I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

Daniel Greenfield is one of my favorite writers. His commentary is almost always spot on with my own philosophy and beliefs. On the occasions where we are not in alignment it is because I don’t understand what he is saying, or don’t understand the background of the politics or country he is commenting on. How any man can be so learned and introspective is a wonder to me. The article below is in total agreement with my own thoughts and has been ever since the Afghanistan debacle began twenty years ago. I won’t even try to embellish his words with mine.

OUR MISTAKEN IDEAS ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS FAILED US IN AFGHANISTAN

Daniel Greenfield August 26, 2021Human rights are not a government, they’re a culture.

America was founded on that simple premise. The Declaration of Independence’s conviction in the equality of men, individual rights, and governments gaining their authority from the consent of the governed was based on “self-evident” truths.

These truths are “self-evident” to Americans in the way that they’re not self-evident to the average Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Russian, South African or Chinese citizen. They have their own truths that are equally “self-evident” to them based on their own worldview and culture.

The Taliban, like the vast majority of Muslims, assert that believers in Allah are superior to infidels, that men must have supreme authority over women, and leaders over people.

This hierarchical model governs a lot more of the world than anything we’ve come up with.

And even in America there are voices that favor tearing up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and reverting to a hierarchical model. From the Marxists on the Left to the Neo-Reactionaries on the Right, there are those who would turn back the clock to feudalism with enlightened philosopher-kings imposing an “ideal society” on the inferior class of men.

When we say that something is self-evident, it flows naturally from our values and our beliefs.

Consider the two radically different worldviews inherent in Benjamin Franklin writing that, “the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards” is “a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy” and the Ayatollah Khomeini proclaiming “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun” and thus there “is no fun in Islam.”

Both Franklin and Khomeini were expressing a worldview that was self-evident to them.

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” came from people who believed that God loves us and wants us to enjoy life. Beheadings, butchery, and the burka came from Islamists who believe that Allah does not like us very much and that we deserve to be miserable.

The respective governments of America and the Muslim world just play out that theology.

America’s approach to individual freedom and meritocratic government came out of broader English and European intellectual trends. Western nations mostly came around to the approach, at least after two world wars, finding that happy people made for a good economy and stability.

Asian First World nations also came around to their own modified versions of a free society while still emphasizing hierarchy and collective morality. And those were the success stories.

Most of the rest of the world is littered with failures.

The American idea was exported successfully by contact with our culture which contained its individualistic, moral, and aspirational DNA. That’s much less true than it used to be. But what is still true is that our efforts to directly export our ideals have failed miserably. Whether it’s trying to explain the Founding Fathers to the Iraqis or funding Women’s Studies in Afghanistan, few were influenced, and many were confused, irritated, or moderately amused by our efforts.

Constructing “governments-in-a-box” in Iraq and Afghanistan was never going to fit their culture. Exporting human rights by explaining our self-evident belief in individual rights didn’t work in cultures that don’t think that people are primarily individuals with agency, but members of a group whose rights come from their role in a rigid hierarchy of ethnicity, gender or race.

Our own political and cultural elites have adopted that worldview making them particularly unfit to spread human rights or individual freedom abroad even as they eliminate them at home.

How can Biden, who decided to pick a black woman as his vice president, before deciding which individual was going to fill that role, credibly tell the Afghans or Iraqis that they shouldn’t pick their leaders based on their gender, tribe, ethnicity, or Sunni and Shiite status?

Before we explain freedom and rights to the Afghans and Iraqs, we need a refresher course.

Our democracy export business is based on a series of intellectual errors dating back to the two world wars which we had defined as fighting for democracy and against tyranny in Europe.

Ever since then our intellectual and cultural elites have stuck to the conviction that the entire world works much like Europe. Every country, whether it’s in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East, is in the midst of a struggle between liberal democrats and reactionary authoritarians. All we have to do is overthrow their Hitler or Mussolini, and a liberal democracy will emerge from the ashes.

This fallacy may have hit its peak with the insistence that the Arab Spring was Europe in 1848.

The rest of the world isn’t Europe of the past three centuries. Its intellectual trends, worldviews, and culture have little in common. While western lefties managed to export socialism to most of the world, it takes on very different forms in places like North Korea or Iraq. The “self-evident” assumptions of political ideas are lost in the translation and transition to very different cultures.

The problem with exporting our “self-evident” ideas is that they’re based on the belief in a loving and merciful God, on the value of individual life, and the genius of individual innovation. Most of the world’s cultures are not only not individualistic, many, like the People’s Republic of China or the Muslim world, are actively anti-individualistic and believe morality comes from hierarchy.

Is morality individual or is it collective? Is the role of government to free people to make moral choices or to force them to make the right choice? Where you come down on the answer to that issue is going to determine the sort of society and government you want and will fight for.

If you’re a member of the Taliban, of the Chinese Communist Party, a believer in critical race theory or the neo-reactionary ideology, odds are you will come down on the collective side.

And on the side of tyranny.

Is life basically good or bad? Are most people bad or good? Does God love us or hate us?

You can’t just casually export our underlying assumptions behind human rights to cultures that answer these questions in very different ways.

All of us, in a more tribal America, have experienced the frustration of mutually incomprehensible conversations with our fellow Americans that appear to be about issues, mask mandates, Black Lives Matter, or abortion, but that are actually about culture and values.

If it’s all but impossible to establish common ground on what rights and freedoms are with other Americans, what were the odds that we were going to do it with Afghans or Iraqis?

America can and should export human rights. But the best way to do it is by example.

Whether it’s parents influencing children, teachers acting as role models, or any other mentor relationship, the most vital lessons are not didactic, but personal. From our earliest years, we learn by imitation and we become like the people we want to be. Indeed, in both Judaism and Christianity, goodness comes from striving to learn from and imitate the ways of God.

Tellingly, the concept plays out very differently in Islam where Muslims imitiate Mohammed.

When nations and peoples around the world strived to be like America, it’s because they admired what we had, what we achieved, and how we lived. Most people assume that success is the result of values and behaviors. How people see a successful group, whether it’s Americans, Jews, or Asians comes down to the question of whether they achieved their success fairly through discipline and hard work, or unfairly by abuse and thievery. The answer to that question will determine whether someone is anti-American, anti-Semitic, or anti-whatever group.

These days the loudest voices stating that America is evil, and that everything we had was gained through colonialism and slavery, are coming from our own political and cultural elites.

Why would anyone admire or imitate us when we loudly announce that we’re liars and thieves?

Exporting human rights is not a matter of finding dictators to overthrow. The Muslim world isn’t Europe. It’s not in a state of conflict between tyranny and freedom, but between different flavors of tyranny which all share underlying assumptions about hierarchy over individualism.

Regime change won’t fix the culture.

There are times when America may need to intervene in other countries, when it’s to counter a threat or to prevent an extreme wrong such as genocide, but we cannot and will not fix the world. The vast majority of the planet will go on living under authoritarian regimes. Women in Muslim countries will suffer. And so will various ethnic and religious minorities under their rule.

We should condemn evil where we see it without assuming that we can make it go away and that should drive us to build alliances with nations that share our culture, heritage and values. Instead of spending billions reconstructing enemies, we’re better off strengthening our friends.

Above all else, we should show that our values lead to a good life. The example that we set for the rest of the world will do more to spread human rights than any military interventions.

That’s how it always was.

After a century of ideological cold wars, countering Communism and then Islamism, we have a lot of military interventions under our belt, but have gotten no better at making arguments for our way of life to our own people. While we were trying to convince Africans that Marxism wasn’t for them, our Ivy League institutions adopted it. And while we tried to talk the Afghans and Iraqis out of Islamic theocracy, our own cities, institutions, and governments filled up with Islamists.

If we want to defeat Islamism and protect human rights and freedom, we should start at home.

It’s not just Afghanistan where young girls are being enslaved or sexually abused by Islamists.

In 2019, I reported that there had been over 2,000 visas approved for underage ‘brides’ from Muslim countries. Two years before that I reported on a female genital mutilation network in Michigan. There have been multiple cases of slavery involving Muslim families in America.

The massive influx of Afghans into America will make those numbers worse, not better.

The fundamental lesson of our founding is that we can’t defend our rights without also defending our culture. The self-evident truths on which our freedoms were founded are no longer all that self-evident on a college campus, let alone in Islamist enclaves like Dearborn or Little Mogadishu. If we want to save our rights, we’ll have to defeat the Taliban at home.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center’s Front Page Magazine.

Bathtub Gin

The hot humid days of August are in thier final throes, and I am enjoying it as much as I can. Although I stay out of direct sunlight which makes me feel like I am standing in an oven. The dichotomy of loving heat but hating the direct intense heat of sunshine makes me wonder what it is that I really do like. I know I like hot days spent in shade with a wisp of breeze. That is what I just experienced as I sat next to Joe’s lake reading a mystery novel. Do successful fiction writers ever write about anything that does not involve murder, mystery, love at the beach etc? Each time I stare at the large print editions on the shelf at my library it is loaded with murder mystery and love stories. Mostly they are by lady authors. I opt for male writers if I can find one. My latest ploy has been to select two books at one time; one will be fiction, the other non-fiction. Although I read the non-fiction books I don’t find them as enjoyable as I do the fantasy of fiction. My last fiction read was Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown. I couldn’t put it down. The story tells of bootlegging during Prohibition in Texas.

To my knowledge there isn’t a single male employee working in the Frankfort Public Library unless you want to call the contractor who cleans an employee. I truly believe that is the reason I see so many titles by women authors.

While reading Blind Tiger I recalled a story told to me by my father when I was still a boy. Dad needed to be a little drunk before he could relate stories from his past. One Sunday after a few highballs he opened up. It seems that he and Mom had a little moonshine operation going on as a way to make some extra income. It was during the Depression and Prohibition and before I was born. He never did describe the still, only that they had it in operation in the bathroom in the bath tub. Whalla the term bath-tub gin becomes a reality.

The tiny house we lived in had one bathroom on the second floor, and that is where he and Mom set up shop. One day in the bathroom as they were pouring booze into bottles they were startled by a heavy knock on the door down stairs. Dad snuck down the steps to see who it was. The stair case was immediately next to the front door and it was easy to remain unseen coming down. He saw a man standing at the door through the curtained window as he quietly descended. It took him a few moments to recognize that the man was wearing a uniform, a police uniform. He ran back upstairs to tell mom they were busted, and she hurriedly began to hide evidence. He snuck downstairs again and this time opened the door a crack and asked what he could do for the cop. Dad was worried that the cop would detect the aroma of fresh alcohol inside so he kept the door cracked. The policeman introduced himself and announced that he was selling tickets to the annual Policeman’s ball. Dad almost burst out laughing, but remained cool and asked how much they were. “Five dollars apiece,” said the cop. “I’ll take two” was Dad’s reply. Dad paid the man and he left. At that point in his story, Dad did burst out laughing as he told me how sweaty he got talking to the police knowing Mom was just a few feet away with a fresh batch of booze. Maybe that is why I enjoyed reading a story about bootleggers.

210824-Ha Ha’s

Play on Words!


An invisible man married an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
 
I didn’t think the chiropractor would improve my posture. But I stand corrected.
 
I took my new girlfriend out on our first date to the ice rink, and entry was half price. She called me a cheap skate. 
Studies show cows produce more milk when the farmer talks to them. It’s a case of in one ear and out the udder. 
I used to date a girl with one leg who worked at a brewery. She was in charge of the hops. 
My cross-eyed wife and I just got a divorce. I found out she was seeing someone on the side. 
My wife claims I’m the cheapest person she’s ever met. I’m not buying it.

Did you know that a raven has 17 rigid feathers called pinions, while a crow has only 16. The difference between a raven and a crow is just a matter of a pinion. 
I told my carpenter I didn’t want carpeted steps. He gave me a blank stair.

What did the surgeon say to the patient who insisted on closing up his own incision? Suture self.

A Smoldering Pile Of Ashes

If one wants to get sick he can wander outside into crowds and pick up some COVID-19 virus, or he can listen to cable news and hear too much sh_t about Afghanistan. I don’t wander out and I quit watching the news about a country that we should be taking title to. After twenty years one would think that we own the place. Instead we leave it with our heads down, ears back and tail drooping between our legs. Why did we do this without getting any satisfaction? To me the root cause is simple. We believe in diplomacy instead of common sense. If we were really smart we would believe in common sense and diplomacy working together. Liberals tend to prefer diplomacy over military solutions. Our leadership has been mostly shit-headed liberal for more than sixteen of the twenty years we have engaged the Muslims in their world. They are Ivy-League educated Political Scientists who seem to have their heads buried in their rectums. Me, I prefer the George S. Patton method of diplomacy, we win they lose. One of the main problems with the Afghan world is that they are Muslims and they profess the same simple philosophy as Patton. Because of our Constitution giving us all religious freedom we shy away from taking other people’s religious freedom from them. What we forget is that they are not U.S. citizens and the Constitution doesn’t apply to them. When we engage in war against a people other than our own we should not project our rules on them. Hell, that would be hypocritical you say. BS, I say we will use any rules necessary to win.

In the very olden days of Empires, our very own British Empire, to whom we once belonged, had no problem with taking a country over and ruling it by the British system. Just about every known country on the globe fell under the rule of the British Empire. It wasn’t until we the colonist people stood up to them that we separated successfully. Had we not done that we would still be having tea every afternoon at four. Ownership is a benefit of occupation, and the British knew how to do that well. It was simple, the Brits ruled and the population was subjugated to their rule. It is my opinion that we in the United States should also have taken this approach when deciding to occupy Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, etc. We would now be the proud owners of many resources that are found in the mountains and deserts of those countries.

Think about it. Because we would literally own these territories we could then relegate the governance of these places to all the brain dead liberals who are trying to change our Constitution to be something we don’t want it to be. They could spend all their energies talking to and dealing with the Muslims who would be operating under the we win you lose philosophy. Our administration would not have to worry about adhering to the Constitution because it will never work for them. Our guys would have a field day applying the rules of the Koran into a working democracy. The liberal administrative solution would be to rename the Constitution to the Koran. It would be an arm wrestle between the strongest Muslim and our local Ambassador for which would be changed, the Koran renamed to the Constitution, or the Constitution renamed to the Koran? I won’t ask what you think would happen, there is only one option that would be acceptable to the occupied citizenry.

Again, my philosophy on Afghanistan is that we should have beat them militarily into a smoldering pile of ashes about eighteen years ago, and then made them subject to us. If they didn’t like our rules, and since they love cutting peoples heads off I would grant them equal treatment and a direct line to heaven by guillotine.

At the very least, had I been Commander in Chief I would have ordered every U.S. Citizen out of the country by a deadline. If they didn’t make the deadline I would take it to mean that these people had switched their alliances from the U.S. to Afghanistan and have chosen to remain. After all citizens were flown home, I would offer the same deal to all certified friends of the U.S Military. Once I was assured that ll of our people were out I would order a hasty retreat of all military personnel, but not before blowing up the Afghan government complex into a smoldering pile of ashes. That’s diplomacy baby, we win, you lose.

Face Off Behind Joe’s Pond

The schedule I had for today was light. I didn’t make a to-do list and decided I’d make a day out of it anyway. The only thing I had after waking up was to deliver a package to the UPS store. After a very leisurely breakfast and after reading the final page of a book titled “First Steps, How Upright Walking Made Us Human”. It was time to attach a shipping label to the homemade box that contained my grandson’s old skate board and to drop it off at UPS. With that singular chore completed I decided to attack the overly grown stems of the shrubs behind Joe’s Pond. Every time I walked on that path the spindly stems swatted me in the face. The path is not intended to be a unwholesome activity. It is meant to give the guest another perspective of the pond and its surrounding habitat. Instead it has become a face slapping arm waving experience. Not to mention the many mosquitoes that are awakened at the scent of warm blood moving through their homeland.

I’ll give myself thirty minutes to cut this path free and that is it, I said to myself as I gloved up and lifted my lopper from its cradle on the garage wall. Oh, I’ll take the hand clipper and a kneeling pad too, and so I treked into the garden behind the house to perform the surgery necessary to make it enjoyable again. I stopped about twenty feet short of the target. There are some plants here that I’ve been hating all summer, I’ll just pull those out before getting started on the simple mission. Down on my knees I went to begin yanking the flowers that were weeds. Then there was the unwanted grass that crept beyond the stone border and invaded the perennial bed engulfing the lonely rose bush. I had a pile of detritus within a few minutes and needed to dispose of it. A short trip to the side of the house to pull the yard waste container into service was necessary. Then I headed for the mission target. Instead, I wound up along the stone border again extracting the weeds behind the marigolds. These ugly plants gave the garden a ratty look so I redirected to this target instead.

Eventually, I arrived at the path behind the pond to cut the unwieldy shrubs that impede an enjoyable stroll. Except, there happened to be a huge amount of the same weed that invaded the part of the garden I just finished weeding. This obnoxious plant was making the backside of the pond look horrendous. How can a person enjoy taking this path when all these invasive waist high critters blocked the view of my orderly perennials? They surrounded the boxwood and the Juniper tree behind the waterfall. “Go for it Joe,” the little voice inside my head shouted. I did go for it, and was doing a bang up job too. Then out of somewhere came this damned bumble bee the size of a golf ball whizzing around my head. Like a novice, I began swatting it away from my head. Anyone who gardens knows that bees don’t like to be disturbed, and if they are, they certainly don’t like it when the one disturbing them begins swinging wildly with a vengeance. I made a direct hit and knocked him to the ground. His response was one of immediate recovery and he flew up straight for my face. Again, I swung at him and pushed him away but now he was really mad. He landed on my arm just above my glove and I swished him off, but not before he gave me a stinging sensation that hurt like hell, and felt like fire. Finally, my senses returned and I ran away. He chased me for a short distance and then disappeared.

Now what do I do? I was rubbing my arm at the site of the sting hoping the hurt would go away, it didn’t. I opted to go back to the garage and to retrieve my lawn rake. I thought if I stretched and raked the pile of weeds away from the Juniper I could gently continue my task of clearing the path. Before I could retract the rake he was after me again. That’s not going to work at all I said to myself. We humans have a very large brain and it was time to put it to use. After all the brain of the bumble bee has to be the size of a grain of salt. It was just a nano second before I concluded that I would attack the path from the opposite end and work my way back toward the Bumble Bee residence. The final pile of weeds lay on the path next to the Juniper. I stretched the rake toward it hoping I could finish the job and go in for lunch. Just as I began retracting the rake he appeared again from under the Juniper and was buzzing around the rake. He hadn’t figured out where I was, so thankfully I was safe for the moment. I dropped the rake and will complete the job tomorrow.

Illinois Natural History Survey entomologist Tommy McElrath points out features of a female bumblebee captured at Trelease Prairie. The hind legs of the bumblebee sport bulging stores of yellowy orange pollen.

The half hour job took two hours by the time I faced off with the bumble bee and finished lopping off the spindly long branches that caused my unhappiness. At least thirty minutes were spent cleaning up the mess I made except for the tidy pile behind the Juniper shrub where Mr. Bumble Bee resides.

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