Monday, March 16, 2009

Defend liberty. Defend freedom. But, above all, defend single malt Scotch.

Here is an interesting essay by Roger Scruton on the differences between Islam and Western societies and the things we ought to be defending in our culture and historical narrative. There is a little more Jesus and Christianity in this for my taste, and his prescription for dealing with Islamic resentment, “forgiveness”, doesn’t provide the necessary punch, in my opinion.

However, there is a lot food for thought here.

Mr. Scruton is a writer, philosopher, and public commentator. He is currently a professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia. His essay is a revised version of a lecture given as part of the Program to Protect America’s Freedom at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Consider his views on the terrible tendency of western-loathers to indulge in guilt and make common cause with Islamic critics of the west:

The illusion that we are to blame, that we must confess our faults and join our cause to that of our enemies, only exposes us to a more determined hatred. The truth is that we are not to blame; that our enemies’ hatred of us is entirely unjustified; and that their implacable enmity cannot be defused by our breast-beating.

There is a drawback to realizing this truth, however. It makes it seem as though we are powerless. But we are not powerless. There are two resources on which we can call in our defense, one public, and the other private. In the public sphere, we can resolve to protect the good things that we have inherited. That means making no concessions to those who wish us to exchange citizenship for subjection, nationality for religious conformity, secular law for shari’ah, the Judeo-Christian inheritance for Islam, irony for solemnity, self-criticism for dogmatism, representation for submission, and cheerful drinking for censorious abstinence. We should treat with scorn all those who demand these changes and invite them to live where their preferred form of political order is already installed. And we must respond to their violence with whatever force is required to contain it.

He raises seven areas of distinction between Islam and secular western civilization. The one that really caught my attention was this one:

This brings me to a final and critical point of difference between Western and Islamic communities. We live in a society of strangers who associate rapidly and tolerate each other’s differences. Yet ours is not a society of vigilant conformity. It makes few public demands that are not contained in secular law; and it allows people to move quickly from one group to the next, one relationship to the next, one business, religion, or way of life to the next, and all with relative ease. It is endlessly creative in forming the institutions and associations that enable people to live with their differences and remain on peaceful terms, without the need for intimacy, brotherhood, or tribal loyalties. I am not arguing that this is a good thing, but it is the way things are, and this is the inevitable byproduct of citizenship as I have described it.

What makes it possible to live in this way? There is a simple answer, and that is drink. What the Koran promises in paradise but forbids here below is the necessary lubricant of the Western dynamo. You see this clearly in America, where cocktail parties immediately break the ice between strangers and set every large gathering in motion, stimulating a collective desire for rapid agreement among people who a moment before did not know each other from Adam.

I am a guy who likes my “tot” and when I first cast around for a name for this blog I thought of calling it “Single Malt” in honour of my favourite beverage, but, I didn’t want people to think this was just a blog about Scotch. Had I realized that by adopting such a title I would have been acting in the defense of western civilization, I might well have proceeded with my first choice.

It goes on and is well worth the read if you click on the link at the top of this posting.

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