Friday, June 12, 2009

Krauthammer 6/12/09

Obama's Lack of Middle East Perspective

My take on Charles Krauthammer's latest. His column was published in the Washington Post.

Summary: Obama went to Egypt and gave a speech where he tried to make bad practices in the Middle Ease equivalent to bad practices in the U.S. The problem is that the differences are so great that he diminishes America's progress in human rights while justifying the Middle East's lack of it.

Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He's showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect.

My Views: Examples of false equivalency:

1) On women's rights: in the Middle East women get murdered for going to school - or for even having the wrong boyfriend (honor killings).

2) On religeous freedom: in the Middle East the law prescribes the death penalty for leaving the Muslim religeon.

3) On Iran, the U.S. inspired a coup in the 1950's while they are supporting terrorism since the Carter years - and building a nuclear bomb to boot.

One can go on. But at the end of the day, if our two society's wrongs are equal, then all that religeous intolerance and violence are not so bad, and all our efforts to protect ourselves from them are not so noble. The problem is with the premise: the two society's wrongs are not equal.

Charles Krauthammer is a more establishment columnist. He came to punditry by way of psychiatry (at Massachusetts General Hospital) via the New Republic Magazine. He appears on TV where you never see his wheelchair. Here's his Wiki bio.

He wrote a book which is pictured at the right. I am drawn by the substance and the thinking than any particular writing flair.