TANSTAAFL suggests a quick test for critics of the West:
Take a few minutes today to ask yourself a few questions about where you live, and how you live. Here are a few samples to start you off:
Do I like where I live?
Is there another place substantially different where I would prefer to live?
Do I have reasonably good access to the peaceful means of changing the laws and practices of my society?
How secular is my society? How does it treat gender differences? Sexuality? Race?
How free am I? Can I criticise the Government? The Police? Are my thoughts suppressed by government policy?
Do I have access to alternative sources of information? Can I disseminate my thoughts?
Are the processes of my Government transparent? Am I in danger of random arrest? Torture? Summary execution? Secret imprisonment?
What were looking for here is a kind of Aggregate Society Satisfaction Rating. There is no perfect society for all. Its possible Mrs Kublai Khan and all the younger Kahns complained that Xanadu was too far out in the sticks. But realistic debate cannot proceed without an examination of the values that the Western Society stands for in large part, and a comparison to the alternatives of offer. Take a look at where you live, and how you live. If you wouldnt live anywhere else, make that you starting point for any and all thought about your country, and keep it in mind before you open your mouth.
As a liberal, I’m constantly frustrated because this is where there is hope for the poor, the marginal, women, minorities. I’ve lived in Europe, and I’ll tell you there are few things I’ve encountered more racist and sexist than a Parisian dinner table in the 16th arrondissement, and relative to most of the world, France is good.
(link via Meryl)