Did you think you would live to see this?

Swedish Flag   MYes, I know that it is the newspaper of a far-right political party, a fringe group that wants strict immigration controls and has little or no mainstream role in Swedish politics.

But did you ever think that you would live to see this news story? The Swedish government has shut down a newspaper website, reacting to its stance in favor of publishing cartoons of Muhammad. Here is Islam Online‘s take on the same story:

The site’s host, Levonline, pulled the plug on the website of the Swedish Democrats’ SD-Kuriren newspaper after consulting with the government. It is believed to be the first time a Western government has intervened to block a publication in the growing row.

Kuriren editor Richard Jomshof said the government was breaking the law.

“We have to do something about it. This is illegal. They can’t do this just because we are a small magazine,” he told the BBC News website.

Once again, government officials have found themselves in a double bind. They are for free speech. But they are not for free speech by small groups of offensive people or, at least, people who are willing to offend the wrong religious groups.

Once there was a saying that free speech does not include the right to shout “Fire!” (or, perhaps, “Burn, baby, burn!”) in a crowded building. Now, it seems, there is no right to shout “We disagree with your doctrine!” in a small, crowded nation. This is what that press theory sounds like in practice:

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds described Kuriren’s move as “a provocation” by “a small group of extremists.”

“I will defend freedom of the press no matter what the circumstances, but I strongly condemn the provocation by SD-Kuriren. It displays a complete lack of respect,” she said in a statement.

However, it should be noted that there are press reports that the SD-Kuriren website is — at the moment — back online via a backup server. (Then again, maybe not.) In the age of the World Wide Web, you can put servers anywhere. But, up until now, I think most people would have assumed that Sweden was the kind of place where offensive people, just to be safe, wanted to locate their servers. As a friend of mine said today: You mean there is something that is too offensive for the Swedish government?

By the way, here is my understanding of where many mainstream American newspapers are at the moment. They are confused and conflicted. Click here for a National Journal look at the Catch-22.

flag danishOr, once again, let’s take The New York Times as the MSM outlet of record.

In the past, it has been the position of the Times that it is censorship, in reality if not in law, for government officials to deny government money to artists and communicators who wanted to produce offensive speach that offended religious groups. Perhaps the Times is gaining a new appreciation for the power of religious images, in this current debate. However, it would seem that the long-established stance of the Times editorial board would lead it to argue that it would be censorship for the Swedish government (or the Danes) to deny actual government funds to artists and communicators who wanted to prod, provoke and offend religious orthodoxies.

Then again, perhaps this does not apply to all religions.

Then again, perhaps — for the Times editorial board, and editorial-page leaders in some other zip codes — journalists are not artists and communicators.

One final comment, after looking at the controversial flags together: Do flags burn better in certain parts of the world when they have crosses on them? Just asking.

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Not getting it, again

nytIt’s not the first time I’ve written about The New York Times not getting it. Sadly, this is not the first time the NYT has missed it (remember the Holocaust).

So says Andrew Sullivan:

So we now discover that the hideously offensive and blasphemous cartoons — so blasphemous that CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post won’t publish them … were reprinted last October. In Egypt. On the front frigging page. No one rioted. No editor at Al Fager was threatened. So it’s official: the Egyptian state media is less deferential to Islamists than the New York Times. So where were the riots in Cairo? This whole affair is a contrived, manufactured attempt by extremist Muslims to move the goal-posts on Western freedom. They’re saying: we determine what you can and cannot print; and there’s a difference between what Muslims can print and what infidels can print. And, so far, much of the West has gone along. In this, well-meaning American editors have been played for fools and cowards. Maybe if they’d covered the murders of von Gogh and Fortuyn more aggressively they’d have a better idea of what’s going on; and stared down this intimidation. The whole business reminds me of the NYT‘s coverage of the Nazis in the 1930s. They didn’t get the threat then. They don’t get it now.

I’ve become more and more convinced of the importance of this issue. After some thought, I don’t feel, like Sullivan, that the NYT or the Post should print these cartoons. It would only inflame the situation and accomplish little.

But it does matter that extremist Muslims have been able to whip up a huge frenzy over how the Danes — I repeat, the Danes — have allegedly insulted an entire religion and now this group, whoever they may be, are attempting to make a free democratic state bow to their wishes.

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The Danes are confused (me too)

dk sggflLet me offer many thanks to the Divine Ms. M and young master Daniel Pulliam for doing so much in the past few days to keep us in touch with the tidal wave of stories about the Danish cartoons. I literally do not know where to begin and, during five days of travel, I have felt somewhat stunned and confused by what I am reading. I am home again and starting to catch up.

What I am feeling is precisely what I felt in the weeks and months after the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, a freethinker who would, under ordinary circumstances, be an icon in places like New York City and Hollywood.

Here is how I would state the question that is at the heart of my confusion: Why is it suddenly liberal for liberals to think that conservatives are out of line for defending the free speech rights of liberals?

Apparently I am not alone in my confusion.

Over at the Los Angeles Times, reporter Jeffrey Fleishman has written a news feature story about the waves of confusion — mixed with some rage — that are sweeping over Denmark. This is a good piece to read if you are wondering where this whole story began, because it does flashback to the beginning and offer timely background materials.

At one point, Fleishman pauses to paint the scene in broad strokes that verge on analysis. But I think his reporting backs it up. The key, if you read between the lines, is this: the future of the European Union is tied to this crisis. That is the political issue that is an obvious stalking horse for the larger clash of cultures.

Danes suspect that the furor over the cartoons has been co-opted by the wider anti-Western agenda of Middle East extremism. Yet they believe the media images of fury over the drawings have cracked the veneer of their nation and exacerbated a debate about immigration, freedom of expression, religious tolerance and a vaunted perception of racial harmony often disputed by immigrants.

Denmark is a small portrait of Europe’s struggle to integrate a Muslim population that has doubled since the late-1980s and dotted the continent with head scarves and back-alley mosques. … Recent polls reveal a country of torn emotions and doubt. The Danish People’s Party has gained 3 percentage points, but so has its nemesis, the Radical Left Party. A newspaper headline this week blamed President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for not supporting Denmark through the ordeal. And nearly 80% of Danes believe a terrorist attack looms.

Or consider this reaction from Flemming Rose, the editor who commissioned the cartoons to make a point that journalists and artists were self-censoring themselves in their depictions of Islam and debates about Islam. He argues that Islam should not be treated differently than Christianity or other religions, when it comes to parody and satire. Under normal circumstances, this is a “liberal” statement.

“I think it’s problematic when a religion tries to impose its taboos and rules on the larger society,” he said. “When they ask me not to run those cartoons, they are not asking for my respect. They’re asking for my submission. … To me, those cartoons are saying that some individuals have hijacked, kidnapped and taken hostage the religion of Islam to commit terrorism.”

Then again, the meaning of the word “Islam” is “submission,” as in the statement that true peace is found through submission to the teachings of Islam.

What does this mean? That is one of the points of debate within Islam. Do the Danes want to submit to the laws of Islam? Does Europe? Stay tuned.

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A double standard at the BBC and NYT?

ruscha double standard2Andrew Sullivan has been unrelenting in his criticism of The New York Times for calling the Muhammad cartoons “callous and feeble cartoons, cooked up as a provocation by a conservative newspaper exploiting the general Muslim prohibition on images of the Prophet Muhammad to score cheap points about freedom of expression.”

Sullivan slams NYT editors for being cowards on this issue and calls them out for publishing images of the Virgin Mary constructed out of dung — but not the Danish cartoons.

An underlying theme in this issue — as pointed out by National Public Radio’s Bob Garfield — is the great lengths that Western European media have been sympathetic and accommodating to Muslims around the world and how they’ve basically lost patience with Islam for reacting this way.

Exactly how accommodating has the press been in Europe?

Sullivan points to a letter (via Andrew Stuttaford at National Review‘s The Corner) in the Times from Will Wyatt, former BBC chief executive, who addresses the inconsistency between the BBC’s history of Islam and Christianity. Here’s what Wyatt had to say:

Sir, I applaud the BBC’s news treatment of the Danish cartoons (report, Feb 4). On its website, however, the cultural cringe is evident and double standards obtain. In its history of Islam we read: “One night in 610 he (Muhammad) was meditating in a cave on the mountain when he was visited by the angel Jibreel who ordered him to “recite” … words which he came to understand were the words of God.” This is written as fact, no “it is said” or “Muhammad reported”. Whenever Muhammad’s name is mentioned the BBC adds “Peace be upon him”, as if the corporation itself were Muslim.

How different, and how much more accurate, when we turn to Christianity. Here, Jesus’ birth “is believed by Christians to be the fulfilment of prophesies in the Jewish Old Testament”; Jesus “claimed that he spoke with the authority of God”; accounts of his resurrection appearances were “put about by his believers”.

Go judge for yourself. Here is a link to the BBC’s history of Muhammad and here is a link to the BBC’s history of Christianity. Since when does a secular news organization follow the name of Muhammad with (peace be upon him), or even worse, the acronym (pbuh).

I’ve been wondering why fewer American publications have chosen to publish the cartoons, if simply for their news value. Offending someone certainly has not held them back from publishing gruesome and offensive photos in the past (think Sept. 11 photos or the aforementioned pieces of “art”). I chose not to publish the cartoons on my own blog for reasons of fear (sad, I know), and it’s comforting for me to know that I was not the only one who held back for such reasons. Here’s what The Phoenix had to say:

There are three reasons not to publish the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed with his turban styled as a bomb and the other images that have sparked violent protests and deaths throughout Europe, the Middle East, West Asia, and Indonesia:

1) Out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do. This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question. Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.

Compare that explanation with what NPR’s Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin had to say (hint: “balance considerations of taste”). Are American media organizations running scared?

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Are civilizations clashing?

clash1Political events in the Muslim world have taken a decidedly extremist turn. As we’ve said repeatedly on this site, those in the Western world must understand the Islamic world if a Clash of Civilizations is to be avoided. Some would say this is inevitable, but I would prefer the optimistic viewpoint and hold that this clash is avoidable.

Paul Marshall, a friend of the blog and senior fellow at Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, summarizes the out-of-control cartoon situation in this Weekly Standard article.

This thoughtful and well-researched piece of journalism in The Economist goes a great length in explaining current events — the political rise of Hamas in Palestine, Iran’s extremist government and ongoing nuclear research, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the American occupation in Iraq and Islamic-rooted terrorism around the world — as well as the roots of these events.

I apologize that I am linking to a pay site but this article was too good for me to ignore. Here’s a key section:

For all these reasons, outside observers might be forgiven for thinking that political Islam, in various violent forms, was on the march against the West. In fact, the Islamist movement, though it may look monolithic from afar, is highly quarrelsome and diverse, and in many ways its internal divisions are deepening.

By no means everybody in the Muslim world rejoiced at the Hamas victory. It was disturbing in at least two different quarters. One was the corridors of power in Arab states, such as Jordan and Egypt, where the Brotherhood is already a powerful grass-roots movement and is steadily gaining confidence. In Egypt’s partially-free elections last November, the Brotherhood did far better than expected; and in Jordan, where the Brothers have long been treated as an innocuous vent for letting off anti-Israel and anti-western steam, the movement is demanding a higher profile.

Even more dismayed by the Hamas victory, it seems, are the al-Qaeda terrorist network and its sympathisers. They were already furious with Hamas for compromising with secular liberal ideas by taking part in multi-party elections, and the fact that Hamas has played the democratic game rather successfully will only increase their dismay.

Here lies a paradox. The two best known forms of political Islam (broadly speaking, al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood) have common ideological origins. Both have their roots in the anti-secular opposition in Egypt, a conservative reading of Sunni Islam and the wealth and religious zeal of the Saudis. But they differ hugely over politics and tactics.

Based on information presented in this article, it appears to me that the Bush administration vastly misjudged Muslim reaction to an invasion of Iraq. Muslims may not have liked the corrupt, evil, secular Saddam Hussein government, but he was certainly better than an American-imposed governmental system and an occupation that Muslims see as the source of the conflict between Muslims in that country.

clash3Religion matters to these people in ways that we Americans (even Red Staters) have trouble understanding. While the United States has a 200-plus-year tradition of separation of church and state, Muslims know nothing of the sort and their extremists are not shy in resorting to violence:

Observing the ideological fights between al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood, and the physical fights between Sunnis and Shias, some American strategists might ask themselves: since they all oppose us and our allies, shouldn’t we take comfort from the fact that they hate each other too?

In reality, things don’t work that way. However little the arcana of Sunni or Shia theology are understood in Peoria or even in Washington, DC, the hard fact is that the American occupation of Iraq has made it appear, to many people in the Middle East, that America is now the main arbiter in the balance of power between the different components of the Islamic world. To put it another way, people who were already inclined to see almost every development in the Islamic world as America’s work will be harder to dissuade.

Despite the darkening clouds in America’s relationship with Iran, many Sunni Muslims are convinced that the Bush administration is subverting their faith by favouring the Shia cause in Iraq and hence promoting Iranian influence. In the slums of eastern Amman, for example, people hardly knew what Shia Islam was until recently. Now the word has spread that neighbouring Iraq is about to get a Shia-dominated government — and, moreover, that it is all America’s fault.

Nor can America escape this opprobrium by tilting its Iraqi policy a few degrees in a more pro-Sunni direction. Anything that seems to favour the Sunnis can also be interpreted as giving heart to the Saudi establishment, royal or clerical. And that in turn will be seen as a boost to Saudi efforts to spread various forms of Sunni fundamentalism all over the world.

The contrasts between different varieties of Islam, and Islamism, are not trivial — either in their teachings or the behaviour they inspire. The western world needs to know about them, if only to know which outcomes and shifts of policy are conceivable, and which are not. But woe betide any western strategist who thinks the problems of the Muslim world can be addressed by a policy of “divide and rule”. The most likely result of that is that western countries will be blamed for divisions that have already existed, in one form or another, since the founding of Islam.

clash2These conflicts go back dozens of centuries, as the article adeptly explains, and without a proper understanding it would be foolhardy for a government to consider intervening.

The same goes for journalists and media organizations. I fully support the freedom of the press, especially in the reprinting of cartoons in support of free speech, but did the originators of this controversy have any idea what they were getting themselves into?

As Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly Die Zeit, stated in Tuesday’s Washington Post, most Western news organizations would not have printed those offensive cartoons on a normal day, but once they became news, they were fair game by any journalist’s standard and when freedom is threatened by violence, the natural and proper reaction of the free is to flex that freedom.

The conflict between two civilizations is well underway. With careful diplomacy and an educated public we may walk away from the brink of what nobody really wants in this world.

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Can ballots and technology win souls?

kids koran hamasI was surprised that Peggy Noonan did not do much with the echo of the “ending tyranny” theme in President Bush’s State of the Union address, the almost messianic theme that had been so controversial in the 2005 address.

Still, she made it clear that she thinks that some tensions remain on that issue, saying of the president:

He asserted more than he persuaded, and he chose to redeclare his beliefs rather than argue for them in any depth. If you believe, as he does, that the No. 1 priority for the American government at this point in history is to lead an international movement for political democracy, and if you believe, as he truly seems to, that political democracy is in and of itself a certain bringer of world-wide peace, than this speech was for you. If not, not. It went through a reported 30 drafts, was touched by many hands, and seemed it.

However, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has written a column that I believe points at a major story that is developing linked to this administration’s understanding of the role of faith in the blood-soaked Middle East and, now, in the world as a whole.

It seems to me that when people as diverse and talented as Cohen and Noonan are worried about the same basic issue, it’s time to pay attention. I wonder how many evangelicals are thinking twice about the president’s belief that mere democracy can destroy tyranny and evil. What if people who hate democracy — or, at least, the concepts codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — win in a majority vote?

Thus, Cohen writes of the recent Palestinian vote:

The mistake of the Bush administration is to think, based on not much thinking to begin with, that people are people — pretty much the same the world over. This is why the president extols democracy. It must be what everyone wants because it is what everyone here wants. To denigrate this kind of talk suggests racism — You mean we are not all the same? — or a musty neocolonialism. But the hard truth is that culture and religion matter, and we should not expect moderation just because that’s how we would react. Toto knows the truth. The Middle East is not Kansas.

The leaders of Hamas brim with the word of God and the certainty of their cause. From here on they will lie about their ultimate aim and smilingly assure us that what they have always said they no longer mean.

Well, you know you are in an interesting and disturbing age when you can leap straight from a Cohen column in the Washington Post to a cover story in the Weekly Standard without skipping a beat.

GetReligion readers may have missed this scary essay by retired U.S. Army officer Ralph Peters, in part because the cover title and the headlines offer no clue whatsoever that religion plays a major role in it. Just look for the headline “The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs” and then make sure that you keep reading until you hit the subheadline “Wars of Faith” (in the print edition, that is).

On one level, Peters’ article is about America’s urgent drive to develop a highly technological military for fast-moving combat on a large scale, while our world is increasingly dominated by conflicts involving “flesh, faith and cities.” The symbol of the real world today is what he calls the media-based “liturgy” of the suicide bomber, that brilliant combination of human will and explosives.

Not a single item in our trillion-dollar arsenal can compare with the genius of the suicide bomber — the breakthrough weapon of our time. … We refuse to comprehend the suicide bomber’s soul — even though today’s wars are contests of souls, and belief is our enemy’s ultimate order of battle. We write off the suicide bomber as a criminal, a wanton butcher, a terrorist. Yet, within his spiritual universe, he’s more heroic than the American soldier who throws himself atop a grenade to spare his comrades: He isn’t merely protecting other men, but defending his god. …

Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers.

gaza hamas demonstrationIt is, Peters writes, hard to fight solitary prophets hiding in crowds of fellow believers with a military that worships computers and satellites. America’s leaders do not believe that they are involved in a religious war. However, our enemies believe that they are involved in a religious war against us.

Noonan is worried that America cannot automatically install democracy and defeat tyranny.

Cohen is worried that our government fails to understand the power of faith, especially a faith that is opposed to the freedoms of the West.

Peters is afraid our military leaders do not understand that cruise missiles cannot defeat prophets. This is where his article reaches a crescendo that, to me, seems to be aimed straight at the White House and the military elites that answer to it.

Hang on, because this gets blunt.

A dangerous asymmetry exists in the type of minds working the problem of Islamist terrorism in our government and society. On average, the “experts” to whom we are conditioned to listen have a secular mentality (even if they go to church or synagogue from habit). And it is a very rare secular mind that can comprehend religious passion — it’s like asking a blind man to describe the colors of fire. …

Those who feel no vital faith cannot comprehend faith’s power. A man or woman who has never been intoxicated by belief will default to mirror-imaging when asked to describe terror’s roots. He who has never experienced a soul-shaking glimpse of the divine inevitably explains religion-driven suicide bombers in terms of a lack of economic opportunity or social humiliation. But the enemies we face are burning with belief, on fire with their vision of an immanent, angry god. Our intelligentsia is less equipped to understand such men than our satellites are to find them.

All of our technologies and comforting theories are confounded by the strength of the soul ablaze with faith.

There is much, much more to read on this theme in Peters’ essay and he does move on to other issues. But you can read that on your own. Nevertheless, the emphasis on faith trumping modernity and technology never goes away. Do not read this article right before you go to bed.

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The faith that makes a terrorist tick

Osama bin LadenSometimes I wonder how often journalists covering Islamic terrorism actually get to interview a terrorist. That’s a scary proposition in many ways. One way or another, those responsible for giving the public a clear understanding of Islamic terrorism must understand the religious underpinnings of terrrorists’ worldview and moral philosophy.

For those disinclined to understand the terrorists personally — or unable to reach them in the rocky coves of Afghanistan or Pakistan — a well-researched book seems to be the next best option, as noted earlier in this space.

This book review by Los Angeles Times writer Tim Rutten on Knowing the Enemy Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror by Mary Habeck digs into the broad subject of Islam and where jihadis get their religious philosophy. It isn’t pretty:

Because Habeck is deadly serious about the jihadis’ religiosity, she is scrupulous about their relationship to contemporary Islam. It would be “evil,” she argues, to contend that a billion-plus Muslims supported or desired the mass murder that occurred on 9/11. Nor is it correct to conflate jihadi ideology with Islamist politics, such as those of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. On the other hand, she writes, it “would be just as wrong to conclude that the hijackers, Al Qaeda and the other radical groups have nothing to do with Islam.”

Nor can the jihadis’ key beliefs be dismissed as “the marginal opinions of a few fanatics. The principal dogmas that they assert … have roots in discussions about Islamic law and theology that began soon after the death of Muhammad and that are supported by important segments of the clergy today.”

Here an American reader confronts the necessity of reaching beyond the undergraduate impulse that equates a facile acceptance with tolerance. It’s a step that requires the recognition, as the philosopher Richard Rorty once put it, that some ideas, like some people, are just “no damn good.”

Reporters are not inclined to dismiss ideas merely because they “are just ‘no damn good.’” In covering terrorism, the argument that “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” is very attractive, particularly if one is attempting to write articles that are not biased in one direction or another. But those types of comparisons are fraught with moral inconsistencies.

Here’s a bit of information that I had not seen elsewhere and should be considered when people call for us to withdraw our military from Iraq to appease the terrorists:

One of Habeck’s more interesting insights concerns the violent jihadis’ tendency to borrow strategies directly from the narratives contained in the Koran and hadith. For example, Bin Laden’s recent offer of a “truce” with the United States actually recapitulates a tactic Muhammad is said to have employed to conquer the tribe that controlled Mecca.

The real import of Habeck’s book is its suggestion that because the jihadis really believe what they say they do — and act on it — studying their texts and comments could yield the effective anti-terrorism that so far has eluded George W. Bush’s administration.

I suggest reading the article and then the book if one has the time. The implications to getting the Islamic terrorism threat wrong are staggering for both journalists and our nation’s leaders.

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The Bush doctrine: Heaven on earth?

mountainI was busy writing a column last night and didn’t watch the State of the Union. However, I think it’s safe to predict that, once again, there will be lively debate among some conservatives about President Bush’s restatement of his claims that American can, almost literally, create peace on earth.

Here is the key section of the speech, taken from the text posted at the New York Times (which includes some wonderful interactive links to related documents):

Abroad, our nation is committed to a historic long-term goal. We seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On Sept. 11, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time.

It isn’t hard to figure out who Bush is pointing toward with his “some dismiss that goal” reference and, in this case, he is underlining a public disagreement with a certain conservative columnist. That would be Peggy Noonan, an outspoken Christian who also knows a thing or two about writing presidential speeches. A year ago, Noonan penned a post-SOTU piece that stunned many on the right, especially the religious right. Click here to flash back to that Wall Street Journal column. Meanwhile, here is a sample:

Ending tyranny in the world? Well that’s an ambition, and if you’re going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn’t expect we’re going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it’s earth.

This morning, another outspoken conservative — Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher of the Dallas Morning News — lit into the top Texan against tyranny with a similar online comment.

The key question: Is there such a thing as a bad democracy? Or, stated another way, does the creation of democracies automatically defeat tyranny in a region? After 12 months of balloting in the Middle East, Dreher has some doubts:

What the president said was complete nonsense. “Dictatorships shelter terrorists?” Shoot, the Palestinians just elected terrorists! And you don’t think Palestinian democracy “feed(s) resentment and radicalism?” It’s their raison d’etre! And there is absolutely no reason to conclude that democracies will join the fight against terror. Some will — and some will foment terror, if that is the wish of their people.

Perhaps Noonan will write again in a day or so. Watch this space (or the Journal‘s archives section).

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