Fraud is undoubtedly an ugly thing. It of course violates the ancient Decalogue (Commandment Number Eight for all of us catechized since 1975), and it creates feelings of intense violation on the part of those who have been deceived. It leads to ruin. Fraud was in many respects what made the shock and pain of the clergy abuse crisis so acute: it was all about a profound violation of trust.
But in the case of Volkswagen, it seems (based on the news coverage) to be especially heinous. What did they do? They sold consumers a product on a lie. They promised speed as well as efficiency, all in conformity to the exacting standards of the American Environmental Protection Agency in an unmatched way, and they achieved it with deceptive sensors.
The thing is that this is not much different than what the Food and Drug Administration does all the time when it comes to something as common-place as birth control pills. The glossing over and even cover up of the life threatening effects of contraception are well documented, and in many respects they continue to go on as doctors and nurses push the pill in countless exam rooms. But there is no outcry.
Not to mention Planned Parenthood who, despite their insistence to the contrary, do not run an above-board operation. How can they? They deal in legalized death. Or, the American Psychological Association that has sold its soul by ignoring legitimate concerns and valid research surrounding the destructive practices of the gay lifestyle, and the profoundly damaging effects of gender reassignment surgeries.
These institutions get a public pass on fraud, but Volkswagen does not. Part of the reason is that it’s not just that the automaker deceived its customers and the government (yes, that’s wrong, no pass should be given) but more so because they did it in the realm of the neo-religious issue of our time: environmentalism. There is such a thing as politically and culturally acceptable fraud, but Volkswagen landed in the unacceptable category.
It was pollution control standards that they violated. And to read the tone of the op-ed pieces excoriating them, one would think that had massacred scores of innocent children.
I am all in favor of cleaner air, and truly it is a moral duty to protect creation, as our Holy Father has now reminded us several times. Therefore I am not denying the wrong of deceiving a population that should have healthy air to breathe. But the rancor over violating environmental standards should be a mere shadow of a decent person’s reaction to government funded agencies that destroy the human person in any way shape or form, yet pretend there is no problem.
Environmentalism is the new, accepted public religion and cultural moral code. The EPA and its scientists are its high priests. And Volkswagen has been excommunicated. May the government have mercy on their collective soul.