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Rubin Reports

In practically his first outing as secretary of state abroad, John Kerry made some remarkable statements in a meeting with young Germans. The main thing being widely quoted is this:

“In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be,” he said. “And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.”

Of course there’s a right to be stupid in America! Indeed, just this week it’s been expanded into being the right to be simultaneously stupid and secretary of defense!

Yet is it stupid, as we will see in a moment, if the author who is Kerry’s main guide to Islam, Reza Aslan, writes this:

“Pundits and politicians are already ringing the alarm bells. The common refrain you hear in the US:  The Middle East is being overrun with religious radicals bent on oppressing women and destroying Israel. That is nonsense, of course.”

To be fair, Kerry’s statement was in the context of defending, albeit not very well, freedom of speech in America. (Kerry was obviously referencing President Barack Obama’s UN speech in his own talking points.) How Kerry defends it is what’s scary and dysfunctional.

He was basically saying: Yeah, we know that all these dumb people who don’t agree with us are wrong but we let them talk anyway because it works out okay in the end since nobody listens to them anyway. While he used the words “virtue” and “worth fighting for,” those sentiments seem to be clumped onto the end for form’s sake. Kerry certainly doesn’t say–or understand–that people have rights and government has limits. Instead, he talks as if the ruling elite tolerates such fools because it’s so nice.

That is remarkably different from a more traditional defense of American liberty like: We have seen how in a free-market place of ideas the best ones generally triumph, progress happens, people are happier, and prosperity ensues. Or, we believe that people are endowed with rights by their creator and no one can or should take them away.

Now that standpoint is really “something worth fighting for” and Americans in the institution now run by Chuck Hagel have been doing so for a couple of centuries. No American goes into battle to defend the right to be stupid.

Oh, wait! Kerry apparently does think so since, as he put it, showing his superior grasp of the English language:  “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

So, you have the right to be stupid, but watch out because if you are you might end up in the armed forces fighting to defend the right to be stupid!

In contrast to a proper approach, Kerry makes the American system sound like letting the deranged walk the streets as homeless people, babbling incoherently but doing little harm. Sure, let them cling to their guns and religion while we smart people make all the decisions. He’s merely turning around a traditional left-wing critique of democracy that comes from Herbert Marcuse or Noam Chomsky, of “repressive tolerance.”

And that seems to be what Kerry and Obama really believe. Ironically, they are the modern-day equivalent of what used to be called right-wing reactionaries ruling a patriarchal society that consists of aristocrats and peasants.

Another feature of Kerry’s performance was displaying the Obama administration propensity for apologizing. The question Kerry was answering came from a young German Muslim who merely asked him about his views on Islam. There was no criticism of the United States. It was an invitation to go into a riff about America as a great, tolerant place not to cringe and insist that outside of stupid people the United States America isn’t horribly “Islamophobic.”

Implied in Kerry’s response was the video that supposedly inspired the Benghazi attack. As you know, this claim is either discredited or, in the words of Kerry’s predecessor, supposedly doesn’t matter. On the verge of his visit to the Middle East, repeating the false notes of the new Obama era national anthem—America the Guilty—is not a good idea.

Kerry added that he’s reading a book titled No God but God by Reza Aslan, which he gushingly praises and accepts as his source on Islam. There are, of course, many books on Islam and Kerry is free to read whatever he wants. Yet the choice of this particular one is also revealing.

What Aslan says in his book fits perfectly with Obama’s Cairo and other speeches, so much so that one wonders if Obama recommended it to him. What’s interesting, though, is that Aslan himself is an Iranian-American who seems to act like a radical Islamist.

Rather than respond with documented arguments to those who disagree with his views, Aslan has been abusive to anyone going beyond a wonderful religion of peace characterization of contemporary Islam. Perhaps most disturbing, he is a board member of the National Iranian American Council, for all practical purposes the lobbying group in America for Iran’s regime.

One can say this last fact knowing that the organization’s leader, Trita Parsi, has just lost a law suit against a researcher who made the above accusation.

Aslan also consistently claims that there is a tidal wave of hatred against Muslims in America, using them as scapegoats for the bad economic situation. Have you noticed any such thing? He also advocates in tweets that people vandalize legal American Freedom Defense Initiative signs in the New York subway. “Hey New York! How many racist ads are left unscathed? Get busy.”

This doesn’t accord with what Kerry said in his talk in Germany: “….Our country is incredibly tolerant of people of all walks of life and different philosophies and religions.”

But Aslan clearly doesn’t understand that at all. Yet if he’s correct about Islam then shouldn’t he amend his own behavior? Perhaps, however, his performances reflect something about the accuracy of what he writes. And if his Islam is so moderate then why doesn’t he condemn—rather than lobby for—Iran’s regime?

A key factor in his approach is to blame any problem with the perception of Islam in the West to Western bigotry and ignorance. Why, then, isn’t there a lot of nasty stuff going on regarding Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, the Jains, or various other religions?

Any honest approach, no matter how supportive or apologetic for Islam, must acknowledge that certain political events have a relationship to this factor of fear and dislike. Once the issues of terrorism, radical ideology, and different interpretations of Islam (including those of such people as Usama bin Ladin and Ruhollah Khomeini) are discussed, though, Aslan would have to make counter-arguments. And to do that he would have to admit that there are certain statements in Islamic texts and events in Islam’s history that helped lead to these outcomes.

Aslan has said that “if you know one Muslim, it cuts in half the negativity rating you have toward Islam.” Makes sense. But that depends on who that “one Muslim” is. The main threat to Islam’s reputation is not evil “Islamophobes” but radical or terrorist Muslims and the powerful ideology they have unleashed that runs the lives of several hundred million people, threatens many millions more, and has killed a lot of Americans.

How is Aslan’s idealized, apologetic, dishonest view going to help a U.S. secretary of state facing radical states driven by a passionately felt view that they are implementing proper Islam and that if you disagree they will kill you, not just deface their signs in New York subways?

Option A: Kerry lectures the Muslim Brotherhood on how it doesn’t understand Islam properly and tells them to read Aslan.

Option B: Kerry thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups are really moderate precisely because they are so eager to practice the religion of peace portrayed by Aslan.

Pretending there’s no elephant in the world doesn’t protect anyone from getting trampled. In fact, that makes it far more likely that people will get trampled.

Updates:

I am told by a reliable source that Aslan has defended the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate and in a Middle East literary anthology he edited refused to publish any story by an Israeli. Aslan is one of the most successful–perhaps the most successful–of stealth Islamists in influencing American elite opinion.

An Egyptian newspaper reports that a leading figure in the moderate opposition National Salvation Front has said that the organization’s leaders will refuse to meet Kerry because of his pro-Brotherhood policy. Let’s watch to see if they meet him during his visit to Cairo.

Regarding Aslan, I found an earlier dispatch I wrote about his silliness regarding Iran. In 2009, he predicted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on the way out and would be gone within a year. Actually, he’s still in power four years later (though he won’t be running for reelection) and despite Aslan’s claims about Tehran’s flexibility and moderation on the nuclear weapons’ issue  (remember he is a secret supporter of the Tehran regime) there has been no progress in negotiations with Iran.

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All Comments   (19)
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Mr John Francois Kerry brings up, for all the world to see , just who he hangs and agrees with, which includes [but is not limited to] :
Sheila Jackson Lee
His 'black' wife, Tay-Ray-Sa.
That Ellison Muslim D B from Minnesota.
John Conyers
Maxine [I can't do math] Waters
Alan Grayson
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
Debbie ['I can feel global warming when I fly' ] Stabenow
Jerrold Nadler
The W H Court Jester, Joltin' Joe Biden.
(90 %, plus of The So-Called Unbiased Media [i e : The SCUM ]
Yep, we sure do 'got's us some stupid' in America,....and it would seem John affiliates himself with the 'stupiders', among us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes John, we understand your statement and we also understand you are the best single example of your statement America has to offer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Over in England the latest Islamic bomb plot is making the law of treason relevant again.

See this great take on that in: "Humpty and his Numpties" at:

http://john-moloney.blogspot.com/

http://john-moloney.blogspot.com/

Not sure what a "numpty" is though!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many Americans surmised thaat hust after election day, 2012.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be . . . ."

It's a right you exercise every day, Mr. Kerry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In America, you have the right to be stupid.

In reality, most people face the consequences of their own stupid decisions. John Kerry doesn't. When he rode his bicycle into East Berlin, he didn't get arrested. He didn't get killed. He didn't get tortured. He didn't get beaten. Getting his passport taken away seems to have been the worst punishment John Kerry ever endured. John Kerry comes across as someone who has never grown up.

So yes, in America, you have the right to be stupid – if you are John Kerry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It had to happen sooner or later. They decided to have a Village Idiot contest between Joe Biden and John Kerry And its starting to look like Kerry may pluck the title from Joe's hand. This will make for marvelous comedic entertainment until the American public gets tired of being humiliated by these giant "Statesmen".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ignorance can be cured; however, stupidity is terminal, and in political circles it is an epidemic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bullseye !!! Prof Barry is a profi, a keen sense over matters he mastered. I can always recommend his write-ups. As one reads his articles, one can't help but affirm and form a sound opinion of the subject, he supports his statements with concrete instances.

Pity, the US is going to the dogs (that's my opinion), a nation built on humble trust in a One, true, iiving G_d, when careless, arrogant and egoist intellectuals rose and got bigotted, capitalizing on the weakness of the common people, they pulled the rug under their feet, they abolish much of what Heaven bestowed them. Kerry is wrapping it all up, may it be he will be the last among the ... who will betray the interest of his people? I don't think O. would care, he had been pushing the US down into the depths of the Pit, establish Islam in the US for his own crowning glory, with much help from Hagel and Kerry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's see: right to be stupid = freedom of speech; right to be dumb, ignorant, blind, misogynist, etc. = right to live in a totalitarian place.

In all likelihood, Kerry believes that the former is for rubes and the latter is where he believes America should go. Oh, right, that is the 0 way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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