Monday, October 25, 2004

Reply To a Friend

A friend writes to voice his displeasure (see Feedback) over Viewpoint's tendency to highlight left-wing depravity and to associate it on occasion with the Kerry campaign. His concern was with our post titled How Low Can You Go. Our reply follows:

You say you don't understand my logic. That makes us even. You say I'm focussing on extremists on the fringe that nobody listens to, and you think it's unfair to associate them with Kerry. I don't know why. First of all, I'm not sure they are on the fringe. The original column implicitly encouraging the assassination of George Bush was in The Guardian which is a mainstream leftist paper in England, and the website which carried those awful "endorsements" of The Guardian's sentiments gets a heck of a lot more traffic than mine does. It's a fairly mainstream site on the left.

You ask why I don't write about the KKK or the skinheads, etc. and connect them with George Bush. I'll tell you what. You give me a site where the wing nuts on the right talk about assassinating Kerry and use the sort of hateful language against him that these people used, and I'll be more than happy to run it. Show me a site where there are haters on the right urging people to vote for Bush, and I'll certainly write about it.

I'm as sickened by the behavior of the KKK and skinheads as you are, but to compare these people to the ones I quoted in the Viewpoint post is to compare apples and oranges. The skinheads are absolutely irrelevant to this election. The sickos on the right really are out on the fringe and are politically isolated. In fact they are scarcely political at all. To the extent that any of them are involved politically they are a negligible voice.

The thugs on the left are not. They are politically active and they are not at all irrelevant. They are trying hard to dehumanize the President, but you can't dehumanize a man without it resulting in some lunatic feeling justified in actually trying to carry out an assassination. Their coarseness is creating a climate in which people feel it's okay to joke about killing someone. It's a short step from that mindset to actually trying it.

I'm surprised you don't join me in pointing out the outrage of this instead of criticizing me for identifying these people with Kerry. Nor do I think that that identification is at all unfair, anymore than it would be unfair to wonder what it is about Bush that attracts neo-nazis to his side, if, in fact, such were the case. If David Duke and the Klan were out endorsing and campaigning for Bush, I'd be appalled. Kerry has attracted endorsements from some of the worst tyrants and killers (Arafat, Kim Jong Il, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, et al) around. It's completely fair to wonder why. It's also completely fair to point out that many of the people he attracts on the domestic side are in some ways just as despicable. I'm sorry you have such a problem with that.

Sounds of Silence

Is it that we haven't been paying very close attention or have the panegyrists of cultural diversity actually grown quiet over the last couple of years? It wouldn't be surprising if the celebrants of multiculturalism are feeling a little embarrassed by reports like this one from the Washington Times and have decided that maybe now is not a good time to be claiming that all cultures are "equally valid" and worth celebrating.

The article is about two young Nigerian women who have been sentenced to death by stoning for having sex. If you guessed that Nigeria must be a Muslim country then you are factually correct even if you are not politically correct. Under the rules established by the PC thought police we should never assume that some inhumane practice implies a provenience among any particular ethnic or religious group unless those groups are white Republican and/or Christian.

Nevertheless, Nigeria is indeed under Sharia Law and this article gives us a vivid idea of what a blessing it would be to reside in a land where Islamic ideas of justice and compassion prevail. Here's the gist of it:

A court in northern Nigeria has sentenced two women to death by stoning for allegedly committing outside wedlock is considered adultery if one of the partners is or has ever been married. If neither partner was ever married, then sex outside wedlock is condemned as "fornication," punishable by whipping.

Apparently these girls are appealing their sentences because they are, through no choice of their own, unmarried, and according to the mercies of Islamic law they should only be whipped for their crime, not stoned.

Perhaps someone reading this might think that Viewpoint is being a little harsh on Muslims. Perhaps Nigeria is an extreme example and maybe it is the case that the vast majority of Muslims find such laws archaic and distasteful. Such a hypothesis, however, would be mistaken.

Sharia is evidently the dream of even "moderate" Muslims. It is their vision for the entire world. It is the Muslim hope that one day all people will be subject to the glories of Sharia. Those who resist will, of course, be eliminated. In support of this admittedly uncomfortable assessment we offer as warrant, courtesy of Belmont Club, a resolution from the Communique of the Thirtieth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Istanbul last June. Item #62 of the Communique states:

The Conference expressed deep concern over repeated and erroneous attempts to associate Islam with human rights violations, and over the use of television, the radio and the press to propagate such misconceptions. It called for an end to the unjustified campaigns of some non-governmental organizations against a number of Member States, which demand the abolition of Sharia laws and penalties in the name of human rights protection. It affirmed the right of States to uphold their religious, social and cultural idiosyncrasies, which are legacies that help enrich common universal concepts of human rights. It urged that the universality of human rights must not be used as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of States and flout their national sovereignty. The Conference also condemned the decision of the European Union to denounce stoning as a penalty and what it calls inhumane punishments meted out by some Member States in compliance with Islamic Sharia.

This statement lends little encouragement to those who would like to believe that Sharia is outside the Islamic mainstream.

The moral and cultural relativists in the West who were so voluble a decade ago have had very little to say of late, as the cruelties and horrors of the Islamic way of life have become more familiar to the average American. It's hard to blame them for shutting up, though, because it must be difficult to credibly assert that all cultures are equally "good" or "valid" when their listeners have evidence like the above story in their hands. The whole project of multiculturalism, of "celebrating the world's diversity," is discredited by the manifest savagery of stoning girls to death for sexual indiscretion, while, it needs to be mentioned, almost never punishing the male. Moreover, the accounts which reach our ears of this sort of barbarism are doubtless merely the tip of the Islamic iceberg.

What is there to celebrate in a culture which thinks that it is good, right, and just to stone to death an 18 year old unmarried girl who had a sexual relationship after her former husband had abandoned her? So far from celebrating such evil we should be deploring it, condemning it, and subjecting it to the ridicule it deserves. So far from mouthing platitudes about how our way of life and our values are no better or worse than those of other people around the world we should be holding in derision those who actually believe such nonsense.

Only an addlepated liberal would deny that there are indeed some ways of life, some values, some religious convictions which are superior to others. A religious ethic which values mercy, compassion, dignity, and life as well as righteousness and justice, towers over one which values only a perverse form of "righteousness" to the exclusion of the other virtues like a sequoia over crabgrass.

To be sure, there is much in American culture to regret and to repudiate, but anyone who really believes, after all we've learned in the last ten years about the Islamic Arab and African world, that our way of life, our highest values, and our religious assumptions are not vastly superior to those of much of the rest of the world needs to spend some quality time with a de-programmer.

"Integrity, Integrity, Integrity"

Investigative journalist Joel Mowbray reminds us that Senator Kerry has made his honesty a centerpiece of his campaign, calling truthfulness "the fundamental test of leadership." He closed the final debate with President Bush by recounting what his mother told him from her hospital bed, "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity." In an interview published in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Mr. Kerry was asked what he would want people to remember about his presidency. He responded, "That it always told the truth to the American people."

So, when he told us in that last debate that he "went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable." We assumed there was at least a chance he was telling the truth.

When he said while speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein," we had no particular reason to doubt him.

Trouble is, it never happened. Kerry just made it up. Mowbray has checked out the story and reveals how much of an impact Mr. Kerry's mother's dying admonition made on him in today's Washington Times.