Dictations

The Moral Minority

The word "minority" represents one of those inversions of value (that typify socialist regimes. Derived, obviously, from the Latin minor (smaller or less in respect of size, importance, age, etc.), "minority" has been used in English to express both the immature years before adulthood and the losing side of a judicial opinion. Most significantly, it means—according to the Oxford English Dictionary—the "condition of being smaller, inferior, subordinate."

Presumably, then, when we describe an individual as belonging to a minority, we are saying that we regard him as a loser, an inferior, a subordinate. The idea of a virtuous minority is romantic and whiggish. "Minorities are almost always in the right," remarked the Rev. Sidney Smith, a professional contrarian, who almost always found himself on the side of the smug progressives at the Edinburgh Review. The political (and moral) minority celebrated by Sidney Smith would evolve over the years into the liberals, socialists, progressives, and leftists who are pretty much responsible for the shape the world is in today.

That minorities are special and privileged became a matter of cant. "Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities," brayed Wendell Phillips in a speech given in Boston in 1860, only a year before his friends and followers plunged the nation into a war to destroy the political rights of the...

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