I have something to say that a lot of people, possibly including you, Gentle Reader, are not going to like. You could be one of them, so make sure you’re securely seated and your seat belt is fastened.
The end does not justify the means.
That’s it, friends. Just seven words. Easy to read, easy to understand…but apparently supremely difficult to adhere to. Notice that I didn’t boldface, italicize, or super-size them. Either you get it or you don’t.
Yes, we have enemies. Yes, some of them mean us great harm, possibly even terminal harm. Yes, we must defeat them…but that does not sanctify doing harm to noncombatants.
One of the central advances of the Treaties of Westphalia, the agreements that heralded the modern era, was the codification of the principal law of war. That law, like the moral-ethical principle I summarized in seven little words, is equally simply stated:
Combat is for combatants, no one else.
All of what we called (until recently) civilization is expressed in that statement. “Thou shalt not murder” is just another way of putting it. That supposedly civilized nations have cast that stricture aside since 1914 neither refutes it nor nullifies it.
You might be wondering why this is on my mind this morning. Just yesterday, a Gabber suggested something immoral in the cause of fighting the transgender madness. She suggested going to a Target store, filling a cart with merchandise…and leaving it there for the store help to deal with. It disturbed me, so I reproved her. Her response was that “we’re at war,” implying that deliberately extending the campaign to people who have nothing to do with it is quite all right.
Is it all right, Gentle Reader? Is it morally acceptable to impose extra labor on people who are just trying to earn a living, for the sake of a cause? People who had nothing to do with Target’s “Pride” policy? People who might have to work longer hours, making them late for other obligations? Possibly for no extra pay?
I don’t think so. I think it’s the tip of a very dangerous iceberg. That ‘berg could sink our otherwise morally praiseworthy ship.
For those younger than I, and for contemporaries whose memories of the late Sixties are hazy, the tactic described above was introduced by Leftist organizers during the “Cesar Chavez / United Farm Workers” controversy. Activists – many of them teenagers – would do exactly as that Gabber suggested at supermarkets that had not aligned with UFW positions on “workers’ rights.” They made extra work, often quite a lot of it, for stock boys and check-out clerks at hundreds of supermarkets. It did nothing for the UFW’s cause, but it did burden thousands of innocent supermarket workers and impede thousands of uninvolved shoppers.
It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.
I can’t help but quote Ralph Waldo Emerson once more:
You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. Justice is not postponed… Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty.
You don’t want to be on the wrong end of that law of the universe.
And now, back to our previously scheduled Curmudgeonry.