Politics & Policy

Why the Left Loathes Western Civilization

Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam (Cosmin Constantin Sava/Dreamstime)

This month Stanford University students voted on a campus resolution that would have had their college require a course on Western civilization — as it did until the 1980s.

Stanford students rejected the proposal 1,992 to 347. A columnist in the Stanford Daily explained why: Teaching Western civilization means “upholding white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”

The vote and the column encapsulated the Left’s view of Western civilization: In Europe, Latin America, and America, the Left loathes Western civilization.

Wherever there is conflict between the West — identified as white, capitalist, or of European roots — and the non-West, the Left portrays the West as the villain.

I am referring to the Left, not to liberals. The latter generally venerated Western civilization. President Franklin Roosevelt, for example, frequently spoke of defending “Christian civilization.” Today, the Left would revile any Westerner who used such language as xenophobic, racist, and Fascist.

The Left similarly describes any suggestion that anything Western is superior to anything non-Western. Likewise, the Left dismisses virtually all Western achievements, but regards criticism of anything non-Western as racist, chauvinistic, imperialist, colonialist, xenophobic, etc.

That is why the Left is so protective of Islam. America’s first left-wing president, Barack Obama, will not use, or allow the government to use, the words “Islamic terrorism”; and all criticism of Islam is labeled “Islamophobic,” thereby morally equating any such criticism with racism. It is not that the Left is sympathetic to Islam; the Left has contempt for all religions. It is that many Muslims loathe the West, and the enemies of my enemy (the West) must be protected.

That is why the Left loathes Israel. If the Left actually cared about human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, or freedom of speech, religion, and the press, it would be wildly pro-Israel. But Israel, in the Left’s view, is white, European, and colonialist; in other words, Western. And the Palestinians are non-Western.

So, then, the Big Question is, Why? Why is the Left hostile to Western civilization?

After decades of considering this question, the answer, I have concluded, is: standards.

The Left hates standards – moral standards, artistic standards, cultural standards. The West is built on all three, and has excelled in all three.

The Left hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment.

Why does the Left hate standards?

It hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment. And Leftists don’t want to be judged.

Thus Michelangelo is no better than any contemporary artist, and Rembrandt is no greater than any non-Western artist. So, too, street graffiti, which are essentially the defacing of public and private property — and thus serve to undermine civilization — are “art.”

Melody-free, harmony-free, atonal sounds are just as good as Beethoven’s music. And Western classical music is no better than the music of any non-Western civilization.

Guatemalan poets are every bit as worthy of study as Shakespeare.

When the Nobel Prizewinning American novelist Saul Bellow was quoted as saying, “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?” all hell broke loose on the cultural Left. Bellow had implied that the greatest writers of fiction were Western.

Why such antagonism? Because if some art is really better than other art, your art may be judged inferior. The narcissism of left-wing thought does not allow for anyone to be better than you artistically or in any other way. Therefore, all art and artists must be equal.

In the moral realm, the same rejection of standards exists. Thus, the Left loathed Ronald Reagan for labeling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” That would mean that America was morally superior to the Soviet Union. And such a judgment was unacceptable. The whole left-wing moral vocabulary is a rejection of Western moral standards: “tolerance,” “inclusion,” “anti-discrimination” (by definition, standards discriminate), “non-judgmental,” and even “income inequality,” which deems some people’s work more valuable than that of others.

Every civilization had slavery. But only thanks to Judeo-Christian civilization was slavery abolished there and eventually elsewhere. Nevertheless, to speak about any moral superiority of Western or Judeo-Christian civilization is completely unacceptable thanks to the Left’s stranglehold on education and most media.

In this regard, the protection of Islam on the Left is so thorough that one cannot even say such obvious truths as that the status of women has been far superior in the Judeo-Christian West than in the Islamic world. The veil, for example, is dehumanizing; yet, in a speech at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a rabbi, at the time the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said that the veil “deserves our respect.”

And finally, we come to the Left’s loathing of the religions of Western civilization — the Judeo-Christian religions, with their clear standards of right and wrong.

Bible-based religions affirm a morally judging God. For the Left, that is anathema. For the Left, the only judging allowed is Leftist judging of others. No one judges the Left. Neither man nor God.

Dennis Prager — Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His second volume of Bible commentary, The Rational Bible — Genesis: God, Creation, Destruction, is published by Regnery.  He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

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