You don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you read stories such as this one. Do people really think that the divide between a culture based on the Koran and a culture based on secular humanism can be bridged by having the ‘refugees’ take sex education classes? Yes, actually.
Such stories represent a microcosm of the West’s tragic inability to deal with the threat the Islam poses to it. At the macro-level, the West thinks of all ‘socially inappropriate’ behaviors as properly dealt with in the same way you would train a dog: conditioning, in the sense that Pavlov meant it. This is why secularists are hellbent on making sure that their worldview is the only one reflected in educational materials, because, on their view, society can save itself a lot of trouble if you get to people early with ‘secular’ values.
I have been arguing in this series that these types of approaches essentially only ‘work’ in a (post-)Christian society, and that they are no match against an Islamic ideology. In my most recent post, I gave one reason: The question of ‘identity’ is answered powerfully in Islam (at least for men), while secular humanism tells people they are lately descended from pus. The ‘conditioning’ is supposed to dampen the implications of this, but it doesn’t work with most people.
In this post, I want to focus on another reason: relativism.
Before I proceed, I should probably explain a little bit about why I am going after the secular humanists so hard in this series.
To put it bluntly, its because the secular humanists are effectively in charge of everything. They are the ones that run the show in Europe and America, both. These are the people who have taken upon their shoulders the duty of protecting us from threats, foreign and domestic. Pick a bureaucracy to inspect, and you will find that it is dominated by liberals. (There is a reason for this, having very much to do with the question of identity, but that’s a different post.) As I happen to live in such a culture, and the well-being of me, my family, and my community, are in the hands of such people, I have a special interest in their intrinsic inability to do what it takes to protect us from a threat such as the one posed by Islamicists.
After all, while there is a widespread concern that the ‘refugees’ will transform the demographics of the West by assimilating us, absorbing us into their caliphate, rather than us assimilating them, there is no similar concern in places like, say, Russia or China. To say that Putin would never put up with such a thing is to put it mildly; to say that Obama would wag his finger vigorously is to overstate his efforts.
Why is Islamicism a threat to the West but not the East? Well, a lot of it has to do with the moral relativism that is a direct extension of the secular humanist worldview. Secular humanists find it profoundly difficult to say something like, “This is wrong”, because, in most cases, they are atheists who believe that there is no objective thing such as ‘right or wrong.’ Subjectively, of course, there are all sorts of things that can prompt them to make moral statements, but if you try to get them to justify their statements (ie, explain why you should care about what they just said, and change one’s own position or behaviors accordingly), about the best you will get is an appeal to something akin to the ‘social contract.’
To illustrate, in the article I linked to initially, the Norwegian courses aimed to teach the immigrants to “at least know the difference between right and wrong.” And what is the basis for these differences? The article rules out a religious basis in Norway, since it is “not religion that sets the laws.”
Indeed, when reading the article, one never really gets the idea that anyone thinks its WRONG to rape women, only that this is not what the culture is like in Norway, eg.,
“To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person.”
They may have well been teaching them about traffic laws: “In your country you drive on the left side of the road, but on ours, we drive on the right side.” Not saying driving on the left side is ‘wrong’ or anything!
This relativism dovetails seamlessly into a cultural relativism. The hesitancy to judge an individual’s actions or attitudes bleeds into a hesitancy to judge another culture’s actions or attitudes.
Secular humanists also tend to think that the ‘truths’ they believe about the nature of culture and cultural relativism hold true in other cultures, as well. Ie, if someone has a particular viewpoint in another culture, its not because they have a reason for that viewpoint. No, someone has that view because they were conditioned to have that view (and thus cannot be blamed for having that view). The article illustrates this sentiment, too:
Many refugees “come from cultures that are not gender equal and where women are the property of men,” Mr. Isdal said. “We have to help them adapt to their new culture.”
“There are lots of men who haven’t learned that women have value,” said Ms. Rohde, who wants mandatory sexual conduct classes for all new male migrants. “This is the biggest problem, and it is a cultural problem.”
There is no hint in these comments that there are specific, ideological reasons for the view that women have no value or are the property of men. There is no sense that this view is built on a conviction born of an objective source, which these folks believe is objectively true.
The same ideology that says that women have no value says that infidels have no value, too. Think about that when you read this excerpt from the article:
Mr. Kelifa, the African asylum seeker, said he still had a hard time accepting that a wife could accuse her husband of sexual assault. But he added that he had learned how to read previously baffling signals from women who wear short skirts, smile or simply walk alone at night without an escort.
“Men have weaknesses and when they see someone smiling it is difficult to control,” Mr. Kelifa said, explaining that in his own country, Eritrea, “if someone wants a lady he can just take her and he will not be punished,” at least not by the police.
In Eritrea, you can also hunt down Christians. Not that there is anything wrong with that, or anything… but in Norway, they don’t slaughter infidels. Very confusing, right? For now, Norway is a confusing place, but if enough asylum seekers arrive, they will, by virtue of nothing more than representing a critical mass, be able to bring some clarity to the situation!
It is bad enough that the people tasked with protecting us cannot bring themselves to categorically denounce certain things, but they also, for reasons outside the scope of this essay, think it is a fine idea to bring into our midst even more people who share beliefs and values that are incompatible with the very ‘pluralistic’ society they mean to foster.
So, it is probably the case that a well-organized Muslim army would be able to conquer Europe today, but its more likely that no army will be necessary. The Muslims will just grow their numbers inside our own society, keeping their convictions, and using our own ‘cultural’ tolerances against us. This, by the by, is probably an actual plan, implemented deliberately.
This series is about solving the problem ‘once and for all’ but this essay has basically been a sustained attack on secular humanism’s ability to prevent or resist the spread of Islamicism. Where, then, is the ‘solution’?
Well, obviously it is found in the inverse. If the liberal is paralyzed by nuance, then the solution is to figure out a way to be decisive. If the problem is that we can find no safe harbor for making definitive moral statements on a secular humanistic viewpoint, then something has got to go–may I suggest, the secular humanistic viewpoint? If the problem is that we view all cultures as valid and legitimate, may I propose that we come up with a way to legitimately judge and condemn other cultures?
I am not at all advocating for ‘cultural imperialism.’ I think there are things that are culturally ‘neutral’ and I think that humanity has done tremendous harm in the name of importing their ‘culture.’ Christian missionaries have learned hard lessons, on this point. Indeed, I dare say you can chalk up a lot of the world’s problems to the fall out of several centuries of such efforts, better known as ‘colonialism.’
In fact, I would be willing to bet that a lot of the hemming and hawing one sees in the secular humanistic community, in particular in Europe (since Europeans were the worst offenders), stems from the hesitancy to commit similar crimes again. I certainly welcome that!
And yet, if we cannot find sure footing we will never enjoy the ‘progress’ that is constantly promised and will probably be overwhelmed by people who are far more decisive than us. We must find a non-arbitrary, non-capricious, robust basis for declaring some things good, and some things bad.
Consider this quote from a certain British general named Charles Napier. As an administrator of England’s colony in India, he was confronted with the Indian practice of ‘sati,’ which was the burning alive of a woman with the body of her husband. He banned the practice in no uncertain terms. When the Hindu priests objected, he is to have said,
“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”
Is this all it comes down to? The ‘custom’ of Britain over against the ‘custom’ of India? Might makes right? Is that all there is? If ISIS was happy to behead people in Iraq and Syria, with no global aspirations, would our condemnations constitute nothing more than preferences, on the level of saying, “I would rather you didn’t behead those people, but then, I also prefer three cubes of sugar in my coffee, rather than two, so who is to judge?”
If we do not find a reasonable way out of this impasse, we will be paralyzed until overcome by those who themselves have found a way out of this impasse.
I regret to inform the reader that there are only a few reasonable ways out of this impasse, and it so happens that secular humanists have been busily undermining one of the most prominent options, and this, for decades. In that, at least, the Norwegians and the Eritreans can find common cause!
But, there may be hope:
Even among the world’s most famous atheists, the crisis of faith among Christians in Europe has been met with concern.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”
Says the man who has been instrumental in facilitating the decline of Christianity… irony, right?
Today we are considering whether or not the secular humanism that Dawkins has been trying to establish can stand in as a ‘bulwark against something worse.’ The growing evidence is… “No.” Which begs obvious questions, right?