Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Older but not wiser?

I have been an admirer of Robert D Kaplan for quite a while. His article about The Coming Anarchy, back in 1994, when The Atlantic was not yet one more utterly predictable mouthpiece for the Northeast Liberal Elite, started me thinking about stubborn human realities that did not fit with my liberal assumptions. He nailed it when it came to understanding the inquisitorial role of mainstream media journalism. I even named him in my series on Impressive Guys.

His latest article, though, gives me a different impression. He seems to think that the erosion of "universal values" --aka White Western Post-Christian/Enlightenment Liberalism-- by "narrow nationalism" is some kind of surprise, as well as a threat. That, for example, Orthodox Russia's suspicion of Islam is "racist." (Has he forgotten Russian history? Or, in these days of 30 dead children in Connecticut, the 156 killed by Chechen Muslims in Beslan only 8 years ago? Would Reb Kaplan, who served in the Israeli army, characterize the Jewish state's defensive attitude toward the hostile Muslim sea around it as "racist", too?) For a man as supremely well-travelled as he, what part of his own reading of Samuel Huntington did he not get? Can he no longer "look the world in the eye?"

IMHO, racial, ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural identities are inherent in humans, constitutive, inescapeable, necessary, a constant source of difficulty, and ineradicable. Very much like sex differences. Respecting them and managing them as best we can is vastly different from transcending them, much less ignoring, erasing them or announcing them trivial or outmoded. That is something Liberals --and now, sadly, even Mr Kaplan-- seem impervious to understanding.


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