Sunday, August 26, 2007

Disagreement with Mr. Pipes

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I hate to disagree with someone I respect as much as Mr. Pipes, but alas in the interest of illustrating a few points . . .

The article of his with which I take exception concerns Saudi Arabia's airline, Saudia. Its website warns potential passengers that no religious relics are allowed in the Saudi Kingdom. Mr. Pipes rejects, correctly, banning religious items in this country. He then suggests that we ban their airline.

Mr. Pipes and I agree that Saudi Arabia represents a peculiar and different civilization. I hope we also agree that Western civilization is also peculiar and different. Neither can be said to be the best or the future winner in the battle for survival.

What Saudi Arabia allows into their country is none of our business. If they want to only wear red and walk backwards, that is their privilege as a sovereign nation. The idea that we must make them behave like us is based on the idea that Western culture is or should be the default of the world. Even if it should be, it isn't. We must learn to accept that. Our interference in other cultures, our attempts to remake them in our image, will likely lead to failure and resentment.

While they are them, we are us (what a sentence!). The West is a distinctive and unique group of cultures. America also has distinctive traditions. While we cannot ban mosques, we must recognize that they are a threat to our separation of church and state, because there is no separation (witness Saudi Arabia) between mosque and state. While Saudi Arabia has a right to define itself, we have a right and duty to define ourselves.

To this end, we should immediately ban Saudi Monies from coming into America for the purpose of building mosques and funding advocacy groups. We can welcome investment. This is culturally neutral. But mosques are not in the Western tradition. We have 1400 years of war with Islam. Their attempts to overtake Europe being repelled on September 11th, 1683 is not so far away that we can again allow the creation of Islamic centers in Western lands. Just as we have no universal right to bring crosses into their lands, they do not have a universal right to fund culturally aggressive programs in our land. The problem with assertions of universal rights and rejecting Saudi Arabia's right to define and defend itself is that it undermines the same rights for us. Cultural rights of self-determination should be respected.

Two culturist principles are herein clarified. One is that diversity exists and will exist. The details about Wahhabi supremicist groups in his article should scare us and alert us to the fact that not all peoples are Westerners or Americans. The other culturist principle is that Saudi Arabia, as well as most other nations, take the culturist mission of self-definition and self-defense, to be a common sense part of their mission. We should not be surprised that they have a distinct culture or defend it; we should learn from it. We also have a distinct culture and should defend it. They practice Saudi culturism, we must practice Western culturism.
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