Saturday, July 14, 2007

Addenda on The Problem cubed

A day after Spencer—in the context of publishing a notice on Jihad Watch about his appearance on a French news program where he is talking about his new book that contrasts Christianity and Islam—made a parenthetical remark about how modern Western anti-Christianity is “the single largest factor keeping people from thinking clearly about and acting upon the civilizational challenge that the Islamic jihadists present,” the thread has generated as of the time I write now 77 comments.

Only two of those comments picked up on Spencer’s parenthetical but very telling remark at all—and, while both comments notice Spencer’s undue delimitation of the problem and offer their own widening of focus, they too in their turn exhibit undue delimitation:

The first commenter wrote:

I think it’s more general than that. It’s a kind of post-Communism leftist ideology that concludes anything white, Christian, western or male is automatically bad.

The second wrote:

The anti-Christian hysteria is fed by two things: ignorance of Christian doctrine and history, and calculated attempts to undermine western civilization—the United States in particular.
The latter effort, coming primarily from marxists and assorted other leftists, is intended to delegitimize all sources of moral authority except for the central government. The “progressive” goal is to put the central government in absolute control of all human activity—what to say, what to think, what to do, what to study—and to have that central government run by, guess who, those self-proclaimed “progressives.”

Both commenters, as is readily apparent, widen Spencer’s unhelpfully vague yet unduly delimited “anti-Christianity hysteria” to a broader and deeper and somewhat more specific “leftism” with “marxist” elements. While the former commenter ostensibly abstains from concretizing this into any kind of diabolical sociopolitical machinations, the latter commenter does not restrain himself. This is what happens when the Problem of the Problem—i.e., PC—is delimited: the temptation is encouraged to construct some kind of conspiracy theory cabal whose nefarious string-pullers and web-spinners are manipulating the West into adopting the suicidally self-critical ideas and policies that are so evidently rife throughout the West. As I have argued before, such constructions are predicated upon two unacceptable premises:

1) that there exist thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of “elites” throughout the West who are evil—for what else can properly describe people who, for reasons of greed and/or ideology, would support a dangerous enemy of their own societies?

2) that the vast majority of Westerners who are not “elites” are stupid sheep who can be easily manipulated and, a close corollary to this, that their democratic institutions and sociopolitical cultures are so corrupted that they are easily vulnerable to such diabolical machinations.

These two premises harbor charges against the modern West that are so egregiously grave, they demand far more proof than their believers have, so far to my satisfaction, been able to supply.

And, at the end of the day, such delimitations show such a persistent myopia to the Problem of the Problem, it is becoming a major problem in its own right—the Problem of the Problem of the Problem—, increasingly preventing those of us who are trying to tackle the problem of Islam from getting rid of the obstruction (the Problem of the Problem) that stands in our way, by constructing and perpetuating erroneous versions of that obstruction.

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