Monday, January 25, 2016

VDH: Either Carry a Big Stick—Or Shut Up!

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Either Carry a Big Stick—Or Shut Up! “If the Obama administration cannot keep speak softly and carry a big stick, then at least it should keep quiet—and quit egging on those it cannot or will not deter.”

Western culture is deservedly exceptional. No other tradition has given the individual such security, freedom, and prosperity.

The Athens-Jerusalem mixture of Christian humility (and guilt) and the classical Socratic introspection combined in the West to make it a particularly self-reflective and self-critical society, in a way completely untrue of other traditions.

Unprecedented Western leisure and affluence also have given Europeans and Americans a margin of error, in the sense of the material ability to indulge in ethical critique of themselves without existential danger.

But self-proclaimed moralists also developed habits of ethical nitpicking. Here I do not just mean the more recognizable jingoism so common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead, today progressive global strutting showcases how magnanimous Westerners are and how they can afford to remain disengaged and nonjudgmental.

If in the 1880s Victorians could dress up conquered and dethroned Zulu King Cetshwayo in British tweed and parade him around the liberal parlors of London, today we can psychoanalyze why thugs and murderers abroad are mostly misguided, and thus without Western guidance and empathy understandably become nihilist.

Such liberal self-moralizing is never termed chauvinistic or culturally arrogant, because its practitioners are so often liberals who want all others to become as liberal as themselves. Nonetheless, many of our current tensions in the world result from our enemies’ dislike of our smug sense of moral superiority.

Lecturing Egypt to respect a "largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral win means that the U.S. is safely distant when one-election/one-time Islamists dismantle the process that brought them to power and seek an Islamic state.


Angela Merkel displays the same cultural arrogance. Her suicidal immigration policy threatens German women, creates lasting security issues for the German nation, and is deeply resented by Germany’s irate neighbors.

Merkel presses ahead, as if her own sense of superior Western tolerance will win over the immigrants, educate backward Germans, bring Europe up to her moral standards, and remind the Middle East that while they kill and drive away their own, Germany accepts and nurtures them.

Unfortunately, migrants themselves have utter contempt for Merkel. They mock their hosts all the more so when Germans preen by lecturing them on being a diverse tessera in the wonderful emerging multicultural mosaic or providing them self-help cartoons on how not to defecate in showers or swimming pools. And those back in the Middle East feel that if Germany is stupid and arrogant enough to take such risks—well, then it deserves to take even greater risks.
Read it all, THERE.

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