But I have never found any human being capable of living up to the demands of this argument. For the truth is that this idea does not lead where its advocates claim. If there is no accessible moral truth, then all that remains is power. If we can't really know truth, then I may impose my morality on as many people as I can. Nietzsche glimpsed this awful truth a century ago: If God is dead, then all that is left is human beings with (or without) a will to power.
In the same speech in which President Clinton declared that our common democratic life is rooted in epistemological uncertainty, he urged a moral obligation to help poor people around the world, the evils of intolerance, and the need to repent for moral crimes, from the Crusades to the suppression of human dignity of Native Americans (i.e., Indians, or Siberian-Americans).
All of contemporary liberalism is a call (often, in my opinion, misguided or distorted) to recognize the great moral truth that all human beings have equal dignity.
So can we be honest, at least, and give up the claim that this great war we are in is between those who believe in absolute moral truth and those who do not? Because otherwise, those who can kill 5,000 civilians with box cutters may.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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