Wednesday, January 28, 2004

al-Sistani for Prez or: "I love America more than you" 

An AmCop reader commentary from Scats:

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but if you bear with me I think I can back it up. The more I look at it, the more I think that Islamic Fundamentalism is the most liberalizing force in the world today and the best hope for democracy's future in world history.

I'll start in New Hampshire. One thing and one thing only will be demonstrated in New Hampshire today and that is whether or not a pro-democracy movement has a snowball's chance in hell in this country. If Dean loses, and if his candidacy does not survive because of it then we will know with some certainty who wields power in the US at the moment. For the purposes of the argument I will take it as given that the media is applying a more rigorous standard to Dean than is being applied to anyone else. Of course I chide them for paying more attention to "process" and "character" than real policy positions, but that's not because Dean's candidacy has much to do with his policies. The press is missing the story, and the story is that Dean is the people's candidate. Whatever else one could say about him, one cannot say with any justice that he is bought and paid for by plutocrats. Consequently, whatever power he has is power that people have vested in him.

If we cannot agree on this, then I cannot continue. I also cannot continue if you in any way insist that coverage of his candidacy has been in any way 'fair'. If you consider that it makes me a 'conspiracy nut' to assert this, then you are ipso facto so indoctrinated that we cannot have a conversation. The way Dean has been treated in the media is prima facie evidence of pro-plutocracy media bias. The harshness with which he has been dealt is in direct proportion to the fear that he could win, and if he wins it means people can actually choose who governs them. I can prove this empirically if you go in for that sort of thing.

Until Dean throws in the towel, the verdict is still out on the American pro-Democracy movement. Personally I'm a bit pessimistic, and because it sets me up for a neat parallelism I'll say for now that Democracy is on the wane in the US. It does not bode well for us that the word 'populist' is perjorative.

So where is it on the wax, so to speak? Well, let's turn to our favorite distraction for when things get too ugly at home: the Middle East.

Iran's pro-Democracy movement is in full-swing. Having overthrown the US puppet/monster and tasted a bit of real freedom, the Iranians are finding that it suits them fine and they are quite adult enough to deal with it. Now for the second time in a generation they are poised to gently usher out a tyranny and get on with the business of being human beings. If we could just match American historical-mythology to Iranian political reality we would have a perfect synchronicity between fact and value.

Let's recap: a small bunch of initially marginalized religious fanatics, mortally sick of oppression by a foreign power, revolt, gain their freedom, and their subsequent history is an edifying tale of the initially limited sphere of freedom expanding slowly but surely ever outward and upward to embrace larger segments of the population and more constitutional protections as an initially imperfect democracy attains greater perfection. Only a rabid anti-American would take umbrage at this version of the narrative.

Moving on, we have the Ayatollah al-Sistani agitating for a direct election in Iraq. A pro-democracy movement by definition. Now, of course, responsible people will want to find some way of constitutionally protecting Kurdish and Sunni minorities from the tyranny of the Shia majority, and this is a good reason to not jump into the democratic maelstrom too hastily, but beyond that "bring [it] on" as they say. Let the enemies of freedom make their self-serving counter arguments.

But wait, you say, won't the imposition of Sharia law violate the rights of a free people to practice their religion as conscience dictates? Yes it will. But if I absolutely HAD to trade, I'd sacrifice a PORTION of the First Amendment if it meant that I would be guaranteed to keep the rest. INCLUDING the 4th and the 6th which are now effectively dead letters according to the PATRIOT act. I know, it's crazy, but I love freedom that much.

So we've got two vigorous and principled pro-democracy movements growing out of seeds sown by Islamic fundamentalism.

I take the thesis as proved.

In case you were wondering, Afghanistan is not an exception. It is true that the Taliban would likely not have been overthrown from within. But due to their lack of infrastructure and industrialization they represent a more feudal society than either Iran or Iraq. Both Iran and Iraq, having high literacy rates have been exposed to the pernicious notions of the Enlightenment thinkers. These ideas being evolutionarily superior, as all true Americans must admit, they naturally will gain currency in the "marketplace of ideas" as long as we have a "free-market". Afghanistan does not represent a "free marketplace of ideas".

You may say that Islamic fundamentalism alone is and was not able to free the Saudi's or the Iraqi's from their oppressors, and you are correct. The oppressors of the Saudi people are vastly more powerful, and more on their guard since losing Iran. In the case of the Iraqi tyrant, I will assume a high degree of probability that the Shia/Kurd uprising post-Gulf War I would have been successful had Saddam been unaided while suppressing it.

a-Salaam aleikum,
Scats (citizen of the free-world)


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