NPR today ran an hour of interviews on the subject of “the West,” in the context of the clash of civilization between The West and, well, the non-West. The first interview was with Victor Davis Hanson who did a good job of defining just what is “The West.” The concept of The West is much like that of the United States… neither are based strictly on a geographic region, nor of a particular ethnicity or religion. Instead, *anyone,* no matter where born or raised or how indoctrinated, can become a Westerner by accepting the basic precepts of Westernism. Thus places like Japan and South Korea can be reasonable described as “Western.”
The precepts Hanson puts forward include:
- Free market economics
- Protection of private property
- Free speech
- Free expression
- Diversity of religion
- Emancipation of women
- Trust in rationalism and scientific inquiry
- Induction rather than deductive or religious superstition
Hanson also wrote about these assumptions a month and a half ago regarding the current fad for stuffing Columbus Day down the memory hole:
It is fashionable to trash the civilization that created Columbus as destructive and pathological, but those who do so often have never experienced the alternative first-hand or at length, and assume that their own prosperity, security, and protected freedoms are birthrights rather than fragilities that exist largely only in the West and Westernized Asia or emanate only from the Western anomalies of self-criticism, secular rationalism, unfettered inquiry, free expression, constitutional government, free-market economics, private property and religious tolerance.
Hanson ended that piece with this important observation:
In some strange reductionist and iconic way, the symbolic world of the Aztecs is romanticized — and left far behind; the world of Columbus is still demonized but constantly sought out.
This being NPR, though, this first good interview that defends the worth, value and importance of The West and argues for the preservation of it is followed by a series of interviews that smear the West and Westerners and those who support The West as being Nazis, rapists and Islamophobes. Because Of Course.
The final piece is about the history of contact between Elizabethan England and the Ottoman Empire. It’s interesting, but there’s one particularly telling bit. A British history professor, who has written a book on the topic, is asked by the interviewer to tell of the “wonderful stories” of Englishmen who “freely and openly converted to Islam.” And what’s the story we get? An English merchant named Samson Rolly (sic?) was kidnapped by Turkish pirates circa 1570, forcibly converted to Islam, *castrated,* and somehow winds up being the chief eunuch and treasurer of Algiers. Around ten years later an English ambassador asks Samson (now with a new name) if he wants to go home, and the guy decides to stay where he is. This “wonderful” story, which the professor chuckles his way through and calls “funny,” is the story of someone kidnapped, mutilated, brainwashed and deep within the throes of Stockholm Syndrome. And yet, it’s those who want to defend the West from exactly this sort of thing that are the bad guys in the bulk of the piece… and in a whole lot of modern culture.
Well, the first bit with Hanson is certainly worth a listen. If the embedded player doesn’t show up below, you can download the audio file HERE.