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Why we need #MeToo now

Liberal activists are as driven by moral instincts and emotions as any street preacher, and it is moral emotions that drive how we use the growing power associated with victimhood: Moral indignation, disgust, outrage, vindictiveness, empathic anguish, protective nurturing, love — and, of course the sweet, sweet sensation of righteous superiority; we are only human, after all. Each of these gets attached to the causes we fight, and all of them get activated when we talk about sexual harassment, exploitation and assault.

Seven or eight years ago, psychologist Jonathan Haidt briefly starred as the darling of the progressive left. Liberal thought leaders and progressive organizers were struggling to understand the moral (and immoral) priorities of the right, and Haidt’s book, “The Righteous Mind,” offered an analysis that made some sense.

Haidt said that shared community requires “moral capital,” which he defined as “the degree to which a community possesses interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, and technologies that mesh well with evolved psychological mechanisms and thereby enable the community to suppress or regulate selfishness and make cooperation possible.” He defined a moral matrix consisting of six factors:

  • Care/harm
  • Liberty/oppression
  • Fairness/cheating
  • Loyalty/betrayal
  • Authority/subversion
  • Sanctity/degradation

Conservatives place fairly equal value on all six, he said, while liberals build moral community around the first three of these, with a strong emphasis on the first, care/harm. “For American liberals since the 1960s, I believe that the most sacred value is caring for victims of oppression. Anyone who blames such victims for their own problems or who displays or merely excuses prejudice against sacralized victim groups can expect a vehement tribal response.” Sacralized victim groups — that includes #MeToo. It includes me, too.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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