7 6 mins 15 yrs

Given that today is St. Valentine’s Day, and given that it’s typically given over to shows of affection to one’s beloved, I thought it’d be interesting to take a brief look at the diversity of love expressions. Here at ATW we have, for the most part consistently, taken a definite line on the alien nature and inherent problem of the Islamic mindset against the Christian mindset (though some people appear to have trouble telling the two apart) and the preference for the Christian mindset over and above mohammedanism and the cultural liberalism that allows it a creeping victory. With this in mind, I’d like to present some exerpts from recent articles I found by way of the ever-excellent Jewish World Review (and its sister publication, Political Mavens) looking at the St Valentine’s phenomenon and the related issue of love and its expression under the differing worldviews.
 
The first article, published by Diana West on the 12th of this month,  discusses briefly the difference between the Western method of reverence for women (‘putting them on a pedestal’, as she puts it) and the Islamic idea of hiding and forcibly subjugating women. West writes that:

"Valentine’s Day, now driven as much by Hallmark [huge greeting card company] as by the shadow of the pedestal, follows from a societal ideal deriving from the chivalric code — a signal influence on Western civilization — which celebrated women for nobility and strength of character.

Such origins, however remote in a post-feminist world, put the holiday in the middle of that clash we read about between the West and Islam. Distinctly non-Islamic (St. Valentine was a Christian martyr from pre-Islamic times), it embodies an old-fashioned salute to La Femme that helps distinguish the West from Islam. Where the West dreamed up the pedestal, Islam bought the burqa. Where the West gave liberty and justice a female face, Islam depicted womanhood as a lowly state of fearful passion. Where in the West sexual equality evolved, in Islam sexual inequality remains."

As anybody who’s read their Arthurian legends (15th C) will know (see particularly the story of Gawain and Dame Ragnelle), this kind of respect and reverence for women is not a product of the Age of Enlightenment (18th C) but an age-old Western (dare I say Christian?) trait.

 

 On the other hand, we have an almost anti-love sentiment from moslem corners, as reported by Walid Phares (author of Future Jihad and The War of Ideas) in his article on St. Valentine’s Day:

" “Al Gharam mamn’uh, al Gharam kufr,” screamed the self-declared cleric in al-Ansar’s chat room this Friday. “Love is forbidden, love is infidel” — said the online fatwa about the “legitimacy of loving and being in love.”

A weekend before Valentine’s Day, jihadist souls were not questioning the “commercialization” of romance, but inquiring about the ban on “being in love.” The “scholars” said human love is evil. The simple feeling of being attracted to or in love with someone is a terrifying sin if it is committed outside of their religious dogma — and it warrants serious punishment."

Disturbing stuff, and not least because as certain as we can be that there are those even here in the (vestigially) free West who seek to blow us up because of a rabid politico-religious ideolody, we can be equally certain that there will be those who agree that ‘love is the enemy’. A strong and perhaps shocking difference to the (largely Christian) ideal of romantic love that we hold and cherish in the West.

Thankfully, though, there is hope. Ms West reports on five brave women coming out from amongst the theocrats of ‘the Islamic world’ speaking out (loudly) against the threats that ‘come out of the founding texts and living traditions of Islam’. These brave women are: Bat Ye’or, author, speaker, and dot-joiner on the Eurabia conspiracy; Nonie Darwish, a convert to Christianity (from mohammedanism) and author of ‘Now they call me Infidel‘; Brigitte Gabriel, Christian survivor of the Lebanese civil war, author of ‘Because They Hate‘ and speaker on the jihadi mindset and agenda; Wafa Sultan, recently brought to light in a an Al Jazeera debate on the ‘clash of civilizations’, citing it as "a clash between civilization and backwardness"; and of course the renowned Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of ‘The Caged Virgin‘, ‘Infidel‘ and ‘Ich Klage An‘ (‘I accuse’).

Added to this, Walid Phares tells us of a growing desire amonst the young in the ‘Islamic world’ for "not decadence, but the early stages of a romantic revolution". This is heartening. One doesn’t need to be immoral or act in stupid and irresponsible ways to be in love, and Dr Phares’ examples are at just that balance. Heroic, reckless, possibly insane, and in love, but not (as far as is known) tainted or sullied by actual immorality.

So there is hope, because there is love. There are clouds in the sky, but they’ll pass too, and when they do, the spirit of St Valentine’s Day, that of the Love and reverance characteristic of real romance, will bloom that much sweeter.

Happy St Valentine’s Day. I hope you enjoy it. 

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7 thoughts on “On St. Valentine’s Day, Some Thoughts On Love and Diversity

  1. Mr. Smith: Very interesting post. I had read about forbidden celebrations of romantic love in Iran but I had not thought in depth about this. I’m afraid I had ascribed this aversion to fun to sort of a random prefernece for no fun. But, in fact, it’s not random at all.

    Valentine’s Day builds on the Western tradition of Romantic love and chivalry so present in English tradition and in fact well detailed in the legend of King Arthur – chivlary, fairness, protection of the weak by the strong – all values which we are fighting to protect against the existential threat posed by the Islamists, who seem to only believe in the adage "might is right."

    Happy Valentines Day, Mr Smith.

  2. Strange that you put reverence for and romantic notions about women, "placing them on a pedestal", etc. on the same side of the divide as equality between the sexes, because if anything these are almost mutually exclusive.

    A person, sex or group assigned a "special" or higher moral position is usually oppressed, and women were never more oppressed in the west than in the days of chivalry and pedestals, etc. Even today, women are most free and play an equal role in society in places where they keep their feet off pedestals and men have a down-to-earth and non-romantic attitude to them.

    Read Bertrand Russell’s essay: "The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed".

  3. Well I have to say that Cunningham makes a very good point here. I hate to say it.

    Moslems truly believe that they respect women. What we see as signs of oppression (which they are, IMO) they describe as a sign of respect for women. The robed replicators are robed to protect them from the prying eyes of other men. They are only allowed in public with a male to protect the woman. It’s all about protection – and I think the moslem women feel that way, too. (We won’t talk about the beatings, maimings and killings and stuff right now…)

    As for pedestals – *I* certainly don’t mind being put on one every once in awhile! Romance shouldn’t be all earthy all of the time. A relationship between lovers shouldn’t be all non-romantic all of the time.

    Are you married, Cunningham? Just curious.

  4. Monica,

    You are totally right about oppression in the Muslim world (and the other stuff too) being a perverse form of "protection", I’m sure even the beatings are often supposed to be "for the woman’s own good", to protect her from the worse bastard around the corner, etc. Basically, it’s all due to ignorance, fear of loss and sexual insecurity.
    This was also a feature of western "culture" in the distant past, especially at the time of Chivalry.
    Conversely, in places like Sweden, for example, where women make up almost half the working population (and almost half the members of parliament), the relationship between the sexes is one of equals, and pedestals are scorned. See

    http://www.sweden.se/templates/cs/BasicFactsheet____4123.aspx

    I am married, BTW. I’m also an incurable romantic towards women, I’m afraid.

    Notme
    >>Do you think women and men are different?<<

    Yes, of course.

    >>if so, how?<<

    Well,… (blushing)..

  5. Interesting that you put the word ‘culture’ of ‘Western Culture’ in quotation marks there, Cunningham. What’s that all about?

    As to Sweden, if you don’t mind, I’ll take Fjordman over you as an expert on that one.

  6. I think I read that poor St. Valentine may be one of those Saints whose been demoted. If so, too bad, I like the cards and it is nice to have such a day in gloomy February.

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