An extraordinary moment took place before the British Parliament during the 1787 impeachment hearing of Warren Hastings. In prosecution Edmund Burke defended universal human rights while the eyes of the Queen, and all the nation watched.
Edmund Burke is a founder of modern political conservatism. A prominent Whig, Burke had previously defended the arguments of the break away American colonists and in a few short years would reach new heights of fame in his condemnation of the French Revolution. In 1787 he was leveling charges against the General-Governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings.
Hastings and his East India Company were exerting British rule in India. Mildly put, his regime was oppressive. India was being harvested for its resources. Burke charged Hastings with abuses ranging from torture to extortion. Hastings made what may be an expected defense for the 18th century. Hastings argued that it was wrong to judge actions in India by the standards of enlightened Europe.
Burke’s language should still be taught in schools.
“This geographical morality we do protest against.
Mr. Hastings shall not screen himself under it; and on this point I hope and trust many words will not be necessary to satisfy your Lordships. But we think it necessary, in justification of ourselves, to declare that the laws of morality are the same everywhere, and there is no action which would pass for an act of extortion, of peculation, of bribery, and of oppression in England that is not an act of extortion, of peculation, of bribery and oppression in Europe, Asia, Africa, and all the world over.”
There you have it, right is right, and wrong is wrong. Be the man Christian or Hindu, or anything else, every man is possessed of natural rights provided him by his Creator.
That was 1787, the year of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2012 our enlightened West is overrun with academics and leaders advancing the Hastings principle. It is multi-culturalism run rampant.
In our America the elites will mock Christians for opposing abortion, but defend female genital mutilation and honor killings among Muslims. We are told that to condemn honor killings is form of cultural imperialism. The American Pediatric Association and the American Anthropological Association refuse to use the terms genital mutilation, opting for an olio of euphemisms.
The lesson is that we can not criticize non-Western peoples, even if they do happen to live in the West.
Burke was no multi-culturalist. He recognized that all cultures were different, and that some were superior than others, but he recognized and defended the universality of human dignity.
The multi-cultural tradition that traces back to Hastings is, put bluntly, bigoted. It argues that a man can be treated differently dependent on his religion, skin-color, or what-have-you. It is condescending and ugly.
The modern Hastings multi-culturalists see an Islamic man, and a black man, and a Chinese man where the Burkean conservatives see a man, and a man, and a man. There is no equality or dignity among those who see and apply different standards based on a man’s adjective.