So let’s give it a try.
David Horsey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for SeattlePI.com, considered yesterday the domestic politics of the American role in Libya. And while the article actually is quite interesting, part of his advice for liberals struck me as odd:
… the vision of neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz was not as wrongheaded as many on the left contend. In the 1990s, Wolfowitz and others in conservative think tanks developed their own domino theory: a move toward democracy in one Arab country would lead to a toppling of dictators in many Arab countries. Yes, trumped up excuses were used to justify the Iraq War in an attempt to start the dominoes falling, but that does not change the reality that the theory has proven to be correct.
The idea of a domino effect is not in itself absurd, that much is true. But Wolfowitz, PNAC, and other neoconservative hawks pushed for a belligerent imperium; the idea that the United States could foment this change through belligerent agitation of the Muslim world is a bit less clear. Indeed, the proposition at least equally risked increasing anti-American sentiments not only in those nations, but also at home and around the world.
We might, then, juxtapose Horsey’s proposition against a certain other notion—that the Arab Spring came about in large part because of economics. In April, the Financial Times opined:
The fundamental dysfunction of Arab countries is that of the rentier state. In oil- and gas-rich countries, natural resources return far more than it costs to extract them. Capturing and controlling this surplus – economic rent – is the chief source of enrichment, hence both the means and the end of power. Meanwhile the tragedy of resource-poor Arab countries is that they create rent artificially when nature has given them none. Monopolies, regulation and bullying all serve to limit access to productive activity, which generates fantastic rewards for a favoured few at the cost of holding back whole nations.
Whatever the source of the rent, the rentier economy is a vicious cycle in which the concentration of economic opportunity and that of political power fuel one another. This is why dignity and livelihood are inseparable in the demands of the excluded Arab majorities that have finally raised their voice. It is also why the political revolutions across the region will succeed only if matched by economic transformations. Even as Egypt and Tunisia grope for political transitions, the economic challenge is urgent.
Dear Mr. Horsey:
I would only suggest that there is something amiss about this whole debate when you find yourself compelled to disclaim that “the fact remains that nothing has proven anybody’s words inspired Jared Loughner’s actions”.
I would ask everyone to stop and think for a moment. At the core of the question about violent right-wing rhetoric is an issue we’ve been tolerating in these United States for longer than I’ve been alive (thirty-seven years). Indeed, I’m sure if I looked back beyond the advent of rock and roll, I could find the same arguments.
Not all opponents of the Ground Zero mosque are motivated by anti-Islamic prejudice, to be sure. But relatives of 9/11 victims who object still are confusing Islam with terrorism.
They’d like the mosque to move somewhere else — but how far away from Ground Zero is acceptable? If two blocks is too close, would four be better?
Logically, if the mosque is meant as an exercise in “triumphalism,” it ought not be allowed in New York City at all.
The fact is that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had it exactly right when he said, “Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and Americans.
“We would betray our values — and play into our enemies’ hands — if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave in to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists — and we should not stand for that.”
And President Barack Obama had it right (the first time) when he said that America’s bedrock dedication to religious freedom “includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan.”
It’s a shame that Republican howls caused him to backtrack on the statement. And it’s a shame so many Republicans have forgotten the distinction between Islam and extremism so clearly delineated by Bush.
Would you believe that’s Mort Kondracke?
Well … okay, why not?
So they say, so they say:
The restructuring of society taking place, in the direct interests of the corporate-financial elite and at the expense of the working population, is not occurring unnoticed. The American and international working class will inevitably find itself drawn into struggle against the present, untenable form of social organization.
Hiram Lee invokes a recurring fantasy of the left, and while I do not scorn the underlying sentiment, I admit to a certain cynicism. Perhaps in other places around the world, populist anger might bring down governments, but the prestige and wealth of the United States is such that Americans are wary of risking it all for an unproven thesis.
While I may not agree with every detail of her construction, Tina Dupuy offers up a long-overdue theory to the political arena:
It seems everybody gets their own pet conspiracy these days: Birthers, Birchers, Deathers, Truthers and whatever you call the people who won’t get their kids inoculated. According to the theories, nothing is as it seems and everyone is in on it. Following this reasonable assumption, I’ve come up with my own. Here it is: former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin are all Democratic plants.
The rest of the article pretty much spells out the theory, and as conspiracy theories go, it’s probably less crazy than Truther conspiracies, and clearly less insane than Birthers. Continue reading
And there is this, last week, from Monica Guzman for SeattlePI.com’s Big Blog:
They say Seattle is a secular city, but not everyone here agrees with the statement on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s latest Seattle bus ad.
Photographer Josh Trujillo spotted this alteration on a Metro bus last week. The full message? “Yes, Virginia … There is no God.”
Freedom From Religion is no stranger to controversy — even here. Last year the group stirred up trouble in Olympia when it placed a sign alongside a Christian Nativity scene in the Capitol announcing calling religion “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
This year’s holiday-themed message is a bit more tame, but no less stern, said foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.
“The main purpose is to express something that’s true that doesn’t get said very much — there is no god — and it shouldn’t be a taboo,” she said. “If people are mad about it, it’s because it’s true.”
And she also put together a lovely little capsule timeline of the last twenty-five years of Washington state’s blithering and dithering over religion.
Happy Winter Feel Good Time! May these days, and all others, too, treat you well.