Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Why am I so happy about this?

And I'm not the only one. Bill from INDC is stoked, as are his commenters (myself included). And Willow wonders in those same comments, as do I, why soccer is suddenly so interesting.

Plain and simple, I'm happy to see Iraqis succeeding at something. But why? Why should I care about a group of people I've never met (I met one Iraqi back in college - very nice guy), who live half a world away, while feeling indifferent to others I've never met (i.e. Portugal) half a world away?

I feel a sense of solidarity with Iraq. There is a connection. And I think liberals feel it, too. For better or for worse, Americans are bound up with Iraqis. But it's interesting to notice the difference. I am excited to see Iraqis succeed. Enjoy freedom. Enjoy a booming (for them) economy. Enjoy hot running water, electricity, schools, and soon enough a right to vote. I am even encouraged when they voice dissent - they could never have done that under Saddam, and every chance they get to see what free speech is like is an excellent prophylactic measure against future tyranny.

Liberals, on the other hand, feel a different sort of solidarity. It is the solidarity of victimhood. This is typified by the scene in Michael Moore's F9/11 (which I have not seen, but which even liberal critics have derided) showing happy pre-invasion Iraqis enjoying their lives. The implication is that the U.S. messed everything up, destroyed their utopian society based on "stability" (defined as "the right to be randomly shot, tortured or raped if a government official so desires) and substituted chaos. Iraqis are therefore victims of U.S. aggression, and American victims share that solidarity.

To such a worldview, any Iraqi success is a very bad thing. It weakens the victimhood. It demonstrates that Iraqis are doing just fine, thank you very much, in spite of their admittedly serious problems. That's why you don't mention increased electricity, safe drinking water, increased oil production and economic activity, 90% support for the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam - it destroys that victimhood worldview, and thus the solidarity.

I prefer the solidarity that values the success of Iraqis. Nothing personal, Portugal, but I am so glad you lost.