The Morality of Attacking America

The ambiguity in the title is intended.

In part two of The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama, “No Equivalence: President Obama on Jus in bello,” Stephen L. Carter addresses the question of moral equivalence; namely, asking questions related to the morality of the actions of America in a war versus the actions of those whom America is fighting. He argues, quite convincingly, that Americans, by and large, do not believe in moral equivalence:

Thus we find it perfectly suitable when the President goes on to say, at the Fort Hood Service:

It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know – no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice – in this world, and the next.

Again, imagine now the Taliban memorial service, a leader condemning the “twisted logic” behind America’s drone attacks, and insisting that God does not look upon the killers with favor. Suppose he goes on to promise that those who have slain on his soil “will be met with justice – in this world, and the next.”

Feel the chill?

Feel the difference?

President Obama, as do most Americans, believes that no attack on America is ever just(ified).

Do you agree with this position? Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Simply put, is attacking America morally different from being attacked by America?


3 thoughts on “The Morality of Attacking America

  1. Does the Gangsta have moral equivalence with the SWAT team sent to bring him him down? Did the Axis have moral equivalence with the Allies when we fought to bring them down? The answer is no in both cases as it is in any case involving the Muslim terrorists..

  2. @jonolan I don’t think the post is actually a *statement* about moral equivalence, but the fact that Americans rarely ask the question of whether or not there is ANY attack from ANY source for ANY motivation that would be justified on ANY grounds. _Yet_ we are often willing to justify our action (or at least our action by proxy) by the same arguments which we abhor in others. (In fact the language of “Muslim terrorist” in the same way as the language of “Muslim martyr” or “Muslim freedom fighter” has already presumed an answer to the question of morality…we don’t ever ask whether we are rightly paralleled with the Axis or the Allies,…)

  3. Our host chose poorly then in the quote to substantiate what he claims is Carter’s point. Context and participants are important in that they effect equivalence.

    Now, in a non-contextual sense, I can say that it would be possible for it to be morally right for someone to attack America. I certainly won’t say that the indigenous populations of America were wrong for trying to repel our ancestors as an example.

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