Can we all not agree that the Left's favorite virtue is "tolerance"? Then why all the fuss about the Iraqis' culture- and religious-based decision not to accord women the exact degree of rights they enjoy in America? Shouldn't we be tolerant of their cultural decision? Who are we to judge? Who are we to superimpose our values on them?
I'm being partially facetious here to make a larger point. Of course it's noble for Westerners to root and lobby for women's rights in the new Iraqi republican government. But it's also important that we don't cram all our preferences down their constitutional throat.
As we know from distant and recent history, freedom-guaranteeing constitutions are worthless unless they reflect the realities of the people they are designed to govern. The Iraqi Constitution, to have any hope of meaningfulness and success, must be written to accommodate Iraqi values -- or perhaps I should say to blend the competing values in an acceptable, workable compromise.
That's why the difficulties the Iraqis are experiencing in reaching a consensus document are heartening rather than discouraging. If the document had been drafted and adopted precipitously in a spirit of pseudo-harmony, with little debate, conflict and compromise, we would have far more reason for skepticism and pessimism.
Do the critics of this process have any idea how difficult was the American experiment in constitutional drafting and governance? Do they realize that even we didn't get it right the first time, having as our first (and failed) stab at constitutional expression the Articles of Confederation?
Have they forgotten the intense opposition to the Constitution led by the Antifederalists? Or that the Bill of Rights, which some consider the very essence of the Constitution, was added later over much objection?
Some doubters scoff at the idea of a republican constitution for an Islamic people whose culture and traditions may not lend themselves to political liberty and self-rule.
I admit having some concerns about the suitability of such a constitution, given Islam's ostensibly theocratic tilt. But on balance, I'm optimistic. The proposed Iraqi constitution falls way short of creating an Islamic theocracy and expressly forbids sectarianism. But, realistically, how can we expect the Iraqi framers to write Islam out of the Constitution altogether?