Friday, September 17, 2010

The Lust for Vindication

I hadn't heard anything about this for some time, much less given it any thought, but it seems the Left, and The Nation magazine as a voice of the Left, won't let it go. I'm referring to the evidently still widely taught ("used" might be a more accurate word) autobiography, I, Rigoberta MenchĂș. First published in 1982, the book was celebrated by the Left almost immediately and the eponymous author, a human rights activist, would later win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The book chronicles the plight of the author, her family, as well as all the indigenous Guatemalans they represent, during that country's long civil war. For the Left it was a story almost too good to be true as it was a tale of rich versus poor, first world versus third, white European versus native culture, etc., etc., etc. You get the picture. Well, as it turned out, it indeed was a story too good to be true and much of it was later challenged and discredited.

You can reconstruct all of this pretty easily if you're so inclined (Google is amazing) and even read the whole of The Nation piece as well, but that's really not my point here.

When I saw the article my first thought was of Alger Hiss, the Soviet spy exposed by Whittaker Chambers in late 1940s, and how, at the time, the Left vigorously defended him against the charge. What has always been interesting to me, and this is the connection with The Nation piece, was how that defense became even more vigorous once Hiss's treason became undeniable.

Anyway, all of this got me to thinking about human nature, or fallen human nature to be more precise, and our, as Augustine put it, "lust for vindication." That nature, as demonstrated by the Left's defense of both Hiss and MenchĂș, is such that if the justifications we construct for a lie are unsustainable, we won't, duly shamed, simply abandon the lie for the truth. Rather, there is something in our fallen nature that pushes us instead to construct new justifications, justifications for the previous justifications, and to cling to them just as stubbornly, maybe even more so.

Sad, ain't it? But then Scripture taught us this, if we had ears to hear, about ourselves long ago: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

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