Saturday, November 05, 2011

rare agreement

I'm not the biggest fan of Mark Steyn, who often strikes me as overly alarmist,* but this paragraph in an essay on why he's pessimistic about America's future resonates with me:

The thing is, for better or worse, we are defined by our differences, and if Barack Obama didn’t understand that when he was at a podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, and the whole gang of evil, the rest of the world certainly did as soon as Qaddafi appeared. Obama and Qaddafi may both have been the heads of state of sovereign nations, but if you’re on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the United States for help and see where it gets you.

No disagreement with the basic message here. While I'm not comfortable with "gang of evil" language,** I think Steyn makes his point clearly and succinctly. It's just the sort of thing I've heard from Koreans of my mother's generation: they remember who Korea's friends are. Younger Koreans-- like younger Americans-- refuse to understand this in their rush to to deny or put aside history.

*An example of Steynian hyperbole: "But nothing the British did to any of their subject peoples in far-flung corners of the globe compares with what they did post-imperially to their own population." In attempting to make a point about the deleterious effects of nanny-statism, Steyn undermines his own respectability. I'm no historian, but I do recall that the British Empire engaged in chattel slavery before the Empire abolished it in 1833. Is Steyn seriously suggesting that modern Brits, downtrodden thanks to the unwisdom of their current social paradigm, are worse off than the slaves of yore? That's laughable.

**Venezuela may have a stupid, crazy leader, but I wouldn't mind visiting the country. And after having read Scott Fisher's The Axis of Evil World Tour years ago, I'd say the same about Iran. Our beef is with the governments of these countries, not the regular citizens.


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