Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jeff Jacoby on the slaughter of the innocents in Itamar

Here's a good article on the horrible slaughter of most of an Israeli family, the Fogel family, by Palestinian Arabs. Best quotation (emphasis added):

There are those who believe passionately that all human beings are inherently good and rational creatures, essentially the same once you get beyond surface disagreements. Such people cannot accept the reality of a culture that extols death over life, that inculcates a vitriolic hatred of Jews, that induces children to idolize terrorists. Since they would never murder a family in its sleep without being driven to it by some overpowering horror, they imagine that nobody would. This is the mindset that sees a massacre of Jews and concludes that Jews must in some way have provoked it. It’s the mindset behind the narrative that continually blames Israel for the enmity of its neighbors and makes it Israel’s responsibility to end their violence.

The truth is simpler, and bleaker. Human goodness is not hard-wired. It takes sustained effort and healthy values to produce good people; in the absence of those values, cruelty and intolerance are far more likely to flourish.

I'll have a bit more to say about the slaughter of the Fogels in a later post. I'm trying to confirm or disconfirm reports of an arrest in the case. For the moment I'll just say--Israel definitely needs the death penalty.


Beth Impson said...

I see this way of thinking in my students, but hadn't thought about its being a result of "man is basically good" false theology. When we read stories or poems, especially if a woman claims to be a victim of a man, they often simply assume the man's culpability -- he *must* have been a bad, abusive person for the woman to hate him or harm him. Of course, that's the result of rampant feminism at every level of the culture, but if they had a good grasp on the concept of original sin and its hold on *all* of us, they would be less likely to instantly embrace the feminist narrative and look more carefully.

Lydia McGrew said...

I think that's true. Many if not most liberal ideologies have some connection to this. For example, the idea that criminals can always be rehabilitated, that anything one does is the fault of society or environment.

Of course, there's always an arbitrariness to it. In the example you give, there's the choice to treat one person as the bad one and the other as the good one. And who is to blame for the alleged evil of "the man" or "the Israelis"? I guess they'd have to push that back onto some amorphous "society" as well.