Freedom everywhere

I drove 400 miles round trip to have dinner with a friend on Wednesday evening.  I always enjoy my time with him immensely.  Very, very, funny, and thought provoking.  I’ll share his solution to our war with Muslim extremists in some other post but a newspaper article I saw this evening reminded me of something else he said.  He made a comment about Bush’s State of the Union speech being insane if you read between the lines. “Oh?”, I asked. “How is that?” The answer I got was, “He wants to export freedom to everyone. That’s not much different than Caesar saying he wanted to bring civilization to everyone and the Conquistadors bringing Catholicism to everyone.”  Interesting viewpoint.  I hadn’t thought of it that way before.  My friend doesn’t exactly think everyone is ready or capable of handling freedom as we know it.  I’m not so sure but he has a number of data points from dealing with other cultures that I don’t have direct experience with.  Anyway the news indicates, insane or not, foreign governments are taking Bush seriously.

From the LA Times:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called Saturday for a constitutional amendment to allow other candidates to run against him for the first time, a surprise move that could be a historic turning point in a country that has endured decades of repressive rule.

The announcement by Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally, came days after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a trip to the Middle East this week amid mounting tension over the autocratic Egyptian leader’s crackdown on political opponents.

One thought on “Freedom everywhere

  1. “He wants to export freedom to everyone. That’s NOT MUCH different than Caesar saying he wanted to bring civilization to everyone and the Conquistadors bringing Catholicism to everyone.”

    (emphasis added)

    The difference isn’t much if your friend sees freedom as a construct, or as an artifact of a Social Contract.

    From the 2003 SOTU:

    “Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.”

    — George W. Bush, January 28th, 2003

    Bush starts from this radically different axiom, which echoes themes from the Declaration of Independence.

    “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Bush and Jefferson see the loving freedom and yearning for liberty as integral to humanity.

    Your friend is less idealistic and sees liberty as something that was built and can only be operated on with the right intellectual and/or cultural tools.

    He may be right. It is possible that Bush’s and Jefferson’s axiomatic foundations are so misaligned with reality that it amounts to insanity.

    A couple of points to ponder:

    Heroism is rarely the result of rational action. Reaching beyond your allotted glory, denying your fate, and challenging the gods are not things you do based on reason and experience. Is heroic action always successful? No. Sometimes standing in front of the column of tanks gets you flattened. Is heroic action always the best way to achieve something. Not always.

    The ‘ready or capable’ argument has been used for centuries as the backbone of racist and sexist oppression. If you take it seriously, then the Founding Fathers were not ready or capable handling freedom as we know it; they couldn’t cope with the idea of women or non-whites participating in their bold new society as equals. Isn’t it better that they started the process, despite their flaws and failings, rather than waited until they were ‘ready’?

    The statists, left and right, around us operate from the premise that WE are not ready or capable of handling freedom as we know it. That’s why there must be more laws, more regulations, more taxes, more fines, more prisons, more lawyers.

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