"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Understanding "Understanding Condi"

It gives us no pleasure to state that we have lost considerable respect for Dr.Condoleezza Rice. In fact, acknowledging this is darned near painful This has come about through what we have read and have heard coming from Dr. Rice herself since she has become a high profile personage as secretary of state. Now the main stream media pays much more attention to citing her thoughts.

Dr. Rice is an extremely bright, highly educated, and highly accomplished professional. She did everything she has done on her own power, not climbing the affirmative action ladder for racial cripples. She deserves nothing but praise for these accomplishments. As a person, she seems top drawer. Borrowing from an old game, we could easily imagine a “cross country bus trip” with her as a seatmate. She would be charming, fascinating, and bedazzling with all she knows.

We also acknowledge that she came up through racially hard times, very hard times, in a place where injustice against those of her race was the norm. To be hated for nothing you have ever done to anyone but just because your racial heritage is not “modal” in the eyes of the majority has to be among the bitterest of pills. She, and all black Americans, should never have had to endure that. We, ourselves, are intimate with the social world she endured because we grew up in the segregated, racist Deep South starting some ten years earlier than she did—but our experiences are not germane here, except to exult in the death of that era.

No, it is what Condi tells us about herself and her personal philosophy that cuts so deeply.

Diana West, in her Jewish World Review column, Understanding Condi, 29 October 2005 adds to the philosophical profile of Dr. Rice in ways we were not privy to. Ms West begins by citing Dr. Rice’s “gotcha” comment: “…[W]hen the Founding Fathers said, `We the people,' they didn't mean me." Fair enough and accurate enough, as it goes. Then the trouble starts.

Says Ms West,

“…Ms. Rice drops it [the “gotcha” comment] in by way of illustrating the historic flaws of democracy, American-style; and this she drops in by way of dismissing the current flaws of democracy-building in the Muslim world.” What follows is astonishing: "We should note that unlike in our
Constitutional Convention, the Iraqis have not made a compromise as bad as the one that made my ancestors three-fifths of a man."
Has Dr. Rice heard that there is this thing called “Islam”?

Ms West hits the ball out of the part with this rejoinder:

“But it is the miracle of that 18th-century document that it contained the blueprint for abolition. By contrast, the 2005 Iraqi Constitution (also the 2003 Palestinian Authority constitution and the 2004 Afghanistan constitution) contains provisions for a sharia state under which all men are not created equal, and freedom of conscience is denied.”

Dr. Rice continues:

"Across the empire of Jim Crow, from upper Dixie to the lower Delta, the descendants of slaves shamed our nation with the power of righteousness and redeemed America at last from its original sin of slavery. By resolving the contradiction at the heart of our democracy, America finally found its voice as a true champion of democracy beyond its shores."

To which, Ms West responds:

"In this worldview, it's not, say, the 700,000 casualties of the Civil War plus one assassinated president who redeemed that original sin of slavery, but rather the civil rights movement that helped overturn Southern segregation laws a century later. Indeed, it was only at this relatively late date, if I'm reading Ms. Rice's words correctly, that America could finally sally forth as a "true champion of democracy"—which makes you wonder who it was who went to Belleau Wood in 1918, St Lo in 1945, and Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

"The implication seems clear: American democracy wasn't all that much to be proud of until the civil rights leaders Ms. Rice calls the "impatient patriots" — Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, for instance — came along. This supports one of her main policy points; namely, that even in America "democratization is a long and difficult process, not a singular event." So much for the miracle at Philadelphia."

Of course, we do not have the full transcript of one of these very typical speeches by Dr. Rice, but we have no reason to doubt Ms West. She is a superb journalist and thinker, possibly the best of today’s columnists. One of the reasons she is so very good is that she “gets it.”

Dr. Rice apparently does not “get it.” As a result, for the second time in this Bush presidency, we have a secretary of state who is not philosophically up to the job. Whether we have ever had one who ever was, other than Founders, could be debated ad infinitum.

Dr. Rice’s great deficiency is that she has no philosophy with which to focus that brilliant mind and extensive education, knowledge, and experience. In that sense, she is just another George Bush “chip off the old block.” And, it does not matter which George Bush we speak of—neither is a man of any substantive ideas with which to conduct the affairs of America.

Of course, Dr. Rice has some philosophy. We all do. We cannot avoid it as long as we possess the faculty of consciousness. She like most people has picked up this and that as she grew up, as she schooled, and as she has conducted herself through life. One of the problems of philosophy via “seine netting” is that your catch is an indiscriminate pile of EVERYTHING scooped by the moving net. She, like most people who have a “seine net philosophy of life,” has errors and serious conflicts. She has errors of omission and commission, and a whole lot of conclusions derived from feelings, random thoughts, some focused thoughts, and stuff passively accepted from adults and others around her. In this common means of arriving at a personal philosophy, nothing gets integrated in order to weed out the contradictions, or even to be able to recognize them.

Dr. Rice deals with the world in part, and surprisingly, through some American Negro prism from her formative years, one she and the rest of black America must now drop as obsolete and deleterious. As Diana West points out, American history and the profound significance of the measures to eliminate the evil of slavery do not begin for her until the Martin Luther King era. What a major disappointment from such a brilliant person.

Then, she makes some enormous epistemological errors, not the least of which is extending a blank check to that abysmal excuse for a constitution and a so-called “democracy” in Iraq. She seems to be saying: Why, we did not start out perfect, so why should they? Well, Dr. Rice, we started out by standing on the shoulders of Western civilization and the greatest thinkers of the world. We, America, were sired by the Enlightenment, the enshrinement of reason, the first since the Golden Age of Ancient Greece. The Enlightenment gave rise to the cardinal Rights of Man, derived from the nature of man and implemented through reason. Our Constitution is a masterpiece. Rereading it a couple of days ago for umpteenth time, we were just overwhelmed with its majesty.

Add to that our 218 years of life as a nation, which is unlike anything in history. We harnessed religion and abolished slavery. We provided the fertile means for the development and flourishment of capitalism, which has freed us all from the agonizing life before capitalism.

Once again, we should never have had slavery, not for one person, not for one day, ever. And, having abolished it, we should have had the human decency to welcome former slaves and their progeny into our national company to enjoy the same protection of the Rights of Man which they have as much as any of the rest of us. We should never have abused these men and women of color. And, worst of all since emancipation, we should never have reenslaved them with the welfare state, which has aborted their efforts at self-esteem and slowed their progress to a crawl. But, we made it, some 218 years late, but we are here.

What in Iraq compares in any way to anything in America? How can Dr. Rice see anything comparable or extend Iraqis any kind of blank check?

The answer “ain’t purdy.” She does this because she has the same thinking error that George Bush has, aside from not properly appreciating our own national history and philosophical development. Time after time, she proclaims, “Islam is a great religion.” Like GWB, she sees what Islam causes to be solely the result of those few who somehow bizarrely distort Islam. Has she read nothing about Islam? How can THE Secretary of State remain so ignorant? Citing Ms West again:

Only "cynics," as Ms. Rice said—the same people she said "once believed that blacks were unfit for democracy"—argue "that the people of the Middle East, perhaps because of their color or their creed or their culture or even perhaps because of their religion, are somehow incapable of democracy."

That goes far beyond “disappointing,” all the way to frightening. Yes, indeed, the answer is: Islamists, “…because of their religion, are somehow incapable of democracy.” Those who are Islam’s true believers ARE INCAPABLE OF DEMOCRACY. Maybe if Dr. Rice read Robert Spencer, Ibn Warraq, Serge Trifkovic, among many others, and some of the great blogs and websites, which tell the truth about Islam, she would drop the George W. Bush cognitive anchor.

The simple fact is that as long as Iraq adopts a constitution, which makes Islam the state religion and gives shari’a a major role in making and enforcing the laws of Iraq, our efforts in Iraq are doomed. For sure, they are doomed in the long run under such conditions, but the long run may turn out to be the intermediate term or the short run. These are not people in the tradition of Western civilization and the Enlightenment. They are in the tradition of Arabic tribes—tribes to this day, if you believe such still exist. They think with their feelings and their penises, and nothing higher. They are said to be among the best educated of the Middle Eastern Islamics, but that is akin to calling people who are able to read parts of a primer as educated. Yes, of course, a few Iraqis seem highly educated; most are at a primitive level of education compared to the Western world.

For all of the sins against blacks in America, let us never lose sight of the fact that these slaves were manumitted into Western culture, which their contemporary leaders want to destroy. Even those who became black rednecks, to borrow a term from Dr. Thomas Sowell, did so in a young nation, which stood on centuries of Western knowledge and tradition, which had percolated even down to white trash in the South, though it might have been hard to recognize in its popular form. Suppose those blacks had been released from slavery in Iraq? Just try to think of that without shuddering.

As for democracy, Dr. Rice, try this thought. In your childhood, in the dismal days of racist Alabama of the mid-20th century, you experienced democracy. No, it was not that bastardized, one-term-fits-all “democracy” slung around today as though it had meaning like “republic” has. This was the literal democracy of MAJORITY RULE. The white majority ruled, and the black minority suffered. That is not the case in a republic.

Democracy prevails in Iraq. In the north, Kurd majorities rule. In the south, Shiite majorities rule. In the middle, Sunni majorities rule. Why in the name of Hell would anyone want more “democracy”?

Dr. Rice joins many others bemoaning the status of women under Islam. Isn’t ½ a person in Islam less than 3/5ths of a person as our Constitution spelled it out before our Civil War? What about slaves? Under Islam, they are ½ of women. That makes them something like 1/4th people. And what about dhimmis? They can keep their own religion as long as they live in indentured servitude to Muslims, having no rights and an existence subject to eradication at the slightest whims of Muslims. This is majority rule, with the Muslims being the democrats.

An Islam-free and shari’a-free constitution, one based on the Enlightenment concept of Rights of Man, would go a long way to enfranchising women, abolishing slavery, and abolishing such a hideous status as that of dhimmitude. Yes, yes, it took us until 1919 to enfranchise women fully, but the American woman prior to 1919 was infinitely better off than most Muslim women today.

We had hoped for so much more from Dr. Rice. Having said that, however, let us be very, very clear about one thing. If, perchance, Dr. Rice runs against Senator Clinton in 2008, we will vote for Dr. Rice “early and often.” After all, there is “disappointing,” and then there is “really, really bad.”


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