"the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization"

Sound familiar? It does to me, and I don't think there's any escape from it.

Not from "the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization," mind you, but from the scoldings heaped upon those of us who'd prefer to be allowed to enjoy Western civilization in peace.

The above came from a 2005 Columbus Day retrospective post in which Glenn Reynolds looked at Samuel Eliot Morison's Admiral of the Ocean Sea : A Life of Christopher Columbus.

The full quote (from James C. Bennett) can be found here:

Columbus Day is under attack as a holiday in the United States by the forces of political correctness. This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a miniscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.
Unfortunately, some of the unsecularized descendants believe just as vehemently in the "depravity and cursedness of Western civilization" as do the secularized ones.

It's one of those memes which appeals not only to certain elements on the left, but also certain elements on the right -- even if the two "sides" define depravity and cursedness differently. (Both "sides" would seem to agree that depravity on the Internet led to abu Ghraib, though.)

The bottom line is that to many of the activists on both the left and the right, we are all absolutely depraved. Ask the activists on the left or on the right who think that Playboy is depraved. Or those who think eating meat is depraved. Or those who think that America is "A depraved nation."

Hey, I shouldn't complain. I'm just as depraved as the next guy. Maybe even more so. After all, who killed the Kennedys? It was you and me!

So once again, it's time to confess!

I killed the kids at Columbine, and my collective guns regularly murder hundreds of children in Philadelphia. I have murdered millions of unborn babies. I tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib! I pulled the tube from Terri Schiavo! I also clubbed the baby seals, and probably helped Richard Speck murder all those nurses in Chicago in 1966.

(Oh, yeah, I also owned and transported lots of slaves. Lots and lots of genocide was committed by the "we." I am therefore guilty as charged!*)

That footnote was a reminder that I'm also a Little Eichmann. And I'm sorry again for being an Eichmann, and for all those other things too. I should add that this year I'm also really sorry that I'll be voting in shameful secrecy for that awful warmonger McCain. Honest; I'll try to make it up to the world by being more ashamed of my depravity than ever before.

I didn't want to confess these things again, but I had to make up for the fact that yesterday was Columbus Day and I forgot to atone.

UPDATE: Excellent reminder in the comments from Assistant Village Idiot:

None of us is virtuous enough to wield power, so the checks and balances, and especially our competing needs, prevents any of us from having too much authority over his fellows.

posted by Eric on 10.14.08 at 04:56 PM


The irony of the whole anti-Columbus thing is that it was political correctness (or what past for political correctness in the late 1800s) that created Columbus Day in the first place. Specifically, there was a push for a positive role model for our then-recent Italian American immigrants.

Sean P   ·  October 14, 2008 5:24 PM

The problem is that in the post-60's world, power is suspect, victimhood is purity. Therefore, victory is itself proof of guilt.

Western Civilization is evil and depraved not for any particular act or motivation for acts, but because of the outcome--we won, therefore we are in the wrong.

tim maguire   ·  October 14, 2008 9:17 PM

You know, I was getting pretty comfortable with your blog until you published this excercise in foolishness.
The fact is that mankind IS "depraved'. If you can't take a look around and see every form of corruption originating in the hearts of human beings, something is wrong with your vision.

The difference between the accusations of depravity of the left and those of the right is a) CONTENT and b) SOLUTION. The Christian right seeks truth before the Almighty God, confession and repentance from Man, to the end that justice is established and mercy is extended.

The left seeks no such measure, being that they are gods unto themselves. So they resort to endless attempts to build their stupid utopian visions, resulting in tyrannical nightmares. Why? Well because we are all "depraved". That fact just keeps getting reiterated again and again - even to those who are too blind to see it. As someone said, "the perfect is the enemy of the good". The right represents the GOOD.

Sillie Lizzie   ·  October 14, 2008 10:09 PM

The fact is that mankind IS "depraved'.

Speak for yourself, buster.

Seerak   ·  October 14, 2008 11:21 PM

Certain aspects of Western Civilization are depraved and cursed, especially the root of envy that sprouted socialism.

Brett   ·  October 15, 2008 8:05 AM

I have always thought that it was human frailty that makes representative government important. None of us is virtuous enough to wield power, so the checks and balances, and especially our competing needs, prevents any of us from having too much authority over his fellows.

It's not perfect, but it generally works.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  October 15, 2008 8:21 AM

The link to the full quote from James C. Bennett appears to be broken.

Kevin   ·  October 15, 2008 10:50 AM

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