My children will read this, I always tell myself before I get going. And it has made me seem very nice and careful and thoughtful. Which I suppose means that I am actually becoming more nice and careful and thoughtful. Doing a thing makes you a representative of those things, so there we are. And I have put down some beautiful pieces that will no doubt embarrass them first, then make them proud years later. But as a Father of Children, you also must give them a way to understand how to think very seriously about things. Lileks begins a post by helping his daughter iron a label on a shirt, and ends it by worrying over the irresponsibility of the Great Western Need to Empathize without demand for merit.
It is a unique product of comfort and freedom, and of almost absolute safety. There is no other way to reconcile, in the same mind, the ideas that Islam is not a threat to America, but the owner of some chicken shack is. You notice that Islam, besotted as it is by intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and homicide, spends exactly zero energy worrying over identifying with the nobler intentions of Western tradition. But the nobler intentions of Western tradition are self-evident. Even laughably so, when they are put mistakenly into use by our intellectuals, who find it particularly self-gratifying to imagine the same in others, in spite of all the evidence. You would need to be the sort of person who believes every thief a Robin Hood, greeting burglars by handing them your jewels, then shooting the police who show up to investigate, if you are to swap the position of Islam and Israel on the Map of Morality. It is a simple insanity.
And to ignore the discussion of this would be a bad way to parent, indeed.
The progressive tendency to claim compassion in these matters is slapstick ethics, too. It is not compassionate to pardon an unrepentant murderer. It is not compassionate to excuse a faith whose dogma is pogrom. It is too dishonest, and there is no compassion where dishonesty exists. It is foolhardy. The only thing that keeps it just this side of suicidal is our tether to safety. They still can’t really get to us. One 9/11 every hundred years or so, one ambassador murdered over a movie, is good enough to make simple minds believe it rational to espouse a certain trust in the ability of human nature to be universal, and that it be ultimately good.
The world and its history beg to differ.
This also requires that you choose, rather imperiously, the items to which you will pay attention. No cursory study of the world’s religions over the last hundred years can lead a rational person to believe that Islam ought to be accommodated, while Christianity should be feared. But that is still the conversation, time and again, in the West.
The head swims. As I said at the top: Doing a thing makes you a representative of those things. I am not too keen on sharing a civilization with people willing to separate a man from his murders, or a faith from its heresy. Doing that thing, doing that separating, makes a person representative of a fundamental dishonesty from which no parent can afford to leave his children unprotected. Mine are still far too young for this, of course, and I’m a bit more concerned with teaching my boy not to lick the light sockets than I am with showing him how to be aware of the transparent hypocrisy of the intellectual elite. But my children will read this, don’t we know. So the wax gets etched, the table turns, and the needle slowly lowers.