Once Americans get riled up, there’s no being saved
A recent Zogby poll says that 75 percent of American college seniors report that their professors teach there is no such thing as right and wrong in the literal sense. The poll taken for the National Association of Scholars reveals that teachers address the issues of good and evil in terms of “individual values and cultural diversity.”
A large majority of the 400 students polled also report that they’ve been taught that corporate policies furthering “progressive” social and political goals are more important than those ensuring that stockholders and creditors receive accurate accounts of a firm’s finances.
That explains Jesse Jackson. A recent Fox News poll asked African-Americans if they still have a favorable opinion of Jackson, and about 70 percent do — even after his financial shenanigans and mistress problems had been extensively reported. The sentiment seems to be that if Jackson is helping blacks, then his questionable methods are OK.
Americans are much less likely to make moral judgments now than they were 30 years ago when the Vietnam War polarized the nation. The terror attack on 9-11 has brought back good and evil to some extent, but we are still a nation slow to moral anger.
But when moral indignation happens, it is crushing. Michael Jackson is currently making a complete fool of himself by running around crying racism because his latest album bombed. Jackson’s problem is himself. Millions of Americans perceive him to be a danger to children and are appalled by his surgically altered appearance. Jackson’s once formidable fan base has fled — and his own conduct is the reason.
Woody Allen’s situation is similar. Once he married his young stepdaughter, the curtain came down. That kind of stuff may play in France, but in America, outside of a few big cities, Allen is a pariah. His movies almost always bomb. He is shunned and ignored by most everyday folks.
The moral outrage of Americans has now turned on Wall Street. Many Americans are selling stock out of anger and emotion. Even the pro-business Bush administration understands there is danger in this moral undertow. Millions of hard-working Americans lost considerable amounts of money because corporate criminals lied to them. At the same time, the Ken Lays and Bernie Ebbers of the world were lining their pockets. These guys make Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos look like Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Martha Stewart may think she’ll survive the insider-trading investigation, but she will emerge as damaged goods. Stewart’s sins were minor compared to the Fortune 500 thieves, but she has been tagged as greedy and elitist, and that will stick. Stewart may maintain a fan base of domestic fanatics, but her image is shattered. Nobody likes a glutton at the table, Martha.
The Zogby poll on the college professors did not surprise me. It was like that in the early ’70s when I was in college. There is something in the air at American universities that makes educated people loopy. Many teachers live in a world of theory and utopian conversation. They see the world not as it is, but as they want it to be. And annoying questions about moral absolutes and unacceptable behavior are usually deflected and left unanswered.
Look no further than Bill Clinton if you want proof of that. More than 80 percent of Ivy League professors voted for the man. What he did and who he is didn’t really matter — he told the intellectuals what they wanted to hear, and that was more than enough.
Even now, there are Americans who do not want more government oversight of corporations, who feel sorry for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, who object to any condemnation of rogue governments. For those of us who see the world as a dangerous place, and want accountability for dishonest and destructive behavior, the moral relativists are infuriating. But they have a firm grip on our nation’s colleges, and they are well represented in the media.
But these nonjudgmental types are no match for regular Americans when they finally get riled up. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Michael Jackson.