Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Values: Love Them or Leave Them

Rick Santorum, whose ignorance seems matched only by his arrogance, has come out against amniocentesis, which he views solely as providing information which may, in the mind of an immoral pagan, encourage or even justify abortion.

The key to Santorum is his exclusion of even the possibility that a virtuous pagan might exist. His religion does not, first and foremost, bear on his own life and responsibilities, but, rather, distinguishes virtuous Self from fallen, ignorant, even evil Other. This is why we were recently treated to the spectacle of voters concerned about 'family values' in South Carolina rejecting Mitt Romney, who, whatever his other faults, has an exemplary nuclear family life, in favor of Newt Gingrich, whose personal life offers no such comfort to observers. Gingrich's hypocrisy is more welcome than Romney's conduct, or, for that matter, Obama's with his lovely family. Hypocrisy such as Gingrich's is welcome to many because it reinforces, rather than challenges, exclusive claims to virtue and, therefore, to power. Romney and Obama, with decent families though not accepted within the group, challenge that exclusive ownership; Gingrich's hypocrisy reinforces it. Many view 'family values' as theirs and theirs alone, the way some claim the flag as theirs and deny the patriotism of their political opponents. They view 'family values' as something which distinguishes themselves from others to their own benefit. THe result is that they see no reason to look within themselves, examine their own lives, viewing social problems as arising solely from the errors or active sinning of others. It's a definition of a group, a social marker, and a denial of, yes, personal responsibility.

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