MULTICULTURALISM VS. UNIVERSALISM
I want to talk about why this flawed equivalency between Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism has become so popular and why it seems to have become so hard to differentiate between oppressive political systems and practices and democratic political systems and liberal practices.
Today, advocacy for multiculturalism has replaced support for universalism.
Universalism is based on universal principles of human rights, equality, freedom, and democracy, as laid out in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and before that the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Other democracies have their own constitutions and founding sets of documents.
Today, these visions and commitments to universal equality among people have become secondary to advocacy for multiculturalism.
Embedded in multicultural ideology is cultural relativism, the principle that all cultures are equal, must be respected, and cannot be criticized. Or if one does criticize another culture or religious practice, the speaker must immediately point out deficiencies in other cultures and religious practices, or at least those of his or her own, in this case, the U.S.
One cannot advocate for relative rights and freedoms without rejecting universal principles of freedom and rights. If you unconditionally accept and respect other cultural and religious practices, the first group that always loses is women. Most discriminatory attitudes and practices are based on culture, tradition, and religion. Women’s greatest hope for freedom and rights comes with the promotion of universal principles of freedom and rights; then women can claim their equality.
Today, I see students in class being fearful of discussing types of violence against women or the oppression of women. Although they may be horrified by honor killings or female genital mutilation, they feel they have to accept it because it’s someone else’s culture or religion.
They think it is unacceptable to advocate for other women’s freedom and rights because it might violate the others' cultures or religions, and that would be imposing their view on another culture or religion. While at first glance this may sound respectful, it translated into remaining silent and accepting some of the worst human rights violations against women.
Following acceptance of multiculturalism, they withdraw into isolationism. If we must respect all other cultures and religious practices, then there is nothing to do about violations of women’s rights around the world. They often oppose any efforts to improve the lives of women in other countries. They justify this isolationism by saying they have enough work on women’s issues here at home and they should concentrate on that.
WHAT DO MUSLIM WOMEN WANT?
Women join political movements. There are Muslim women who have joined the Islamic fundamentalists. There are women who voluntarily put on the hijab and support the oppression of other women.
There are probably some women who just want to be left in peace to live a quiet life.
But there are also women who want freedom and rights, who strongly reject Islamo-Fascism, and who have organized to oppose Islamic fundamentalism.
I believe we have a responsibility to differentiate between Islamic fascist and pro-democracy groups. I don’t believe there is a moral equivalency between them. I don’t believe it is disrespectful to judge other systems and practices and to condemn human rights violations and the oppression of women. I don’t believe it is "imperialistic" to support other women’s struggles for freedom and rights.
I believe that rights come with responsibilities. The people in this room are among the freest in the world. I believe we have a responsibility to not turn our privileged backs on other women. I believe we have a responsibility to use our freedom and rights to help others.
I believe we should be using our freedom of speech, our freedom of association, and our educations and access to communications technology to assist other women to achieve the same set of rights and standards of well-being.
You can start by learning more about the conditions for women under Shari'a law. You can research how Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and the impact that is having on women. You can research different Muslim women’s groups. You can find out how to get involved in supporting different organizations.
I’ll end with a quote from Maryam Rajavi, a leader of the opposition against the theocracy in Iran. In a text entitled The Price of Freedom, she says:
The Iranian woman is today engaged in the most serious, most difficult and most decisive battle of her destiny … Women are the prime victims of oppression under the clerical regime and they have the highest explosive potential against the regime. The survival of the clerical regime is also intertwined with the suppression of women. … [Women] are humiliated and tortured every day, only because they are women. Yet they have never surrendered. They use every opportunity to voice their protest against the clerical regime and stage demonstrations.
And further, to those who think that Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is intolerant, bigoted, and anti-Muslim, I will again return to The Price of Freedom by Maryam Rajavi as she describes the process of liberation of women from Islamic fundamentalism:
One must, first and foremost, confront such a mentality, particularly in light of the fact that this interpretation or reactionary spell has a historical precedent for women. It is said that the situation of women has always been like this and that she must be grateful to anyone who offers her compassion and mercy. Only when you rebel against this trap and understand the futility of this spell, the deadlock is broken, the road becomes clear, and you take the next steps. I do believe that a woman’s emancipation begins the moment she breaks this spell and believes that rebellion and resistance against tyranny are her inalienable rights. It is from this moment that no power in the world can prevent the liberation of a woman who has decided to be free.
Donna Hughes' speech (above) was originally published here: Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week Day 3
Read more about Islamic fundamentalism: The Terrifying Brilliance of the Islamic Memeplex
Read more about defeating terrorism through fighting for women's rights: Strengthen Women's Rights to Reduce Terrorism