Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was roasted in large parts of the conservative media for saying that it is more important to be morally right than factually correct. She even received some criticism in left-wing media, and rightfully so. However, there may be some instances in which her claim is true. These cases are instructive because they also highlight the dangers of thinking like she does.
An Innocent Mistake
Consider an extreme example: suicide by cop. Sometimes a criminal will draw a gun against the police in order to provoke them into killing him. In some instances, the person may have no bullets in the gun, or even just pretend to draw a weapon. In these cases, there exists no objective threat to the lives of the cops. They kill an unarmed person by mistake.
Despite being factually wrong, they would be morally right…
Nevertheless, such a shooting would not be considered murder. Despite being factually wrong, they would be morally right: They had every reason to assume there was a real and immediate threat to their lives.
While this illustrates one of the few cases where Ocasio-Cortez would be correct, these officers still must prove that they were not being negligent. If they killed someone and were too careless, they could still be judged and even jailed for criminal negligence.
Being factually incorrect is serious – especially when it leads to suffering, damage, and even death. If socialists were ever to be held to this standard, they would receive a harsh judgment.
This brings us back to Ocasio-Cortez. She holds a different view of the world altogether. She is an idealist – in the philosophical sense. Idealism is the view that ideas are stronger than steel: Wishing will make it so. In idealism, facts are secondary because reality will bend to those who have the strongest will.
If you hold this view of reality, having good intentions always trumps ignorance or incompetence. If the most moral people among us just wish hard enough, it will become real. It is creation by declaration.
By the same token, some ideas are evil and dangerous and must never be spoken. The dark side of idealism is that when immoral people like conservatives are allowed to express their opinions, they create bad behavior. That’s why the progressive left is so concerned with controlling speech and ideas.
In much the same way that conservatives want a strong military to guard the nation against physical enemies, idealists want to guard against mental enemies. Their defense was invented by the Chinese communist Chairman Mao Zedong. He named it “political correctness.” By policing thought and speech to conform with progressive ideals, only good things can happen in society – or so they believe.
Political correctness illustrates the doctrine of creation by declaration. For instance, by declaring that gender is a social construct – wishing that hateful, contrary fact out of existence – and ostracizing all who disagree, they believe they protect a victimized group from the cruelty of biological reality.
The problem is that although these ideas are mere fantasies, the suffering, death, and destruction they create are all too real. Mao’s Great Leap Forward was wishful thinking that ended in a pile of bodies. Facts matter — and no amount of wishful thinking can change that.