Is it going too far to call Rice narcissistic and anti-American?
(Note: In a thought provoking comment, Stewart W. says he agrees with Rice’s position as I have characterized it, and I reply.)
Responding to my article, The empty-headed, totally-in-love-with-herself woman who wants to be president, a reader whom I highly respect writes:
I know Condi Rice. She would be the wrong choice to run with Senator McCain. But she is neither narcissistic nor empty-headed, and certainly not “anti-American.” It is not necessary to characterize her in this fashion.
I have written several pieces over the last three years showing how she has systematically devalued America, with her basic message (I’m paraphrasing) that “Iraq is not so bad, since America is racist.” In order to enhance the image of Muslim countries and their potential for democratization, she says things like, “America was bad too, because women didn’t have the vote.” Thus she puts the lack of the women’s vote in 19th century America on the same level of moral imperfection as Islam sharia and terrorism.
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As for her vanity, it is like a neon sign 30 stories high. With Rice, everything is about herself, not about America. I first realized this about her when she appeared before the 9/11 Commission and put on this smug superior smile acting as though her total failure to raise the threat level prior to the 9/11 attack was not something for which she should be criticized at all, and that anyone who thought otherwise was ridiculous. I saw then, and have seen many times since, that vanity is the core of what she is, not just privately, but as a public person, and that no matter how badly she screws up, she just keeps sailing on acting as though she’s the greatest thing in the world.
However, it’s not just that Rice mindlessly and smugly promotes an ideology (Muslims are just like us and can adopt and maintain democracy) that is disconnected from reality, and that she degrades her high position by making it a vehicle for her vanity. It’s that her ideology is an expression of her vanity, both her racial vanity and her personal vanity.
What do I mean by this?
There are two things she’s always saying:
1. That her own elevation to Secretary of State is decisive proof that America has progressed beyond its racism—but of course only somewhat, because there’s so much further to go, and in any case you can never undo a birth defect; and
2. That if people doubt the possibility of Muslim democratization, they are being “condescending,” because people doubted that blacks could be equal.
She’s seeing the issue of Muslim democratization as a reflection of the issue that SHE cares most about, black equality, even though the two issues have NOTHING to do with each other. Instead of understanding Islam in its own terms, she applies the template that is most important to her personally—the black American experience—to Islam. Not only is this mindless and dangerous, it means that for her the whole issue of democratizing Muslims is about proving black equality. And ultimately, it’s about HER, since she herself, as she constantly reiterates, is the ultimate proof of black equality.
So what she’s really saying is, if you doubt Muslim democratization, you don’t believe in black equality. And if you don’t believe in black equality, you don’t believe Rice should be Secretary of State.
For her to insist that the potential of the 1,400 year old warrior religion of Islam to be democratized can be understood by reference to civil rights in America and ultimately by reference to the fact that she, a black woman, became Secretary of State is an act of supreme narcissism and proof of dangerous intellectual incompetence that should disqualify her from any high policy making position.
Interestingly, Rice’s thinking on Iraq is very much like Jews’ thinking on immigration. Many many Jews see the immigration debate through the filter of their grandparents’ immigrant experience, which they, the current Jews, still haven’t gone beyond. Their immigrant past is more central to their identity than the fact that they are Americans. So they think that if someone says that unlimited numbers of third-worlders don’t belong in America, then that person is saying that Jews don’t belong in America. It is an acute form of ethnocentrism in which Jews, a religiously and ethnically distinct minority making up two percent of the population, put themselves at the center of America and insist that America form its most fateful national policy, immigration, around the emotional needs and fears of Jews.
I illustrated the above argument in my 2004 article at FrontPage Magazine, Why Jews Welcome Moslems.
Here now are some selections from my writings on Rice at VFR, followed by quotes of her. As you will see, I do not single out Rice alone. Bush, her twin brain, is equally reprehensible.
To make Iraq seem better, Bush/Rice make America seem worse
How many times have we heard President Bush and his twin brain, the cute if overrated national security advisor turned into the triumphantly narcissistic and even more overrated secretary of state, utter the moronic and offensive comment that we shouldn’t worry too much about the problems in Iraq, since America has also had lots of problems, e.g., women didn’t have the vote for 140 years after Independence. The truly repellent idea that Bush and his twin brain are advancing is that the absence of women’s suffrage and full legal equality for 140 years in what happened to be the freest country in the history of the world, with the greatest degree of female equality and freedom and genuine respect for women of any country in the history of the world (please read Tocqueville’s admiring discussion of the America of the 1830s, where, he tells us, an unescorted young woman could travel from one end of this vast country to the other and never once be bothered or treated rudely by a man), is the equivalent of totalitarian Islamic sharia, where women are virtually chattel, where the holiest book says, “woman is a field, plow her whenever you wish,” and where a man can divorce his wife by merely saying to her, “I divorce thee!” These anti-Americans—for that is what I call Bush and Rice, make no mistake about it, it is a view I will back up anywhere—are so set on “normalizing” Iraq’s backwardness that they are willing to drag our own country down to the level of a semi-primitive tribal country in order to make the hellish situation in that country seem ok, and thus make their own disastrous policy there seem a success.
By the way, have you seen a single mainstream conservative protest the Bush/Rice debasing of America? No! The conservatives are all sycophantic courtiers to the president, or else frightened little mice. Yes, of course, they will criticize Bush over this point or that (as they rush to tell you when you call them courtiers); but how mild, how unserious, how inconsequential those criticisms are!
When Rice says “condescending,” she means racist
And we should never indulge in the condescending voices that allege that some people are not interested in freedom, or aren’t ready for freedom’s responsibility. That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it’s wrong in 2004 in Baghdad.
See the connection? If you say you doubt Iraqi democratization, you’re saying you don’t believe in black equality. You’re saying you don’t believe she, God’s gift to mankind, should be secretary of state.
—Condoleezza Rice, speech at Vanderbilt University, May 13, 2004.
How can Bush and Rice criticize the Hamas victory?
Now that an organization of terrorists and would-be Israel-destroyers have come to power as a result of democratic elections in the Palestinian territories, elections that were strongly pushed by the United States, how can President Bush and his team express any unhappiness about the outcome? They themselves have repeatedly declared in the most dogmatic terms that anyone who has doubts about the possibility or desirability of democracy in Muslim societies is “condescending” and “racist.” Are they now to turn around and adopt a “condescending” and “racist” position themselves? Not only does Bush’s policy of “defeating terror through democracy” lead, over and over, to terror supporters gaining political power, but it also prohibits any political discussion, any critical thinking at all, about this problem.
How, then, can the administration respond to the emergence of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority? They respond by repeating the exact same boilerplate they have used all along about the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, namely, that the PA must renounce terrorism if it is to have peace, as Secretary of State Rice declared yesterday. Such rhetoric leaves forever open the possibility that the terrorists will turn into peaceful democrats, and so avoids the charge of condescension toward Muslims. The fact that the Palestinians through democratic processes have already decisively rejected peace cannot be admitted, as that would be racist. Bush’s and Rice’s own hyper-liberalism prohibits them from reaching rational conclusions about the meaning of Muslims’ actions.
We reject the condescending view that freedom will not grow in the soil of the Middle East—or that Muslims somehow do not share in the desire to be free. The celebrations we saw on the streets of Kabul last year proved otherwise. And in a recent UN report, a panel of 30 Arab intellectuals recognized that for their nations to fully join in the progress of our times will require greater political and economic freedom, the empowerment of women, and better, more modern education.
And this, from Wikipedia:
C. Rice, speech in NYC, 2002.
Knowing what we know about the difficulties of our own history, let us always be humble in singing freedom’s praises. But let our voice not waver in speaking out on the side of people seeking freedom. And let us never indulge the condescending voices who allege that some people are not interested in freedom or aren’t ready for freedom’s responsibilities. That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad.
C. Rice, speech to black journalists, August 7, 2003, discussed at VFR.
In 2006, Rice compared US commitment in Iraq to the Civil War, indicating “I’m sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold.” BET.com commented “If you’re against the war in Iraq, you might as well consider yourself pro-slavery, according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.” Hey, for once, I wasn’t the only person to notice the vicious thing she was saying, designed to suppress all critical discussion of the Bush policy, something that the entire conservative movement should have condemned her for, but instead there was total silence. And that’s the way it will continue if McCain is president, and, even worse, if Rice is his vice president, and then, even worse, if she is his successor. Total conservative acquiescence in anti-American political correctness, because it is coming from a Republican.
Stewart W. writes:
In your discussion of the liberal (and I agree, narcissistic) beliefs of Condoleezza Rice, you boiled her statements down to a single sentence:
“So what she’s really saying is, if you doubt Muslim democratization, you don’t believe in black equality. And if you don’t believe in black equality, you don’t believe Rice should be Secretary of State.”
Do you notice the irony? By distilling her thoughts down so simply, you present a statement that accurately reflects core non-liberal beliefs. I doubt Muslim democratization, because I fundamentally believe that different groups of people are not equal in their abilities. Understanding that, the empirical evidence against black intellectual and social equality becomes irrefutable. And as it is clear that blacks as a group are not the equals of whites in critical civilizational abilities, the odds of a black woman being the most qualified person in America for the job of Secretary of State are essentially zero.
Rice has correctly apprehended my beliefs about her. It’s nice to know that the Secretary of State and I have at least one thing in common.
Stewart’s comment is very clever and intelligent, but my point was the opposite. I was criticizing Rice’s equation of belief in Muslim unassimilability with belief in black unassimilability. I’m saying that the two things have nothing to do with each other. The belief or fact that Muslims are not suited for democracy does NOT mean that black equality is not possible and does NOT mean that a black woman cannot be Secretary of State. The question whether blacks are capable of being fully assimilated into our culture as equals depends on particular facts about blacks, it does not depend on facts about Muslims. Yes, the fact that one non-Western people, namely Muslims, are not assimilable to democracy (whether the differences are due to race, culture or religion is all the same—the point is that groups can be significantly and enduringly different) makes it possible as a general matter that other non-Western or nonwhite groups may be unassimilable, but it does not prove that any particular group is in fact unassimilable.
If we were to accept Stewart’s idea that the lower abilities or unassimilable culture of one non-European group proves the lower abilities or unassimilable culture of all non-European groups, then we would end up in the nightmare view of the liberals as stated by Norman Podhoretz, and explained by me here: that all intergroup differences are the same, and therefore all discrimination is the same, and therefore discrimination against Muslims is the same as discrimination against Jews, and (because all acts of discrimination are one and indivisible) to keep Muslims out of America is tantamount to or is likely to lead to the expulsion or mass-murder of Jews. Therefore to criticize mass Third World immigration is to encourage a mentality that leads to Auschwitz. And therefore to prevent the arising of a mentality that leads to Auschwitz, we must let our society be Third-Worldized and Islamized.
That is the explicit or implicit logic of many Jews, liberals, and neocons, including Rice. It is an insane logic leading to our destruction. Therefore we must not agree with Rice’s false idea. We must not say, with Rice, that all inequality is the same and therefore all discrimination is the same. Rather we must say that discrimination is to be based on the nature of our culture which we wish to preserve and on the nature of each of the non-Western and minority groups that, according to the liberal anti-discrimination ideology, must be admitted into our culture. Very simply, some peoples are more assimilable into our culture, some people less. Stewart’s way of thinking, by making it impossible to make those distinctions, inadvertently helps strengthen the liberal case that all discrimination is equally egregious and therefore that no discrimination can be allowed, even against the most unassimilable groups.
At the same time, of course, we have the right not to admit anyone at all if we so choose. But that is a different question from what I have been discussing here.
Stewart W. replies:
I am in complete agreement with your point about Rice’s flawed thinking in this regard. The suitability of Muslims in a democracy is not in any way related to black/white inequality, and her foolish comparisons clearly demonstrate “practical anti-Americanism,” regardless of what her supporters say. Certainly, the one is in no way “proof” of the other, and that is not the point I was attempting to make.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 08, 2008 11:29 AM | Send
However, from Rice’s liberal perspective, once you abandon the concept of absolute cultural and racial equality, the camel’s nose is in the tent, so to speak. If you discover that American blacks have an average IQ that is 15 points lower than whites, it opens a whole series of questions that the liberal mind fears, cannot fully comprehend, and cannot tolerate in others. The problem is made worse by the fact that the liberals, neocons, and many Jews are not able to see the distinction between one group’s unassimilability opening the possibility for other groups being unassimilable, and one group’s unassimilibility proving that all other groups are unassimilable.
Thus, in her conflation of these completely unrelated problems, she unwittingly exposes one of the core fallacies of liberalism. I suppose that my point was that she got the essence right, but for all the wrong reasons. I certainly don’t support her views.