Surprisingly, the CBS News website has reprinted a stunningly moronic editorial, US And Israel Make Major Mistakes,  originally published  by left leaning publication, The Nation.

In what passes what passes for reasoned critique, editorial grasps:

Would the situation in Gaza have gotten so out of hand if Israel, the United States, and the European Union had tried to work with the democratically elected Hamas government from the outset?

Once again, the idea that a democratic election alone bestows credibility on a regime is proffered. In fact, in democratic states, elections are nothing more than the Church bell ringing in the steeple. Elections are the symbols of democracy- they do not define democracy.Freedom and democracy are defined by institutions that guarantee and protect the rights of the individual citizen.

As has been noted many times, Adolph Hitler came to power in a free and fair election. Even as western powers dealt, negotiated and appeased Hitler, Germany would go on to  bring run and destruction on a continent and be the reason 50 million souls were lost.

If Germany, a European nation, ostensibly a nation with European values, were to ignore the pleadings of the civilized world, why on earth would anyone believe that negotiating with Hamas and Hizbollah would be useful?. Those organizations are comprised of radical extremists with a religious ideology that declares death and destruction are legitimate aims, and demanded by God. Despite our best efforts here, there are elements in western society that remain racist and bigoted. If we cannot eliminate racism and bigotry from within our midst, why on earth would anyone believe that we would succeed in doing just that with people who openly embrace hate and proudly proclaim themselves as Hitler’s legacy?  The civilized world (and those 50 million lost souls) would have been far better offer dealing with Germany and Hitler upfront, isolating him diplomatically, economically and if necessary, confronting him militarily before he armed his country with the most advanced weaponry of the time and before Europe spiralled into the abyss.
Naturally, the left leaning The Nation, finds a reason to excoriate Mr Bush. This time, they do it with a flourish, blaming the fledgling democracy movement supported by the west:

The whole thrust of American policy of the last two years has been to reduce unconditionally Syria’s influence in Lebanon so as to leave Lebanon to the Lebanese. By what logic does the Administration now seek to hold Syria accountable for the reckless action of Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon?

Right. According that logic, it was good think that the vicious and murderous Syrian occupation of Lebanon was a good thing. The American foreign policy that supports freedom and self rule is a bad thing. No word from the great minds at The Nation as to why even the UN thought it was a good thing for Syria to leave Lebanon.

It appears as if the only ones who believes Syria ought to have remain Lebanese occupiers, are the Syrians and the editorial staff at The Nation.

Finally, the editors at The Nation appear to be entering the International Kumbaya Festival. Here is their dreamy entry:

The big beneficiaries of American policy have been the more radical wings of Hamas and Hezbollah and the Iranians, who more and more look like the champions of the Palestinian people. The big losers are the so-called moderate Arab regimes, which again look helpless in the face of what is seen as Israeli aggression, and the moderate Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese who hoped for some normalcy of life with the prospect of peace, especially when the Hamas leadership appeared to be moving toward recognition of Israel. The United States and the larger world, too, are losers, for no one benefits from this mindless escalation of violence, particularly at a time of growing sectarian violence in Iraq and rising oil prices.

Never mind that the vast majority of Lebanese are sick and tired of Hizbollah and they have done to their country. Never mind that Lebanon, once the storied and fabled paradise of the region, has been ripped apart since the Ayatollah Khomeni’s Iran made a determined to undermine that nation and never mind that Yasser Arafat was the catalyst that caused the civil war and destruction that reached every corner of Lebanon. According to the great minds at The Nation, seeking  the resurrection of a free and democratic Lebanon is a bad thing.

The idea that the Palestinians were, under Hamas leadership ‘appeared to be moving toward recognition of Israel,’ is absurd. The Palestinians went on record to deny that. It would seem that to the editors at The Nation, the calls of ‘ITBACH AL YAHUDI!’- Slaughter the Jews, is an acceptable political and religious ideology.

Here’s a bit of reality: Sometimes, it takes violence and conflict to bring about change. In fact, conflict has brought about more human freedom, than any other expression. It is also true that violence and conflict have been the tools of great repression.

There are some things worth fighting for.

Difficult Democracy

July 17, 2006

Have you ever wondered why democracy is so hard a concept to take root among oppressed people? Despite the best efforts of sincere, well meaning idealist of all stripes, there remains a certain resistance to that which we hold sacred- and some say God given- the idea that all men are created equal.

SC&A don’t have the time to get into all the reasons for that reality, but we do want you to think about one idea in particular, because what we are about to discuss is relevant not only to those still under the yoke of tyranny, but to ourselves as well.

Simply put, tyrannical rulers have an easy time railing against democracy, and having their despicable messages responded to, because democracy’s implied reality- that all men shall be afforded equal rights, frightens citizens not accustomed to the idea that there are others as equal as they are. That conflicts with they have been taught in schools, see and hear in the media and from religious pulpits.

In countries all over the world, ethnic and religious majorities set the tone and agenda. For example, does anyone truly believe that Christian voices or Jewish voices have an equal in Muslim regimes where religious and ethnic hatred is a part of the local culture? Of course not. Despite the public relations efforts of those regimes to downplay and hide and obscure those bigoted laws, customs and religious proclamations, all the tyrants horses and all the tyrants men, cannot put a face that is a moral equivalent to western society and culture.

In this country, some immigrant groups are destined to remain on the periphery and have limited influence. In European countries, large numbers of immigrants remain in a tense face-off with local populations. In France, for example, Jean Le Pen’s appeal crosses all economic and social boundaries, as he rails against those immigrants who refuse to even make an attempt to assimilate (read:contribute).

In this country, there are were groups that wanted to assimilate and become part of the American mosaic. To be sure, they wanted to keep their identities, culture and customs- and they did. America is the perfect Petri dish that blends, mixes and grows diverse cultures and ideas, all within the framework of an ideal of equality.

Immigrants from the Old Country may have faced off back home but in America, that was put to rest in favor of peaceful coexistence and the pursuit of the American dream. The efforts were so successful that after a few generations, intermarriages (to the chagrin of the older folk) were no more controversial than jay-walking. Poles married Germans, Ukrainians married Irish and Jews married Gentiles. The world didn’t stop, lightening didn’t strike and happy unions were formed- One Nation, under God, with, well, you know the rest (for those of you ticked off with the reference to God, well, live with it).

Now, there are immigrants to America are different. Like their predecessors, they too, are in search of the American dream, but they are not willing to ‘live and let live.’ Sadly, there are ethnic schools and Houses of Worship espouse and teach ideologies of hate and destruction. The openly call for death and the marginalization of certain groups and they call for some groups to be excluded- an idea antithetical to American values. They rail against integration with American society and openly insist on taking advantage of all we have to offer while at the same time, demanding the values that the rest of us hold dear, be eliminated.

They cannot tolerate the idea that some groups that were persecuted and derided in the countries from which they came, have succeeded and are considered full equals. To those immigrants, that is a devaluation of who they believe they are- superior and deserving of special treatment simply because of their religion, ethnicity or country of origin. They cannot make peace with the idea of equality.

The bottom line is clear. There are some members of  immigrant groups that cannot accept the notions of democracy in their home countries. They cannot accept the idea of equality in this country. They are ardent defenders and supporters of some of the most totaltarian regimes Why on earth would we consider any political ideas coming from the region or immigrants to this country from that region as credible or honest?

There is an exquisite balance, a high wire tightrope walk that every culture and society must deal with every day. We must remain attached to our past, so that the best of our identities and values are reinforced while at the same time, we must escape it that past, so that we can ascend and elevate ourselves and reach our potential. How we accomplish and deal with these realities goes a long way in defining ourselves, our culture and our community.

A healthy society and culture acknowledges reality and does it’s best to learn from the past and move forward. A culture or society that regularly turns it’s back on reality, by design or by chance, in an unhealthy society. For example, France (and much of Europe) deny reality in both active and passive ways. In the aftermath of Katrina, the French media and academia were only too happy to point out and dwell on American social problems and economic disparities. Their critique was somber and didactic, clearly intended to serve as a lecture on morals and ethics. Needless to say, the Paris riots humbled to the French- so much so that the media, en masse, decided they would no longer report on the riots or provide images to the international media of the events taking place. By ignoring reality, it would go away, they believed. Much of European attitudes are expressed that way. There are massive numbers of people that believe that if they click their heels three times and hope hard enough, problems will disappear.

The Arab world is a good example what happens when denial is allowed to run wild and influence political and cultural realities. The cultural identity becomes carefully crafted and image becomes everything. Image trumps all realities. People begin to identify with the images propaganda creates. There are millions of people who believe that their future lies in ‘restoring past glories.’

(That kind of mindlessness and detachment from reality cannot be overemphasized. Imagine a political movement in Greece or Italy, devoted to restoring Greek and Roman influence, by announcing they were going to embark on the military conquests of those empires.)
They do not demand better education, they do not demand functioning economies (those things that would influence the future). Supported by shrewd dictators, the focus is deliberately misplaced and as a consequence, the Arab world remains impotent, even as they look backwards, longingly.
In choosing to accept denial and to believe in the images, all realities must be ignored. The death of innocents, children, worshipers and the like, are irrelevant. Adding insult to injury, the victims of terror are themselves are demonized, and referred to as ‘Nazis.’ In the Arab world, American and Israel, the ‘enemies,’ the victims brought their travails upon themselves. It is the romance of the ‘struggle’ that trumps all. This is the ‘reality’ of denial.

The real ‘clash’ is between reality based communities and propaganda based communities. That is a situation that can go on for only so long- especially when that propaganda based community attempts to influence a reality based community with violence and terror
It is that great and deliberate disconnect with reality has gained a solid footing here in the Arab world. As a consequence, the disconnect in Arab societal expression has nothing to do with politics and has everything to do with acknowledging or denying reality.

There are consequences to politicizing that disconnect.

Terrorists have are afforded a ‘voice’in the Arab world. There is a belief that their atrocities and loudly proclaimed ideologies are equivalent to our own ideologies and values.

In the Arab world, terror has become a legitimate form of political expression (as long as it is directed at tghe ‘right’ targets). Hearfelt expression of solidarity and empathy-  ‘those poor people, reduced to committing acts of terror’- are made in what is a defiance of rational thought.

Act of terror are now defined as ‘justice’-  and what is ‘justice’ is defined by those committing those acts of terror.

Political ‘debate’ is less about politics that it is about values- pitting those who want to redefine political values vs those who do not. Plainly put, there are those who want to turn us toward current Arab values, the very same ideologies that have turned Sweden into a shell of it’s former self and has turned France into a ticking time bomb.

The Arabs who deny reality do so in a big way. They happily identify themselves as those who want to ‘finish the job Hitler started.’ They support regimes that have kept them underfoot. Those regimes are tyrannical and racist, bigoted and homophobic- and thys make no attempt to hide that. They will deny reality at all costs, because they have to.

Eventually, reality will upend the denial and the propaganda that sustains it. Those in the Arab world that choose denial are in a rush to impose their agenda and ideologies, and they will employ any means possible to achieve their goals. Why? because they know that if given a choice, most people will reject those ideologies- and time is not on their side.

Hamas and Hizbollah each espouse repulsive, racist and bigoted ideologies.

Hamas and Hizbollah have made clear their intentions toward Israel and they have made clear their intentions toward Jews. They have made no secret of it and indeed, they have refused to renounce their stated goals. They have made clear that their ideolgies are not rhetorical. They wish to obliterate Israel and ‘slaughter the Jews!’ as is reiterated in schools, in the media and from the pulpit, day and and day out. To be clear, that same animus is directed at America and Americans. Notwithstanding their pritests to the contrary, these are not the behaviors of societies looking to live in peace with their neighbors.

While we must look to the future, we cannot ignore the past. Unless and until Hamas and Hizbollah reform themselves or are eliminated, we cannot be a party to their ideological orgy of hate and death. We cannot allow the balance to be tipped toward denial.

In the post 9/11 world, ideological differences are about a lot more than politics or economics. WMD’s that can be cooked up in a bathtub and rogue regimes like Iran are telling us that they will give nuclear technologies to other countries, we have plenty to worry about.

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