Monday, August 30, 2010

Some musings

Here is a copy of a response I wrote to a student who had sent me an article from the National Review on moderate Muslims and radical Muslims as well as an article on Governor Christie from New Jersey, which latter article appeared in the New York Times, I think. Just some musings....

"Now, wait a minute: Are you really surprised that some Muslims are anti-American? This seems to be the underlying but unspoken theme of McCarthy's article. For this to be plausible, it requires ignoring some aspects of American foreign policy in the past and in the present. In other words, this article is another example of the mindset that Bacevich [and others] have noticed, that Americans view themselves as victims despite the fact that we pursue an interventionist, even imperialist, foreign policy by which we Americans think we have the right and even the duty to remake the world in our own image because, of course, our values are "universal." So,by this view, 9/11, like Pearl Harbor, missiles in Cuba, and even attacks against our troops in Vietnam, are all seen as "shots out of the blue," having no connection to the past and our actions as "the world's last remaining superpower." All of this is hidden in McCarthy's article, that is to say, left unsaid but without which his argument makes little sense. Is it really your opinion that our interventionist foreign policy, a foreign policy that now includes the Bush proclaimed "right" to make "preemptive war" is a policy we have pursued without creating understandable grievances among those who do not wish to be "Americanized?" If this is your opinion, then I would say that you are living in a world that resembles the world that Alice discovered when she went through the looking glass.

"And speaking of mirrors, while it is difficult to look in the mirror, when a large number of people dislike and even hate you, it is time to look in the mirror and ask: "What is it that leads to these responses?" Of course, you and this nation are under no obligation to do this and we have the perfect right to go on thinking that these anti-Americans are just irrational and spiteful and "evil." But if this is what we choose to do, then I would say that we ought not be surprised if these feelings increase in intensity. I am sure the invasion of Iraq has helped placate feelings among Muslims that we are an imperialist nation bent on imposing our will on the world militarily, particularly given that we found those WMDs that led to and justified our invasion and occupation. And I am just as sure that our military activities in Afghanistan are also placating those who think of us as imperialists because, obviously, our war in Afghanistan has been undertaken in order to "help" those people. We Americans are so good that way.......

I read the piece about Christie and must say, I wasn't surprised. I would have been surprised had Christie turned out to be anything other than a conservative version of Obama or any other ordinary politician. It is impossible for me to take our politics and our political system seriously. It is properly the target of comedy and satire....."

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