Martin Luther King Jr.

Good, Evil, and Racism

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr., by ClickerVectorImages

Dear Son,

A lot of people today don’t believe in the idea that Good and Evil are real things.  They see them as just being words use to manipulate the masses.  They would rather imagine that the fairness or equality should be the ultimate measures of what is right or wrong.

This moral relativism is incredibly toxic.  It creates people who consider hate, violence, theft, and cruelty to be justified – as long as you are hurting the right people.

Even more dangerous than the way it can be used to justify incredible harm, however, is the way it divorces of from logic and reason.  If you are willing to put an endless set of conditions, modifiers, and predicates on every assertion, it is easy to accept terrible contradictions without thinking.

Let me give you an example.

Throughout the 20th century we worked hard to eliminate racism.  We saw that if we wanted to create a free and open society, then we needed to treat people as if they had some fundamental rights.

As the idea of basic human rights became popular we also saw that if we treated some people as if they had rights, but didn’t give the same rights to others, then those rights were a pretty meaningless idea.  “Everyone has the right to say what is on their mind.” is very different than “Everyone who looks like the guys in charge and has special protections from the government has the right to say what is on their mind.”  In fact that is not even a right, beause the government might change who is protected.

So if we wanted to be consistent those rights had to belong to everybody.  We had to treat every human being the same, no matter the colour of their skin, their gender, their beliefs, or their heritage.  Otherwise rights are not rights… just arbitrary privileges.

And we also realized that as long as people kept hating and fearing others because of their race, then those rights would never be safe.  So we started using education, speech, social pressure, and the power of economics to make racism a bad deal.

(Economic pressure is incredibly powerful, by the way:  in the 1950s a businessman who was willing to hire black people would have both black and white customers, they usually had more money as well because black people back then were willing to work for less.  They would end up having a way more successful business than the racist up the street who wouldn’t hire black people or serve them. )

Eventually we also passed laws that forced people to hire people of many different races and creeds, and told them they had to pay everyone the same.  I think those were a mistake, to be honest, racism was going away on its own.  The laws made people resentful, and hid racists from economic pressure.  This was not consistent with a desire to create and protect freedom.

One way or the other, by the time I was a little boy racism was narly a thing of the past, except among a small, ignorant minority of people.  If you said something racist, you could be sure that people would pile anger and shame on you until you were sorry you even thought those thoughts.

And because of it, we were better.

But today things have changed.  Now people are willing to say that acting in a way that is hateful towards, exclusionary, or discriminatory agianst white people is okay… because some white people have a lot of power.  Racism is bad, they say… except against white people – then it is about creating fairness.

It’s nonsense.  Either hating someone based on their race is okay or it is not.  If it is okay, then why should it matter who we hate?  Or who we exclude?  And if it is okay to exclude someone, then – again – rights mean nothing.

And if we are throwing out rights, then fairness means nothing either.  Because people get what they get at the whim of the people in power.  So much for freedom and openness.  We might as well go back to letting the biggest, richest, most powerful group pick a tyrant and be done with it.

And there is the rub: the relativist is so good at thinking in specific cases and complex arguments they don’t care what makes sense, or what is consistent with their aims.  You can’t create justice by simply changing which group is being hurt based on what a few members of that group did at some time in the past.

And if we take away some people’s freedoms in the name of equality, then eventually everyone ends up equally confined and restricted.

For that matter, why should we care about fairness if we don’t believe in good or evil?  If there is no such thing as evil, they why should we care about anything other than grabbing power for ourselves?  Which should make you wonder at what people who talk about justifiable hatred and “social justice” really want…

Hatred is hatred, in any form, no matter the excuses for holding it.  It encourages fear, aggression, violence,  It causes people to ignore respect, dignity, compassion, and even our own self-interest.  It’s a powerful feeling that shorts out our ability to think clearly and choose for ourselves.  Eventually it hurts us all.

There is no such thing as a justified or justifiable hatred.  It erodes the conditons that we need to create a society where everyone can win… one where we don’t need to live off of the misery of others.

How can we see that as anything other than Evil, in a real and objective way?

But again, I don’t want you to just take my word for this.  I hope you will take some time to study moral philosophy for yourself and make up your own mind over time.  I thought I would give you a good starting place with the book Universally Preferrable Behaviour by the philosopher Stefan Molyneux, which you can download here:

(Universally Preferable Behaviour)



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