Moral Bias at the New York Times

Moral Bias at The New York Times

Tibor R. Machan
The headline said it all: “Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at I.R.S. Office in Ohio.” No mention of mendacity, of evil, of meanness, of vice, Nada.

For liberals their own pals are never morally amiss. They may make mistakes, be confused and have troubles. But guilty of malpractice never! Only Republicans and others who do not share their own attitudes can possibly be morally, ethically defective. When a Republican votes for reducing increases in welfare budgets or subsidies or other support for what liberals consider right and proper, the problem lies with their moral fiber, their lack of decency and good will. Not so with anything that liberals mismanage–that can only be due to some kind of technical malfeasance–”confusion and staff troubles.”

How do these folks manage, intellectually, to dodge the moral and ethical ire they are so eager to dish out at their opponents?

In liberal circles what is prominent when matters go awry is to give some kind of explanation–poverty, illness, ignorance, the bad influence of culture or the movies or whatever. Liberals must–yes, must–always be basically good, Their intentions are unfailingly impeccable. They always mean well. Accordingly, since it is the thought that counts, they are always innocent. Hope, audacious hope, is what makes one a good person, never mind how botched up one’s actions and even beliefs turn out to be, never mind what actually is accomplished with one’s preferred policies!

There is a prominent moral philosophical doctrine that this line of thinking follows. Immanuel Kant, the very famous and influential 18th century German philosopher, believed that human beings can only be morally good, praiseworthy, based on their intentions. It is their thought that makes them decent or indecent, not their actions or conduct. What they actually do is irrelevant to whether they are good or bad folks because, and here is the essence of the doctrine, there is ultimately no choice there; we must do what we do. Free will for Kant has nothing to do with choosing our actions, only with choosing our thoughts. The mind is free, in this minimal way, but it has no practical impact on human action. The world moves in accordance with deterministic laws, of physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc., etc. We cannot change anything apart from what we think. So we can only be credited for good thoughts, good intentions, of which liberals, of course, have plenty.

The story is rather complex but this is the gist of it. This, mainly, is why The New York Times cannot even fathom liberals being morally guilty of anything. They always intend the best, never mind that they pay very little attention to the likely outcome. In the end, outcomes just happen and we have nothing to do with them.

The IRS folks, for example, just did their jobs and the fact that those jobs contained the seeds of malpractice–given that selectivity is always involved in giving citizens exemptions and breaks and such–is irrelevant.

In contrast, Republicans and their ilk never think right. They are worried about costs and whether a policy works and such, all mundane matters that people of genuine good will never bother about. It is petty thinking, not the noble kind that liberals produce!

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