On Islamists and Rick Santorum

Yesterday, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Lauren Morgan posted an interesting piece on “Islamism in the Popular Imagination” over at Gunpowder and Lead. It makes two main argument, one poorly and one quite well, but both are important in their own way. The piece is written using a HuffPo piece by David Briggs entitled “Is It Time to Reconsider the Term Islamist?” as a foil.

First the weak argument. From Gartenstein-Ross:

Briggs bolsters his case by quoting Mansoor Moaddel, an Eastern Michigan University sociologist, as saying that in his interviews, he found that “‘in some respects, Mr. Santorum is more extremist’ than leading figures of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.” Nor is Briggs the only Western commentator to fatuously compare Santorum to Islamic extremists. To actually approach the claim being made by Briggs and others — that Islamist politicians possess an agenda that is less extreme than that of Rick Santorum — a better approach is to look at the practice in Middle Eastern states, as well as the policies advocated by Islamist politicians with significant audiences (as opposed to mere fringe players).

GR argues convincingly that policies put in place by Islamist parties throughout the Middle East are more extreme than Santorum. And indeed, on issues like religious freedom, women’s rights, and gay rights, GR is quite correct. Islamist regimes are worse than anything Santorum has proposed.

But I’d argue this is an apples to oranges comparison. Santorum’s limits are defined, I think, more by the limits imposed by American institutions rather his ideology per se. In other words, GR is comparing institutionally unconstrained ideological positions with those heavy constrained by institutions. It actually is not at all difficult to find actors on the right who would like to see religious freedom severely curtailed. Indeed, there is even a “Constitutional theory” out there among right wingers than Muslims should not receive First Amendment protections because either Islam is a “cult” or because it was not extant in any significant way in the United States when the Bill of Rights was ratified.

In terms of gay rights, there are also plenty on the right who would like to see homosexuality recriminalized, and even subjected to the death penalty. And, of course, Santorum himself has notable compared homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.

It is surely true that Santorum is not worse than various Islamist regimes in the Middle East, in terms of religious freedom, women’s rights, and gay rights, but man that is damning with faint praise isn’t it? But the bigger issue is that comparing ideology to ideology is perhaps more useful than comparing policy outcomes simply because institutions matter. What makes Santorum less of a menace to Muslims, women, and gays isn’t his “moderate” beliefs; rather it is that he operates in an institutional context where his maximalist positions are so absurd that they don’t even become part of the discussion…. until they do, of course. Until this past year, who would have imagined that access to contraception would reappear on the national agenda? I could have sworn that was settled two generations ago.

On the other hard, Gartenstein-Ross’s piece raises what is, indeed, an important policy challenge for progressives, namely what our stance ought to be in dealing with Islamist regimes that do indeed have very poor records on issues of freedom of religious/conscience, women’s rights, and gay rights.

Now, I know that in merely broaching this topic, I will be accused on somehow shilling for Israel. Just to clarify, I’m not. I consider Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to be both criminal and criminally stupid, and I think our economic aid to Israel makes us complicit in this criminality and stupidity. I wish it would stop, or that we’d at least use the leverage it provides to encourage some sort of fair solution. But, I promise I’ll write more about Israel later. This piece is not about Israel, but rather about some of the appalling human rights issues in the Arab/Muslim world.

As Mona Eltahawy’s crie de coeur argues:

Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women.

The status of homosexuals is, if anything, even worse.

The tension arises because I would argue that the three core tenets of a progressive foreign policy ought to be:

  1. A skepticism of the utility of military force, with a resultant anti-militarist orientation. (Not anti-military, but anti-militarism.)
  2. A deep respect for the concept of self-determination which often manifests itself through adherence to anti-imperialist principles.
  3. A commitment to promote fundamental human rights.

The third is less historically grounded in the progressive tradition than the first two, but it is becoming increasingly important. The notion of a “responsibility to protect” as a fundamental limitation on state sovereignty is increasingly broadly accepted, and I think it is, in any case, a logical corollary to a human-focused conception of “self-determination.”

I think it is important for us to stand up against Muslim bashing in the United States. It is equally important to note that the “anti-Sharia” lunacy on the right is just that, lunacy. And yet, there is a real issue here in terms of our international relations with countries that do have quite poor records on human rights. As a practical matter, think we need to embrace the “Arab Spring,” and even be open to working with Islamist regimes if they come to power through democratic means. And yet, it does make me uneasy. Finding a way to balance these competing pressures is difficult, and I admit, it isn’t clear to me what precisely our position should be toward Islamist regimes that are either emerging democracies or long-standing allies that nonetheless have poor human rights rights.

147 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    One picky little point, Bernard.

    What about the role of Colonialism in creating the conditions in the Arab world that led to autocracies that also allowed for the worst abuses of conservative Islamic law. Name me an Arabic (or Persian) country, and I’ll show you a history of European (or American, later) colonial rule that led to bad political conditions that went hand in hand with radical clerics coming to power.

    There are exceptions, but this is an important element to this whole story.

  2. 2
    Valdivia says:

    Great post–and to just point out you are missing an ‘s’ in the word argument in the first graph.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Bernard, another outstanding post. Cole seems to have a knack for finding interesting, intelligent people to contribute with style, clarity, and personality, to boot.

    I might note that THIS jumped out at me:

    A skepticism of the utility of military force, with a resultant anti-militarist orientation. (Not anti-military, but anti-militarism.)

    In WWII we fought two very militaristic regimes and defeated them, by the proper application of military power. That crazy FDR dude knew who the most serious threat was, and allocated resources appropriately, while maintaining pressure on the other threat relentlessly. A superb example of how basic military principles will result in success…without being militaristic, at all.

    We lost some of that over the past 30 years, and it distresses me as a veteran of the cold war.

  4. 4
    Keith G says:

    Is it possible to critique a society’s human rights record as manifest behavior with out delving into a critique of its religious tenants?

  5. 5
    ExurbanMom says:

    Great post, giving me lots to think about. Thanks, Cole, for bringing on another A+ front pager.

  6. 6
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    And yet, there is a real issue here in terms of our international relations with countries that do have quite poor records on human rights.

    It is a real issue. But your country has no standing in this matter. The United States certainly has zero since it supports and aids many of these regimes.
    R2P etc come into question not because anyone questions the need for promotion of fundamental human rights. It comes into question because who has the authority to enforce? Certainly not the United States. You never had that standing and you probably will never do – since you were a segregated society just 50 years back. Your society is too deeply racist for anyone to trust you to implement R2P. That is the problem – not the question of human rights.
    I suggest you all first focus on why your country gets away with killing brown people so easily. After that, much after that, you can come to these above.

  7. 7
    Rob in CT says:

    Muslims in the US are a nearly-powerless minority who couldn’t subject us to sharia law even if they wanted to. They’re just a useful whipping child for the Right.

    If/when that group gains more political power and starts to use it the way our Christian fundies do, I’ll be there condemning them. At this time, there just isn’t a threat.

    It’s a bit like the recent mini-kerfuffle over Hugo Chavez. Obama made the point: we don’t like the guy much, but he’s a flea. If you freak out over every flea, all you’re going to do is a bunch of self-inflicted damage. [edit: to be clear, I don’t dislike US muslims. I’m quite neutral on them. Unless and until a significant group of ’em starts advocating religious fuckwittery, and even then my ire will be reserved for that sub-group).

    Regarding human rights abroad: for me, the third plank in your progressive program is the weakest. Maybe I’m not as progressive as you or something. To me, our primary job is to make things better here in the USA (as it is here we have the unquestioned Right to govern). Set an example (both morally, and also in a more hard-nosed practical way: show that good governance + staying away from stupid military adventures = success). Also, not being total aholes abroad is nice. But when we get into things like “R2P” I’m off the boat, sorry. R2P is Neoconservatism lite. Lipstick on the pig.

  8. 8
    Bernard Finel says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: R2P is not about outside implementation, it is about obligations to your own people.

    The “responsibility” is not to outsiders, it is the responsible of a government to protect its own people from harm.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Dealing with these regimes may be as simple as rewarding good behavior and punishing bad, and there are of course myriad ways to do that. But it doesn’t help that the US is not seen as a good-faith actor in that part of the world, unless and until it takes a more even-handed approach with Israel.

  10. 10
    The Moar You Know says:

    Now, I know that in merely broaching this topic, I will be accused on somehow shilling for Israel.

    Not sure why that would be the case.

    It is surely true that Santorum is not worse than various Islamist regimes in the Middle East, in terms of religious freedom, women’s rights, and gay rights

    I wouldn’t say he’s worse, merely the same. As you note, the only difference is that Santorum operates in a society where some of his beliefs are regarded as “fringe”. Don’t think that will be the case for long, though.

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:

    @BGinCHI:

    What about the role of Colonialism in creating the conditions in the Arab world that led to autocracies that also allowed for the worst abuses of conservative Islamic law

    Up until the 12th Century there was a huge body of Islamic jurisprudence that was becoming more and more liberal and modernized, for the age. What really threw the Islamic empire off its kilter was it lost a battle and its seat of superiority thanks to Jenghis Khan. Islam never really recovered from that defeat, because their response was to turn insular and more conservative. This allowed the foreign Turks to waltz in and take over the caliphate as the Ottoman empire not long after. Islam looks for a glory it hasn’t had for centuries, and it keeps looking the wrong way to achieve it.

    A lot of European colonialism was really about defeating the Ottomans. The consideration of the local native populations was considered irrelevant. Victoria needed her empire after all.

  12. 12
    Marc says:

    @6: Let’s see. If we intervene in Syria we “kill brown people.” If we don’t intervene in Syria brown people “get killed” by other brown people. The “killing brown people” line makes believe that we have a binary choice. In the real world we end up in situations where people die no matter what we choose to do, and it’s a question of who dies and how.

    I also find the posturing about US racism to be undiluted bullshit. What society are you from, and what is the track record in your society towards minorities, women, and gays? Real human societies can have prejudiced components and still embrace universal rights as an ideal.

  13. 13
    burnspbesq says:

    One of the problems with being sincerely committed to democracy and self-determination is that you sometimes have to accept results that are inconsistent with your sincere commitment to human rights. Not every culture accepts our view of what constitutes a fundamental human right. If, for example, the Egyptian people, in free and fair elections, choose a government that tramples on what we consider women’s fundamental rights, we are certainly entitled to yap about it, but yapping is pretty much all we can legitimately do.

  14. 14
    The Moar You Know says:

    Is it possible to critique a society’s human rights record as manifest behavior with out delving into a critique of its religious tenants?

    @Keith G: No, because those religious tenets are a primary driver in how that society chooses to treat its fellow human beings.

  15. 15
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Bernard Finel: You are trying to somehow distinguish between a human rights based approach that may involve military conflict; vs some sort of gung ho approach to attacking other countries.
    This distinction only exists in the very abstract. Proving this point in the abstract always seems to lead to violations in the real world.
    My point is that establishing this distinction does nothing without considering that your government is a big threat to world peace right now. So, i suggest that you first focus on making that less so, then you can all hash out this distinction.

  16. 16
    Brachiator says:

    As a practical matter, think we need to embrace the “Arab Spring,” and even be open to working with Islamist regimes if they come to power through democratic means.

    don’t really agree here. There is no particular reason to bow down to authoritarian or despotic or crazy ass regimes just because they are democratically elected. This is not to say that we have to automatically look to undermine them, but democracy does not automatically confer legitimacy on a government. Not even our own.

    @BGinCHI:

    What about the role of Colonialism in creating the conditions in the Arab world that led to autocracies that also allowed for the worst abuses of conservative Islamic law. Name me an Arabic (or Persian) country, and I’ll show you a history of European (or American, later) colonial rule that led to bad political conditions that went hand in hand with radical clerics coming to power.

    Sorry, this is the bass-akwards view of the world that always goes looking to see the West or America as the fount of evil in the world. Nations have always pursued their own self interest, and sometimes used despicable means to obtain them. The Mughal rulers of India veered from enlightened to despicable long before any Europeans arrived.

    And there is also the issue of fundamentalism, any fundamentalism, which typically reeks, and always leads to tyranny, no matter what religion it arises from.

  17. 17
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Marc: My society is not trying to invent new reasons and protocols to criticise and then by extension maim and kill other people far off.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    My society is not trying to invent new reasons and protocols to criticise and then by extension maim and kill other people far off.

    That claim is impossible to evaluate, since you haven’t yet told us which society that is. Why are you afraid to make that disclosure?

  19. 19
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Marc: If it is a question of who gets killed, then you should strip the moral authority here.
    If your nation claimed it is natural as a powerful military to intervene in other nations, disrespect sovereignty and invent new Hitlers, that is fine. Many nations have done that earlier and it is clear where people stand on that (not on the side of the bully, that is for sure).
    Just do not claim a moral authority. That does not exist.

  20. 20
    Marc says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    I believe that there are fundamental human rights that are universal. I didn’t claim the right to “kill and maim other people that are far away.” If you’re going to reject this because “US society is incredibly racist” I’d like to know “as compared to what” and see precisely what your standard of evidence is.

    More to the point, US racism doesn’t excuse bigotry toward gays or discrimination against women in other countries.

  21. 21
    Lex says:

    To further undercut GR, and to expand a bit on #10, yes, we have moderating institutions in our society — and Rick Perry belongs to a group that has spent the past three decades blowing up as many of them as possible.

  22. 22
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @burnspbesq: The only nations that do this, right now, exist in the West.
    No nation or society is perfect – that is not the point. The point is that right now, your nation is more of a global threat to peace. You should, as progressives, be reflecting on why that is. That should be the priority.
    Instead, this post tries to claim some kind of moral authority for an abstract “we”. I am saying that “we” has no standing to criticise anyone. You may claim a moral standing – it just does not exist.

  23. 23
    RP says:

    “Santorum’s limits are defined, I think, more by the limits imposed by American institutions rather his ideology per se. In other words, GR is comparing institutionally unconstrained ideological positions with those heavy constrained by institutions.”

    That’s true of Santorum, but also of absolutely everybody, including those Muslim brotherhood leaders he’s being compared to. There is no such thing as “unconstrained” behavior, in that everybody’s behavior is controlled by one’s experiences. Both Santorum’s and the MB’s actions and beliefs are the products of a social environment. It’s surely true that Santorum would behave differently if he were in a different environment, but so would everybody else. The concept of “constrained vs. unconstrained” assumes a default setting, a “natural” behavior or “basic” behavior, that is not in evidence.

  24. 24
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    And you’re still dodging the question. Which leads me to question whether anyone should pay attention to you, since you’re acting in bad faith here.

  25. 25
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Marc: No, of course it does not. What does that lack of excuse translate to, from the world’s most powerful country? That is the real question.
    For most peoples around the world, a “lack of excuse” for other countries’ records would simply mean an awareness. For your country, and others in the West, it serves to excuse your own failings in respecting sovereignty. The empirical record shows that.
    If this question is simply discussed in the abstract, this way:
    “If a country exists, say, that is not a global aggressor; that grants full rights to every group; and is a liberal icon. Can that country intervene in another country when egregious human rights violations occur?”
    The above question may be interesting for academics. In real life, I am amazed that United States pundits are posing this question. Consider your own record, for god’s sake.

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    @burnspbesq: Bad faith argument? On BJ? That NEVER happens!!

  27. 27
    Cassidy says:

    your nation is more of a global threat to peace.

    Horseshit. The only difference between the US and other militarized nations is the number of countries that can be invaded at one time.

    You’re talking out your ass.

  28. 28
    Brachiator says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    It is surely true that Santorum is not worse than various Islamist regimes in the Middle East, in terms of religious freedom, women’s rights, and gay rights

    I missed that part where Santorum executed a woman for adultery:

    Part of what is so shocking about the public execution of an Afghan woman for alleged adultery is where it took place.
    __
    The close-up shooting took place in Parwan Province before a crowd of 150 onlookers who cheered the killers as “mujahideen” as the woman was shot nine times. The Afghan government says the incident, captured on video, was the work of the Taliban; a Taliban spokesman denies this.
    __
    Parwan Province lies just north of the capital Kabul and houses Bagram Air Field, a massive US base. This incident took place directly under the noses of the Afghan government and the international community.

    Also, there is something awkward in comparing Santorum (an individual) to an even distorted impression of Islamism, as opposed to a consideration of the surge in anti-gay, anti-Latino, and anti-women conservatism.

    And the background to the execution of the woman in Afghanistan underscores the impotence of humane values in the face of determined fundamentalist fanaticism. I don’t know if there is any real “progressive” counter to this kind of thing.

  29. 29
    gene108 says:

    Bernard, are you conflating Arab with Muslim?

    The majority of Muslims are in South Asia and Indonesia.

    One question regarding how to address Arab countries is how do Arab countries stack up with non-Arab Muslim countries, with regards to women’s rights?

    Is the problem Islam or it is it something uniquely Arab?

    @BGinCHI:

    I would think anti-women actions preceded any colonial influence.

    From the Ottoman empire to post-WWI European domination of the Arabian peninsula, you can argue contributed to dictatorships and monarchies.

    I don’t think it really did anything with regards to the role of women in society. By the 19th and 20th century, Europe was in many ways more liberal towards women’s rights than in Arabia and Asia, with regards to women being educated and having some life outside of the home and family.

    @Yutsano:

    I think the male chauvinist streak goes back to the issues of succession after Mohammed died. Some of the women around Mohammed played a prominent role in the early days of Islam, but after Mohammed died the issue of control was politically maneuvered to reflect the male dominated culture of the Arab peninsula and the men pushed the powerful women aside.

    The religion’s been male dominated ever since.

  30. 30
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I think there is a Marxist explanation for rights issues having more prominence in liberal democracies. The reason is that those are the values of capitalism. The reason why liberalism flourishes in the West, with more and more rights defined for different groups, is not because of religious or even cultural reasons. It is because those are the values of the elites in capitalism, because it helps that system survive.
    Given this, what you should be really interested is in welcoming more capitalism in the Arab countries. I have not heard progressives make that case, and instead find them focusing on religion or culture, which is weird.

  31. 31
    Cassidy says:

    @Brachiator: Seems to me that Santorum is being used as the face of said movement. Can’t speak for everyone, but I think that if US society was to become more fundamentalist, Santorum and people like him would happily excuse and champion the execution of women for any percieved trangression. Is that harsh? Yeah, it is, but nothing, other than his own innate cowardice, indicates that he wouldn’t.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    As you note, the only difference is that Santorum operates in a society where some of his beliefs are regarded as “fringe”. Don’t think that will be the case for long, though.

    I do. Despite their crowing, I think the religious nuts like Santorum are at or just past the apex of their power. They’re going nuts right now because they can see that the younger generation just doesn’t care about some of the issues (especially homosexuality) that motivate them so strongly, and they want to get what they can while they can.

    Remember, “gays should be locked up” was a mainstream view 50 years ago, and “gays should be allowed to serve in the military if they stay in the closet” was seen as dangerously radical just 20 years ago. Now “gays should be locked up” is a radical fringe idea and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is going to military gay pride parades as part of his official duties.

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    @Brachiator: You didn’t read my brief post very carefully. I said that Colonialism played a part in drawing the map and creating certain conditions across the Arab world (or broader middle east). That legacy, from the 19th and 20th centuries, played an unquestionable part in this story. It didn’t play the only part. I didn’t say that.

    And I wasn’t casually blaming the west, dumbass. Do you know what happened in that 200 year span? You don’t think that played a role in the nation state model we currently have and that has been rapidly changing since the second world war?

    Generalizations and references to anecdotal pre-modern examples are fascinating but not on point.

  34. 34
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Cassidy: Yes, which makes you more of a global threat to peace, right now. That is exactly what I said. I did not claim that your country is evil. You are subject to the same social and cultural forces or power projection as everyone else is.
    One thing that bothers me about the post is precisely that. It ignores the following:
    1. That the USA is subject to history’s forces as other countries and societies. Bernard writes as if your country is a dispassionate observer of world events and decides to intervene or not based on “all the information available”.

    2. That your country’s history itself has not reached its end. Your country is going through a downward spiral in the war on terror. Of course, most people in BJ agreed with that in the Bush years and then suddenly seem to have discovered the complexity of international relations.

  35. 35
    Yutsano says:

    @gene108: His much older first wife (who also gave Muhammad his fortune) also IIRC outlived him. And she definitely had some very strong ideas about what should happen after her husband’s death. But she was pushed aside by his brothers and other prominent followers mostly because the Prophet left it all up in the air about succession. The Sunni more or less won that battle, but after that it was easy victory and dominion until the Mongols sacked Baghdad.

  36. 36
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Brachiator: You know as well as I do that Lil’ Ricky constantly fantasizes about being the triggerman in just such a situation.

    And the background to the execution of the woman in Afghanistan underscores the impotence of humane values in the face of determined fundamentalist fanaticism.

    Well, now this is true. If you have the ability to intervene – as we have proven not to have – you then get to make the tough call as to whether your values are better than the values that someone else has chosen to live by. In this case, as far as America’s concerned, it’s a moot point – we tried to intervene and got our asses handed to us. Maybe someone should have read some fucking Kipling before deciding it was a good idea to march into that hellhole.

  37. 37
    BGinCHI says:

    @gene108: Again, I didn’t say it was the determinant factor. I suggested it was an element in the overall political situation that allowed certain groups control over a disparate group of people formed into a “nation” by colonial powers.

    You’re right in what you suggest, but I was talking about a slightly different part of the whole.

  38. 38
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @gene108: Show me a religion, that is not male dominated. This is not something that is unique to Islam.

  39. 39
    lacp says:

    Here’s a little something about how they embrace Islam in the Heartland that should give everybody a warm fuzzy:

    http://www.timesfreepress.com/.....re-muslim/

  40. 40
    The Moar You Know says:

    That claim is impossible to evaluate, since you haven’t yet told us which society that is. Why are you afraid to make that disclosure?

    @burnspbesq: Just click on the link in his username. He’s Sri Lankan, Tamil.

    Who have quite a history of their own as regards inflicting misery on people who never asked to be part of a conflict.

  41. 41
    Ash Can says:

    @Brachiator: Hence the argument regarding the constraining factors in the US vs. lack thereof in countries like Afghanistan. Any nation with a history like ours with regard to lynching will be able to muster groups of people to cheer the shooting of a woman accused of adultery. The fact that we have laws against that kind of thing is certainly a mark in our favor, but the “states’ rights” bullshitters like Santorum make it pretty clear that they don’t necessarily think such laws should exist.

  42. 42
    Cassidy says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: You’re still talking out your ass. Syria shelling a village of women and children is just as, if not more, destabilizing as the US having a giant hammer. Why? Because everyone wants to see “the good guys” (whoever the hell they are at the time) step in and save the women and children.

    You are subject to the same social and cultural forces or power projection as everyone else is.

    This is completely backwards. Outside of the morality, or lack thereof, of American Exceptionalism, there are no social and cultural forces that the US is subject to; especially not any kind of power projection. The only force that US society is beholden to is economic. This is why I largely disagree with you. It’s not “America, F*** YEAH!” or some “We’re #1” bullshit. You’re mistaking the ethical failings of people who have been in charge with the ethical ambiguity of a society. That doesn’t mean there isn’t overlap, but the two are not the same.

  43. 43
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @The Moar You Know: Invade Sri Lanka!!
    You are wrong, anyway.
    I did not reply to his question, because it is irrelevant. That conflict exists is not the question. The question is which country invents abstract reasons to justify invasions far from its own land; without any relation to its actual interests; and has the capacity to do maximum damage; AND, convince its citizens.
    Anyone with passing knowledge of colonialism will be able to tell you that civilizing Bernards such as above existed through colonial history.

  44. 44
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @The Moar You Know: I think RA is from India, judging from a brief look at his/her blog.

  45. 45
    El Cid says:

    Usage of the term “extremism” has long applied to ideologies, not to individual activities or direct causes.

    When have American advocates of, say, communism or anarchism or whatever not been considered “extremists” in mainstream discussion?

    If so, if ideology is discusses as being “extremist”, many arguments and policy prescriptions of fundamentalist Christians are every bit as “extremist” as any similar arguments and policy prescriptions of fundamentalist Muslims, or anyone else.

    If you recommend homosexuals be confined to certain areas or not allowed to hold jobs, you don’t have to actually run a regime which does so in order to be fitted quite comfortably within the category of “extremist” if the typical usage of that term in the USA is to mean anything.

    If, on the other hand, you allow the right wing alone to define what is and is not and what may and may not be termed as “extremist”, then the term has even less meaning than it normally does.

    Personally, I’m not crazy about the term as general usage. I’m completely an extremist in many of my ideas and policy desires, way, way outside the American spectrum of this era, and so what?

    I do not think in any way that appearing as an “extreme” in and of itself makes any idea wrong. An argument is better or worse independent of whatever norms and limitations current political culture represents.

    If the mainstream range of conventional and politically acceptable ideas excludes more correct analyses and better policy preferences, then the mainstream is wrong. If current political culture prevents better developments, then it’s wrong. Now, politicians or invididuals or movements may have to deal with that existent political culture and mainstream, but no one has to assume that it’s therefore right and correct.

    At one time, elliptical planetary orbits was considered an extremist ideology.

    When an argument is bad, when a policy is bad, when an ideology is harmful or repressive, it’s bad; when it’s worse than some alternative, it’s worse. And if that alternative is considered “extreme”, too bad.

    Reverse the situation — what if our mainstream religion had been Islam, and the nation was nearly exactly the same. Would suddenly a politician spouting Muslim fundamentalist ideas like Santorum suddenly be less extremist than a Muslim fundamentalist saying the exact same things, today, in this reality, in Syria, or Chechnya, or where ever?

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @BGinCHI:

    You didn’t read my brief post very carefully. I said that Colonialism played a part in drawing the map and creating certain conditions across the Arab world (or broader middle east). That legacy, from the 19th and 20th centuries, played an unquestionable part in this story. It didn’t play the only part. I didn’t say that.

    I read your post carefully. You cherry pick by starting with the 19th and 20th century, and undermine your own point.

    And I wasn’t casually blaming the west, dumbass.

    Since I didn’t insult you, but only disagreed with you, I don’t expect to be bashed by you or anyone else. You got a point to make, make it.

    Do you know what happened in that 200 year span? You don’t think that played a role in the nation state model we currently have and that has been rapidly changing since the second world war?

    I know a fair amount of what happened in that 200 year span, which is why I am disputing your point.

    Generalizations and references to anecdotal pre-modern examples are fascinating but not on point.

    I could detail for you, for example, how Mughal relations with the Hindu majority set the stage for British imperialism and some of the sorrow that followed, but apparently this would be too subtle for you.

    I could also detail how the collapse of the old relationship between the Samurai class and the Japanese imperial aristocracy immediately before the “opening of Japan to the West” directly influenced Japanese militariism independent of any reaction to colonialism, or how internal events in China were partly independent of, but a reaction to, British imperialism, 19th century examples, but let’s hear your take on how this relates to your view of colonialism.

  47. 47
    Amir Khalid says:

    The Muslim world has to evolve at its own speed when it comes to the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people. This kind of change, as necessary as it is, simply can’t be imposed from the outside; it would be seen as a Western imposition, and would not take. It has to come from within, which could take a generation or more. It certainly has not happened overnight in the West, and even now many Westerners still want to roll back such change. Imagine Westerners of today lecturing the pre-Enlightenment West about the rights of women, non-Christians and LGBT people. How far would the 21st century people get?

    It’s frequently noted here that the Republican definition of compromise with Democrats, Democrats agreeing with everything Republicans say, is blind Republican arrogance. We are not you. We can learn to emulate what we see as good in you, and in time hopefully we will; but we’ll never quite be you. I’d say that expecting the Muslim world to come around to a strictly Western, secular view of human rights is a similar failing — in kind at least, even if not in degree.

    To add to Ramiah Ariya’s point: Not only is the West’s own house less than perfectly clean, it has a lot to live down in its relationship with the Muslim world. (And the Muslim world has its own history with the West to live down as well.) There’s centuries worth of mutual enmity and distrust to deal with. The relationship still has to get closer, before this kind of frank dialog about human rights, which I agree is needful, can happen.

  48. 48
    Someguy says:

    So Santorum and the Republicans would be cutting off the exterior portions of women’s reproductive anatomy, if there weren’t laws against it and some political problems with that sort of thing?

    Pretty bold assertion there Bernard, don’t you think? Sounds a lot like the sort of partisan wankfest thinking we mock when the Republicans engage in it…

  49. 49
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Cassidy: Yes, everyone would like a peaceful solution. That stops the killing. Correct.
    Question to an American citizen – given your nation’s past proclivities, what should you do?
    What are your priorities?
    Is it really figuring out new rationale for your idealistic drone attacks?
    Or is it trying to do some soul searching about how you lost any moral authority on human rights?
    Didn’t your government collaborate with the Syrians to hunt dow Al-Qaeda? Wasn’t Syria the location of some of the CIA black sites?

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    __

    On the other hard, Gartenstein-Ross’s piece raises what is, indeed, an important policy challenge for progressives, namely what our stance ought to be in dealing with Islamist regimes that do indeed have very poor records on issues of freedom of religious/conscience, women’s rights, and gay rights.

    Why would this need to be restricted to “Islamist” regimes?

    Why would this not fit into the abstract general category of how to treat with any nation of any faith or non-faith or ideology which has oppressive policies or appear to permit such oppression?

    Why would this be a more difficult question with regard to “Islamist” regimes versus non-Islamist regimes which do the same?

    Is this a tougher issue with regard to Algeria than it would be to Gabon? Is it a tougher issue if it’s Iran than it is with China?

    Would a “Christianist” regime which repressed women and homosexuals identically [to an Islamist regime, real or hypothetical] lessen progressives’ need to confront such an issue?

  51. 51
    Cassidy says:

    The question is which country invents abstract reasons to justify invasions far from its own land; without any relation to its actual interests; and has the capacity to do maximum damage; AND, convince its citizens.

    All of them at some point. This is hardly unique to the US.

  52. 52
    Ash Can says:

    @Someguy: Not all Republicans, just some. And if you trust them enough to think that none would, you’re just not paying attention.

  53. 53
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Cassidy: Correct. Which is why this is not a MORAl question at all. Bernard writes about this as if this is a moral question he struggles with. The moral ground never existed with the USA.
    If, instead, he makes a realist argument, as Stepehn Walt does then it is a different question.
    If he were to say the stronger countries always do this with weaker countries then, fine. I think we all know who we would support, but he can say that.
    Just do not pretend there is a moral angle.

  54. 54
    Amir Khalid says:

    Sorry about the double post (which is now a quadruple post, I see). I blame Celcom Broadband.

  55. 55
    BGinCHI says:

    @Brachiator: Just weak sauce ladled onto weaker sauce.

    Nothing I said had to do with an absolute identification of colonialism with determining outcomes. I was just trying to add a piece of the puzzle.

    So, you don’t have anything to say about the region in question and you don’t think the effects of colonialism are discernible in this region as they impact the geopolitical and religious questions Bernard writes about.

    You’re welcome to that opinion. Maybe you just want to make a separate argument about Japan or the Aztecs. It’s a big tent.

  56. 56
    Brachiator says:

    @Cassidy:

    Seems to me that Santorum is being used as the face of said movement

    But this is both lazy and false. The GOP resurgence in anti-women, anti-gay, anti-Latino policies has happened independent of Santorum, who hasn’t even held elective office in quite a while. He is a convenient poster child and whipping boy, but not really relevant to the elected politicians behind this stuff.

    @Ash Can:

    Well, now this is true. If you have the ability to intervene – as we have proven not to have – you then get to make the tough call as to whether your values are better than the values that someone else has chosen to live by.

    I don’t understand your claims that people are choosing to live under these values. Are you suggesting, for example, that women in Mississippi obviously approve of anti-abortion measures because they choose to live in that state?

    And what about someone like Hanifa Safi?

    Afghanistan has lost another woman leader. Last week, Hanifa Safi – head of women’s affairs in Laghman province – had gone only a few metres from home when her car was blown up. Apparently a magnetic bomb was placed under the car, targeting Safi and her family. Her children, injured in the attack along with several other people, are now left orphaned as both Safi and her husband died in the attack.

    In this case, as far as America’s concerned, it’s a moot point – we tried to intervene and got our asses handed to us. Maybe someone should have read some fucking Kipling before deciding it was a good idea to march into that hellhole.

    Afghanistan’s history is more complicated than this. I have friends who grew up there in the 60s and 70s, when there was an attempt to modernize the nation, but who had to flee, and who would never go back in part because they have daughters, and they fear what would become of them under a new Taliban regim. Kipling ain’t got nothing to do with this.

    BTW, on a lighter note, The Man Who Would Be King is a hell of a film (good book and cautionary tale, also).

  57. 57
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    The Muslim world has to evolve at its own speed when it comes to the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people.

    What’s really interesting is this is happening both in your own country and in Indonesia. Slowly, painfully, and sometimes tortuously, but that change is occurring. And up until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was also happening there.

  58. 58
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I am an Indian. Human rights discussions, including for LGBT have vastly increased in India in the past 20 years since IT outsourcing started.
    I welcome all my progressive brothers to promote and support IT outsourcing since it improves human rights situations in poor countries.
    Not holding my breath.

  59. 59
    scav says:

    Solid bit of the world looks at some of the American practices in capital punishment with a similar distaste as evidenced above for execution for adultery. I really wouldn’t suggest using that particular line of attack when attempting to prove the universal and absolute superiority of ‘Mercan moral standing.

    And, given the mass of righteous locals eager to cut off certain health care procedures and health care decisions to women, I wouldn’t get on any too high a horse about treatment of women either.

  60. 60
    muddy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: The Christian church did the same. Women in the beginning, then when it gets big, shut them out. It is not only religion where this happens.

    In the Iranian revolution, many women were in the forefront, demonstrating in the streets for democracy. But after the revolution, down with them and their rights. They had way more rights under the Shah.

  61. 61
    Cassidy says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Yes, everyone would like a peaceful solution. That stops the killing. Correct.

    Not at all. There is always killing to be done and someone to think they have a good reason to do it. This is a human trait.

    Question to an American citizen – given your nation’s past proclivities, what should you do?
    What are your priorities?
    Is it really figuring out new rationale for your idealistic drone attacks?
    Or is it trying to do some soul searching about how you lost any moral authority on human rights?
    Didn’t your government collaborate with the Syrians to hunt dow Al-Qaeda? Wasn’t Syria the location of some of the CIA black sites?

    Let’s get our history right first. The US lost the moral high ground in international affairs long before rendition became what the cool kids were doing. If you think it started with Iraq and Afghanistan and Bush, there are some South Americans who would like to have a word with you.

    You seem to think that the US, the whole country, needs to take a quiet moment of reflection and look back on our country;s various worngdoings? Show me when someone has done that and we’ll talk. A society, musch like Arabs and Islam, are not a monolithic entity. We’re not the Borg. Your assertions refuse to acknowledge the role of the Liberals and Progressives in this country and their anti-war stances. And, as stated above, just because you’re right doesn’t mean you win especially in a democracy. I don’t have any soul searching to do. My conscience is clean.

  62. 62
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Outsourcing has destroyed the American IT talent pool in a race to the bottom in order to save money. So fuck that shit.

  63. 63
    Marc says:

    @El Cid:

    Well, let’s say that you do an objective ranking of the civil rights status of women. You then get a group of countries that are consistently rated the lowest in the world. This is the particular world that we live in – one where the Islamic world is heavily influenced by theocracies while Christian nations have become heavily secularized. If you went back in time 500 years you’d probably have found the Islamic world to be substantially more tolerant on religious matters, so there is nothing intrinsic to the faith that requires this.

    But there is an honest tension. Democracy has coincided with regression on gender rights and minority rights in countries with strong Islamic religious movements (e.g. Iran.) The ultimate solution has to be internal – but external pressure on human rights has proven to be a powerful force for good, and it can strengthen the internal voices for tolerance. Oddly enough, this doesn’t require bombing campaigns…

  64. 64
    Carl Nyberg says:

    The key breakthrough for understanding Western society is that the religion of the state is not Christianity but an economic system that sometimes gets called Neoliberalism or “Free Market”.

    The West sees it’s economic system as coming from academic and scientific traditions. And these academic and scientific traditions are superior to traditional religion.

    Therefore, the West has the right and duty to force the “Free Market” system on every society in the world (perhaps minus a few hunter-gatherer cultures).

    The West’s governments (militaries) and corporations are far more aggressive about spreading Neoliberalism by the sword than Muslims (or Christians) are about proselytizing their faiths.

    Neoliberalism/”Free Market” adherents can accept religious traditions as harmless (if primitive) if they don’t interfere with running the economy.

    One of the reasons it makes sense for the West to be at war with Islam–well, it’s profitable and is a useful tool of domestic social control–is that Islam takes prohibitions against usury a bit too seriously.

    If Muslims would just confine themselves to rituals that didn’t interfere or conflict with economic control, then the West could stop bombing their countries.

  65. 65
    Caz says:

    If you’re trying to embarass yourself, you’re doing a fine job.

    You can’t name a single prominent conservative who thinks homosexuality should be criminalized, nor can you find one who thinks that islam should not be considered a religion under the first amendment.

    Are you really that ignorant and brainwashed that you think this??

    And that’s why no one reads this blog except for other similarly deluded useful idiots.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to stay rooted in reality. These fantasies about conservatives are absurd and pathetic.

    Santorum is a pretty run of the mill conservative, and is not even in the same ballpark as islamic extremists. Not that you feel any brotherhood or patriotism when it comes to other Americans. You’d sell out fellow Americans if they disagreed with you, and welcome islamic extremists with open arms.

    I really hope your idiocy leads to you getting taken advantage of or victimized severely, as that is probably the only way your eyes might be opened to how out of touch you are with the real world.

  66. 66
    Cassidy says:

    @Brachiator: I don’t disagree with you to a point. He’s the face because he took the reins. His surge in the Primaries coincided with the conservative fuckwittery and he embraced it.

    support IT outsourcing since it improves human rights situations in poor countries.

    Interesting. Had never thought of this before.

  67. 67
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Cassidy:

    And costs Americans their jobs. But hey, I understand its not kosher to stand up for Americans these days.

  68. 68
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Yutsano:
    It’s been noted that the Malay world’s Muslims (Indonesia and us Malaysians, mostly, but also Southeast Asia and communities as far away as Africa and South America) outnumber Arab Muslims, so there’s that.

  69. 69
    Marc says:

    @scav:

    Since I oppose capital punishment the hypocrisy charge is pretty odd. Are you responsible for every single fault of your own government?

    More to the point, there is now strong pressure against capital punishment in the US – it’s been repealed in a number of states and the practice is being restricted to a smaller and smaller subset of cases. International pressure and comparisons have actually been helpful in this regard.

    So the case of capital punishment actually goes in the opposite direction of what you were saying: it’s evidence that adopting an absolute civil liberties standard is powerful and useful. This is not the same as chanting ” U S A U S A”.

  70. 70
    scav says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Well, GSD forbid we understand that a complex situation is well, complex and that there are points to be considered in both directions.

  71. 71
    celticdragonchick says:

    @BGinCHI:

    What about the role of Colonialism in creating the conditions in the Arab world that led to autocracies that also allowed for the worst abuses of conservative Islamic law. Name me an Arabic (or Persian) country, and I’ll show you a history of European (or American, later) colonial rule that led to bad political conditions that went hand in hand with radical clerics coming to power.

    Colonialism certainly lead to Socialist leaning entities like the Baath party in Iraq and Syria as well as the Arab League. I think you are pushing causation too far to suggest that colonialism 60 and 70 years ago is responsible for Wahabist fundamentalism today. I think you would do better to suggest that globalism and exposure to other cultures can be construed as a threat by any conservative philosophy, hence the anti Latino backlash in the right wing of the US and antipathy to western political and religious values in the Muslim world.

  72. 72
    Marc says:

    @Caz:

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi.....haslam.php

    That took me all of a couple of seconds to find.

    There is also the garbage about the “ground zero mosque” and the series of bills passed in legislatures around the country dealing with the threat of Sharia law.

    We get it, by the way, that the reactionary fanatics in the Republican party think that anyone who disagrees with them is a traitor. That’s why we fight you.

  73. 73
    Rob in CT says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    R2P is not about outside implementation, it is about obligations to your own people.

    The “responsibility” is not to outsiders, it is the responsible of a government to protect its own people from harm.

    Oh, please. And when a government fails in that duty? The calls for intervention begin.

    So yes, from a USian perspective anyway, “R2P” is totally about “outside implementation.”

  74. 74
    Cassidy says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Whoa…unwad your panties. I said it was an interesting concept; the idea that something negative (outsourcing jobs) has contributed to progressive shifts in those societies (something good) is something I had never considered before.

  75. 75
    Brachiator says:

    @BGinCHI:

    So, you don’t have anything to say about the region in question and you don’t think the effects of colonialism are discernible in this region as they impact the geopolitical and religious questions Bernard writes about.

    No, I said that I was looking for you to make a stronger case, and to convince me that you know something about the issue. You have not done this.

    I have noted in other posts that while I think that Bernard’s thesis is interesting and provocative, and a good conversation starter, I disagree with his assumptions and many of his observations. But I am enjoying the commentary.

    Have a nice day.

  76. 76
    scav says:

    @Marc: I agree it’s complex, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be held accountable for all the actions of this nation, especially on complex issues that likely have no entirely correct and satisfactory simple answer. I was just amused by somebody (I forget who, don’t think it was you) crawling up on a mighty steed about the execution of a woman as horrors horrors horrors because that struck me as someone missing the point that others have their own viewpoint of our actions in the same arena.

  77. 77
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:
    It need not have done that. That’s the tragedy of it. There’s plenty of IT work to be done for agencies and companies here in Asia.

  78. 78
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    Somehow Bernard’s post reminds me of David Brooks agonizing over “entitlement” cuts.

  79. 79
    Rob in CT says:

    I think the idea that increasing prosperity often results in liberalization is likely correct. Whether or not the IT outsourcing in India has really had a strong impact, I don’t know. I suspect it has within certain circles. But India’s a pretty big place.

    Also, come to think of it, I don’t think it’s just the prosperity. Obviously there’s a certain amount of cultural exchange that comes with it. Our company uses Indian IT consultants, but not all of them are “offshore.” Some come “onshore” and work here, for years at a time. Some of our people go to India as well.

    Sometimes a thing that is harmful over here can be good elsewhere. Globalization is a double-edged sword, as far as I can tell. Good for some, bad for others.

  80. 80
    Yutsano says:

    @scav: No country is ever good at looking at the motes in its own eye. It’s much easier and simpler to blame an Other than to recognize a change must come from within.

  81. 81
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Rob in CT: Also, compared to the Arab world, India has been a progressive place even before the advent of IT outsourcing. Women for example have been voting since independence, India has also had several prominent women in politics.

  82. 82
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    May be bribery would work. It may even work better than bombing. Has Bernard considered that?
    May be the real question he should agonize over is if the United States should pay these people massively; outsource heavily; even provide subsidies for foreign products – so that human rights would improve?
    How about that choice Bernard?

  83. 83
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Wouldn’t the sub continent then be a good test case to see what the effects of religion are? Pakistan and India became independent at the same time, and one is predominately Muslim, the other Hindu. Yet, its pretty obvious one is much more stable, democratic, and free than the other.

    I still think the freest Muslim countries are Albania and Bosnia.

  84. 84
    Carl Nyberg says:

    Bernard Finel, while I support dedication to human rights, I do have differences with your priorities for progressives.

    Progressives need to be vigilant we don’t get manipulated into supporting war by prioritizing human rights.

    Too often minor or manufactured human rights violations get used to justify going to war.

    For example, an anti-cluster bomb advocate was pushing a story on FB that Syria used cluster munitions. OK. But in this context that information is going to be used to buttress the West’s case for military intervention, an intervention that will include torture interrogations and human rights abuses that exceed the use of cluster munitions by the Syrian government.

    So, invoking human rights needs to be done in the context of understanding how human rights violations are used to justify our government engaging in a new wave of human rights violations.

    Also, I believe we should start thinking of human rights being in a context of group rights. If my ethnic or religious group is persecuted, it doesn’t much matter if the dominant culture is “liberal” on issues of gender or sexuality.

    Also, if I’m not free to create a subculture that rejects parts of the dominant culture, how free am I?

    And what if people want to establish communities based on economic policies other that corporations and “Free Market” economics?

    Human rights are more complicated than we are typically allowed to discuss.

    We live in a frustrating time because progressives are constantly being called upon to defend a status quo of the past–a status quo that is mostly delivering diminished quality of life–against attacks by totalitarian ideologies.

    Progressives are left little time to advocate for policies that deliver progress to ordinary people.

    And progressive intellectuals seem to be either willing to be the conservatives advocating for an unpopular status quo, or they lack the imagination or courage to offer an alternative they actually believe in.

  85. 85
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    I can’t believe it took two people to write that clap trap.

  86. 86
    John (not McCain) says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    “The Muslim world has to evolve at its own speed when it comes to the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people.”

    Nice to know. Let me know when y’all are civilized enough to stop killing people like me, then I might give a damn what happens to Mahometans.

  87. 87
    Carl Nyberg says:

    @Caz:

    You can’t name a single prominent conservative who thinks homosexuality should be criminalized…

    Does Antonin Scalia count as a prominent conservative?

  88. 88
    El Cid says:

    @Marc: The challenge to “progressives” or anyone intending to appear as though they care, though, remains the same regardless of the historic origins, empirical generalizations, or ideological sourcing of the policies of a regime with which the US deals.

    There is of course history and reality and trends and ideologies and faiths, but the question of how one thinks the U.S. government should interact with other governments when those governments have policies as described in the post (repressive to women, etc) would exist whatever the sources and commonalities of the policies.

    Those things of course matter in the “how” question.

    But my point was that it need not be phrased in terms of “progressives” having to confront the question of how to deal with “Islamist” regimes with such repression.

    Surely, a goverment enacting or supporting such repression would cause such questioning of how the US should deal with that government, whether it was Islamist or not.

    There could always be an argument over the degree to which some factor (Islam, British colonialism, mineral resource wealth) empirically influenced or intensified some repressive policies. Well, not just could be, of course there are.

    But that’s a different matter. If the question is how one thinks the U.S. should deal with a foreign government (as opposed to, say, dealing with Mississippi or Arizona) oppressing its people in a certain way, then one has to confront that issue no matter the ideology, faith orientation, or cultural nature of that foreign goverment.

  89. 89
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Caz:

    You can’t name a single prominent conservative who thinks homosexuality should be criminalized,

    Uh, Santorum enthusiastically supported the Texas law that criminalized gay cohabitation. He also has repeatedly stated that the “right to privacy does not apply to sexual conduct” as well as stating that every human society reserves the right to regulate sex even between consenting adults.

    nor can you find one who thinks that islam should not be considered a religion under the first amendment.

    Maybe you need to have a word with former Reagan admin official and head of The American Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney.

    And that’s why no one reads this blog except for other similarly deluded useful idiots.

    But we have cookies. And cold milk. I love cold milk with a hot chocolate chip cookie. Don’t you?

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to stay rooted in reality. These fantasies about conservatives are absurd and pathetic.

    My fantasies with conservatives involve ball gags, velvet lined leather cuffs and riding crops, but I make sure that we have a safe word.

    Santorum is a pretty run of the mill conservative

    Even I am not willing to insult other conservatives in that fashion. Are you sure you are not a concern troll?

    is not even in the same ballpark as islamic extremists.

    He is willing to use the coercive power of the state to force his religious views on me against my will. That certainly puts him in the same ballpark, even if the particulars of his religion are not the same as the Wahabists.

    Not that you feel any brotherhood or patriotism when it comes to other Americans.

    I put on a uniform and swore an oath to protect this country. I served honorably to protect even useless little shits like you so that you can peddle your fantasies here. What the fuck have you done?

    You’d sell out fellow Americans if they disagreed with you, and welcome islamic extremists with open arms.

    I would greet extremists of any sort(right wing religious or sharia nuts) with a 150 grain fmj .30-06 welcome.

    I really hope your idiocy leads to you getting taken advantage of or victimized severely,

    Beyond pathetic.

    as that is probably the only way your eyes might be opened to how out of touch you are with the real world.

    LOL. You need to be a speaker at CPAC.

  90. 90
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    May be there are some Bernards in Israel, similarly worrying about the Palestinian human rights record.

  91. 91
    Maude says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:
    You won’t get anywhere lecturing people.

  92. 92
    jl says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    ” To add to Ramiah Ariya’s point: Not only is the West’s own house less than perfectly clean, ”

    That is an extremely civil way to put it.

  93. 93
    Marc says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    You know, I’m willing to listen to what other people have to say about my own society. You seem to be the one who thinks that outsiders have no right to say anything about what happens in yours.

  94. 94
    jl says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    “…fantasies with conservatives involve ball gags, velvet lined leather cuffs and riding crops, but I make sure that we have a safe word. ”

    Those were news reports, not your fantasies. I know, I know, hard to believe, but true.

  95. 95
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @jl: Class, he has it!

  96. 96
    Amir Khalid says:

    @John (not McCain):
    Like the vast majority of Muslims, even quite conservative ones, I don’t condone violence against women, non-Muslims or LGBT people. (Or indeed against anyone.) The West had to evolve at its own speed too on these same questions. That was the only way change could take hold, and even then it has done so imperfectly. The Muslim world has to do the same, that’s all I’m saying.

  97. 97
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Show me a religion, that is not male dominated. This is not something that is unique to Islam.

    I think the issue with much of Arabia is that as other religions have evolved with regards to a woman’s independence from needing a controlling man in her life to education and work, the Arab states haven’t kept up and are very regressive, even though many of them have a fair bit of money and it isn’t a situation like Afghanistan, where poverty and economic isolation have entrenched the old ways.

    There’s a conscious decision in many states to limit women’s opportunities.

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    India’s different compared to other nations with regards to women’s rights. The whole “sexual revolution” that swept the West hasn’t really been a harbinger of independent women in India.

    You have a very conservative and traditional society, in many regards, but that doesn’t translate into lack of independence for women, with regards to education, jobs, and just being baby breeders.

    The real issue with women’s rights in India are the problems created by the high levels of poverty and some entrenched social views that are grudgingly changing in some communities.

  98. 98
    jl says:

    @Bernard Finel

    ” And yet, there is a real issue here in terms of our international relations with countries that do have quite poor records on human rights. ”

    This point is brought up in what context? Is this supposed to be some special problem with Muslim countries? I don’t think that their most egregiously oppressive countries are any worse than any other cultures’ most egregiously oppressive countries.

    As a general rule, there is a UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why not start there, with pressure to implement all of the provisions? That way, the US could lead by example, and there would be common benchmark. One country could not be accused of being hypocritical, if it could demonstrate it was walking the walk, not just talking.

  99. 99
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Marc: You are welcome to discuss what is happening in mine. My country has been involved in a bloody fight for control in Kashmir the last two decades. It has been disastrous for Kashmiris, both Hindus and Muslims alike. We rank 126 in the Human Development Index. Many rights exist in paper, than in practice.
    If someone in my country agnoized over, say, the human rights conditions in Pakistan, I would say about the same thing I said here. This, even though we have no real capability to inflict what the USA can inflict on the objects of its censure.

  100. 100
    jl says:

    @Amir Khalid: I think that was a troll comment, not sure any point in responding.

  101. 101
    Maude says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Iran shut down coffee shops this week.
    It scares me.

  102. 102
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @gene108: If you think that the problems facing women in India are due to poverty, you are kidding yourself. My sister-in-law, remains married in name alone to a guy who she hasn’t lived with for over two years. And no she is not poor, she is a pathologist.

    ETA: Sister-in-law lives in Bangalore.

  103. 103
    Cassidy says:

    @celticdragonchick: Wow. That was kinda hot.

    @John (not McCain): Because everyone over there is out to kill American’s.

  104. 104
    Violet says:

    It’s been two and a half hours since we’ve had a new post. Where are our frontpagers?

  105. 105
    celticdragonchick says:

    @jl:

    LMAO!

    I forgot to add the wetsuit with a dildo.

  106. 106
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Violet: Tunch had a hungry, and he eated them.

  107. 107
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    The only nations that do this, right now, exist in the West.

    Thank Dog I work in a hospital, and could go and get my tailbone x-rayed, since I fell out of my chair laughing so hard at this.

  108. 108
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The argument seems to be that we should not use ‘Islamist’ to describe the Muslim Brotherhood because they represent the political middle in that part of the world

    To me, that seems like a cowardly Western refusal to accept that the Muslim Brotherhood is the political middle and that we share responsibility by propping up Mubarak, as supremely crappy as the term ‘Islamist’ may be for other reasons

  109. 109
    Maude says:

    @Violet:
    The must be busy. They have left us all alone and the threads are running like rivers.
    It is hot and too humid here. I am waiting for the cold front. We are at 99. I know it’s hotter in other places, but this is awful.

  110. 110
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Soonergrunt: We need a photo of your cute doggie. How is he? Does he still have the patriotic bows?

    ETA: Good to know that Tunch hasn’t eated you. Yet.

  111. 111
    Yutsano says:

    @Maude: One can’t be too busy. He’s commenting in this thread. A lonely blogging world turns its eyes upon thee o Soonergrunt!

  112. 112
    Marc says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    I think that the problem is that we’re talking past one another. My perspective is that there are basic human rights, and that these apply everywhere. It’s not that the west is somehow perfect and other societies are not. It’s also not the case that you’re entitled to attack or invade nations that don’t meet them. But you do have the moral right to support people being mistreated by their local government, and there has been a lot of progress (most recently on gay rights) from the consistent application of this principal. What I’m resisting is the relativist idea that, say, racism against blacks in the US implies that we have no right to raise even moral objections against female genital mutilation elsewhere.

    In cases like active genocide, an international military intervention may be the least bad solution, but that’s a different topic.

  113. 113
    Violet says:

    @Maude: We pretty much live at 99 and 90% humidity most summers, so I kind of chuckle when I hear people other parts of the country complain about it. I do have sympathy, though. It totally sucks and I detest summer. By September we’re all just hanging on, willing that first fall cold front to arrive. I hope it cools down for you.

  114. 114
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    Hindu society oppressed women in horrible ways. I guess you may all have heard of the practice of Sati, in which the widow is burnt on the funeral pyre of her husband.
    Reformation was slow and is not complete even after 200 years of pursuit. For banning Sati, the government had to step in. The government bans dowry. they ban sex-selection. They estimate half a million girl children aborted in the past two decades.
    If we know anything, it is that society has to change by itself. But a stable government is necessary to provide the basis for change. And these have to be continuously defended.
    A constitutional republic, with universal adult suffrage and a capitalistic economy seems to provide the best framework for change to build upon.
    Creating such a republic is simply not done by force.

  115. 115
    AA+ Bonds says:

    As for Santorum, etc., I find the term ‘RWAP’ works fine, for ‘right-wing American Protestant’, to cover the various white proto-fascist New Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, fundamentalists, etc., a distinct breed with the espoused beliefs of Ugandan Christian parties but without the courage of their convictions, grafted onto a supreme and non-Biblical endorsement of social Darwinism

    It is pronounced ‘ar-wap’

  116. 116
    jl says:

    @burnspbesq: click on the name: from India, Tamil region(?)

  117. 117
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Hindu society oppressed oppresses women in horrible ways.

  118. 118
    Keith G says:

    @The Moar You Know: The difficulties with that are if you make the belief the problem and not the behavior of the believer, you have just exponentially enlarged your challenges.

  119. 119
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Yutsano: How is your back now?
    All better?

  120. 120
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I mean, one reason that the Brotherhood is Muslim is that they strongly endorse social welfare; one reason Rick Santorum is not ‘Christianist’ is because he thinks social welfare is atheistic Communism

  121. 121
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    @Marc: What triggered me about Bernard’s post was his mention of R2P along with human rights records. There is an implicit assumption that the United States is in some kind of position to use R2P as a doctrine in international relations. I think that was posed as simply a moral question. Arguments similar to these were used in the Libya war and have been invoked for Syria now.
    I just pointed out that as an academic question, this may be fine. But there is no reason to consider that there is anything moral about R2P. That progressives or anyone in the USA have as much right to condemn or be alarmed by human rights abuses as anyone else is a given.

  122. 122
    El Cid says:

    @Carl Nyberg: One of the challenges ‘progressives’ face is to convince themselves that actual power gives a shit whatever they conclude about how the U.S. should act.

    Sure, everyone should think about questions of how a country should or should not act in a given situation, but no one should for one second think that how liberals or progressives earnestly debate preferred foreign policies likely leads to large scale changes in international power activities.

  123. 123
    lacp says:

    @AA+ Bonds: I like your phrasing, but Santorum’s a Catholic.

  124. 124
    Marc says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Understood; the disastrous Iraq war was sold on, among other things, human rights grounds.

    When I look at Libya or Syria I see all paths leading to death, and the possibility of a much higher body count (e.g. Rwanda) if outsiders stay away. That doesn’t make non-intervention impossible, but the moral costs of watching innocents die are not zero.

    I very much prefer international efforts to unilateral ones; the requirement for consensus tends to blunt the worst excesses. But no system is perfect.

  125. 125
    El Cid says:

    __

    As a practical matter, think we need to embrace the “Arab Spring,” and even be open to working with Islamist regimes if they come to power through democratic means.

    We appear to be “working with” all sorts of regimes which did not come to power through democratic means.

    For example, the most populous nation on Earth.

    Do you have a clear recommendation on how to work with or conversely not work with China? How should “progressives” think about this?

    Nations (such as the US) weren’t arm twisted into working with non-elected regimes and it wasn’t due to the lack of self-examination of principles by progressives.

    Nor will it be the result of such examination (or lack thereof) dictating how the US interacts with some nation.

    Saudi Arabia would really have to scale up its domestic repression to an unimaginably high degree in order for it to result in the US caring about that more than its role in US oil company and banking profitability.

  126. 126
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I think Bernard should stick to domestic policy posts.

  127. 127
    Bernard Finel says:

    @gene108: Actually, no. I was talking about the problem of some Islamist regimes. Never made it into a general claim about Arabs or Muslim in general. This is about certain type of extremist regimes, not an ethnicity or a religion per son. Now, Eltahawy and others may have a more expansive definition of the issue.

  128. 128
    Bernard Finel says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: I don’t really have an agenda to promote on this score. There may indeed be an “incentives” based approach to squares the circle. I was just trying to highlight what I think is a tension that many progressives face when considering international relations.

  129. 129
    El Cid says:

    @Marc: In the cases of Sudan and Zimbabwe, the lack of outside military intervention likely has saved tens or hundreds of thousands of more lives than those lost to the slaughters of the existing evil regimes.

    That’s not always the case, but often people who would like to believe they’re morally motivated do not consider that actions can indeed make horrible situations worse.

    The people working on the ground the longest in Sudan / Darfur, unlike all sorts of celebrities and loud-voiced advocates, consistently argued against military intervention even while they insisted upon the guilt of the Sudan government in ongoing slaughter.

    The real world is the real world. It’s often complicated. Sometimes there are ideal solutions; sometimes there aren’t.

    Sometimes there are situations in which outside military intervention would have helped.

    The US created the Guatemalan military tyranny and directed, armed, funded, aided, and protected it as it committed actual, UN-post hoc acknowledged genocide. Yet the hundreds of thousands of Mayan Guatemalans slaughtered by Reagan’s beloved allies might have been even more if the Soviets or Cubans had begun bombing the regime. It all depends.

    From time to time loud and haughty voices began demanding that the US military do, well, something or other mumble mumble against the Burmese military regime, and that somehow such vague but stirring calls to justice and action would result in life being better for the Burmese in question. But it was other types of actions which resulted in an improved national and political environment.

    In the Rwandan case, it’s very likely that the genocide largely could have been prevented given its logistical dependence upon road travel. It was a particular and chronologically isolated active campaign of attacks with low tech, high movement patterns.

    In the case of a Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the best policy would have been not to create them in the first place by destroying the prior nation-state and carpet bombing the population out of agriculture and into starvation, because who the hell do people imagine will emerge in the context of such situations? Nice governments?

    It’s not a coincidence that so much foreign policy discussions are about loudly stated principles without harsh analysis of the actual contexts, and upon descriptions of situations determined by individuals and institutions of established political and state power.

  130. 130
    Bernard Finel says:

    @Carl Nyberg: Well, imagine then life for a progressive living in a country where Islamist parties are taking power. No sympathy for human rights, women’s rights, gay rights activists there?

    I put skepticism of military force as my first tenet of progressive foreign policy, so I think reducing my argument to some sort of naive willingness to buy into war myths is peculiar.

  131. 131
    Bernard Finel says:

    @El Cid: The context, I think, is that we are currently dealing with a potential wave of new Islamist regimes as a consequence of the crumbling of old authoritarian structures.

    Yes, there is a lot of injustice all over the world. But this happens to be real-time issue.

  132. 132
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    In a similar vein, I was always iffy with the whole “we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq because Saddam was actually progressive by ME standards” realpolitik schtick (especially Iraqi society prior to the first Gulf War).

    Any time you have an authoritarian regime that pushes through some western and liberal freedoms, it seems, there’s always a shit load of repression that’s gonna bubble over. Its a shame, because the losers are going to inevitably be minorities (the Alawites, who are sorta Shiites and Christians in Syria, Sunni in Iraq). And the ME has gotten less diverse and more homogeneous over the 20th century.

  133. 133
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    RE: Hindu society oppresses women in horrible ways.

    Segments of Hindu society oppress women in horrible ways. This is not generally codified into law, and those who insist on oppression are not usually in the majority.

    Nor is it generally the case that people can insist that Hinduism insists upon the oppression of women.

  134. 134
    El Cid says:

    @Bernard Finel: There is always a context.

    But the principles involved logically cannot be based upon whether or not the empirical reality is that the regimes turn out to be (in terms of some definition) Islamist.

    If you’re arguing that the ‘how’, the manner of engagement, would be likely most successful when given the actual, real world, and very, very specific contexts of the emerging power structures (both at the national and sub-national level), then the Islamist nature of a particular party or group or institutional regime matters greatly.

    But I don’t see how the principles would vary, nor why I would need to confront any personal dilemmas in thinking about them.

    The nature of relations between the nation-state in which I live and another nation-state in which some set of people live involves all sorts of tensions.

    You also don’t want to reify or discuss as fixed and carved-in-stone the temporal outcome of some power struggle; if people are thinking of things in terms of “Islamist regime” rather than the particular contexts of who and what groups and upon what bases one finds in an imaginable post-Assad-regime Syria, even if there do emerge arguably fundamentalist Islamic power centers or even a regime, it can dumb down analysis just as much as ignoring the particular and Islamic sectarian ideologies of said groups.

  135. 135
    El Cid says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: In my opinion, the part of that argument which has moral weight is that by invading and laying waste to that entire nation-state, any possibility of a post-Saddam government which might ever have arisen and kept those desirable features was destroyed.

    And if someone was assuming that either the US destroyed the Iraqi nation-state (the absolutely dominant probable outcome of its invasion and occupation) or Saddam or his sons would be in power forever, and that ‘we’ had the right and the correct argument to choose that option based on our belief that no alternative would ever be possible, then this is a terrible, immoral, and horrid argument.

  136. 136
    John (not McCain) says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    If the “vast majority” of Muslims feel like you do, then why do Muslim-dominated socities legally execute people like me? Perhaps you are unclear on what the phrase “vast majority” means?

  137. 137
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Brachiator: Hindu society is very traditional, and sons are preferred over daughters. This is not restricted to certain segments of societies but fairly universal. Only a son can perform funeral rites for the parents not the daughter. In fact you cannot attain moksha without son and on and on it goes.
    That said things are far better than say Saudi Arabia but that’s a pretty low bar don’t you think? Yes and the state does not impose demeaning laws on women just because they are women, but the power of tradition keeps most women in their place.

  138. 138
    El Cid says:

    @John (not McCain): We can hold populations to higher standards than the particulars of it would seem to justify.

    On some levels, we should, and on other levels, maybe not.

    There are all sorts of hideous, murderous wars that the American Public (TM) at various points in time favored, often vehemently, but we also know that they are tremendously lied to, whipped up, propagandized, to such a point that the principles so many might think they’re defending are in reality being utterly laid waste to by said war.

    I hate all the fucking idiot Americans who supported the war in Iraq, especially the moron brigades who believed nearly the entire political establishment and the billion dollar press archipelago when the case was made that Saddam (like Ho Chi Minh before him) was either about to cross the Atlantic (or maybe more deviously the Pacific via the Indian Ocean) and throw nuclear Scuds at one of our cities or not too far off from being able to do so.

    And if the extraterrestrials descended to put us all on trial, maybe they’d all be held responsible too for the hundreds of thousands who died as a direct result of the US war on Iraq. Maybe they’d deserve it.

    But I always try to bear in mind that the jeering masses supporting some terror mostly do so when there’s some well funded and well organized force pushing them to do so.

    True, often they don’t have to push hard, but still, it applies there as here.

  139. 139
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Hindu society is very traditional, and sons are preferred over daughters. Inidia is a huge country. The middle class is as large as the population of the United States. To say that the Hindu society is very traditional doesn’t really say much, and comparing it to Saudi Arabia is just odd.

    The power of tradition varies greatly. Kinda like it does here.

    And I think it does make a huge difference that there is not anything like a strong religious fundamentalism (as here in some GOP dominated states) demanding that religious based sexism be made the law of the land.

  140. 140
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Brachiator: If you read my comment carefully I said it was much better than Saudi Arabia.
    I don’t see what is wrong with comparing two countries.

    On a sliding scale it is better to be a woman in the US, than in India and it is better to be a woman in India than Saudi Arabia and I say this as a woman who has lived both in India and the US.

    India is a very traditional country and everything from what you wear everyday to what you eat to what you do for a living is dictated by tradition. It is not easy being a woman in India. That has been my experience.

  141. 141
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    If you read my comment carefully I said it was much better than Saudi Arabia. I don’t see what is wrong with comparing two countries.

    You could just as easily compare India to the US or the UK. Or to Finland or to Mexico. Why not do that? Comparing it to Saudi Arabia might appear to be trying to shoehorn these countries into some kind of lower order ghetto. I am not for example, aware of anything widespread in India that legally restricts a woman’s ability to drive a car, or which mandates the clothes that she must wear.

    On a sliding scale it is better to be a woman in the US, than in India and it is better to be a woman in India than Saudi Arabia and I say this as a woman who has lived both in India and the US.

    I’m not a woman, but I tend to resist “better to be a woman” or man comparisons that try to summarize an entire country. Women I talked to in Mumbai, Varanasi, New Dehli did not have simple, uniform views about tradition or the ease or difficulty of their lives. I didn’t talk to women in some small villages in the Western part of the country, where I’ve had some opportunity to travel, but from sources and observations, I got the impression of degrees of sadness and oppression.

    In other areas of the country, I’ve known men and women who spit on tradition. And, as is the case in many other countries, I have met people who feel free within tradition in ways that I could never personally accept.

    I agree with you that it is not easy being a woman in India (hell, it’s not easy being a woman anywhere), but again I think you might be over-stating the case to some degree when you talk about the power of tradition there.

  142. 142
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I am not for example, aware of anything widespread in India that legally restricts a woman’s ability to drive a car, or which mandates the clothes that she must wear.

    The government does not mandate a dress code for women but men feel free to pass comments, make lewd remarks and worse. It does not matter actually what you wear. This is in Bombay not some remote backwater.

    I think you might be over-stating the case to some degree when you talk about the power of tradition there

    I haven’t even touched upon arranged marriage. How many women have the freedom to choose their own partners when they get married? Arguably one of the most important decisions in one’s life.

  143. 143
    Snarla says:

    There is a very wide variance between one Muslim country and another. Our news agencies like to play up the most extreme events and utterances from over there, but to hear what America’s own religious fundamentalists are saying, you have to go to RightWingWatch or similar sites.

    There are many American religious figures, with millions of followers, who would happily take away a woman’s right to vote, to work, and to get an education.

    The Islamists have gained power in the Middle East (ignoring the largest population of Muslims in the world, in Indonesia etc) largely because of US policies.

    Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam is a good book on this topic.

    We should not be patting ourselves on the back too hard.

  144. 144
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    The government does not mandate a dress code for women but men feel free to pass comments, make lewd remarks and worse. It does not matter actually what you wear. This is in Bombay not some remote backwater.

    I’ve seen American couples spat on by Indian locals for holding hands and kissing in public. I’ve also, sadly, seen women groped on buses and trains (once put myself between a woman and a groper, but that’s another story for another day). And of course, the problems for women in Mexico and Japan are so bad that you have subway cars for women only.

    And I have known especially of single women travelers who are ridiculously subjected to lewd crap all over the world (Italy is notorious for this as well, with some jerk men feeling that it is an obligation that they accost women).

    I’ve also seen women in India and elsewhere treated with great respect.

    I haven’t even touched upon arranged marriage. How many women have the freedom to choose their own partners when they get married? Arguably one of the most important decisions in one’s life.

    Not much to disagree with you here. But again, I note, how men and women all over the world deal with the traditions related to marriage can be nuts. In India, though, I knew a mixed couple. He was Muslim, she was Hindu. Not an arranged marriage. He talked about how it is legal for people to object to these marriages, even freaking strangers. And of course, this is a racket in which people are paid to withdraw their objections.

    Tradition. Is nuts.

  145. 145
    Recall says:

    @BGinCHI: Saudi Arabia

  146. 146
    HyperIon says:

    @scav: Thanks for expressing my POV. Not surprisingly, many policies benefit one group and disadvantage another. If the analysis is going to be “It hurts the group I belong to and is therefore BAD”, we’ll never get anywhere.

  147. 147
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @lacp:

    I like your phrasing, but Santorum’s a Catholic.

    No, he motherfucking isn’t, and neither is Newt Gingrich

    They are RWAPs (well, Gingrich plays one – personally I believe he is an atheist)

    I don’t want to go over this again, go look in the threads from the primaries

    Catholicism does not endorse capitalism

    You may have noticed that the bishops groaningly rolled over and managed to denounce the Ryan budget

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