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stupid leftists and their belief in *checks notes* the intrinsic value of human life

Reblog if you would burn down the statue of liberty to save a life

Here’s the thing, though. If you asked a conservative “Would you let the statue of liberty burn to save one life?” they’d probably scoff and say no, it’s a national landmark, a treasure, a piece of too much historical importance to let it be destroyed for the sake of one measly life

But if you asked, “Would you let the statue of liberty burn in order to save your child? your spouse? someone you loved a great deal?” the tune abruptly changes. At the very least, there’s a hesitation. Even if they deny it, I’m willing to bet that gun to their head, the answer would be “yes.”  

The basic problem here is that people have a hard time seeing outside their own sphere of influence, and empathizing beyond the few people who are right in front of them. You’ve got your immediate family, whom you love; your friends, your acquaintances, maybe to a certain degree the people who share a status with you (your religion, your race, etc.)–but beyond that? People aren’t real. They’re theoretical. 

But a national monument? That’s real. It stands for something. The value of a non-realized anonymous life that exists completely outside your sphere of influence is clearly worth less than something that represents freedom and prosperity to a whole nation, right?

People who think like this lack the compassion to realize that everyone is in someone’s immediate sphere of influence–that everyone is someone’s lover, or brother, or parent. Everyone means the world to someone. And it’s the absolute height of selfishness to assume that their lives don’t have value just because they don’t mean the world to you

P.S. I would let the statue of liberty burn to save a pigeon. 

screencap of a news article by the huffington post that reads

also, there is an extreme difference between what things or principles *i* personally am willing to die for, and what i would hazard others to die for. and this is a distinction i don’t think the conservative hard-right likes to face.

an example: so, as the nazis began war against france, the staff of the louvre began crating up and shipping out the artworks. it was vital to them (for many reasons) that the nazis not get their hands on the collections, and hitler’s desire for them was known, so they dispersed the objects to the four winds; one of the curators personally traveled with la gioconda, mona lisa herself, in an unmarked crate, moving at least five times from location to location to avoid detection.

they even removed and hid the nike of samothrace, “winged victory,” which is both delicate, having been pieced back together from fragments, and incredibly heavy, weighing over three metric tons.

the curators who hid these artworks risked death to ensure that they wouldn’t fall into nazi hands. and yes, they are just paintings, just statues. but when i think about the idea of hitler capturing and standing smugly beside the nike of samothrace, a statue widely beloved as a symbol of liberty, i completely understand why someone would risk their life to prevent that. if my life was all that stood between a fascist dictator and a masterpiece that inspired millions, i would be willing to risk it. my belief in the power and necessity of art would demand i do so.

if, however, a nazi held a gun to some kid’s head (any kid!) and asked me which crate the mona lisa was in, they could have it in a heartbeat. no problem! i wouldn’t even have to think about it. being willing to risk my own life on principle doesn’t mean i’m willing to see others endangered for those same principles.

and that is exactly where the conservative hard-right falls right the fuck down. they are, typically, entirely willing to watch others suffer for their own principles. they are perfectly okay with seeing children in cages because of their supposed belief in law and order. they are perfectly willing to let women die from pregnancy complications because of their anti-abortion beliefs. they are alright with poverty and disease on general principle because they hold the free-market sacrosanct. and i guess from their own example they would save the statue of liberty and let human beings burn instead.

but speaking as a leftist (i’m more comfortable with socialist tbh), my principles are not abstract things that i hold aside from life, apart or above my place as a human being in a society. my beliefs arise from being a person amidst people. i don’t love art for art’s sake alone, actually! i don’t love objects because they are objects: i love them because they are artifacts of our humanity, because they communicate and connect us, because they embody love and curiosity and fear and feeling. i love art because i love people. i want universal health care because i want to see people universally cared for. i want universal basic income because people’s safety and dignity should not be determined by their economic productivity to an employer. i am anti-war and pro-choice for the same reason: i value people’s lives but also their autonomy and right to self-determination. my beliefs are not abstractions. i could never value a type of economic system that i saw hurting people, no matter how much “growth” it produced. i could never love “law and order” more than i love a child, any child, i saw trapped in a cage.

would i be willing to risk death, trying to save the statue of liberty? probably, yes. but there is no culture without people, and therefore i also believe there are no cultural treasures worth more than other people’s lives. and as far as i’m concerned the same goes for laws, or markets, or borders.

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