Guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, Ross Douthat is taking heat from Roger L. Simon and others for his response to Michael Ledeen, who said in reference to democracy-building efforts overseas,"we have to stand with our people, everywhere."
Douthat responded that Iranians are not"our people" in the sense that even a democratized Iran would still present problems for the U.S., and that this allegiance to some idealized notion of democracy is a misguided approach to foreign policy. He's right. We don't want democracy in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Pakistan. Lest we forget, these are places where Osama bin Laden has astronomical approval ratings. Though there's some heartening pro-western activity in Iran (which I and other liberty-loving people certainly support), I'm still not sure a pure democracy in Iran would produce the kind of regime that best suits our interests.
As one commenter at Simon's site notes, many of the pro-democracy Iranian bloggers and potential revolutionaries also happen to be virulently anti-Israel, a fine example of where"pro-democracy" forces can still philosophically be"not our people."
What's funny, however, is Simon's knee-jerk response to Douthat. Simon basically calls Douthat a racist, and attributes all sorts of other nefarious intent to him, including -- bizarrely -- not caring about the South Asian victims of the tsunami, and suggesting he may have been on the other side of the civil rights movement.
I find that to be an odd reaction from Simon, who rather passionately defends the Little Green Footballs site from accusations of anti-Arab racism all the time. Simon in fact once expressed his embarassment and shame for having once posted flattering comments about me on a completely unrelated issue -- simply because I had the temerity to chastise LGF.
Every post on the LFG site contains scores more anti-Arab invective in the comments section than what Douthat wrote. In fact, the concept that Islam isn't compatible with western liberalism (i.e.,"they're not our people") pervades nearly every pixel on that site.
Apparently in Simon's world, the Arab hate on the pro-war LGF site is simply refreshing truth-telling, but Douthat's (a conservative who thoughtfully opposed the war) suggestion that democracy in the Arab world may not be in the best interests of the U.S. makes him a backward-thinking bigot.
David J. Rossie - 1/1/2005
What's telling about LGF is under the surface, in the comments section. The man who keeps up the blog generally appears to be above the fray, but when the first 10 out of 15 comments to the story about Susan Sontag's death say, in effect, "good riddance, burn in hell, say hello to Satan for me," you really have to wonder about the cozy relationship between intellectual and, if this is what you can call this disgusting and apparently widespread behavior, "grassroots" conservatism.
LGF, whether intentionally or by luck of being a magnet to the conservative, online masses, reveals the lie that is "middle American," "traditional," or "Red-State" values. A proportion of conservatism, too large for Republicans to do without, is inspired by base feelings of racism, xenophobia, and other forms of malcontent.
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