It is difficult to know which I dislike the most the manipulative, political right or the gutless, political left. The right’s reaction to the global collision of cultures has been to return to the call of the tribe. In the name of protecting the tribe, Homeland Security was born and even more jails for a nation that already has more people behind bars than any other; and an increasingly xenophobic, violent, public discourse, much of which the Oslo murderer appropriated to justify shooting defenceless children.
The left’s reaction has been to cut and run. It refuses to defend even the most fundamental of its values such as the equality of men and women or the separation of church and state. It is assumed that the majority of the electorate understand these values and so will the majority of immigrants. Well, they don’t. Most of the electorate don’t understand what left politicians stand for except they are against the right.
For democracy to work, the electorate, (you and me) have to have some idea of what the issues are and how their politicians stand on them. People have neither today. They have neither because neither the right or the left will acknowledge even the most commonly held beliefs and you can’t have a political position on something you won’t admit exists. A simple one that I see every day is that people are different. We all walk, talk, think and worry about much the same things, but cultures are different. It is this refusal to admit that cultures are different which is the basis of the right simplistic response to global conflict, ‘keep-em out and put-em in jail’ and the left’s mealy mouthed, ‘everything is going to be okay, but everyone has to be nice’.
Well, guess what, everything’s not going to be okay. There are dead children all over an island in Norway that will testify to this. So what do we do? We start by telling people the truth. The first is that every country and every culture is not the same. There are enormous differences. Turkey outlawed the veil in the 1920s, uses the Roman not the Arabic alphabet, and is the cradle of western civilization. It’s also a devout Muslim country that has more mosques per square kilometer than any Arab nation. Trying to slot all Muslims into the Saudi, fundamentalist model is sick, and this is what the right’s violent, protective discourse ultimately does. Can I be clearer?
On the other hand, refusing to inform those that emigrate to any western democracy that the equality of men and women is non-negotiable or veils will be acceptable borders on the criminal. Another non-negotiable principle is the separation of state and church. It is cast in the blood of centuries of religious war and should not be questioned. Fair, progressive taxation is another pillar of western democracy. Without it a descent into feudalism is inevitable. Why can’t the left simply stand up and defend these fundamental pillars of their own society – and which they helped to create?
We need children to have confidence in the future, but it’s clear until adults start behaving like adults, it’s not going to happen. The paranoid violence of the right must be abjured by the right and the left must stand up for the rights, freedoms and traditions of the people they aspire to represent.