was a huge, grinning photograph of the president of the United
in Egypt and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, "working mom"
Karen Hughes was visiting the Middle East for the first time in
her life, telling Muslim women that she knew what they really
wanted to be were soccer moms working for the leader of their
country and getting million-dollar book advances to write about
it. For some reason those ladies, hand-picked for their pro-American
inclinations, were not buying it. My favorite was the physician
in Saudi Arabia who responded to Hughes' declaration that she
knew the Saudi ladies really wanted driver's licenses like hers
from Texas, by saying she ran her own hospital and hired a man
to drive her around.
History has not ended, no matter what Americans write about the
triumph of democracy and market capitalism. Globalization, the
idea that we are all nothing but consumers of electronics and
entertaining ideas, is not the big issue or trend of our times.
The big issue is diversity, the question of how very different
people co-exist with each other as they come together in more
complicated societies. Sunni and Shia Muslims and Kurds finding
some way to co-exist in mission-accomplished Iraq is a relatively
simple problem compared to many others around the world.
In its own
way, Great Britain, junior partner in the Western effort to Americanize
Iraq, is a far more diverse society, dangerously diverse, than
the Arab country we invaded in post-Crusader ignorance those many
months ago. One of the most talked-about plays in London this
season is "Playing With Fire" by David Edgar at the
National Theater. It is like one long city council meeting in
a northern industrial town where the industry has gone and been
replaced by little more than Pakistanis looking for a better life
in the Christian world without giving up the family values and
other virtues of Islam.
Politically correct Labour Party officials arrive with plans,
money and power to force and encourage multicultural diversity
among natural adversaries fighting over the spoils of a declining
local society. There are nice touches in the town, council ordinances
printed in Urdu, a red-white-and-blue, cowboy-hatted Pakistani
drummer in a British country-and-western band.
of all this enforced goodwill, on stage, is fire, riot and murder.
In real life, a conservative think tank, Civitas, has blamed London's
recent terrorism bombings on "hard" multiculturalism
cry the beloved country, is not only one of the most diverse countries
around, with 11 official languages and a stark history of repression
of diversity, it is also now perhaps the most politically correct.
The press adviser to the mayor of Cape Town, a black man, was
fired last week for saying blacks were "culturally superior"
to "coloureds," citizens of mixed race.
None of this
is really new. Long before apartheid separated blacks out of South
African society, there were such measures as forbidding the speaking
of French in churches in the 19th century because the good Dutch
pioneers of the Dutch Reformed Church (the church I grew up in)
welcomed French Protestants (Huguenots), but worried that would
bring separatism if they were allowed to practice their old ways.
of old ways and new is what often divides different kinds of human
beings -- and there is never easy assimilation. That is the issue,
that is what our leaders were too ignorant to understand when
they went to war one more time to make all people alike.