This is an entire Tumblr post by several people. First is the post that started it, then the comments. I am taking the liberty of posting it because it matters. It is important, in my opinion.
stupid leftists and their belief in *checks notes* the intrinsic value of human life
Reblog if you would burn down the statue of liberty to save a life
Here’s the thing, though. If you asked a conservative “Would you let the statue of liberty burn to save one life?” they’d probably scoff and say no, it’s a national landmark, a treasure, a piece of too much historical importance to let it be destroyed for the sake of one measly life.
But if you asked, “Would you let the statue of liberty burn in order to save your child? your spouse? someone you loved a great deal?” the tune abruptly changes. At the very least, there’s a hesitation. Even if they deny it, I’m willing to bet that gun to their head, the answer would be “yes.”
The basic problem here is that people have a hard time seeing outside their own sphere of influence, and empathizing beyond the few people who are right in front of them. You’ve got your immediate family, whom you love; your friends, your acquaintances, maybe to a certain degree the people who share a status with you (your religion, your race, etc.)–but beyond that? People aren’t real. They’re theoretical.
But a national monument? That’s real. It stands for something. The value of a non-realized anonymous life that exists completely outside your sphere of influence is clearly worth less than something that represents freedom and prosperity to a whole nation, right?
People who think like this lack the compassion to realize that everyone is in someone’s immediate sphere of influence–that everyone is someone’s lover, or brother, or parent. Everyone means the world to someone. And it’s the absolute height of selfishness to assume that their lives don’t have value just because they don’t mean the world to you.
P.S. I would let the statue of liberty burn to save a pigeon.
also, there is an extreme difference between what things or principles *i* personally am willing to die for, and what i would hazard others to die for. and this is a distinction i don’t think the conservative hard-right likes to face.
an example: so, as the nazis began war against france, the staff of the louvre began crating up and shipping out the artworks. it was vital to them (for many reasons) that the nazis not get their hands on the collections, and hitler’s desire for them was known, so they dispersed the objects to the four winds; one of the curators personally traveled with la gioconda, mona lisa herself, in an unmarked crate, moving at least five times from location to location to avoid detection.
they even removed and hid the nike of samothrace, “winged victory,” which is both delicate, having been pieced back together from fragments, and incredibly heavy, weighing over three metric tons.
the curators who hid these artworks risked death to ensure that they wouldn’t fall into nazi hands. and yes, they are just paintings, just statues. but when i think about the idea of hitler capturing and standing smugly beside the nike of samothrace, a statue widely beloved as a symbol of liberty, i completely understand why someone would risk their life to prevent that. if my life was all that stood between a fascist dictator and a masterpiece that inspired millions, i would be willing to risk it. my belief in the power and necessity of art would demand i do so.
if, however, a nazi held a gun to some kid’s head (any kid!) and asked me which crate the mona lisa was in, they could have it in a heartbeat. no problem! i wouldn’t even have to think about it. being willing to risk my own life on principle doesn’t mean i’m willing to see others endangered for those same principles.
and that is exactly where the conservative hard-right falls right the fuck down. they are, typically, entirely willing to watch others suffer for their own principles. they are perfectly okay with seeing children in cages because of their supposed belief in law and order. they are perfectly willing to let women die from pregnancy complications because of their anti-abortion beliefs. they are alright with poverty and disease on general principle because they hold the free-market sacrosanct. and i guess from their own example they would save the statue of liberty and let human beings burn instead.
but speaking as a leftist (i’m more comfortable with socialist tbh), my principles are not abstract things that i hold aside from life, apart or above my place as a human being in a society. my beliefs arise from being a person amidst people. i don’t love art for art’s sake alone, actually! i don’t love objects because they are objects: i love them because they are artifacts of our humanity, because they communicate and connect us, because they embody love and curiosity and fear and feeling. i love art because i love people. i want universal health care because i want to see people universally cared for. i want universal basic income because people’s safety and dignity should not be determined by their economic productivity to an employer. i am anti-war and pro-choice for the same reason: i value people’s lives but also their autonomy and right to self-determination. my beliefs are not abstractions. i could never value a type of economic system that i saw hurting people, no matter how much “growth” it produced. i could never love “law and order” more than i love a child, any child, i saw trapped in a cage.
would i be willing to risk death, trying to save the statue of liberty? probably, yes. but there is no culture without people, and therefore i also believe there are no cultural treasures worth more than other people’s lives. and as far as i’m concerned the same goes for laws, or markets, or borders.
This is an excellent ethical discussion.
The first time I came across this post, randomslasher’s addition was life changing for me. I suddenly understood where the right was coming from, and I had never been angrier.
This is also why so many people on the right fail to see the hypocrisy of trying to make abortion illegal when they themselves have had abortions. They can tally up their own life circumstances and conclude that it would be difficult or impossible to continue a pregnancy, but they’re completely mystified by the idea that women they don’t know are also human beings with complicated lives and limited spoon allocation.
This is also why they think “get a job” is useful advice. In their heads they honestly do not understand why the NPCs who make up the majority of the human race can’t just flip a switch from “no job” to “job.” When they say “get a job” they’re filing a glitch report with God and they honestly think that’s all it takes.
This is also why they tend to view demographics as individuals. They think that every single Muslim is just a different avatar for the same bit of programming.
Borrowed observation from @innuendostudios here, but: there’s also a fundamental difference in how progressives view social problems versus how conservatives view them. That is, progressives view them as problems to be solved, whereas conservatives do not believe you can solve anything.
Conservatives view social issues as universal constants that fundamentally are unable to be changed, like the weather. You can try to alter your own behavior to protect yourself (you can carry an umbrella), and you can commiserate about how bad the weather is, but you can’t stop it from raining. This is why conservatives blame victims of rape for dressing immodestly or for drinking or for going out at night: to them, those things are like going out without an umbrella when you know it’s going to rain.
“But then why do conservatives try to stop things they dislike by making them illegal, like drug use or immigration or abortion?” And the answer is: they’re not. They know perfectly well that those things will continue. No amount of studies showing that their methods are ineffective will matter to them because effectiveness is not the point. The point is to punish people for doing bad things, because punishing people is how you show your disapproval of their actions; if you don’t punish them, then you’re condoning their behavior.
This is why they will never support rehabilitative prisons, even though they reduce crime. This is why they will never support free birth control for everyone, even though that would reduce abortions. This is why they will never support just giving homeless people houses, even though it’s proven to be cheaper and more effective at stopping homelessness than halfway houses and shelters. It’s not about stopping evil, because you can’t; it’s about saying definitively what is Bad and what is Good, and we as a society do that by punishing the people we’ve decided are bad.
This is why the conservative response to “holy fuck, they’re putting children in cages!” is typically something along the lines of “it’s their parents’ fault for trying to come here illegally; if they didn’t want to have their kids taken away, they shouldn’t have committed a crime.” It doesn’t matter that entering the US unlawfully is a misdemeanor and child kidnapping isn’t typically a criminal sentence. It does not matter that this has absolutely zero effect on people unlawfully entering the US. The point is that conservatives have decided that entering unlawfully is Bad, anything that is not punishing undocumented immigrants – due process of asylum and removal defense claims, for example – is supporting Badness, and kidnapping children is an appropriate punishment for being Bad.
This is very important
This is a really good and important post that puts things into perspective. I hope you all read the entire thing and not just scroll past it. Conservatives are why we punish the victim, treat addiction and even mental illness as a crime, not an illness, why vindictiveness seems to be the rule of the day, and compassion does not come into play at all most of the time. The current Republican party has just taken this to the extreme in every way possible. Then they call themselves ‘Christians’. They have no conception of what Jesus taught, and their only god is money. Sorry, but that’s what I believe.