Liberal in Chief
My crystal ball told me the Global War on Terror (GWOT) would bring us a lot of trouble, but it failed to foresee that one of the flashpoints would be cartoons in Denmark. Muslims are currently upset about a particular cartoon, published last September, ridiculing the prophet Mohammed. Scandinavian humor can be unexpectedly volatile, when it exists at all.
I could have told the publishers that the Muslims might not chuckle good-naturedly about this, had anyone asked me, which they didnt. By comparison, Abe Foxman was a pretty good sport about Mel Gibsons last movie.
Religion has been a factor in turmoil for most of human history, and though liberals have hoped tolerance would solve the problem for good, it has merely taken a new form as two great liberal principles have collided: freedom of expression (represented by the cartoonists) and organized touchiness (represented by world Islam, now moving into Europe).
Liberals always expect their principles to harmonize with each other, and then are surprised when it doesnt work out that way. In their zeal for sexual equality, they oppose sex discrimination and favor abortion on demand, only to find that some people abort babies upon discovering that they are female. Since this happens most often in cultures where being female is regarded as a sort of birth defect and the decision to abort is made by the father, yet another sacred liberal principle takes it on the chin: multiculturalism.
Not all cultures are ready for multiculturalism, at least not this year. And some of those cultures, in what liberals reverently dubbed the Third World (back when the phrase seemed to make sense), are pretty old. They may take a while catching up with the progressive West or, as liberals say, evolving. Evolution is another sacred liberal principle, but it doesnt always follow the progressive script.
In some of those cultures, where sex-selection infanticide has long been a fathers prerogative (as it was back in pagan Greece and Rome), sex-selection abortion, now that its feasible, just seems the natural way to go (or evolve). I guess it falls under the heading of traditional family values. Dad still decides. Thats choice, you know one more lofty liberal principle, as refracted through multiculturalism.
Many cultures are all for choice as long as it isnt exercised by women, of course. This is the proviso that tends to take liberals by surprise. We wont make any headway toward world peace until we recognize that liberalism, despite its universalist rhetoric, is just a local, recent, delicate, and perishable Western subculture. It probably has no hope of radically transforming other cultures, especially those that acknowledge the existence of two sexes.
Many primitive peoples believe not only that two sexes exist, but that they are somewhat different from one another. Such beliefs, seemingly simple and arbitrary, can make it difficult for liberalism to take root. The barbarians who hold them may be willing to try certain liberal enthusiasms on for size elections or freedom of the press, maybe as long as basic cultural preconditions are respected: two sexes, no cartoons of the Prophet, things like that.
At risk of provoking liberals to riot by insulting their most cherished beliefs, I should point out that in many respects President Bush himself is a liberal. He assumes that if he offers the worlds Muslims democracy an offer they cant refuse, as it were they will eagerly grab it, womens rights and all. This is another case where I might have counseled otherwise, but again, I wasnt asked.
Like most of his breed, our liberal in chief seems to regard religion as a mere opinion, an edifying individual option rather than a necessary social cohesive. This is why he seems ill prepared to deal with the Muslim world, where they take a different view of it. Unlike the liberal Washington Post, for example, the Muslim press doesnt bury religious news in the back sections of the weekend editions. It takes the view, so baffling to enlightened Westerners, that if the Almighty exists, he is probably pretty important.
Only modern Western culture liberalism could have conceived so incoherent a concept as multiculturalism. This strange idea hasnt caught on in the Islamic world. You might as well expect to find a nudist colony in Mecca. (Just a joke, Mr. President.)
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