Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Tragedy of Culture

Andrew Klavan wrote in Monday’s WSJ about The Stoning of Soraya M, a documentary about the “… brutal 1986 judicial murder of a woman falsely accused of adultery in the Islamic slave state of Iran…in accordance with Shariah law.” He found the movie haunting, although not a story based on the usual tragedy of individual character. He called it a tragedy of culture, a tragedy of bad ideas:

The tragedy of bad ideas unfolds from a moral flaw in a worldview or philosophy as inevitably as classical tragedy unfolds from a flaw in individual character. Tragedies of bad ideas are the most common, pervasive and destructive man-made mass disasters. Yet our thinking class has become powerless to oppose them or even recognize them for what they are.

The reason they are powerless is because they are themselves caught up in the “bad idea” of multiculturalism:

…the notion that no system or government is inherently better than any other, that the rules of morality are just a doctrine written by history's winners. Thus there are no enduring human truths, only "narratives" by which almost any beastliness can be explained away if committed by a people with a claim to having been victimized by a dominant culture.

He explains how this bad idea resulted in the “mealy-mouthed strategic dithering” from Obama, when the leader of the free world should be spearheading the demand for liberty, democracy and the right to protest a totalitarian theocracy.

How mealy-mouthed was the President’s dithering? Representative Thaddeus McCotter, R-Michigan, has it nicely summarized in an an address on the floor of the House yesterday:

Regrettably, our president’s “post-American” foreign policy presumes talk can thaw the murderous mullahs’ hearts and attain a “grand bargain” for peace in our time; consequently, while Iranians demanded their freedom from a barbarous regime, the president vapidly opined: “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be… We respect Iranian sovereignty.”

Then, as the crisis escalated, the president optimistically noted:

“You've seen in Iran some initial reaction from the supreme leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election… And my hope is – is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations.”…Next, on June 20th, the president stated, “The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.” It was painfully evident just how far behind them he stood: “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States.”

With these contradictory statements of support and appeasement, the president returned to square one: “The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.”

Yesterday, Obama finally joined Sarkozy’s and Merkel’s harsh condemnation of Iran by stating that he was “appalled and outraged” by the threats and violent confrontations in the streets of Tehran. He then went on to do his Clinton lip-biting equivalent by empathetically responding to a question about the murder of Neda Agha Soltan with a prepared sound bite.

We are clearly witnessing a tragedy. Is it of culture, or individual character?