January 16, 2013
Michael Tolkin: A new low
As I explained — yet again — in my last column, I made the case in my original column, “Why Is Murder Wrong?” “that if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder is not, in fact, wrong. While human beings can believe that murder is wrong, without God, right and wrong are our moral opinions, not moral facts.”
Michael Tolkin either does not understand this point or chooses not to confront it.
This is clear from his response. He quotes “a thoughtful friend” who notes that “[m]any murders have been committed in the name of God, for the sake of God, by people who believe in God.”
This is, of course, true. But it is irrelevant. In fact, I wrote the same thing that Tolkin’s “thoughtful friend” said to him.
I wrote: “There are atheists who refuse to murder and religious people who do murder.”
So, for a third time, if there is no God, “good” and “evil” are no more than labels for “I approve” and “I don’t approve.” They do not have any objective reality beyond that. That some people who believe in God are bad and some atheists are good has nothing to do with this point.
The more interesting question, at least to me, is why Tolkin and many others who share his politics do not understand this point. As I pointed out in my previous columns, it has been acknowledged by nearly all major secular moral thinkers.
Two reasons come to mind.
One is the exclusively secular education in most American (and Western European) schools from elementary school through graduate school. The most basic facts and views concerning God and morality are not discussed in almost any high school or college courses. We graduate many bright students who have never once heard the elementary fact that if there is no God, all morality is opinion — because it challenges the secularism that is at the heart of the left-wing education American students receive. Virtually every one of our great old universities, like Harvard, was founded to produce God-centered thinkers. Today, they exist to produce godless progressives.
The other is that Tolkin and many other progressives who are products of this education do not wish to acknowledge that God is morally necessary. It is too upsetting. And most people do not like to be upset.
Then Tolkin once again cites his “thoughtful friend”:
“God is all that keeps him [Prager] from loading up the Bushmaster.”
Another profound insight from Tolkin’s “thoughtful friend”: If Dennis Prager didn’t believe in God, he would be a mass murderer. One wonders what Tolkin’s less-thoughtful friends have to say.
Tolkin then moves on to an earlier column of mine devoted to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations. I wrote about the existential threat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran presents to Israel, and Tolkin cites one line from that column:
“Nazis and communists liked life. Islamists revel in death. An enormous difference.”
In the context of the piece, I was certain that my point was unambiguously clear to readers: There is an important difference between Islamists such as Ahmadinejad and other evil human beings such as the Nazis and communists; namely that while Nazis and communists wanted others to die, they wanted to live, whereas radical Islamists not only want others to die, they often want to die as well. As Hamas puts it, “We love death as much as the Jews love life.”
The reason I noted this was to point out this one “enormous difference” among these three evils — that the threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD) would not likely deter Ahmadinejad as it did, for example, the Soviets and the Japanese fascists (which is why they surrendered after seeing what the atom bomb could do). That is why Israel’s having nuclear weapons may not deter Ahmadinejad from using his against Israel (once he obtains them). If you care about Israel’s survival, that’s a very important point.
Tolkin then spends the rest of his piece wrenching this reasonable statement out of context and repeatedly calling me a defender of the Nazis:
• Tolkin writes that I believe that Nazis (and communists) weren’t really mass murderers because they “liked life.”
I don’t regard the Nazis and communists as mass murderers? Why would Tolkin write this?
• He accuses me of “saying something good about the Nazis.”
I said something “good” about the Nazis, because I wrote that they and communist mass murderers preferred to live rather than to die? Why would Tolkin write this?
• He writes that I “suggest that during the war, the Nazis exercised restraint and mercy.”
When did I ever suggest such idiocy? Why would Tolkin write this?
• He writes, “Every fascist skinhead, neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier can now happily link to the Jewish Journal where you declare, ‘Nazis liked life.’ ‘See,’ they can say, ‘even the Jews have come around.’ ”
Fascists and skinheads will read my article and conclude that I defend Nazis? Why would Tolkin write such nonsense?
Michael Tolkin’s comments are the most mendacious and moronic I have ever responded to. It is hard to believe that he isn’t embarrassed having them published. Was there no one in his life to say to him, “Michael, I know you hate the guy, and it drives you crazy that he argues for God in a Jewish newspaper, but you’ll look like a fool accusing him of defending the Nazis”?
The answer is that in the intellectual and social cocoon of the Hollywood left, there probably was no such voice.
Three years ago, when I accepted the Jewish Journal’s invitation to be a columnist, I knew that as a conservative I would be strongly opposed by some readers on the left. That I, like other conservatives, would be called sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, dumb, anti-science, anti-intellectual and all the other epithets many leftists use to dismiss conservatives when they cannot refute their arguments. But I could not imagine that one of them would write an essay accusing me of having a positive view of the Nazis. Michael Tolkin truly reaches a new low.