This was bound to happen at some point, wasn’t it?
The lunatic organization Femen, which was founded in Ukraine, essentially run out of that country and now is headquartered in France, sent a pair of nuts to run onto the stage topless with feminist messages written on their bodies at a Muslim conference in Pontoise, France (a town with a Muslim population approaching one-third; Pontoise isn’t quite one of the infamous banlieues you hear so much about, but violence there is not insignificant), northwest of Paris. And the result is, as you might imagine, not the same as you’d see were they interrupting a Jeb Bush speech…
We’re not taking sides on this one. No, you shouldn’t get a woman on the ground and kick her when she’s down, and yes, this shows that Muslims are animals if you want to interpret these kinds of things with as broad a brush as possible. By the same token, if we’re supposed to respect the wonderful diversity of cultures on God’s green earth then showing up topless as a publicity stunt at a conference of Muslims whose culture dictates that women go around in gunnysacks probably will result in you getting the living crap beaten out of you, because it’s a major insult to them, and when people get insulted, they’re probably not going to act their best – and we probably ought not ask them to.
One negative thing about this supposedly open society we have is that the rudest members of it are the ones who run things. When the #BlackLivesMatter morons show up to take Bernie Sanders’ microphone away, or should Jeb! down, and nothing is done to embarrass or humiliate them, they win. And as ugly and unprofessional as it looks for a bunch of Muslim men to be kicking a female while she’s on the ground, that stunt comes off as a disaster for the Femen and they might be less likely to do it again.
Which is a good thing.
There was a piece a week ago at Righteous Mind that got a bit of play in the blogosphere about how Western culture has evolved from a culture of honor, in which people are expected to earn their respectability in society and thus must avenge insults on their own, to a culture of dignity, in which people are assumed to have respectability and as respectable people eschew violent retribution for insults and instead use things like the police and the courts as recourse against affronts, and now to a culture of victimhood, in which the worst of both previous cultures is present. Namely, that in this new culture people are encouraged to see themselves as victims and become unhinged over the smallest of affronts, real or imagined, but are not allowed to take individual action in seeking recompense but instead are to appeal to such authorities as the culture deems appropriate. Like university administrators, or the NAACP or GLAAD, or the media, or the local Human Rights Commission, or an atheist legal foundation.
This is the worst of all worlds, of course, because what it’s designed to do is eliminate our ability to work out our problems without the constant presence of the State to govern us. A culture of honor is problematic, because it leads to things like duels and vendettas, and a culture of dignity, which is an improvement on a culture of honor, can fall short because it assumes good motives on the part of people who might not have them. But both are better for the ordering of society than a culture of victimhood, because a society full of self-perceived victims aren’t attempting to build anything; they all perceive bad faith on the part of everybody else and thus are not motivated to live peaceably with their neighbors.
The Femen in this case are firmly entrenched in the culture of victimhood, and conducting a publicity stunt at the expense of a Muslim culture which offends their militant-feminist worldview is a way to appeal to authority – namely, the news media and the attendant political class which runs to the cameras like moths to a flame. But the Muslims at that conference are still part of a culture of honor, in which unflattering drawings of the Prophet Muhammad are conceived as grave insults which must be redressed with deadly violence.
Put the two together, and you will get violence.
Which is a terrible thing, perhaps, but it shows the inferiority of a culture of victimhood and the cultural decline which results from departing from a culture of dignity in which people are encouraged to find ways to live peaceably together. Because the victims and grievance-mongers, who aren’t prepared to physically fight for their agendas, have to depend on the good will of those they antagonize at the end of the day; in other words, they have to hope those they harass are within the culture of dignity rather than the culture of honor. And within that dependence, they are able to misbehave as they choose in the knowledge that peaceful people of good will will endure the insult without overreacting and presenting themselves as the monsters the victims are accusing them of being.
Which is an interesting paradox, right? If, for example, the white male patriarchy was indeed as violent and oppressive as the feminists, race-hustlers and Gay Mafia make it out to be there ought to be mass jailings of protestors or gangs of thugs in the streets beating up marchers, or bombings at the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters. Interestingly enough you don’t really see any of that; you get a true outlier like Dylan Roof, after which it’s white politicians leading the charge to take confederate flags down from state capitols or bulldoze tourist attractions.
In other words, the Western civilization the rotters in the Social Justice Warrior movement want so badly to destroy is actually pretty damned good stuff, and awfully tolerant at that.
There is a reason that Gandhi’s nonviolent methods worked to set India free from Britain, for example, while those methods would not have worked had the colonial power in India been Nazi Germany. Or that Martin Luther King was ultimately successful in having the civil rights movement be a nonviolent one when lots of people in and around that movement were more interested in violent revolution; the majority of white people in America, if not necessarily in the South at the time, were of good will and earnestly desired to see justice done to their neighbors.
Both Gandhi and MLK represented people of the culture of dignity who nevertheless had legitimate grievances, and as members of the culture of dignity they were able to seek recourse for those grievances within the channels set forth within that culture. They didn’t assert victimhood when there was none, and they weren’t asking for more than the next man as recompense for their grievances. That’s something different from today’s Social Justice Warriors, of which the Femen are a European variety. So when Muslims put on a conference about how to live under the principles of Islam, they think it’s OK to crash the stage and insult everyone there with “Nobody makes me submit” and “I am my own prophet” written on their boobs.
Well, it’s not OK, and if they got the hell beaten out of them for doing so that’s not a particularly awful thing. Maybe it will ultimately improve the dialogue.
And meanwhile, we know that you might get a lot of things by having a large community of Muslims living among us in the West – but the kind of good will it takes to run a culture of dignity ain’t one of them.
Let’s call it a teachable moment, and finish our popcorn. Maybe sometime soon we can go back to good old-fashioned Western civil society, vigorously defended by all of us who have so greatly benefited from its presence.