Monday, May 26, 2008

Illiberal Guilt

Ezra Klein praises Ron Rosenbaum's praise of liberal guilt. He laments the convervative "sleight-of-hand... [that has] recast feeling guilt as a character flaw, as political weakness, as soft-headed emotionalism." Then he renders this revealing formulation.

People don't like to feel guilt, particularly over actions they didn't directly commit.

I myself don't feel guilt over actions I didn't commit, because there is no reason to. Klein appears to allow for guilt arising from indirect culpability. The notion that I should espouse a politics that seeks to make me -- the product of an Italian immigrant and Jews who fled the pogroms -- indirectly responsible for Jim Crow and similar crimes is offensive without the help of conservative legerdemain.

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