At a recent conference in London on anti-Semitism, organized by the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, some attendees were disturbed by Manfred Gerstenfeld’s remarks on the hierarchy of cultures. He stated that contemporary Muslim culture is inferior to Western democratic culture by the standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some attendees walked out of the lecture.
At its end Dr. Gerstenfeld received enthusiastic applause and tens of people came over to compliment him. Several remarked that the time had come that these things were said clearly in the U.K. Some expressed regret that it took a foreigner to say it. Later in the day Dr. Gerstenfeld received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal. I have asked him to elaborate on why it is important that there is a hierarchization of cultures. Here is his answer:
The claim that there is no hierarchy of cultures is absurd. If all cultures at a given time in history are equal, then Nazi culture in the mid-twentieth century was equal to the democratic culture of the allied countries. The consequences of accepting this point are for instance the indirect support of genocide. Murdering six million Jews in the Holocaust fit German culture at the time. And if Nazi culture was equivalent to that of the Western democratic countries, then there was nothing reprehensible about the genocide they committed.
The idea that Nazi culture was equivalent to democratic culture at the time would also be further encouragement for the current Iranian leadership. Why would their culture, which promotes the genocide of Jews in Israel, be inferior to that of Western democracies, or Israel? Why would Palestinian culture in Gaza or even in general be inferior to Western democratic culture? Hamas reflects Palestinian culture. It received more than half of all Palestinian votes in the last elections. Hamas claims in its charter that all Jews should be annihilated. For those who think that there is no hierarchy of cultures, this concept should be quite acceptable in that environment. One should thus pull the masks off those who claim that all cultures are equal and expose them as aiding and abetting genocide advocates.
Another consequence of the claim that all cultures are equal is that there is no need in the world of Islam to examine the atrocities of the Holocaust. This is something which Western democratic countries should do. Holocaust deniers should concentrate their lying acts in Western democracies which abhor this genocide. But why should there be Holocaust deniers in the Muslim world. As the logical consequence of the promotion of “all cultures are equal” is that one can claim in the Muslim world that there is nothing inherently wrong with the Holocaust why then deny that it took place?
One might add that during the Second World War, the culture of occupied Europe, dominated by the Germans and their many collaborators, was inferior to the culture of the Muslim world at that time. Atrocities and discrimination there were far less than those in the then dominant culture of Europe.
In London, I said that some cultures are inferior to others. I quoted former Dutch Liberal party leader, Defense Minister and EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, who had said this about civilizations. In an interview I conducted with him, he said – and this can be found on the internet – that, “Judged by the standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the dominant civilization of Europe at present is superior to Islamic civilization. All civilization is based on making judgments. I believe that the civilization of Rome was superior to that of Gaul. I also consider Unionist America superior to the slaveholder Confederacy, and democratic postwar West Germany superior to communist East Germany.”1
Bolkestein added: “Why do so many Muslims who live in the Middle East want to settle in the West? Mainly because they think they will be happier here than where they are now. One might interpret what they say as ‘Yankee go home, but please take me with you.’ The blindness of the multi-culturalist ideologists does not enable them to see this.” Bolkestein had already made similar statements in the early 1990’s.
Why does the issue of hierarchy of cultures have to be addressed? One among several answers is that it is an essential element in understanding the huge problems which segments of the Muslim world cause humanity at large. At the London conference, I dealt with some of these and the pressing need to analyze the disproportionately large anti-Semitism among Muslim populations in Europe.
The more the topic of the hierarchization of culture is discussed, the more difficult it will become for those who don’t want to be judgmental – which in itself is a sign of decadence – to deny the inferiority of contemporary Mulsim culture compared to Western democratic culture. At the same time however, one must stress that living or belonging to an inferior culture does not make people inferior. That is in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.