Sunday, September 02, 2007

Believe me, believe me, believe me

Bruce Bawer has a piece on the LATimes OpEd page, wherein he says about his target, the so-called "peace racket":
I'm not talking here about a bunch of naive Quakers or idealistic high school students, but about a movement of savvy, ambitious professionals that is already comfortably ensconced at the United Nations, in the European Union and in many nongovernmental organizations. The peace racket, as I've come to think of it, embraces scores of "peace institutes" and "peace centers" in the U.S. and Europe, plus several hundred peace studies programs at universities such as UC Berkeley and Cornell.

What's more, this movement is also waging an aggressive, under-the-media-radar campaign for a Cabinet-level "Peace Department" in the United States. Sponsored by Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (along with more than 60 co-sponsors), HR 808 would authorize a secretary of Peace to "establish a Peace Academy," to "develop a peace education curriculum" for elementary and secondary schools, and to provide "grants for peace studies departments" at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.

All this sounds lovely, of course. Decent people prefer peace to war, life to death, nonviolence to violence. But they also prefer freedom to tyranny -- and the peace studies movement, all too often, promotes a mentality that plays directly into the hands of despots.

While the prose isn't as tortured as Dennis Miller's, the idea is the same:
As for the peace racket's recommendations, if democracies consistently followed them, they'd eventually reap the kind of peace found today in Havana or Pyongyang.

In other words, we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

Bawer excoriates Johan Galtung, who he claims is:
The founding father of the global peace movement is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor, Johan Galtung, who established the International Peace Research Institute in 1959. Invariably portrayed in the media as a charismatic and (these days) grandfatherly champion of decency, Galtung is in fact nothing of the sort. He's called the U.S. a "killer country," accused it of "neo-fascist state terrorism," and gleefully prophesied that it will soon follow Britain "into the graveyard of empires."

Well, not really. In the mis-quoted speech that is probably the only thing Bawer has actually read of Galtung's, what he actually says is:
what we are witnessing is the geo-fascist state terrorism of US imperialism, following the defunct British Empire, soon to follow it into the graveyard of empires. In my research-based opinion at the latest by 2020, but, past experience being a guide, there is more to come. By some counts the attack on Iraq is US aggression no. 239 after the Thomas Jefferson start in the early 19th century and no. 69 after the Second World War; with between 12 and 16 million killed in that period alone. All in flagrant contradiction of the most basic human rights, like the "right to life, liberty and security of persons" (UD:3) and the condemnation of the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (UD:5). In a Pentagon Planner's chilling words: "The de facto role of the United States Armed Forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing". [1]

I can't read any gleeful tone in that. Sorry, dude. The reality is that, like the aforementioned Dennis Miller, Bawer is a guy who seemed to have some leftward leanings at one time, but who has become so traumatized by 9/11 that he sees a jingoistic need for America to keep its John Wayne boots on as we take on the oncoming Muslim hordes, which he warns us of in the book called "While Europe Slept" for which this OpEd is really a sales blurb.

But he gives his bias away here:

That's the message in a nutshell -- and students find themselves graded largely on their willingness to echo it. Take the case of Brett Mock, who wrote in Front Page magazine about a peace studies class he took in 2004 at Ball State University, which he called "indoctrination rather than education" and which he said was "designed entirely to de-legitimize the use of the military in the defense of our country." To get full credit, Mock reported, students had to "meditate at the Peace Studies center," "attend Interfaith Fellowship meetings" or join PeaceWorkers -- a group for which the teacher, George Wolfe, served as faculty advisor.

Front Page Magazine is the evil spawn of culture crank David Horowitz, who I've written about before. No links now, but the case in question is the opposite of the way it is being presented. Mock was annoyed that his right-wing views were not permitted to dominate the class. Having taught college classes with pretty bright students, I maintain that I'm there to teach, not to validate idiocy.

In fact, Bawer has written in Front Page Mag before where he criticizes several writers who criticize the US:
The victory over Soviet Communism is not the only honorable chapter of American history that Hertsgaard trashes. World War II? Though he grants that the U.S. saved Western Europe, he puts the word “saving” in scare quotes and maintains that “America had its own reasons” (economic, naturally) for performing this service. September 11? Here, in its entirety, is what he has to say about that cataclysmic day: “Suddenly Americans had learned the hard way: what foreigners think does matter.” The Iraq War? An atrocity against innocent civilians—nothing more. There’s no reference here to Saddam’s torture cells, imprisoned children, or mass graves, no mention of the fact that millions of Iraqis who lived in terror are now free. Instead, Hertsgaard cites with approval a U.N. official’s smug comment that Americans, who never understand anything anyway, have failed to grasp “that Iraq is not made up of twenty-two million Saddam Husseins” but of families and children. For a proper response to this remark, I need only quote from an address made to the Security Council by Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari on December 16, 2003. Accusing the U.N. of failing to save Iraq from “a murderous tyranny,” Zebari said: “Today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure. The United Nations must not fail the Iraqi people again.”

Hertsgaard compares America unfavorably not only with Europe but—incredibly—with Africa. If “many Europeans speak two if not three languages,” he rhapsodizes, “in Africa, multilingualism is even more common.” So, one might add, are poverty, starvation, rape, AIDS infection, state tyranny and corruption, and such human-rights abominations as slavery, female genital mutilation, and the use of children as soldiers and prostitutes.

Get a grip. Whether the criticisms of the US are over the top or not, or even unfair, publishing in Horowitz's rag dilutes and diffuses your message.

Here's more critique of Bawer:
Bawer's views are highly critical of radical, fundamentalist Islam, but there seems to be some blurring of the distinction between Islam as a religion in general and those who are fundamentalists. There is also a spill over involving immigrants to Europe from Islamic countries. Bawer rejects the characterization of "racism" because he says he is actually criticizing religious views. This is a red herring as he also attacks people who are ethnically distinct from Europeans (many in the Muslim community), advocates mass deportations, and appears sympathetic to neo-Nazi fringe political parties.

Here is what he says about his critics: "One of the most disgraceful developments of our time is that many Western authors and intellectuals who pride themselves on being liberals have effectively aligned themselves with an outrageously illiberal movement that rejects equal rights for women, that believes that gays and Jews should be executed, that supports the coldblooded murder of one's own children in the name of honor, etc., etc."

Enough said. America is unquestionably good. Anyone who criticizes America is Islamofascist. Or something.