Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Romney Lays It Out: Choose Between Success or Name-Calling Plus the False Prestige of Being a Victim

By Barry Rubin

There are some broad and important political issues raised by a minor flap concerning presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel. To look at these questions in a detached and honest way can tell us a lot about the future of the world and of U.S. policy.

The controversy began when Romney said at a meeting with donors:

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality." Romney said the economic history of the world has shown that "culture makes all the difference."

Palestinian leaders complained, saying that this showed Romney was racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. Actually, their reaction showed that they are counterproductive leaders who are out of touch with the realities of the Middle East and human history.

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The basis of the complaint is two-fold:

First, is a reference to culture in some way “racist” and why is Israel so far ahead of the Palestinians?
Racism refers to a belief that some people are inherently and biologically inferior. Consequently, nothing that they do can alter their inevitable backwardness.

This has nothing to do with culture, which is an alterable state of being. Indeed, racism has been disproven precisely because of the abilities of society to change their culture. Once, the Britons were a bunch of barbarian tribes who endlessly warred on each other and painted themselves blue. They have progressed considerably since then.

Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Singapore—to restrict oneself to Asia alone—have dramatically developed in the last half-century. They kept many aspects of their culture and society while altering others. In America, the descendants of slaves brought unwillingly from Africa have proven able to accomplish a full range of technological, cultural, professional, and other things.

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