Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let's Humiliate Our Friends

First the Democrats sought to pass a bill that would censure Turkey for an atrocity committed 90 years ago. Then they wanted to cut off aid to Pakistan as long as Pervez Musharraf was running the show, now they want to cut off aid to Ethiopia. Quick quiz: What do Turkey, Pakistan and Ethiopia have in common? Time's up. They're all allies of the U.S. in the war against radical jihadism. Ethiopia, especially, is fighting the Islamists in Somalia which takes a lot of pressure off of us.

Next question: What principle is driving the Dems to embarrass and weaken those who are helping us in our fight against the extremists? If you said the desire for justice you might be right, but you'd have a hard time proving it. The Democrats have been relatively silent in the face of injustices elsewhere in the world. Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran, China, North Korea, and Sudan are all tyrannical states or on their way to becoming so, yet there's very little stomach on the left for doing much of anything significant to change them. Why, then, are they suddenly aroused from their slumbers when they find abridgements of democratic principles among our friends but not when they occur among our foes?

Perhaps you reply that we don't have as much leverage with our enemies as we do with our friends. This is true, of course, but if one is concerned with justice there are ways to embarrass the perpetrators of injustice other than withholding aid. The condemnation of Turkey wasn't a matter of withdrawing money, it was a matter of passing a resolution. If Ethiopia's lack of a totally free press is the reason for the left's displeasure where are the vocal denunciations of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe and the rest of their fellow malefactors?

Third question: Since all the bad guys in the second paragraph are hostile to the U.S. is there a pattern here? Do the Democrats seek to punish those who are useful to our national security while giving those who despise us a pass? If so, why?

Last question: Can people so perverse or so maladroit be trusted to run the foreign policy of this country?


My Grandfather's Son

I recently finished reading the much talked about memoir by Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas titled My Grandfather's Son. Thomas describes a rather turbulent life from his days as a poor boy growing up in Pinpoint, Georgia through the rebellion of adolescence to his historic tribulations as a Supreme Court nominee.

The entire book is a good read, offering as it does valuable insights into the complex character and thinking of one of the most powerful men in America, but to anyone who followed the debacle of his Supreme Court nomination, the last several chapters are riveting.

One comes away from the book with his political cynicism intact, if not reinforced. Consider, for example this passage where Thomas, while employed at the Department of Education during the 1970s, asks a staffer to find a study that would show that black students do better in integrated schools than in segregated schools:

[I was told] that none existed. I asked why it was so widely accepted that black children were better off in integrated schools. He replied that integration had nothing to do with education: the point of busing white and black children to each other's schools was to encourage their parents to move to those neighborhoods. I was aghast, and had no doubts whatsoever that most blacks would have felt exactly the same way. All the black parents I knew tolerated the disruption of busing solely because they wanted better educational opportunities for their children, not so they could live next door to whites.

When Thomas gets to his confirmation hearings in 1991 the reader's cynicism soars even higher. The account of what he was put through, the attempt to destroy him personally, the lies and treachery he experienced at the hands of Anita Hill and others (Senators Howard Metzenbaum and Joe Biden don't fare well in Thomas' telling of the story), is beyond disgraceful. Yet Thomas treats those who acted so shabbily toward him with fairness and grace.

Even if Anita Hill were telling the truth when she accused Thomas of once, a decade earlier, making inappropriate remarks in her presence, the fact that she never expressed any disapproval to him and instead treated him as a friend - someone she admired - until the day he was nominated for the Supreme Court is beyond contempt. That she made the accusations for no apparent reason other than to destroy his career and to prevent him from taking a seat on the Court is an astonishing betrayal of a man who had helped her several times in her career. One wonders how she and those who used her can sleep at night.

In any event, there are heroes in the book as well as villains. Thomas' grandfather is one of the former (although it's sometimes hard to see why). Senator Jack Danforth is another, and there are more.

All in all it's a very good read, especially for those interested in recent American history and for those who like biography. I know that Hearts and Minds has the book in stock.