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November 12, 2004

A Real Culture War

I don't often offer kudos to the Providence Journal's Froma Harrop, but her recent piece, "Europe's culture war from hell," is very much worth reading:

THE MURDER of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has cut yards off the fuse on Europe's culture war. And we mean war -- with shooting and bombing -- not some American-type spat over Hollywood. Boy, would the Europeans love to trade their culture war for ours. ...

Many in the American media haven't a clue. They apply the American experience to Europe. U.S. immigration comes with its own set of problems, but assimilation is not among them. Immigrants to the United States tend to melt easily into the culture. They don't attack cheerleaders in Texas because they find them lewd.

Well, not yet. Yesterday, I ended an Anchor Rising post about some Northeastern liberal "family values" spin with the implication that progressives and socialists are only too willing to take credit for the lifestyles of traditionalists in their midst when those lifestyles' results prove politically desirable to tout. Perhaps there's a chance — even if slim — that the deterioration of Europe into a Hot Culture War will push American liberals and secularists back toward the source of our nation's ballast: religious and cultural conservatism.

The question, when it comes to the "ugly choices" with "no option but to make them," in Harrop's words, will be how far from the lifeline the liberal segments of our culture have already swum.

Posted by Justin Katz at November 12, 2004 3:07 PM
International Affairs

Perhaps the reason we don't have incidents such as the killing of Van Gogh is because as a society, we are much more "accepting" of how other cultures behave. Moreover, most thinking people make a distinction between cultural modalities and general ideal constructs such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Van Gogh chose to generalize from a specific cultural practice common to many societies both muslim and non-muslim and label it as "Islam." Muslim jusrists have over the years spoke out against forced marriages and female circumcision. This has had little effect, as most educational institutions in muslim countries have become secularized and those that are not, will not deal with issues that are socially controversial. The muslim community (over a billion strong) has more than its fair share of fanatics. By definition, a fanatic may not be reasoned with and will adhere only to his own code of conduct. Van Gogh left himself open to all comers in this regard. Perhaps the Netherlands should institute polygraph tests for immigrants and asylum seekers to ascertain if they are of firm intention to abide by the laws of the society they are moving to and pledge fealty to its government and institutions.

As an afterthought, perhaps we are just more used to this kind of stuff. The USA is a rather violent place where perhaps more killings like this occur than we are aware of or care to remember. How long will it be before we all forget what the Oklahoma bomber's motive was?

Posted by: Zein Cesar Majul at November 16, 2004 5:26 AM