I got a good laugh today at all the folks, mostly on the left, who were saying that they will leave the country now that Bush is re-elected.
I was a reluctant Bush supporter. As a Libertarian, voting for major-party candidates is seldom a satisfying experience. I am well aware of the baggage Bush carries - he is not a small government libertarian. He is, however, also not a trial lawyer, not promising to balance the budget on my back, and not assuming that terrorists are wronged freedom fighters we should negotiate with.
Anyway, for all the flaws of either candidate, a Bush or Kerry America is still the best place on earth. Period. Those of you who want to leave will quickly find that, for one, America has some of the freest immigration policies in the world - just try to get a green card or a work permit for Canada or France. Good luck finding a job in Germany or France, as the semi-socialist policies that you likely admire there keep unemployment rates in the double digits. And by the way, don't expect any welfare benefits if you perhaps are imagining a slacker paradise, for though we in the US may be generous and argue how many benefits to give immigrants, you aren't getting anything as a new immigrant over there. Oh, and if you find a job, have fun with that first tax bill. And for those who want to go the extra mile and be human shields in the Gaza strip or Fallujah, you will certainly have an interesting time as you discover that that "religious fundamentalist" Bush looks like Madeline Murray O'Hare compared to your new islamo-fascist buddies.
I know the above seems exaggerated. It is not. Go read the comments section at Kos or Wonkette or Atrios. However, for just one example, try No Right Turn which has this:
There's not a fuck of a lot separating Osama bin Laden's Islamo-fascists and Dubya's Christian fundamentalists - they even follow the same god. The only real difference lies in who they want to kill. There's nothing there worth believing in, and nothing to hope for, except maybe that they'll all kill each other so that we members of the reality-based community can get on with our lives in peace
Hard to know where to start. OK, for fun, lets compare Bush to the Islamo-fascists on the three areas that most tick off Bush's detractors. Remember that I am a libertarian, so "Bush detractors" on many of these issues includes me:
Gay Rights: In the US, gays can live many places openly with some but decreasing harassment. Bush does not want them to marry. In some Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, pre-invasion Afghanistan, and Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death. Lets see, can't get married vs. death penalty. Equivalent?
Women's Rights: For some reason, this is defined in our country as being able to have an abortion. I would have thought free speech, ability to vote, right to bear arms, etc. would be women's rights too, but that is not what people seem to be talking about when they say it. So, on abortion. Abortion today in the US is legal, safe, and readily available. Bush has attempted to put some restrictions on it, such as parental consent for teenagers and elimination of certain types of procedures, but has never publicly advocated making it entirely illegal. In most of the Arab world, abortion is illegal. And, if the pregnancy is the result of sex out of wedlock, the woman risks being stoned to death. In addition, women have virtually none of those "other" women's rights we have in the US, like being able to vote, drive, show some skin, have a job outside the home, speak freely, etc. A black man in apartheid South Africa had far more rights and freedoms than a woman in the Arab world. Lets see - restrictions on certain abortion procedures vs. the status of a slave and the likelihood of getting beaten or stoned to death. Equivalent?
"Obscene" or profane speech
In the US, people have an incredible amount of freedom to say about any jackass thing they want to say. People such as Michael Moore who skewer our leaders or like Larry Flint who produce pornography are not only tolerated, but feted and made wealthy. The one exception is that the Bush administration has been more aggressive in enforcing decency standards against broadcast TV and radio, in part because of the anachronistic way these were originally licensed. This has resulted in fines related to Janet Jacksons breast and Howard Stern' language. In the Islamo-fascist world, no dissent is tolerated, nor is pornography, bad language, or anything else unacceptable to the priests. In the US, priests can complain about your low standards, but can't generally make you shut up. In Iran, for example, the priests can have you killed for your speech or form of expression, and they do. Routinely. The Janet Jacksons and Howard Sterns of Iran are probably dead. Let's see - some restrictions on TV and radio stations using the 7 banned words and showing nudity or death. Equivalent?
I am sick of these moral equivalencies. As it turns out, I actually disagree with the Bush position on many of the issues above, but I think it is absurd to say that Bush is as bad as the Islamo-fascists. The tone of the piece is to somehow pitch this as a religious war, that it is just about Christians trying to kill Muslims. But go back to September 10, 2001. Not many people in this country spared many thoughts to the Muslim world. It was only after about 3000 non-denominational deaths that people got worked up. By the way, WTC attack 1 occurred long before anyone in the Arab world ever heard of W, and the September 11 attack was planned long before he was in office. I swear that people increasingly are trying to reverse the causality here - it won't be long before I read somewhere that the 9/11 attacks were in revenge for W's invasion of Iraq.
By the way, I can't resist one last quote from this same post:
A recent New Statesman editorial commented that having watched one great beacon of hope - the Soviet Union - collapse into a nightmare, the world could hardly bear it if the other one - the United States - fell as well.
Stalin? Soviet Union? Beacons of hope. Unbelievable. The far left increasingly calls itself the "reality-based" community. Does any of this match your reality? For more, see here. Hat tip to Kiwi Blog for the link
In my original post, I jokingly said that I was taking up a collection to help people by buying them airplane tickets out of the country if they so choose. Though it was a joke, I still took it off. It sounds too much like the old conservative "America, love it or leave it" junk. America is a better place for having the broadest possible range of opinion, and I would be sad to see this end.
This post turns out to be a warm-up for this more complete post on trying to keep some sense of perspective post-election