Condoleezza Rice was on Sean Hannity’s show Tuesday night promoting her new book. Before an audience of students from NYU and Columbia, she said she was not concerned about possible Islamist ascendency in the Mideast, that there may be some transitional upheavals but what is happening is better than autocratic rule. She said that it was good for the Islamists to have to compete in elections on their promise of sharia law and suicide bombings, because the people might not want those things. Really? With “martyrs” being honored on posters and parents wishing they had more children to die for Allah? And what about Hamas and Hezbollah’s winning elections in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, respectively? Are we so sure the radicals won’t find ways to use elections to their advantage or that they will honor elections that don’t go their way?
Rice fell back on the Bush article of faith, that all human beings desire freedom. But the issue is not whether they desire freedom; it’s whether they are willing to honor the other man’s desire for freedom and whether they understand how to implement freedom in practical ways. Further, she inaptly cited her own experience to justify what is happening in the Mideast. She said that she grew up in segregation to become Secretary of State, the point being that democracy takes time to come to fruition. But America was a functioning democracy from its founding and long before Rice became Secretary of State. That’s one of the things meant by American exceptionalism. For that matter, it had a fair amount of self-government even before its founding. There were injustices that had to be eliminated of course, but it’s not accurate even remotely to imply that present-day Egypt is at a stage comparable with the United States during the revolution, under George Washington, or even during segregation.
She did have some regrets. One was that Bush did not succeed in immigration “reform,” that is, amnesty for illegal immigrants. She said we are a nation of immigrants. No, not exactly. We are a nation founded on principles — American exceptionalism again — and possessing a culture that has managed to uphold those principles for the most part. That is why the immigrants thrived here. If we do not preserve the principles and the culture that transmits them but instead embrace multiculturalism and statism, immigration hurts us more than helps us. She also said that if we don’t continue to have immigration, we will have the demographic decline of Europe. But Europe has plenty of immigration and it also has demographic decline.
It was disturbing to hear someone who held such high office in a Republican administration sound so unserious about so many things. Rumsfeld was much better when he did his book tour, showing sobriety and reflectiveness about the events in which he was involved. The students asked creampuff questions and did not challenge Rice on any of her statements, so she remained astonishingly complacent.