Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Multicultural Masochism

I'm big on multiculturalism. I see it as a way of answering the famous Rodney King plea of "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?".

Here is a bit from an article by Christopher Hitchens that looks at how multiculturalism has been taken too far. He takes aim at the a self-loathing multiculturalism that points at one's own culture and sees only evil and wrongs while turning a blind eye to the evil and wrongs of another culture:
"The Fort Hood shooting," says Wright, "is an example of Islamist terrorism being spread partly by the war on terrorism—or, actually, by two wars on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan." I know that contributors to the New York Times op-ed page are not necessarily responsible for the headlines that appear over their work, but the title of this one—"Who Created Major Hasan?"—really does demand an answer, and the only one to be located anywhere in the ensuing text is "We did."

Everything in me revolts at this conclusion, which is echoed and underlined in another paragraph of the article. Why, six months ago, did "a 24-year-old-American named Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad—Carlos Bledsoe before his teenage conversion to Islam—fatally shoot a soldier outside a recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.? ABC News reported, "It was not known what path Muhammad … had followed to radicalization." Well, here's a clue: After being arrested he started babbling to the police about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan." Wright describes this clue-based deduction of his as an illustration of the way that "an isolated incident can put you on a slippery slope." Though I can't find much beauty in his prose there, I want to agree with him.
For a start, did Hasan or Muhammad ever say what "killing" of which "Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan" they had in mind? There isn't a day goes by without the brutal slaughter of Muslims in both countries by al-Qaida or the Taliban. And that's not just because most (though not all) civilians in both countries happen to be of the Islamic faith. The terrorists do not pause before deliberately blowing up the mosques and religious processions of those whose Muslim beliefs they deem insufficiently devout. Most of those now being tortured and raped and executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran are Muslim. All the women being scarred with acid and threatened with murder for the crime of going to school in Pakistan are Muslim. Many of those killed in London, Madrid, and New York were Muslim, and almost all the victims callously destroyed in similar atrocities in Istanbul, Cairo, Casablanca, and Algiers in the recent past were Muslim, too. It takes a true intellectual to survey this appalling picture and to say, as Wright does, that we invite attacks on our off-duty soldiers because "the hawkish war-on-terrorism strategy—a global anti-jihad that creates nonstop imagery of Americans killing Muslims—is so dubious." Dubious? The only thing dubious here is his command of language. When did the U.S. Army ever do what the jihadists do every day: deliberately murder Muslim civilians and brag on video about the fact? For shame. The slippery slope—actually the slimy slope—is the one down which Wright is skidding.
Life is a struggle to keep balance as opposing forces tug and pull you in various directions. It is too easy to give in and declare that one side wears white hats and the other black. In reality, all cultures are a mix of good and bad. And usually the excuses offered up are arbitrary half-truths that need to be investigated. Christopher Hitchens is doing everybody a favour by pointing out that "bleeding heart liberals" have gone too far in identifying with some disreputable killers.

I saw the same back in the late 1960s when rich people lined up to hold soirees for the Black Panthers. Tom Wolfe made fun of this idiotic bending over too far in his book Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.

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