Through Gritted Teeth, A Good Word For Qatar World Cup Censors
You saw this, maybe:
Under normal circumstances, I would oppose attempts to silence free expression in a public place, like a soccer stadium. In this case, I side with the Qataris, despite their awful human rights record. I would be far more sympathetic to Grant Wahl if he had worn a t-shirt expressing solidarity with the plight of the migrant workers exploited by the Qataris. But there's no audience back home for that kind of action. This is 100 percent Western virtue signaling, something that Western liberals only seem to care about when it has to do with LGBT matters.
It doesn't take long, living outside the Western liberal bubble, to discern how much hatred the United States is drawing to itself for its cultural imperialism having to do with LGBT. In summer of 2021, I spoke with two women who are Catholic members of parliament in Uganda, who told me that the US is pushing Africa into the arms of Communist China over its insistence that the Africans affirm LGBT as a condition for aid. We are religious people, the Ugandans said, and this is against our culture. This is a form of imperialism.
Here in the more conservative countries of Europe's Eastern half, the resentment of the US (and western Europe) on this point is strong and growing, at least based on the conversations I have in my travels. Unlike in Africa, where rejection of LGBT sometimes leads to appalling and evil violence against LGBT people, that rarely happens here. Most people seem to be reasonably tolerant. They just don't want their kids to be force-fed LGBT ideology in schools, and don't want their countries to do as Western countries do, and make LGBT a cause for public worship, especially in the month of June. Naturally that is not enough for the West, which presumes to lecture the rest of the world about its own backwardness when it comes to homosexuals and transgenders. Some years back, one of this blog's readers, a Fulbright scholar, told us how the US State Department under Obama trained the outgoing scholars to serve as advocates for LGBT in their host countries -- this, even if it goes against the values of the local society, as it would for this particular correspondent, headed to a poor Third World country.
What is it about the LGBT issue that is so important to liberals and progressives that it releases them from any requirement that they show respect to those who disagree? You know how leftists tell the rest of us that at Thanksgiving, we have a moral obligation to lecture our racist or otherwise bigoted relatives about their own evil? This is how they see the rest of the world, at least when it comes to homosexuality and transgenderism (but not racism, interestingly, which I suppose is too complicated for them to figure out, especially in countries without white people in them). For the left, the totalitarian principle saying The Personal Is Political goes doubleplus when it comes to all things LGBT.
There is a lot worth criticizing about Qatari society, as with any society. If you want to write about how repressive they are, even to LGBT folks, that's fine. Knock yourself out. The Gulf Arab states are not paragons of classical liberal society. But basic principles of respect say that when you are a guest in another country -- say, for a sporting event -- you ought to treat your hosts with some regard. It is not unreasonable for your hosts to expect that when you come to their country, you will not act as if you were in London or New York, and insult them publicly for their religious and cultural values. The Chinese are among the world's vilest violators of human rights, but it would still be wrong to go to the Beijing Olympics and use your time there to insult the Chinese for their ways. (Of course, we all know that American liberals, especially rich ones, won't do this; for some, there's too much money to be made in China, and for others, they know perfectly well that the Chinese, unlike the Qataris, will not put up with that, and will throw you in jail.) Understand me clearly: I'm not defending Qatari policies on LGBT, or anything else. I'm simply saying how revolting it is that visiting Westerners take it upon themselves to preen morally and lecture their hosts.
I subscribe to this guy's Twitter thread, but he's apparently shadow-banned, because I haven't seen his tweets in ages. I only saw this one because it was forwarded to me by a reader:
He's right about that, 100 percent. The United States is a country where we castrate young males and cut the breasts off of young females, and call it liberation. We are a country where it is considered moral progress to bring in deviant men who dress like women, and have them read to children modern fairy tales teaching them to question their bodies and their sexual identities. We are ruled by an elite class that treats LGBT culture as sacred, and that celebrates its way of life in commerce, in advertising, in education, and everywhere it can possibly be inculcated into the rhythms of daily life. Our ruling class and its dominant value system now celebrates racism, and calls it "diversity, equity, and inclusion." Our young people are suffering a horrible mental health crisis. Millions of our people, especially poor and working class people, are succumbing to "deaths of despair" via drug and alcohol addiction.
Our young are going to live with less material, social, and emotional security than their parents and grandparents, while our liberals are tearing down all sources of solidarity outside of radical politics, and our conservatives mostly don't care. The United States is busy destroying its higher education system, which used to be the envy of the world, all for the sake of ideologizing it. We are also destroying the capacity for excellence in science and nearly every other field of endeavor, for the sake of DEI ideology. The rich are getting richer, and the numbers of the economically precarious grow daily. And for the past two decades, Washington has not seen a war it didn't want to fight, even as the woke war machine understandably struggles to convince young Americans that serving in the armed forces is worth doing. Respect for God is in collapse among American youth. Violent crime is up. American pop culture celebrates what is most violent, sexual, and degraded in the human experience, and export that baseness globally. Over and over, as I travel through Eastern Europe, I hear the same thing from beleaguered parents, teachers, and religious leaders: that there is no way to resist American pop culture and its effect on their young. A high school teacher in Poland once told me that there is nothing at all in his country remotely as powerful as Western pop culture in forming the moral sensibilities of young Poles. What we Americans have done and are doing to our country, we are training the next generation of young people abroad to do to theirs.
And on and on.
Try being a normal conservative outside of the US bubble, and you'll see how America, which used to be a beacon of hope to others, is now seen with ambivalence, and even hostility, by people who see how the United States is destroying its own society, and is also trying to export its corruption abroad. It's a challenge to love your country when you listen to older people in the former Soviet bloc ask you, one way or the other, what happened to the Shining City on a Hill that they used to love?
Maybe it was always like this with the United States and its cultural imperialism, and I only see it now because I'm both living overseas, and oppose the ruling ideology back home. The moral arrogance of liberal Americans, though, really grates. So many of us act like such know-it-alls, as if we had nothing to learn from other peoples and other countries, and as if they only deserve respect insofar as they reflect back to us our immense self-regard.
I don't have a lot to say in favor of Arab Islamic autocracy, especially an autocracy that exploits migrant workers. But if anything motivates me to say a word in their defense, it's the disgusting arrogance of Western liberals who treat the diverse peoples of the world as if they are wogs who exist to be humiliated into being civilized. The Grant Wahls of the world aren't going to risk being denied permission to enter World Cup venues because they have the guts to stand up for exploited migrants from Africa and Asia. (If they did, I would still say its not right to use a sporting event to insult your hosts, but at least you could credit the protesters with choosing a cause that won't earn them woke credit back home.) They are doing this entirely for the sake of plaudits from fellow liberals and progressives back home, who love moral self-righteousness like junkies love heroin.
I get it. I was one of these people back in 2002, full of certainty that the United States had a mission to civilize the backwards Arab Muslims by dragging them into the world of liberal democracy. All that high-minded talk and deliberation concealed what was for me, real contempt for those Arab Muslim societies, which had produced the monsters who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11. I did not want to hear what my countrymen were saying when they pointed out that you can't simply parachute into these traditional societies and impose liberal democratic culture by force of arms. That's not how human nature works, the critics would say, and we are going to court disaster if we behave that way. I thought these were weaklings or idiots who had insufficient regard for the capacity of Arab Muslims peoples to recognize the correctness of liberal democracy. That's why we needed to bomb them into submission, I thought.
Again, my moralism was really a mask for contempt for these people and their way of life. I didn't see it at the time. And you know, even today, I would not have much good to say about the way Iraqi culture and society works. But I hope at least that I've learned how full of ourselves and morally blind we Americans can be. It doesn't require affirming that traditional Arab Islamic society is good and worthy of emulation to acknowledge that we Americans don't have all the answers either, that there are many serious down sides to our way of life, and that our crusading mission to spread our values abroad is often a mask for contempt and the desire to dominate people who don't look or think like us.
It is certainly true that foreign tyrants retreat into accusatory "cultural imperialism" rhetoric in an attempt to defend their own cruelty. Condemning the arrogant Western campaigners is not a moral disinfectant for regimes that brutalize their people. And, sometimes Westerners who resort to the same criticism of their own societies -- people like me, I'm saying -- can be doing so to avoid having to take a tough but important stand in defense of the persecuted. This is not a black-and-white issue! But Western liberals projecting their culture-war beliefs onto civilizations dramatically unlike ours is pretty ugly. For example, Muslims are slaughtering Christians routinely in Nigeria, but Western governments -- including the US's -- cannot be motivated to say a negative word about those mass murders. Maybe if the Christian villages would start flying Pride flags, that would inspire the formerly Christian West to care.
My point is simply that Western liberals are very quick to universalize their particular moral innovations, and to behave with supreme arrogance towards peoples around the world who don't share their views. You want to know why lots of people around the world hate America? The missionary armies of Grant Wahls have a lot to do with it. It is one thing to judge somebody else's country to be morally deficient -- on LGBT, on religious liberty, on its treatment of migrants, whatever -- but it's something else to show up as a guest in that country, and to presume to lecture them about their backwardness, and to dare them to do something about it. Nobody likes that kind of person. When I was a student, I had strongly liberal views, opinions that clashed with those held by my conservative parents. But my family and I came to an agreement that when we got together, they would respect my sensibilities, but I had to respect theirs too. It worked, because it was the decent, human thing to do. We chose to use holiday meals and family occasions to focus on what united us, not what divided us. Maybe they rolled their eyes internally at the uppity liberal college student among them; I know I rolled my eyes internally back then at the conservative knotheads I had to suffer for the sake of amity.
But it was the right thing to do, for all of us, to put aside our moralism for the sake of showing love and respect for each other. This is what normal people do. Nobody likes the guy who shows up and uses a social event to bully people into accepting a political or religious belief, liberal or conservative. Now that I'm on the other side, politically, I still recognize this kind of tolerance -- and it's only "tolerance" if you are having to put up without protest with something you believe is wrong -- as something necessary to preserve access to the common good of friendship and familial love. What is true within families and local communities is also true among the community of nations. Whether or not Qatar should have won hosting rights to the World Cup is a very good question. But it did, and I believe foreign guests to Qatar have an obligation to behave respectfully towards the hosts. If you aren't willing to do that, fine, then don't go -- no problem. I would not have gone to the Beijing Olympics, because my disgust with the way the Chinese government behaves is so great that I would not in any way want to participate in an event that glorifies them. But if I had gone, then I would have behaved with respect, because I was in somebody else's country, not my own. The fact that so many liberal Westerners believe they have the right and the obligation to insult their Qatari hosts means that they actually consider that Qatar ought to be in some sense the West -- and they won't be satisfied until it is. As far as the Western left is concerned, the Qataris can have their robes and headdresses, and their Islam, but they had better be good Western liberals under the surface, or they will be compelled through public insult and other means to repent of their wicked ways. As usual with the Left, it's all in favor of diversity -- as long as "diverse" people agree with them.
Besides, as Maajid Nawaz says, how can anyone look at what the United States has become and think that Americans have the moral authority to lecture anybody? I would rather live in the US than in Russia, China, or even Qatar. But that doesn't make America a paradise -- and certainly not when it comes to sexual mores, which is where Qataris fall short, according to decadent Americans who believe in using the institutions of the state to separate children from their parents for the sake of sexually mutilating their bodies and their minds. Whatever wrongs the Qataris are guilty of, they don't work that kind of evil on their children.
UPDATE: Tucker Carlson's entire monologue last night is worth watching -- especially the part (starts at 8:21) in which he discussed the evil Balenciaga ad sexualizing little children by linking them to sadomasochism and child pornography. But see, it's the dastardly Qataris, with their traditional Islamic values, who are the real problem, according to the Left:
UPDATE.2: Ed West, characteristically sharp, pointing out that the hypocritical treatment the West is giving to the Qataris is really about post-Christian Protestantism. Excerpts:
The last World Cup hosts to treat homosexual relations as a crime were arguably even more controversial than Qatar. A repressive society where gay men were often driven to suicide by official persecution, where divorce and abortion were hard to access and strict decency rules governed what could be shown even on stage, this theocratic monarchy had a long history of colonialism and slavery, not to mention religious intolerance.
Still, we won, and that’s what matters.
The swinging London of 1966, of Bobby and Nobby, Revolver and Carnaby Street, was a different world, the early stages of a great cultural revolution sweeping across the west. Before this revolution — or transition — England was in some ways among the least tolerant of countries, one of just four World Cup host nations in which sexual relations between men were criminal offences, the others being Chile (1962), Uruguay (1930 – although it decriminalised only four years later) and, of course, Qatar.
France, the hosts in 1938, was quite conservative and 1934 host Italy was fascist, but homosexual acts had been legal in both Latin countries for a long time; in France since the Revolution and Italy from 1890. Although Mussolini’s regime persecuted gay men in various ways, it didn’t actually make homosexual acts illegal, as they had long been in Britain and Germany. Similarly, Argentina’s horrific junta of the late 1970s, while murdering over a dozen gay activists, didn’t outlaw relations.
In part this is the difference between Catholic and Protestant cultures. The former might disapprove of certain lifestyles, but the latter tends to be much more evangelical about it; if something is wrong, it must be illegal. It’s not enough that our house is in moral order, we must wipe sin out everywhere. It’s that almost literal-minded attachment to moral absolutes which makes the depredations of Protestant cultures gone wrong so much more extreme. (Chile was something of an anomaly, only legalising same-sex relations in 1999.)
Today, post-Protestant countries are similarly far more evangelical about homosexuality as a right, just as they are about progressive values more generally. It is why six of the seven countries that were planning to wear OneLove armbands to protest gay rights in Qatar are historically Protestant — England, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands, Belgium being the exception. It is why the BBC has focussed so much on the issue, and why one of its pundits actually wore the armband.
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West points out that virtually nobody in the West cares about Qatar's record on religious rights, because virtually nobody in the West -- at least among the ruling class -- cares about religion. But sexuality? That's holy! More:
This is not to engage in whataboutery, it’s just to compare how two forms of persecution register in the post-Protestant conscience, and which aspects of our humanity are considered sacred.
Read it all -- it's good.
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