by Monte Solberg
I know it’s still popular in some circles to say different cultures have different values, but all cultures are equal. I also know why people say this and it’s not because it’s obviously true, quite the contrary. They say it to avoid conflict.
It might even make sense in a sad way to dismiss the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans as a “cultural difference” if we knew it would appease our enemies. “No, I’m sorry dear, daddy won’t ever come home again because a different but equal culture killed him. But in their equally valid culture he had it coming so put on your burka and be quiet.”
Yes, asserting that some cultures are superior to others can lead to conflict, but appeasing is not the way out. The jihadists don’t care if we suck up to them. If you’re not one of them, they’ll dispose of you the moment you quit being useful to them.
In the case of the murders in Libya, the murderers would argue they were following orders. Given that the orders were issued in the year 632, you would think there might be some question as to whether they are still relevant.
After all, most of the world has moved on from then. There’s been a little reflection and critical thinking over the last millennium and things have changed.
In the West it took a while, but we finally figured out that it is self-evident we should all have equal rights. That’s why we oppose stoning women to death, even if they do show off an ankle.
The problem here isn’t freedom of expression in the West. In fact, the only alternative to violence is to debate ideas, which requires free expression and an open mind.
Unfortunately, jihadist minds closed 1,400 years ago and show no signs of reopening. They are still partying like it’s 999.
There are several lessons here.
First, if the Arab Spring ever actually existed, it has now yielded to jihadist winter. Let’s also not equate casting a ballot with real democracy. Permitting the vote without a commitment to universal human rights only legitimizes the tyranny of the majority. It’s democracy but it’s not liberal democracy.
Second, too many people in the West think the correct response to Muslim violence is to tiptoe around extreme Islam. Yes, some people have set out to inflame the Muslim street, but better a few free-speech provocateurs than a nation of sheep, afraid to call baloney on a way of thinking that is based on hate, repression and violence.
Third, let’s recognize that Israel is the only country the West can count on in the Middle East, precisely because it shares our values. How many times do we need to learn this lesson?
The U.S. embassy’s initial grovelling response to the violence in Cairo actually blamed American free expression for causing the violence. It was a futile and embarrassing attempt to appease the jihadists, an attitude I fear runs up the chain of command.
Forget the apologies. What U.S. foreign policy needs is tough talk and more Marines.
Categories: Contributor Columns