Obama On Iran: Moral Clarity Requires Morals

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Waiting for their dear leader to express his opinion, the “power to the people” crowd has kept silent. My take: the risk for making Obama look bad, or better yet being on the outs should an opinion differ from the Borg, has kept the Left mum about the Iranian uprising. [Or criticize anyone willing to note something IS happening in Iran.]

No one really knows why the Iranians are demonstrating yet. Is this just one faction of Mullah-endorsed candidate expressing discontent because another Mullah-endorsed candidate stole the election or is this public demonstration a desire for a more moderate Iran generally?

Time will tell. The fact is, it requires immense courage for the Iranian people to defy the police, the current leadership and Ahmadinijad’s minions to step out publicly and make their voices heard. “Down with the dictator!” they shout. Does that mean the people want another dictator? Or do they want an end to the tyrannical Iranian leadership?

We’ll see.

Either way, the instinct in this situation should be to support the people. The instinct should be to openly label tyranny in all it’s forms as wrong. The instinct should be to marginalize those who would use brute force to enforce domination and diminish freedom.

The moral position is to support freedom and liberty.

While this is patently obvious to anyone with a moral compass, it’s not obvious to President Obama or his followers. They’re still waiting to find out what happens so they can make “open dialogue” seem like a reasonable decision. They want to find a way to exploit the Iranian discontent, and possible revolution.

Here’s what a person with a moral compass says, “Americans support the Iranian people in their quest for free and fair elections that represents the will of the people. We respect their will and their voice and their courage in the face of the dangers they now face. Our hearts go out to the people of Iran.”

That’s it. It’s the right thing to say and it doesn’t presuppose an outcome. It still gives the American government an out to communicate with whatever regime ends up in charge, but it communicates to the people of Iran that America loves and supports them and is on their side.

Words matter. President Obama knows this. He uses words like others wield swords. Mostly, he uses them to benefit himself. It’s time for him to use words to benefit the oppressed people of the world. Iran is a nice start.

But using words in this case, takes a little bit of moral fortitude. It also means taking a stand. President Obama has shown little inclination to embrace any moral stand. He has shown an inclination to make self-serving speeches.

In this case, supporting the Iranian people could also serve himself. Of course, that outcome isn’t certain, so it does require a modicum of courage. Moral courage and moral clarity–two things he sorely lacks.

Note: To get the coverage you won’t get on the MSM, follow the #Iran and #Iranelection hashtags on Twitter. And, if you don’t know that those things are, learn at Mashable (via Michelle Malkin). More to come.

Also, tonight, I have foreign policy and military expert Steve Schippert of the National Review Online, The Tank, and Threatswatch.org and my co-blogger John Hawkins on Right Doctor my radio show tonight from 10 to 11:00 EST for RFCradio.com. Please join us in the chatroom with your questions. If you can’t make it, the podcast will be available on iTunes later–just search my name.

Moral Equivalence In Action

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

So my sister takes me to her place of employment. It’s winter break, and unlike in the United States, Australians just take off for a couple weeks through the holidays. The few people at the office the fam and I get to meet. My sister reminds us to behave, to be gracious and introduce ourselves if, for some reason, she forgets an employee’s name since she’s still relatively new there, and to keep our hands to ourselves. She did not explicitly tell me to not talk politics. Her mistake.

Everything goes smoothly. Pleasantries exchanged hither and thither. We occupy ourselves without breaking anything while she chats with a colleague about some issue. And then we go to leave. On our way out, we bid adieu to the temporary receptionist.

“Oh, I remember you. You’re the BBC sister,” says she–barely concealed scorn in her voice. My sister told her colleagues that I’d be doing U.S. election coverage for the BBC. Unlike in the U.S. where no one watches the BBC so my little foray into punditry went unnoticed, in Australia, everyone watches the BBC. So while I’ve never met her co-workers, they’ve “met” me because the TVs were on all day at work and my mug was there, too, with my politics on full display.

That’s me.

“Yes, we had our TVs on everywhere and saw you.” She didn’t say it like it was a good thing. Time to change the topic.

Why aren’t you on vacation?

“I’m taking my five weeks [Australia’s only rival for labor cushiness is France] altogether.”

How nice. Where are you going?

“Iran and Syria.”

My face couldn’t hide my shock.

“Oh, it’s safe,” she assured me. “The travel company wouldn’t take us if it wasn’t safe. It’s not like they’ll take us to the border of Iraq or anything.”

Now, if I had more restraint, I would have just let that little slice of silly go, but I didn’t have much restraint and I didn’t like her attitude to begin with. I could feel my sister’s anxiety rise next to me. She psychically sent signals screaming, “DON’T SAY ANYTHING! DON’T SAY ANYTHING! LET IT GO!” I ignored them and smiled grandly at the receptionist.

I think you’d be safer in Iraq, actually.

The receptionist launched. “It’s not like I’m stupid. I’ve been to Libya and it was wonderful. Syria and Iran are beautiful countries. It’s perfectly safe.”

My sister interceded,”I hope you have a wonderful time! We better get going we have a long day ahead of us.”

Before this infernal woman ever talked about the loveliness of the Islamic dictatorships in question, I disliked her. I don’t like that I sometimes dislike people without any evidence to dislike them–or no conscious evidence. Maybe it was her hauteur, her territorial set, her mouth turned in a curled snarl. I don’t know. But I do know that there are some people that I inexplicably like immediately and some I don’t and that it rarely feels rational and it rarely changes with more actual evidence.

I spent some time thinking about the exchange because it bothered me that I allowed this woman to affect my blood pressure. The foundation of my irritation was the woman’s determined moral equivalence. She clearly thought I was a close-minded rube while she was an open-minded woman of the world. She had been to these places and the countries weren’t evil. They were misunderstood. Not only that, but democracy is overrated. It’s so annoying how Westerners, Americans especially, think their way is a better way. Who are they to decide what’s better for other people?

And you know what I think? I think America and Western countries are objectively better, you moron. In Iran this week, guys were stoned to death for supposedly committing adultery. Iran is the country that hangs supposedly gay, underage men. Syria is the country clandestinely building nuclear bombs and then blaming Israel for “planting evidence.” Iran and Syria support and arm Hamas and Hezbollah whose explicit goal is to destroy Israel.

If there is a way that these regimes is misunderstood, it’s by the useful idiots who want to minimize the risk they present to the human ideals of liberty, self-determination and life. A Westerner may be safe in Cuba, Iran, Syria, Libya, China, Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in dictatorial states, but their own people aren’t. That would be a major difference between a smug secretary enjoying her five week vacation in thug states. She can go home when she wants, how she wants, with whom she wants and believe how she wants. The citizens in the backward nations of Syria and Iran have no such luxury. That she can’t see this demonstrates a callous disregard for her fellow man and contempt for her own freedom that has been bought and continues to be paid for with blood and treasure.

The moral equivalence crowd can move to and rot in these despotic regimes they so aggrandize. It would be better than destroying their own countries from within.

Cross-posted at RightWingNews

Another Hollywood Blacklist

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Screen Actors Guild Politicized
Secret emails an’ everything.

The Travolta Tragedy

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I hate cults.

Let’s just get that out of the way–whether it’s the ideology that encourages psychos in a compound to impregnate minors or convinces otherwise seemingly rational people that aliens gave diseases to earth dwellers or assures people that Gore is going to save the world one glorious carbon swap at a time–I hate cults. There are many reasons to hate them and the leaders that get rich off the followers of the ideology. Mostly, I hate cults because people cede their power and potential to another person or group and often drag innocent people (children) along with them in their craziness.

Here’s the thing, though. This is America. People are free to do what they damn well please as long as it’s legal. And because the line between cults and corporations or churches or groups is so fine, I’d rather err on the side of the individual to choose his own crazy. State-mandated “sanity” is its own crazy cult and I want even less a part of that than some insane idea cooked up in a basement somewhere.

That preamble brings me to Scientology and the death of John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s son, Jett Travolta. The death of Jett Travolta is a tragedy. It is a family tragedy. It is a personal tragedy. I might not agree with their family’s “religion”, but it is none of my business and it’s no one else’s either.

The fact that the Travolta’s son might have had autism and that the Church of Scientology doesn’t recognize the illness does not matter. Science has little of value to help families of autistic children so the diagnosis is nigh to irrelevant. If the family doesn’t want the label, who cares? Science fiction has about as much to help an autistic family as science. Right now, the best families can do is to love their kids and give them intense one-on-one education–something the Travoltas did (home schooling is very one-on-one).

Americans are free. They are free to be stupid. Parents are free to educate their children in a manner they see fit. They are free to go to the church and associate with whom they desire. And people are free to not accept a diagnostic label, even if it means they’re in denial, when the diagnosis yields little benefit (if any) and treatments are elusive.

All citizens should feel protective of these rights even if they disagree with how a person employs these freedoms individually. Freedom can be uncomfortable business, but totalitarianism is a whole lot less comfortable and it creeps on Americans one conventionally accepted dogma and public indictment at a time.

George Bush Liberator

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

George Bush Liberator
Free people. Think of that.

WSJ: The Freedom Market In Athletic Achievement

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

I alluded to this last week, but it is interesting how athletic performance has increased as more people have been trained in America:

What accounts for this extraordinary international cross-pollination? The desire for excellence and achievement. In sports, as perhaps in no other productive activity, success in competition is defined immediately and broadcast widely. The sports market is not entirely free. Athletes must submit to immigration limitations, visa restrictions and the like. But it is freer than most labor markets, and the opportunities for substantial gains are obvious.

Freedom promotes excellence.

China Demonstrates Why Dictatorial Regimes Always Lose

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I remember reading about how Saddam and his two insane sons would torture professional soccer players when they lost. Aside from the sheer horror described by the people who endured the abuse, it struck me as supremely stupid to expect players to perform their best when they cowered in fear.

Communist leadership in Eastern block countries before the wall came down and Russia and the fascists in Germany, Italy and Japan before them, just didn’t get it. National pride is fine and dandy, but if the athletes aren’t competing for the love, for themselves, the game will be a losing proposition.

At the Olympic level, the athletes excel physically and genetically and discipline-wise. Often what separates winners and losers is psychological and emotional: mental stamina and courage. A terrified athlete running away from losing is not the same as an excited athlete running towards winning.

So China harasses their athletes. Some kids who have worked their whole lives were just booted from the team. Other athletes who deeply desire retirement are being forced to compete. Does this sound like a winning formulation to you?

Although China is determined to top the medal tables at the Beijing Games next month, its sports administration has taken the draconian decision to drop 22 gold-medal winning athletes.
China won a total of 32 golds in Athens, and is hoping to top the 40 mark in Beijing.

Some of the athletes were forced out by injuries or strong competition, but the China Daily newspaper, thought to be the mouthpiece of the government, also said “politics” had played a part.

“There were some surprising exclusions … who would have a realistic shot at winning gold next month,” the paper said.

The most obvious political victim was Tian Liang, nicknamed the “diver prince” after winning gold medals in the ten-metre platform dive at both the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

Tian, 28, was kicked off the national team in 2005 for unashamedly endorsing everything from wooden floors to seafood snacks. “He was producing a negative influence on the preparation for the 2008 Olympics,” said a sports official.

He also hit the gossip columns for his relationship with fellow diver Guo Jingjing and they were dubbed the “Posh and Becks” of Chinese sport. She managed to stay on the team after she publicly denounced her behaviour.

Since then, Tian has tried to rehabilitate his career by competing at provincial level and refusing to criticise the administration for what happened. He carried the Olympic torch as it passed through Xi’an. However, he was still left out of the team and has voiced his “regrets”.

Yeah, China will win loads of medals by kicking their superstars off the team because they don’t toe the party line. But this is why these regimes die anyway.

When people are restricted from pursuing their dreams because some bureaucrat believes his talents lie elsewhere, people give up. A whole society of people not invested in their own success won’t be invested in the country’s success. So, the dictators get the exact opposite of what they hope for. Domination can come at the point of a gun, but sustained success and winning comes from from freedom to pursue what one loves.

Cross-posted at RightWingNews