There are certain clarifying moments in political discourse; moments that demonstrate just where the various parties stand. Never has the gap been so obvious as this last week.
On Friday, the left declared the world in imminent peril. The problem? President Trump pulled out of the altogether meaningless Paris climate accord, a worldwide agreement requesting nonbinding commitments from signatories about future carbon emissions cuts. The hysteria was palpable. Suddenly, debunked weather prognosticator Al Gore found himself in prime television slots jabbering about the end of the world. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gabbled about how Trump was "dishonoring" God (no word on her abortion-on-demand position from the Holy One — blessed be he). The Huffington Post ran a headline showing the world in flames. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released a statement bemoaning Trump's decision.
Meanwhile, the right shrugged. It pointed out that the agreement did virtually nothing anyway; that it did not bind China and India to any serious commitments; that the Senate had not passed any enabling legislation; and that perhaps nongovernment alternatives should be considered before diving headlong into empowerment of the regulatory state to fight a rising temperature over the next century.
On Saturday, a group of Islamic terrorists drove a van into a crowd on the London Bridge, and then jumped out of the vehicle and began stabbing people in surrounding establishments. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility. The right immediately labeled the attacks yet another example of Islamic extremism on the march, linking them with the Manchester terror attack. President Trump immediately took to Twitter to denounce the terror attacks and call for an end to politically correct policies, as well as to stump for his travel ban. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic complained about leftist multiculturalism creating room for Islamic terror growth.
Meanwhile, the left shrugged. Sally Kohn tweeted about the glories of political correctness. Paul Krugman compared being killed in a terrorist attack to being killed by a drunk driver. Democrats complained about President Trump's attacks on Khan, who was busy urging Londoners to stay calm after panicking about global warming just days ago.
What explains the gap between right and left?
The left believes that human beings are inherently good, and that only environment defines whether they will act in evil fashion. That's why Sen. Bernie Sanders articulated in 2016 that global warming was the spur to terrorism; it's why the Obama administration routinely suggested that poverty caused terrorism. External circumstances dictate the morality of individual actors. That's also why the left argues we shouldn't hold people responsible for their actions as a general rule; instead, we should reshape society.
The right believes that human beings are capable of evil on their own. That's why they see the rise of radical Islam as more of a problem than global warming. Good people won't kill each other because of global warming. They will if they begin to believe evil ideologies, or support those who do.
This gap isn't bridgeable. It goes to the nature of humanity and our perception of that nature. But it's requiring a greater and greater strain these days to blame anybody but individual human beings in free Western societies for their own descent into evil.