My annual Passover post, updated for 2014

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.  God, he says, is a serial killer, because he unilaterally escalated a situation to the point where thousands had to die.

Some people have tried to explain away this part of the Passover narrative by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. No one will get spiritually or intellectually excited if Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s a narrative without much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. Narrative tension, according to this explanation, demands an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind God’s approach to the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: there was surely consternation at Pharaoh’s court, which led Pharaoh to think about freeing the pesky Jewish slaves, but once life returned to normal, Pharaoh’s tyrannical instincts again kicked in.  As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about the risk to him from a populace starving and frightened, but that possible risk was immediately irrelevant as long as that same populace still proved willing to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his power over the land and his ability to maintain that power. It was only when the price became too high to Pharaoh personally — when Pharaoh’s laborers, and money men, and soldiers, and slaves, and courtiers, and perhaps even his own family members died — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, that his own survival required that he alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear of Hitler’s reprisal or because its members were caught in the grip of their own insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see Germany country overrun and her Aryan citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, when  it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, and when the guns were aimed directly at their own heads, did the German high command surrender.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate end to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.) The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly. The same holds true for ordinary Germans (among whom was my dear cousin from the goyishe side of my family), whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime.

The German and Japanese examples make manifest the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

I wrote the above words several years ago during Iran’s green revolution, when Iranian citizens took to the streets to rebel against their brutish, oppressive regime.  Aided in part by our own President Obama’s tight-lipped silence, the mullahs were unmoved by their own people’s suffering.  As long as the mullahs could retain power, their people’s suffering was irrelevant and, indeed, had to increased to reinforce the idea that the only return on rebellion is pain, not freedom.

Iran may be quiet now (although people are pushing at the regime more and more, not by suffering, but through joy, which is anathema to sharia’s overwrought puritanism), but we have so many other examples of tyrannical leaders who are willing to preside over a growing mountain of bodies as long as the leadership remains isolated from the physical and emotional consequences of its action.  Syria’s Assad doesn’t care that more than 100,000 of his people have died or that polio is killing a generation.  He still lives in his palace.  North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un will commit any atrocities against his own people provided that he can retain his power.  They are the modern-day Pharaohs.

Even here at home, one can argue in less apocalyptic tones that our president, who is one of the wealthiest men in America, doesn’t care that his actions have ensured the longest recession since the Carter years, the highest unemployment since the Carter years, the most unstable world in terms of national security since the Carter years or even the 1930s, the most serious divisiveness amongst the American people since the Civil War, etc.   Sheltered in the White House, listening to the adulation of the glitterati in Hollywood and the New York/D.C. media, he is unaffected by the plagues affecting ordinary Americans.  And as long as he is unaffected, he will harden his heart to the cries of his people begging for relief from perpetually failed economic policies, weak national leadership, porous borders, socialized medicine, militarized government agencies, etc.  If Obama seems as if he doesn’t care about the people’s suffering . . . it’s because he doesn’t.

When power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, small plagues are utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover. Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

An armed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny — by guestblogger Lulu

In a recent interview on gun control in the wake of the slaughter of a classroom of innocent children and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Ben Shapiro said that one of the purposes of an armed citizenry is to prevent government tyranny. Piers Morgan harrumphed condescendingly in response, as if the very thought that Americans might need protection at this time from a potentially tyrannical government was wacky in an extremist, even paranoid way.

In the face of a relatively peaceful society with a government not waging literal war on its citizens, Morgan’s emotions seem understandable. Why do you need weapons against tyranny when the government isn’t attacking you? That’s absurd! Paranoid! But by the time an unexpected situation is desperate, even catastrophic, if citizens are unarmed, it is too late and virtually impossible to acquire weapons.

In the face of real tyranny, an unarmed civilian population is completely defenseless. History has shown us over and over again that events that trigger the collapse of a society, including all legal boundaries and ordinary decency, happen in the blink of an eye. Jews living completely normal lives in Europe in the 1930s could never have imagined that, just a few years later, their own governments (because several occupied countries were complicit with the Nazis) would herd them en masse into buildings filled with poisoned air in order to slaughter each and every one of them. The collapse was total and dizzyingly brisk. In areas of Eastern Europe it was overnight.

So here’s a question for Mr. Morgan: Once your own government, or a successful invading with which your government conspires, isolates you in ghettos, deprives you of food and possessions, and denies you any civil rights, including the right to possess a weapon, what do you do? At that moment, do you walk into a gun shop to buy protection for yourself? For citizens to have a chance at defending themselves against this overnight societal collapse, they need the gun before, not after, their government turns on them. Israel learned this lesson well, which is why the citizenry is armed.

As was everyone with a functioning soul and conscience, I too was horrified by the Sandy Hook massacre. It was another reminder (as if we needed one) that evil and insanity exist – and that, when mixed together, these two are a horrifying combination. Much needs to be done to help the mentally ill and to keep them away from weapons, and to help identify when their behavior is escalating dangerously so that we can react and get help sooner.

The question in terms of responses, though, is whether disarming our civilian population would make us more, or less, vulnerable and whether doing so would make our children more, or less, at risk. Reasonable people can logically accept the necessity of strict background checks for gun owners and laws about gun storage so that children, mentally ill people, and thieves cannot access them. But will eliminating guns entirely protect children? I took a look at the biggest mass slaughters of the past 100 years. This is what I learned.

Armenian children

Between 1915 and 1923 about 1,000,000 Armenians were slaughtered by the Turkish military by order of the Ottoman government.

Primary methods of slaughter: mass burnings, drowning, starvation, exposure, death marches.

Child victims? In the hundreds of thousands.

Ukranian children

In 1933, Josef Stalin, leader of the USSR, engineered a famine in Ukraine enforced by the armed military. Between 7,000,000 and 11,000,000 peasants starved to death. At its height, 25,000 people died of starvation per day.

Primary method of slaughter: starvation.

Child victims? In the millions.

Jewish Children

Between 1939- 1945 the German government organized the systematic slaughter of all humans they deemed undesirable. Their primary target was Jews, but victims included gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people, and the mentally ill. Those who enforced this slaughter were armed police and soldiers. After concluding that bullets were too expensive, the Nazis and their allies applied less expensive slaughtering techniques.

Primary methods of slaughter: mass gassings, mass burnings, beating, exposure, starvation, worked to death, buried alive, medical experimentation, torture.

Child victims? Between 2-3,000,000 children were murdered.

Chinese children

Mao Tze Tung, leader of Communist China, and the greatest mass murderer of all time, slaughtered between 49-70,000,000 people during the so-called “Great Leap Forward.” Forty-five million people died in 4 years alone in work camps and gulags.

Primary methods of slaughter: worked to death, starvation, exposure, torture, beatings.

Child victims? In the millions.

Cambodian victims

Between 1975-1979, 2,000,000 Cambodian civilians were systematically slaughtered by their government, the Khmer Rouge.

Primary method of slaughter: starvation, exposure, and, because bullets were too expensive per Khmer Rouge officials (“Bullets are not to be wasted”), death was delivered by hammer, axe, spade, sharpened bamboo sticks, and burial alive.

Child victims: In the hundreds of thousands.

North Korean child

Between 1984 and 1988, between 240,000 and 3,500,000 citizens of North Korea were starved to death by their government engineering and incompetence. Armed police and the military enforced this policy.

Primary method of slaughter: starvation, work camps, and gulags.

Child victims? In the tens of thousands.

In 1994, a government sponsored massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda led to the death of 800,000 people in one year. Guns were expensive, so the Hutus used other methods.

Primary method of slaughter: machetes, clubs, knives, bombs.

Child victims? In the tens of thousands.

The common thread to these mass killings was that tyrannical governments using armed agents (military and police) carried them out against ordinary citizens who were either entirely unarmed, or under-armed. Were guns involved in the slaughter? Certainly. As these pictures show, guns were used against unarmed people to herd them, terrify them, and control them. Guns were used like cattle prods to move large numbers of people and to frighten them into cooperation. Repeatedly, governments bent on large scale mass slaughter found shooting to be too slow and costly. The Nazis abandoned their Baba Yar-type ravines for industrialized death factories. Resistance only occurred when civilians were able to gather together weapons to fight back. Without weapons, civilians were entirely defenseless against armed tormentors.

Planning to deal with tyranny after tyranny occurs is too late. An armed citizenry is the best system of checks and balances against a government getting too big, demonizing particular groups of citizens too much, and lacking any meaningful opposition within the country. Tyrants always look for easy victims and seek to disarm them. A population that can and will protect itself in advance of a tyrant’s encroachments effectively prevents any tyranny from occurring.

[Bookworm here:  I am willing to bet that, in everyone of the countries Lulu describes above, if you had asked people months or a few years in advance whether they would be subject to tyranny and genocide, they all would have answered, "No way!  It can't happen here.]

What’s in a name? As Reagan understood, whether from the Left or the Right, tyranny is tyranny.

Max Boot reminds conservatives that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, at least not when it comes to crowing about the Leftist habit of embracing dictators.  Over the decades, conservatives have done more than their fair share of dancing with bad guys:

It occurred to me, re-reading the item I penned yesterday on Western elites who kowtow to dictators such as Bashar al-Assad, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Zedong, that the examples I chose were primarily from the left. That is not to suggest the right should get off the hook. During the years, plenty of right-wingers have fallen prey to the charms of “friendly” dictators such as Chiang Kai-shek, Francisco Franco, Augusto Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, P.W. Botha, the Saudi royals, and Hosni Mubarak. (Botha admittedly, was elected, but by an electorate comprising only a small minority of the South African population.) Along the way these conservatives have made the same kind of unconvincing attempts to explain away their heroes’ human rights abuses as liberals routinely make for left-wing dictators. Even the genocidal Slobodan Milosevic had a few lick-spittles in a small corner of the American right.

Boot is right when he says that Americans of all stripes have trumpeted one tyranny or another because, at a few fixed points (or on all points) the dictatorship’s policies intersect with this or that American political belief.  Boot gets closer to the core problem when he writes the first sentence immediately following the above paragraph:

Of course, some dictators are hard to categorize ideologically….

And that’s where people make their mistake — trying to fit dictators into one or another ideological box, whether Left or Right, Military or Cult of Personality.  In fact, all dictators fit neatly into a “One Size Fits All” dictator box — they take away individual freedom and use fear to control.  That’s it.  An individual leader or leadership collective might start off trumpeting Marxist slogans or anti-Marxist slogans, or may, as time goes by, dress up the dictatorship with such slogans, but the end results is always the same:  overwhelming government control at the expense of individual liberties.

Once one strips away the ideological trappings and focuses on the practical realities of a dictatorship, it becomes easier to figure out what to do.  “What to do” invariably boils down to two choices:  castigate the dictatorship entirely, or embrace it as the lesser of two evils.

The latter analysis is where most people have a moral collapse.  What people should be saying is, “Yes, it’s a dictatorship that will have to be addressed somewhere down the line, but now it’s better than the alternative (anarchy or greater repression or genocide or whatever).”  The problem is that most decent people find it very hard to accept that they can tolerate evil, even when they are rightly convinced that the evil they embrace is actually the lesser evil.

In order to square themselves away with their pesky conscience, people will start excusing the dictator:  “He made the trains run on time.”  “He reestablished national pride.”  “He stabilized the economy.”  These may all be entirely valid points about a given dictator but they become morally invalid, if they’re followed by the qualifier that “so he’s not such a bad guy.” Once having made that statement, people are committing the big lie as to their own sense of decency.  What’s worse is that, once you’ve lied to yourself, it’s very hard to let go of that lie.  It becomes a part of ones ego and self-definition.  That’s why one finds good people in America supporting horrifically bad governments abroad.

The test — always — should be “What is the state of individual freedom in that country?”  (Incidentally, anarchy is not individual freedom, because it puts each individual at the mercy of any other individual’s or group’s unconstrained exercise of raw power.)  If it’s high, embrace that country with open arms.  If it’s low, ask the next question:  “Is the alternative to this low state of individual freedom worse?”  If yes, one can justify supporting the tyranny provided that one never loses sight of its essential tyrannical nature, and never stops working to increase freedom with destroying the county along the way.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in labels such as “Left,” “Right,” “Military,” “Personality,” etc.  Those all obfuscate the core issue of individual liberty.

Sometimes, of course, there are no good choices.  Egypt went from repressively Military to repressively Muslim.  Even as to that, though, America did have a vested interest in the former, since the latter, while no better for the Egyptian people (and perhaps worse), is worse for America.  I don’t envy the diplomats tasked with making nice to Mubarak, but at least they could justify their work by claiming, rightly, that the Muslim extremist alternative was infinitely more dangerous for America’s interests.  Real Politik is never a pretty thing and, as Reagan better than anyone understood, if you make Real Politik your God, you’ve abandoned your moral compass just as surely as if you wholeheartedly embraced a dictatorship in the first place.

So, it seems appropriate to remember here that today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of the most important political speeches ever made by an American politician — Reagan’s famous “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech.  Reagan, you see, never lost sight of the fact that the short-term choice may be between one ugly government and another, but that the long-term goal must always be individual freedom:

My annual Passover post — Pharaoh’s hard heart and the nature of tyranny

I wrote this during Iran’s Green Revolution.  For the paragraphs regarding Iran, please feel free to substitute Syria, the Sudan, the economic victims of the financially decimated European Union, Palestinian children who are pawns in Hamas’ genocidal strategy, or any other group of people groaning under a tyrant’s yoke.

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An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.) The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly. The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different. Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny. The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

Liberals believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences. What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover. Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our ultimate goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

America is buckling under the tyranny of bureaucracy *UPDATED*

When we think of tyranny, we tend to think of it in sharp, dramatic, bloody terms.  Tyranny is the stark economic divide between a corrupt leader and his starving people, or it’s the day to fear of citizens in a police state.  Few of us recognize, or are willing to acknowledge, that tyranny, at it’s most fundamental level, is the loss of individual freedoms, with a concurrent increase in state power.  When people must bow to the state’s dictates all day every day, without recourse, they are subject to tyranny, even if they’re neither starving nor physically brutalized.

The soft socialism that increasingly characterizes the United States sees us increasingly in thrall to a bureaucratic dictatorship.  A plethora of agencies at all levels of American life (local, state, and federal) ensure that every breath we take comes within a government function.  The Founders tried to balance the need for a functioning society with their fear of tyranny by making our federal government one of specifically enumerated powers, while leaving all other powers to state governments.  They understood that state governments, by virtue of their relatively smaller size compared to the federal government, are more responsive to their citizens needs and desires, and have less power.  In addition, it’s fairly easy to leave a state that is becoming oppressive, and very difficult to leave a country that is doing the same.

Today,  I reached critical mass in my email, with people apprising me of four separate posts and articles, three of which look at the dramatic increase in bureaucratic tyranny in the last few years (something prominent in, but not limited to, the Obama administration), and one of which offers some hope that there may be a way out of the soft socialism that is strangling America’s liberties:

To get a handle on the issue, begin with Wolf Howling’s magnum opus describing the way in which the federal government is stifling us with regulation sans representation.

After reading that, you’ll be able to appreciate Patrick O’Hannigan’s article detailing the way in which the Obama administration using its bureaucracy to avoid Congressional and judicial oversight, in order to carry out foreign policies and to target specific groups and ideologies at home.

Because those two articles are broad in scope, let me throw in here an article about local bureaucrats run amok, just so that you can appreciate that, once a bureaucracy takes hold, and when it becomes self-serving and corrupt, your life will be destroyed by something more than just a thousand bureaucratic-form paper cuts.

Finally, there is hope, although it’s only the smallest flicker of light at the end of a long bureaucratic tunnel.

UPDATED:  It turns out I’m not the only one with bureaucracy or, more precisely, concern about bureaucracy, on the brain.  Michael Phillips has written two delightful posts on the subject.

Cultural blindness and freedom

Was it a surprise to you that Egypt went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Was it a surprise to you that Libya went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Was it a surprise to you that Tunisia went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Has it been a surprise to you over the last decade that Iraq hasn’t bloomed into the Middle Eastern equivalent of small town America?  It hasn’t been for me.

If any of the above surprised you, my guess is that you worked for the Bush administration or are working for the Obama administration.  The first group naively believed that, if you gave people the vote, they would vote for freedom, not repression.  As for the second group, I don’t know if they shared that same naiveté, or if they’re truly bad people.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the Middle East has understood that, for many citizens in those benighted nations, Islamist government promises purity in lieu of deep, violent corruption.  The people there don’t understand the notion of freedom, but they’re very much alive to hypocrisy — and their Imams have been promising that this is the one thing they won’t get under an Islamist government.  Islam will bring them the peace of total submission to God’s rules, rather than the instability and terror of individual tyranny.

For people who have spent decades on the receiving end of arbitrary and capricious pseudo-Western governments, all the while hearing that their faith will provide honesty and peace, the outcome of elections was a no-brainer.  Lacking the one and a half centuries of self-governance that America had before she even embarked upon her Constitutional experiment, the notion of freedom and individual rights has no resonance.  Sure, some understand it, but for most freedom simply means not being bossed around by a Mubarak or Saddam or Gaddafi.

Mark Steyn ranks with me as being one of the un-surprised — and he recognizes how our blindness abroad leads to threats at home.

I’ll add too that relentless PC multiculturalism, which lauds every culture but our own, is de-programming the love of freedom bred into American DNA, and is therefore probably the greatest internal threat we face.