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Robert Bork's Moral Equivalency Formula


In Yesterday’s Wall St. Journal, former federal judge Robert H. Bork wrote what so many Americans feel in their hearts. Bork, you see, is rather upset with his conservative brethren who seem to think that Elian Gonzalez should be with his father instead of staying in America. So he used the precious space of America’s most widely circulated newspaper to take a few of them to task. Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla) received the worst upbraiding from Bork.

Bork wrote:

Conservatives favor what they call “family values.” Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla) refers to a “little boy who has lost his mother and desperately needs his father” and to the importance of ‘daddies’ to six-year-old boys. He asks rhetorically, “How would the United States react if its role and Cuba’s were reversed?” The question assumes the moral equivalence of Cuba and the U.S. They are not equivalent; and even if it sheltered Elian, the U.S. would be entirely justified in demanding that an American boy be returned from that Caribbean hell hole.

It seems clear that Elian will not be raised by a loving “daddy” but by a brutal state. I hope we would have no hesitation in putting the welfare of the child before “family values” if the alternative were to send him back to a father in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Fidel Castro is about on a moral level with those states.


Bork is not alone many Americans feel that this country has no “moral equivalent’; that the U.S. is the most moral country in the world and that its morality supercedes the natural and I dare say God-given right of a parent to raise his or her child. Since Bork has such disdain for “Stalin’s Soviet Union” or “Hitler’s Germany” I wonder what he feels of “ Thomas Jefferson’s America” that embraced an institution of not only free labor (which is what many whites like to view American slavery as) but rapes, torture/whippings and which deliberately denied education to people based upon the color of their skin.

Or I wonder what Bork would think of “Eisenhower’s America” which denied Blacks the right to eat and drink or use the same toilet as White Americans. Or, to bring it really up-to-date, I wonder what Bork would think of the morality of “Reagan and Clinton’s America” where one-third of Blacks live in poverty and the other two-thirds are more likely than any other group of people to fit the “profile” of a criminal in American society. The self-righteousness of Bork’s words is nauseating. This from a man who is old enough to have watched Blacks beaten, bit by dogs and hosed down by Whites – on national TV. This from a man who as a federal judge, presided over America’s judicial system and saw up close its inadequacies. I wonder how well Bork received the comments, in those days, coming from abroad regarding this country’s morality.

Interestingly, many defensive conservatives think that America’s injustices and “immorality” are so far in the distant past that no individual has any right to refer to them. But those that think like that should think again and maybe after reading Bork’s words yesterday they could have picked up a copy of the New York Times and read about Sierra Leone’s ambassador to America, John E. Leigh, who will not become a U.S. citizen because he thinks to do so would be an insult to his American ancestors who died in order to leave this country to escape the institution of slavery

Even if Bork’s formula for the moral equivalency of nations is based upon the duration of Castro’s regime – which dates back to 1959- he may find that America loses in a toe-to-toe ‘morality’ struggle with Cuba. We can only suspect this as we really have no idea how Bork weighs the righteousness of nations. But according to the Bible, which we suspect Bork has read a few times, God judges nations, in great measure, according to the accumulation of their sins. Well, the last time we checked we saw no statute of limitations on God’s formula, so we figure the wholesale decimation of the Native Americans and slavery of an entire people not to mention the dropping of a couple atom bombs can hold their own against a Cuban dictator.

In the final analysis I am thankful that God will have the final judgment of the nations of the world and not Robert Bork. And until God stops allowing men and women in communist nations to have children, I’ll stand by the conservative, Rep. Steve Largent’s position that Elian Gonzalez belongs with his father. Maybe Robert Bork can figure out how to sterilize those living in the nations that fail his moral equivalency test.


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, June 6, 2000

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