Western Survival Depends on Western Pride

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Claude Guéant, the French interior minister, sparked a firestorm last month when he praised Western values as “superior” to the oppressive ones found elsewhere, namely the Islamic world. Yet the controversy did more to spotlight an area in which the West clearly trails its rivals: self-confidence. If a government official cannot extol the unique virtues of freedom and equality that define Western life without being cast as a bigot by the politically correct, how can they be safeguarded against the highly motivated forces of Islamism, which doubt neither the superiority of their own principles nor the righteousness of imposing them on others?

“Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us, all civilizations are not of equal value,” Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement, told a conference on February 4. “Those which defend humanity seem to us to be more advanced than those that do not,” he averred. “Those which defend liberty, equality, and fraternity seem to us superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred” — a truth that would be hammered home a month and a half later by a jihadist murdering Jewish children in Toulouse. Thus, Guéant underscored the need to “protect our civilization.”

The response from the aforementioned relativists was swift and hostile, led by the Socialist Party of François Hollande, the apparent frontrunner in this spring’s presidential race. Pierre Moscovici, Hollande’s campaign chief, called Guéant’s observations “a premeditated, willful, conscious gesture” to secure rightist votes for Sarkozy. He is “targeting Muslims,” Moscovici added. Prominent Socialist Harlem Désir condemned Guéant’s words as a “pitiful provocation” reflecting his party’s supposed “moral decline.” Hollande spokesman Bernard Cazeneuve accused Guéant of attempting to “hierarchize humanity,” while the Young Socialist Movement decried his speech as “xenophobic and racist.” Serge Letchimy, representing Martinique in the National Assembly of France, went farthest of all when he addressed Guéant in parliament, saying, “You bring us back day after day to those European ideologies which gave birth to the concentration camps.”

To their credit, Guéant stood by his remarks and Sarkozy supported him. “Obvious words to note that not all civilizations have the same worth regarding the humanist values that are ours,” Guéant later explained to Le Figaro. “Who can contest that there is a difference in values between a civilization that favors democracy, protects individual liberties … promotes the rights of women, and a civilization that accepts tyranny, accords no importance to liberties, and does not respect equal rights between men and women?” Many people, it seems.

Guéant is hardly the first politician to be raked over the coals for touting the exemplary characteristics of the West and shining a negative light, directly or indirectly, on Islam. Indeed, the row recalls one that erupted days after 9/11 when Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister at the time, maintained: “We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights, and — in contrast with Islamic countries — respect for religious and political rights.” The reaction was fierce. Belgium’s prime minister cautioned that such “dangerous” language “could feed a feeling of humiliation” among Muslims, an Italian opposition leader chided Berlusconi for “using terms that no statesman worthy of the name has used,” and another likened him to Osama bin Laden. Berlusconi quickly backtracked, with his office citing his “deep respect for Islam, a great religion … which preaches tolerance” and “respect of human rights.”

Of course, the political figure best known for bluntly comparing the Western and Islamic worlds while suffering the establishment’s wrath is Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. “We will have to end cultural relativism,” he stressed in Rome last year. “To the multiculturalists, we must proudly proclaim: Our Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. Only when we are convinced of that, we will be willing to fight for our own identity.”

The ancient military thinker Sun Tzu taught that victory in any conflict is achieved by understanding not merely one’s adversary, but also oneself. Applied to the struggle against Islamism, this starts with Westerners grasping that which they are charged with preserving: a unique cultural patrimony — born in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem and nurtured during the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and American Revolution — that sustains the freest and most prosperous civilization in the historical record.

Yet as the response to Guéant demonstrates, appreciation of this Western “self” has grown thin in many circles. Due to “post-modernism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism, the West has lost all self-confidence in its own values, and seems incapable and unwilling to defend those values,” argues Ibn Warraq, author of Why the West Is Best. “By contrast, resurgent Islam, in all its forms, is supremely confident, and is able to exploit the West’s moral weakness and cultural confusion to demand ever more concessions from her.”

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  • Anthony

    Create an “Enemies of the State” list. Proceed then to tear these traitors arguments apart with extreme mercilessness. Do mass mailings, lampoon them as the intellectual paperweights they are.

    Organize a liberal/Marxist/socialist convention, then when they arrive inside,PCM the doors and play videos of Islamic preachers and street scenes from their ghettos. At the conclusion, have thousands of condoms fall like confetti on them. Then, drop a huge net on them, scoop them up by helicopter, and drop them in Saudi Arabia.

    Problem number one, elimination of traitors complete.

  • TruthinIslam

    Claude Guéant has nothing to apologize for; eurotrash socialist islamist appeasers are the ones who should be apologizing to their fellow europeans for letting in the disease of islamism into europe in the name of multiculturalism (too bad there's no multiculturalism in the islamic world; it's a "monoculture".)
    Western values of human rights, freedom & democracy are far superior to islamic "values". God gave me the right to think for myself; in islam that "right" doesn't exist; it's "follow the koran, or else…". Western values is why the execrable muchiboy & maturin can voice their opinions, no matter how flawed or bigoted. Freedom is superior to submission. The Judeo-Christian God gave us freedom; the Islamic satan, Allah, gave us submission & slavery.

  • tagalog

    Sadly, one of the cultural qualities that makes Western civilization superior to other cultures is our willingness to question our premises. That quality has been strained so far that we now assume our culture is bad when the original intent was to encourage us to be constantly striving to be better, more thorough, in better command of the world and ourselves. Instead, we have less command of those things.

    As a part-time college instructor, I find it both frustrating and confounding that students have, apparently, NEVER taken a course where it was pointed out to them just exactly (in math, science, commerce, philosophy, and so on) how Western civilization is different from (and superior to) other civilizations. Apparently, there are very few teachers out there who teach that kind of thing. So I point out various authors (such as Will Durant) who they can read to get a grounding (not a better grounding -they have no grounding to improve) on this issue. I doubt if most of them bother to do that reading. It's just too boring for them.

    • "gunner"

      i have never enjoyed a "college education" and i consider myself fortunate for that. i have however made a lifelong habit of reading widely in the literature of our western civilisation, from the ancient greeks to modern authors, and i've acquired that grounding your students seem to lack. their thinking that the reading you suggest is "too boring" is a grievous error, western history is a millennial adventure, from the epic story of gilgamesh to the landings on the moon, fulfilling one of mankinds most ancient dreams. you are indeed a teacher, and i hope one day you will find a student who catches your fire and carries it onward.

  • muchiboy

    Agreed.muchiboy

  • muchiboy

    Arrogance and ignorance can be both damaging and damning,to both or all parties.The gains of each generation,and societies,may indeed be thought of as having been built on the ruins,ideas and legacies of other,earlier and maybe inferior cultures or societies.
    Africans gave us fire. Jews gave us one God.Arabs originated civilization.the Indian mind gave us chess.Romans gave us structure.Greeks gave us ideas.Chinese gave us paper.Humanity comprises all cultures and ideas.Today we really do stand on the shoulders of giants,and lessers,too.muchiboy

    • http://www.numbersusa.com/content/ First_One

      The attacks on the Western Civilization are attacks on Christianity and the very foundation of freedom. The Western civilization is unlike anything that has ever taken place in the history of the world. I find the references to other cultures patronizing and misleading at best. It is interesting that you left out European culture! Lets take a look at some things:
      1) Africa – one of the oldest cultures, 10,000 years?. They live in total poverty and ignorance. South Africa took a dump when Black rule took over.
      2) Jewish – about 6,000 years? They gave us things like socialism and communism. They have infected every culture that they are in.
      3) Arab – about 6,000 years? Before the anti-Christ muslims came along they developed the number zero, 0. The muslim has been the destroyer of civilization.
      4) Indian (East) – about 5,000 years? What real and lasting developments?
      5) Greek – 3,000 years? Philosophy and the experiment called democracy.
      6) Roman – 1,000 years? Government, and Christianity!

      The Western Christian Civilization – 2000 years. Unprecedented in the history of the world. Religion, Liberty, Law, Medicine, Science, Technology, Food, Productivity ….. et al, NO CONTEST! Nothing comes close! We have come from a horse and wagon to interplanetary travel in less than 2000 years! From talking over a camp fire to communication anywhere in the world (and to other worlds) in less than 2000 years! From blood sucking leaches to transplanting hearts in 250 years! From angry, vain and vengeful gods to our loving Lord Jesus Christ! NO one comes close!

      • aspacia

        Jew provided the basis for most of the West's laws, and Israel is a secular land. Review the Ten Commandments. Greeks provided a huge amount of science and math too.

        A Deist who intensely dislikes Christian bigots like you.

  • http://www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com Robert A. Hall

    I highly recommend, “Civilization: The West and the Rest” by Niall Ferguson, a Scots historian now at Harvard. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    All royalties go to help wounded veterans
    For a free PDF of my book, write tartanmarine(at)gmail.com

    • TruthinIslam

      I highly recommend a PBS series & the book from it called "Connections" by James Burke, which basically explains how western civilization developed through technology, democracy,capitalism, freedom of thought & hard work.
      Also, i highly recommend a Discovery Channel show from 1995 or so & the book, called "Triumph of the West" which shows how western civilization rest abve the rest of the worlds' civilizations. Democracy, freedom, and the right to the fruits of ones' labors is what made western civilization the preeminent culture in the world today.
      P.S. Once again, muchiboy is worng. Arabs didn't invent civilization, they invented caravan raiding. The Assyrian & Babylonians had 1 thriving civilization thousands years before arabs.

      • aspacia

        So did the Indians and Chinese.

  • "gunner"

    @ robert a. hall,
    thank you robert, i'll look up ferguson's book, it sounds interesting. (inter library loan is a friend, even before the internet was born.)
    semper fi.

  • Piera Prister

    J' accuse
    There is no western pride!I accuse You, France, for the progrom which just happened in Toulouse, I accuse You ,France, for what happened at Unesco, I accused You for having kept secret until 1995 the round up in Paris of 6000 Jewish children to be sent to Auschwitz, July 1942. Even the bestseller book, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay on that subject was turned down by more than 20 French editors, until was published. The hit nobody wanted. Don' you have any shame at last?
    Vive la France!

    • aspacia

      France has committed great sins, but so has the U.S.A., UK, Germany, Japan, etc. The point is that the West is far more inclined to protect its citizens than the ME.

  • aspacia

    True!