If you merely wish to acknowledge that everyone has rights, or as Jefferson et al put it, is endowed by the Creator in an inalienable way, well that's one thing. But acknowledgement and defense are two different things. Somebody has got to defend rights.
Let's look at the outlying conditions. In condition A, you are denied acknowledgement. In the old American racism dichotomy you had Southern Racism and Northern Racism. Southern racism says you can get socially close, but not too high. That would wold be defense without acknowledgement. The Southern bigot will defend you as a friend but deny that you can do *anything*. Northern racism says you can high but not too close. That would be acknowledgement without defense. The Northern bigot will say that, yes of course in *theory* you can do anything you like, but don't expect any help from *me*. Foggy? Yeah probly. But think about it.
I'm taking the oppressed minority metaphor angle because I just read something totally squishy in a multicultural victimology sense that also makes perfect civilized sense. Such occasions are rare and I want to take the opportunity to ackowledge and defend the principle at work, which is that Rights are the Gifts of the Strong, as in Noblesse Oblige.
If you know what cosplay is, if you are something of a geek on the comic side of the universe of fiction which sometimes approaches literature, then you probably know what Penny Arcade is. Therefore you would know what PAX is and you are probably familiar with the Dickwolf Controversy. If you are none of these things and had to put your hand down as I elaborated, all you need to know is the following:
Young adults who dig comics and videogames and fantasy fiction have aggregated themselves into an annual conference in celebration of their emergence from marginality. In other words, America has created yet another un-classically reared multi-million dollar industrial titanic 'community' from the peasantry. And like most Americans who emerge as a strident sort of minority claiming rights like 'freedom of speech'; like most Americans who suffer the need for self-aggrandizing rage; like most Americans who take their success from humble beginnings as evidence of justice, the leaders of PAX have become self-important boorish assholes, who are clueless about the difference between being right and being proper.
What's this? A difference between being right and proper? Dare we bring class and propriety into such matters? Yes we must, because of that little thing called power. And this is what was evidenced in the semi-brilliant essay I read this morning.
You see, several years ago such and such a comic mentioned slaves being raped all night by the dickwolves, which is an excruciatingly biting image. Well, I suppose you should see the comic to get the gist. Still, it should be obvious that nobody of any moral education could possibly argue for slaves to be continually raped, but is freeing 3% of them heroic? OK it's heroic, but is it heroic enough? Hold that thought. The Dickwolf Controversy involves the kind of bruha one would expect at a Northern California liberal university in which actual victims of rape show up, escorted by recently bored activists who now have a cause, to protest this gratuitous slap in the face with their newly printed No Bully signs. In this case, the leaders of PAX showed up to counter-protest claiming freedom of expression, in their newly printed Dickwolves t-shirts. The leaders of PAX, influential as they must be as demiurges of the videogame and fantasy comic book industry ultimately had the bigger wallets, and failed to issue the requisite non-apology. Of course, they're not wrong. But they're also hella wicked improper.
Since I grew up assuming the airs of the Talented Tenth, I am no stranger to Noblesse. I have learned what is proper, and to my immediate right, as if I needed to prove such things, is my Funk & Wagnells Blue Book by Emily Post. But as the Madoff-defrauded gentry of Palm Beach know all too well, the social register ain't what it used to be. Victimology is the new virtue, but what it lacks in prestige, it makes up for in self-righteousness. Well there is something to be said for prestige and propriety which this new class of self-righteous virtues politically-correct types are all to unwilling to admit. They cling to their post-modern narratives and do everything possible to isolate their morality from those who held power, prestige and propriety in Western history. They have no respect for old money, or its ways and means. To the new breed it all smells of Colonel Blimp's colonialism.
But propriety must be the standard for the emergent powers as well. At some point, they must put down the pitchforks and pick up the teacups. In the end, wearing snarky t-shirts is the mark of someone who doesn't want to be responsible, but just make powerful noise. The world emphatically does not need more powerful noisemakers, because some values are simply absolute. And this is what our essayist, squishy feminist protester that she may be, does in fact recognize, with precisely the subtlty the situation called for. If you are going to give credibility to the power of fanboys of alternative fantasy universes, there are still some old school standards of propriety they are going to have to adhere to in order to maintain any respectability whatsoever.
Now let's get back to the gifts of the strong. Clearly in the case of the PAXian pro-dickwolf chavs, their feisty claims to freedom of expression gave rise to dunderheaded peasant vulgarity, which they felt no compulsion to rise above, apologize for or reign in. You can call email rape threats bullying but it seems to me our feminist friend ultimately did what makes sense, which is to call them on their incivility and discriminate. What may arise from this principled choice may end up as a feminist alternative to the alternative, but hopefully not. The proper observation from my POV is to note the cracked moral foundation of the PAX leadership and their ultimate inability to lead civilized people. PAX, under such guidance, will degenerate, like rap did, for the same 'anti-feminist' reasons, which should lead us to recall that perhaps there is no virtue in anti-social nerddom, no matter how many anti-social nerds one aggregates into a 'community'. In short, there are no gifts forthcoming, these dudes aint so strong.
Secondarily and tangentially though, let us expand the idea up the nation-sized.
Our president decided back in 2007 that he might meet personally with Bashar Assad who was cosplaying his father's dictatorial rule over Syria. As time progressed, Assad proceded to become less fantastically and more realistically a rapist of slaves, especially with regard to their rights which he obviously didn't defend or acknowlege. On the way to becoming a target of chemical weapons, you predictably lose both acknowledgment and defense. The junior Assad, of course, was weak, and had to show strength through callous brutality. Not real virtue, but the dishonorable, unprestigious and improper noise of abusive power. Something those who consider themselves victims will always be quick to demonstrate.
And so what kind of dickwolvian tales do we have to hear from the Syrians, or in fact anyone suffering under tyrants before we become anything more than 3% heroic? If you remember properly, we sent Condi Rice over to Lebanon to make sure that Hezbollah and other Syrian funded commandos were safe from those evil Israelis. And of course Americans were absolutely convinced, or so went our policy, that Israel was a much worse ruler over people than the Syrian backed commandos. Because Cedar Revolution PAX! Or some such illogic. And so we were 3% effective. Iran backed Syria, Syria backed Hezbollah and Hezbollah is better than Israel because Hezbollah serves Palestinians unconditionally. Right? That is a question I think too few people are contemplating. And this is testament to the new (strength) of America, which is our complete unwillingness to see this same kind of pattern and be heroic.
In the wake of the failure of the Iraq War to satisfy my neoconservative dreams, I recognized the genius of Russell Kirk who said there is no such thing as Human Rights. That is because there is no international sovereign power, and God help us if there ever is. There is only national sovereign power and thus only Civil Rights. A lot of Americans might pretend to say that there is a such thing as Human Rights and acknowledge that Syrians have them as do the Chinese and the people of Myanmar. Yes, they have Human Rights in theory we acknowlege, but you already know that they won't be defended.