Just as Paul Johnson began Modern Times with the opening shot of “moral relativity,” Allan Bloom famously began 1987’s The Closing of the American Mind by noting, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”
A quarter century later, it’s come to this (graphic image at link, but it’s already been used as a Time magazine cover last year):
“Moments Of Startling Clarity” Dr. Stephen L. Anderson
“The picture is horrific. Aisha’s beautiful eyes stare hauntingly back at you above the mangled hole that was once her nose. Some of my students could not even raise their eyes to look at it. I could see that many were experiencing deep emotions.
But I was not prepared for their reaction.
I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.” One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff .”
Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”
“While we may hope some are capable of bridging the gap between principled morality and this ethically vacuous relativism, it is evident that a good many are not. For them, the overriding message is “never judge, never criticize, never take a position.”
In 1984, when Winston could see that 2+2=5, and couldn’t decide if O’Brien was holding up four or five fingers (recreated in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s famous “There! are! four! lights!” moment, along with Picard later admitting he was willing to see anything his tormenter wanted him to see by then), he had been officially broken as a man. We’ve reached the limits of multiculturalism when a group of kids can stare a photo of a woman with her nose sliced off and reply blankly at the horror, “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”
And yet his teachers (other than Anderson, assuming he’s still employed) will have no problem making this young tike make all sorts of judgements about his own culture — all of them wrapped in a black armband.