Monday, March 13, 2006

Treating women as beasts...

Arab-American Psychologist Wafa Sultan: There Is No Clash of Civilizations but a Clash between the Mentality of the Middle Ages and That of the 21st Century,
The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.
And from Nick Cohen's tribute to Iranian Dissident Maryam Namazie,
Namazie is on the right side of the great intellectual struggle of our time between incompatible versions of liberalism. One follows the fine and necessary principle of tolerance, but ends up having to tolerate the oppression of women, say, or gays in foreign cultures while opposing misogyny and homophobia in its own. (Or 'liberalism for the liberals and cannibalism for the cannibals!' as philosopher Martin Hollis elegantly described the hypocrisy of the manoeuvre.) The alternative is to support universal human rights and believe that if the oppression of women is wrong, it is wrong everywhere.

The gulf between the two is unbridgeable. Although the argument is rarely put as baldly as I made it above, you can see it breaking out everywhere across the liberal-left. Trade union leaders stormed out of the anti-war movement when they discovered its leadership had nothing to say about the trade unionists who were demanding workers' rights in Iraq and being tortured and murdered by the 'insurgents' for their presumption.

Former supporters of Ken Livingstone reacted first with bewilderment and then steady contempt when he betrayed Arab liberals and embraced the Islamic religious right. The government's plans to ban the incitement of religious hatred have created an opposition which spans left and right and whose members have found they have more in common with each other than with people on 'their side'.

As Namazie knows, the dispute can't stay in the background for much longer. There's an almighty smash-up coming and not before time.
The big clash sadly is within Western Liberalism itself. It can't stay true to it's own Universal Values when confronted with tyranny aboard and the response of a Republican President they didn't vote for. They'll betray Arab Liberals before they'll join a universal struggle for liberal values.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or what about Pakistan, where thousands of bloggers have woken up to find their blogspot blogs blocked wholesale? (due to the cartoons) All they wanted to do was blog, and maybe make a little money from Google's adsense. Is anyone even willing to stand with them? What has happened to all our free speech Americans who were willing to support Denmark? Where are the liberals now?

Bill Baar said...

an emailed comment quoting Moore's response to Sultan,

The problem with Dr. Wafa Sultan's views on Islam is that they come from a post-Muslim secularist viewpoint rather than one of an engaged, thoughtful and practicing Muslim. This makes her views suspect or worse in the Muslim world.
That said, the issues she raises are real. Christianity went through a Reformation and had to come to grips with a secularist enlightenment. Islam is playing catchup with these developments, and this makes some of its followers defensive in the extreme with respect to the West.
Change in the Muslim world will come from engaged, thoughtful and flexible believers, not from secularists like Dr. Sultan, whose positive reception in the West will probably serve to convince other Muslims that the West is opposed to their faith and traditions.
Peter D. G. Moore
Los Angeles, March 11, 2006
The writer teaches humanities at the University of California at Irvine.

Bill Baar said...

I agree with Moore. Our best allies are moderate indigenous Islamic leaders.

This doesn't mean they're Liberal or Secularist Muslims.

It means people like Al Sistani.