Monday, March 13, 2006

The War of Ideas

The reaction of the Right to the Feingold proposal is typical of them.
He is a traitor to America. He is helping the terrorists. He is posturing for votes.

Poor, poor Right.
Don't they know how much they are helping AlQaida with their attacks?

Terrorism is primarily a war of ideas.
Think about it. Territory is not captured, armies do not clash. Instead, two ways of thought collide in battle, vying for the support of the general populace.
And, yes, America is losing. Why? Because we are discrediting all our ideas, all our values, all our talking points.
How do you win a war when you smash your own guns?

The battle: Democracy vs. Tyranny.
On the face of it, America should win hands down. They tell everyone that in a democracy, people have rights, while in a dictatorship, only the leaders have rights. In a democracy, dissenting voices are heard, while in a dictatorship, only the voice of the government is allowed. In a democracy, leaders are accountable, while in a dictatorship, leaders get away with murder. America trumpets these ideas to try to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis.
And then?
And then protesters at official functions are made to stay in fenced off areas, away from everyone else. And then laws are passed that let private property be seized by the State under Eminent Domain. And then right wing bloggers announce that the President doesn't have to answer for his actions, because we are at war. And then the vice-president shoots someone in the face, but doesn't get arrested. And then a movement starts to remove a senator from office because he requested a motion to censure the president.
And then the average Iraqi watches these things, and thinks "They say one thing, but that is not what they really believe." And the battle is lost.

The Battle: Christianity vs. Islam.
A harder battle to win, this, because Islam has the home advantage. Still, you would think that America and Christianity have several talking points. Christians believe in love over hate, friendship over fear. They beat their swords into plowshares, forgive their enemies. The parables of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Widow's Mite, all paint an inviting picture.
And it's the same God.
Where mullahs call for endless war and hate, ministers call for endless help for the poor and suffering. All and all, it looks like a slam dunk for Christianity.
And then?
And then Pat Robertson calls for an assassination. And then right wing bloggers start using words like "Islamofascist", "raghead", and "wiping out the false religion". And then Christians start excusing torture, denying science, and demanding obedience to their strict lifestyle.
And then the average Iraqi, seeing this, thinks "They are not what they say they are. They do not believe what they say they believe. By their own standards, they are damned."
And the terrorists win.

And it goes on and on. The latest battle, Senator Feingold, is a good example.
It doesn't matter whether the motion is right, whether it is traitorous, whether it is intelligent.
In a democracy, he has a right to say it, and others have a right to listen.
Mind control is the mark of the tyrant. A tyrant allows only one opinion - the one that favors him. Only in a democracy are you allowed to say crazy or unpopular things.
Look at the Cartoon scandal. Someone drew something that offended the powers that be in the Middle East, and the result was riot. America proudly places itself above such things - and then? The government expresses outrage over a Tom Toles cartoon. Newspapers regularly suppress comic strips that carry controversial content, even when they appear in family comics like For Better Or For Worse, or ultrapopular comics like Doonesbury.

The technical term for someone who preaches one thing and practices another is hypocrisy.
The title of hypocrite is not bestowed lightly. It doesn't apply to a backslider - sinner, or weakling is the usual term in those cases. No, hypocrite is reserved for those who knowingly, deliberately, and willingly ignore the ethics they demand from those around them.
Once gained, it is difficult to live down.
As the Right is about to learn. Again.

No comments: