Sunday, February 08, 2015

Obama Mentions Historical Facts; Conservatives Outraged

   The farther left you move on the political spectrum, the more frequently you encounter people who refuse to countenance any criticism of other cultures, but are all too willing heap scorn on the West. The flimsiest excuses are deployed in order to deflect criticism from (as we might say) them...but every transgression by (as we also might say) us is put in the worst possible light. The farther you move to the right on the political spectrum, the more frequently you encounter people who seem eager to criticize other cultures, but who are loath to countenance any criticism of ours. Excuses are eagerly made for us, that is--but not for them. Obama is a centrist, and immune to both of these extremist tendencies.
   This is a general dogmatist tactic--vary the standards, and you can say what you want.
   Obama's a reasonable centrist, so he's immune from both of these varieties of nuttiness. Try as I might, I don't see anything obviously wrong with his remarks. They're true and plausibly relevant. Of course the American right so loathes Obama that they find some way to bellyache about everything he this one's really overdetermined. Mentioning the indisputable fact that Christianity is imperfect is verboten of course...but Obama could say that water is wet and Republicans would howl in this latest round of puling is way predictable...
   You know, I don't think there's anything holy or sacrosanct or inherently rational about the political center...but at least (currently, in the U.S.) it's commonly a refuge from some of the more overt craziness of both extreme(-ish) ends of the spectrum.


Blogger The Mystic said...

You know, before it was dominated by self-righteous stone slingers, Christianity used to be all about repenting for sins.

Seems weird, I know, but it's a true fact!

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't entirely related to your main point, but as someone who fits the caricature of the person on the left, I'd like to clarify (i.e. as to why I complain more about us than anyone else): it's because I can't help it that the ISIS folks are psychopathic lunatics; it sucks that they are, I hate that they're raping and killing and pillaging and torturing people, but I'd hope that's obvious. That said, I'm more interested in complaining about the extent to which we belie our values by torturing prisoners ourselves--not necessarily because I think we're "worse" (as that's a stupid game to play)--but because that torture is happening in my name, and on my dime. I'm supposed to have a say as to what we do, and because of that, when it's deeply immoral shit we're up to, I'm gonna complain and complain and complain. Does that mean I'm ok with ISIS? Well of course not. But it seems to me complaining should have some practical end, and I'd hope that complaining about our torturing people could change something before me complaining about them torturing people ever could. Is that crazy? Idk. It seems pretty obvious to me--but then again I get this shit from my Dad all the time, "we're the worst except for everywhere else, blah blah blah" bullshit. That's the worst excuse for justifying our atrocities I've ever heard. Alternatively, I'd also stop complaining if we stopped calling ourselves the good guys. But until POWs know they're not going to get tortured by us, I don't have any reason to cling to that illusion. Once upon a time enemy soldiers used to surrender to us on purpose (as opposed to surrendering, say, to the Russians) because they knew they'd be treated with decency, but that was a long time ago. Now we don't even call them POWs anymore, only to allow ourselves to skirt the Geneva Convention, etc. That's not my father's military, and it's unacceptable.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I absolutely could not agree more with what you write. I actually started another paragraph trying to make a vaguely similar (but not identical) point, and deleted it because I didn't have time.
I think that's basically the best reason that can be given for such an orientation.
Let me suggest, though, that your influence over our own policies is likely to be strengthened by being more even-handed. I tend to kind of ignore people who seem dogmatic or blinkered, and if someone criticizes one side disproportionately, I take that as evidence that their dogmatic or blinkered...
Anyway, I think this is an important point, and I'm going to try to say more about it in another post, and I hope you'll throw your $0.02 in on that one.
Thanks for the good point.

1:00 PM  

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