Op-Ed: Pluralism and the Clash of Civilizations
Prof. Paul EidelbergProf. Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), former officer U.S....
Unlike diversity, pluralism is a doctrine, an “ism” that professes to be true, even though pluralism, by definition, denies any ultimate truth.
Beneath the surface of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a denial of the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. This denial is rooted in the rejection of Truth concerning how man should live.
The West lives in a state of denial. This is postmodernism. Contrary to the 18th century, “Enlightenment,” or what is sometimes called the “Age of Reason,” postmodernism denies the existence of any universal or objective standards by which to determine whether the way of life of one individual, group, or nation is intrinsically superior to that of another. Hence, there is no objective standard of what constitutes human excellence.
A Socrates is thus put on the same level as the Marquis de Sade, terrorists become “freedom fighters,” while primitive and despotic regimes become members of the UN General Assembly along with the United States and Israel. None is morally superior to another.
Moral pluralism follows. Indeed, moral pluralism permeates every level of education in the democratic world and therefore influences the behavior of political leaders. Less obvious is that pluralism logically entails paganism, polytheism, and racism!
To avoid misunderstanding, to reject pluralism is not to reject the inevitable and salutary diversity among men and nations. Rather, it is to reject a diversity unconstrained by universal laws of morality such as the Seven Laws of Noah. Unlike diversity, pluralism is a doctrine, an “ism” that professes to be true, even though pluralism, by definition, denies any ultimate truth.
Pluralism is a denial of monotheism. It is nothing more than a sophisticated form of secularized polytheism, which fosters neo-paganism and the various abominations condemned in the Torah. Far from being progressive, pluralism competes with Islamic absolutism as the most regressive force in the world today.
Pluralism negates life by denying meaning and purpose in history. Islamic absolutism negates life by denying the creativity manifested in history. The former denies permanence, the latter change. Only the Written and Oral Torah reconcile permanence and change. Therein is the Truth and the path toward human excellence.
We see the consequences of moral pluralism in the breakdown of the family, in loveless sex, pornography, and homosexuality. We see pluralism in a welter of cults, of vulgar “life-styles,” all morally equal and impervious to rational criticism. And just as we see criminal individuals, so we see criminal states—Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab League. So why not a Palestinian state alongside Israel?
But was I saying that pluralism (or moral relativism) entails racism? This seems to turn contemporary notions of racism on its head! Is it not the case that much of the world accuses Jews as racists insofar as they regard themselves as the “Chosen People?” And might not Muslims be accused of racism since they regard all non-Muslims as something inferior creatures? Let’s see.
Racism, whatever its form, denies the moral unity of the human nature. The idea of the moral unity of human nature originates nowhere else but in Genesis: “God created man in His own image.” This lapidary sentence of Holy Writ, writes Isaac Breuer, proclaims through all ages the inalienable, godlike nobility of man as such. Here the Torah brings monotheism’s first message of salvation into a world of whose tribes and empires knew only force and the misuse of power.
In that world of paganism, each people had its own gods, its own morality. It was as if each people were a distinct race or species whose way of life was incommensurate with the way of life of another.
Amidst this moral pluralism, racism was rampant. With no concept of the One God, the Creator of heaven and earth, of man and woman, no people acknowledged the existence of any universal and immutable laws of morality obligatory on all “mankind.”
Now imagine a liberal American college professor saying pluralism goes well with racism!