Naiveté

Our modern society is based on a simple principle: in the name of everyone else’s rights, shove them aside and assert your perfect and immutable right to do whatever you want. It’s like a shopping mall with a moral justification attached.

Part of the fallout from this little deception is that we all become naive in our inability to see the actual motivations of the people around us. For starters, it’s not polite. In addition, it makes us a target. Finally, it forces us to see our own entrenchment in this scam.

We are oblivious to it normally because of our society’s insistence on reversed thinking. Normally, you think from cause to effect. Socialization makes you think from effect to “intent,” a nebulous cause attributed to the desires of others, and ignore any effects but the one you saw first.

Our naivete manifests itself in such mundane ways that we come to accept it like a tapeworm, ignoring the squirming after every meal, because it doesn’t act like a threat. It only undermines everything we do.

CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is recovering in an American hospital this week after being sexually assaulted and beaten by a mob in Egypt’s Tahrir Square late on Friday.

The same day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Logan was surveying the mood of anti-Mubarak protesters for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her team “were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration,” CBS said in a statement Tuesday. The network said that a group of 200 people were then “whipped into a frenzy,” pulling Logan away from her crew and attacking her until a group of women and Egyptian soldiers intervened. – LAT

As my able colleagues at In Mala Fide and Dissention have pointed out, there may be cause for doubting her narrative.

But there is also a bigger picture: our naiveté makes us think that any revolution is the act of benevolent, educated, restrained, good-natured and helpful people. Our media says these people are freedom fighters, so they can’t be a large discontented mob of semi-criminals who want to see the world burn. And so we treat them as if they were Western intellectuals calmly discussing politics in one of our comfy American suburbs.

In the modern industrialized world, we are committed to thinking the best of each other and to equality. Equality means that every point of view is valid. That means we reverse our thinking, and stop wondering what people are trying to achieve, and start muddling our minds by fitting their intent into a narrow range of acceptable thoughts.

In this emasculated thinking, Somali pirates are “forced” to steal because they’re poor; they can’t simply be murdering bastards in a country where 99% of the population are not pirates. From our naive view, any revolution is an ideological quest for the equality of all, not a power grab by a hungry group who turn out to be murdering bastards:

Moaz Abdel Karim, an affable 29-year-old who was among a handful of young activists who plotted the recent protests here, is the newest face of the Muslim Brotherhood. His political views on women’s rights, religious freedom and political pluralism mesh with Western democratic values. He is focused on the fight for democracy and human rights in Egypt.

A different face of the Brotherhood is that of Mohamed Badi, 66-year-old veterinarian from the Brotherhood’s conservative wing who has been the group’s Supreme Guide since last January. He recently pledged the Brotherhood would “continue to raise the banner of jihad” against the Jews, which he called the group’s “first and foremost enemies.” He has railed against American imperialism, and calls for the establishment of an Islamic state. – WSJ

They must be laughing all the way to the bank. Trot our your most innocent-sounding members, seize power, and then do whatever it was you really wanted to do. On a purely military level, that would be replacing the relatively stable Mubarak regime with an Egypt geared up to impoverish itself trying to invade technologically superior Israel.

More naiveté:

Interviews by NBC News with some of the plaintiffs in the case reveal disturbing and previously unreported allegations of sexual abuse in the military, including some in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, one of the plaintiffs, identified as a naval aviator, charges in the lawsuit that she was drugged and gang-raped by two of her colleagues while serving at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma just two months ago.

Mary Gallagher, a former sergeant in the Air National Guard, says that within weeks of being deployed to an air base outside of Baghdad in 2009 she was brutally assaulted by a fellow sergeant who burst into the ladies’ room, pushed her up against the wall, pulled her pants and underwear down and ground his genitals against her, talking the whole time how much he was enjoying it.

“I thought he was going to kill me that night,” Gallagher told NBC in an interview. “I felt completely isolated and alone and really scared. Here I was, in the middle of a foreign country in the middle of a war.” – MSN

It’s as if these people just got hit in the head with the frying pan of life. Soldiers, geared up for aggression and under great stress, with a few bad apples in the crop, raping women? It could happen, you know. But we want to keep sleepwalking ahead with the idea of equality, and so we’re going to assume every viewpoint is valid and everyone is benevolent.

We in the West are walking chumps who seem to invite others to victimize us because of our naivete. Whether that’s stumbling into a third world country and picking as the new leader the first bloodstained warlord who claims he likes capitalism, or believing desperate defectors who tell us what we want to hear, or even thinking that we can have government debt that exceeds our economy and still turn out OK. It’s like no one is driving our reckless bus in its mad dash down the road, but it doesn’t matter, because as individuals we’re all partying it up in here.

Amy Sullivan, senior editor of Time magazine, was at a security checkpoint in Miami Airport on Tuesday when she opted out of passing through a backscatter scanning device – described by experts as a ‘virtual strip search’.

When she went through a metal detector instead and was searched by a woman, a male Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official is alleged to have said: ‘Hey, I thought she was mine – I was going to do her!’

Ms Sullivan’s claims follow those of Eliana Sutherland, who was flying from Orlando Airport last November and said security workers picked her out for further screening because of the size of her breasts. – Daily Mail

Our comfortable lifestyles make us oblivious to everything but the obvious. We stagger in circles, denying the underlying truths, and then when they hit us in the face (like a rake left lying in the grass), we turn around and make excuses, talk a lot about rights and equality, and hope that fixes the problem somehow.

If you wonder why worldwide we’re getting less respect suddenly, it’s because as our economy bankrupts itself and we let politics take precedence over reality in our leadership, we’re increasingly revealing why we’re naive — it’s not because we’re “nice,” but because we’re completely in denial.

One Comment

  1. [...] forms outrage on both sides. People like us here at Amerika who wonder why some CNN anchor thought she could treat Egypt like her comfy American suburb, and [...]

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