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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Contra Localism?

There's a pretty good review of Look Homeward, America, Bill Kauffman's case for American localism, here. Well, good until I hit this:

"Attractive as such a life may seem to many—and I write this in a log house on a northeastern Vermont mountainside—none of us can flee from the second and more menacing fact that in a cave in Pakistan, a coffeehouse in Cairo, a mosque in Riyadh, and a bunker beneath Tehran, well-armed and inventive villains really, really want to kill the peaceful people of Elba, New York, and wherever else we Americans dwell. They want to do so because their reading of their holy book commands them to purify their faith by extirpating the infidels, and in so doing reaffirm their divine right to rule the world."

First of all, this just ignores what Kaufmann's obvious response would be: Those people are interested in killing the people of Elba because the US has so blatantly *not* followed Kaufmann's localist policies. Since that is *exactly* why Osama bin Laden says 9/11 happened, and since countries such as Sweden, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Taiwan, all fairly free and full of infidels, have suffered no attacks, the burden of proof would seem to be on you here.

Secondly, it ignores the fact that the Koran specifically demands tolerance for Christians and Jews, and that is why so many of them continue to live to this day in Moslem countries.

Thirdly, the idea that, say, al Qaeda is trying to "rule the world" is preposterous.

"We are in a global struggle we would rather not have to contest but which now makes American withdrawal from the world a matter of possibly mortal consequence."

As my friend Jim Henley likes to point out, when "withdrawal from the world" is used in a context like this, "withdrawal" is usually being defined as "an unwillingness to travel great distances and kill lots of strangers." Have I "withdrawn" from my friends and neighbors because I haven't bombed any of them recently?

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