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Ross Olson's Response to
"Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy
(Buy One, Get One Free)"

by Arundhati Roy
Also titled elsewhere "Let's Run a Race,
but First Let Me Break Your Knees"

To View That Article, Click HERE.

Let me begin, very bluntly and unkindly and then after that try to give the arguments of Ms. Roy the benefit of the doubt and try to answer the ones that I can. Ms. Roy, after all, is a foreign national, who chooses to live in this country over her own India. While living here and enjoying the benefits of freedom, she calls for the overthrow of the government. There are few places in the world where such behavior would be tolerated. She decries the Patriot Act, designed to make it easier to find those who only use their freedoms in order to work havoc, perhaps because she fits into that category. The person who screams the loudest when searched is often the one most likely to have something to hide.

America is far from perfect. In fact it has strayed very far from the vision of the founders and the Biblical ideal that they held high. But the worst of it is not even touched on by Ms. Roy, who seems to hold the typical liberal idea that there is no such thing as individual sin, but only corporate sin, with the emphasis on “corporations.” In my view, moral decay is the thing for which God will judge both the nation and the individuals who make it up.

Regarding the downing of the Iranian Airliner, the facts are not clear. I don’t know if “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are,” is an actual quote from George Bush Sr. since Roy prefaces it with, “He said quite subtly…” Bush was not president at the time and was thus not in a position to officially respond. Certainly America has apologized many times for mistakes, but remember that airliners are sometimes used as weapons and unscrupulous enemies sometimes deliberately associate civilians with military operations for the very reason of discrediting the U.S.

Roy seems to think that Big Media was pro war. That’s not what I saw. There was a mix. Roy says that the danger from Iraq was overblown because it was a relatively weak country, but in this she does not reckon the new economy of war. One suitcase-sized nuclear weapon in just one U.S. city could cripple the U.S. economy and stress the health system beyond the breaking point. Think about the Trade Towers damage and how small it really was but how devastating. The loss of life was only a small percentage of the deaths that occur every year due to traffic accidents and the monetary damage is in the range of what natural disasters do. Yet it sent the economy into a tailspin (for which, Roy wants to blame Bush, by the way.)

She calls the U.S. a casually brutal nation. Yet time and time again, the U.S. has stood out as atypical of conquering nations. When Japan took China, they raped and pillaged. In Iraq, much of the trouble that the U.S. forces are having is precisely because they are NOT brutal. Because they want to spare civilians as much as possible, an unscrupulous enemy has taken advantage of that very fact by hiding among the civilians and also blaming the U. S. for destruction they themselves have caused. Yes, the loss of cultural artifacts was tragic, but the devastation of the ancient civilization was begun by the brutal regime that continues to fight and may well have orchestrated the looting, knowing that the U.S. would not shoot disobedient but unarmed civilians.

Yes, the U.S. did set up Saddam in order to counter the threat of Iran. This is part of dealing with reality in a messed up world. Let me change the view for a moment to clarify. In World War II, the U. S. allied itself with the Soviet Union in order to defeat Hitler. All but the most confused pacifists agree that Hitler was a bad guy and even reluctantly acknowledge that he needed to be stopped. The diplomatic strategy was an abysmal failure. Appeasement gave the madman confidence and momentum. So, could we have defeated Hitler without the Soviets? Could we have even fought the Soviets instead of allying with them and still won? Stalin was just as evil as Hitler, although he had the advantage of carrying an ideology – Communism – that enjoyed great support among intellectuals. It did not work in practice, of course, mostly because it did not account for human nature, which is the same problem Ms. Roy has and shows most fully in the second to the last paragraph of her essay, where she states that if the people of the U.S. join his battle to disable its military and corporate involvement in the world, “…you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how beautiful it is to be gentle, instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated, Loved instead of hated.” To that, I say, “Baloney!”

Christians know that the world will not be at peace until the Prince of Peace reigns. Those who have no relationship with Him want to believe in something because it is too disturbing to have no hope. But indeed the world IS hopeless – without Christ. The only hope is to turn to Him and pray for His soon return.

Roy makes light of Attorney General Ashcroft’s statement that our freedoms come from God and claims that Ashcroft is only using “the God Card” to justify the enlargement of the “Empire.” Well, it turns out that it IS hard to export U.S. style democracy, because this form of government was designed for the kind of people who populated this country at its founding. What were they like? They had a Christian world view (even those who were Deists) and they thus recognized the existence of absolutes, the reality of accountability and a final judgement. Robert Winthrop, an early speaker of the House, said, "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled by a power within them or by a power without them, either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or by the bayonet." They also recognized the fallen nature of human beings, both those in power and those under them and the need for checks and balances. Further, because they did not seek for all their happiness in this life, they were free to sacrifice for what was right, even to the point of giving up their own lives. Do we find that sort of people in very many places? Do we even find them in America? It may well be that democracy as it was conceived is no longer possible, anywhere.

Roy implies that minorities have no rights in America, in fact that they are not regarded as fully human. This is really disingenuous, coming from a minority woman who is enjoying tremendous privilege. Yes, there was slavery at the founding of the country and yet it was not loved by all and was allowed as a compromise, necessary at the time in order to form the union. The forces of abolition finally prevailed, although it required a terrible war to push it over the top and took another century for the after effects to be addressed. The fact is that minorities, as well as the disabled, receive much better treatment here than most places in the world. In Ms. Roy’s own country, the lowest caste people are so poor that they sell their children as prostitutes, or slaves, for $10 – 15 U.S.. And by the way, they sell many of them to wealthy Arab countries.

In decrying the economic sanctions, Ms. Roy is condemning the whole United Nations, whose wishes she seems to otherwise endorse. In fact, the countries that opposed the war also opposed the lifting of sanctions when the U.S. asked the U. N. to do so. Wasn’t the food for oil program a U. S. idea? And the idea that evil-doing is going to stop if the U. S. just gets out of the way is either naïve and just plain deceptive. Were we responsible for the 10’s of millions that Mao killed? We actually opposed him – he was not even “our” dictator.

I do not know why the museums and other important sites in Iraq were not protected, but the protection of the oilfields is not just American selfishness. A continued supply of oil is indeed important to the security of the U.S., and dissidents like Ms. Roy depend on our transportation and communication system to carry out the work they consider important. But Iraq’s oil is important to Iraq as well, to be able to help buy their way out of economic chaos. Their own “patriots” would destroy it in order to create more chaos. Some patriots!

Roy sees a vast pro-Bush media conspiracy. I wonder what channel she is watching! Maybe all she is monitored is the alternative media’s of talk radio. She sees a conspiracy to restrict free speech. Well, I agree with him there, but it is not the freedom of the anti-war or anti-Bush factions. Those being restricted are teachers who want to point out the fatal flaws in the scientific case for evolution. Also shut out of the public square is anyone who wants to point out the scientific evidence that homosexuality is a personal and social tragedy, often begun by sexual abuse or lack of loving relationships, and leading to significant morbidity and mortality.

Is Bush an illegitimate President? I get so sick of this. The Democrats wanted to change the rules after the fact. Whereas it says on the ballot instructions that the hole must be completely punched out, the revisionists, seeing an opportunity for mischief, decided that those who seemed to have intended to vote for their man should get credit for dimpling the chad. It sounds compassionate and opposing this approach has been branded as “disenfranchising” the voters who did not follow directions, but the truth is that those who want to change the rules in midstream are the ones who are manipulating the election.

Why are so many blacks in prison? Why are so many unemployed? Is this part of a Republican racist plot to subjugate the minorities? Actually it is largely due to the misguided compassion of the liberals whose poorly designed safety net contributed to the breakup of the black family. With AFDC a single mother could get a check to help in the difficult job of raising a child. In the old days, it was recognized as nearly impossible to do that job successfully and there was pressure to get married, or give the child up for adoption. (By the way, in case anyone questions my compassion, my wife and I adopted two children born to unmarried teen mothers.) But the AFDC check from the government makes the father seem economically unnecessary and gave men an excuse for being irresponsible. If you doubt it, look at the way the black family stayed intact until after Civil Rights and the War on Poverty.

The feminist movement added to the fire by preaching the message that fathers were psychologically unnecessary as well. As it turns out, the strongest predictor of prison is not poverty (although that is indeed the usual lot of single parent homes as well) but the absence of a father in the home. That also correlates with lack of academic success and decreased mental health.

Would Martin Luther King Jr. have approved of affirmative action? I don’t know for sure, but he wanted to the opportunities to be color-blind. To give a head start is not always compassionate if it leads to a less than full effort by the recipient or a sense of entitlement without merit.

When opposing the Patriot Act, some people seem to forget the reason it was written – we face a real threat! Those threatening our country and way of life do not play by any rules and there may not be time for niceties if they are to be stopped in time to avoid a major disaster. Much has also been made of the lack of action by FBI and others based on the warning signs that preceded 9/11. The reason that the mid-level managers did not approve the searches, when agents in the field found cause, was that there is a long history of judges throwing out evidence for improper procedure. It is liberal judges that created the milieu in which any sense of urgency to catch terrorists before the act was trumped by concern that all the legal ducks were in a row first.

What about security at the airport? Are the critics going to refuse to be searched? Are they going to insist that they be allowed on the plane anyway? Because in that case the sense of danger is much more personal, it does not seem to be happening. But complaints do come regarding who is scrutinized the most closely. Because the terrorists have uniformly been young Middle Eastern males (except in Israel where some are females), it only makes sense that the limited time and energy available for security be focused on that group. Of course we all know that most Middle Eastern males are NOT terrorists but that sort of profiling is logical and makes the best use of resources. If the terrorists were Scandinavian evangelicals, I would be upset if I were not scrutinized more closely. But because of complaints, the screeners have to be fair and search everybody equitably, including elderly women.

We do indeed have to give up some of our freedom to live in a society. I cannot drive down the left side of the road just because I want to. If there has been a child-abduction in a certain area I am driving through, I would expect a roadblock and a search. It would be unreasonable to insist that I be let through and called back from home the next day after a judge signed a search warrant.

I would expect that those who have something to hide would complain very loudly about being searched. Screaming along with them would be those who just don’t understand how dangerous a situation we are really in – which is easy to do if it has not touched them personally. Blending in with those complainers are the ones who are actually deliberately clearing the way for terrorists with propaganda designed to lull us to sleep or turn us against those who guard our freedom. The propagandists may be in the employ of our enemies but they might also be just plain naïve idealists who really believe it when they say:

Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the relentless propaganda you
have been subjected to, and are actively fighting your own government. In
the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the United States, that's as
brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or Palestinian fighting for his or her homeland.

If you join the battle, not in your hundreds of thousands, but in your
millions, you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you
will see how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead
of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated.

That kind of statement depends on a philosophy that believes human beings to be basically good, an empirically falsifiable assertion. And anyway, if individuals are good, where does corporate evil come from anyway?

Ms. Roy is either mislead or she is malicious. Either way, her advice would not lead to an improvement in the world, but by the time the results were apparent, it might be too late to turn back. Pol Pot, reading Rousseau, really believed that money and cities were the source of evil. So he acted on that belief by marching the people out into the jungle, killing millions and crippling his country. Oops!

Ross S. Olson MD

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