John Rhys-Davies: Anti-Idiotarian

Glenn Reynolds notes that John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) demonstrates a great understanding of the reasons for the war on terrorism. A quote from Mr. Rhys-Davies:

The fact that a minister of the French government has to fly to Cairo to talk with one of the religious heads in one of the mosques to get his approval for a ban on headscarves can be seen in two ways

One, is how wonderfully culturally sensitive. The other, it seems to give an authority to a wholly unelected figure well outside Europe’s jurisdiction…

When we are prepared to overlook certain things because we don’t want to rock the boat, this is wrong.

The greatest act of racism is to expect that other people will not behave according to your values and standards…

I do not want to see a society where, should I ever have any, my granddaughters have their fingernails pulled out because they are wearing nail varnish.

Rhys-Davies is quite correct, there’s a less than subtle racism involved in saying that it is remotely acceptable for people to violate all standards of human rights simply because of their cultural background. If one cannot support a basic standard of human rights that is universal and innate, the entire concept of human rights becomes irrelevant. The "liberal" notion of cultural relativism is in fact profoundly anti-liberal. Liberalism is based on the idea that all individuals are innately endowed with certain inalienable rights (as written in one of the most classically liberal documents ever – the Declaration of Independence which itself stems from the classical liberal philosopher John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government), and those rights exist irregardless of one’s culture, location, or creed.

To argue that suicide bombing, oppression of women, and totalitarianism is morally acceptable because the people doing it happen to be Arab is simply unacceptable. To place greater blame on the West for defending itself than on the people who engage in brutal and inhumane behavior is also morally unjustifable.

Rhys-Davies is one of the few celebrities who understands this, and he’s clearly learned from the message of Tolkein’s work. Such understanding is all too rare, especially in Hollywood where kneejerk pacifism is the state religion.

UPDATE: Mitch Berg notes that Rhys-Davies cluefulness dates back to his childhood in colonial Africa

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