Tag Archives: Obama

Obama, Values, And Human Progress

In his formal statement on the terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama said that “Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress.”  By this statement, Obama betrayed the actual status of the debate over values and human progress and the daily struggle to bring humanity to a real consensus regarding these important concepts.

President Obama’s statement is capable of two interpretations.  He either believes that ‘human progress’ has values or that humans have two or more values which are generally perceived by mankind to be directly related to ‘human progress’.  The first interpretation obviously makes no sense because ‘human progress’ is a concept.  Only a living being can have values.  A concept cannot have values of its own.  So he must have intended the second interpretation; that there are two or more values which are ‘timeless’ and which are so directly related to the concept of ‘human progress’ that an otherwise nondescript phrase – “the timeless values of human progress” – is sufficient to convey the meaning he intends.

But it doesn’t.  Because I know very well Mr. Obama’s politics, I’m certain that his notion of what are values directly related to human progress are not the same as mine.  In fact, I’m certain we would have some fundamental disagreements on what constitutes ‘human progress’ and what does not.  Even those values which we might suppose he would identify as ‘timeless values of human progress’, such as liberty and freedom, are so subject to differing and nuanced interpretations that I’m certain his notions of those values are not the same as mine.  I do not believe that those values as he would define them are directly related to my notion of ‘human progress’.  In fact, I believe the implementation of his conceptualization of what liberty and freedom mean into public policy often run directly counter to human progress as I would define it.

Some may suggest that a statement made by a U.S. President in response to the attack shouldn’t be subjected to such scrutiny; that it is only meant to convey to the French our solidarity against those who have perpetrated the crime.  I disagree.  His statements in such situations are heard and read by the entire world.  If he wishes only to express solidarity, then he should limit his comments to such expressions.  What humans value, or should value, is perhaps the most important theme underlying all of human history and experience.  At such times, when the focus of the world is upon him, he is peculiarly situated to illustrate this point.  At the very least, he should not obscure it.

That there are ‘timeless values’ generally understood or accepted to result in ‘human progress’, is simply not true.  What are the worthiest values and what is ‘human progress’ are questions debated intellectually and politically every day in civilized countries throughout the world.  Indeed, those questions constitute a substantial component of the debate over what has led to Islamic terrorism and to its expansion.  When we pretend that consensus exists among mankind as to what ‘values’ result in ‘human progress’, we only avoid these important debates and thereby any opportunity to draw humanity toward a true consensus regarding what values really result in human progress, and how human progress should be properly understood.

Please follow and like us:
0

Roseburg Oregon, Human Emotion & The Second Amendment

Within a few hours of the shooting yesterday in Roseburg, Oregon, President Obama took to the microphone for his predictable demagoguery on the issue of gun control. Whenever such a crime occurs, he and others who support restricting or eliminating our liberty to keep and bear arms can be counted on to make an almost immediate appeal to the public’s understandable emotional response to such irrational violence. At the time of his comments, there were absolutely no details available upon which he could judge that adoption of some restriction or regulation would have prevented the shooter from acquiring guns. But that didn’t stop him from pontificating regarding the need for unspecified gun control.

“The notion that gun violence is somehow different and our freedom and our constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who can hunt, protect their families, under such regulations, it doesn’t make sense… Each time this happens, I’m going to say, ‘We can actually do something about it.’ But we’re going to have to change the laws. I’ve got to have Congress, state legislators, governors who are willing to work with me on this.”

The obvious chasm between the unknown facts regarding how the shooter obtained guns and the call for “modest regulation” and a “change” in “the laws” in order to “do something about it”, is far too wide for any tortured logic to span. He might as well have said, “we don’t know how this shooter obtained his guns, but we need legislation to stop anything like this from happening again”. Barring a complete ban on guns, what does that mean? Obama doesn’t need to concern himself with whether his call for gun control makes sense for two reasons. First, he is making an appeal to emotion rather than reason. Second, he can count on the main stream media to ignore the fallacy of his argument, or more likely, reinforce it.

Those who seek to curb our liberties often complain that Second Amendment advocates aren’t willing to engage in ‘common sense’ compromise in order to ‘stem the tide of senseless violence’. Notwithstanding the fact that they rarely support their arguments with the pesky details of how their proposals will stem gun violence, they ignore the fact that compromise is not always a good thing. ‘Compromise’ is a blessed word in American politics and is often invoked in the spirit of ‘getting things done’ and ‘avoiding gridlock’. When it comes to our liberties, ‘compromise’ is an evil word. ‘Getting things done’ always means yielding more of our liberty. When it comes to maintaining freedom, gridlock is good.

Since the advent of the New Deal, America has a long history of diminishing individual liberty ostensibly in exchange for coercive legislation which is always promised to make American life better and more productive. In reality, the impositions on our liberties have led to a lower standard of living and have created an administrative leviathan which is ever expanding and utterly unproductive. We should learn from past mistakes and keep an iron grip on our remaining liberties, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We should identify emotional demagoguery for what it is, a cheap, unsupported appeal for our acquiescence in the usurpation of our freedom. We should insist on well-reasoned position statements from our political representatives. When those who seek to persuade us to yield our rights ultimately make specific proposals for “common sense” gun legislation, we should insist that they explain exactly how such legislation would have stopped any of the mass shootings they so often use as an emotional springboard to launch their efforts against gun liberty and how they will prevent such violence in the future. Without exception, we’ll find their logic is lacking.

Please follow and like us:
0