The immorality of unexamined compassion

I met a truly caring person at a dinner party, someone with the best of intentions and a militant attitude about her moral sensibilities. At times, I had the feeling that she was on a constant lookout for things I may say that she can get indignant about.
I had no doubt about her sincerity, I had no doubt that her heart was in the right place.
On whatever subject we discussed, I had no doubt that she took the position she did because she considered it to be the most moral position available. It was clear from her attitude that she would consider any alternative position not just wrong, but outright immoral.
I found myself, as at many other times talking to left-wingers, in front of a dilemma: which aspect should I address: reason or morality? Logic or emotions? How can I step back to talk about the underlying problem, the fact that compassion, feelings and good intentions are NOT moral if the actions they lead to do more harm than good?
The morality of our actions should only be judged by their results, not by the intentions motivating them. All too often, the left uses its good intentions as an excuse to explain away the harm they do.

About a day later I discovered the latest social media tempest about the censorship at Patreon, Youtube and Google. Censorship should be the subject of a separate discussion, but the response of Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon trying to explain his decision provided me with the perfect example to illustrate the immorality of compassion. I could use any number of examples to make the same point, but I will stick to the one that was the subject of both conversations.

My hostess and Jack Conte were both absolutely clear in their support of the illegal migration into Europe. Both considered the morality of their position unquestionable.
I could question the sanity, point out the dangers of the Muslim invasion and the cultural collapse it foreshadows, but let’s focus on just the morality.

The case of the pro-migrants is simple:
People are suffering! Can’t you understand that?????
We live in an affluent world. The rest of the world is suffering. We have a moral obligation to help them.

We can probably agree with the first point and for the sake of the argument, let’s say that we agree with the other two as well. That still leaves us with the question: HOW? What is the best way to help? What is the most sensible way to help? What is the most moral way to help? I discussed the facts around this issue in an earlier post:  Dear Frau Merkel. I will focus here only on the egregiously immoral aspects.

The immorality of lawlessness

Many of the migrants going to Europe are coming from failed states, where raw power rules, not the law. Even the ones who are not coming from war-zones and total anarchy, are coming from corrupt, dysfunctional states.
Whatever we think of the causes of the success of modern Western civilization are, we must find ‘the rule of law’ to be one of them. The ‘refugees’ are coming from lawless places, supposedly to find safety in a place where the law rules, not criminals, warlords and tyrants.
Yet, what is the first message they get from us???? That we do not give a shit about our own laws! That we welcome criminals. We are demonstrating to them that our laws are meaningless, that our borders are meaningless. That it is OK to lie about their identity and to misrepresent their age to get more benefits. After such introduction, how can we expect them to respect the rest of our laws? Most will not even notice, as they came from places with little respect for laws. As I said before, if Ms. Merkel wanted a million immigrants, she could have issued a million visas. But she did not. She set us all on the path of lawlessness with these first steps toward the kind of societies these ‘refugees’ were running away from. With her actions, she repudiated a foundational principle of our civilization.
Where is the morality in that?

Jack Conte of Patreon and his “Trust and Safety Team” based their censorship decisions on what he calls Manifest Observable Behaviour (MOB for short (I am sure the implication is accidental)). He observed Lauren Southern actually trying to STOP criminal activity in the Mediterranean. The boat she was on was trying to stop human trafficking, it was trying to stop people smugglers. The fact that they call themselves NGOs does not change the fact that they were engaged in criminal activities. Conte’s argument is that trying to stop human trafficking is endangering the lives of the humans trafficked.
He is in full support of a certain kind of criminal activity and has the power to penalize someone who disagrees with him. But he maintains that the decision was NOT political.
Still, he has a point. Let’s examine it.

The immorality of risk

As I pointed out in an earlier post, the Australians had a serious illegal migration problem at the beginning of the decade. After they made it clear to potential ‘refugees’, that risking their lives is pointless, the accidental deaths went from a few hundred per year to ZERO. A simple political decision that said a resolute NO to illegal immigration saved hundreds of lives. The problem in the Mediterranean is an order of magnitude higher. What we are in fact telling the people of the world is this: If you risk your life on the seas, pay the smugglers, break the laws and are lucky enough to get through, you will be welcome in Western European welfare paradise. Support for this grossly irresponsible, murderous policy did cost 3,770 (Manifestly Observable) lives in 2016 and 2,408 lives so far in 2017. The only way to save these lives is NOT supporting the policy that led to their loss; by doing exactly what the Australians did. That would save lives. Not being trafficked is what saves lives, not the encouragement and support of people traffickers. Jack Conte’s “Manifestly Observable Behavior” of supporting deadly dangerous criminal behaviour that manifestly costs human lives and his efforts to silence voices opposed to such crimes makes him personally responsible for the casualties.
Where is the morality in endangering people’s lives with ‘manifestly’ predictable consequences?

The immorality of expectations

Europe has a fairly solid record on immigration by now. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know which immigrant groups are likely to succeed and which ones are not.
We are on the brink of the second industrial revolution that will result in significant changes in the labour market. We have no idea how we are going to handle it. What we do know, is that more low skill jobs will disappear.
Importing uneducated, unskilled, illiterate millions with hopelessly low average IQ is not doing a favour to anybody. Especially not to the immigrants. We are setting them up for failure. We can predict based on available data on existing migrants from similar backgrounds how well this batch will fare. The future is not bright. Most of these immigrants will never get off welfare, they will stay not just unemployed, but mostly unemployable. It is inevitable that they will eventually be full of resentment and hostility toward the cultures that gave them refuge. They could have had much better chances to a meaningful life back in their own culture.
Where is the morality in degrading people’s lives? In setting them up for failure?

The immorality of tax slavery

As I pointed out in my last post, “There is not a single country in the OCDE with their finances in the black.”
On top of their average debt standing over 106% of GDP, they have a combined $78 trillion in pension liabilities.
Western Europe is BROKE and with its sharply declining birth rate, it has absolutely no way to pay its debt and to meet its financial obligations. The point of this mass migration is to get enough young taxpayers into Europe to pay for the benefits promised to Europe’s aging and mostly childless population. Since they do not have children to inherit their debt, they want to pass it on to the immigrants. What the immigrants see is the welfare benefits. What they don’t is that at some point they will have to pay it back, along with the debt of their ‘generous’ hosts!
I must agree with Mark Steyn who finds it unlikely that the migrants will do that willingly, but that is just the stupidity. We are talking about morality here.
This is a new form of slavery! What is so goddamn moral about it?

The immorality of waste and hidden agendas

Helping refugees close to the place which they were displaced from makes all the sense in the world. The idea behind it is that after the resolution of the conflict, they can return home. They would not have to deal with the stress of leaving their culture, and staying close would make it much easier for them to return home. Helping them within the region is also far cheaper and far more effective.
Helping refugees close to their homes cost 1/10th of what it would cost in Europe.
Nobody has limitless resources. The promoters of unbridled immigration to Europe don’t seem to be concerned about the wastefulness of their efforts. Not even trying to get the most out of their efforts to help makes the whole enterprise suspect. Is it really about help? Could there be a hidden agenda such as creating irreversible political changes on the continent?
Where is the morality in that?

As I mentioned in the beginning, any leftist policy could be subjected to a similar analysis. Any leftist, socialist policy can be described as either or both stupid and immoral. The question then should be: when does stupid become immoral?
Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to my hostess and Jack Conte. Let’s suppose that they are not evil, they just don’t get it. Let’s assume that they are just incapable of seeing the moral arguments I presented above.
How can I tell to these genuinely nice, well meaning people, that the policies they support on this topic suggest that they are racist, murderous sociopaths? How could I shake them up to make them see the immorality of their position?
How can I explain to them that unexamined compassion seldom translates into moral action?
That good intentions are not enough? That the only measure of morality are the outcomes of our actions and the results of our policies? That compassion and righteous virtue signaling is NEVER enough?

How can I do that and still expect to be invited to their next dinner party?


If you wish to read more on the subject, here are some of my earlier posts on it:

2 replies on “The immorality of unexamined compassion”

  1. Jim McIntosh says:

    I agree with your position. Before I read your article, I wanted to reply, “How can a feeling, compassion, be immoral? Only actions are moral or immoral.” But that was exactly your point.

    I have one criticism. The Australian decision not to accept illegal immigrants probably did not save any lives; Desperate migrants will still risk their lives as long as there is some hope of survival. Now more drown in the Mediterranean than the Pacific. It’s comparable to my concern that legalizing drugs wont fix the related crime problem. Those involved will simply need to find other crimes with lots of willing customers, or easy targets.

  2. zgh says:

    The subject of your objection is not a matter of opinion.
    “In immigration – the moral case” I link to detailed statistics:

    In 2013, Australia instituted a new policy that refused refugee status to anybody who tried to enter the country through illegal means. Nobody is risking the seas since 2014 to get To Australia. It did work. Maybe it would not be as successful in Europe, but I would be willing to bet on it.
    Well, I believe that if it wasn’t for the welfare, 80% would go home.

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