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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

It's Pat! Bigot extraordinaire Patrick Buchanan has an essay in today’s Arab News. Why am I not surprised to see a creep like Buchanan raving away in Arab News? Anyway, in his screed, Buchanan attempts to address, in his always entertaining and charming way, the question “What Does America Offer the World?” According to Buchanan, far less than we did fifty years ago.

The president notwithstanding, Americans no longer agree on what is moral truth. For as someone said a few years back, there is a cultural war going on in this country, a religious war. It is about who we are, what we believe and what we stand for as a people.

What some of us view as the moral descent of a great and Godly republic into imperial decadence, neocons see as their big chance to rule the world. In Georgia recently, the president declared to great applause: “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our commitment to values. ... That commitment to values is going to be an integral part of our foreign policy as we move forward. These aren’t American values, these are universal values. Values that speak universal truths.”

But what universal values is he talking about? If he intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a “world democratic revolution,” he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons’ war. It is not our war.

When Bush speaks of freedom as God’s gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish The Satanic Verses, a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith? If the Islamic world rejects this notion of freedom, why is it our duty to change their thinking? Why are they wrong? When the president speaks of freedom, does he mean the First Amendment prohibition against our children reading the Bible and being taught the Ten Commandments in school?

If the president wishes to fight a moral crusade, he should know the enemy is inside the gates. The great moral and cultural threats to our civilization come not from outside America, but from within. We have met the enemy, and he is us. The war for the soul of America is not going to be lost or won in Fallujah. Unfortunately, Pagan America of 2004 has far less to offer the world in cultural fare than did Christian America of 1954. Many of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars.

A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women’s “emancipation,” that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional — better yet, an exorcist — rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of “American values.”

Ahem. Well, he does have a way with words. Nice references to Pogo and Sinclair Lewis, too. But Buchanan seems to be advocating a Christian-Taliban version of the USA, which sounds frightfully unappealing. Of course, I thought The Satanic Verses was quite a fine book, so what do I know?

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