The Failure to tell Right from Wrong: The Possible Collapse of Western Civilization

This is a must read:

A culture of celebrating life and freedom and Justice is Right; A culture celebrating death and totalitarianism, injustice, and abuse is Wrong

By Howard Rotberg

I am convinced that Western liberal democratic civilization will fall, not because of conquest from outside it, but because its citizenry has ceased understanding right from wrong.

Cultural and moral relativism, political correctness and moral equivalency are the signs that our intellectual elites, in universities and media, predominantly, are confused over the most elementary questions of right versus wrong.

The idea that those who are less powerful can censor the speech of those who are more powerful was recently articulated by an Assistant Professor of Education, named Ozlem Sensoy, at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.  Remember, this is a professor who teaches those who will soon be teaching our elementary and high school students.  And remember, these remarks were specifically about justification of mob rule in censoring free speech, but her arguments can be used (and are being used) by those who would restrict the rest of liberal freedoms.


In response to students at the University of Ottawa preventing a speech by conservative columnist Ann Coulter, Sensoy congratulated the students who, in her opinion “embody the spirit of student activism.”  She castigated those who sought to uphold Coulter’s freedom to give a speech because Sensoy says they “fail to acknowledge and understand … the social concept of power”.  This moral relativist managed to turn the notion of freedom on its head by arguing that:

“The ‘isms’ words (racism, sexism, anti-semitism) refer to power relationships that are historic and embedded, and these relationships do not flip back and forth. The same groups that have historically held power in the U.S. and Canada continue to do so.”

(Can you believe that Sensoy actually thinks that power relationships never change and are embedded?  Would not Obama’s election in the U.S. indicate a substantial change in power relationships?)

And so this teacher of our future teachers argues that allegations of the need for free speech seem to   “ surface when there is a need to stifle speech that challenges social power (which is what the U of Ottawa students were doing, challenging the inequitable social power relations that Coulter’s “speech” upheld).”

So Coulter’s speech is not protected, but the speech of those deemed to be “marginalized” and lacking power, is to be protected.

But who decides who is deemed powerful and who is deemed marginalized?  Sensoy doesn’t say it explicitly, but this Turkish-born cultural relativist implies that it is only intellectually enlightened people like her who can decide which is which – and which have the right to free speech.  And so in Canada we have Human Rights Commissions which use this same approach to decide which speech is protected and which is not.

This manner of thinking is even more developed in England where the great columnist Melanie Philips is being attacked because one of her blogposts on the Spectator website referred to the “moral depravity” of Arab “savages”.  She is being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission.

The online comment piece, headlined “Armchair barbarism”, focused on media coverage of the murder of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank town of Itamar by Palestinian militants earlier this month.  Phillips dared to frame the issue as one of right versus wrong, morality versus moral depravity:

“The moral depravity of the Arabs is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American ‘liberal’ media,” wrote Phillips.

“Overwhelmingly, the media have either ignored or downplayed the atrocity – or worse, effectively blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves, describing them as ‘hard-line settlers’ or extremists.

Phillips criticized the New York Times, one of the many left-liberal media who portray the slaughter of Jewish babies as just another part of the “cycle of violence” which on the Israeli side tends to be more about what response should be made to the use of rockets and suicide bombing by Palestinians in lieu of negotiations.    Israeli children then deserve to be slaughtered, according to this line of thinking, because the Israelis are, after Gaza, rightly afraid of giving up more land to such “savages” who will have it easier to intentionally target civilians.  This immoral, yes immoral, line of thinking equates murder of a 3 month old baby with the Israeli policy on building more homes, on land to which (it can surely be argued)  it is legally and morally entitled (but which it has expressed the willingness many times to give up some parts of in return for a final settlement where Palestinians would recognize the rights of Israel as a Jewish state in the otherwise Muslim Middle East.)

In the law of defamation in Canada and most liberal countries, the truth of the statement complained of is an absolute defence to damages for defamation.  It is high time that in the name of morality and justice, we judge our journalists on the truth of their words, and not on how they might offend some groups claiming victim status ormarginalization or the need to correct what they allege are power inequities “embedded” in some part of our culture.

Multiculturalism should mean the right of all ethnic groups and religions to live in peace in our society as long as they accept our basic cultural values such as our fundamental freedoms.  The popular radio commentator Dennis Prager has articulated America’s values as being the phrases inscribed on American coins:  E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), In God We Trust, and Liberty.

It would be appropriate for more people to discuss what are the fundamental values of liberal societies and how we should encourage those societies struggling to implement liberal values, rather than supporting a rogue’s gallery of fascistic nations.  Poor Barack Obama, he who preached in Cairo that Arab nations like Egypt have the same commitment to tolerance and justice as Americans do – and then had to sit by in a daze as Egyptians demonstrated against the existing regime, and in favour of – well who knows?

Poor Barack Obama, who was certain that aiding the Green revolution in Iran against the apocalyptic, nuclear-arming Iranians, would be seen as “meddling”, but who is now participating in bombing in Libya, without any knowledge of who the rebels are, is clearly out of his league.  May I suggest that without a clear set of values, beyond “tolerance” and denying American “exceptionalism”, it is most difficult to frame a cogent foreign policy?  You might end up, like Obama, on the side of Radical Islam, and its Iranian-supported Muslim Brotherhood-influenced cohorts, when it comes to Egypt, Iran and Libya, and reluctant to criticize Palestinian terrorism in any way, at the same time you implore American Jews to exert pressure on Israel.

Radical feminists who hate Israel and love Islamic states that oppress women, gay rights groups that hate a nation that features gay rights parades and a military in which gays serve openly, and then support Muslims who kill and torture gays (or, like Ahmadinejad,  argue that there are no gays in Iran), all need to look at their fundamental premises of what is right and wrong in this world.

At the same time as our Universities pathetically hosted hatefests called Israel Apartheid Week (which do not pass the minimum standards of accuracy that should entitle them to use university facilities), Israel was busy showing those willing to look, just how a moral nation behaves:

  1. While the relatives of the murdered Fogel Family of Itamar were still in the seven-day mourning period for the “savage”, “barbaristic” butchering of 5 members of one family by members of a culture that features anti-Jewish incitement in their education system, media and mosques, Israel showed its character:  An Arab woman from a nearby village, was delivering a baby which had the umbilical chord wrapped around its neck.  Her family sent her by cab to the nearby Jewish town of Itamar, where Israeli medics were proud to save mother and baby, who the grateful family named “Jude”.
  2. A lovely video is available on the internet telling the story of how Israel has helped a young Haitian man, who lost his leg in the earthquake.  This was particularly sad because he made his living as a talented dancer.  Israeli doctors, who were among the first to get operating theatres up and running after the earthquake, took the young man back to Israel where they gave him a prosthesis and physical therapy that has resulted in him resuming his dancing career!
  3. Israel has Arab members of the Knesset, on its Supreme Court, and in its diplomatic corps.  The Druze Arabs, who agree to support the state and serve in its army, have even had a Deputy Prime Minister from among their community in Israel.  Abbas, (who wrote a thesis while studying in Communist Russia denying the Holocaust) of the Palestinian Authority has vowed that not one Jew shall be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state, at the same time as he calls for a “right” of return for all of the descendants of the approximately 750,000 Arabs who left Israel during the War of Independence, when Israel was attacked on all sides by Arab neighbours who were opposed to the United Nations partition of the land between Jewish and Arab states.  Approximately the same number of Jews were ejected from intolerant Arab nations such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Yemen even though they had lived there for thousands of years.  Israel of course took them all in.  Most left-wing analyses of the Israel-Arab conflict do not bother to mention this fact.
  4. Israel, after due judicial process, just sentenced former president Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison for rape.  In the Arab world, it is almost unheard of for a man to be tried for rape;  unfortunately it is far more common for the woman to incur criminal sanction (such as stoning to death or permitted honour killing) for bringing dishonour to her family.  Why have the Leftists abandoned review of human rights in a legal system as a basic form of morality?  The answer unfortunately is that right and wrong are the first victims of cultural relativism.  When CBS reporter Lara Logan learned first hand about the culture of rape in Arab countries, it was her very own news organization that feared publicizing what was already known on the internet, and this fear to me has more to do with offending the perpetrators than protecting the victim.

Obama is not the first western leader to act with undue hostility to the Jewish State.  Certainly, the selfish needs of the West for Arab oil have governed their policies.  But that does not make those policies moral.  It just makes the proponents of favouring corrupt Arab regimes who, above all, hurt their own people, look like the hyprocrites they are.

Even the Queen of England has besmirched a throne that need the respect of its subjects.  Instead, while Britain tolerates Shariah law and no-go areas for Christians and Jews, this long serving monarch who has undertaken some 250 official visits to approximately 130 countries, has never visited Israel, nor has any member of the Royal Family made an official visit to Israel.  Long before the international BDS (boycott, divestiture and sanctions) movement was organized, her Majesty, was carrying out a Boycott against Israel (it is unclear whether there is an unwritten policy of the British Foreign Office in this regard;  all the more hideous is a boycott whose proponents will not even expose it to the debate which occurs with formulating written policy.)

What is so difficult in determining right and wrong when it comes to Israel’s policy against the Iranian-backed terrorist organizations (whose charters call for genocide against the Jews) who send unprovoked rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians?  Why does Israel alone among the nations of the liberal world get criticized for “disproportionality”, when after months and months of taking civilian casualties from Hamas or Hezbollah, it strikes back to remove the infrastructure supporting the rockets?

The great columnist for the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, wrote during the 2006 Hezbollah war:

“The perversity of today’s international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.

The concept of “proportionality” has never been applied to other Western nations.  Like the concepts adopted by the anti-Israel left, the concepts and the subversions of language applied to Israel show nothing so much as an abandonment of traditional Judeo-Christian ethics in an effort to appease radical Islam.

Islam has many theological problems that it will have to solve before it can hope to be called a “religion of peace.”    Why call it a religion of peace when the Hadith (a record of the sayings of Mohammed) says: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

I am the son of a Holocaust survivor.  My father lost his parents and then eight year old sister in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.  I have degrees in History and Law from the University of Toronto (which last year, during the U of T’s hosting of Israel Apartheid Week, I returned to the University in protest and shame).  After 40 years of the study of History, I am convinced that the moral measure of a society is how it treats its Jews, or now, how it treats the Jewish Homeland.  Obviously, I find current international culture to be sorely lacking in this regard.

Why is it that our politicians and media cannot simply point out that the United Nations is a farce and should be reorganized as it has become a tool for third world, largely Islamofascist governments to concentrate most of their resolutions on Israel and not address any illegal acts by any Arab countries, any NGOs or any terror organizations.  Giving Kofi Annan a Nobel Prize does not transform something that is Evil into something that is Good.  Annan was the UN official who refused Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, commanding the UN force in Rwanda, another 3000 troops that Dallaire said could prevent the Rwandan genocide.  In a moral world those who assist in genocide should be put on trial, not given Nobel prizes.

Not only do Palestinians send their children to die, but they celebrate their death as long as they have killed lots of Jews in a suicide bombing.  Not only did Palestinians attack the Israeli sports team at the Munich Olympics, but those terrorists who survived, were welcomed as heroes by Gaddafi’s Libya.

Fabrication of events are common – from the supposed Jenin massacre to the al-Dura staged and false murder.  There have been staged funerals where the supposed deceased gets up and walks away.  There is the denial of unequivocal historical and archeological evidence of Jews living in Israel centuries before there was such a thing as a Palestinian people.  Liars, lovers of death, abusers of women, haters of liberty, these are a people who reject everything beautiful in this life and instead embrace a culture of death, that prevents their own people from moving forward by adopting a blamology focused on Jews.

A country that embraces life, beauty, Justice, medical and scientific advances is shunned.  Yasr Arafat who was driven out of Jordan was nevertheless made into a saint by Bill Clinton and the American media.

Fortunately, my country, Canada, is one of the few countries in the world where mainstream politicians are unafraid to stand up proudly for what is right (even though the media and the universities are as hostile to Israel as in many European countries).

The Government’s House Leader, John Baird, and an opposition Liberal MP, Joe Volpe, both recently spoke at a Carleton University event, which was a bipartisan response to perennial Israeli Apartheid Week demonstrations.

“Israel’s values are Canada’s values,” Volpe said, and his statement was supported by Baird when he added that slurring Israel with an apartheid label “is really an attack on Canadian society and Canadian values.”

Volpe called the smear campaign “offensive” and identified it as an attempt to foreclose debate by intimidating those with opposing views, while Baird called this misapplication of “apartheid” an abuse of free speech with no basis in reality and delegitimizing Israel its only goal.

Can one imagine Barack Obama making such statements?

People who place rockets and other military installations in the middle of, or close to, civilian residences are evil people.  When they use those rockets hundreds of times against civilians they must expect that a democratic nation protecting its people must try to knock out those rockets.  They must expect that even a country like Israel, that takes extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties, will end up killing some civilians.  Anyone who is offended by that should speak out against Hamas and Hezbollah placing their rockets and other military hardware in such places.  Instead, such papers as the New York Times reserve their indignation for the liberal democratic country.  Even worse, they tend not to show photos of intentionally murdered Israeli civilians like the Fogel family from Itamar, but assist in Palestinian propaganda by well publicizing the images of dead Palestinians.  I believe that a high school student knows that this is wrong and I also believe that by the time that high school student finishes a university journalism program he has been convinced that it is right.    Wrong has been made into right.

We should especially be concerned about what is being taught to Education students and Journalism students.  When Good is banished from our schools and our media and when fewer and fewer people are attending church and synagogue and getting the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic there, we have a major problem.  It does not seem that difficult to me to know what are Good values.  But in an education system that pretends to be “value-free”, a whole generation of people will have a harder time.  To me, these are good values:

  • fundamental constitutional freedoms such as freedom of speech, religion, assembly
  • equal treatment for women
  • taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others
  • not killing or injuring others except in self defence
  • not bearing false witness

But, sadly, I cannot think of one Muslim country that espouses these values.  For saying this, I can possibly be physically attacked or brought up on Human Rights Commission charges, where I would have to pay my own lawyer, but complainants against my speech would have their legal costs paid for.  This statement would be construed as Islamophobic, no doubt, but I have a different opinion:  I would like to think that individual Muslims are as deserving of freedom as any other people on this earth, and my criticism of Muslim governments is in fact an advocacy for Muslim people.  Do you think that argument would win the day at the Canadian Human Rights Commission?

The President of the great hope of the free world, America, says explicitly that there is nothing exceptional about American values and compares Islamic standards of justice and tolerance in such places as Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia favourably with American standards of justice and tolerance.  Don’t Americans worry about their President getting confused between right and wrong?

Israel drops leaflets and even calls Palestinians on their cell phones, warning of impending bombing of terrorist infrastructure.  Palestinians intentionally target civilians, but who gets the blame?  The good are blamed and the evil are given the recognition that fuels the next atrocity.

I once sued a bookstore that hosted me for a lecture, when its hijab-wearing staff member failed to protect me from her anti-Semitic jihadist friends who yelled that I had no “right” to speak if I was pro-Israel and that I was a “f—-ing Jew”.  The Judge hearing the case was unable to determine the factual veracity of the staff member’s claim of what I was alleged to have said that supposedly justified the abrogation of my free speech rights (the lady changed her statement three times) but he was satisfied that I said something (sic) that reflected an “us versus them” attitude.  When judges cannot distinguish right from wrong, we are in trouble.

A set of fundamental values does not mean that good people will not frequently differ in how they are applied in various situations.  That is why a Good country has a Good justice system.  A Bad country, just leaves it up to the government’s discretion whether a non-compliant citizen should be just tortured or tortured and then killed.  Those who advocate on behalf of Bad countries should have a very good reason for what otherwise should be seen as bad conduct.

As I write this, Gaddafi’s forces are shelling a hospital.  What kind of people intentionally target hospitals?  Is there any doubt that should (God forbid) Arabs push through Israeli defences that they would butcher hospital patients?    A people that celebrates the death of scores of young Israelis at a disco, or old people at a Hotel Passover Seder meal would certainly create a genocide if they could.  Ahmadinejad promises a genocide, Hamas promises a genocide and Hezbollah promises a genocide.  Egyptians yell “Jew, Jew” as they rape a non-Jewish American reporter in Cairo.

A culture of celebrating life and freedom and Justice is Right;  A culture celebrating death and totalitarianism, injustice, and abuse is Wrong.

If we do not recognize this, our children and grandchildren cannot look forward to much of a future, and everything that is Good shall end.  Not everything that Israel or, for that matter, the United States, does is right.  But liberal democracy is indeed the highest and best form of government for free and good individuals.  Giving respect or moral equivalency to those who spit on our liberal democracy is a recipe for disaster.

4 thoughts on “The Failure to tell Right from Wrong: The Possible Collapse of Western Civilization”

  1. One of the major weapons in the propaganda war against Israel is the “Remember these Children” website which compares the numbers of Arab children who have been killed in the conflicts to the number of Jewish children murdered by terrorists. The Arab list totals 1,437 since 2000 and the Jewish list totals 130. Not withstanding that such reporting is unsubstantiated, After visiting the site, I noticed that according to this report, most of the Israeli children were murdered in drive by shootings and human bombs exploding themselves in restaurants, buses and markets. In other words, the Arab terrorists targeted those children and murdered them in cold blood. For all of the Arab children, on the other hand, the site identifies the causes of death as gun shot wounds or explosions during the firefights with Arab Hamas fighters. What were their children doing in the middle of a war zone? That is clear and convincing evidence that the Hamas thugs where using the local children as human shields. Soldiers are trained to return fire when fired upon. The bushwhacking urban guerrillas who fire at enemy troops from a neighborhood full of children are the ones causing the deaths of those children. More at

  2. It is a fact that Palestinian Chiildren are TRAINED at an early age, in the techniques of warfare.Pictures of Palestinian Children with Rifles and Machine Guns are ubiquitous. Israel must defend itself,even from Soldiers who are Children.

  3. Its the pathetic failure of Political Correctness and MULTI CULTISM which means that the West is incapable of recognising or even naming their ‘ENEMY’ even when the enemy is blatantly and openly telling and PROVING to you that it is your enemy. Such STUPIDITY can have only one conclusion and that will not be the Triumph of Democracy at all.

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