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The Culture War is Upon You, Whether You Want it or Not

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With the fall of Ramadi to ISIS over the weekend, many foreign policy analysts are scrambling to assign and apportion blame between George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and various other recent key players for the slow-rolling failure of the current Iraqi state. I guess these questions are interesting within the context of political supremacy here in the United States as between Republicans and Democrats – to the extent that they provide actual answers to the conundrum in the Middle East, they miss the point.

There’s a very simple reason why extremist Islam – a culture that is unable on its own merits to progress scientifically beyond the beginning of the 18th century or so – is able in the modern world to consistently embarrass countries possessed of vastly superior military might. That reason is this: extremist Islam believes that it has a claim to a superior message for the world. Christendom no longer does.

Here in the West, we have confused the virtue of tolerance with moral equivalency. Somewhere along the line, the impulse to say that that people of different belief systems should be able to get along without shooting each other morphed into the impulse to say that there is no such thing as a better or worse system of beliefs at all. Every way that any society might view the world – however backward or inimical to human progress – has been declared equal in the West. If anything, the West is so embarrassed of its cultural and historical heritage that non-Western worldviews have been elevated to a position of superiority.

The historical reality, of course, is that scientific and human progress flourished in the West and allowed the West to colonize most of the known world for an identifiable reason – that being that reason, universal human dignity, and tolerance are uniquely compatible with Christianity as a theological backdrop. No one will suggest that Western civilization progressed without very significant bumps in the road, or without its own embarrassments in terms of slavery or colonial excesses. However, the West also voluntarily shed itself of these collective sins far more expeditiously than did the other cultures of the world at the time.

It is evidence of our cultural sickness that our own schools mainly teach kids to be embarrassed of Western culture and history. Successive generations have been raised to believe that the West has nothing meaningful to offer the world other than apologies, culminating in 2012 with the re-election of a President who spent the first six months of his term exposing the back of his neck to every backwards tyrant in the world.

Extremist Islam does not think this way. The people who run ISIS, for whatever their faults, believe that they should be in charge of things because they are convinced that their belief system has merit and should be spread throughout the world.

This is why it is difficult to see the West emerging victorious from this struggle. The body politic of the West, by and large, has deluded itself (to the point of collective suicide and in the face of incontrovertible evidence) into the belief that the violent and murderous thugs who oppose us can eventually be appeased if we only serenade them with John Lennon’s Imagine often enough. Peaceful coexistence only works if both parties to a conflict are interested in it, and ISIS and their ideological allies are not.

There is a reason that every week brings a new story about a kid raised in comfort here in the West running off to join ISIS, to the shocked dismay of his/her parents. ISIS, at least, presents a front that says that the world and life has objective meaning and that they, ISIS, have a claim to that meaning. Here in the West, by way of contrast, we allow our kids to just float adrift on a sea of meaningless moral relativity and nihilism. As C.S. Lewis noted, the human psyche tends toward rejection of a meaningless explanation for existence – and if the West cannot offer such meaning, people will get it somewhere else.

For now, America at home is largely protected by our physical location, buffered by two large oceans away from the seat of the culture war that is riding forth to meet us, whether we are ready or not. But this will not be enough forever, and if we can’t recapture the belief that we have anything positive to offer the world, then we frankly don’t deserve to win anyway.

The post The Culture War is Upon You, Whether You Want it or Not appeared first on RedState.


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