Anyone who reads the English-language version of The Huffington Post would get the idea that there is no higher calling than to be gay.
Not so the new Arabic version.
About a year ago, Arianna Huffington, the former darling of conservatives who was reborn as a left-wing "progressive" media darling, announced the company would be creating a version of her website for Arabic speakers, creating ... well, a clash of values.
Recently, just days after going live with the 14th international edition of HuffPost, the audience has been shocked by the publication of views harshly criticizing gays, atheists and even the practice of taking selfies.
In one article, an Egyptian commentator ripped the government in his country for permitting atheists to hold "a press conference for gays in the heart of Cairo."
In another article for the site, an Algerian columnist authored what was intended as "an open letter to all the Islamic Ummah's youth," condemning the selfie as a symptom of "the diseases and the viruses of the Western world." The article, the author claimed, was designed as a "call to stop adopting such sick behaviors that come to destroy our traditions and the basics of human cultural identity."
All this has HuffPost readers wondering what's going on. In an interview last month, Huffington had promised that Huffington Post Arabi would endorse the values of other editions of the site. She suggested that the new Arabic service would be a platform for those speaking out in support of greater social and political freedom.
"One of the reasons why we are going to be based in London and Istanbul is to make it clear avoiding any kind of censorship and control is absolutely key to our coverage," she said. "We will support (contributors) in every way."
That promise has just hit a bump in the road, as HuffPost's executive international editor, Nicholas Sabloff, pulled down some of the material after publication, with a notice that read: "This blog should not have been published as it contradicts the Huffington Post's editorial positions and guidelines which are based on encouraging positive dialogue and mutual respect. It has therefore been taken down." He added that the blog comments "do not reflect HuffPost's global editorial viewpoint." He claimed that HuffPost Arabi will now strive to offer "diversity and balance."
Whoops! It seems "multiculturalism" is a two-edged sword for "progressives." What's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.
This was an inevitability.
For years, I've been wondering how President Barack Obama can reconcile his pro-Muslim policies and rhetoric with his pro-gay policies and rhetoric. It's one of the challenges of taking the secular, "nonjudgmental," globalist message international.
Something's got to give.
What gave at HuffPost, as quickly as one could say "Allahu akbar," was tolerance of dissenting viewpoints.
That raises a fundamental question for other sites that make money by simply allowing bloggers to post whatever they feel like posting. Are dissenting opinions permitted?
It raises another interesting point for me. I founded WND, the first independent online news site, more than 18 years ago. Though it's often slammed by HuffPost and other "progressive" online outlets for publishing conservative commentary, WND actually provides the broadest forum for political and social commentary of any publication — online or not.
Though it publishes Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes on the right (two contributors who have many differences between them), WND also publishes regular commentary from the left — from such contributors as Bill Press and Ellen Ratner. It also publishes eclectic ideas from those who are hard to label, people such as Nat Hentoff.
Could we do this in police states in the Middle East? Probably not. Could we do it in communist tyrannies or fascist dictatorships? Probably not.
But that's what we love about America — or what we once loved about America.
To find out more about Joseph Farah and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.