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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.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Education, diversity, and culturism

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Diversity exists and we have a culture. Culturism emphasizes both of these truths. John Andrews reports that the "we" in the first sentence cannot be defined by the Colorado University Regent Paul Schauer. While Colorado University has ethnic studies, it has no Western Civilization program (which might explain the Regent's appauling lack of education). And this mindset results in, as the case here, a failure to define and promote ourselves - culturism. Our failure to promote Western Civilization is very frightening.

Sometimes definition by contrast is the clearest. That is why culturists must remind people of the very diversity concept they laud. Three execution style murders of students in Newark, New Jersey fall outside the pale of Western Civilization. But, Schaer might assert, that was an abberation from any cultural point of view, wasn't it? The answer is no; diversity is wide. Ethnic ethos are not just variations of politeness.

Violent cultures in which machismo and an early death are the norm exist. Much of Mexico is run by drug runners who commit brutal murders in a short and glorious life. This is an outgrowth of the general fatalism of the culture. It is not an abberation, it is a stable mutli-generational cultural way of life. If you celebrate diversity without qualification, you celebrate M-13 style death cults. Rejecting that lifestyle highlights appreciation for Western Civilizations sense of fair play, rule of law, respect for the individual, and optimism.

Somalis recently watched as a woman was brutalized and raped in their apartment building. Could brutalizing women be a part of a culture? Yes. Western Civilization allows women rights. Women in many long - stable cultures have been treated as livestock and slaves. Honor killings, female genital mutilation, and cultures where women cannot go outside without their husband's permission, exist. Tell that to the women's studies department and those celebrating ethnics. The Somalis were just practicing their ethnic culture in Western lands. Women's rights are a part of Western Civilization.

Recently a Muslim woman shot her husband because he was going to Morocco to get a second wife. Our laws cannot even accomodate such diversity. How do we marry the second wife? Can each sue for their part if he dies? Our laws are based upon expected cultural habits. What if women are to be kept in Hegabs and they are not allowed to take them off for driver's license photos? If people want to marry multiple women or not allow them to drive or have honor killings or wear hegabs in other countries, that is not our business. But it cannot happen in Western nations. Westen legal systems are based on western cultural assumptions. If you want to know about Western civilization look at the philosophical and cultural assumptions in our laws.

We do have a culture. It is progressive. It believes in the dignity of individual conscience. The application of the mind to problems of the world allowed us to create the modern life that we have helped spread around the world and allows those from around the world to come to Western nations. But that does not mean that global diversity is over. We have a specific culture that, are you listening Regent Schauer, stems from a tradition starting with Socrates questioning, moving to Jesus' belief in equality for all in love and potential, our Enlghtenment ideals getting us away from warlords and creating science, and - yes - progressive political movements.

Ours is a specific culture it has taken eons of struggle to create. It is not just the world's default. If we do not wish people to passively watch rapes, do execution style murders, and have multiple wives in this country we have to assert that these behaviors are wrong. We have to tell people, in essence, about Western culture. We need to announce the correlary truth that sustaining our culture requires people to apply themselves reasonably to the problems of the world, in a progressive, and law-abiding manner. We need to teach about our historic respect for the individual mind and its abilities. Without defining ourselves, without borders and laws, we can slip deep into the diverse natural tendencies of man. That is why we must teach Western Civilization.

Friday, August 3, 2007

China's 2008 Olympics

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Yesterday I saw my first advertisement for the 2008 Olympics in China. This event will bring prestige to China. On the same day I received my monthly copy of the fabulous newsletter Impris (get it free at www.hillsdale.edu). For once, I was not in sympathy with this month's article. It was called "Dealing with China in the Coming Years."

The Impris article was worried about China's influence and sustainability, military, and economy. I share worry about our not effectively competing with China economically. We should be as anti-egalitarian and as pro-Western in our dealings with them as they are pro-Chinese. But the rest of the article was very impatient that China turn into a liberal democracy. The article asserts that they are a "dictatorship" and optimistically proclaims in the alst paragraph, "We should talk back to the Chinese when they question our open society, and openly criticize Chinese repression. Above all, we should continue to be a beacon for freedom. . . "

When the Olympics start those who believe in universal human rights will start protesting of China. They will basically be saying that the entire world must adopt Western standards of right and wrong. The Impris article is worried because China's GDP quadrupled between 1978 and 1992. It has since been growing faster. And yet we, with our huge trade deficits are supposed to tell them how to live! Abstract and absolute application of rights for criminals and students and uncensored media are our way. They need not be the way of the whole world.

We are a young nation. As the Impris article points out Asian - American students comprise 50 percent or more of the student body at numerous universities. Perhaps we have something to learn. If we continue to confuse liberty and licence; the right to be responsible in numerous ways and the right to party without consequence; we may not be around as long as China. Rather than telling other people that they must be like us, we can best secure liberty by telling our current population that they must be more like our forefathers. China's future is not our responsibility. We must take care of ourselves.

The Olympics should teach us something. It is a competitive world. Teams that do not accept discipline from their coaches are at a disadvantage. Teams that will allow you to play regardless of how many practices you miss will fail. Teams on which the members do not really care if they win or not - those that are committed to the whole world being one big team under Western individualism - may lose. We should enjoy and learn from China's 2008 Olympics. We should rally for our team, instead of decrying theirs.