Victor Davis Hanson

What about the Sultan of Brunei, who just enacted Sharia law that orders stoning for women found "guilty" of adultery or for homosexuals engaged in sex acts? That is a different sort of war on women than that invoked by Sandra Fluke, who lamented that she did not have free birth control from the government.

In response, an outraged Hollywood elite is boycotting the Sultan-owned landmark Beverly Hills Hotel -- as if that will bother the multibillionaire Sultan rather than his minimum-wage Los Angeles employees.

Americans have become touchy about the reciting of prayers in public places. So what do we think of Saudi Arabia, which just ordered 1,000 lashes for an activist who was deemed to have insulted Islam?

The truth is that much of the world never left the 19th century and is not too worried that it hasn't. We have forgotten that racism, slave trading, lashings and stoning are not that rare on our planet.

We should not confuse material progress with moral advancement. Just because Boko Haram members have cell phones and AK-47s does not mean that they have evolved much from their predecessors' days of whips and chains. And just because the Sultan of Brunei flies in private jets does mean that his worldview is any different from that of his forefathers who on horseback enforced the same Sharia law.

We should also reset our notion of multiculturalism. That is the popular campus fad that postulates all cultures are roughly equal and just different from one another -- as opposed to any one either being better or worse. Left unspoken is the universal standard by which we judge as evil the enslaving, stoning or whipping of the innocent. That moral belief system is Western to the core.

From Greece to Jerusalem to Rome to the Enlightenment to the Founding Fathers slowly grew a standard of human rights that could be applied to anyone, regardless of race, creed or color. But that is still not how most of the non-Western world works today.

The U.N. just appointed theocratic Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, even though Iranian women are stoned for committing adultery, and some are punished for being rape victims.

As good multiculturalists, should we say, "Who are we to judge either the U.N. or Iran?" Or should we tweet out that soon-to-be-nuclear Iran better leave the 19th century -- or else?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.