You wouldn’t think it was a point that needed to be made, but apparently it does: fascism is wrong. I mention this because yesterday I was called a fascist by a young arty-looking fellow in downtown Chicago. We were outside the Art Institute of Chicago holding one of our Face the Truth Tours. The young fellow called out from across the street, “Fascist!” I held my hand up to my ear, as to say, “Explain.” “You fascist!” he cried, “You can’t decide for us what’s right and wrong!” “Okay!” I answered. He walked on and I had time for no more response than that. But I meant that: He’s right that I can’t decide what’s right and wrong for him, or for anyoneâ€”including myself. All any of us can do is to discern what is right and what is wrong. Such as fascism. Had the young fellow taken the trouble to walk across the street, I would have pointed out to him that behind his calling me a fascist is the conviction that fascism is wrong. His problem, of course, wasn’t with my “deciding for him” what’s right and wrongâ€”as if my moral opinions, simply by virtue of my holding them, constitute a bar on his behavior. No, his problem is with my naming right and wrong. And yet, he was doing just that by calling me a fascist. If there is no objective right and wrong, no moral truth that can be discovered, known and acted upon, then there’s no basis for denouncing fascists. To call a man a fascist, then, is as much as to call him a federalist, a republican, a democrat, a monarchist, an anarchist. He holds one set of political views among many, none of which can be called better or worse, more or less right or wrong, than any other, for there is no basis for comparison; there is nothing right or wrong which his preferred system would advance or curtail. Nor is there any point, in such a world, in complaining about a group of people standing outside a public building holding graphic abortion signs. To complain about it is as much as to say it’s wrong and we oughtn’t to do it. Which is a moral judgment of that activity. But if moral judgments are out, you can’t complain about anybody else’s actions. At least, you can’t call them wrong. On the other hand, if there is such a thing as right and wrong, doesn’t a particular responsibility fall upon those who have discovered these things to share them with their fellow men? That’s why we were there yesterday outside the Art Institute with our signs depicting the truth about abortion. Interestingly, our signs did not make a moral judgment about abortionâ€”not explicitly, anyway. We were not “deciding” the moral character of abortion, but, contrary to that young man’s claim, quite deliberately leaving it up to passers by to see what abortion is and recognize that it is wrong. We are so convinced that there is moral truth and that men are capable of discerning and acting upon it, that if we but expose the plain, graphic truth of abortion, people will recognize that it is evil. It is unfortunate that this young manâ€”who, as we have seen, actually does hold views about right and wrongâ€”does not feel the same obligation that we do to share the truth. He wouldn’t call me a fascist, I’m sure (I should love to know, by the way, what definition of “fascism” can include a little handful of mild-mannered citizens shivering on the sidewalk with their protest signs). Rather believing, as we do, that other men are capable of knowing the truth, he would offer to share with me his insights on it. But rather than discuss the matter civilly, rather then treat me as a fellow human being deserving respect howsoever much he may disagree with me and my way of life, he flung out a slur. And in that he was behaving rather likeâ€”a fascist.
(Cross-posted at Square Zero.)