Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

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None righteous, none, except for the ones that are...

I suggest that people check out Patrick Nielsen Hayden's excellent blog,
both for its intrinsic qualities of good sense and prickliness and for a post in which he contrasts the thug rhetoric of GW Bush with the classical eloquence of one of the British commanders in Iraq, who is all about the sadness of what they are about to have to do and the need to respect the Iraqis.

Now, one way of looking at this is to say 'for heaven's sake' and refuse to take a soldier's compassion for his opponents about as seriously as a farmer's for the animals he sends to the slaughterhouse. It would be so much easier were it true that such things are just and always sentimental hypocrisy.

But it is not so.

One of the things it is important to remember is that it is possible to be a good person and diligent in the pursuit of virtue and be totally wrong about a whole bunch of stuff. This is because we live in a tragic universe of incompatible goods and imperfections.

The useful thing about GW Bush is that he really is not a good man in a bad cause. He is dislikable in a thorough sort of way.

Whereas the infuriating thing about Blair is that he is wrong on this and a lot of issues, but is probably at least under the impression that he is well-intentioned. I have had dealings with people close to his circle and that was what was truely maddening about them.

They thought of themselves as highly virtuous and were very hurt if you pointed out areas of inconsistency in their morality. In one particular instance, they 'knew' a member of an organization's executive was guilty of vote-rigging and so were not too fussy about how they got him convicted and expelled - and had a hearing in his absence even when his GP said he was too sick to attend. And actually it turned out he had been innocent, mostly - he had had a suspicion about a friend who planted votes in an attempt to help him, but had not actually Known. He was an old school commie with politics they despised and so he was assumed to be guilty - I didn't like him either, but felt he deserved a fair hearing.

The irony is that all this happened in a civil liberties organization.

They were self-deceived in a variety of ways, but then so are we all. One of the few things I am glad to have inherited from my Christian childhood is a sense of humility which means I worry about whether I am right.
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