Cultural suicideLORNE GUNTER
Political correctness will be the death of Western civilization because unlike our earlier forms of pluralistic tolerance, PC is wilfully blind to the lack of reciprocal tolerance in other cultures.
The most disturbing aspect of last week's Fort Hood shootings -- aside from the horrendous loss of life, of course -- has been the triumph of political correctness in the analysis of Maj. Nadil Hasan's motives. Many "experts" have assiduously avoided the obvious cause: Hasan's fundamentalist, radicalized Muslim views.
A man runs into a room of unarmed people and starts firing away while shouting " Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is Great"). He has had frequent arguments -- many of them extremely heated -- with several fellow officers in recent years over the alleged stupidity and immorality of the West's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He expressed public agreement with the Koran's exhortations to kill infidels, justified suicide bombings, attended a radical Virginia mosque, sought permission from superiors to have Muslim-American soldiers exempted from service in Middle Eastern wars and, among other things, attempted to make contact with alQaeda recruiters.
Yet many analysts and commentators have ignored this evidence and put forward, instead, shallow war-psyche diagnoses they seem to have copied from M*A*S*H episodes. Most centre around the theory that Hasan snapped under the pressure of his forthcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
But even if Hasan was driven to mass murder because he could not bear the idea of serving in a war zone, the cause of his breakdown was his Muslim-ness, not battle stress. The implication of those making these excuses on Hasan's behalf has been that the thought of facing deadly fire in combat was too much for the major.
But, of course, that is not it at all. He couldn't face the notion of having to serve in an army he saw as persecuting his fellow Muslims, so he struck back at that army before it could ship him out to a place he believed it should not be. His belief in the teachings of Muhammad trumped his sworn duty in the U.S. Army.
Still, the first instinct of White House and U.S. Army spokesmen, as well as most CNN, CBC, BBC, MSNBC and other analysts, has been to deny any connection between Hasan's murderous deeds and his faith.
Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian soldier had shot up a room full of unarmed Muslims while shouting "Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour." Imagine he had a fascination with Old Testament stories of how God smote his followers' enemies. His pastor had advocated a new crusade to rid the Holy Land of non-Christians. He had hung out at a survivalist camp for a cultish group of white supremacists who claim a Heaven-sent mission.
These self-same commentators who are struggling so mightily now to overlook the religious aspects of Hasan's crime would be first in line to insist that Evangelical Christianity was inherently violent and demand something be done to rein in this hateful theology.
This hypocrisy among the chattering classes, though, is to be expected. Denial of the obvious in the name of tolerance is in their blood by now.
What is more dangerous is the extent to which political correctness has infected institutions that should know better, such as the U.S. Army. In the week since Hasan killed 13, American military spokesmen have spent most their time admonishing their fellow countrymen not to take revenge on Muslim Americans, as if there were large mobs gathering with torches and pitchforks.
It is one thing to be tolerant of others' views and beliefs, so long as those others are respectful of your creed and ideology in return. That has long been a hallmark of our pluralistic democracies. It is still. No matter how bad human rights commissions, Toronto Star columnists or special interest cause pleaders may claim discrimination is in Western societies, tolerance is and always has been at its greatest in the West.
The trouble with political correctness is that it doesn't require that others be respectful in return.
When others with different beliefs attack us, political correctness goes further. It takes tolerance to a culturally suicidal degree by denying that others hate us despite our respect for them.
Lorne Gunter. "Cultural suicide." National Post, (Canada) November 11, 2009.
Reprinted with permission of the National Post.
Lorne Gunter is a regular columnist with The Edmonton Journal, and frequent contributor to the National Post. He began his journalism career in 1991, covering federal and provincial politics. An occasional panelist on the CBC's The National, Lorne is a regular contributor of commentaries for both CBC Radio and Global Television, as well as for several private radio services. He has published essays and opinion pieces in various newspapers and magazines, including The Globe and Mail, Readers' Digest, National Review, the Weekly Standard and others. He is currently the editorial director of the Canadian Centre for Libertarian Studies, a member of the editorial board of conservativeforum.org and the incoming president of Civitas -- a society for conservative and libertarian academics, think-tankers, lobbyists and journalists. A native of Medicine Hat, Alta., Lorne is a graduate of the University of Alberta, is married and has two young children.
Copyright © 2009 National Post
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.