Thursday, January 09, 2014

God save us from the good

"God save us always from the innocent and the good." (Graham Greene)

Hannah Arendt introduced the idea of the Banality of Evil, but what about the Banality of the Good and the damage they do as they toil virtuously to make the world a better place? 

Richard Dawkins worries about how "nice liberals" are clueless about Islam, as does Sam HarrisAyaan Hirsi Ali, who has firsthand experience of Islam---her family mutilated her genitals when she was five years old---also worries about "good men and women" and Islam:

There are many good men and women in the west who try to resettle refugees and strive to eliminate discrimination. They lobby governments to exempt minorities from the standards of behaviour of western societies; they fight to help minorities preserve their cultures, and excuse their religion from critical scrutiny. These people mean well, but their activism is now a part of the very problem they seek to solve. Their efforts to assist Muslims and other minorities are futile because, by creating the illusion that one can hold on to tribal norms and at the same time become a successful citizen, the proponents of multiculturalism lock subsequent generations born in the west into a no man's land of moral values. What comes packaged in a compassionate language of acceptance is really a cruel form of racism. And it is all the more cruel because it is expressed in sugary words of virtue.

Recall that this dubious "multicultural" virtue is also practiced here in Progressive Land, as all good San Francisco progressives were in a dither last year when the ads denouncing violent jihad against Israel appeared on Muni buses.

A local candidate for canonization as an official Good Person in SF is Tom Nolan, long-time Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors:

Nolan was appointed to the board by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2006. He's led pushes for the Central Subway, the citywide bike plan, and a project to streamline Muni performance and reduce crowding. He held earlier posts over the years on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, SamTrans board and other transit agencies---and his style in each job is similar. "He never blows his top, never feels a need to take credit," Heinicke said. "But he's always there, behind the scenes or in front, getting things done."

"Getting things done," like the Bicycle Plan and the Central Subway that will actually damage the city. And  streamlining "Muni performance," like on the #5 Fulton line, where a number of stops have been removed. That line moves a lot faster now that it doesn't have to stop so often to pick up those pesky passengers.

But Nolan is a dedicated helper: 

I recall once attending a community-wide meeting of about 300 people with Tom Nolan as the guest speaker. Tom's opening comment was, "There is nothing special about me, but what is special is the position I hold, and that is the public's trust." It did not surprise me to read Tom Nolan's friends, going back to his childhood, recalled his kindness to others and his dedication to helping his fellow man or woman.

Nolan may be a joy to his friends, colleagues, and family, but he and the MTA are doing a lot of damage to the city that will be hard to undo.

Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. (Isabel Paterson)

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At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That line moves a lot faster now that it doesn't have to stop so often to pick up those pesky passengers."

Except that ridership has INCREASED on the 5/5L - the 5 is carrying MORE passengers.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

How is that relevant to the point I make about fewer bus stops?

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make the point that the stop reduction is making things worse for "pesky passengers" - except that the passengers are voting with their fare money and saying they LIKE fewer stops.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Those passengers along the #5 line have no choice but to walk the extra blocks to catch the bus. But people who aren't very mobile---like an old guy with a cane I saw recently while riding that bus who didn't know about this "improvement"---are the big losers in this kind of "streamlining."


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