The great and powerful Eric Reasons send us a fantastic link by tying it to a dead ptarmigan and tossing it our way through the Castle window (which was closed):
Thought I’d toss this your way after your excellent rant about how each side is missing the forest for the trees in the aftermath of the embassy attacks/protests this week.
What I took away from today’s news, (on the off chance that you find this interesting): what hope is there for freedom in cultures that don’t necessarily reject freedom of speech, but can’t even conceive of it?
Ancient Amongst the Gormogon Blog Rollers
First off, let us confirm you are the very first blog roll honoree, but allow the Czar to make a small correction. Your date in which we recommended your site is a bit off. Actually, we first promoted you back on May 3, 1972. You may wish to update your records.
Secondly, our Gormogon readers should read the linked piece; Eric was right to send it to our attention. Within, although the Czar will not do your assigned reading for you, Eric reasons (see what we did!) that any arguments for or against freedom of speech are meaningless against the prevailing Egyptian psychology, which not only cannot comprehend of such a concept (for the most part), but is further unable to separate President Barack Obama from some imaginary movie somebody else made.
This is exactly correct. The Czar would like to remind the rest of the media that a 17-minute mini-mess of an insulting parody on YouTube made by an imaginary Israeli-American filmmaker (but apparently made by a very real Egyptian hoaxer looking to spark a violent protest) is not a trailer for an upcoming movie. You have been duped by the bad guys, and you keep repeating their lie either because you want to believe it, or you enjoy seeing these protests spread. By the way, media, you think most of these protestors even have access to YouTube? No, that’s been shut off by their governments, so they are simply reacting to what you keep repeating. Nice work, jerks.
Eric’s piece is fundamentally correct: the typical Egyptian protestor is as unswayed by discussions of the range of acceptable free speech as a badger would be impressed by your algebra homework. This is beyond alien—it is not worth the time to ponder. And Eric points out, this is far more reaching than just Egypt—Eric highlights a quote that most Europeans cannot fathom how free speech is supposed to work. And sadly, Eric concludes with perfect logic that democracy as we expect it will never happen when the very first liberty is an alien concept.
The Czar would add two more points to this. And Eric was nice enough to let us do it, because both points are ages-old hot topics here at the Castle. The Czar will reference our own dear Confucius* here, who really developed these anchors of foreign policy analysis, and hopes he explained them faithfully. Because to the Czar’s mind, we have seen both exhibited this week.
The first, which ties into Eric’s concern, is that of a Supplication Slap Down. Any time the United States offers an olive branch to an enemy, it is an attempt to supplicate to them in their eyes. And we act surprised when they smack it out of our hand. Carter and Clinton’s attempts to negotiate peace with Israel and other Muslim countries is not seen as a friendly gesture, but as an admission of weakness. And weakness must be punished, in the psychology of centuries-old cultural prejudice.
So when President Obama makes speeches in Cairo about all the warmth and sunshine America has for that part of the world—why, we are apparently and without evidence the largest Muslim country in the world, he said—it means that we won’t rain Hellfire missiles down on your family. When Obama shuns Israel openly and begins an obscene fued with Israeli leadership, it means that the United States is too weak to even protect Israel. And when we tweet out that we mean no harm to the people storming our embassy and burning it, it means take what you want.
We think that we are reassuring them we want to be friends. The psychology there is different: they see it was a dare, or a challenge. Go ahead and pop us in the mouth, the messages say, we can take it. Do your worst!
Okay then, here it comes.
The other major foreign policy mistake Americans keep making is the Fallacy of Foreign-Political Egocentrism. This is one that continuously plagued Carter, Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush. This fallacy assumes that countries in the world really care about what America thinks, partially because they want to be like us.
Here it is, for all those Departments of State: other countries don’t care about us as much as we fantasize. They worry about themselves. Egypt worries mostly about Egypt. Iran worries mostly about Iran. Russia worries about Russia. And so on.
When we offer gestures to these countries to be nice, they really don’t care. “Yeah, that’s great,” they admit and take the gift; but Americans are surprised when nothing is given back. We offer to condemn this fake movie. We tweet that we love and respect all religions. We issue statements that America respects freedom of speech.
The other countries of the world think so what? There’s nothing it for us, they counter. It is fine and well that Mrs. Agnes Murray of Canton, Ohio, enjoys freedom of speech and religion; we do not, the protestors think.
Until our State Department wakes up to this reality, that the protestors are not going to listen to calm, rational observations about American constitutional principles—as Eric explains, they don’t even comprehend them for the most part—then we will see the protests spread from country to country, just as we are seeing.
Because what they do understand is that President Obama is a weak horse: he has neither the desire nor capacity to deal with this. And never mind whether or not this is a failure of the President, the Secretary of State, the Embassy staff, the military, or whomever…again, those are our distinctions—they see President Obama as the American government. If you disagree, read Eric’s quotes in his blog—at least one protestor thinks President Obama produced the movie himself, because that’s what their government does.
All the protestors understand that the more they pillage and burn our embassies, the more they can get away with. Maybe they’re right.
*For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons’ Œcumenical Volgi.