May 28, 2004

Fisking Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is being an ass again.

Fisking him may be, as Gerard Van der Leun likes to put it, one of those Fish. Barrel. Bang! type of deals. But still itís something that needs to be done every couple of months to reduce the asininity quotient in American letters by an iota.

So here we go.

Pitchfork Pat has a new piece up at antiwar.com called What Does America Offer the World?

So, how do we advance the cause of female emancipation in the Muslim world?" asks Richard Perle in An End to Evil. He replies, "We need to remind the women of Islam ceaselessly: Our enemies are the same as theirs; our victory will be theirs as well."

Well, the neoconservative cause "of female emancipation in the Muslim world" was probably set back a bit by the photo shoot of Pfc. Lynndie England and the "Girls Gone Wild" of Abu Ghraib prison.

Heís probably right about the setback. But itís funny he bills female emancipation in the Muslim world as ďneoconservative.Ē Not that itís totally wrong, mind you. The neocons are all for it. But there are plenty of people who think of themselves as liberals, feminists, independents, centrists, and just plain old conservatives (not of the old right variety like Pat) who think female emancipation in the Middle East is a cause worth supporting. Last I checked, the neocon cabal wasnít the only crowd that thinks a burkha is just another kind of ankle iron.
Indeed, the filmed orgies among U.S. military police outside the cells of Iraqi prisoners, the S&M humiliation of Muslim men, and the sexual torment of Muslim women raise a question. Exactly what are the "values" the West has to teach the Islamic world?
How, exactly, does the prison abuse raise that question?

I recall Pat Buchanan arguing on television (I forget which show) with Mona Charen about torture. Pat favored it, in the abstract. Iím glad to see heís opposed to what happened at Abu Ghraib. If even pro-torture Pat is against it, clearly itís over the line by our standards.

The abuse has not a thing to do with Western values. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

"This war ... is about Ė deeply about Ė sex," declaims neocon Charles Krauthammer. Militant Islam is "threatened by the West because of our twin doctrines of equality and sexual liberation."

But whose "twin doctrines" is Krauthammer talking about? The sexual liberation he calls "our" doctrine belongs to a '60s revolution that devout Christians, Jews and Muslims have been resisting for years.

Sexual emancipation is our doctrine. I couldnít care less that he and his old-right reactionary pals here and in the Middle East havenít even caught up to the sixties yet. The radical left may be stuck in the 60s, but geez, at least they got there. Maybe he just needs to accept that heís a museum piece like the burkha will be some day.
What does Krauthammer mean by sexual liberation? The right of "tweens" and teenage girls to dress and behave like Britney Spears? Their right to condoms in junior high? Their right to abortion without parental consent?
We all know what sexual emancipation means. Thereís no point in playing dumb. It means women and men are equal under the law and in society. Itís lower-case-f feminism, something the Middle East desperately, urgently needs. Charles Krauthammer isnít agitating for condoms in schools in Riyadh. And neither is anyone else.
If conservatives reject the "equality" preached by Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, NARAL and the National Organization for Women, why seek to impose it on the Islamic world? Why not stand beside Islam, and against Hollywood and Hillary?
Pat Buchanan thinks he has more in common with Middle Eastern sexual apartheid practitioners than he has with Hillary Clinton. Well, Pat, Iíll just have to take your word for it. And the next time I hear mention of the ďTaliban wingĒ of the Republican Party, I might have to let the comment pass without a rebuttal.
In June 2002 at West Point, President Bush said, "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place."

But even John Kerry does not agree with George Bush on the morality of homosexual unions and stem cell research. On such issues, conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal Democrats.

I guess thatís true, too. Then again, gay people in the Middle East are tortured and executed. Itís a good thing for Pat that he only aligned himself with them on the issue of homosexual unions.
The president notwithstanding, Americans no longer agree on what is moral truth. For as someone said a few years back, there is a cultural war going on in this country, a religious war. It is about who we are, what we believe and what we stand for as a people.
Does Pat mean to say there is no such thing as Western values despite our arguments about the finer points? Or does he say that he doesnít believe in them himself? I really donít know because he really doesnít say. Either way, that isnít so good for him. Most of us have a notion of what Western values are, and most of us arenít too cool with those who reject or donít believe in them.
What some of us view as the moral descent of a great and godly republic into imperial decadence, neocons see as their big chance to rule the world.
Take out the word ďgodlyĒ and Pat Buchanan sounds like a tin-foil hat leftist. Let me know when someone floats a bill to annex Iraq and Iíll change my mind about our ďimperialĒ decadence.
In Georgia recently, the president declared to great applause: "I can't tell you how proud I am of our commitment to values. ... That commitment to values is going to be an integral part of our foreign policy as we move forward. These aren't American values, these are universal values. Values that speak universal truths."

But what universal values is he talking about? If he intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.

Everyone, and I mean everyone including Pat Buchahan, knows George W. Bush isnít thinking of MTV when he talks about values and freedom, especially when he mentions ďuniversalĒ values. He isnít referring to the right-wing opposition to stem-cell research, and he certainly isnít talking about left-wing bra-burners.

It may not be true that everyone in this world wants to be free. But you canít find a single country ruled by a despot where everyone loves their chains. It just doesnít happen. The desire for freedom is universal in that sense.

When Bush speaks of freedom as God's gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish The Satanic Verses, a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith? If the Islamic world rejects this notion of freedom, why is it our duty to change their thinking? Why are they wrong?
Now that is just astonishing. A tyrannical fascist regime in Iran orders the execution of a novelist in Britain. Iranís Ayatollah Khomeini sent death squads after a man who had never even been to Iran. And Pat Buchanan wants to know why thatís wrong.

It seems to me it ought to be self-evident to a man who writes books that itís not cool if youíre executed by a foreign government because it doesnít like what youíve written. But I guess it isnít self-evident if youíre a religious nutjob who canít get past the word blasphemy.

When the president speaks of freedom, does he mean the First Amendment prohibition against our children reading the Bible and being taught the Ten Commandments in school?
I certainly hope so. Bibles and Korans can be read after school. Shuttering the radical Islamic madrassas would do more to stop terrorism than anything else I can think of.
If the president wishes to fight a moral crusade, he should know the enemy is inside the gates. The great moral and cultural threats to our civilization come not from outside America, but from within. We have met the enemy, and he is us. The war for the soul of America is not going to be lost or won in Fallujah.

Unfortunately, Pagan America of 2004 has far less to offer the world in cultural fare than did Christian America of 1954. Many of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars.

A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's "emancipation," that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional Ė better yet, an exorcist Ė rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of "American values." [Emphasis added]

Here is where the wave of Pat Buchananís idiotarianism crests: He actually used the language of the left to say people like me are possessed by the devil.

I do what I can to combine the best of the left and the right. No one does better than Pat Buchanan in fusing the worst of both into a unifying and idiotic morass.

(Hat tip: Mike Nargizian via email.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 28, 2004 10:19 AM
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