Politics I

by zenquaker

There’s two things you don’t talk about: one’s politics and the other one’s religion. I’ve certainly violated the latter, so why not violate the former?

Recently the French Foreign Minister, Charles Gueant said that “contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us all civilizations are not of equal value.” He said this at a gathering of right wing political supporters, and it is assumed this is the Sarkoczy government pandering to the French right wing ahead of the coming elections. The left denounced his comments as “divisive,” “dangerous,” “degrading,” and “xenophobic.” The problem is that he’s right, er, correct.

Some civilizations are better than others, IMHO. I think a civilization that blames a woman for being raped, and rapes her repeatedly as punishment, is morally inferior to American civilization. And there are civilizations like that in the world today. I think a civilization that treats a whole class of people as  prisoners and criminals just because of who their fathers were is morally inferior to American civilization. And there are civilizations like that in the world today. At some point you have to stand up and say “No. That is just wrong.”

Now, while the degradation of women is what Gueant was ostensibly talking about, I don’t think he and I would agree in general about what makes one civilization better than another. And that’s a tricky part of the equation. You could even judge civilizations on different scales. You could argue that Iran is a better country economically than Tibet, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better country morally or intellectually.

You also have to keep clear the distinction between a civilization and the people who make up that civilization. A civilization may be evil because it is ruled by a few powerful, evil people, and the mass of the populace is actually better than the civilization itself. Even if most of the people in a civilization believe in the values embodied in that civilization, there are still going to be people in that civilization who rise above (or sink below) those values.

This is a distinction that I don’t think Gueant is making, given his statements that crime is primarily the fault of immigrants (not CEOs of breast implant companies) and that the rising population of Muslim faithful is dangerous. In the latter case he is willing to paint all the believers of a religion based on some of the civilizations associated with that religion. These sorts of statements are also things you need to stand up against and say “No. That is just wrong.” And those are the sorts of statements that the French left should be criticizing, rather than criticize correct statements that an immoral man can use to draw immoral conclusions.