Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The price of freedom

I don't often read Pat Buchanan, but his lead on his piece "What Do We Offer the World?" caught my attention:
"So, how do we advance the cause of female emancipation in the Muslim world?" asks Richard Perle in "An End to Evil." He replies, "We need to remind the women of Islam ceaselessly: Our enemies are the same as theirs; our victory will be theirs as well."

He goes on to point out all the places where Westerners proclaim dreams of freedom and moral vision and all the places where we fall short of it: abortion, pornography, political correctness that muzzles political speech, strictures on religion and on and on. I could probably name some that he didn't think of or didn't have space for.

Ultimately, I think, Buchanan doesn't get it:
If [Pres. Bush] intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.

The price of freedom is that some people will use it to do evil and self-destructive things. It's the same freedom God gave Adam and Eve and the same freedom he continues to give us every day.

It's part of our task on earth to urge and persuade people to use their freedom to choose life (in many forms of decisions). It's also part of the task of societies to make laws that make space for those good choices and for different societies to experiment with different ways of doing that.

We cannot outlaw the evil that lurks in every soul. I don't mean we ought not but we can't.

In the world right now are people who would destroy us, not because of MTV, not because of abortion, not because of Hollywood, but because of our freedom. No, you don't get MTV, abortion or Hollywood under the Taliban, but you also don't get Miles Davis, widows working to feed their families or Shrek.

If you have a garden, you're going to have weeds. You pull them out, but let the flowers grow. The Taliban and the Islamofascists would poison the whole garden to keep out the weeds, and Pat Buchanan's position seems to be that the garden is not worth preserving because of its weeds. The two positions seem remarkably similar, even if one is less developed than the other.

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