The contrast in recent headlines by the two major cable TV news networks cast startlingly vivid light on the fundamental difference between conservative and liberal worldviews.

After a particularly gruesome mass murder in the Middle East, the website for the moderately conservative Fox News Channel headlined the news story with the simple but accurate proclamation: BOMBER KILLS 17 IN ISRAEL. Over at CNN, however, the politically correct panderers announced the story with a subtle but crucial difference: “BOMB KILLS 17,” their headline declared.

Logical observers might ask the obvious question: Did that bomb explode itself?

The CNN news summary makes as much sense as describing the tragic events of April 14, 1865 with a headline proclaiming “PISTOL KILLS LINCOLN.”

But then, of course, the liberal establishment has for years attempted to blame guns rather than people for any and all alarming crimes. From the Kennedy assassinations to Columbine, every high-profile killing has generated shrill demands for more gun control. The singular exception to this rule is, of course, the murder of Nicole Simpson, since O.J. inconveniently elected to employ a knife.

Wherever possible, liberals define problems and propose solutions with reference to things rather than people. The bomb or the gun, not the terrorist or the murderer gets fingered as the culprit.

The epidemic of AIDS spreads with devastating impact because of a shortage of condoms, not a shortage of morals.

If the world faces the danger of nuclear war, the problem is too many weapons, not too many dictators.

The answer to urban slums is to tear them down and build expensive new housing projects, with no attention to changing the behavior patterns of the people who created those slums in the first place (and will soon turn the housing projects into even worse neighborhoods). On a similar note, the cure for bum-infested streets in every big city involves the construction of new homeless shelters – never mind the fact that many of the street people stubbornly refuse to use them.

When it comes to failing school systems, the liberal response is invariably a demand to build new buildings and spend more money – rather than re-examining the substance of the curriculum, the quality of the teachers, or the possibility of allowing more parental choice.

The primary imperative for maintaining a politically correct outlook is to avoid at all costs such inflammatory, judgmental terms as good and evil, moral and immoral, right and wrong. Hence the impulse to explain the motives of bloodthirsty terrorists with reference to poverty – which is always defined by liberals as a purely material condition – rather than linking the poor, misunderstood fanatics with profoundly evil and undeniably dangerous ideas.

Of course, the enlightened “we-must-understand-why-they-hate-us” crowd makes every effort to avoid the awkward fact that terrorist leaders from Saudi Arabia to Palestine, from Pakistan to the Philippines, from London to Marin County, grow up in privileged circumstances that qualify as middle class or above. On my radio show, left-wing academics have dealt with this glaring flaw in their logic by insisting that some sensitive souls (Osama, anyone?) from wealthy families feel such profound compassion for their impoverished countrymen, that it’s still appropriate to identify economic oppression as the source of terrorism.

The liberal answer to this oppression, like all liberal answers, is simple and materialistic: You solve poverty by giving poor people money. It’s considered cruel and crude to point out that long-term membership in the American underclass most often stems from dysfunctional behavior – criminality, out-of-wedlock birth, fatherless child-rearing, substance abuse, welfare dependency, television addiction, and so forth.

The source for the persistent blindness and illogic of so much of contemporary liberalism is absolutist relativism: the unbending refusal to acknowledge that some ideas, some cultures, some families and some individuals are undeniably better than others – which means, of course, that some people are worse.

The left holds tenaciously to the absurd and discredited slogan of the well-intentioned founder of Boys Town: There is No Such Thing as A Bad Kid. (Anyone who actually believes such nonsense has never come in contact with our juvenile-justice system.) Yes, there are bad kids, bad adults, bad systems of government, bad religious teachings and bad nations – and all of this badness leads inevitably to bad behavior.

Nothing describes and discredits left-wing lunacy of the moment more precisely than the discomfort of its advocates with any questions of morality or values. When your outlook makes it impossible to blame the individual for his own horrible deeds, then it leads inevitably to the fatuous notion that bombs, rather than bombers, commit mass murder.

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