John Leo
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church put out a disgraceful statement on the terrorist attacks. After urging believers to "wage reconciliation" (i.e., not war), the bishops said: "The affluence of nations such as our own stands in stark contrast to other parts of the world wracked by crushing poverty which causes the death of 6,000 children in the course of a morning." The number 6,000 and the reference to a single morning, of course, are meant to evoke Sept. 11 in a spirit of moral equivalence.

In plain English, the bishops seem to think that Americans are in no position to complain about the Manhattan massacre since 6,000 children around the world can die in a single day. The good bishops are apparently willing to tolerate 6,000 murders in New York because the West has failed to eliminate world poverty, and perhaps should be blamed for causing it. But the terrorist attack has nothing to do with world hunger or disease. And the bishops' statement is a moral mess. How many murders can Episcopalians now overlook because of the existence of crushing poverty? If 6,000, why not 60,000?

This is a minor example of what could be a major problem over the long haul. A large number of our cultural and moral leaders are unable to say plainly that evil exists in the world and that it must be confronted. Instead they are content to babble about "cycles of violence" and how "an eye for an eye makes the world blind," as if the cop who stops the violent criminal is somehow guilty of crime, too.

Part of this philosophy arises from the therapeutic culture: Accusing someone of being evil is bad thinking. There is no evil, no right and wrong, only misunderstandings that can fade if we withhold judgment and reach out emotionally to others. Everything can be mediated and talked out.

More of it comes from the moral relativism at the heart of the multicultural philosophy that has dominated our schools for a generation. Multiculturalism goes way beyond tolerance and appreciation of other cultures and nations. It teaches that all cultures and all cultural expressions are equally valid. This sweeps away moral standards. Every culture (except America, of course) is correct by its own standards and unjudgeable by others.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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