LONDON — Are certain cultural practices inferior to others? Yes.
It is morally inferior, indeed repugnant, to beat one’s spouse no matter the religious or cultural justification—of which plenty is offered.
It is morally inferior to justify killing a person for leaving their faith, regardless of how important identity and religion is to anyone’s politics, and despite which regime thinks otherwise.
Likewise, sexual intercourse with a minor is rape. There can be no legal consent involving a child. Euphemistically calling this “child marriage” does not change the fact that it is nothing but child sex abuse.
That these are subjective moral positions should be as relevant as it is when discussing the abolition of slavery. In other words, not at all.
You would be forgiven for thinking this is all incredibly obvious. You may even have believed that such moral viewpoints had become as enshrined in the West as the prohibition on torture. If so, and to naughtily lift a phrase from the left: check your privilege.
In a move that can only ever go down in history as incredibly regressive, a municipality in the Swedish city of Malmo decided to approve underage “child marriage” among refugees.
It was only after becoming engulfed in scandal that the municipality vowed to re-evaluate this decision, when reports emerged of a pregnant 14-year-old Syrian girl living at a reception center with her 23-year-old “husband.” But across Europe —in the name of multiculturalism—startling patterns are emerging.
In Denmark the government revealed in January that there were 27 minors housed with adults as part of a “married” couple seeking asylum, some of them as young as 14 years old.
And not to spare a moment in reminding us all of contemporary Islam’s embarrassing fascination with all things medieval, a fine specimen of a Danish mullah decided that the solution to this would be to advocate for the legal recognition of “child marriage” in Denmark.
The situation in Norway, where asylum seekers come mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, is no better. At least 61 minors were “married” when they sought asylum in that country last year, several of whom were under the Norwegian age of consent. The youngest was an 11-year-old girl.
Not to be outdone by Europe on “child marriage,” two American doctors have just published an essay in the Journal of Medical Ethics in which they advocate allowing the “minor” form of female genital mutilation—cutting the top of the clitoris.
Cutting the genitalia of a woman is mutilation; there can be no justification no matter how rooted it may be in anyone’s culture. Yet, in a summation that reads like a parody of itself, the authors request that we take a “more nuanced” position and cease referring to this “minor” procedure as a mutilation at all, instead calling it Female Genital Alteration (FGA).
This alteration, they argue, “is culturally sensitive, does not discriminate on the basis of gender, and does not violate human rights.” Indeed, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
We liberals are moving backwards.
There was a time when we openly advocated civic intervention in the face of cultural and religious practices that violated individual liberties. We came to be proudly known as Progressives. We believed that society would progress if it adopted liberal, secular human rights values. And so with racism and gay rights we waged generational struggles to change attitudes, and largely won.
If only it stopped at cowardly silence. Not only have many Progressives ceased to defend liberal values, not only have we given up attempting to make progress in society by spreading them, we have started to pro-actively defend regressive practices instead.
Quite literally, “cultural sensitivity” has led many of us to justify the mutilation of young brown immigrant girls in the name of chastity, while simultaneously bemoaning Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s ending of sex education for predominately white non-Muslim girls in schools.
Enter the bigotry of low expectations. Those on the Regressive Left share this deep-seated bigotry with the Far Right, although they are loath to admit it.
Both groups “otherize” all Muslims. The Regressive Left fetishizes Muslims as the exotic “other,” while the Populist Right alienates Muslims as the dangerous “other.”
As Islamist ghetto-chieftains across Europe exploit both left and right to advance their own brand of religious separatism, Europe’s social fabric is falling apart.
Meanwhile, our hard-earned enlightenment values are posited by both as only being for “our own.” And of course, everyone knows that “those” Muslims aren’t “our own.” They have their own culture, don’t you know?