The Arab Spring: Confession

Different kinds of  Islamists are on the ascendency in Arab countries that chased away their dictators. There is little doubt that, to various extents, those Islamist parties are already trying to increase the influence of religion on their societies. Much of their program is reactionary, a wish for a return to darker times. When they declare that the fate of women will improve if they have their way, I don’t believe them. It’s that simple. The prediction several of my friends made that the forthcoming Islamist- dominated democratic governments would be more dangerous to Israel than were their despotic predecessors sounds right as I write.

That’s not the outcome I was hoping for. I thought there was a chance that secular democrats (like me but also including Leftists) would be in the majority. At this point, it’s not to be. I was too optimistic. This is a full  confession. I can’t do any better.  This being said, what are you saying? What are you thinking? That relegating millions of Arabs to endless tyranny was your preferred outcome?

The question seems to me inescapable.

PS to my Arab readers: Welcome.

I am concerned about the welfare of Israel for reasons that are in no way religious. I am not Jewish, never have been. (Look at my last name for sake!) I am not either one of those Christians who hold to a biblical prophecy where the state of Israel plays a role. I am pro-Israel, the same way I am pro-Turkey.

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Socio-Political Essays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Arab Spring: Confession

  1. thecrackshotcrackpot says:

    Now now Dr. J, don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Many otherwise intelligent and clever people were fooled by the belief that the United States government could bring liberal democracy with little effort or investment to the Middle East (and elsewhere) with bombs and occupying armies.

    However, confession of your wrongs is only the first step towards regaining your reason. I think apologies should now be in order. Remember, you erroneously labeled your friends who disagreed with you on this matter as “racists”, “haughty isolationists”, and “immoral” bastards with no compassion at all for the human race. These are sharp insults, and they deserve to be publicly condemned by the man who wrote them.

    To put this in another light: what are we to say to the people who present good, solid, but ultimately politically incorrect (or wrong) academic work on subjects like race and intelligence, or climate science and industrial waste, or gender and physical strength? Should we refer to them as racists, deniers, and sexists?

    Did you really believe that, after over a century of Western imperialism, the people of the Middle East would vote into office the political parties which best represent Western ideas and are least likely to condemn Western imperialism? The results of the electoral process in the Middle East should not be rocket science at all, especially if one has any grasp – however slight – of history in the post-colonial world.

    I have no doubt that Dr. J has an excellent grasp of history in the Middle East. Unfortunately, I also have no doubt that Dr. J is willing to sacrifice his much-feared reasoning process for what he believes is a cheap and easy way to destroy some of his oldest enemies.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      You misunderstood, Crackpot. No apologies. I am disappointed at the turn of events but that does not mean that I think tyranny is the way to go. And, by the way, the US had little to do with the Arab Spring in Libya, very little in Tunisia. Egypt and Yemen. Be careful not to assign to me the products of your imagination.

      • thecrackshotcrackpot says:

        Dr. J. You have so far been lucky to escape this little confession by talking about “Christian extremism”. I want ensure that we stay on topic.

        I need some clarity though. You believe that the Arab Spring had little to do with the West? That it was mostly about Arab citizens being fed up with autocratic regimes?

        Follow my line of reasoning pleeeease. All four states that you mentioned have been receiving money, weapons, and military training from Western powers for years now (in some cases, decades). The reasons for such partnerships have varied, of course, but the citizens of these states are not stupid. I don’t think they ever have been.

        The dictators treated the people of these states horribly, and everybody knows where the regimes got their money, their power, and their knowledge. The only factions condemning the West for its role in maintaining Arab tyranny were (and are) the Islamists.

        The way to get rid of tyranny is not to support dictators with money, weapons, and military training for its goons. Likewise, bombing a country that you previously supplied with money, weapons, and military training for its goons is not going to endear you to the public-at-large either (or get rid of tyranny).

        Isn’t it time we start treating the Arabs like adults? Don’t you think doing so would make cooperation with them much easier?

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Crack:We have no disagreement on this except when, carried by your enthusiasm for your own words, you start making manifestly false statements: “The only factions condemning the West for its role in maintaining Arab tyranny were (and are) the Islamists.”

        There was no democratic opposition to the regimes in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Yemen, in Lybia. (It turns out that as far as Tunisia is concerned , I know them.)

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        I am talking about “Christian extremism” because the words were brought up in another context by my old friend, the wishy-washy liberal Prof. Terry. (Who thought he was a libertarian for a while.)

  2. Terry Amburgey says:

    I’m much more worried by christian extremists in the United States.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      I hear this once in a while and I am left perplexed as I am by movies about vampires for example.

      What do you fear “christian extremists” might do? Please, give examples. We will understand they are only examples.

      What have “christian extremists” done in the past that might disturb you? Or appall you ?

      To my mind, the born-again Christian set plays the same role with respect to the Republican Party as Blacks play with the Democratic Party. They have nowhere else to go. So, their votes are exploited and they get nothing, or next to nothing, in return.

      Correct me if I am wrong (again).

  3. Terry Amburgey says:

    From Rick Santorum’s campaign website
    http://www.ricksantorum.com/faith-family-and-freedom-tour

    As a husband and father, Rick Santorum knows the importance of protecting and providing for your family. He believes that at the core of the American experience is the family, and that without strong families, we cannot have a strong and vibrant nation. Senator Santorum believes that at its core, America is a moral enterprise, but that foundation is quickly eroding. As President, Rick Santorum commits to rebuild that foundation and lead the way on restoring traditional American values

    Executive Orders, Rulemaking and other Executive Branch Actions
    •Repeal Clinton-era Title X family planning regulations, and will direct HHS to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion
    •Reinstitute the Mexico City Policy to stop tax-payer funding or promotion of abortion overseas
    •Ban federal funding for embryonic stem cell research
    •Restore conscience clause protections for health care workers
    •Defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court
    •Ban military chaplains from performing same sex marriage ceremonies on military bases or other Federal properties
    •Repeal Obamacare mandate for contraceptive services in healthcare plans
    •Re-direct funds within HHS so it can create a public/private partnership with state &local communities, not-for-profit organizations, and faith-based organizations for the purpose of strengthening marriages, families, and fatherhood
    •Veto any bill or budget that funds abortion or funds any organization that performs abortions including Planned Parenthood

    Congressional Directives
    •Call on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
    •Advocate for a Personhood Amendment to the Constitution
    •Call on Congress to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
    •Advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution
    •Call on Congress to reinstitute Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell
    •Call on Congress to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act
    •Call on Congress to reinstitute 2008-level funding for the Community Based Abstinence Education program
    •Advocate for a federal law permitting schools to allow prayer at graduations, football games and other school functions

    During his time in elected office, Rick Santorum was the national leader for the preservation of the traditional American family and for the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. Rick led the fight to preserve the traditional family and American values:
    •Banned Partial-Birth Abortions
    •Authored the original Federal Marriage Amendment
    •Wrote and passed the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” and the “Unborn Victims of Violence” Act
    •Led the fight for longer sentences for child predators
    •Named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelical leaders

    To learn more about Rick Santorum and his fight to defend traditional American values, please visit: http://www.ricksantorum.com.

    .

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Allowing prayer at school games is Christian extremism? You remind me of the good nun who thought she might see a bit of a naked man somewhere, sometimes!

      Are you really against the ban on partial-birth abortion? Am I and the overwhelming number of Americans who think the practice unacceptable mostly Christian extremists? Did you take leave of your senses?

      The list you provide is a hodgepodge of stuff much of which corresponds well with average Americans’ preference. Others have zero chance of being passed by any Congress and the candidate probably knows it. First and foremost is defunding contraception ( in contrast to abortion).

      Thanks for giving the list.

  4. Terry Amburgey says:

    It is a hodgepodge list indeed. The point is that Christian extremists like other religious extremists want a society based on their religon. I’m not worried about Muslims imposing sharia law in the U.S. I am worried about you Republicans letting the Christians impose their version.

  5. David says:

    @Terry,

    Who are these Christian Extremists you speak of and what does their version of sharia law look like? Also, how would they go about imposing it upon the people in the USA? I am quite curious about this. Firstly, the term “christian extremist” has, in my experience, been used mostly for preachers on soap boxes telling people that they’re going to hell. Not really the good baseline for a government. I’d like to know in better detail.

  6. David says:

    I had a “secondly” but it escaped my brain at this early hour.

  7. Terry Amburgey says:

    @David. Just as well, I can only handle one thing at a time🙂 Who are they? Let’s start with a blurb from that font of all wisdom, Wikipedia. There are several possible states but I like Kansas since that’s where all my in-laws reside.

    “Kansas

    On August 11, 1999, by a 6–4 vote the Kansas State Board of Education changed their science education standards to remove any mention of “biological macroevolution, the age of the Earth, or the origin and early development of the Universe”, so that evolutionary theory no longer appeared in state-wide standardized tests and “it was left to the 305 local school districts in Kansas whether or not to teach it.”[24] This decision was hailed by creationists, and sparked a statewide and nationwide controversy with scientists condemning the change.[25] Challengers in the state’s Republican primary who made opposition to the anti-evolution standards their focus were voted in on August 1, 2000, so on February 14, 2001, the Board voted 7–3 to reinstate the teaching of biological evolution and the origin of the earth into the state’s science education standards.[24]

    In 2004 Kansas Board of Education elections gave religious conservatives a majority and, influenced by the Discovery Institute, they arranged the Kansas evolution hearings. On August 9, 2005, the Kansas State Board of Education drafted new “science standards that require critical analysis of evolution – including scientific evidence refuting the theory,”[26] which opponents analyzed as effectively stating that intelligent design should be taught.[27] The new standards also provide a definition of science that does not preclude supernatural explanations, and were approved by a 6–4 vote on November 8, 2005—incidentally the day of the Dover school board election which failed to re-elect incumbent creationists (see #Pennsylvania).

    In Kansas’ state Republican primary elections on August 1, 2006, moderate Republicans took control away from the anti-evolution conservatives,[28] leading to an expectation that science standards which effectively embraced intelligent design and cast doubt on Darwinian evolution would now be changed.[29]

    On February 13, 2007, the Kansas State Board of Education approved a new curriculum which removed any reference to Intelligent Design as part of science. In the words of Dr Bill Wagnon, the board chairman, “Today the Kansas Board of Education returned its curriculum standards to mainstream science”. The new curriculum, as well as a document outlining the differences with the previous curriculum, has been posted on the Kansas State Department of Education’s website.[30]”

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Terry: Do you really object to this? “science standards that require critical analysis of evolution – including scientific evidence refuting the theory,” Is the view of the world you and I espouse so weak that it requires a monopoly? How about burning dissenters if we win?

      If I read you right, according to your own narrative, all is well that ends well, the way it’s supposed to happen in a democratic society.

      The fact that we still have to fight those battles is a true measure of the educational establishment’s failure to do its job. You and I are part of it. We are kind of pathetic.

      Incidentally: Enlighten me: What is “macroevolutionary theory”? Isn’t it about the formation of earth and therefore unrelated to evolutionary theory as in Darwin? If this is correct, I don’t care, the other is just physics, a branch of hermetic poetry.

  8. Lawrence marcus says:

    Once again you are too optimistic? Hasn’t history taught you anything! Just thought I would say hello. Go 49ers! Go Romney!

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Larry: My study of history tells me that the worst does not always happen, not by a long shot. Now,if I were an Israeli I would have been less enthusiastic about the explosion of democracy in the Arab countries.

  9. Terry Amburgey says:

    Jacques, David wanted to know who these Christian extremists are that I worry about. One of several answers is: people who want to remove evolutionary theory from the educational system, people who want to take us back to 1925 and redo the Scopes trial
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial
    The story does not yet have a happy ending because it hasn’t ended yet any more than the Scopes trial ended it.
    Like all scientific theories [theoretical research programs to use the Stanford jargon we know so well] the various theories of biological evolution are subject to falsification with empirics. But “The new standards also provide a definition of science that does not preclude supernatural explanations”?
    You wanted to know who and what I’m afraid of…I’ve given you both a hodge-podge list and a specific example. I will grant you the conversion of our educational system to religious instruction is not a dramatic as stoning women and amputating the hands of thieves but I have no worries about sharia law in my home country; I can’t say the same thing about the Christians.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Terry: You seem to have a problem arguing with someone like me who: 1 shares your belief in the essential validity of evolutionary theory, but, 2 Does not get all worked up by the exercise of local power in a direction that is intellectually unpalatable.

      I am just not alarmed. If I look inside my dark little heart, I find that it’s largely because so many people believe so many things that I think false that one more or less does not make much practical difference. (Man made-global warming is one such thing.) Evolutionary theory denial is not the hill I want to die for and I rejoice hat academics will be forced for a while to do a better job explaining.

      Did you know that during Darwin’s lifetime, Christians were his intellectual allies because – like him – they believed there was only one human species? Many other biologists thought there were several.

      I am glad that you agree that believing that the world is only 5000 years old is not as bad as stoning women who have sex outside of marriage. We have a common ground, after all.

  10. Terry Amburgey says:

    BTW, I wish I could disagree about the failure of the educational system and our personal culpability

  11. Terry Amburgey says:

    If you’d spent less time flirting…..🙂
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution

  12. David says:

    If my memory serves me correctly Macroevolution is referring to species to species evolution. (i.e. fish to rat to monkey to man, etc.) As opposed to Microevolution being the development of traits within a species. (i.e. hair/fur/skin color, height, build, etc.)

    As far as the beginning of the universe is concerned, we have yet to scientifically prove that it has happened a certain way, and using the standards of science, we can never truly prove how the universe was created. Because we can’t test the hypothesis nor can we recreate it. Though it is currently our best understanding of what happened in the earliest times of the universe. Though, oddly enough, the scientific theory regarding our earliest beginnings doesn’t preclude the existence of a deity/creator, while we have a good idea of what happened, it doesn’t tell us causation.

    As JD said, it worked out in the end. It’s part of the processes in which our country works. And I’m reasonably certain that the USA will never be a theocracy of any kind because our founding documents prohibit such a conversion. In any case the culture in the USA used to be much more religious and has been straying from it for many years and is unlikely to revert back, in spite of the best efforts of countless Christians who protested the changes, yet the changes happened.

    @Terry, if that’s what a Christian Extremist is…then isn’t just about every special interest group (gays, blacks, mexicans, disabled, etc.) extremist? I was thinking that these extremists were going to be more Illuminati-esque. Perhaps even closer to the lines of Islamists. Not people who use the existing system to enact changes they believe in.

  13. jacquesdelacroix says:

    Inch Allah, there is David to help us along when our knowledge falters. You are right about macro-evolution, of course.

    Terry if you are still there: It seems to me that right near the center of your fear of Christian extremists is the concern that abortion may be rolled back. Here is news: I am not a Christian and I think abortion is an evil. Like most Americans I think it’s a necessary evil for the time being but an evil nevertheess. My wife, who is an agnostic HIndu believes the same. Do you really think we are rare cases?

  14. David says:

    Another aside on abortion…does it not violate the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? The future human, called a fetus is precluded from existing to enjoy those basic rights that the rest of us full term fetuses enjoy, all without due process or their day in court. Yet many of the same people who advocate abortion de-cry the death penalty as inhumane. It is a curiously disturbing thought.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Good luck. Personally, I stopped debating with abortion partisans a long time ago. It’s like at the bazaar. It’s only worth talking if you are close enough so that there is a chance of reaching common ground.

      • David says:

        It’s one of the best arguments I’ve figured out so far against abortion. Not that it’s likely to work against the more stalwart proponents, but it might sway some of the more flexible proponents.

  15. Pingback: Arab Democracies; Arab Democrats | FACTS MATTER

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