Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lost Faith

Essay on the consequences of double standards over our core beliefs:
The worst inconsistencies, however, involve the violation of core Western ideals, most importantly free speech. Many Muslims demand the right to deny the Holocaust, recycle Nazi-era anti-Semitic drivel, characterize Christianity as polytheistic idolatry, and excoriate a decadent, corrupt Western civilization. But no such criticism of Mohammed or Islam is tolerated, and in fact is met with violence and threats.

The past few years have seen numerous examples, from the riots over the extremely mild political cartoons featuring Mohammed, to the uproar over the Pope’s quotation of a Byzantine emperor. The exercise of free speech in all these cases is met with rage, violence, and hysterical demands of “respect” for Islam, but there is no reciprocal respect for Western values. And for the most part, we in the West go along with this double standard, and thus accept the logic of the jihadist position: we are weak and unsure of our beliefs. Our craven behavior is a sign of our inferior status and our justified subjection to those who passionately believe in the rightness of their faith.

Let’s be clear on the roots of this cowardly response––the West has lost its faith. We have created John Lennon’s juvenile utopia in which there is “nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” Shorn of transcendent validation, now all our beliefs are contingent and negotiable, easily traded away for security or comfort. At the same time, the therapeutic mentality bestows on the non-Western “other” a finely calibrated sensitivity to his culture, no matter how dysfunctional, all the while it refuses to extend such consideration to its own. Why would it? Haven’t generations of Western intellectuals and artists told the world how corrupt and evil the West is? Having culturally internalized this self-loathing, we are vulnerable to those who are filled with passionate intensity about the rightness of their beliefs and the payback due to us for our various historical sins such as colonialism or imperialism or globalization. And then we wonder why the jihadist considers us ripe for conquest, and destined to be subjected to the superior values of Islam.
It then goes on to recount this outrageous example:
Consider the following cautionary tale, from San Francisco State. Last October the College Republicans held an anti-terrorism rally during which posters painted to look like the flags of the terrorist gangs Hamas and Hezbollah were walked on. Since those flags have the name of Allah in Arabic, a complaint was filed in which the College Republicans were accused of “incitement,” “creation of a hostile environment,” and “incivility.” The complaint is now headed for trial before one of those campus star chambers created to monitor and police student behavior.

You don’t have to be a Constitutional scholar to see that this investigation is a gross violation of the students’ First Amendment right to free speech.
Here’s where the double standards and incoherence of much politically correct behavior comes in. On any college campus in this country, every day, inside of class and out, you can encounter speech that is “insensitive,” “uncivil,” or “hostile.” But of course, this speech is directed towards Christians, or “conservatives,” or Israel, or Republicans, or “straight white males.” Nobody attempts to censor this speech or haul people before tribunals to answer vague charges such as “incivility,” which will be defined according to the subjective standards of the complainants. And if someone does complain, the faculty and administration will immediately go into high dudgeon mode and start preaching the glories of unfettered free speech no matter how offensive.
Petty ivory-tower tyrants.


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