Bill Muehlenberg

War of Worldviews

H.G. Wells could write about The War of the Worlds, in which Martians and earthlings battled for supremacy. But the real battles today really come down to a war of worldviews. Competing worldviews and ideologies are battling it out, and those which prevail will determine the course of history.

Several major players have slugged it out of late. In very general terms, in one corner is the Judeo-Christian worldview, which for many centuries undergirded and nurtured Western civilisation. It has had various contenders over the years. Godless materialistic Communism was a major rival for nearly eight decades.

During the Cold War the forces of secular totalitarianism sought global hegemony. The spirit and values of the Judeo-Christian West, along with military muscle, were needed to withstand this ferocious opponent, and by the grace of God the Soviet Empire finally was defeated.

Today the free West faces a similar totalist and anti-democratic threat, that of radical Islamism. Millions of Muslims are bent on destroying the West and subjugating the entire world under the iron fist of sharia law. This battle is also being fought on ideological, spiritual and military levels.

In both these major conflicts we have had many gullible Westerners promoting the myth of moral equivalence. This was the gravely mistaken notion that somehow the two sides were really just as bad as each other, and the West really had no right or moral claim to resist its assailants.

One of the earliest thinkers to use both the concept and the phrase was Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to the UN during the Reagan administration. She popularised this for example in her 1982 volume, Dictatorships and Double Standards, and in a 1986 article, “The Myth of Moral Equivalence”.

Those pushing this silly concept would say stuff like this: “Well, yes, those Commies are not so hot, be we in the West are just as bad. We can’t condemn them because we have plenty of our own faults that need to be corrected. Who are you to say that the West is better than the Soviet bloc?”

This was common fare from many lefties, especially religious lefties, during the height of the Cold War. Indeed, many of these religious leftists were far more critical of the free and democratic West than of the totalitarian dictatorships warring against the West.

They in fact often found things to praise about the Soviet police state while condemning their own prosperous and free West. The easiest way to cut through all this moronic nonsense was simply to point out what was happening in the real world.

That is, we know that people will vote with their feet. During this period millions of people risked everything to leave the Communist hell-holes to get into the free and democratic West. And it was all one-way traffic. I am not aware of thousands of people fleeing the West to get into the People’s Paradise of Cuba, the Soviet Union, or North Korea.

This simple fact alone should forever put to rest this ludicrous notion of moral equivalence. The truth is, for all its faults, the West was light-years beyond the Marxist police states in every area: there was rule of law; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; the ability to peacefully remove one government and replace it with another; no political prisoners; no gulags; no one-party dictatorships; etc.

It was disingenuous and just plain malicious to suggest that somehow the free West and Communist tyrannies were in any way morally similar. Indeed, in the end, the entire ugly system fell in a heap, a victim of its own inefficiencies, injustices and abuses. That, and a strong response from the West at the time, especially in the person of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.

Yet sadly today we seem to have a new case of the poison known as moral equivalence. This time it is the leftists telling us that the free West is no better than the Islamists who wish to destroy it. Yes they blow up innocent people, but we Westerners are also terrorists. We are no better.

Thus they cannot see the difference between Saddam raping Kuwait, and the West seeking to liberate it. In their jaundiced and morally myopic eyes, the West, especially America, is just as evil as any jihadist, Taliban or al-Qaida outfit.

We hear this foolishness all the time. Indeed, several raving leftists just today assaulted me with such foolishness. Even if well meaning, these folks don’t seem to have a clue. Their intellectual shallowness seems to be matched by their moral mushiness.

They will argue for example that to resist the Islamists by use of force makes us no different than the terrorists. That is about as helpful as claiming that a policeman who uses force to stop a rapist or murderer is the moral equivalent of the criminal.

We certainly got this line of thinking all the time when the West sought to go after Saddam and the Taliban. And we are getting it now in things like the plan to develop a 13-story mosque just near Ground Zero.  Defenders of this, including New York Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama, opine about how we are an open and free country, and to resist this would make us just like the Islamists.

Critics have rightly pointed out that tolerance can only go so far. Imagine building a large Jewish synagogue in Mecca, or a Christian cathedral in downtown Medina. It just would never happen. While the West certainly does offer freedom of religion, there will always have to be limits of various sorts.

In Islamic thinking, the establishment of a mosque is, among other things, a symbol of the advance of Islam. It is an indication of taking territory from the infidels. And it is part of the advancement of sharia compliance, and the eventual establishment of a universal caliphate.

Thus Westerners, while extending religious freedoms to their guests, need also to be aware that not all such guests will reciprocate with the hospitality. Some come to bury the West, just as Marxists insiders sought to undermine the West a few short decades ago.

If Muslims want the right to freely practice their religion in the West – fine. They can, just as long as they extend the same right to other religions, especially Jews and Christians, granting them the same freedoms in Muslim-majority nations. At the moment of course this is strictly verboten.

Indeed, to dare to even preach the Christian gospel in many of these countries is to risk facing the death penalty. And for a Muslim to seek to leave his faith in these countries is also punishable by death. Why does the West need to bend over backwards, extending every benefit and favour to our Muslim guests, while expecting absolutely nothing in return?

Without some give and take here, without some reciprocity, all we are doing is allowing Muslims free reign here – including those Muslims who have dedicated their lives to overthrowing the West and replacing it with the totalist Islamic state.

To such people we have no obligations whatsoever. We are not compelled to extend complete tolerance and acceptance to such folks. Indeed, unless we want to commit national suicide, we must resist such people. And to do so does not mean we are morally equivalent to our enemies.

It simply means some things are worth defending, and that those who are sworn enemies of the free West should not expect us to welcome them with wide-open arms. To resist the Islamisation of the West is not to drag us down to their level.

There is nothing equivalent about those seeking to defend a free and democratic West – as imperfect as it may be – with those who have said that the West must go, and it must be replaced by the iron rule of sharia. There is nothing morally similar about these two competing ideologies.

This is a war of worldviews, and the battle will continue until one side predominates. Some things are worth fighting for. The Judeo-Christian West, and the freedoms and social goods it has engendered, is one such thing. It is far from perfect, and has many weaknesses. But compared to the dystopia of the Soviet gulag or the Islamist prison, I will go for the West any day of the week.

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