Monday, November 19, 2012

Culture, Sex, and Foreign Affairs

I have one question and two answers: Why do we suddenly know so much about a sex scandal and almost nothing at all about the foreign policy disasters of Benghazi and Fast and Furious?

It is a provocative question, but I do think there are (at least) two fairly clear and simple answers which help us understand some of the culture shift around us.  First of all we are a sex-obsessed culture.  Sex scandals make more sense to us than the complexities of foreign policy.  We watch these kinds of tawdry affairs unfold in fiction and 'reality' TV every day of our lives, so we easily and quickly grasp who did what to whom.  In addition, there is not much difference between what is called the Mainstream Media and TV entertainment.  They are two different heads of the same creature.  The MSM has a cultural point of view to promote and a juicy sex scandal involving high ranking military personnel fits right in.  On the other hand it takes time and intellectual effort to reflect upon and absorb the details of who was in Lybia, what they were doing, what kind of help they asked for and were denied, who was involved in the attacks, and who bears responsibility.  It only takes a couple of brain cells to imagine an affair.

The second answer is that our prevailing philosophy of foreign policy, both in the current administration and in pop culture, is cultural relativism.  Cultural relativism is a horrible basis for a foreign policy, but it is where we are nonetheless.  For possibly two generations now the predominant educational point of view on other cultures has been officially labeled "multiculturalism" but is in effect a raw and reactionary belief that no culture is morally better or worse than another.  In fact, the only moral transgression this pop foreign policy recognizes is the denigration another culture.  As a result, our administration is loath to call murderous aggression what it is, and our culture would violently revolt if it did.  In the place of genuine moral reflection and even outrage, we have the pablum of pop culture and cultural relativism.

The sex scandal is terrible news for a lot of people, especially for the family directly involved.  Adultery destroys families, friendships, and trust and should never be taken lightly.  But the foreign affair bungles in the last few months have cost lives, require public deceit, are morally deplorable, and are (most likely) impeachable offenses.  Nevertheless, it seems we would rather suck on the lollipop of an affair than tear into the red meat of genuine public offenses.

No comments: