The Corner

Interesting Criticism

From a reader:

good article online today. usually, i read NRO just to rile myself up at the sight of conservative warmongering. but this article was very thoughtful, if obviously arrogant and insulting in tone. i mean, you’re right on almost all counts. but i suppose if an arab were to read it, he or she would get really, really pissed off. and they would get rightfully angry…and that leads me to my only serious critique of the piece:

If you acknowledge that money, power, and security are not, in fact, the goals of Arab polity or society, then calling them stupid for ignoring your warnings is mistaken. That is, they’re stupid only if we apply our beliefs about what their goals *should* be. But like you said, they aren’t acting or thinking on the basis of even a comparable rationale. What they’re doing does not appear inconsistent with their goals, which, though i can hardly tell, do not appear to be economic growth or security. the intelligence of this choice *is* a matter for debate, but it is a much larger debate than you have introduced here. although i try to keep my american ego in check, it seems to me that it’s a region of the world with a really bad case of sour grapes, and they’ve sworn off the ‘western’ goals of money, power, etc. in an attempt to seem as though it’s not what they’re really after in the first place. i think it might be, but their assertion of power comes in different forms, e.g. spiritual conquest in the case of fundamentalists. nietzsche had a lot to say about this, in conjunction largely with a theory about how judeo-christian morality took root…i think it applies just as powerfully in the arab world.

take care, and please try not to be so insulting in your articles. people like me would be more likely to agree with you. but good reasoning seldom compensates for grating style. this was a rare case,

[name withheld]

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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