Topic: Government & Politics

On Purple Hearts

One of the primary ethical rationalizations (which are simply defined as lies one tells oneself in order to justify doing the wrong thing) is “They started it.” This one has been used through the ages to make a case for committing atrocities, killing children, and burning cities, as well as for all manner of lesser misconduct ranging from rival college teams stealing mascots to law suit adversaries hiding documents. It is never a valid justification for unethical conduct. The logic, if one can call such warped analysis logical, is that somehow what was wrong for your adversary to do becomes right for you because he did it. Make sense? Not if you think about it for more than about a second. Bad behavior by an adversary is not a license to do that same thing, unless matters of right and wrong are always going to be secondary to “getting even.”

Thus the Bush campaign crowd should stop trying to discredit Senator John Kerry’s war record or battle decorations. It makes no difference whether all his purple hearts were stoutly earned, and the effort to uncover some irregularity in the honors is just as mean-spirited and without merit as earlier Democratic efforts to find fault with President Bush’s National Guard Service. Okay, “they started it”. And to the Ethics Scoreboard, it made them look petty, desperate and vicious. That is how the GOP looks now. “They started it” is a recipe for feuds, disruption and ethical disaster. Celebrate Kerry’s war record, give him the benefit of the doubt, and make the case that your candidate is better.

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