This post adds comment to yesterday’s immediately below, The cloud of knowing.
We report there how the Chicago Council on Global Affairs urged that “the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy” be “clarified”. Which means changed. Because “some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism”.
“Imperialism” in the myopic eyes of the international Left is a very severe form of “racism” – its chief deadly sin.
What these thinkers who want the US to promote religion abroad are really getting at, is that for us to advocate religious tolerance is to impose our values on those who don’t believe in it.
That is to say, impose tolerance and freedom on states that have – and enforce – a state religion; or on religious groups that hold their own beliefs to be unquestionably and uniquely true.
They think (if it can be called thinking) that by objecting to the intolerance of such states and groups, we are being intolerant.
And so they imply that it’s perfectly all right for them to be intolerant, but for us to be intolerant is a sin and a scandal.
In the words of the Palestinian grievance-monger Edward Said, we are guilty of regarding people of other races and cultures and religions (he meant specifically Muslims) as “the other”, and looking down on them. He was not concerned, as neither are his followers, that they regard us as “the other”, and not merely look down on us, but plan perpetual warfare (holy war, jihad) against us, so that they may force us to convert, or – if we are lucky – pay them to let us live, or else die.
In consideration of that alone, it is obvious that our values, our political system, and our culture is immeasurably superior to theirs. And the view that we are in the wrong to look down on their intolerance, cruelty, immoral creeds, and oppressive government is hogwash.
These critics of the West – in particular of America – seem unaware that when they deplore “white privilege” they are acknowledging that our system, our way of life, our achievements, our culture, our economy, our form of government (all of which include people of many races, colors, ethnic backgrounds and religions) are better than the others. What else can they mean by “privilege”? We weren’t picked out by some great Emir in the Sky to be the recipients of his bounty more than any other society.
What the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ proposal inescapably means is that first, we should refrain from condemning (for instance): the Sunni persecution of Christians, Yezidis, and Shias; or the Shia persecution of Sunnis and Baha’i; or the general Muslim subjugation of women and demonization of Jews; or the Indonesian mass murder of Ahmadis; or Hindu actions against Muslims; or Muslim actions against Buddhists. And second, we should actively encourage it. What other meaning can be found in their recommendation?
The implications go still further. Even if we were to take a tolerant view of all that tyranny and bloodshed, we would still be in the wrong. Because our secularism is wrong.
And what does that imply if not that we too should have an enforced state religion? (Any bets on what religion it would be if President Obama could impose it by executive order?)
Also that when that happens, not only could we be intolerant of all religions that are not ours, but we positively should be – just like the others.
And finally, to attain perfect Lefty virtue, we would have to resist forever any temptation to so much as think that maybe we should all be free to believe and not believe whatever we damn well like.