Evil Policies

     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.


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    • Max Wiley on May 27, 2023 at 9:19 AM

    Francis, I agree with your seven words. Wholeheartedly.
    But I disagree with the application of that concept to employees at Target.
    They are not noncombatants. In this cultural war we are in, working for evil, woke corporations is to further the operations of those that do harm to our society. Their ignorance of that fact, or refusal to pay attention to it, is not a valid defense of their enabling behavior. This is the same argument as the plea circulated by the AB/InBev distributor in Alabama. “Please stop (the boycott),” it said, “because you are hurting good people who don’t support the actions of the managerial class at the head of the corporation.” Oh, but they do support it, every time they show up and clock in.
    This would be akin to saying that the industrial factories of a military adversary are not legitimate war targets because the people working there are not uniformed soldiers. That view is one that would unnecessarily tie the hands of anyone prosecuting that fight. This isn’t the Gentleman’s Wars of Europe, where polities trained armies of soldiers to stand in a line and fire at each other (and please don’t target the officers) in a formal dance. This is a religious war of no quarter, as has been pointed out numerous times on this very blog, and the Marquess of Queensberry Rules have no place here.
    Your argument is an appeal to emotion. “But what about the poor workers! They might have to do extra!” This is the same argument used by the AB/InBev distributors about the boycott. It doesn’t wash for them and it doesn’t wash now. War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. If we seek to prevent cruelty above all else, then we should just give up now and let them win.
    The employees should be thankful we are only at the stage where the cruelty is restrained to looking for a new job. The fact is that they signed up for this when they went to work for evil woke corporation, or continued working there when it became obvious what evil woke corporation had become. The hourly workers will absolutely get paid for any additional time or I’m sure the various Labor Departments in the states will receive claims. For the salaried managers varying schedules of more than 40 hours/week come with the territory, anyone who thinks otherwise joining middle management in a corporate conglomerate, much less a retail one, is badly deluded.
    Causing extra work and costs is the POINT of the tactic. It saps the morale of the employees and makes them look at themselves in the mirror. Causing them cognitive dissonance is a valid tactic in this 5GW cultural battle. Due to the difficulty of finding good employees at a reasonable wage these days, it is likely to be a very effective tactic to remind Target, and others similar watching, that playing the DEI score game has real balance sheet costs. I think we are reaching the point where shareholders are waking up and that’s a good thing.
    I am reminded of something from Clay Martin’s book Prairie Fire:
    “The tactically correct thing to do is often not the moral thing to do. May your luck and judgement keep you alive and able to live with yourself after.”
    Wise words from battlefield experience for living in The Gray, which is where we are now.

    1. I’m sorry, Max, but you’re wrong. There is no justification for inflicting harm on people who had nothing to do with Target’s policy decision. Many of them have had to choose between supporting their families and resigning in protest — and I will not countenance harm to someone who makes that choice differently than would you or I.

      I suggest that you pray about it.

        • Max Wiley on May 27, 2023 at 10:40 AM

        We will have to agree to disagree.
        I stand by my statement that “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. If we seek to prevent cruelty above all else then we might as well give up now and let them win.”
        If we were talking about lining them up against a wall and shooting them, the morality is very clear. But if we seek to avoid any damage whatsoever to those “who had nothing to do with Target’s policy decision” then we have allowed Target (and all other woke evil corporations) an absolute shield to hide behind that prevents any consequences at all for the actions they are taking. By this thinking, even a boycott is immoral because if the company is harmed financially, people might lose their jobs.
        No matter what effective action we take, there will be collateral damage. Therefore, to prevent any and all collateral damage the only option is no action whatsoever, which is merely a choice for a principled defeat. This defines conservatism for the past 25 years. It’s not working.
        Fighting back is painful, both for us in terms of moral agony and for those it effects.
        Not fighting back is also painful, because it allows evil to triumph.
        Which pain is the most moral?

        1. Max, I thought better of you. Of course no one can guarantee “no collateral damage.” That’s a straw man. The ethical mandate is not to inflict harm on innocents deliberately. And your closing “Not fighting back” comment is even worse. Who has suggested that? Not I.

          I think you should reflect on this. Deliberately bringing harm to the uninvolved is the sort of thing that causes the enemy’s ranks to swell.

    • OneGuy on May 27, 2023 at 10:41 AM

    Just imagine if someone had killed Hitler in 1939.

    1. That’s of no moment. He’d already organized and dispatched squads of brutes that had taken lives at his command. Imagine if someone had killed him in 1922, before the Beer Hall Putsch. The killer would go on trial for murder — justifiably.

  1. Here is one positive outcome of Musk’s takeover of Twitter as applied to the thought of targeting Target. I think this supports Fran’s position too well. Hardly anyone will read the less dramatic “added context.”

    • ontoiran on May 28, 2023 at 8:20 AM

    but it’s ok to boycott them? put their employees out of work and possibly hurt their families? hurt the shareholders who might be pensioners depending on dividends for income? where does this stop? in war (yes culture war too) there are casualties; even innocent ones.

    1. (Heavy sigh) Yes, to “boycott” them — i.e., to take your business elsewhere — is entirely okay. They don’t have a right to your business. The consequences of that loss of business don’t involve any willful, deliberate harm to anyone. In contrast, they do have a right not to be abused by third parties trying to express a political point. Think in terms of rights and free choice, and it will become clearer to you.

      I thought the point would be easier to get across. Maybe I’m slipping.

  1. […] The previous piece on this subject evoked some unusually revealing responses. As I remain unwilling to condemn anyone by name, I’ll […]

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