An extreme embodiment of liberal morality

Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative in Australia sums up my discussion of the liberal idea of morality, then quotes an Andrew Bolt column about Marcus Einfeld, an Australian human rights judge and liberal activist who embodies that morality. Bolt calls Einfeld a “great exemplar of the new morality—in which you are judged not by your own sins, but by how savagely you damn those of others.” Richardson quotes only part of Bolt’s article, perhaps because his Australian readers know the facts of Einfeld’s case and don’t need to be told them again. But the whole article is remarkable and here it is:

Einfeld, there’s no virtue in lying ‘honestly’
Andrew Bolt
March 25, 2009

MARCUS Einfeld, the lying judge and human rights blowhard, is the perfect symbol of our time.

He is, he says proudly, an honest liar. And that makes him a member of a big and fashionable new club.

It is true, Einfeld admits, that “I told a lie”—perjuring himself in court by claiming that the person driving his car too fast in 2006 was an American friend who had been dead for three years.

That is the crime that had Einfeld, a former Federal Court judge, jailed last week for at least two years.

But asked on ABC’s Four Corners this week if his repeated lying—to police, courts, journalists—to escape a $77 fine meant he was dishonest, Einfeld bristled.

“That’s a bit offensive and I don’t think I’m in the slightest bit dishonest. I just made a mistake …” [emphasis added by LA.]

As I said, the judge is an honest liar. He just made a “mistake”.

Well, actually, quite of lot of mistakes.

This honest judge also lied—sorry, made “mistakes”—on three other occasions he was caught speeding or running red lights, each time claiming his car was being driven by friends who were not in the country. Or alive.

Einfeld made another “mistake” when he falsely claimed he was acting pro bono for the wrongfully detained Vivian Alvarez Solon, when in fact he charged the Federal Government $72,783.33 for his selfless work.

He had earlier quit as head of the Human Rights Commission after making yet another “mistake”—claiming compensation both from the HRC and his insurance company for a new overcoat he swore he had lost in New York, but for which he had no receipt.

He also “mistakenly” claimed to have been a director of Marks & Spencer, and “mistakenly” boasted of earning American degrees he had bought.

I suspect he also may have made further “mistakes” in managing to go through two previous marriages.

And he somehow got former ABC and SBS journalist Vivien Schenker, once a Labor staffer, to make a “mistake” for him by falsely telling police he was not at the wheel of his speeding car.

Even as the Four Corners cameras rolled, Einfeld made another “mistake”—or confession: “I never lie in statutory declarations if I can conceivably have any hope of it being true. I never tell untruths.” What, never?

You might well ask how Einfeld, with such a record, could be trusted with a job requiring him to distinguish truth from falsehood. Surely his inability to detect a lie even when he tells it himself should make us suspect every judgment he handed down.

A review of all the cases decided by this lying judge is now required.

But what makes Einfeld not just an example of personal failings, but a symbol of the failings of us all, is that he has for so long been a worshipped member of our new, secular priesthood.

Einfeld is clearly not the kind of man who out of the blue, against character and habit, started at age 68 to tell florid lies about just one case of speeding.

Some who have known him long say he is as he always seemed to me from afar—as sanctimonious as he is arrogant. Is it surprising that such a man should feel above the laws of the lesser men around him?

That he felt just that may be deduced not just by his lies and perjury, but even by his repeated breaches of our road laws. Even in the Four Corners documentary, he gives an interview in the back seat of a car, disdaining to buckle up.

Yet his manifest private failings were thought so irrelevant by our culture makers that Einfeld was made not just a judge but the first head of the HRC and an official National Living Treasure. The media loved him. [LA replies: Australia names people as official “National Living Treasures”? Talk about liberal self-esteem and the cult of the human!]

Why? Because he was a great exemplar of the new morality—in which you are judged not by your own sins, but by how savagely you damn those of others.

So you show your goodness by going to a free concert to “raise awareness” of some cause that you angrily demand the go’mint fix while you just dance.

Or you tell honest lies as a journalist in a cause as “good” as global warming or the “stolen generations”.

Or you are hailed as “selfless” for being a professional moralist as well-paid as was Einfeld, fighting as HRC boss for human rights at a salary now pegged at $260,000 a year.

It’s what you say, not what you do. And in Einfeld’s case, this perjurer, liar, and serial husband showed his goodness by denouncing Australians again and again in the modish way—as racists, xenophobes and heartless.

A sample of just one of his many, many denunciatory sermons: “Too many of us appear now to be so transfixed by fear and prejudice, often politically motivated and too easily spread by a very superficial media …”

And another: “There is no human right to lie. Are there no limits to our willingness to connive in evil?”

Gotcha! you may think. But of course Einfeld was denouncing not himself, but you—because an Einfeld is, of course, of a class in the thundering clouds above the masses, far above its petty laws and mores.

And this allows him to be the most moral of modern men—a perfectly honest liar.

[end of Bolt article]

I wrote this to Mark Richardson:

Thank you for your treatment of my discussion of the liberal idea of morality.

I’m just reading the full Andrew Bolt column on Einfeld. He’s unbelievable, unprecedented perhaps in the starkness of the contrast between his moral righteousness toward others and his own bad behavior which he denies.

And how about that as a coincidence—that the Bolt column on Einfeld was published the same day as my discussion of the liberal idea of morality?

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

If you look at the comments there at Oz Conservative, I posted an excerpt about hypocrisy from a novel, I ran across this a few years ago and found it a keen insight on hypocrisy and how our elite views it. One of the characters concludes, “So they [our current moral ‘elite’] were morally superior to the Victorians even though—in fact, because—they had no morals at all.”

Mark Richardson replies to LA:

My pleasure to have commented on your post. I did wonder at the coincidence of your post and Bolt’s article appearing together—it’s a remarkable example of things coming together. And yes Australia does have National Living Treasures (France and Japan have this too I believe). But it’s not something that has caught the imagination of the public.

LA replies:

Let’s say that there was a unusually talented person who was making a highly valued contribution to his nation’s life. Could there by anything more calculated to destroy his talent than to name him a National Living Treasure?

People ought to be recognized and acknowledged for their achievements. But modern society goes way, way beyond that with its unending celebrations and awards. And the reason is (I’m sorry to keep repeating myself) that modern society doesn’t believe in God or the good; under liberalism, the human self is the highest value. Under a traditional Western and Christian understanding, the human self is highly valued, but it acquires its meaning and value through its relationship with a truth beyond itself.

Kristor replies:

Consider, by way of contrast, the many composers from the Baroque era and before, who signed their works “Anonymous.” Or consider the masons of the Gothic Cathedrals, who signed their masterpieces by carving prayers or self-portraits into their stones, facing upward, and placed up under the roof where no one but God would ever be able to see them.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 26, 2009 12:01 PM | Send

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