By Carter West, Contributor
What happens when a society abandons its founding principles? What happens when members of a society— so fixated on appearing virtuous, morally pure, and being on the ‘right side of history’— cast aside with reckless insouciance the very values, institutions, and fundamental tenets that empowered the society to develop and thrive? In the case of Western culture, it increasingly appears that people in positions of influence and power are seeking to foment an overhaul of the West’s defining characteristics— informed debate, free speech, religious autonomy, and the ability to disagree while maintaining mutual respect for the other’s right to opine— and wholly replace such liberties with a new ideology bereft of nuance, contextualization, realism, or other ‘problematic’ functions of Western liberalism. This ideology, which becomes increasingly totalitarian by the hour, is commonly known as Progressivism.
Western society has abandoned the notion that we have a Creator. To profess biblical values in the public sphere is to invite scorn, mockery, and degradation from academia and figures of cultural influence. With this abandonment comes abandonment of our sense of purpose, which Christians believe is endowed to them by God. In the West, this divine sense of purpose has been replaced by what pundits and activists condescend our sense of drive should actually be— sworn allegiance, both unquestioning and absolute, to the pursuit of ‘justice’. Many self-described Progressives seem to be decent people who genuinely believe they are fighting a righteous and worthy fight; however, Western society has forsaken religion, strong families, independent thought, and other central values of free societies that historically, have always held eminence over political ideology. The personal void created by the stigmatization of said values has propelled many to pursue ‘justice’ with an unprecedented and unremitting degree of intensity that far exceeds a mere set of political beliefs. Increasingly it appears Progressivism has become an all-encompassing way of life for adherents and activists with a rooted duty to proselytize non-believers and extirpate blasphemers and deniers. To pursue anything less, in the Progressive’s mind, is to abdicate their divine responsibility.
Indeed, Progressivism has seemingly compounded from a set of political preferences to a socio-cultural, economic, personal, political, pseudo-religious life ideology that is centered in the veritably cynical notion that the Progressive way of life is both morally superior and ideologically auspicious to creating a diverse and fair society. Strength and independence is reviled while victimhood is glamorized. To repudiate this sanctimonious notion is to attack the very character of the Progressive. In fact, the mere critical analysis of Progressivism can, in itself, be sufficient to be labeled ‘hateful’, ‘ignorant’, or my personal favorite, a ‘bigot’. I find the ease with which Progressives spew invective unfortunate, because those words used to have meaning. They used to be reserved for people who were truly hateful and bigoted, and instead are now bombarded at individuals who, before swearing absolute and unquestioning allegiance to Progressive ideology, merely commit the ThoughtCrime of critically analyzing a set of beliefs in an increasingly complex world that requires extreme nuance in order to hold informed viewpoints.
I have invested considerable time in studying different global religions: their philosophies, sacred texts, leaders throughout history, and contemporary statuses in the world. The religion I have studied most acutely is Islam, which is patently misunderstood by the majority of Westerners. Contrary to Christianity, which is centered in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Islam has many requisites and customs which must be observed in order to be labeled a devout Muslim. One of these requisites is adherence to sharia, which means ‘the way’ in Arabic; colloquially, it effectively means ‘way of life’. According to Islamic sacred texts, namely the Qur’an, Sunna, and Hadith, followers of Muhammad must live in direct accordance with Sharia Law, which is intended to govern all aspects of Muslim life. Sharia regulates all facets of human action, dividing them into five categories: obligatory, recommended, permitted, disliked, and forbidden. Essentially, Sharia is the guidelines by which all correctly practicing Muslims are expected to live their life by. This leads me to the main point of this composition.
Progressivism is increasingly becoming an all-encompassing ideology by which all ‘virtuous’ people are expected to live by. A startling number of people in Western culture appear to find their entire identity and sense of self in the fact that they are a ‘progressive’ individual, which I believe is a result of the eradication of our institutions and values I discuss at the beginning of this essay. Conversely, the notion of subscribing to a belief system other than Progressivism appears to be becoming virtually unacceptable to the self-described vanguard of morality. In many ways, I believe contemporary Western Progressivism is taking a mold tantamount to the structure of Sharia Law— totalized instruction to live a correct and honorable life, with little elasticity or flexibility for those who choose a lifestyle alternative to this perceived right way of living, along with the belief that those living outside the belief system are living immorally and must be converted. Allow me to elaborate on this theory.
An essential commonality of Progressivism and Sharia is their lack of geographic consistency and continuity; different Islamic jurisprudences interpret Sharia in varying ways. For example, the Iranian, Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates governments operate under absolute Sharia, in both criminal and personal proceedings. Virtually every single occurrence involving legal courts are judged from the lens of Sharia. Contrast this with nations like Jordan or Djibouti, which have both Sharia-based and civil courts. And even still, nations with Sharia-based legal systems employ different interpretations of Sharia according to their respective scholars interpretations of historical Islamic law and holy texts. Pursuantly, the extent to which Progressivism permeates society varies from region to region in Western cultures. For instance, there are some regions and fields of employment where if I plainly stated “I believe there are biological sex differences between men and women.” I would be allowed to continue about my day without consequence. However, there are other places where if I made such an assertion, activists, academics, and other Progressives would label me hateful, bigoted, transphobic, and a science-denier. These activists could go as far as contacting my employer demanding I be fired, disseminating my personal information (address, school, workplace, social media accounts, etc..) on the internet, or even physically confronting me in a collective effort to silence my divergent viewpoint and take every measure to ensure I am personally discredited, or at least intimidated to the point where I dare never make such a declaration again. Progressivism does not have set stances on very many issues, so reactions to controversy usually vary based on the region it occurs in.
Furthermore, consider the consequences of blasphemy. In the Muslim faith, blasphemy is considered commensurate to outright apostasy. To criticize or question the faith is the same as outright rejecting it. Punishment for blasphemy can include imprisonment, loss of all legal rights, corporal punishment like stoning or dismemberment, and in extreme cases, death. In defense of these extreme measures, Muslims reason that there is no other suitable way to properly redress such an egregious act of disrespect towards Allah and the prophet Muhammad or a Sharia-centered existence. Compare this to Progressive blasphemy. There is a chilling trend in Progressivism of seeking to entirely ruin someone’s life if they make an assertion a Progressive disagrees with or takes offense to. To question Progressivism is to question the entirety of some individuals character, existence, and way of life, and is met with aggression, mob attacks, and public calls for unpersoning. Progressive activists frequently petition Twitter and Facebook to de-platform individuals with whom they disagree, even if the person in question has in no way espoused anything even conceivably hateful, bigoted, or prejudiced. The sheer act of critically reflecting on Progressive ideology, in the mind of many Progressives, is to promulgate hatred and bigotry. In my opinion, this is the most dangerous aspect of Progressivism: the glaringly hypocritical notion that a group of people who preach tolerance, acceptance, and inclusivity believe measures of such extremity are appropriate to silence individuals with alternative views. Many prominent Progressive activists and celebrities ‘jokingly’ call for blasphemers to be assaulted, killed, or forfeit their legal rights in lieu of questioning Progressivism— some not jokingly at all— for questioning the Progressive way of life has become impermissible.
I am not suggesting that Progressives seek to carry out the violence and bloodshed that Sharia Law has wrought throughout history, and continues to inflict today. I am simply identifying and explicating commonalities between a doctrinal set of socio-religious guidelines for living correctly and in observance to the faith, and a political ideology that is increasingly becoming an entire way of life.