Jon Sanders

To his credit, Nir Rosen has expressed shame and apologized for his callous jokes on Twitter about CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan's sexual assault by an Egyptian mob. This column is not to pile on those comments by the Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, and New York Magazine contributor and (former) New York University Center on Law and Security fellow.

Instead, it is to point out that Rosen, in the course of apologizing, still clings to what many leftists believe in contrast to American exceptionalism. In the flaccid vision of multiculturalism, it is the notion that all cultures are equally valid. Essentially it serves the purpose of granting a leftist license to recognize something odious in another culture, so long as he balances it with a declaration that something in the United States, the bête noire of multiculturalism, is just as bad. Some have also called it "moral equivalence," but it is more accurately termed immoral equivalence.

Rosen's retreat into immoral equivalence took this form, in his interview with Betsy Rothstein of FishbowlDC:

I need to state that my views on women’s rights have always been quite radical (in defense of women). Moreover the last eight years of working in the Middle East, parts of Africa and Asia (like Afghanistan) and in Mexico only further outraged me, because I have seen first hand how brutally women are treated there. And we are only a little bit better in the West. The status of women in the United States is also deplorable. ...

Pardon me, but the status of women is more than "a little bit better in the West" and the United States. For example, rape is a crime here -- for the rapists. Our people and our law both consider the victim of the act of rape to be the woman raped, not the pious men supposedly driven to an animalistic sexual frenzy by the mere sight of a less-than-totally-covered female. Nor is the woman here sentenced to a hideous death post-rape for bringing dishonor to her family as an adulteress.

The immoral-equivalence device fails especially concerning the relative climate for women. Where would you rather have a daughter, assuming you would view her in the Western way, as a cherished member of the family and not chattel? A favorite tactic of drawing immoral equivalence is to conflate illegal crimes against women in the U.S. with legal practices in Africa and the Middle East -- the pretense that, e.g., honor killings are all the same with date rapes.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.