Monday, September 7, 2009

Elrod's Retort: Even a Flawed America Still Leads the World in Pursuit of Noble Ideals

Well played, Chris.

I would first note that AE does not mean that America is always right or has always been right. AE is (or should be) based on the triumphs of America, its continuing trajectory toward the realization of its noble ideals; not that it has realized those ideals. I also truly believe that no country lives up to those ideals as faithfully as the United States.

Obama’s election shows how far this country has come. Of course there are still bigots in America upset about the election. Every country in the world has bigots. Could someone like Obama have been elected in the UK? Italy? Canada? Japan? Brazil? I honestly cannot think of another nation where a person of the non-majority race could reach the presidency or its equivalent.

Of course Americans still “marginalize” some groups, as do people in every other country in the world. That, by the way, is a conveniently vague term. Try being Christian in China. Try being an untouchable in India. Try being gay in Saudi Arabia. Try being a Muslim convert to Buddhism in Indonesia. Try being a woman wearing pants in the Sudan. Marginalization in those countries means lashings, mobs, honor killings, secret detentions, systematic state discrimination, etc. The Multiculturalist Moral Relativist (MMR) too often equates the glass ceilings and racial profiling in the US with the transparent oppression in other countries.

It is this mentality that allows the world’s worst human rights abusers to sit (and chair) the UN Human Rights Committee (China, Venezuela, Iran). This is how Yasser Arafat gets a Nobel. This is why a Spanish judge will indict George Bush for war crimes, while ignoring warlords in Darfur. MMR has real consequences. The number of free countries (open elections, representative government, free press) is declining.

I want to make clear that I am not suggesting that our president supports any of the above, much less that he has caused a global decline in freedom. The point of my post is to advocate that he return to the inspiring words of his inaugural speech.

People do vote with their feet. I couldn’t put it better myself. I remember all those news stories about a huge liberal emigration to Canada in ’04 after Bush’s reelection. It didn’t happen. And people from around the world still flock here. There must be something exceptional about this Union.

As for specific speeches where Obama apologized, see I’m not sure all of those speeches should be classified as apologies, but it is a good reference for Obama’s shift from Bush’s diplomacy.

If your political views are refined enough to know where you stand on card-check, cap and trade, the public health option, cash for clunkers, deficit spending, government bail-outs, etc., then you should have a pretty good idea whether you’ll vote R or D in 2012, even without a crystal ball.



Dave Stone said...

Thanks for the link to the Heritage list of apologies. I agree with you that many of them do not sound much like apologies.

Many of them, actually, sound like statements of fact, like his characterization of US relations with Latin America: "While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms." Is there anything in there that a rational person could disagree with?

Certainly the Obama administration has shown a difference in tone with the Bush administration on foreign policy. It's still not clear to me how it's been different than the late Bush administration on issues of substance

Pete said...

There are so many things wrong with this post, it's difficult to know where to begin.

I suppose if we're throwing stones at Saudi Arabia's marginalization of gays, I would ask what *exactly* has the US done to hold them accountable for not only those human rights abuses, but the myriad of other abuses by that regime. If I really wanted to make a cheap shot, perhaps you ought to consider that in many parts of the US it's just as dangerous to be gay (ask Matthew Shepard's family about that)

Hell, we invaded Kuwait in 1991 in order to return to power a government that forbade women the right to vote or own property.

Jon, I am additionally amazed that you invoke "moral relativism" as a pejorative. Let's not forget that the entire crux of the current conservative boosterism of torture is "the US has a really good reason to torture". A great deal of the US conduct in the so-called "war on terror" has involved tactics and actions that have resulted in war crimes trials and executions of OTHER world military leaders.

Since the end of World War II, the US has openly supported dictatorships in Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Chile, Phillipines, South Africa, Nigeria, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and countless others. The record of US involvement in coup attempts in other countries is well documented. I bring this up because the cumulative effect of this poor behavior is that when the US prattles on about peace, freedom, and democracy, the world increasingly doesn't particularly believe us. The US is seen as justifying its bad behavior not out of high ideals or principle, but instead out of craven and arrogant self-interest.

I don't know if you've noticed Jon, but your own party views American Exceptionalism as meaning "NEVER say you're sorry about anything". For instance, have we ever seen anything scraping personal regret from Republicans about Katrina or the lack of WMD in Iraq? Nope. Instead, we see a passing of the buck and transferral of blame onto the victims of our own incompetence. You can see this mentality seeping down to something as inane as the Mark Sanford fiasco, where the Love Guv literally can't understand that HE is in the wrong.

I don't mean to digress to things like hypocritical conservative governors. However, when you look at it, America is no longer admired. American values are seen as phony and disposable. We're the equivalent to Al Bundy, bragging about scoring four touchdowns in the big game in high school.