Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson raises the alarm--history may not be linear

By Aussiegirl

"Losing civilization--are we going the tolerate the downfall of Western ideals?" Hanson asks this serious question, looks at the cartoon flap, and sees an appeasement at work that can change our civilization for the worse. There is so much valuable thinking here that his article must be read and thought about.

Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online

The great wealth and leisure created by modern technology have confused some in the modern age into thinking that history is linear. We expect that each generation will inevitably improve upon the last, as if we, the blessed of the 21st century, would never chase out Anaxagoras or execute Socrates — or allow others to do so — in our modern polis.

Often such material and moral advancement proves true — look at the status of brain surgery now and 100 years ago, or the notion of equality under the law in 1860 and in 2006.

But just as often civilization can regress. Indeed, it can be nearly lost in a generation, especially so now, with technology acting as an afterburner of sorts which warps the rate of change, both good and bad.

The latest Islamic outrage over the Danish cartoons represents an erosion in the very notion of Western tolerance. Years ago, the death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie was the dead canary in the mine. It should have warned us that the Western idea of free and unbridled expression, so difficultly won, can be so easily lost.

Like the appeasement of the 1930s, we are in the great age now of ethical retrenchment. So much has been lost even since 1960; then the very idea that a Dutch cartoonist whose work had offended radical Muslims would be in hiding for fear of his life would have been dismissed as fanciful.

Insidiously, the censorship only accelerates. It is dressed up in multicultural gobbledygook about hurtfulness and insensitivity, when the real issue is whether we in the West are going to be blown up or beheaded if we dare come out and support the right of an artist or newspaper to be occasionally crass.


Post a Comment

<< Home