Feminist Fog in Foggy Bottom
Roberts, Paul Craig, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared last week that "the furtherance of women's rights is a central priority of American foreign policy." This was the same week that Reagan-era defense official Frank Gaffney surveyed the "storm clouds gathering on the horizon" in Iraq, Israel, Russia, China, Bosnia, and Korea and concluded that heavy weather is in store "for U.S. interests around the globe." But the only ominous portent that our secretary of state can divine is "sexism," against which she has declared a world war.
This fatuous elevation of the agenda of radical American feminists to a central priority of U.S. foreign policy is reminiscent of the ideological war communism declared against capitalism, only instead of the capitalist as the villain it is men in general. Nevertheless, "it is our mission," says Mrs. Albright. "It is the right thing to do."
Mrs. Albright's ethnocentrism would once have brought howls of indignation from liberals, who spent the 20th century insisting we should learn to respect and tolerate other cultures and not believe that our values are superior. Anthropologists such as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas were horrified by the idea Western civilization was somehow superior and had a mission to bring its standards to the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling's 1899 poem, "The White Man's Burden," which glorified the British mission of civilizing the heathens of the world was a favorite whipping boy of the cultural relativists.
Similarly, Edward B. Tylor's view of civilization as a spectrum from "European nations at one end of the social series and savage tribes at the other" was assailed for the heinous crime of considering one's culture to be morally superior. Ruth Benedict's book, "Patterns of Culture," published in 1934, declared all standards of behavior to be of equal value and culturally relative. She even praised cannibalism and incest as valid cultural adaptations.
But this was before liberals found their own superior standards to impose on the rest of the world. Once liberal relativism had done its job of destroying traditional Western cultural standards, liberals became more ethnocentric than Kipling. …