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The Difference Between sin and Sin

THIS is insufficient expression of solidarity with Vietnamese tailors for more pay, THAT is mass murder

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 16, 2005.

The administration put on its regular dog and pony show of threats from al Quada today, with lots of furrowed brows to keep us terrified but no clear threats and certainly no clue as to what we’d do about them anyway. These arguments bog down in the national media as either evil them vs. heroic, compassionate, and rich us, or as the result of long term support of corrupt governments by the United States and the people striking back. Furrowed brows also attend discussion of removing world poverty, etc., and who is most to blame for America being hated in the Muslim world.

Look, if the United States and even Israel didn’t exist, the Muslim world would be no better off. The only source of real wealth it has was developed on its land by Westerners. Can you name a single scientific advancement in the strictly Muslim world in the last five hundred years? How about in medicine? In any science? In anything? Islam in power – as any religion in power - no longer works for people, and it’s currently just a structure for dominance and oppression by ignorant patriarchs. Islam is the only major religion in control of actual state governments, outside the Vatican, and has to be judged according to that governance and the societies they’ve created. It fails, big time.

One of my enduring fights with the American Left is this concept that all cultures deserve equal respect and dignity, of cultural equivalence. The Left recoils from discussion of comparative cultural values. (Ward Churchill counts on it, and the ignorance it engenders, and panders to it.) Talk about, say, clitorectomies and the oppression of women brings forth ‘yeah, but who used the nuclear bomb?’ The difference, I’d suggest, is that the west seems to learn but Islam doesn’t seem to even want to, anymore. It sounds fair to say we shouldn’t judge - Christian, even - but it’s really an escape mechanism to avoid responsibilities not shouldered, sometimes for sincere reasons, more often for hypocritical ones.

I don’t extend it, myself. Iran, for example, may have a long and impressive history, but almost all of it was achieved before Islam became dominant, and absolutely all of it before radical Islam took over. Salmon Rushdie, who spoke here last night, was sentenced to death by Iran in 1989 for issues that cannot be elevated to trivial without the massive amounts of liquor denied Muslims. The government that issued the fatwa has renewed it every year since, and because of what that fatwa represents and its perpetuity, for that alone Iran continues to deserve the world’s derision. Any culture of such repression applied to someone like Rushdie is abhorrent and should not be empowered to threaten its extension by nuclear armament. It is one of the great failures of the American Left - sorely missed, by the way - to admit this. We're about to pay.

Yet any conversation about the values and abilities of Iran or any Third World Nation is anathema to the Left, because it doesn’t want to lose the image of the United States as equally dangerous - or more so - with nuclear weapons as anyone else. In the fifties, a valid point. Our history since denies it.

And that failure of the Left may leave us in the hands of conservative pseudo-Christian patriarchs with their own delusions of self importance and next life reward and the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. We could march on Iran in the next four years. But the Left’s failures of responsibility - its inability to distinguish between sin and Sin - shares blame with Republican oil avarice and glory hunting. The potential nuclear standoff between the US and Iran is far more unstable than that, say, between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan developed the nuclear bomb to prevent India from, bluntly, conquering it, something in an uninterrupted conventional war it could do easily enough. Of course, it knows better than the US and wouldn’t entertain occupying Pakistan as we’ve occupied Iraq. In any case, India developed a bomb as well. It’s very scary, because of the deep hatred over Kashmir and the Islamic and Hindu fundamentalists. But because the Indian government is both secular and civilian and military one in Pakistan mostly sane, it is unlikely a nuclear exchange will happen.

But Iran’s government is barking loony and in the hands of mullahs that cannot be called ignorant because it flatters them. To retain power over their people, they need enemies, a role Iraq once served, the Sunni occupier of Shiite holy places. Now, it’s the US literally in place of Iraq. It is a terrible situation, and if Iran has or gets the bomb, the blame for what will inevitably be awful ought to be spread thick and evenly over us all.