In an age of multi-culteralism, we tend to want to protect another culture’s procilivities. We want other cultures to live and thrive, and inspire us with insights that our own culture blinds us to.
Respect for other cultures is good. I’m for that, and you should be too.
But, what if a culture advocates racism? Like Japanese culture does?
What if a culture advocates the horrific mutilation of young women, like some African countries do?
What if a culture considers democracy to be evil? Like some Muslim cultures do?
What do you do?
In fact, the better question is, what do you do when that part of a culture is causing a conflict with yours?
Israel is faced with this very question. Fundamentalist Islamic culture considers democracy to be evil. They consider the voice of the people to be the voice of those who should not be allowed to govern themselves.
That’s the subtext that runs through a lot of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and between the Palestinians themselves. Hamas has had to use democratic means to achieve power with Palestinians, but they have used decidedly non-democratic means to keep it.
They have encouraged artificial conflict with Fatah. They put their own militias on the streets. And, there’s this war with Israel.
Hamas has cynically attempted to shore up their power base by kidnapping Israelis and starting a war with Israel – a war that will hurt the Palestinians, but not Hamas.
True, the Hamas leadership will be forced to look over their shoulders, but they are betting that the Palestinians will be radicalized and will look to Hamas for leadership.
It’s the same equation that some of you have heard me spout before. When a despot’s domestic power is weak, he starts a war. There’s nothing like a good war to distract the population from their troubles at home.
That’s why despotic power and non-democratic cultures will always be a threat to countries that value freedom and freedom of expression. In a democracy, it’s much harder to start a war to distract the people from the way that you’ve handled things.
That’s why Hamas and many Arab/Muslim cultures will be a threat to the West. They think that democracy is evil.