The vale of tears and the city on the hill 12

We have become sadly used to reading about Muslim men killing their daughters, sisters and wives to restore or preserve the “honor” of their family.

We have posted stories of Muslim girls being buried alive by their fathers, brothers, uncles, tribal elders. (See our posts, In the name of Allah the Merciful, February 4, 2010; Imagine, February 6, 2010; The atrocity that is Islam, September 10, 2010.)* In some cases, their mothers and sisters plead vainly for their lives.

Now we hear of  two Muslim mothers helping each other kill their daughters because they married men of their own choice in defiance of family disapproval and the convention of their “culture”.

Phyllis Chesler writes at Front Page:

Two Muslim mothers, both widows, both living in Uttar Pradesh in India, helped each other murder their grown daughters, Zahida, 19, and Husna, 26, for having committed the crime of marrying Hindu men.

They held their daughters down and slowly strangled them to death. The poor dead darlings actually believed they were entitled to marry non-Muslim men and for “love,” and that ultimately their mothers and Muslim community would accept them back. This is typical of many honor killing victims. While these two young women knew enough to contact the police for help — and the police actually got their mothers to sign an agreement that they would not “harm” their children — it was only a deceptive piece of paper. But the daughters’ longing for reconciliation and naive hopefulness was their undoing. Their mothers agreed not to hurt them and sweet-talked them into returning; once the girls were home, they became prey for the kill.

But life without a family network is unthinkable for someone whose identity is not individual but rather located in a collectivity. Progress and “modernity” may be coming to India, but slowly, very slowly.

Neither mother, Khatun or Subrato, has expressed the slightest remorse. Both feel justified because their daughters brought shame to their families. According to the police, Khatun said: “We killed them because they brought shame to our community. How could they elope with Hindus? They deserved to die. We have no remorse.”

This is cold-hearted, barbaric, almost unbelievable. But such Muslim-on-Muslim crimes and woman-on-woman crimes are typical in many parts of the world. …

We expect women, mothers especially, to be able to defy social custom for the sake of saving their children. The reality is just the opposite. The slightest transgression, especially by women, will upset huge networks and topple all social stability. No one will marry someone from a “shamed” family; that family will be forever ostracized, impoverished, and may also die out genetically. Mothers, fathers, relatives are loyal to their tribal social customs rather than to any one individual, even if that individual is their own child. The system itself demands and allows for such barbarism—but the sacrifice of the individual is seen as in the service of the greater tribal and caste based social structure or “civilization.”

She is right to put the word civilization in quotation marks in that context. She is also right to point out that,  as a feature of Islamic custom, woman-on-woman cruelty goes on in “many parts of the world”, which is to say that Muslim “culture” often has its baleful effect even in countries where Muslims are a minority. “Honor killings” are carried out by Muslims in Western Europe and the United States. Religion is often the ingredient that keeps a culture primitive and cruel. In the case of Khartun and Sobrato, they objected fiercely to the husbands because they were Hindus.

India is a democracy, and rapidly becoming an economic power in the world. The British brought ideas of individual freedom and justice to the sub-continent and put an end to its cultural tradition of “suttee” – the burning alive of a wife on her husband’s funeral pyre. And the process of “modernization” is continuing – meaning that it is continuing to develop into a Western-type law and order state. But democracy and law take time to eradicate ancient traditions and change cultures.

In India .. mothers-in-law routinely assist their sons in burning their daughters-in-law to death. This is known as a “dowry killing” because it is done so that a new bride can bring another dowry into the impoverished and/or greedy family. There is actually a special wing in a prison in New Delhi for such mothers-in-law. … Both women and men steal children in India and sell them to be adopted abroad or, more frequently, to be groomed into sexual slavery either at home or abroad.

The exploitation of children as prostitutes is common in India, and not only as prostitutes. We have written about a child whipped with razor-blades by her beggar-father to arouse pity and solicit alms (see our post, Condemned to dream and bleed, December 23, 2010).

Governments may make laws, and courts may rule, against such practices. Perpetrators may even be punished. But in its struggle with custom, law can take ages to succeed.

The truth, however offensive to liberal opinion, is that most of the world’s cultures are barbarically cruel. And the cruelty is often inseparable from religion. Life for millions of human beings in our time is still essentially tribal, which is to say collective, and haunted by superstition. A vale of tears. Thousands of well-meaning young Peace Corps enthusiasts going to “help” in Africa can change nothing. Whole American armies mis-used to build schools and clinics in Afghanistan can change nothing. Technology alone – the life-improving products of the First World – may, in time, effect a real transformation.

Only the First World, the Western Pan-European culture, its values and system, is worthy as a whole of respect; and if the respectable is to be searched for the best that humankind has achieved, it is the Anglo-Saxon that deserves the laurel wreath. Yes, the birthplace of it, Britain, is in steep decline; and yes, it is  flawed with religion and threatened presently by socialist collectivism in America, the multi-ethnic land of its supreme success. But it is the highest peak of civilization, the Shining City on the Hill.

 

* See also this story from Pakistan (hat tip George).