America-Haters Like Naomi Wolf Judge the West by a Different Standard
Jamie Glazov’s recent dispute with feminist Naomi Wolf grew out of Wolf’s August 30th article in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Behind the Veil Lives a Thriving Muslim Sexuality.” In that piece, Wolf states that “[t]he Western Christian tradition portrays all sexuality, even married sexuality, as sinful.” She then informs us that Islam, by contrast, “never had that same kind of mind-body split” – and thus has traditionally allowed Muslims to “channel” their sexuality “into marriage and family life” in a manner that “is seen as a source of great blessing, sanctioned by God.”
This cheery view of the Muslim world, coupled with the dark depiction of the Christian West, is entirely a fabrication of Wolf’s imagination, an imagination whose musings are rooted in the leftist paradigm that divides the world ever-so-neatly between two distinct spheres: the evil West (especially America) on the one hand, and the far-more-noble, non-Western world on the other.
The lines of this dichotomy are clearly drawn by Wolf and her comrades on the Left: Capitalist America is the forum of a fevered struggle between the dominators and the dominated, the oppressors and the oppressed, the victimizers and the victims. Capitalism itself is cited as the cause of this barbarous arrangement, and, by logical extension, as the wellspring of innumerable social ills and vices—greed, racism, sexism, alienation, homophobia, imperialism, etc.
In the calculus of the Left, capitalism is the agent of tyranny and exploitation that targets a wide array of victim groups—blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, immigrants and the poor, to name but a few. That is why according to the Left, the United States — the standard-bearer of all capitalist economies — can never seem to do anything right.
Surely you’ve noticed that on every social issue imaginable, leftists hold the U.S. to a far higher standard than they hold any other nation on earth. Any American imperfection, however slight, is magnified a thousandfold and is presented as evidence of our society’s inherent worthlessness — and, by necessity, of the need for its wholesale transformation. On the flip side, the flaws of other societies are not only judged mildly, but are themselves frequently attributed to corrupting American influences.
In his book United in Hate, Jamie Glazov explores in depth such widespread Islamist traits as “barbaric misogyny,” “the fear and hatred of women’s sexuality,” the “war on sexuality and private love,” “gender apartheid,” “male domination,” and genital mutilation.
But Naomi Wolf’s hatred of the West, coupled with her equally passionate adulation of the non-Western, non-Christian world, preclude her from being able to assess with any degree of objectivity Islam’s unsavory traditions regarding the status of women. Instead, she chooses to paint a smiley face on a custom (the wearing of the veil) that is emblematic of women’s historical and profound subjugation in the Islamic world. Moreover, she blithely dismisses all Western criticisms of that custom as nothing more than the ugly manifestations of Western intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and ethnocentrism.
Would Ms. Wolf even care if someone were to inform her that the Prophet Mohammed — who founded the Islamic faith and is viewed by believers as the embodiment of moral purity, divine wisdom, and human perfection — said quite plainly: “I have witnessed that most of the people in Hell are women” because they “swear too much and show no gratitude to [their] husbands”? How would Ms. Wolf rationalize away Mohammed’s assertion that he had “never come across anyone more lacking in intelligence, or ignorant of their religion, than women”? Can the “thriving Muslim sexuality” that allegedly lives “behind the veil” be adequately reconciled with Mohammed’s declarations that “the testimony of one man is equal to the testimony of two women,” or that it is permissible for a man to beat his disobedient wife, or that an adulteress “must be stoned to death” for her transgression? Has Ms. Wolf never heard that in Islam, a woman’s old age is considered a valid reason for her husband to divorce her?
All cultures are not equal. Nor is Western culture inferior to non-Western cultures. Yet those two sentences rank high among the notions against which leftists like Naomi Wolf have fought some of their fiercest battles, for decades.