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Jewish World Review May 2, 2003 / 30 Nissan, 5763

Diana West

Diana West
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Fellowships and flagellation | Flash: This just in from Harvard. The Committee on College Life has renewed its official recognition of the Harvard Radcliffe Christian Fellowship. Big deal? You bet. It turns out that while anyone may join this small campus Christian group, it continues to draw its leadership from among candidates who actually believe in the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This, according to the editors of the Harvard Crimson, violates Harvard's anti-discrimination policy. As a recent editorial in the college paper put it, Harvard is "in error for not demanding that the club remove its discriminatory policy from its constitution. All students should be free to participate in College activities without being discriminated against because of belief."

Zounds. Given that a Christian Fellowship is one big college activity singularly dependent on belief, it would seem that Muffy and Jason and Savonarola have gone a little too far this time. According to this next generation of sensitivity trainers and diversity consultants any student who wants to lead the Christian Fellowship "should not be excluded because of a reluctance to accept certain tenets." Indeed, Harvard should have "forced" Fellowship members to drop these "certain tenets" -- you know, Christ, the Holy Spirit -- from their leadership requirements "or lose College recognition."

The good news is this didn't happen. That doesn't mean, of course, that the controversy and confusion over enforcing "non-discrimination" and regimenting "diversity" are over. While there is in the Crimson editorial a sloppy disregard for the rights of a campus Christian group, this arrogance may be due less to overt religious hostility than to a fundamentally flawed, if politically correct, school of thought. It teaches our children both to embrace "diversity," since we are all different, and to deny difference, since we are all the same. Understandably, this leads to much muddle. Even as the Crimson editorial demands the exclusion of a Christian group in the name of inclusion and diversity, it reflects the utopian, indeed, totalitarian urge to suppress difference and distinction that is at the root of multiculturalism.

The kids may have learned their lessons well, but that's not to say the rest of us are well served by this scholarship saturating the education system, kindergarten through college. Having had the occasion to walk through several schools, both public and private, in and around Washington, D.C., lately, I can attest that they teach off the same page, and in big letters. What with all the global curricula, "diversity" fairs and feasts, giant international flag displays, and murals of handholding nationals in native costumes, the lesson of the day is that it's a Benetton world, where cultural differences come down to a changing palette of flag colors and quaint costumes.

But what do such lessons teach us about the real world? Freedom in Iraq was just days old when The New York Times published a challenging report from Karbala. It began: "Long forbidden, long hidden, the whips of mortification were flagellating today as Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority celebrated its newfound political freedom -- and potential political power. 'For 25 years they were hidden in our houses,' said a man from the Shiite south as a group of young men lashed their backs in rhythm with whips made from chains. 'The father taught his son.'"

That was, of course, whips that were hidden for 25 years. Not copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence. And not Baedeker's Paris or Mickey Mouse ears, either. Whips. Chains. The father taught his son. Necks liberated from the jackboot of Saddam Hussein, backs are now free for self-mutilation. This is not the response Americans expected.

Question: What is the multiculturally sensitive response to the freedom to flagellate? "For this we liberated Iraq?" Hardly. "This is not your father's liberation." Nah. "Different strokes ... ?" Please. Silence? Perhaps.

The terrible fact is that we have no words for culture clash. That is, we're not just missing the words to describe or assess one barbaric custom. We don't even have the words for the culture chasm that exists between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, which, based on sharia (Islamic law), infringes on the human rights of non-Muslims and all women. We speak of Islamic reform, and of something as fanciful as "Islamic democracy," but we fail to bring up the stumbling blocks to such reform and democracy -- the deleterious Islamic institutions of jihad (violent religious conquest) and dhimmitude (the inequality of non-Muslims under Muslim rule).

We talk and teach about diversity. And we talk and teach about difference. But for all the talk and teaching, we don't know the meaning of the words.

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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

04/28/03: What Americans have to learn about cultural education
04/21/03: In Iraq, is democracy is in the eye of the beholder?
04/14/03: The greatest generation gap
03/31/03: The great gap between the West and the Middle East
03/21/03: They just wouldn't shut up!
03/10/03: Sorry apologies for speaking the truth
03/03/03: The Eurabian alliance
02/24/03: Searching for good news
02/18/03: Love and honor -- lost, found and murdered
02/03/03: A calm that causes concern
01/27/03: Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality
01/21/03: When understanding the East means losing the West
01/13/03: Is a war on Jews a war on democracy?
01/06/03: Bush must take a stand on affirmative action
12/30/02: Questions for reflection on 2002
12/16/02: The pre-emptive war goes Hollywood
12/09/02: Protest Augusta? Why not Sudan?
11/25/02: Something to contemplate this Ramadan
11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West