John Holbo: The Idiocy of Victor Davis Hanson: I have to say: Victor Davis Hanson should probably stop trying to write about the difference between right and wrong. (I know, I know. But this one is unusually terrible.) In response to the Obama speech, he objects that 'racism is a universal wrong'. Furthermore, because there should be an 'absolute sense of wrong and right that transcends situational ethics, context, and individual particulars,' it is not acceptable to attempt to mitigate charges of racism by pointing out parallel wrongs committed by others, or by adducing facts about the background of the racist; or by arguing that the racist has done good things, which ought to be weighed in the balance. Last but not least, it is apparently necessary to 'disown' all racists, regardless of prior personal attachment or loyalty.
Now, to note only the most obvious, flagrantly salient consequence of this rigorous refusal of 'situational ethics': Hanson has just provided an argument that Wright was absolutely right to damn America (right?) And the fact that Hanson is not saying so himself therefore gives me a chance to pull a serious face and say I am very sorry to see him falling prey to moral relativism and, if I may say so, kneejerk victimology. It must be all the rap music.
Seriously, what it shows is that conservatives see they have a pressing situational need to move some goalposts. But they aren't sure where. So they are running in all directions, carrying goalposts. The Corner has been a hoot for 48 hours. (To be fair, there are a few voices, urging that the posts be put back where they are supposed to go. That adds to the comedy, when people run into each other, carrying goalposts.)
I am one of the many who is very, very impressed with the speech. My support for Obama has gone up significantly. All I really have to add is just reiteration of what others have said: how effective Obama was at saying things that were, basically, plain good sense. The only trick to it -- but what a trick -- is to speak generous good sense, in a curiously mild manner. His ability to say what people of good will already all think, but say it in a way that makes them sit up and say, 'but of course', is what liberals have been needing. Not that conservatives can't be good willed, but that just goes to show there was nothing liberal about the speech...