October 3, 2007

Would We Trust Us to Instruct?

Justin Katz

Disagreements would arise later in the conversation, but Mark Shea makes a point that too often (nearly always) goes unexplored:

Two-year-olds Zola and Veronica Kruschel waddled through Folsom Street Fair amidst strangers in fishnets and leather crotch pouches, semi and fully nude men.

The twin girls who were also dressed for the event wore identical lace blouses, floral bonnets and black leather collars purchased from a pet store.

Fathers Gary Beuschel and John Kruse watched over them closely. They were proud to show the twins off.

"They will see more than the kids with moms and dads in Iowa," said Beuschel, who wanted to expose his children to San Francisco's diverse community. "Every parent has to decide for themselves what is right for them. And I respect that. And we decided that this is right for our children."

Beuschel and his girls were at the 22nd Folsom Street Fair, an annual leather event in San Francisco's South of Market district, which showcased outrageous costumes, fetish attire, and a community obsessed with bondage, whipping, and spanking.

Now, when The Billion see such things and recoil, we have a choice. We can say: "They hate us for our freedom" or we can allow the dim suspicion to enter our minds that all is not well here in the Greatest Nation on God's Green Earth and that others are noticing the rot. In keeping with Zippy's point yesterday, there is a sharp distinction to be drawn between "understanding" and "justifying what the enemy does". But if we refuse to understand how we look, we will continue to talk as though things like the Folsom Street Fair and the blasphemies of Madonna and Christopher Hitchens (which we richly reward) are not marks of failure we regret but achievements to which we aspire--much as the residents of Sodom no doubt were filled with civic pride about their Way of Life.

Quite simply, as we ourselves knew until fairly recently, such things are very rightly and properly worthy of the hatred and disgust of *any* sane person, not merely of Muslim radicals. It is a mark of the sickness of our culture that it is both necessary and dangerous to one's reputation to point this out. You risk being called a "fascist" or a "theocrat" to say it. Which is why so many don't. 9/11 was a great gift to the enemies of the Judeo-Christian tradition, because it provided them with the means to label every point of commonality between Judeo-Christian morals and Muslim morals as "Christianist" and to imply that anybody who has a moral objection to something a Muslim would object to is a budding tyrant.

I thought something similar when I noted Sahar Zahedifar's use of the term "religious conservatives" to refer to reactionary powers in Iran. I don't know whether that usage is a device in Zahedifar's hands, but I'm sure that its potential for exploitation is not lost on those deceived by evil within our own culture.

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If Little Stevie Carell from Iran doesn't like it, too bad. It's funny how conservatives vilify Mahmoud and his pals, then play PC when it comes to offending their tender sensibilities.
I thought PC was an evil force we have to be protected from?

Posted by: rhody at October 4, 2007 9:42 AM

I don't know how you got anything PC out of that, Rhody.

The point isn't that we ought to care about Muslims' sensibilities at the expense of our own, but that we ought to consider the possibility that every complaint they have against our culture is not without merit. Even a confident man, if he's wise, will consider whether others' hatred toward him contains any truths that he ought to consider. (Surely you'd agree if the context were our supposed "imperialism.")

From the other perspective, the fact that both conservative Christians (for example) and Islamists find evidence of cultural rot in the presence of two young girls in S&M-lite garb at a parade of near-pornographic displays does not mean that Christians are a few representatives away from creating an oppressive theocracy.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 4, 2007 10:40 AM

It does show, however, that it's hard to shove a matchstick between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. I don't think either of us want to see our preacher standing shoulder to shoulder alongside the Taliban.

Posted by: rhody at October 4, 2007 11:09 AM

"It does show, however, that it's hard to shove a matchstick between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism."


Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2007 11:45 AM

>>Fathers Gary Beuschel and John Kruse ...

I wonder if they continue to share that perspective if their daughters grow up to be HIV positive porn stars.

Ah, probably. "Progressives" appear incapable of dealing with reality or cause and effect relationships, particularly as relates to behavior and culture.

Posted by: Tom W at October 4, 2007 11:56 AM

Rhody and Greg:

Are you that extremist that anybody who objects to street-porn parades is considered essentially indistinguishible?

It's one thing to tolerate the rot in our culture. It's quite another to bathe in it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 4, 2007 12:18 PM

Personally I'm enjoying the end of civilization as we know it here in America. In my opinion America's biggest problem is that we were founded by the Puritans and all this time later we still haven't gotten over it to the point that Janet Jackson showing a nipple (the place where we all used to FEED from) caused a year long national outrage-fest.

There's full nudity in COMMERCIALS in Europe and those kids are still growing up better than our braindead, brainwashed moron kids.

Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2007 12:53 PM

Greg, I'll bet those sophisticated Europeans would be delighted for you to immigrate, provided you have a useful skill. Despite their wonderful cradle to grave social welfare net and their culture, most of Europe suffers from one little problem. They are not reproducing the next generation. That action is the single biggest no-confidence vote I can imagine.

Posted by: chuckR at October 4, 2007 1:55 PM

Nah. I'll stay right here and fiddle as Rome burns.

Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2007 2:20 PM

I have worked with engineers and scientists who are Muslim - mostly secular Turks. Among others, I helped an Egyptian-born engineer quite a bit. He was always mild and polite, right up until he Went Off during a social gathering at a conference we attended. This was in the mid-90's and he was expressing his disgust at the cultural excesses of the sort described by Mark Shea. As the father of two young children, I really couldn't do much but agree with his concerns about what his daughters were exposed to. Hetero or gay, wandering around attired as the folks in Shea's account were - well, behind closed doors, adult attendance only, please. Instead of footbaths in public buildings, how about a little discretion instead - as a sign of respect for not only Muslims but also those of other (or no) faiths who are likewise offended?

Posted by: chuckR at October 4, 2007 2:27 PM

Yeah, let's surrender to the mullahs because they don't like what goes on in our country. We don't like what goes on in theirs, either.
This kind of rhetoric sounds eerily reminiscent of the Falwell/Robertson reading of 9/11, which most conservatives to the left of Ann Coulter have repudiated.

Posted by: rhody at October 4, 2007 2:57 PM

"It does show, however, that it's hard to shove a matchstick between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism."

... sure, if you discount the treatment of women and the utter barbarity of "discipline" espoused and carried out by certain branches of Islam and certain Islamic governments. Thanks, this heathen feels much more at ease in a country full of Christians.

Posted by: Monique at October 4, 2007 9:36 PM
It does show, however, that it's hard to shove a matchstick between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

And this serves as another example of our cultural excess... a pathological habit of over generalization. IoW, both phrases have the word fundamentalism in them so they must be equal.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 4, 2007 10:22 PM

You're missing the point, Rhody, and you're doing exactly the thing that the point is about.

I'm not saying that we ought to capitulate to the mullahs, or that we should change our culture for their sakes. I'm saying that we should change our culture because our culture is ill, and in some respects the mullahs cultural complaints accurately point in the direction of symptoms.

Calling my opinion "eerily reminiscent" of too-strong statements is just an attempt to invalidate opinions that differ from yours, not on their own lack of merit, but by association.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 4, 2007 10:41 PM

I just find it funny how Mahmoud's attitude toward homosexuality jibes nicely with that of conservative Christians. It would be great to see the younger, more liberal citizens of Iran (albeit folks conservatives would scorn here) stand up and repudiate him and the mullahs.
Can we all agree that trolling him through the Folsom Street Fair might provide some amusement? That could make a bigger impression on this nonbenevolent dictator than a few boobirds at Columbia or media types pounding on him.

Posted by: Rhody at October 5, 2007 1:26 AM
I just find it funny how Mahmoud's attitude toward homosexuality jibes nicely with that of conservative Christians.

You've been called on that over generalization once already. Explain the similarity between summary public execution as practiced in the Mullahcracy and being told to 'grow up and quit focusing on playing with your genitals' here in the U.S.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 5, 2007 12:21 PM
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