Mona Charen

Lillian explains: "I know what they mean. They want me to do what so many girls do and get a sugar daddy. You give him what he wants, and he gives you what you want." Another girl puts it this way: "Some of us are orphans. We are barely getting by. If someone comes along and says he'll buy you soap, you might try it. He gives you 1,000 shillings (about 50 cents), and you hope next time he'll give you 2,000."

To say that Western culture is superior is not to say that any particular person living in the West is superior to any person living elsewhere. That would be ridiculous. But it is equally ridiculous to deny that the moral standards, customs and beliefs of the West contribute to fairer and far more humane societies than are found elsewhere.

We are now engaged in a mission to remake the Middle East -- to introduce democracy, the rule of law and religious pluralism. But as we undertake this task, which would be extremely difficult under the best of circumstances, we are hampered by the fact that a sizeable minority of our own people does not believe at all that our way is better. They, in fact, regard the very suggestion as obscene. Any shortcomings of more primitive societies, when they are acknowledged at all, are blamed on others, usually on us.

Feminists who are quick to file lawsuits for even the smallest slight in this country are strangely reluctant to make common cause with women in nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Why? Is it because championing those women would imply that Western society -- which feminists have so long derided as sexist -- is far better than any others when it comes to the treatment of women?

Is it really arrogance, as the liberals would have it, to believe that the system and the culture we've inherited is superior to others? Or is it ingratitude to deny it?

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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