwhelmingly. America is a cesspool, and these people hold office because the voters are equally to blame.

UbuMaccabee said...

I sort of part ways here. What qualifies as an offense today seems designed to put all of is a state of shame. Harvey Silverglate and Philip Hamburger (among many others) have documented that all of us are now lawbreakers in the new administrative state--it's just a matter of selective political prosecution. Add in SJW demands, and we are all targets. As a result, I do not take any accusation seriously at face value--doubly so for anyone with an (R) after their name.

Shame is being used as a tool to attack conservatives to demand that they, and only they, be held accountable to their highest standards.

Since the application of standards is the biggest one-way street in US history, the public dignity thing has become a racket. Leftists can do no wrong, and conservatives are always guilty. Liberals that join conservatives get the full treatment.

I support demanding the resignation of all three Democrat leaders in Virginia not because their behavior is unacceptable, but because the Left must be given the same treatment they dish out to conservatives or they will never stop the attack dogs. When people leading the mob get the guillotine themselves, and enough of them lose their career and reputation, then maybe the mob will simmer out. Until then, scrub your Internet accounts, and keep your head down.

Real shame requires a real conception of honor, and I see almost nothing in public display I would consider capable of understanding honor.

Anonymous said...

It's distasteful indeed to read about the political witch-hunts of brave men like Jim Jordan (fighting the swamp openly in the media for years) and Duncan Hunter (second-generation San Diego Son protecting the military from globalists interference) -- put in with people like Menendez. Actually, it's a little distasteful to see the outcry over a silly frat party years back, too, but we will have our PC, won't we?

However, Jordan esp is probably the bravest man in the House, who founded the Drain-the-Swamp Freedom Caucus and is more Jimmy-Stewart (was it "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?") than "shameless" and should NOT be on this list, as anyone not bending over backwards to set up false equivalencies, as are the authors of the piece, surely knows.