Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What Did Tony Blair Really Say? Prepare for Your Western Enema!

Tony Blair spoke in an attempt to draw clear lines around the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the Middle East. After reading his remarks I am confused. At one point he talks about finding the solution through "a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other.”

Those elevating values could be a combination of “Western” and “Islamic”. Tony seems to be pushing only the Western side of the equation. Blair spoke of the struggle was between moderate, benign values versus the hatred and intolerance of fundamentalism.

"It's about modernization within Islam and out of it. It's about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appealing that it beats theirs."

I can’t imagine this going over well with moderate Muslims. P.M. Blair also speaks out against Islamic fundamentalism without mentioning the Christian or Jewish variety which are equally as insidious.

The strategy behind Islamist extremism, Blair said, is based "on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other.”

Tony apparently needs to be educated on the Christian version of fundamentalism. Episcopal fundamentalists are tearing his Anglican Church apart. Many conservatives purposefully voted for the new female head of the U.S. arm of the Episcopal Church to drive the split faster.

Conservatives are purposefully joining open and accepting denominations with the intention of gaining enough power to change church doctrine. In Kansas, the School Board changed the definition of science to incorporate their religious beliefs. They don’t just want to teach creationism, they want the teaching of evolution abolished. A brand new $25 million dollar Biblical Expo will open soon to market creationism under the guise of being “a museum”. These acts of “our way or no way” are happening in free America.

In a most odd twist, Prime Minister Blair suggested a Western approach (imposed by the new kid on the block and a country continent’s away) is better than their age old societies existing in the region for thousands of years. Please note that none of the Western or Middle Eastern societies are problem free.

Is Tony holding out Israel as a bastion of higher Western values? He might want to read the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights evaluation of Israel. It cites the government as discriminating against almost 20% of the population in both housing and jobs. That group would be people of Arab descent living in Israel. Despite low incomes and high unemployment among Arabs, Israel hires foreign workers for manual labor jobs. Ten percent of Israel’s workforce comes from outside the country. The report also cites human rights abuses of prisoners in Israeli custody.

I believe most people in the Middle East are already aware of the higher values of which Mr. Blair speaks. They want to talk about where the West fails, where the rubber doesn’t meet the road, where there is a gap between words and actions.

What’s missing is the opportunity to communicate and collaborate on moving forward on behalf of all people. What’s missing is leadership on all sides willing to make that happen. Too many have chosen war, too many stand silent as God’s children are struck down in the name of “reshaping the Middle East”.

According to CNN Hezbollah has 3,000 to 5,000 armed fighters. To disarm this number of Lebanese, Israel’s 250,000 person military is wreaking havoc on the fledgling democracy of Lebanon. Israel invaded its neighbor to the north to disarm 5,000 out of 4.4 million people? It is leveling the country to make those 5,000 pay?

Tony closed his remarks with another war challenge to Syria and Iran. So much for those elevating values under which we all can gather! So much for the West facing the mirror and coming to the table with an honest accounting.

So what did Tony really say? I think “it’s the other guys fault and we will impose our Western ways, so what’s the best method for selling them?” What do you think Tony? Did I hear you right?

And which set of Western values are you implementing? The Christian nationalist version will go down like a Guantanamo Bay feeding tube. At least that’s my prediction. The world has a big leadership problem. Tony’s words are clear evidence of that.

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