Spoken Like a True Liberal

Keith Thompson, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the story of yet another disaffected liberal finding some common cause with Bush voters:

I’m leaving the left — more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives — people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere — reciting all the ways Iraq’s democratic experiment might yet implode.

More devastatingly for the Left (and in perfect keeping with Mike Jericho’s observation about the Left’s resemblance to Nazis), Keith notes the corruption of individual identity under the aegis of the Left’s elites:

True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left’s entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals — people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense — is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

I wonder if Keith has gotten any death threats yet. Still, it’s a bold step in the right direction.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Newsweek Duplicity

Most Americans are already aware that Newsweek is a resolutely anti-Republican sensationalist outfit. In keeping with most such publications, the editors consistenly slap together “high brow” (read elitist) fare, at once feeding the readership scraps of tabloid journalism while its opinion pages consistently mocks the same demographic. None of this is news, as anyone who reads the rag on a consistent basis can attest.

What is less clear, perhaps, is just how vicious its overseas editions get. Its Japanese edition, for example, excoriates America (and not just the red states), featuring a picture of American flags in trash cans. And yet, the contemporaneous edition in the US features a picture of President Bush, with only the blurb “America Leads … But Is Anyone Following?” as the only indication of its slant. Again, the cynical give Red Staters their pretty pictures, and Blue Staters their liberal [read Leftist] text, because we all know Red Staters are illiterate anyway ploy to try to shore up its dwindling reader base.

Gaijinbiker at Riding Sun provides more examples.

Even before this, I’d been considering cutting Newsweek out of my reading list. After the Koran-flushing debacle, I decided that I’ll get my readings of George Will from the Washington Post instead.

(Via: Instapundit)

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Respect is a Two-Way Street

Unfortunately, the old human habit of equating fear and intimidation with respect does not easily die. We see this every day in power relations. China doesn’t feel respected by the US, so it bullies Taiwan. France doesn’t feel respected by the US, so it bullies Germany. Islam doesn’t feel respected by non-Muslims; so radicals try to intimidate infidels and apostates. Think this is fantasy? Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institute in Washington, sets the record straight, at least with regard to the dismal situation in Saudi Arabia:

Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department’s annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)

As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others’ holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored.

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

Indeed, good faith is the best way to peace and harmony. Each faith can be cordial and respectful of others without betraying its own teachings. Indeed, the late Pope John Paul II showed the world that this was indeed possible. There’s already too much for human beings to quarrel over.

Just one other thing: The West has alrady made several overtures to Islam. It is time for Islam to reciprocate, or at least resolve the problem of those who advocate war. Why? Because, Old Europe notwithstanding, the West has the balls to back it up, so if it must be the hard road, rest assured that the West is ready to rumble.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Republicans Getting Complacent

John Cole, a life-long Republican, is dismayed by the creeping abandonment by the GOP of some of its more reputed principles. So much so, in fact, that he’s produced a checklist of abandoned principles. (Hat-tip: Instapundit)

Color me unsurprised. This is what happens when any party stays in power too long. It’s long been a fact of life here in California; it was true during the Gilded Age; and it was true from the time of FDR through to the end of the LBJ Administration. Then again, this is part and parcel of most political systems, including China’s dynastic cycles. It’s just that in the age of instantaneous communications and 24-hour news, these cycles get shorter and shorter.

Still, the Democrats shouldn’t get complacent and expect victory to be handed to them on a silver platter. They can still majorly botch things up for themselves, as they did in three general elections in a row (2000, 2002, 2004).

The 2006 elections should give us a clearer idea of what’s ahead. Expect to see the Republican schism exposed a little more, and expect Senator Clinton to attempt to rally the national Democrats to a point somewhat closer to the center, but still recognizably left thereof. That’ll be the campaigning. If the Republicans botch it, expect to see logjam continue. If the Democrats botch it, watch for a Republican split come in 2008, and if the Democrats aren’t completely down and out, they should be able to exploit that for a win.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Umpire Greg

Gregory Djeredjian attempts to play umpire between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds, and comes off rather well for it. And he brings up a point that folks dismayed by Andrew’s recent writings would do well to bear in mind:

(Oh, please spare me the comments about how no one got decapitated at Abu Ghraib just for being Christian. And that Abu Ghraib was worse (so much, dude!) when under Saddam’s stewardship. And that we treat ‘their’ Holy Book better than they’d ever treat ‘ours’. And so on. We are better than our heinous, barbaric enemy; and so must have hugely higher standards).

Greg’s comments remind me of an e-mail I once sent to Andrew:

I believe that the vast majority of American service personnel are good people, as are most of their officers. But all it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bushel, and I don’t mean this in the sense that they ruin our image. Much more than that, Andrew. What I mean is, if they are seen as getting away with inhumane treatment of prisoners, what’s to stop another group of soldiers who were already leaning that way from giving into the temptation of sadism?

So while Gonzales may be correct on a technical level, it remains to be seen whether or not this sort of behavior is what we want the world to see. I don’t doubt that most other great powers would be harder pressed to be better than us. But as my brother takes pains to remind me, we are America, we can be better than everyone else, and so we should be.

Well, I guess it just goes to show that even the non-Kos/DU side of the blogosphere is not immune to the dynamics of a community. While it may cause short-term consternation, it is a healthy sign of the vitality of the community, as long as nobody’s going to become archenemies. And, most of all, it speaks well of both men’s statures that so gifted a blogger as Greg would attempt to mediate.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]