Features

Cross-culture wars

"Cross-culture wars" Continued...

Issue: "Endings & beginnings," Jan. 13, 2007

That consensus is now gone. The morality of the inner self, of self-fulfillment-a secular liberal morality-now dominates our popular culture. Liberals often do not approve of all the grossness and sensuality of contemporary popular culture, but their promotion of autonomy, individuality, and self-fulfillment as moral ideals makes it difficult to question or criticize or place limits on these cultural trends. In the moral code of self-fulfillment, "pushing the envelope" or testing the borders of sexual and moral tolerance becomes a virtue, and fighting for traditional morality becomes a form of repression or vice.

Many American liberals view the great social revolution of the past few decades-freedom for abortion, divorce, and homosexuality-through the prism of an expansion of civil liberties, "freedom of choice," and personal autonomy. But from the Muslim perspective these same trends appear as nothing less than the shameless promotion of depravity. So it is not surprising to see pious Muslims react with horror at the prospect of this new American morality seeping into their part of the world and potentially destroying their religion and way of life.

So what should America do about this? First, we should recognize how our domestic culture war and the war on terror are linked. The restoration of American culture will not only be better for our children, but will help America's image abroad. As a practical matter, of course, such a restoration will not be easy. At the very least, it is a task that will take a couple of decades. The best we can do is to show Muslims, and traditional people around the world, the other America that they often don't see. The Bush administration should do more to highlight the presence, and values, of conservative and religious America. Moreover, we should do what we can to export this America, which is good America, to the rest of the world.

When the other America shows its ugly face, as it inevitably will in many cases, we should not hesitate to speak out against it and say that this is not the America of which we are proud. We should not hesitate to tell traditional Muslims and others that there are many of us who are working to reverse the tide of liberal immorality in our society and around the world. By proclaiming our allegiance to the traditional values of Judeo-Christian society, we can reduce the currents of anti-Americanism among the Muslims, and thus undercut the appeal of radical Islam to traditional Muslims around the world.

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