I’ve always thought that this country being too liberal would be like having too much money. If we were too liberal we would hear fights about which deserving country we should send aid to or who should get to host the next multicultural seminar. “Please” we would say “take my taxes and give them to someone who wasn’t raised with the benefits I was”. Eventually, in my fantasy, we would all stand in one big circle and hug – afterward we could talk about our feelings. Not like those crazy conservatives, always raining on our parade kicking puppies and rolling old ladies out into the street. Obviously…obviously we need to consider both sides of a debate because after all, we live in a democracy and that’s supposed to represent everyone. Sometimes it’s hard to remember though, when just the thought of G.W. Bush is enough to make you angry for a good 5 minutes.
However, after reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali I can now honestly say I’m even thankful for conservatives. Clearly, when presented with two polar arguments it’s easy to determine that perhaps a combination of conservative and liberal solutions. I’ve heard that welfare is a cycle that ends up keeping people down but truth be told, I don’t know that much about it. When I hear people complaining about those who abuse welfare all I can think of is my best friend, a single mother raising a child working two jobs and trying to complete her education while living in government housing. No it’s not a cliché it’s a reality — her reality.
I guess if the argument were that giving people welfare for their entire lives keeps them barely scraping by, and teaches their kids that welfare is more lucrative than working, and that it’s kind of like drinking too much or being depressed — at first you don’t even notice but then it becomes too hard to dig yourself back out of the hole. If that were the argument I would understand but when it feels like the argument is “people on welfare are lazy and I want to keep all of my money,” I can only be less than sympathetic.
Welfare, however, is one of the minor topics I gained a little insight into while reading Infidel. Ms. Hirsi’s argument is almost undeniable that fundamentalist Islam is damaging to human rights and it is not just a small radical faction. It must have been hard for Ali to make that argument as her intentions in doing so could have been mistaken or her experiences distorted by the opposing radical side of the aisle. Noting that all over the Muslim world, religious schools have been (and are being) erected to teach children fundamentalist Islam is a fear mongering tactic used by the ultraconservative and ignored by the ultra-liberal.
In American society we generally try to understand that lumping a large group of people into one stereotype is hurtful, damaging, misleading, and unacceptable. That’s why we have a debate about racial profiling. But correlation does not imply causation. For example statistically the majority of our prison population is male however, that does not mean all men are criminals. That sounds like a simple concept to understand, but lots of people still think its completly appropriate for the police to racially profile African Americans when looking for robbery suspects.
How then does this equate to Muslims living in America or Muslims across the globe?
Before continuing with the rest of the debate we need to understand that like Christians, Muslims are not all the same. Like the statement above, it’s unfair to say that because some Muslims hate the west, all Muslims hate the West or wish for the demise of the West. However, we have to quit saying that it’s only a small faction because in the U.S. our contingent of radical Christians is small. The violent “Jihad” Islam that we’ve all become familiar with is definitely spreading, although it remains to be funded by a small contingent. The Taliban are notorious for funding the building of religious schools across Afghanistan and Pakistan. These schools teach the hateful violent brand of Islam we hear about in the news.
We do know that some parts of the Muslim world were becoming more progressive before this new brand of fanatical Islam took over. We know that Afghanistan was actually somewhat progressive in the 70s before the Russians came and then the Taliban ousted them. Both Iran and Afghanistan took a huge step backward in terms of human rights, however, when they put in place religious based governments.
Supporting a religious based government is easy to understand when security is taken into consideration. Afghanistan for example, has been in a state of complete chaos for decades, so understandably some were actually relieved at first when the Taliban brought order. Especially when rules are backed not just with the threat of death but also with morality. One of the major flaws with this however, is the absolute lack of any rights for women.
Ms. Hirsi points to this major problem over and over in her book with regards to Somalia and Saudi Arabia — and more broadly Islam.
So when we in the U.S. try so hard to be respectful of other cultures, religious, and nationalities we are giving up one of our core values: human rights. Specifically women’s rights. In this country every single person has rights. With the exception of minors, no one has complete authority over another human being. When we try to be culturally sensitive by allowing Muslim women in this country to be treated as second class citizens we are ignoring our own struggle for women’s rights. We do not allow anyone to break the laws prescribed by our society in the name of religion, which is why our church and state must be separate.
Honor beatings, honor killings, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, home confinement, and rape are all practices that take place in this country, but they are not in keeping with our values. While we want to say that instances of these acts are rare, few statistics have been taken on the subject and other Western countries such as Holland were very surprised to find that, when they began recording these numbers, they were much higher than previously suspected.
Having been very liberal my entire life I’ve run across many ultra-liberals who fail to apply the same logic to every situation. A common problem among conservatives and liberals alike to be sure but it’s important to take note when something doesn’t fit the way you want it to. I grew up in a poor small town full of what seemed like small minds and less than ambitious people. However, if I’m unable to have sympathy for the socioeconomic, class, biases, and disadvantages of those in the inner city or even poor countries; why then will I not cut the same slack to those in small town America?
The same applies to this argument. If we’re so bent on affording protections to women, why then will we not cross that cultural line? If a woman wishes to stay in the home it is her choice and if she is under duress she should know the options she has available. If we want religion to be left out of our public decision making process it should be all religions. Don’t take it from me though, I’m probably not doing her argument justice. Read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and visit her website and remember that this article is not more ammunition to discriminate against Muslims, but to point out that sometimes we can be detrimentally liberal.
When I say I’m thankful for conservatives I mean that while most times I don’t agree with the process they use to arrive at conclusions, I really appreciate that both sides make some attempt to keep our society balanced.