Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A double standard?

DQ yet again. It occurred to me that I have been unconsciously guilty of a double standard and Bookworm kindly suggested I post on the topic. Take as given that I oppose slavery and rape. Why do I excuse America's founding fathers for their acceptance of slavery, yet condemn modern day Muslims for their acceptance of rape as a legitimate punishment (about which Bookworm has blogged at some length)? I am willing to accept that the founding fathers were a product of their times and accepted slavery as a well-established institution and basically accepted a genetic difference between races (and, of course, between genders) as a scientific given. We may disagree with that viewpoint now, but we can hardly condemn the founding fathers for believing in that viewpoint then. It's what they grew up with and what they "knew" to be true. The same could be said for Islamist fundamentalists today. They "know" that rape is an appropriate punishment in certain circumstances and that knowledge comes from their upbringing. Bookworm suggests that the difference is that the founding fathers strove to break free from the stereotypes of their age and should be given credit for their efforts, even if they incompletely realized their ideals in their personal lives. In contrast, the Islamic fundamentalists are fighting a rear-guard action, imposing a value system that has long been discreditted by the vast majority of the civilized world. They should be cut no slack for their rejection of what are by now truths accepted by the bulk of the civilized world (for example, that rape is not a valid form of punishment). I'm not sure I accept this view, however much I might wish to do so. Islamic fundamentalists are captives of their own environment. They may, or may not, be aware of the general view of the world around them. If they are aware, they may accept that view as enlightened or reject it as the decadent view of modern-day heathens. In any case, why should I not cut them the same slack I do the founding fathers? I don't, in my own subjective mind. But I cannot give you a principled reason why. Can anyone help resolve this moral dilemma?