Bioethicist Art Caplan has written a righteous post decrying the “silence” of the world to the outrage of N. Pakistan banning polio vaccination of its children. From, “Where is Outrage Over Pakistan Polio Vaccine Ban?”:
By deciding to hide behind babies as a way to fight drones, Bahadur has chosen a strategy that is cruel, immoral and highly unlikely to have any effect on the use of drones. His action ought to bring loud moral condemnation upon him from all quarters of the globe. So, where are world’s major religious and political voices united in loud condemnation of the crass act of targeting the helpless children of Pakistan and Afghanistan with polio?
Caplan is right about the great silence. It is outrageous. Good on him for speaking out.
I suspect there are several reasons for the lack of criticism. Many people in the West simply don’t care much what happens to the destitute in developing areas of the world. Those places are just too remote, their cultures too unfamiliar. Look at our winking at unethical bioethical practices such as China’s one child policy and the widespread indifference to biological colonialist practices, e.g., organ buying and womb renting. (The strong reaction against female genital mutiliation is a welcome exception to this general rule.)
I also think people are very afraid to speak out as Caplan desires. Radical Islamists kill dissenters. Moreover, speaking out against Islamic actions can lead to charges of bigotry.
But I think anti-Christianity is also to blame. Huh? Explain yourself Smith! Okay, I will: If a Christian region engaged in such an inhumane practice, the screaming would not end. The New York Times would lead a campaign calling for sanctions and diplomatic shunning. Indeed, that is what precisely happened when Uganda was seriously considered passing outrageous legislation to severely, even lethally, punish homosexual activity. There was no great silence there.
So, why the proper screaming about Uganda, and the chirping crickets about Pakistan? The former was Christian and the latter Muslim.
Now, let me dig myself an even deeper hole: I believe that many among Western Elites—and those who walk on the liberal side of the political street—don’t care viscerally about Muslim (and other non Judeo/Christian religions’ or atheistic nations’) wrongdoing. Their primary animus is toward conservative or orthodox Christianity, their goal to destroy whatever influence that belief retains over the public policies and the moral values of the West. That is why equal, and even far lesser sins of Christians evoke far more outrage among the NYT crowd than do greater sins committed by believers of other faiths and secular ideologies. That is why some are angrier at the Catholic Church’s fight against the Free Birth Control Rule as it applies to its Institutions than they are the deadly polio vaccine ban.
We all practice selective outrage. But with society quickly moving from post to anti Christianity, we shouldn’t be surprised that the real and perceived wrongs of Christianity spark the most intense public condemnations.