Moral equivalence is treating morally unequal parties equally. The anti-Semite hits a Jew; they both looked very angry. The man sexually accosted the girl; the police called both of them confused. The bullies continued to mess with the vulnerable pupils because no one stood up against them; growing up can be rough. There is a total disparity between an attacker and an attacked. The ‘unifying’ comment tries to hide that.
The headline “UN climate talks in limbo as rifts among countries remain” pretend there is ‘a difference of opinion.’ Nothing is further from the truth.
It reminds me of the evening news on Jordan TV when I was still watching the greatest time killer of all times, 25 years ago. When the poor would protest a price hike for bread, the anchor would say: the King sympathizes with the protesters by warns against sawing discord and division. The oppression was made universal by characterizing it as a conflict, obfuscating the moral differences between oppressors and oppressed.
Another popular one I often saw in AP Middle East reporting. ‘Violence broke out’ or ‘A new spiral of violence in the Middle East.’ Suddenly, there are no instigator and no perpetrator, victimizer or injured party, victim.
There are no ‘rifts among countries’ concerning climate change. There are the powerful who refuse to change and pay their fair share and the relative powerless demanding the big guys to give in. Which is which?
1. Old politicians not caring and young protesters demanding rapid change that does justice to conclusions of the mainstream scientific community.
2. Rich countries not paying their fair share and waiting for poorer countries to pay money they don’t have. Colonialism all over again.
3. The powerful nations that are the biggest polluters not cutting greenhouse emissions. China is rigid because it’s not a democracy, the US is stubborn because its government is high-jacked by billionaires who rather make a buck than save humanity’s survival.
4. Powerful companies who rather keep selling old stuff that would kill us all than move to produce highly profitable but new green alternatives.
5. Lucky others not caring about the first ones to suffer. We don’t live on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean and don’t have a mansion or live in a city quarter close to the sea so what do we care about rising sea levels? Hundreds of specious will die off before us — why should we care?
Some of them are aggressors and some are at more-immediate risk. They are not equals. If we don’t take drastic measure, we’re all going to die. But it makes a difference who is drunk driving and who is innocently being hit.