What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

The Leiter Reports, an apologist for murder?

If I understand Brian Leiter's criticism of Ed Feser correctly, a person, X, who makes the moral judgment that person Y is a murderer, and Y is subsequently harmed by another, W, who claims he committed the deed because he too, like X, concluded that person Y is a murderer, therefore, X is an apologist for Y's harm. But if this is the case, then Leiter as well as the Code Pink and Moveon.org activists were apologists for the man who carried the grenade that was meant for President Bush in a 2005 visit to the former Soviet republic of Georgia. In 2004, Leiter referred to Bush as a "criminal war-monger." In that same year, Leiter predicted with great confidence the imminency of a national military draft and claimed that President Bush was destroying the United States. Six months later in early 2005 he again claimed the draft was imminent. (Imminence, apparently, can procrastinate on occasion, or perhaps confirmation of the draft's reality was awaiting the arrival of the black helicopters). Also in 2004, Leiter claimed that Bush illegally disenfranchised black voters in Florida. On Bush's second inaugural, Leiter writes on January 20, 2005: "Very dark days lie ahead for humanity. On the most charitable (and implausible) interpretation, the talk about freedom is genuine. Even so, the idea that a single country would take it upon itself to "free" all those countries ruled by tyrannies would promise a global holocaust and bloodbath of unimaginable proportions." (my emphasis)

Writing several months after the grenade attempt, Leiter compares the Bush administration to the propagandists of Hitler's regime and elsewhere declares of Bush's White House: "most people in the world (having apparently learned the Golden Rule as children) consider the U.S., quite correctly, to be `the major threat to global peace' based on its currently unparalleled record of actual aggression and murder in the last couple of years."

So, to employ Leiter's own logic to his own comments, if Dietrich Bonhoeffer was justified in attempting to assassinate Hitler, then did not Leiter provide the grounds by which a citizen would have been justified in assassinating Bush? After all, according to Leiter, Bush was, among other things, a racist "criminal war-monger" who was destroying America, and whose plans "would promise a global holocaust and bloodbath of unimaginable proportions" for which he would institute (imminently, twice) military conscription. (emphasis mine). That's the sort of apocalyptic talk that would make a fire and brimstone dispensationalist preacher blush.

Thus, Leiter, according to Leiter's own hermeneutics of political and moral discourse, was an "apologist for murder" during the Bush administration.

Of course, he could respond: "There is nothing inconsistent with claiming that Bush is a murderer, a racist, and a criminal war-monger while at the same making the judgment that it would be morally wrong to assassinate him." At that point, ironically, he would be offering the same sort of argument offered by Ed Feser, which Leiter dismisses as unpersuasive. But, unlike Feser who condemned the assassination of Dr. Tiller, I could not find anyplace in which Leiter condemns the possible assassination of President Bush as immoral, even though his incendiary language would seem to lend philosophical assistance to those who (however crazy and unbalanced) might have felt compelled to commit that act. But even if he did explicitly condemn that assassination as immoral, it would only mean that he and Feser are exactly in the same position.