February 16, 2012

It is the US government, or more exactly its neoconservative priesthood, whom Jonah would like to see make the admissions decisions for his “€œpermanent global clubhouse for democracies.”€ Besides voting in lockstep with American interests as neoconservative journalists define them, all members will be required to support Israel’s Likud government.

Will any deviations be allowed? How long will dissenting members be indulged before they get booted? How closely will membership candidates have to approximate the current American regime before they are let in? Will applicants have to grant women the right to vote, and will they have to enforce what now passes for racial equality?

If such criteria are to be applied, then until recently the US would have been blackballed under its current standards. Women did not achieve national suffrage until 1920, and blacks were denied the vote in some areas until the mid-1960s. What about such democratic blessings as gay marriage? I gather they are now integral parts of our democracy, so we should insist that our cohorts introduce them as well. Will applicants be expected to protect intellectual and religious freedom within their borders”€”principles that our journalists complain are lacking in China and other bad places? If such freedom is to be the rule, then all Western countries that enforce political correctness against conservative Christians and arrest scholars for expressing criminalized positions will have to be excluded. But it may be such not-very-libertarian Western “€œliberal democracies”€ as Canada that Jonah would enlist for his league of “€œgood nations.”€

It is doubtful that he would judge their deficient liberty in the same way as he would judge, say, Turkey or Russia. Apparently, arresting people for questioning the Holocaust or for sermonizing about the prohibition against homosexuality in Leviticus is not the same as punishing those who blaspheme the Koran.

I noticed this double standard in looking at recent ratings regarding which countries are “€œfree”€ according to the less-than-unbiased monitoring organization Freedom House. Turkey, which discourages discussions of the massacre of Armenians during World War I, was rated low for suppressing intellectual dissent. But France, which has criminalized any denial of the “€œArmenian genocide”€ and other historical events, received comparatively high ratings for intellectual freedom. What I learned from such strange ratings is that it’s OK to curtail liberties only for what Western progressives want to suppress. 

But Goldberg’s “€œnice incentives”€ for moral inclusion may never reach such complexity. All that may be required for membership in his club is that a nation votes in the manner he deems appropriate.

In the meantime Jonah has a problem. He can”€™t seem to get the entire world onboard for what he wishes to see universally enacted. Our world is simply too damned complicated for his latter-day puritanical imagination.



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