Thursday, December 20, 2007

Can Steve Hays Learn Empathy?

Steve over at Triablogue seems to think that posing the question "what does the world think of the United States and our foreign policy" reveals some sort of self-loathing on the part of the American questioner. I think what it reveals is Steves inability to empathize with someone on the other side of the fence, which was apparent to me immediately after I came into contact with him.

One way to help understand the perspective of some foreigners is to simply but the shoe on the other foot. Can Steve do this? I don't think he can. For people who can though, here is one way to think about some of the events that are now occuring some of the world's Muslim countries.

Let's suppose that the election in 1984 had just occurred and Ronald Reagan had been elected to a landslide victory with your support. Let's suppose further that his defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, went to war in Mexico without Reagan's knowledge, so he fired him. In response Weinberger had Reagan arrested and would have hanged him without Canadian intervention. Weinberger then assumed power. Suppose that Weinberger was flooded with support from the Chinese and was able to sustain his grip on power because of their support. How would we feel about the Chinese? We would feel exactly the same way that people in Pakistan feel about us.

Let's suppose the Chinese had forcefully overthrown our government in the past. Let's suppose subsequent to that they had encouraged Vicente Fox of Mexico to attack us and they provided him with military arms to acomplish this. Let's suppose that war cost a million lives. Let's suppose that after this war the Chinese then declared that Vicente Fox was evil, and they invaded Mexico and attempted to set up military bases there. How would we react? Would we want to support the Mexican rebels against the Chinese? Would we want to develop nuclear weapons to protect ourselves from the Chinese? If you can understand why you would react this way, then you can understand why Iran reacts as they do.

But I don't think Steve can understand. In his world skeptics are nothing but evil people in rebellion against his God, and truths as he understands them are simply rejected due to pride and unwillingness. Iranians are simply insane and irrational for opposing our efforts. Osama bin Laden probably attacked us simply because he hates God and Christianity. Don't think about things too deeply. Just label these people evil, and bomb, bomb, bomb, and hope for the best. Life is pretty simple in Steve's world, and unfortunately he's not the only American with this attitude.

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