Thursday, February 24, 2005

Author of a Vision

Warning, this starts out cohesively enough, then just devolves down to my usual pap about respecting others.

Hat tip Middle Earth Journal

Different Era, But Same Talk

Leon Hadar talks about Bush's vision of a New World, and he calls Natan Sharansky the author of that vision. I'm vaguely unsettled by this, because Natan Sharansky was an important figure to me when I was in my teens, he was the example Russian Jew Prisoner. We all wore bracelets with the names of Jewish men and women detained in the Soviet Union. Our goal was to raise world awareness of the unjust incarceration of people whose only crime was that they remained Jewish in a state that had forbidden religion. Well, maybe it worked. Natan Sharansky was freed, and was able to emigrate to Israel, and we all rejoiced. Now, His book is the professed favorite bedtime reading of GWB.

Hadar describes how the idea of advancing democracy is akin to advancing a Messiah, a concept that will save the world. This is "Big Picture" thinking, and the small details...
Forget those "little details": you know, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no Saddam-Bin Laden ties; the anti-American insurgency; Abu Ghraib; the rising political influence of the Shiite clergy; signs of civil war. What counts is the march towards victory of democracy in Iraq and the spread of freedom and liberty in the entire Muslim world. The theocracy in Saudi Arabia? The military regimes in Egypt and Pakistan? These are just two more examples of those "small details."
Although I am not actually a proponent of forcing democracy on people who haven't asked for it, I am a big fan of it, as a general rule. I love that I live in a society that gets to vote on things, important things, and I truly believe that no matter what corruptions live on the seedy underbelly of our government, the choices made by the people steer the way that our country moves.

Governments and ideologies evolve. People don't just wake up one day and think, "Hey, how come I don't live in a democracy?". Loyalty to leaders, and religious beliefs hold strong. How can anyone think that someone who has lived in a heterogeneous society all their lives would suddenly want to change all the rules so that people they consider to be unclean in the eyes of god are suddenly considered equal, and not punishable by the law? The concept of separating church and state is beyond immediate grasp.

People don't all necessarily gloss over this, but an attitude of superiority begins to rear its ugly head. Hadar describes Sharansky's vision as that of Israel as "parent", watching over the Arab nations until they're ready. As if they haven't grown up yet. This is not caring for other nations, this is occupying them. Despite the fact that having antagonistic vies about how people should live their lives causes conflict and violence, we can't just assume that we're the ones who are right, and that the rest of the world should get with the program. That nullifies the very nature of the diversity that we (the US) claim to celebrate. It stomps on the rights of the people of the world. Israel, no matter how much I love and respect Israel, is not a parent figure who can control the misbehaving Arab countries, they're just citizens of the world. We're all just citizens of the world.

I do understand the mindset that allows a person to think that because they really do want the best for everyone, that it's all right to impose new rules on people, and once they see how nice it is when everyone plays by those rules, that they'll be happy. I also understand that this simply isn't true. Forcing your ideology, no matter how "right" you're sure you are, is wrong.

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