The Therapy Sessions
Monday, June 30, 2003
Dinesh D'Sousza. Why I'm an Anti-Anti-American:
America, the freest nation on Earth, is also the most virtuous nation on Earth. This point seems counterintuitive, given the amount of conspicuous vulgarity, vice and immorality in America. Some Islamic fundamentalists argue that their regimes are morally superior to the United States because they seek to foster virtue among the citizens. Virtue, these fundamentalists argue, is a higher principle than liberty.
Indeed it is.
And let us admit that in a free society, freedom will frequently be used badly.
Freedom, by definition, includes the freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives desire our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option. Even amid the temptations of a rich and free society, they have remained on the straight path. Their virtue has special luster because it is freely chosen.
By contrast, the societies that many Islamic fundamentalists seek would eliminate the possibility of virtue. If the supply of virtue is insufficient in a free society like America, it is almost nonexistent in an unfree society like Iran's. The reason is that coerced virtues are not virtues at all. Consider the woman who is required to wear a veil. There is no modesty in this, because she is being compelled. Compulsion cannot produce virtue, it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue. Thus a free society like America's is not merely more prosperous, more varied, more peaceful, and more tolerant -- it is also morally superior to the theocratic and authoritarian regimes that America's enemies advocate.