Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Growing Animosity of the Rest of the World Toward America

As an American who grew up believing that the United States of America was the beacon of freedom in the world and that people all over the world envied our democracy and liberty, I could never understand why other countries would want to attack us. As a teenager, it was the Russkies and Chicoms that threatened us with their totalitarian aspirations. Today the threat comes primarily from terrorists, but hatred for our country seems to seethe from every corner of the globe. For many Americans, including me, this seems inconceivable. What motivated people all around the world to celebrate when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11? Why did so many dance in the streets and celebrate the worst attack on American soil in half a century?

In his book, Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Roots of Global Rage (IVP, 2004), Meic Pearse tries to help Americans understand the “roots of global rage” against Western democracy. In the introduction he views American tolerance, which many of us consider to be one of the cornerstones of our liberties, from another side. In this passage he is not referring to tolerance as moral relativism, but tolerance as the principles of freedom of religion, speech, press, etc.

The currency of the term tolerance has recently become badly debased. Where it used to mean the respecting of real, hard differences, it has come to mean instead a dogmatic abdication of truth-claims and a moralistic adherence to moral relativism—departure from either of which is stigmatized as intolerance. (p. 12)

Christians decry this kind of tolerance, too, but we often fail to remember that this kind of moral relativism came from the West. We would rather imagine that we have only ever exported the virtuous kind of tolerance, which seems self-apparently superior, not only to relativism, but also to the kind of restrictions on freedoms one finds in most of the world. How could anyone argue against the intrinsic goodness of a free democratic society? Pearse, however, describes the ability of tolerance to erode cultural and religious distinctives.

[Tolerance] is an agreement that a previously monolithic society makes with a minority: we will tolerate you and your strange ways for reasons that seem good to us (because we think it just, or because the advantages of doing so outweigh the disadvantages—or whatever) at the price of our overall culture being a little less sharply and rigidly defined than it has been before. Now, we agree to smudge the edges so that we can include you. (p. 11)

Pearse reminds us that many in the world see the impact of Hollywood, consumer culture, and crass capitalism (in contrast to principled capitalism) to be destructive to their cultures. Instead of seeing the positive aspects of American culture that truly exist, many around the world are more inclined to see the glass half empty.

It is hard to argue against the legitimate complaints concerning the corrosive power of American culture. Don’t we, in fact, preach against it in the church all the time? Why do we defend American culture against the rest of the world while we curse it in our own pulpits?

The truth is, the moral relativism that has been tolerated in America, especially in the last century, has invaded many countries around the world. Many of these countries had clear moral standards, even if they were distorted and included practices we would find objectionable. Our relativism has worn away the edges of their cultures, captured the hearts of their young, and has threatened their way of life. We may not agree with certain elements of various cultures around the world, but we certainly can’t deny that our “tolerance” has done this. And this is just one reason why many in the world hate the U.S. I don’t find the hatred completely justified, but the goal of this essay is understanding, not necessarily agreement.

The new tolerance is intolerance

Pearse continues explaining the “openness” of the new tolerance:

Where the old tolerance allowed hard differences on religion and morality to rub shoulders and compete freely in the public square, the new variety wishes to lock them all indoors as matters of private judgment; the public square must be given over to indistinctness. If the old tolerance was, at least, a real value, the new, intolerant “tolerance” might better be described as an antivalue; it is a disposition of hostility to any suggestion that one thing is “better” than another, or even that any way of life needs protected space from its alternatives. (p. 12)

How does this affect the distinctiveness of a certain culture? It muzzles and destroys it. I experienced this firsthand a few years ago while taking a doctoral class in philosophy at a Catholic university. After stating my objections to language games and irrationality in postmodern philosophy, I was informed by the Goth female sitting next to me that my dogmatism was oppressing her. If I could just view the world from the bottom of the ladder, as she had to, from her post-colonial and feminist perspective, instead of from the top of the ladder as a white man, then I would understand why my insistence that truth was better than falsehood was tyrannical and oppressive. This poor, deluded girl was unable to see how intolerant her tolerance had become.

How does this relate to global rage? Peoples around the world have seen an influx of this kind of culture-destroying tolerance coming from the West.

With this shift, the threat to distinctness becomes greatly exacerbated. It is not just totalitarian ideologues who will come into conflict with us Westerners; anyone who cares about their culture, and has enough exposure to us and our way of doing things to be affected by us, will feel threatened. (p. 12-13)

Pearse’s observations here reveal one reason why there is global rage: the intolerant tolerance of the West erodes the distinctions of culture. And for people that greatly value their culture, this constitutes a threat to be resisted, even violently if necessary.

In Pearse’s view, the new “openness” of American tolerance is an antivalue because it only erases—“it excludes all hard definitions of identity.” Openness also, by its insistent hyperinclusivity, destroys any real sense of community, a concept which postmoderns believe they invented, even though in reality, it was a distinctly Christian reality long before they began to pontificate about it (Acts 2:42-47).

In the past few decades, tolerance and openness “have passed beyond the stage of being consciously held ideals in Western countries; they have become foundational to the Western outlook. The person who does not hold them is increasingly looked at with bafflement and disbelief” (p. 13-14). The reason? Tolerance and openness have become part of Western common sense.

The un-common nature of “common sense”

“Common sense” sounds like a good, conservative, Christian idea. We often appeal to common sense in discussions where we feel an opponent is being irrational or purposely denying the truth. We say in exasperation, “Common sense tells you that the more you tax the citizenry, the more you stifle the economy!” or “The existence of God is a matter of common sense!” In this type of statement common sense seems to us like a trump card; who can argue against common sense?

In reality, however, the appeal to common sense is a trap. It appeals to a so-called universal, innate sense of truth and right that every rational person ought to possess. Common sense is supposed to provide certainty and a reliable standard for rationality. The problem, however, is that common sense is completely relative to the culture in which we find ourselves. Additionally, we must recognize that what is common sense to believers will not necessarily be so to unbelievers, and vice versa. Further, what is common sense in one time may not be in another. So at the least, common sense is bounded by culture, religion and time.

Pearse explains that what people in the West perceive to be common sense is completely foreign to the thinking of many in the rest of the world. We have become so used to the way we think that we find it hard to believe that everybody doesn’t think the same way. Pearse explains: “If confronted by individuals or groups who differ from this perception and who behave accordingly, we will probably consider them to be stupid, crazy or perhaps fanatical” (p. 14-15).

This point ought to be of special interest to Christians, for the Bible makes it clear that we are cognitive aliens in a world of people whose thinking has been distorted by depravity. Unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness, exchange the truth of God for a lie, and have been given over to darkened minds and depraved practices (Rom. 1:18-32). As a result, they often perceive believers to be stupid, crazy and fanatical. On the other hand, the regenerate have been delivered from darkness into light (Col. 1:13, John 3:21), behold the glory of God (2 Cor. 3:18), and are transformed as a result (2 Cor. 5:17). We should, of all people, understand that what is considered rational and common sense will necessarily be different between believer and unbeliever. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that various cultures view common sense quite differently.

Rather than sharing a primary affinity with other Westerners regardless of their faith, we ought to find affinity with believers around the world, regardless of their cultures. What is common sense to believers is that which the Word of God clearly states. As a result, my outlook and worldview should share more in common with a believer in the jungles of New Guinea than with my unbelieving neighbor, all the while acknowledging our cultural differences as expressions of the glory of God.

Also as a result, we ought to share some righteous rage with the rest of the world concerning the wickedness of the West. We could easily default to raging against the abominable practices of other cultures, such as female genital mutilation in Sudan or the conscription of child soldiers in Sierra Leone, but it is highly unlikely that these practices will influence our culture any time soon. Corrupt Western culture, on the other hand, reaches into almost every nation and people group on earth and wears away cultural distinctives and the moral fabric of societies. This enrages the keepers of culture in other nations, and in their Adamic state, blame and recrimination come naturally (as it does for us).

Conclusion: maybe we are the barbarians

Does all this mean that America is completely devoid of cultural value and deserving of the wrath and violence brought upon her by others? Certainly not. Every nation on earth is bound in sin, corruption and wickedness. Every nation deserves the wrath of God, but instead receives the blessings of common grace presently. The rage of nations against the West is both a reflection of the suppressed knowledge of God (when they hate wickedness and error) and the depravity of their own hearts (when they hate the Christian elements of the West). Yet, we can learn much about our culture from this rage by those we have traditionally considered to be barbarians.

Understanding the root causes of global rage is not a simple exercise, but it is critical if we are to avoid missing the point, and missing opportunities for the proclamation of the gospel. It is also important so we don’t misdiagnose pressing problems related to global rage such as immigration, multiculturalism, missions in restricted access nations, and terrorism. I conclude with a final statement by Pearse.

[It is] increasingly urgent for Westerners to obtain a clear view of what makes their own culture tick so that, seeing themselves, they can more clearly understand why the rest of the world considers them—as it most assuredly does—to be dangerously seductive, but domineering barbarians. (p. 15)

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There are 22 Comments

MShep2's picture

This reminds me of a Michael Medved column from 2006, " http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelMedved/2006/08/23/why_the_world_ha... Why the World Hates America ." He says there are three answers: 1. Envy; 2. Legacy of Communism; 2. Toxic Popular Culture. But notice what he says about this hatred:

Quote:
The factors that produce the surging levels of America Hatred—Envy, Communist Legacy and Pop Cultural influence—all do more damage to the people who succumb to that loathing than they do to the interests of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Envy distracts from constructive effort, paralyzing both nations and individuals; nostalgia for the bad-old-days of Marxist tyranny encourages the worst tendencies in any society, and embracing the current products of US pop culture (gangsta rap, anyone?) grants influence to the worst, not the best, messages from American society.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Jim's picture

Medved says (article above) says it succinctly

Quote:
When the society often described as “the world’s most hated nation” also turns out to be the country most fervently desired as a destination for immigrants from everywhere, then it’s blindingly obvious that envy plays the leading role in generating hostility to the United States. In the same way that the most successful kid in school will generate considerable resentment, or the most prominent and prosperous citizen of a town will provoke hostility from some of his less fortunate neighbors, the US draws anger and condemnation precisely because of its overwhelming power and influence.

Genesis 16:10-12 indicates prophetically that some would have a historical hatred of others:

Quote:
Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the LORD said to her:

“ Behold, you are with child,
And you shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the LORD has heard your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man,
And every man’s hand against him.
And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

Jason's picture

Gentlemen,

As one who has spent considerable periods of time living both in and out of the United States, can I suggest to you that the argument based on envy reeks of the very arrogance that is the real cause of the phenomenon under discussion?

I know that may sound offensive, and I don't intend it to be, but consider how the envy argument sounds to someone who lives in another country that they consider to be preferable to the United States in most every way.

Jeff Brown's picture

I found myself resonating with much of this book review until I came to the subject of "common sense." A good many theologians and church historians have relegated arguments for "common sense" to a former age. I think it deserves another look. I am not speaking theoretically. I live in another culture from the US and interact continually with people from cultures outside of this one. Points of agreement about basic views of life between myself and these people are more than one might guess.

Since I did not read this book, I did not get Pearse's definition of common sense. So my comment may be off the mark. "Don't step out in front of that car," is a statement of common sense. It demands neither theology, philosophy, idiology, or religion to be agreed upon. Conservative political statements about taxation are not necessarily a good introduction to talk with someone from a culture outside the US (even in my church composed of Bible-believing Christians there are wide differences in political views). But to talk about eliminating tyranny elicits almost universal agreement (unless one lives in a country where such talk is not allowed). All humans do possess an innate sense of right and wrong. They may suppress it, they may twist it, but it is there. Common sense may have been, may be over used, but its existence is real and active in all but a few people. If it were not, most of us would be in psychiatric care (or run over by cars!).

Jeff Brown

Ed Vasicek's picture

I appreciated the great book review and the comments that followed. Though varied, they make the point that it is difficult to psychologically leave your culture and look at it from the outside.
The review resonated with me as logical, but so did some of the dissenting comments.

I think the rest of the world envies our wealth and some of our privileges, but they probably think they and their countrymen could do a better job given those same benefits. When we think about ourselves or our people group, like it or not, we think more emotionally and ego can really get in the way.

Americans live in the richest, most-powerful, and most-influential nation of all time. We can probably agree that our influence is mixed. Once we begin the debate of the ratio of good influence to bad influence, that's where the lines get blurry. At that point, we are tempted to camp out at one outpost or the other. Trying to grasp the big picture is a better approach, in theory, but to do this objectively is a feat indeed.

"The Midrash Detective"

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jason wrote:
Gentlemen,

As one who has spent considerable periods of time living both in and out of the United States, can I suggest to you that the argument based on envy reeks of the very arrogance that is the real cause of the phenomenon under discussion?

I know that may sound offensive, and I don't intend it to be, but consider how the envy argument sounds to someone who lives in another country that they consider to be preferable to the United States in most every way.

Your response fails to acknowledge the article identifies that this is just one of a number of causes. And to deny or broadly dismiss the possibility of envy by some other nations is rather naive. Certainly not all are guilty of this and the article does not forward such a claim, but some, yes. And no doubt if a nation is is guilty of posturing itself in envy toward the United States, when they come face to face with this charge they will respond irascibly.

P.S. You do know there are many who read and post here that have spend considerable periods of time living abroad and in the United States and do not agree with you, don't you?

Jason's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Your response fails to acknowledge the article identifies that this is just one of a number of causes. And to deny or broadly dismiss the possibility of envy by some other nations is rather naive.

It is my understanding that the article does not address the issue of envy at all. I was responding to the idea introduced in the comments in quotes from Medved.

Quote:
Certainly not all are guilty of this and the article does not forward such a claim, but some, yes. And no doubt if a nation is is guilty of posturing itself in envy toward the United States, when they come face to face with this charge they will respond irascibly.

No doubt some are envious. But it is the height of arrogance to dismiss someone's concerns with "you're just jealous."

Quote:
P.S. You do know there are many who read and post here that have spend considerable periods of time living abroad and in the United States and do not agree with you, don't you?

You can take the American out of America, but it is hard to take America out of the American. My comment was designed to offer a counterpoint to the typical view of Americans living both in and out of the United States.

Joseph's picture

Although aspects of this review were helpful, the book doesn't seem terribly helpful it it puts as much emphasis on multiculturalism as the reviewer did. But perhaps the book also emphasizes other things? It's hard to imagine relativism is close to, never mind actually, being the main reason people hate the West.

Incidentally, perhaps the "poor, deluded" "Goth female" was right to perceive the reviewer's dogmatism as oppressive if this is his idea of charitably recounting her person and perspective in a piece of published work. Let's hope she never reads it.

Jim's picture

Generalizations:

Reminds me of a time when my manager told me that many people at work didn't like me. My response to him was "many people at work don't like you".

Who in a far away place hates me? I can deal with that. I'll endeavor to make it right or if it is irrational ignore him.

Specifics: In the last three weeks ...

  • I met a man at the Charlotte airport from the Republic of Belarus. He was glad to be in the US!
  • I used a limo service where the driver was from Iran. He's been in the US for 20+ years. His son is a student at the University of Minnesota. He's glad to be here and glad that his children have opportunities and freedoms he did not have in Iran
  • Just this weekend my wife and I were in the home of a family from Afghanistan for a traditional Afghani meal with their family (husband, wife, and three children). His story was compelling. He fled Afghanistan after the Russians invaded. They left with virtually nothing (via the route of the Kebler Pass, to a refugee camp in Pakistan, then to Germany and finally to the United states. Every child of his has either graduated from the U of M or is currently a student (1 who is 20). They're glad to be here!

I work with:

  • Indians who are here working in IT with my company
  • And often see nationals from Somalis (many work in security or housekeeping
  • And I have a friend from Togo named Ibrahim

They are glad to be here.

If someone hates us .. fine! To try to indiscriminately kill us for some general way they hate the west ... that's not fine!

JobK's picture

"Rather than sharing a primary affinity with other Westerners regardless of their faith, we ought to find affinity with believers around the world, regardless of their cultures." A great point. It should be the centerpiece, and an excellent way to go about avoiding nationalism and similar so that one can practically implement Romans 12:1-2 in their thinking and actions.

Another point: there are two tendencies that are harmful, perhaps equally so. One is the tendency of liberals to judge America only by its vices and everyone else only by their virtues. Another is the tendency of conservatives to judge America only by its virtues and everybody else only by their vices.

Take for example, the issue of America's wealth and power the rest of the world hating us for it. It is easy for liberals to complain that we got rich and powerful by exploiting the resources of other countries. It is equally easy for conservatives to rejoin that it isn't our fault that the native populations of other countries lack the ability/desire to develop their own resources. The left conveniently ignores that if we didn't exploit those resources, someone else would have come along and done it (i.e. the Soviets). Meanwhile, the same people on the right who are very opposed to and fearful of being dominated by someone else (whether it was the Soviets then, Islam now, China, or Democrats in our own country) think that our own military, economic and cultural domination of practically everybody else is just peachy keen. Why? On the surface veneer, it is the insistence on our viewing our military and economic policies as "benevolent" (when these folks know good and well that our economic and military policies are rarely purely humanitarian, as a matter of fact, the right is the biggest opponent to foreign aid and "nation-building"), but the truth is that it is the conviction that we are smarter, better and more moral than everybody else, which gives us the right - no, the responsibility! - to seek our own interests in whatever way we choose, and anyone who rejects this conviction (even in the course of asserting their own interests) is an anti-American flag burning commie sympathizer.

Now of course, I hold no sympathies whatsoever for communism. I am fully aware that Lenin, Stalin, Mao etc. EACH killed more people than Hitler. But the fact remains that the REASON why communism became so attractive to so many third world nations is because it was the only alternative to a western (American!) hegemony that either ignored them or acted against their interests. And yes, that is the same reason why Islam is becoming so seductive. Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rants against capitalism and the west to the U.N. and his alliances with people like Hugo Chavez are most certainly aimed at winning over that constituency ... third world states who fear the United States' military, economic and cultural might and no longer have a Soviet Union to look to as a counterweight.

America has the ability to tell pretty much every other country in the world "either you do what we want or else we will attack you using some combination of military force, economic sanctions, and political isolation using our military, our banks, and a U.N. that just happens to be headquartered in New York City (along with the WTO, IMF, World Bank etc.)" Before calling it "envy", please realize that the people who founded this country rebelled and fought a bloody war against Great Britain over much less. The only reason to believe that the rest of the world is obligated to accept treatment from us that we would never accept from anyone else is an absolute conviction that we are just plain better than they are. And this isn't only true of conservatives, but also of liberals who go about promoting secularism, pluralism, multiculturalism, feminism, homosexuality etc. and declare every regime that refuses to go along with it "human rights violators." Similar to the old Roman Empire, we have both the conviction that we are the best AND the military/economic ability (and tendency) to go after anyone who dares disagree so that we can "change their minds".

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think the thesis of the book--if I've got it right--is interesting: that we're hated because we've gone insane with our idea of tolerance, turning it instead into a forced insipid homogeneity.
I like it way better than the "We're hated because we've been such a big bully (or worse) everywhere" explanation! (And I don't think the latter fits the historical facts very well either)

But it does strike me as an overly sophisticated/complex explanation. They say explanations with as few components as possible (the term is "entities" maybe?) are more likely to be true.

Arrogant or not, it's hard to argue with Medved's logic about the envy component. Haven't heard a better explanation for why everybody would hate "here" but still want so much to be here instead of where they are.
But Medved does list two other factors, both of which seem less contrived to me... especially the cultural (moral?) corruption one.

Another though... can it be coincidence that as Islam grows around the world, the feeling that "everybody hates America" also seems to grow?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jason's picture

@JobK,

Quote:
An absolute conviction that we are just plain better than they are.

Well said. It's encouraging to see you articulate it in this context.

@Aaron Blumer,

Quote:
Arrogant or not, it's hard to argue with Medved's logic about the envy component. Haven't heard a better explanation for why everybody would hate "here" but still want so much to be here instead of where they are.

I can think of plenty of reasons. What depraved person would not want to live in a place where opulent excess is considered a right? Who wouldn't like to think of themselves as "just plain better" than the rest? There certainly is a draw in all of that. On the other hand, it's a pretty bizarre assumption that "everybody would... want so much to be here." They don't. Of course some do. Immigration is a common phenomenon in every country that has opportunities to offer. All of us could use this as anecdotal evidence (a la @Jim Peet) for the point, but it wouldn't make it valid.

Quote:
Can it be coincidence that as Islam grows around the world, the feeling that 'everybody hates America' also seems to grow?

You seem to suggest causation. But perhaps it's the opposite. Perhaps as the feeling that everybody hates America grows, Islam grows...

This conversation still hasn't addressed the theme of the post which is "the West." Rather, it has addressed why (or whether) the rest hate America. This in itself speaks volumes about the American psyche.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jason wrote:
On the other hand, it's a pretty bizarre assumption that "everybody would... want so much to be here." They don't. Of course some do. Immigration is a common phenomenon in every country that has opportunities to offer. All of us could use this as anecdotal evidence (a la @Jim Peet) for the point, but it wouldn't make it valid.

Yes, but usually the immigration is a move upward. The difference between U.S. immigration and that pretty much everywhere else is that our immigration is monodirectional. People come and go from other countries, but here it's pretty much a matter of people coming without very many (any?) leaving for perceived greener pastures elsewhere. I think this supports Medved's point.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jason wrote:

I can think of plenty of reasons. What depraved person would not want to live in a place where opulent excess is considered a right? ...You seem to suggest causation. But perhaps it's the opposite. Perhaps as the feeling that everybody hates America grows, Islam grows...This conversation still hasn't addressed the theme of the post which is "the West." Rather, it has addressed why (or whether) the rest hate America. This in itself speaks volumes about the American psyche.

Whether "the rest" hate America or not one thing is for certain, there often is an incorrect characterization of America by "the rest" exampled in your own words. What words? You asked, "What depraved person would not want to live in a place where opulent excess is considered a right?". This, in fact, is not the disposition of America. We do not have the corporate view that "opulent excess is considered a right". You will not find this commonly expressed by our politicians, social commentators, philosophers or theologians. You are your own stumbling block here.

You may find we believe we have the right to pursue such things but as you have stated it you reveal much of the problem, a willingness by others to believe what is not true of America.

Jason's picture

I appreciate the dialog gentlemen.

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Yes, but usually the immigration is a move upward. The difference between U.S. immigration and that pretty much everywhere else is that our immigration is monodirectional. People come and go from other countries, but here it's pretty much a matter of people coming without very many (any?) leaving for perceived greener pastures elsewhere. I think this supports Medved's point.

Is this your perception or is this based on particular data? I ask because I would completely disagree. I think Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and France would all be examples of countries that experience predominantly monodirectional immigration. Of course all of these would experience a certain degree of emigration, but I don't think there would be a significant difference (if any) in the rate compared to the United States of America.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Whether "the rest" hate America or not one thing is for certain, there often is an incorrect characterization of America by "the rest" exampled in your own words. What words? You asked, "What depraved person would not want to live in a place where opulent excess is considered a right?". This, in fact, is not the disposition of America. We do not have the corporate view that "opulent excess is considered a right". You will not find this commonly expressed by our politicians, social commentators, philosophers or theologians. You are your own stumbling block here.

You may find we believe we have the right to pursue such things but as you have stated it you reveal much of the problem, a willingness by others to believe what is not true of America.


I think you'll have a hard time convincing the world of your argument just coming out of the Global Financial Crisis which is broadly viewed as being in many ways the result of American irresponsibility and greed.

Of course I understand that the conservative American mind is highly opposed to the anti-Capitalist mentality I suggested; however, leaving aside that the liberal elements in America (which are powerful enough to have a President in office) tend to be quite comfortable with the idea of a "right to opulent excess" (though they would probably replace the term "opulent excess" with "basic dignity" or something), I would suggest that even the conservatives demonstrate in practice a general expectation of wealth and the realisation of "the American dream."

That said, I'm happy to admit to a certain degree of hyperbole in the term "right." Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "a place where opulent excess is generally expected and indulged in."

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just a small point [edit: or maybe not ] in passing because I'm too busy to get deeper into it. The idea that folks all over the world want to be here is not an assumption. I can't site the stats but I've seen them in a wide variety of places and have also read many would know assert it--and these are folks all over the ideological spectrum.
In the case of Mexico, of course, it's obvious. But I think the folks at ICE could probably verify that there is keen interest everywhere in getting here.

About my question (can it be coincidence that as Islam spreads the perception that the rest hate the west also spreads?), I'm not claiming causation quite yet. But I am implying that "zero relationship" (ie "coincidence") seems unlikely. Given the number of Muslims who are vocally wishing death on America, some causation is also far from improbable.

Jason wrote:
I can think of plenty of reasons. What depraved person would not want to live in a place where opulent excess is considered a right? Who wouldn't like to think of themselves as "just plain better" than the rest?

There's an interesting generalization in there "where opulent excess is considered a right." It's interesting because it's passively worded and thus avoids saying who considers it a right. Who would that be in your veiw? And how representative of the whole would these be?
But your second question makes my point. If they think coming here makes them "just plain better" than the rest, this would indicate they believe this is a better place than "the rest" wouldn't? This is basically Medved's argument. He does not claim people ought to want to be here more than anywhere else but simply that vast numbers do and yet many of the same vast numbers (apparently) claim to hate us. So how to interpret that?

Again reasons that are less complicated seem to be better answers... and what do people usually reveal when they say they hate somebody and also say they want they have?
(But again, Medved's view is just that this is one of the factors).

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jason wrote:
Of course I understand that the conservative American mind is highly opposed to the anti-Capitalist mentality I suggested; however, leaving aside that the liberal elements in America (which are powerful enough to have a President in office) tend to be quite comfortable with the idea of a "right to opulent excess" (though they would probably replace the term "opulent excess" with "basic dignity" or something), I would suggest that even the conservatives demonstrate in practice a general expectation of wealth and the realisation of "the American dream."
It is rather clear you have allowed yourself to be misled regarding the disposition of conservativism/liberalism and capitalism evidenced by your claim that even liberals are comfortable with the idea of "a right to opulent excess". Again, it is not the right to it but the right to pursue it. If you do not recognize the distinction here there is nothing I can say further, only to encourage you to research the difference between the two terms. It would be a fractional minority that might hold to your expressed views but certainly nothing by way of a majority either within conservative or liberal circles.

Secondly, your view that liberals would replce "opulent excess" with "basic dignity" yet really mean opulent excess is a convenient narrative to serve your personal views but again, even the normal liberal does not equate the two. Clearly the issue might be with what you consider opulent excess. But there are very few liberal groups, none really, proposing what would be substanatively opulent excess as a basic right.

And finally as to conservatives, it is not the expectation of wealth which reflects the general philosophical, political or even moral profile conservatives, this is the narrative of a foreigner like yourself that is imposed upon our presence for what purpose I do not know, I have my suspicions but that is not the issue right now. It is the expectation of the right to pursue wealth (which is an expressed consitutional right founded in that of personal freedom and personal responsibility), not to wealth itself. Again the distinction here is critical.

Jason's picture

@Aaron Blumer,

I think your comments have mostly been addressed in the thread already.

@Alex Guggenheim,

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Again, it is not the right to it but the right to pursue it. If you do not recognize the distinction here there is nothing I can say further, only to encourage you to research the difference between the two terms.

Of course I clearly comprehend the distinction between the two. I also recognise that the founding documents verbalise the right to pursue wealth, not the right to wealth per se.

My point is that the left has confused the two much to the chagrin of the right. The left would love to significantly increase minimum wage, tax, medical benefits, and welfare. Not just a few on the fringe. The mainstream. These moves are based on the idea that poverty is unacceptable.That everyone has the right to "basic dignity." They do not intend to make the rich poor. No. Rather they intend to make the rich less rich and the poor a little bit rich. They believe this is, if not a right, at least a general expectation. That's what they mean by the term "social equality."

Of course what the American left views as "a little bit rich" is what the majority of the world would call "opulent wealth."

Quote:
And finally as to conservatives, it is not the expectation of wealth which reflects the general philosophical, political or even moral profile conservatives

I agree. But it is for the most part the practical profile of conservatives.

For what it's worth, I have no problem with the general expectation of wealth. I consider it a blessing and a trust from God. Smile

FranL's picture

I thought the article was good and thought provoking. I think we need to careful not to overlook the gross sins of our culture. One thing that may stand out is that America may seek to impose democracy on other nations while ignoring its own violations of democracy. America as a nation (and it would have to start with Christians) need to be humble before the Lord. Notice in this passage, Lamentations 1:18: "The LORD is righteous; For I have rebelled against His command; Hear now, all peoples, And behold my pain; My virgins and my young men Have gone into captivity".
Here Jeremiah is proclaiming the righteousness of the Lord after Jerusalem along with the nation of Judah had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army. Other passages are Daniel 9: 4-16 and Ezra 9:5-15.

In all of these passages the man of God is acknowledging the sins of Israel and seeking repentance. This is where we need to be. As other nations look at us what do they see? A nation that calls the sin of homosexuality virtue, a nation that has slaughtered more than 51 million children and called it freedom to choose, a nation that exploits the poor (the lottery) and a nation that may boast about its own human rights record above others. And while I realize that many, even the majority, of Americans don't think this way, our public policy and government follows these lines so this is what outsiders see.
I think this quote from the article sums it up: "The truth is, the moral relativism that has been tolerated in America, especially in the last century, has invaded many countries around the world. Many of these countries had clear moral standards, even if they were distorted and included practices we would find objectionable. Our relativism has worn away the edges of their cultures, captured the hearts of their young, and has threatened their way of life. We may not agree with certain elements of various cultures around the world, but we certainly can’t deny that our “tolerance” has done this. And this is just one reason why many in the world hate the U.S. I don’t find the hatred completely justified, but the goal of this essay is understanding, not necessarily agreement".

There are many good things about America and I can still see why many want to immigrate here but we need to be aware that any goodness we have comes from God. We must never think "It can't happen here".
Having said this I still think America is a great country and no doubt some of the charges against her from other countries is false but humility before the Lord about America is key here.

Francis Lerro

Alex Guggenheim's picture

FranL wrote:
I thought the article was good and thought provoking. I think we need to careful not to overlook the gross sins of our culture. One thing that may stand out is that America may seek to impose democracy on other nations while ignoring its own violations of democracy.
This is factually and historically simply fiction. We do not have a government that seeks to impose democracy on other nations. We do not interact with valid forms of government that are non-democratic in a way that seeks to impose our form of government (which is not democracy, btw, it is called a constitutional republic with democratic representation). Those countries, that in the past, have engaged in war either directly on the United States or in a way that threatened the welfare of our nation or in a way that caused one or more nations to solicit our intervention, then we did. Now if the complaint is that after such wars we superintended the restructure of the countries government, oh well, that is the cost of war and the results of losing.

This narrative about America, that we "seek to impose democracy on other nations", again cannot be sustained historically/factually. This is a desired myth by malcontents.

FranL wrote:
A nation that calls the sin of homosexuality virtue, a nation that has slaughtered more than 51 million children and called it freedom to choose, a nation that exploits the poor (the lottery) and a nation that may boast about its own human rights record above others. And while I realize that many, even the majority, of Americans don't think this way, our public policy and government follows these lines so this is what outsiders see.
I think this quote from the article sums it up: "The truth is, the moral relativism that has been tolerated in America, especially in the last century, has invaded many countries around the world. Many of these countries had clear moral standards, even if they were distorted and included practices we would find objectionable. Our relativism has worn away the edges of their cultures, captured the hearts of their young, and has threatened their way of life. We may not agree with certain elements of various cultures around the world, but we certainly can’t deny that our “tolerance” has done this. And this is just one reason why many in the world hate the U.S. I don’t find the hatred completely justified, but the goal of this essay is understanding, not necessarily agreement".
Again a narrative that leaves out critical facts. Relativism is not American, it is a European import, long existing there and infecting the social and political views of them and those around them before invading northern America. This is a concocted narrative about America from malcontents that seek to blame us for the ills of the world. All nations have contributed to the world's ills and their own.

The Congo has not needed America to be guilty of some of the grossest crimes known to man, it has had nothing to do with European or American values. The middle east has long been a home to torture, enslavement, tyranny, and a quarantine for xenophobic Islamicists who promote hostility and even murder toward Christians and Jews and all of this without Americanism. Asia, too, before their present enlightenment due to none other than America, was a home to murderous regimes and despotism, occultic tyranny, social and domestic despotism and abuse, medical voodooism, starvation and a host of other sins and crimes.

But when they, these other nations, are attracted to our sins, those sins that appear to be more prominent to Anglo societies, it is our fault for their choosing to now add to their own sins the kinds of sins we are known for? Give me a break (thank you John Stossel).

FranL's picture

True but we have embraced it.
Also, the idea of imposing (probably not a good word) democracy I took to be something good whereby goverments would be persuaded to begin treating their people with dignity and giving them a place in their trespective governments. But you are correct about that but that was not the point of the article.
Your statement:
The Congo has not needed America to be guilty of some of the grossest crimes known to man, it has had nothing to do with European or American values. The middle east has long been a home to torture, enslavement, tyranny, and a quarantine for xenophobic Islamicists who promote hostility and even murder toward Christians and Jews and all of this without Americanism.
Correct but that does not excuse America's sins before the Lord. The point of the article was to say that we need to examine ourselves realizing we (as a nation) can be wrong. There is no question that the rage toward us is not all justified. I mantioned that at the close but we need to be careful of lapsing into a way of thinking the arbitrarily states that those who dislike us for one reason or another are wrong and we are right. We need to look at our own sins as a nation and realize our sinfulness before God. We need to see that God has given America great light and our sins are against that light. I sometimes fear when I read Jesus' words: If the works that had be done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented (Matt. 11:21). To whom much is given, much is required.
As I see it, we need repentance before the Lord. Forget about the sins of other nations, America needs to be concerned about her own. We need to take a closer look about the nation we call America.

Francis Lerro

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