Democrats like Obama the Intellectual like to denigrate "folksy" and "unintellectual" Republicans as "clinging to guns or religion," but what they really abhor about their "lowbrow" Republican counterparts is the willingness to stand in moral judgment. I am not in any way arguing that every time a Republican uses a moral argument it is a correct application. However if we are not willing to even engage in moral discourse, we will travel a very dangerous path. Only a moral realist holds that there are right and true moral universals that exist across all cultures, nations, languages and time, regardless of human comprehension or behavioral conformity to these moral truths. Only a moral realist can believe, for example, that slavery or murder is objectively wrong and was never right despite cultural norms that once permitted it.
A moral relativist, on the other hand can assert, as does Dr. Richard Shweder, respected professor at the University of Chicago where Obama taught, “…even the presumption that infanticide is immoral is too presumptive and provincial to count as a moral universal.”
Only a moral realist truly affirms human rights. Yet the conviction that we all occupy one moral universe is not "high-minded" enough for elite universities, and unless one manages to escape higher education with one's moral compass unadjusted, what was abhorrent before exposure to postmodern deconstructionist thought will afterward be considered benign or even commendable.
Lest we forget, imprisonment of innocents, human experimentation, slavery, murder, and even genocide were legal in Germany during WWII, and it was the educated who formed the Einsatzgruppen “intervention groups” tasked with carrying out systematic mass murders of Jews, gypsies, and others. If there existed no moral realists during that time, there would have been no one willing to risk their own lives to protect society's outcasts. Meanwhile, many "good" German people chose to do nothing. Moral relativism instantiates what Martin Luther King referred to as "the appalling silence of the good people" and produces indifference - or at best diffidence - in the face of evil.
"We must face this challenge. We can face this challenge. We must totally defeat it, and we're in a long struggle." says McCain.
Says Obama the Intellectual, without a hint of irony, "Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil's been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil."
As Edmund Burke wrote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing." Yet Obama the Intellectual represents a perspective that is not merely morally diffident, but posits moral equivalences between actions that should be easily recognized as morally unequal. He additionally manages to associate with people who would be (correctly) unambiguously identified as racist (Wright and Farrakhan), felonious (Rezko) and terrorist (Ayers and wife, Dohrn) if they were evangelical, white, and “unintellectual.”
Cries of “we gotta be careful of guilt by association” and “these are attempts to connect Obama with events that happened when he was eight years old” obfuscate the real issue: how can we trust the judgment of someone who found none of his “controversial associates” beyond the pale? Even in condemning Ayers, Obama follows with “But…” and describes unrepentant Ayers as simply “a professor of education at the University of Illinois.”
Have we become so numb to the word "terrorist" that it has no effect when used to accurately describe FBI Most Wanted former fugitives, Ayers and Dohrn who helped blow up over 20 buildings (including one in which Ayers' former girlfriend accidentally blew herself up with a nail bomb)? Dohrn reportedly commended Charles Manson's followers while exhorting her compatriots to be “less wimpy” and was allegedly involved in the 1981 Brinks armed robbery in which two men were injured and three were murdered, leaving nine children fatherless.
Dohrn spent seven months in jail for refusing to cooperate with authorities. When two of their dear friends were sent to prison for murder and armed robbery, Ayers and Dohrn became guardians of the convicts' baby son whom they raised to be an intellectual - like themselves. When interviewed by Slate regarding his Rhodes scholarship in 2002, Yale graduate Chesa Boudin claimed he was dedicated to the same principles as "all" his parents.
It was in their living room that Obama the Intellectual’s breathtaking political ascent had its genesis in 1995, and seven years later, Ayers sat on a panel with Obama entitled, “Intellectuals in Times of Crisis.”
Intellectualism guarantees neither good judgment nor sound moral principles. One need only look at Colorado’s own Ward Churchill. But Churchill merely raved about terrorism. Ayers and Dohrn actually delivered. Churchill has at least one thing in common with the dynamite duo, though: Both Ayers and Dohrn are also university professors.
Come to think of it, “folksy and unintellectual” doesn’t sound so bad.
Dr. Pamela Zuker received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Psychology from the University of Chicago where she performed research at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). She also holds degrees in Anthropology and Clinical Psychology, and practiced marriage, child, and family therapy before focusing on positive psychology. Her current research is on the role of meaning in adult life. She lives in the Roaring Fork Valley with her husband and two children.