Why I am scared of right-wing politics
Here’s Glenn Reynolds excerpting an interesting and rational point by Lee Harris, and taking the precise opposite lesson from it that any reasonable person would. After an analysis of why a madman swinging a gun around his head is scarier than a policeman, he suggests that:
“the United States probably needs to be scarier and less predictable itself.”Then of course, Reynolds links to some kook who uses the phrase “warmongering pacifists”—in quasi-jest it seems, but such an Orwellian turn of phrase can do no good.
I was always shocked when my friends from grammar school would casually suggest that we nuke China and get it over with. The suggestion was generally made in half-jest, but it underscores an indifference to the lives of others that is disturbing, and most of all, an indifference to the delicate nature of international relations. But what can you expect from children?
The sentiment reminds me of a quotation from a favorite author of mine about a person who, if you overloaded him with information, “would just kill you to make things simpler.” I think that a portion of the base of the Republican party is merely a grown-up version of these kids who casually suggest nuclear war. As kids, they do not really know what this entails; they do not try to appreciate the waste and evil; it’s all really too silly to dispute—they know nothing about these people halfway around the world, except that they are making trouble for America and we are capable of destroying them. As adults though, the attitude is manifest in a seemingly more benign attitude: the assumption that America has a right to act in whatever way it sees fit while the rest of the world must watch helplessly. The same principle is at stake, and the same disdain for the respect of the people of the world. Reynolds, in his more childish moments, shows this immature disdain, as so many of the UN bashers (but not all—there are real problems there). This visceral sense of American entitlement and just-ness in doing whatever it pleases is precisely what the neo-conservatives appeal to in their domestic strategy to buttress foreign policy; and it is also precisely what has led to the worldwide drop in how well people view America.