The Reactionary Utopian
                     February 7, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     My crystal ball told me the Global War on Terror 
(GWOT) would bring us a lot of trouble, but it failed to 
foresee that one of the flashpoints would be cartoons in 
Denmark. Muslims are currently upset about a particular 
cartoon, published last September, ridiculing the prophet 
Mohammed. Scandinavian humor can be unexpectedly 
volatile, when it exists at all.

     I could have told the publishers that the Muslims 
might not chuckle good-naturedly about this, had anyone 
asked me, which they didn't. By comparison, Abe Foxman 
was a pretty good sport about Mel Gibson's last movie.

     Religion has been a factor in turmoil for most of 
human history, and though liberals have hoped tolerance 
would solve the problem for good, it has merely taken a 
new form as two great liberal principles have collided: 
freedom of expression (represented by the cartoonists) 
and organized touchiness (represented by world Islam, now 
moving into Europe).

     Liberals always expect their principles to harmonize 
with each other, and then are surprised when it doesn't 
work out that way. In their zeal for sexual equality, 
they oppose sex discrimination and favor abortion on 
demand, only to find that some people abort babies upon 
discovering that they are female. Since this happens most 
often in cultures where being female is regarded as a 
sort of birth defect and the decision to abort is made by 
the father, yet another sacred liberal principle takes it 
on the chin: multiculturalism.

     Not all cultures are ready for multiculturalism, at 
least not this year. And some of those cultures, in what 
liberals reverently dubbed the Third World (back when the 
phrase seemed to make sense), are pretty old. They may 
take a while catching up with the progressive West -- or, 
as liberals say, "evolving." Evolution is another sacred 
liberal principle, but it doesn't always follow the 
progressive script.

     In some of those cultures, where sex-selection 
infanticide has long been a father's prerogative (as it 
was back in pagan Greece and Rome), sex-selection 
abortion, now that it's feasible, just seems the natural 
way to go (or evolve). I guess it falls under the heading 
of traditional family values. Dad still decides. That's 
"choice," you know -- one more lofty liberal principle, 
as refracted through multiculturalism.

     Many cultures are all for choice -- as long as it 
isn't exercised by women, of course. This is the proviso 
that tends to take liberals by surprise. We won't make 
any headway toward world peace until we recognize that 
liberalism, despite its universalist rhetoric, is just a 
local, recent, delicate, and perishable Western 
subculture. It probably has no hope of radically 
transforming other cultures, especially those that 
acknowledge the existence of two sexes.

     Many primitive peoples believe not only that two 
sexes exist, but that they are somewhat different from 
one another. Such beliefs, seemingly simple and 
arbitrary, can make it difficult for liberalism to take 
root. The barbarians who hold them may be willing to try 
certain liberal enthusiasms on for size -- elections or 
freedom of the press, maybe -- as long as basic cultural 
preconditions are respected: two sexes, no cartoons of 
the Prophet, things like that.

     At risk of provoking liberals to riot by insulting 
their most cherished beliefs, I should point out that in 
many respects President Bush himself is a liberal. He 
assumes that if he offers the world's Muslims democracy 
-- an offer they can't refuse, as it were -- they will 
eagerly grab it, women's rights and all. This is another 
case where I might have counseled otherwise, but again, I 
wasn't asked.

     Like most of his breed, our liberal in chief seems 
to regard religion as a mere opinion, an edifying 
individual option rather than a necessary social 
cohesive. This is why he seems ill prepared to deal with 
the Muslim world, where they take a different view of it. 
Unlike the liberal WASHINGTON POST, for example, the 
Muslim press doesn't bury religious news in the back 
sections of the weekend editions. It takes the view, so 
baffling to enlightened Westerners, that if the Almighty 
exists, he is probably pretty important.

     Only modern Western culture -- liberalism -- could 
have conceived so incoherent a concept as 
multiculturalism. This strange idea hasn't caught on in 
the Islamic world. You might as well expect to find a 
nudist colony in Mecca. (Just a joke, Mr. President.)


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