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Monday, April 05, 2004

FCC and Fines Continued


While I agree that the situation re: Janet has reached absurd proportions, I think that it is important to note that this phenomenon is not a new one, nor is it one related to the war in Iraq. As I mentioned below, the issue here isn't one of "conservative" vs. "liberal" except in the sense that "libertine" and "libertarian" individuals are frustrated with the current Congress' handling of this situation.

My comments were more geared toward the fact that America has a history, predating its own existence as a nation, formally, rooted in the Puritan tradition. Let us not forget that the first European settlers in New England were deeply morally conservative members of, some would argue, austere Christian faiths. The pilgrims and the Puritans, one a Separatist on a Reform religion, both viewed Christianity in England to be corrupted and to have lost "faith." Our Puritan roots, combined with the attraction that dualistic premillennial dispensationalism have affected our country's morality in many ways. Not the least of which is how we as a society view nudity.

You and I would probably agree that nudity is no big deal. In fact, it is status quo in much of the world (not even including Europe) and lacks any of the moral connotations it has in industrial and post-industrial societies. But in America it has always been an issue. Whether it is the Burlesque (sp?) dancers, or Russ Meyer films, people are going to react in this country. Tipper Gore and the PMRC weren't exactly Ronald Reagan's best friends politically, but they (and their kind) attacked the Music and Film industry with a fervor, and in the end we ended up with PG-13 and labels on our records. In fact, the Comics Code Authority was the result of a similar attack by concerned mothers against EC comics. This concern was prompted by a book written by a "Social Scientist" not exactly the type of leader modern "conservatives" rally behind.

I agree that the US is very Puritanical (literally, not as an accusation), but this is rooted in our Political Tradition. As is the "knowledge" that America has a moral duty to the world. John Winthrop said the following in a speech in 1630 (I have transliterated to make use of modern spelling):

"we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for Gods sake; we shall shame the faces of many of Gods worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into Curses upon us 'til we be consumed out of the good land whether we are going:"

It is no mistake that Reagan used the words "city on a hill" or that dubya talks about being a "beacon of freedom." These ideas are rooted in our nation's origins. Our country has always felt we had a duty to "defend and spread democracy" through action, whether by force or isolationism. This is not a new sentiment, but our use of power is different from that of the traditionally imperialist nations. Compare America's conquests to the Belgian Congo or India, or even the Opium Wars between England and China. You see stark differences. Yes, America asserts her "moral righteousness" and acts with hubris (overwhelming pride, not a virtue) when taking these actions, but Iraq, Japan, Germany, and Puerto Rico do not compare to the Congo, India, or China with regards to intentions or results.

No country on the planet is free from exercising imperialism or reconquista, America is no exception (nor is America always actually noble in action), but that is the point. Every nation thinks that their morality is superior. They believe in the moral code they believe in because they think it is the correct one. When Chirac opposed America in the UN he did so because he thought he was right, same for Schroeder and Putin. But the same is true for Vaclav Havel and Tony Blair. If you want to argue "self-interest" that is an argument that can be made for all of the above named actors (with the possible exception of Havel), besides "self-interest" is part of an individual's moral code.

Like Janet's "equipment malfunction," the War in Iraq is not merely a "conservative" or "liberal" issue. Many liberals, The New Republic Editorial Staff and Joe Lieberman for example, support the war though not necessarily the reasons for it or the handling of it. When David Corn, editor of The Nation magazine, writes in the LA Weekly and The Nation criticisms of the "anti-war" movement you know it is a complex issue. Especially given that Corn's most recent book is a documentation of what he considers to be the "lies of Bush." Most of the "pop" criticism of the war are ignorant of their subject matter and rooted in fringe arguments. Anyone who can say that Bush is dominated by "Neo-Cons" has no idea what a Neo-Con is and is only opposed to Bush plainly.

In other words, looking for any reason to not like Bush because they disagree with him on almost every policy issue. Which is a perfectly legitimate political position. We are, after all, a democracy and democracy thrives on deliberation between differing opinions.

But what is their source of information? Did they read Corn's piece, or are they like Tim Robbins and base their opinions on how they "feel?"

This is not a defense of the war, per se, I see many problems with our President's handling of foreign affairs. In particular, the fact that our Ambassadors often don't speak the language of the country they are stationed in. I know that they are "appointed" and "ceremonial" positions, but what does it say when your German ambassador doesn't speak German or even like German culture?

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