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Selective Moral Outrage

Contemporary culture tends, in general, to dismiss those who wish to imbue political dialogue with questions of morality as scolds, self-righteous Victorians who seek nothing more than to laud their own virtues and revel in their supposed superiority.  “Family values” are rejected as “hate.”  Propriety is mistaken for haughtiness.  Prudence and introspection are considered little more than excuses not to act, not to use the massive power of government to affect positive “change.”  Regrettably, nothing could be further from the truth.  This retreat from open and frank discussion of morality has rendered contemporary politics shallow, hollow, and hopelessly muddled.

Consider, if you will, the example of the current outrage – evident both in Washington and Hollywood – over the spread of Islamism in Africa and the Far East.  In the nation’s capital, everyone, it seems, is up in arms over the recent kidnapping of some 250-300 girls in Nigeria by the Islamist group best known as Boko Haram.  The First Lady of the United States made headlines two weeks ago, when she joined the “hashtag” offensive against the Islamists, having herself photographed holding a sign demanding, “#BringBackOurGirls.”  More recently, in accordance with the War Powers Act, the President himself informed Congress that he has sent American troops into the African nation of Chad to help with the effort to impede Boko Haram and to keep it from selling the girls into slavery, as its leaders have threatened to do.

Meanwhile, out on the Left Coast, the Glitteratti have, of late, taken up the cause of the people of Brunei, upon whom Sharia law will be imposed, beginning later this year.  The Sultan of Brunei, which is to say the autocrat responsible for deciding to enforce Sharia law, is one of the world’s richest men and, as such, is the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel.  And Hollywood’s best and brightest have decided that it is their lot in life to speak up for the soon-to-be-oppressed by taking business away from a hotel the Sultan likely doesn’t even know that he owns and thereby punishing hotel employees who have probably never even heard of the Sultan or Sharia law, much less Brunei.  Al-Jazeera explains:

US television star Jay Leno has joined a growing list of celebrities vowing to boycott the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel chain linked to Brunei’s sultan, after he introduced the first phase of a controversial Islamic penal code last month.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced last Wednesday that he would continue with further implementation of the law that will eventually include tough penalties such as death by stoning.

Former late-night talk show host Leno, speaking at a small protest outside the sultan-owned Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles on Tuesday, said: “What is this, Berlin, 1933?  This doesn’t seem far off what happened in the Holocaust.”

“Come on people, it’s 2014.  Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.” . . .

The US group Feminist Majority Foundation said it had also pulled its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and wife Mavis Leno, from the Beverly Hills Hotel in protest.

This is all well and good, we suppose, and certainly it’s nice that the folks at the White House and in Hollywood have decided that they find the abominations committed in the name of Islamic law to be beyond the pale.  Our only question is “where have they been for the last dozen-plus years?”

You see, these leaders of the free world who are so unhappy these days about the existence and enforcement of Sharia law in the outposts of Islam have been notably silent about – and quite possibly ignorant of – the fact that the United States has been the globe’s greatest and most powerful protector of Sharia for better than a decade now.  Both Afghanistan and Iraq – American protectorates for all intents and purposes – have enshrined Sharia law and the supremacy of Islam in their constitutions.  And both therefore are every bit as dangerous and threatening to women, children, gays, and countless other out groups.  Last year, Professor Phyllis Chesler, a noted feminist author wrote the following:

Hamid Karzai’s government is considering bringing back stoning for adultery — and imposing 100 lashes (which is a death sentence) for unmarried people who have had sexual relations.

Thus, Afghan men can marry female children, keep male children as sex-toys, maintain four wives, and visit prostitutes from dawn to dawn.

But it is a capital crime if an Afghan man dishonors another Afghan man by having relations with his female “property;” and, if he has raped the poor wife, she is also to be stoned.  Worse yet, if two young Afghans meet and fall in love on their own and have sexual relations, but do not marry — they, too, will be committing a capital crime.

The fact of the matter is that the members of America’s ruling class – Republican, Democrat, and otherwise – thought it was more important to appear accommodating, culturally sensitive, and diverse than to ask their Muslim clients not to behave like barbarians.  Both Presidents Bush and Obama talked a good game about liberty, freedom, and democracy, but neither had the moral fortitude to compel the Iraqis or the Afghanis actually to put those values into practice.

On the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the columnist Ann Coulter declared that “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  The American leaders – from George Bush to Dick Cheney; Condi Rice to Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama to Joe Biden – all fretted that they would be seen as following Coulter’s advice.  And so they made certain that no one could ever seriously accuse them of doing so by bending over as far the other way as they could without falling over.  And why shouldn’t they?  After all, one culture is as good as another.  And who, after all, were they to judge?

The West today is in sad shape, but not because it is unwilling to do anything to defend its values and beliefs.  Rather, it has no idea what its values and beliefs are or even what they should be.  And so it – and its leaders – merely stomp about the globe imposing whim and fancy.

Sell a few girls into slavery?  That’s an outrage!

Sell a few into marriage?  That’s just multiculturalism!  And it’s the American military’s job to facilitate it.

Morality, you see, isn’t just about abortion and pornography.  It’s about a great deal more, including to what ends this nation’s immense powers will be put.  Not that anyone in power in this country seems to understand that.