In Search of What You Resent

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJMedia

By via PJMedia
By via PJMedia

The Maliki government in Iraq fueled anti-Americanism as it systematically destroyed the coalition government that the Americans had created and protected by the surge. Maliki, who had once been hunted by the genocidal Saddam Hussein, in a sense was a creation of the United States and its commitment to consensual government in Iraq. So was the pluralistic idea of a Shiite majority for the first time gaining ascendency on the principle of one person, one vote — and through the blood and treasure of American soldiers during the surge. No foreign leader in recent memory has been so lucky to have an American patron.

By 2011, Maliki thought he could pose to Iraqis with cheap anti-Americanism while bluffing the Obama administration into agreeing to a status of forces renewal agreement that both sides knew was in their mutual interest. But the fool Maliki did not realize that politics for the Obama administration (“ending one war, winding down another”) was even more a first principle than it was for Maliki. The result is Obama pulled every American out of the hard-won and stable Iraq (“stable” is Obama’s characterization, not mine alone), found his reelection narrative, and now Maliki is close to losing his country.

Maliki failed to grasp that Obama had even less trust in the influence of America to do good things abroad than did Maliki himself. But the larger irony is that now Maliki is begging for a return of American hard power to save his government from those killers that his policies helped create. In extremis, he understands that no other country would depose an oil-rich tyrant, stay on to foster democracy, leave the oil to its owners, and then leave when asked — and finally consider coming back to the rescue of an abject ingrate.

The Latin America narrative in the age of Obama — often best characterized in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, or Venezuela — is little empathy south of the border for the Yanqui paradigm of free-market democratic capitalism. The stale 1960s rhetoric of colonialist, imperialist, racist, etc. is back in vogue in much of Latin America, and Mexico as well, encouraged by an administration that itself is unlikely to defend present or past U.S. conduct.

Likewise the themes of most Chicano-Latino studies programs in the U.S. are American culpability, racism, and colonialism — the same old, same old whine [1] of the myriad faults of the U.S. In my community, the time it takes a first-generation foreign national to cross the border illegally, and then to develop a sort of resentment toward the U.S. and a romance about the birthplace he abandoned, seems about five years.

Why then are tens of thousands of Latin Americans willingly flooding into a supposedly racist country where cutthroat capitalism ignores the poor and the oppressed such as themselves? In most past polls of Mexican citizens, two general themes often show up: the majority of Mexican nationals believe that the American Southwest still should belong to Mexico, and a sizable minority would like to leave Mexico for the U.S. You figure out the mentality. I cannot but I do detect the vague paradox: Mexico wants Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California back so that it resembles Mexico, which many Mexican citizens would then leave because it had become, well, Mexico. What is this strange attraction toward a country that, in so many formal announcements both south of the border and among open-borders advocates north of it, is supposedly suspect?

The subtext of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies — evident in the president’s inaugural interview with al Arabiya, the so-called Cairo speech, the pressures on Israel, the constant trashing of George W. Bush, the reinvention of Islamic terror as workplace violence and man-caused disasters, the outreach to Iran, the outsourcing of responsibility to allies and enemies — is that America has questionable moral stature to help adjudicate anything in the region. To the degree we would exercise our prior influence, it would either be for self-interested purposes or be counterproductive due to our own unsophistication or ill-intentions. So we abdicated, and the predictable followed: one, the world as we know is unraveling, particularly in the Middle East; and, two, most suddenly want more, not less, U.S. engagement.

What explains these paradoxes? No doubt there are the usual suspects. First, the U.S. is privately recognized as a prosperous, free and dynamic society in the way most others nations are not.

Second, such assumptions cannot be publicly expressed for a variety of reasons, ranging from the power of envy, jealousy, and a sense of inferiority to an interest in hoping to guilt the stronger power into some sort of concession, both material and psychological.

Third, there is the assumed assurance for a Maliki, or Central American government, or Middle East autocrat that there are never consequences to anti-Americanism. Or better yet, as in the case of Obama himself, the elite world of the politician, journalist, academic, professional, or rich grandee accepts that anti-Americanism is fashionable, hip even, and that such cheap disdain otherwise should not prevent one from enjoying what America has to offer.

How weird the result: the anti-American Maliki pining for American arms from the escapist American president who lords his American power over others even as he ankles bites the very foundations of such power. Anti-American Latin American governments export their precious youth to the hated U.S., where its oppressive government will take care of them in a way the benevolent socialism at home did not, and the new arrivals will in time become hyphenated Americans with supposedly justified grievances against a largely racist and prejudicial society.

P.S. Decline of Western Civilization Addendum

Last week, I posted observations [2] on a growing Central California phenomenon — drunk drivers, with lots of prior convictions, out on the road killing innocents, and our sick therapeutic culture’s reaction to this epidemic. This week yet another drunken driver, one Rien Ban, is charged with drunk driving and with killing four innocents outside of Fresno.

The details are once again monotonously the same: Mr. Ban had two prior DUIs [3]. Or did he? I ask that because law enforcement never quite seems to know in these parts. The prosecutor alleges that Ban had three [4], not two as the records show, prior DUI convictions — a somewhat similar sort of confusion as in the case of Ms. Vazquez (described in my previous article), who seemed to have at least three convictions, but a weird fourth arrest (and release?) for going 120 mph while drunk.

We can deduce that the state of California (which seems to know all sorts of information about law-abiding citizens such as whether their Internet purchases are providing sufficient state sales taxes) does not care much about prior drunk driving offenses, since it can’t even seem to add them up.

Then there is same old, same old perpetrator as victim trope. Mr. Ban allegedly had a .15 blood alcohol level, but, of course, he is otherwise blameless. We hear nothing of detail of the lives of those he hit and killed while drunk (Belkys Rodriguez Quezada, Lisandro Enriquez Rodriguez, Danny Enriquez Rodriguez), or who were killed in his own car (Sinoeun Uong), but a great deal about why we should empathize with the drunk driver.

From the the Fresno Bee story [5]:

“He’s a good person,” Peggy Corona, 53, said of Ban. “I feel sorry for everyone.”

Tuy, 29, said she is worried about her stepfather because he has had open-heart surgery and needs daily doses of medicine. Tuy said Ban also still feels the effects of being shot in the back. He was among three innocent victims of a September 1996 shooting at a southeast Fresno party, police said then.

Of course, the victim is said in part to be blameworthy, as if the perpetrator’s driving drunk did not really precipitate the deaths:

Tuy and Oeum, who is recovering from injuries he suffered in the crash, said the public shouldn’t pass judgment on Ban until all the facts are known. They say passengers in a car that was in front of the victims’ Kia could help the CHP know what really happened, “We feel sorry for the victims’ family,” Tuy said. “But we want the truth to come out.”

And the truth would be that Mr. Ban did not really drive with a .15 blood alcohol level?

Or that he only killed four people while drunk, but some others are blameworthy as well?

Cf. the Bee account:

Ban, whose injuries were moderate, is being held on $618,000 bail, facing four felony charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. His blood-alcohol has not been revealed by the CHP, but the criminal complaint says it was .15 or higher. The legal limit to drive is below .08 blood-alcohol.

Prosecutors say Ban has three prior drunken-driving convictions, but court records only list two of them. His last DUI conviction came in 2006.

Oeum said he, Uong and Ban had been drinking Sunday, but Ban had no trouble driving. Oeum said he and Uong were drinking in the car when the crash happened.

“I’m not going to lie. He drank beer while we were fishing, but not while he was driving,” Oeum said.

We feel relieved that the drunken Mr. Ban got intoxicated right before driving, but had the good sense not to drink while he was actually driving. In our society, that is now a plus.

Enough said — until next time. A lot of us — like the dead of this story and last week’s —  have a rendezvous on the road with the Bains and Vazquezes of California, and we know only two certainties of our meeting with them: the state will care more about them than us the deceased, and our killers will have had a long record of drunk driving without many consequences. In the case of Ms. Vazquez, her lawyer implied that society was supposed to find solace that she only rear-ended her victim off a cliff, rather than T-boned him or hit him head-on. In the case of Mr. Bain, we are told that he drank beer, fished for crayfish, and could drive well after drinking, and that was not really culpable while driving a car with a .15 alcohol blood level.

If we did not have these cases, we would have to invent them, given the state of our sick society.

Copyright © 2008 Works and Days. All rights reserved.

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3 thoughts on “In Search of What You Resent”

  1. At risk of being overly pedantic, professor Hanson, I would like to respond to your excellent think-piece regarding the Iraq mess and Immigration mess. I would like to discuss world views.
    Progressive Extremists believe a) There is no God and b) the only civil society is one that deconstructs Western Enligtenment’s liberty, or mutual dedication to self-restraint (since leaders aren’t angels!)

    The Muslim Extremists believe c) Allah is God, Mohammed is His prophet and d) the only civil society is the throw-back barbarism of Shariah Law.

    So, Obama uses Iraq to further the “Progtard” agenda… deconstruct the Western world… i.e. Bush’s attempt to find order and liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Obama must deconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan from Western attempts to lead it into the family of man, i.e. liberty’s mutual dedication to self-restraint (since leaders aren’t angels!)

    So Nouri al-Maliki wants to further the agenda that believes Allah will show up and bless the reality-field generated by some form of classic “Strong-Man” hard-power to the benefit of variated Shariah Law. So, to hell with mutual dedication to self-restraint, to hell with Western Enlightenment’s idea that reality’s nemesis can turn around and bite you in the arse… (VDH, how many times you warned about Nemesis early in the Obama administration?)

    This will work about as well as it did for Kenya giving the middle finger to Classic Brittania’s concepts of Hebrew-Christian God and one civil society of liberty’s dedication to self-restraint. Obama’s halfl-brother in Kenya has noted that South Korea has excelled and Kenya has failed in comparison to holding or abandoning (mid ’60s) the best worldview the world has found.

    Likewise, the American Southwest is challenged by a Progressive program (There is no God, the ways of the traditional Western laws/liberty must be deconstructed! ASAP!) of overwhelming all systems with illegal immigrants who might could learn Western Enlightenment, but it is guaranteed that in FIVE YEARS… they will, in the least, be hard-bitten faithful adherents that Western laws/memes must be destroyed! (Note, they might still believe in God, going from Catholic to Charismania, likely as not, but Progtard Masterminds don’t care! The damage is done! King resentment trumps Evangelical weak-faith! See Jeremiah Wright?)

    My point? This is the chess game being played by Obama et al, Muslim Strong Men et al, La Raza et al, except such “Masterminds” demand that the rules of the game require that political corruptness gives a false-reality narrative about a checkers game that exists underneath intelligent awareness.

    In other words, to keep awareness of the real game, chess, from being known generally and well, the players, referees, commentators, press and public must discuss it as a simple checkers game. (But it’s 3-D chess!)

    Lincoln said citizens must be generally intelligent, moral and lovers of laws & the constitution. This, he said, must for all time be “the understood rules of the game.” Then the people can know the game of world views, and laugh away the stupid ones — like Progressivism, like Muslim faith in Shariah barbarity put to the West.

    But right now, millions of people pay for the newspaper, cable news, magazines, books and happily vote and vote and vote… for a spoon-fed, crazy-dead-bad worldview false-reality field… designed by Progressives, to allow elites to mastermind control the world, finances, power, everything… to pay for checkers when the game is chess.

    Bottom line: It never is really wrong to believe in Western Enlightenment’s “Tragic View,” nor to believe the world’s nations will eventually see and believe the peace and prosperity and holistic good it promulgates… (hence, allied Iraq & Afhanistan warriors did right, irregardless their victory was thrown away!) but at some point we err greatly if we allow ourselves to be mentally and spiritually subsumed by the Borg Hive collective of regressive, crazy-mixed-up-confusion-of-leader-stage-hypnotist-magicians… They are just mystic tyrants, and deserve a kick into the well of doom. Progressive, they ironically call themselves, but they are no better than the Persians who back in the day tried to enslave Greece.

    Last point: This worldview conundrum is tricky as all get out. Progressive teachers might tell their students to ask themselves the question at all times, “Am I doing the right thing?” Sounds good, right? Well, junior high students ushered into the cafeteria of a sinking ferry boat off the shores of South Korean apparently behaved themselves, but died inside that sinking ship. Better teachers might tell their students to ask themselves that first question, but add a second: “Is the right thing happening around me? Any tyranny, any brainwashing, any easy herding-shearing, any mistake or danger happening?” This makes folk get in the lifeboats of sinking ships, despite instruction to, like Californians like to be told by their masters, “Shelter in Place!” Finally, the best teachers might tell their students that the universe seems to be so constructed, that an invisible Nemesis appears to expose and ruin operatives of error and expediency and maniacal self-interest while strangely blessing the operatives of truth, love and self-restraint… i.e. life, liberty and happiness. This third point recognizes there is more to life than the carnal, inexplicable though it might be. Best to honor how our Founding Fathers laid out the path to future widespread good.

    If Reagan said, “Ideas Matter,” then at our tumultuous times, “World views matter” and the “West is the best.”

  2. buybuydandavis

    “But the larger irony is that now Maliki is begging for a return of American hard power to save his government from those killers that his policies helped create.”

    Isn’t that progress of a sort? Actually admitting that they need the US?

    Wars never really end until one side loses. Clearly, decisively, unequivocally.

    Much of the world has been living off the largess of the US, while spitting on the US and it’s values, increasing the costs to the US of supplying their security, while holding their own societies back by not adopting the values that make the US successful.

    Fundamentally, they have losing cultures, but never admit that it, while relying on US cultural values, and the results from it, to supply them with the security and prosperity they have. We help maintain the lie that their cultures and values are viable and competitive.

    People mistake the lessons of Germany and Japan. We didn’t win a war, and impose democracy. We won a war, and thereby *won an argument* over which system was stronger, and this allowed our installation of democratic forms to succeed.

    There was no success in Iraq because we never won the argument. We deposed a dictatorship, then tried to install democratic forms over people who had never faced *defeat*. They were still the freedom hating barbarians they had always been, and were just waiting for us to leave to return to their old ways.

    It’s time for them to *lose*, and admit *defeat*. Not to us. But just interacting among themselves. Let their cultures take their natural course and deliver their natural results. When they don’t like the results, and desire the peace and prosperity they can see that Western values deliver, then we should be there to help. But going in before they’ll openly declare that they want us in is putting the cart before the horse, and only enabling their big lie to continue.

    Obama, in his feckless contempt for US power, may have found the moment where his stopped clock is actually telling the right time in Iraq.

    Let the Iraqis, Sunni and Shia, reap the whirlwind of the terrorists both sides have been fueling to stick it to the US. Let them the Sunnis discover the wonders of the Caliphate they’ve dreamed of, so that it can be discredited as quickly as Al Qaeda in Iraq was when it actually gained power over them.

    The Kurds, however, have taken a pro western turn, and should have our aid, if they need it. I do hope that Obama somehow manages to stumble into that truth, though I don’t know that it will be required, as the Kurds seem pretty good at defending themselves, and a divided Iraq in civil war will mainly be hoping the Kurds don’t try to take more territory.

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