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August 10, 2004

Preserving the Tyranny Reserves

I'm a little slow to note it, but Carol Andrew Morse's piece about the "gated community" approach to foreign policy that the Democrats revealed at their convention is worth a read:

Perhaps the plan was to make the Presidential nominee appear strong by allowing him to be the one to articulate a plan for the war on terrorism beyond America's borders. If that was the plan, John Kerry failed to deliver. Like [Hillary] Clinton, Kerry talked of adding troops. He went further, acknowledging that he would use force in response to an attack, and saying that the elements of so-called "soft power" would be deployed outside of the fortress walls. ...

In this vision of a world divided, the keepers of Fortress America regard meaningful democracy as an absolute necessity for themselves. They understand that their democracy is at the root of their prosperity. At the same time, they dismiss democracy as an unnecessary luxury for those living outside of the fortress, cutting the outsiders off from the prosperity that democracy provides. They believe that the individuals outside the fortress should be satisfied with mere stability -- and like it.

The vision that Andrew describes brings to mind an image of the future that Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray suggested in their much-vilified tome, The Bell Curve. The authors warned of a world in which an intellectual elite, insulated in standing and potential through policies that refused to honestly address factors (such as IQ) affecting economic status, had retreated to gated communities, while everybody else was effectively shuffled into cities for the sake of efficiently handling them as wards of the state (handing out healthcare services, for example). Because the foreseen underclass would consist largely of minorities, reaction to the book illustrates how a statement meant to expose true "institutional racism" can be attacked viciously as racist.

Andrew brings this related topic into his piece, as well, when he quotes from John Edwards's acceptance speech:

"I have heard some discussions and debates about where, and in front of what audiences we should talk about race, equality, and civil rights. Well, I have an answer to that question. Everywhere."

Compare that with another item from the Jay Nordlinger Impromptus to which I linked in the previous post:

Back to something a bit more serious: As you know, I keep hoping that presidents, and candidates, will talk to black Americans as they do to all other Americans. I think I once said, "I'd give anything if an official or candidate went before a black group and talked about missile defense." Well, I see in a New York Times report, on the president's recent speech to a convocation of black journalists, that "Mr. Bush, who delivered a version of his campaign stump speech and did little to tailor his remarks to the group . . ."


I've been accused, recently, of having a problem with difference, and I guess in some respects, I have to confess to being guilty of the charge. Race shouldn't be a determinantal difference; accepting differences ought to mean considering them irrelevant where they are, in fact, irrelevant. Whether it results in domestic welfare menageries or foreign tyranny reserves, too much "respect" for difference can raise up bars that the object of appreciation might prefer removed.

Posted by Justin Katz at August 10, 2004 11:54 PM