Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect my actual opinions.

September 22, 2004

Liberals Against Moral Equivalency

My idiotic brother often accuses me (and every other multiculturalist, pluralist liberal) of practicing moral equivalency when I say things like "if Muslims in Ontario want to use a parallel court system based on Sharia law, and provided that system be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why shouldn't they?"

He does this for two reasons: 1) He mentally, possibly subconsciously, excises all qualifications and nuances (such as the bit about the charter), and 2) He's an idiot.

I was reminded of this today by a post on Sadly, No! slamming a CBN News article on moral equivalency in American school textbooks. It infuriated me into commenting (sixth entry; there's no permalink), and then got me thinking about what exactly it is that I really believe when it comes to issues like Islam.

It is not practicing moral equivalence to say, as I do, that most Muslims want to worship in peace, and that only a small minority of Muslims deliberately set out to kill infidels. Nor is it to suggest, as I do, that not all versions of Sharia law require amputations and executions. Yet by saying anything along those lines I'm accused by him of refusing to judge one culture against another, refusing ever to admit that Western liberalism can in fact be superior to Islamic radicalism.

This is entirely contrary to reality. Despite his claims, I do consider liberalism the superior mindset. Yes, that's right: our culture is better. I can hear the hisses and boos already, and lo!, my liberal credentials just crumbled to dust, assuming I had any in the first place. But I don't care. Here's my reasoning:

  • Everyone should be entitled to their religious beliefs. The Koran teaches that all must submit to Allah's will, i.e. be a Muslim.
  • Christians who become ex-Christians are not scorned, repressed or murdered. In Islam, apostasy is widely considered a capital offence.
  • Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment is a fundamental human right. Many Muslim societies still use public flogging, amputation and execution as criminal sactions, as required by some interpretations of Sharia law.
  • Women are due every right that is granted to men. Misogyny is still rampant in Islamic culture, and Sharia law is often breathtakingly skewed in favour of men.
  • Liberalism, for very good reasons, calls for the separation of church and state. Islam is both a religion and a political movement, in which church and state are considered by many to be utterly inseparable (hence the existence of organisations such as this one).
  • The rule of democracy is fundamental to liberalism. As a consequence of the last item most Islamic states are theocratic, and thus totalitarian and more than a little fascistic.
  • In the West religious leaders espousing the slaughter of innocents would be rightly condemned. The incidence of such incitement to violence by Islamic clerics is alarming, to say the least.

All these things and more are wrong with the majority of contemporary Islamic societies. Need they be? Will they be forever? I don't know. But right now I have no hesitation in, and do not apologise for, saying that I consider Western liberal culture superior to that of most of the Islamic world.

Wonder if Salman Rushdie has a spare bedroom?


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