Just about anyone who sets out to defend Western civilization will be criticized and vilified. Jonah Goldberg wrote about Western civilization in his book, the Suicide of the West. Ben Shapiro has recently written about The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great.
In a future commentary, I plan to discuss Shapiro’s book but for now will merely look at two incidents that prove my point. First, when his book came out, the Economist magazine smeared Ben Shapiro by calling him a member of the alt-right. This is crazy. He is an orthodox Jew who frequently has criticized the alt-right. The magazine did apologize.
Second, he was criticized for a tweet that lamented the collapse of the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral because he referred to it as a “magnificent monument to Western civilization.” His follow-up tweet even acknowledged that it was “built on the Judeo-Christian heritage.” A Washington Post article included his tweet alongside various conspiracy theorists and Richard Spencer (the man who coined the term “alt-right”).
The trouble with all this criticism of Western civilization is that it is coming from people who enjoy the fruits of the West but may not even recognize it. Jonah Goldberg uses an illustration that I found helpful.
Imagine a party platform that had these planks: support for human rights, belief in the rule of the law, dedication to democracy, free speech, freedom of conscience, admiration of the scientific method, property rights, and tolerance of technological and/or cultural innovation.
He argues that 90 percent of the people who criticize the defenders of Western civilization actually believe these things. They just don’t see the connection. That’s why we need to help them connect the dots.