Liberal Modernist Inconsistencies

Is form important? For example, should a person have to stick to a gender, be a man or a woman based on a traditional binary? Should marriage be strictly opposite-sex? Should people take gender roles seriously?

Modern liberalism emphatically says no. All these things are artificial constructions imposed by obsolete traditions, and if they do not align with how people *feel* and their internal, psychological state, then they can and should be discarded. They are, after all, just forms and structures that have no practical purpose/function and, hence, the only reason to abide by them is to maintain tradition. That’s not a good enough reason, especially if people’s all-important feelings are at stake. For example, sometimes a “man” feels like a woman and wants to get surgery to physically look like “he” feels. If that makes tradionalists feel icky, so be it! (That’s how the opposition’s feelings are characterized and diminished, i.e., as “ickiness.”)

So much is wrong with this reasoning. For example, who’s feelings are important here? When traditional social norms are broken, it wreaks havoc on families, communities, institutions, etc. If violating taboos were just about vindication of feelings, why aren’t everyone’s feelings taken to account?

Besides this, who gets to decide what is or is not practical? From a modernist perspective, taboos against premarital sex are considered purely traditional, without practical purpose, i.e., only prudes have something against fornication. But there is a ton of practical import and prevention of harm that underlies this sexual norm, as Muslim scholars past and present have enumerated at length.

But, let’s assume that, say, traditional gender roles really don’t have any practical function that we can identify. Fine. But modern liberalism is just as concerned with these kinds of forms as any other religion or tradition.

Consider the insistence on gender representation. Canada’s PM Trudeau insists that half his cabinet be women. Why? For the sake of argument, what if the most qualified people for the positions were predominantly men? Should Trudeau overlook the most functional, practical selection of cabinet members for the sake of maintaining the form of literal equality between the sexes, 50/50?

Or how about this insistence that all speaker panels have some female representation? I’ve already said that in certain cases, it is important to have more female representation and that the Muslim community needs to find ways to encourage women’s leadership without necessarily sacrificing other norms. But, isn’t this absolute insistence that all panels have a certain make-up very symbolic and form- rather than function-centric? Do all-male panels make them feel icky, I wonder?

Or even consider gay marriage. At one point it was suggested that civil unions provide all the public benefits of marriage so that same sex couples could get those benefits without having to radically redefine marriage. But most gay rights activists rejected that suggestion. What is important is the symbolic import of marriage beyond purely practical considerations. What is most ironic are the gay Muslim couples that insist on having a “gay nikah.” On the one hand, they reject every symbolic and functional aspect of Islamic law that says that same sex behavior is an abomination. But on the other hand, they want the symbolic license afforded by a nikah!

Or how about the “progressive” criticism against Muslim congregational prayer, that the men stand in front of women and the imam can only be a man. There is no functional difference of course. Prayer is a ritual, what difference does it make if men are in front of women? This is how the Prophet (s) did it and there’s no functional reason to change that, only a symbolic reason that liberals insist on.

Or how about the insistence that the impersonal pronoun “she” be used as much as “he” or another gender neutral pronoun like “xe” be used. Is there a functional impact to the meaning an author is trying to convey if he insists on using “he”? No, but it’s the principle of the matter! insists the liberal activist. I guess not seeing the right proportion of pronouns make these feminists feel icky all over!

So many examples can be given but the point is that liberalism is equally if not more concerned with symbols and form as tradionalists. But these hypocrites insist otherwise and try to portray themselves as super rational progressives transcending the taboos and biases of the old guard. Stop embarrassing yourselves.