The situation in Afghanistan has highlighted something of a dilemma for the liberal left - a group I would usually consider myself a part of.
We don’t like to judge other cultures. We don’t want to end up sounding like Silvio Berlusconi claiming cultural superiority.
Normally, this is a pretty good way to keep a balanced viewpoint. But in the case of the Taliban, it falls flat on its face.
This article in Reason magazine highlights the point perfectly:
"For the multicultural left, it is heresy to say that one culture is superior to another (Western culture to non-Western cultures in particular). But anyone concerned with gender equality has to acknowledge that at least in this respect, the West, for all its problems, holds the moral high ground. "
I’m glad that the situation for women in Afghanistan is being highlighted. It’s depressing that it took such an extreme turn of events to focus the world’s attention on the Taliban.
Some people have been paying attention for some time, though. Jessica faced up to the dilemma in March 2000:
"There are aspects of some cultures and societies that I don’t really understand and that, from my somewhat feminist American point of view, seem oppressive to me. But I don’t have the right to impose my views of the world on other people, and if people are happy with their lives and no one is getting hurt, then I think "live and let live".
There is a difference, however, between practices I may find personally oppressive and practices that I think are universally inhumane. It’s an entirely subjective difference, I know - one person’s tradition is another person’s torture - but it’s there nonetheless, and I can’t help but let my conscience be ruled by it. There are certain things that should be considered Wrong no matter where you’re from."