On campus, on the campaign trail.
Hillary Clinton in recent months has done the following:
She charged UCLA somewhere around $300,000 for reciting some platitudes. That works out to over $165 a second for her 30 minutes on stage — meaning that she made more in one minute than a student barista does in a year.
Ms. Clinton acknowledges that, while secretary of state, she solicited donations from wealthy foreign nationals for her family foundation, whose funds she and her husband have frequently tapped for exclusive travel and other expenses.
Everything Ms. Clinton has said recently seems to be demonstrably untrue: Only one of her grandparents, not all four, was an immigrant. One does not need to have two smartphones to have two e-mail accounts. She did not regularly e-mail her husband. One does not secure a server by having a guard on the premises. A cabinet officer does not communicate exclusively on a private e-mail account via a private unsecured server. High government officials do not themselves adjudicate which e-mails are private and which public — and then wipe clean their accounts to avoid an audit of such decision-making.
The multimillionaire Ms. Clinton, fresh from jabs against hedge funds and inordinate CEO pay, also just bought lunch at a fast-food restaurant and left no tip in the jar, before parking her car in a handicapped zone at another stop. How is all this connected?
Ms. Clinton’s private ethics are, as usual, a mess, both in the sense of failing to follow legal protocols and tell the truth, and in the less formal sense of price-gouging cash-strapped universities, failing to show some tiny generosity to the working classes, and abusing accommodations intended to help the disabled.
But Ms. Clinton’s public ethics are loud and clear: She damns the effects of private money in polluting politics; she is furious about Wall Street profit-making; she is worried about the compensation of the struggling middle class. Indeed, so concerned is Hillary Clinton about the pernicious role of big money and the easy ability of our elites to make huge profits without traditional sweat and toil that she might well have to lecture her own son-in-law, who manages a multimillion-dollar hedge fund. Or better yet, Ms. Clinton’s advisers might warn her that in order to stop the pernicious role of big money in politics, she may be forced to top Barack Obama’s record fund-raising and rake in an anticipated $2.5 billion for the 2016 election.
Is there a pattern here? The more Hillary Clinton sounds cosmically egalitarian and caring, the more she acts privately like a stingy 1 percenter who does not consider that the laws and protocols that apply to other people must apply to herself. This is probably no accident, given that the quest for cosmic justice usually empowers private injustice.
The provost of Stanford University recently wrote a letter to campus faculty and staff to address a perceived epidemic of student cheating. One report had suggested that 20 percent of the students in a large introductory course were suspected of exam misconduct. At about the same time as this new alarm, Stanford students had one of their customarily raucous meetings, in which student-body officials voted to urge the university to divest from many companies doing business with Israel. Does democratic Israel pose a greater moral challenge to Stanford students than their own propensity to lie and cheat in order to promote their careers? Are there more courses taught at Stanford on Aristotle’s Ethics or on race/class/gender -isms and -ologies?
I just received another of the periodic reminders from the university that all faculty and staff who have assistants must complete sexual-harassment training. Indeed, walk across the Stanford plaza or peruse the catalogue of courses, and it is clear that Stanford students are inundated with therapeutic instruction on how to think properly about race, class, gender, and global warming — on how to think correctly about everything in the abstract, but not on how to think about how to take a test honestly. How can such sophisticated moralists be prone to such unsophisticated sins as cheating? In such a postmodern landscape, how can there be vestiges of pre-modern wrongdoing? Anyone who regularly parks a bicycle on the Stanford campus — renowned for its efforts to encourage green energy — with a modest bike cable, rather a heavy steel security system, in due time will have it stolen. Is that called postmodern theft?
As a professor in the California State University system for 21 years, I noted two developments. Therapeutic-studies courses increased at a rapid clip, but even more so did cheating — especially with the advent of new technology. Nothing is more surreal than reading a student’s boilerplate critiques of traditional American culture — and with a brief Google search finding his sentences lifted word for word from the Internet.
I am not suggesting that there is a direct connection between the new political correctness and an epidemic of personal dishonesty — only that at best the former has done nothing to discourage the latter, and at worst PC seems to delude students into thinking that if they are morally correct on universal issues, then they deserve some pass on what they consider minor fudging in their own particular lives. How can one effectively fight racism or global warming if one does not use the tools at one’s disposal to get an influential job upon graduation?
Of course, everyone can be hypocritical at times. But this new epidemic of progressive personal asymmetry is a bit different from what we were accustomed to not so long ago. Bill Clinton can hang with a man convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, and fly on his private plane, which is customarily stocked with bought pleasure girls — but only if he reassures us that he is a committed feminist. Harvard faculty can lecture us on our ethical shortcomings, while they outsource classes to grad students and adjuncts who are making a fraction of their own compensation per course. They are loud supporters of unionization everywhere but among graduate students and part-timers at Harvard.
Frequent White House guest Al Sharpton is a tax cheat, a homophobe, and an inciter of riot and mayhem, with a long history of racial disparagement. But he knows that all that private sin is contextualized by his loud sermonizing on the supposed racism of white America. Eric Holder can fly his daughters and their boyfriends to the Belmont Stakes on a government jet — but only because he is Eric Holder, who periodically blasts America’s supposed ethical reactionaries. Is progressivism among our elites now mostly a careerist con game? Ask departed cabinet officers like Lisa Jackson or Hilda Solis whether their own ethical lapses were overshadowed by their politically correct politics.
According to the laws of feminism, women should not latch onto ambitious alpha males to enhance their own professional trajectories; certainly they do not put up with chronically two-timing husbands either for the continuance of financial security or because of worries about the viability of their own careers. Yet Hillary seems to think that her loud feminist credentials are a sort of insurance policy, preventing anyone from daring to accuse her of accepting the gender roles of the 1950s.
The danger of the new hard-left progressivism is that the old sins of greed, connivance, and malfeasance are now offset by assertions of cosmic morality. The ostentatiously green Solyndra could hardly be thought of as shaking down operators in the Obama administration to provide a sweetheart loan for the crony-capitalist architects of a money-losing mess. Al Gore is so worried about how corporate culture promotes damage to the planet that he was forced to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for his own green corporations to warn us about other such cynics. He is so shocked about CO2 emissions and the global petroleum culture that he unloaded his underperforming and overpriced cable channel to a carbon-exporting, anti-Jewish autocratic sheikhdom that paid him handsomely with its petrodollars.
Michelle and Barack Obama are so concerned about global warming that not long ago they left two huge carbon footprints, when simultaneously they took separate government jumbo jets to fly out to Los Angeles to appear on separate talk shows. This was worthy of Leonardo DiCaprio, who on his private jet flew to conferences on the carbon excesses of hoi polloi. Elizabeth Warren is so committed to a fair and just society where egalitarianism is the shared goal, and where we assume that no one creates anything without the government, that she and her husband often augmented the generous incomes from their Harvard law professorships with lucrative corporate consulting to achieve 1 percenter status, with nearly $1 million in annual income.
The avatars of modern progressivism are not distinguishable in the lives that they live from the targets of their attack. Those on campus who talk the most loudly of the bane of white privilege at Harvard or Stanford do not live like poor whites in Tulare or El Paso, who have no privilege, racial or financial. The pajama-boy progressives of Cambridge or Menlo Park can enjoy their white privilege freely — but only by damning it in others. (Do such young campus auditors ever drive down to a Bakersfield brake shop to explain to its grease-smeared mechanics in the pit that, being white, they enjoy too much racial advantage?) The Obamas and the progressive black elite have to decry stereotyping, profiling, and the prejudices of low expectations; only by such preemptive doublespeak can they jet to horse races with impunity or put their children in Sidwell Friends rather than in the Washington, D.C., public schools.
The Left created a culture of pajama-boy elites, one that sought cosmic absolution for its own privilege by attacking the less privileged — and then they called this ethical desert progressivism.
17 thoughts on “Moral Schizophrenics”
Dr Hanson –
You are very clever with words but it seems that this article can be summed as this: Liberal elites are phony two faced hypocrites and our higher education schools are more concerned with turning out PC robots rather than training students to think freely.
This This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, “I have done no wrong.” Proverbs 30:20 NASB.
Why don’t the universities just get to their point, and hire a Muslim Extremist for $300,000 to speak to Eloi undergrads & cut off their heads. Would this be more honest than hiring Hillary to speak worms into their brains?
Fantastic correlations. THANK YOU for speaking up.
Isn’t it strange too how “Morality” used to include faithfulness to one wife and abstinence from sex before marriage, paying one’s debts and taxes honestly, speaking the truth at all times. Now it only seems to include race and gender issues, and even the latter is only a matter of public speech, not private exploitation and lechery.
It appears to at least one old-retired-fart that the United States is on the road to emulating, if not becoming, another western banana republic.
From Lois Lerner “taking the fifth” with impunity to Hillary Clinton openly boasting of brazen ineptitude under a “what does it matter” banner, and everything in between, so much of our government and other public institutions are ‘substandard’ (to paraphrase our banana republic fearful leader).
Although our debt is oblivious, sliding-the-slippery-slop into a one party system still doesn’t seem quite likely. Possibilities notwithstanding, the one image that does it (or undoes it) for me is Lois Lerner’s granddaughter doing the same thing as her grandmother but not as a newly minted apparatchik full of ideology but as an apparatchik minted from a worn-out stamp-press and filled with privilege to grease her palm.
The only issue that Dr.Hanson has not addressed in depth in his acutely accurate survey of the elite hypocrisy, is that the issue is a moral one and hence a direct descendant of the rejection of the acceptance of a transcendent moral code. As a Catholic who, in his youth, left the Church (since returned) and accepted the relativism of the elites, I am sensitive to the gross as well as the subtle aspects of ” do it if you feel good about it” morality.
There is simply no way to fight an Islam that, however murderous, is so for what it deems irreducible morally correct reasons. Nor without a moral basis can we rely on the law as a restraint with its apparently easily avoided bite, not the internal belief in good and evil. But if we have abandoned the very basis of the society of the West, what is it we offer the world besides an increasingly empty, (if dazzling), materialism and sloppy emotionalism?
For example,if we do not even accept that the obvious physical differences between men and women reflect far deeper differences in their entire being, (something so obvious that anyone can grasp it as a natural reality, how in the world can we offer that our flawed democratic republic as preferable to a theocratic totalitarianism?
The ethical problems which Dr. Hanson describes are moral issues. But we have abandoned the shared morality of Christianity, weakened by the Protestant Revolution into the relativism of the dominance of individual judgement, which inevitable deteriorates, because of its chaotic nature, into the unrestrained dominance of the powerful.
And who will watch the watchmen if they are not motivated to watch themselves?
Obama broke off the chain and left lasting damage to the United States that may never be fixed. The Democrat spin-machine knows this; they need a Hail Mary pass. The Hillary playbook—- Recapture the fever of Obama making history, except this time with an estrogen twist. Look for the old battle-axe to bribe the public for a vote—– Republican’s, be ready to counter that.
“…at worst PC seems to delude students into thinking that … they are morally correct…” Yes, PC is an ethos in itself that has and endgame: deconstruction of judeo-christian culture and values. From there the leap to totalitarian society is well, not a leap at all. The moral idiots preening on the American campus are the true useful idiots of the Left that cannot exist without a vacuum. So it is tribal warfare, coming to a shopping center near you and a “society” that seriously considers Hillary Clinton as its leader. Older Americans, mostly dead now, would say the solution is another Depression. Alas, that insight is no longer true, because the only lesson to be learned by these moral idiots in an economic catastrophe will be merely how to prey on the weak.
Have a nice day.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Wonder where this is from? The oath Hillary Took?
Too true. And aptly described as usual. But I don’t think it’s as new or recent a phenomenon, relative to progressivism, as the good professor suggests. Nothing new under the sun. My considered view is that it began in earnest with FDR’s duplicitous character (Four Freedoms for all zero fidelity for the individual : Save the world for democracy incarcerate your own citizens who merely happen to look like one, and only one, of your enemy ethnicities), and really got into full swing with JFK’s even more advanced kink between private (those nuisance particulars) and public (the nuanced cosmos) morality. Both understandably garnered sympathy bordering on deified hero worship. Today’s schizoid dance is just a continuation.
As for the free pass, aka get out of jail free fiasco and farce — It’s like my neighbor who incants “I’m going green” as he and his wife drive by in their twin SUVs one pulling a boat and the other a trailer-camper with a “drain lake powell” bumper sticker. All you have to do is say the magic words…and you’re saved.
Do what i say, not what i do..
hmmm…….nothing new under the sun,,,,it´s the old age sin of hypocrisy…
Right on point, as usual Victor.
By the way, does anybody know if Hugh Hefner qualifies as a pajama boy?
Not to mention the various movie and rock stars who join the elite progressives to lament the horrors of capitalism while enjoying the financial benefits of a free market entertainment industry.
It’s a kind of carbon credit of morality. You pay in to the ethics bank so that you can live the life to which…
If the road to hell is really paved with good intentions, there is somewhere right now an eight lane freeway headed straight into it with a stop and go traffic jam of buses filled with wealthy progressives. Those few not on board buses are still on the path of ‘walk the talk’ having gone ten feet in the last few years.
Excellent article, as usual, but I’ve been conditioned — maybe it’s a Canadian thing? — to cringe at the use of “schizoprenic” to mean “multiple-personality.” “Multiple-personality morality” has the added benefit of alliteration.
I only hope that all of this exposure of Clinton leads to her losing, but all I hear from the hoi-polloi here, at least, is “Are you ready for the first woman President?”
At election time voting for her will sitll be too inconvenient, much like her public/private email.
Pingback: Tim Donnelly Show – On Air TODAY – Dr. Victor Davis Hanson